Ariane 6 Parts Come Together, Europe’s Spaceport Prepares

Ariane 6 mobile gantry over the launch pad. (Credit: ESA)

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — The first test models of Ariane 6 are being manufactured while Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, is preparing to test the launch vehicle and all systems involved with launch.

Details on the progress of activities for Ariane 6 were recently shared at the 70th International Astronautical Congress held in Washington, USA – downloadable here (.pdf).

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UK Invests in European Space Agency Programs

SEVILLE, Spain (UKSA PR) — The UK Space Agency has today (28 November) announced it will invest £374m [$411.75 million] per year with the European Space Agency (ESA) to deliver international space programmes over the next five years.

The UK is one of the founding members of ESA, an inter-governmental organisation established in 1975 to promote cooperation in space research, technology and applications development. ESA is independent of the EU, bringing together countries across Europe and around the world.

Membership enables the UK to collaborate with space agencies across the world on projects like the International Space Station and the ExoMars programme to send a UK-built rover to search for signs of life on Mars.

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ESA Ministers Commit to Biggest Ever Budget of $15.84 Billion

Credit: ESA

Ministers approved funding lunar Gateway, space station operations until 2030, Mars Sample Return and Hera asteroid missions

SEVILLE, Spain (ESA PR) — ESA’s Council at Ministerial Level, Space19+, has concluded in Seville, Spain, with the endorsement of the most ambitious plan to date for the future of ESA and the whole European space sector. The meeting brought together ministers with responsibility for space activities in Europe, along with Canada and observers from the EU.

The Member States were asked to approve a comprehensive set of programmes to secure Europe’s independent access to and use of space in the 2020s, boost Europe’s growing space economy, and make breakthrough discoveries about Earth, our Solar System and the Universe beyond, all the while making the responsible choice to strengthen the efforts we are making to secure and protect our planet.

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ESA, Luxembourg Sign MOU on Space Resources

SEVILLE, Spain (ESA PR) — A Memorandum of Cooperation to further commit to strengthening cooperation in the field of space resources and innovation was signed by Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider and ESA Director General ESA Jan Wörner.

Following the establishment of the SpaceResources.lu initiative in 2016 to promote and develop the research, economic and legal aspects of space resources, ESA and the Luxembourg Space Agency have been working together to explore opportunities for cooperation and have identified common objectives for research and development.

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NASA IG: Decide Future of the International Space Station Soon

The International Space Station as it appears in 2018. Zarya is visible at the center of the complex, identifiable by its partially retracted solar arrays. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The sooner NASA can decide the future of the International Space Station (ISS), the easier it will be for the space agency to pursue its Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon by 2020, according to a new report from its Office of Inspector General (OIG).

“Whether NASA decides to extend, increase commercialization of, or retire the ISS, the timing of each of these decisions has a cascading effect on the funding available to support space flight operations in low Earth orbit, ambitions for establishing a permanent presence on the Moon, and ultimately sending humans to Mars,” the report stated.

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Astronauts Complete Intricate Tasks During Second Cosmic Repair Spacewalk

Spacewalker Luca Parmitano is guided on the Canadarm2 robotic arm toward the work site on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, the space station’s cosmic particle detector. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan concluded their spacewalk at 1:35 p.m. EST. During the six-hour and 33-minute spacewalk, the two astronauts successfully cut a total of eight stainless steel tubes, including one that vented the remaining carbon dioxide from the old cooling pump on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). The crew members also prepared a power cable and installed a mechanical attachment device in advance of installing the new cooling system.

Today’s work clears the way for Parmitano and Morgan’s next spacewalk in the repair series Monday Dec. 2. The plan is to bypass the old thermal control system by attaching a new one off the side of AMS during the third spacewalk, and then conduct leak checks on a fourth spacewalk.

For more on the AMS science and spacewalks, listen to the recent podcasts:

Space station crew members have conducted 223 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 58 days 9 hours and 41 minutes working outside the station. Parmitano has now conducted three spacewalks in his career and Morgan has now logged four spacewalks since his arrival on the station in July.

Keep up with the crew aboard the International Space Station on the agency’s blog, follow @ISS on Instagram, and @space_station on Twitter.

UKspace Seeks More Government Support in 2020 Manifesto

UKspace, the trade association that represents the United Kingdom’s space industry, and has issued a manifesto calling for more support for the sector.

It is reproduced below.

UKspace 2020 Manifesto

What the sector needs to compete in the new space race

The 1969 moon landing came after John F. Kennedy boldly set out to overtake the Soviet Union in the space race. In 2019, there is an entirely different contest occurring as rival nations set their sights on the rapidly growing global spacetech market.

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423 Teams Selected for Phase 2 of Astro Pi Mission Space Lab 2019/2020

Astro Pi Ed and Astro Pi Izzy in space. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA Education and the Raspberry Pi Foundation congratulate all the entries of this year’s European Astro Pi Challenge: Mission Space Lab for their outstanding proposals. This has been another record-breaking year with Phase 1 receiving a grand total of 545 entries from 23 countries! The 423 selected teams will now have a chance to write computer code for the scientific experiments they want to send up to Astro Pi Ed or Astro Pi Izzy to run aboard the International Space Station!

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Suitcase-sized Spacecraft to Explore Asteroid

Model of M-Argo spacecraft . (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — This replica model of ESA’s ‘Miniaturised Asteroid Remote Geophysical Observer’, or M-Argo, was on display at the Agency’s recent  Antennas workshop. It is the one of numerous small missions planned as part of in ESA’s Technology Strategy, being presented at this month’s  Space19+  Council at Ministerial Level.

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Plasma Crystal Research Conducted on the ISS

ISS and the Columbus module. (Credit: ESA/NASA)
  • Plasma research on the ISS – Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov will be carrying out a new series of experiments from 10 to 16 November 2019
  • Important knowledge for tomorrow – the plasma crystal laboratory PK-4 provides insights into fundamental physical processes
  • Plasma is ionised gas and is considered to be the fourth state of matter in addition to solids, liquids and gases. Complex plasmas are formed when dust particles are present in the neutral gas

TOULOUSE, France (DLR PR) — More plasma research is being conducted on the International Space Station (ISS). From 10 to 16 November 2019, the Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov will be carrying out a new series of experiments with the PK-4 plasma crystal laboratory. Under the direction of scientists from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), Skvortsov will record how microparticles move through a neon plasma in microgravity, forming structures and thus providing insights into basic physical processes.

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NASA Instrument to Probe Planet Clouds on European Mission

This artist’s concept shows the European Space Agency’s ARIEL spacecraft on its way to Lagrange Point 2 (L2) — a gravitationally stable, Sun-centric orbit — where it will be shielded from the Sun and have a clear view of the sky. NASA’s JPL will manage the mission’s CASE instrument. (Credits: ESA/STFC RAL Space/UCL/Europlanet-Science Office)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA will contribute an instrument to a European space mission that will explore the atmospheres of hundreds of planets orbiting stars beyond our Sun, or exoplanets, for the first time.

The instrument, called the Contribution to ARIEL Spectroscopy of Exoplanets, or CASE, adds scientific capabilities to ESA’s (the European Space Agency’s) Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey, or ARIEL, mission.

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Luca Parmitano to Lead Most Challenging Spacewalks Since Hubble Repairs

The second Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) on the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The date is set for ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano’s first spacewalk of his Beyond mission. Friday 15 November marks the start of a series of complex spacewalks to service the cosmic-particle-hunting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02).

It is the first time a European astronaut will take a leading role and the full spacewalk will be streamed live via ESA Web TV from 12:50 CET (11:50 GMT).

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RUAG Space’s New Payload Fairing Provides Quieter Ride to Orbit

faring separation system pillars (Credit: RUAG Space)

ZURICH, Switzerland (RUAG Space PR) — RUAG Space, a leading supplier to the space industry, has successfully developed and tested a new low shock jettison system for payload fairings. This enables a quieter and smoother journey to space for satellites or other payload.

The required payload fairings for the European launchers Ariane and VEGA have been produced by RUAG Space in Emmen, Switzerland, since the 1970s. As part of the Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP) of the European Space Agency (ESA),

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Craving for Cold Isolation – Research Doctor Rotation in Antarctica

ESA research medical doctor Nadja Albertsen views the first sunlight in Antartctic research station Concordia after four months of darkness. (Credit: ESA/IPEV/PNRA–N. Albertsen)

CONCORDIA RESEARCH BASE, Antarctica (ESA PR) — Did you know the largest desert in the world is also the coldest place in the world? In the heart of Antarctica, where temperatures can drop to –80°C, life is so hard there is no life to be found as even bacteria cannot survive.

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Apollo Astronaut Rusty Schweickart Champions ESA’s Hera Mission for Planetary Defense

Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart at Noordwijk’s Walk of Space, where his handprint joined those other space luminaries, during his visit to the Netherlands in October 2019. (Credit: ESA)

NOORDWIJK, Netherlands (ESA PR) — Having spent much of the 21st century developing planetary defence techniques, Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart is a strong supporter of ESA’s proposed Hera mission. In general, when it comes to asteroid deflection, he says, two spacecraft are better than one.

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