ArianeGroup, CNES Sign Agreement on Prometheus Testing

Prometheus rocket engine (Credit: ArianeGroup Holding)

PARIS, January 14, 2021 (ArianeGroup PR) — Following the visit to the ArianeGroup site in Vernon by President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire, and Minister for Overseas France Sébastien Lecornu, ArianeGroup CEO André-Hubert Roussel and CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall signed an agreement preparatory to the testing of the new Prometheus rocket engine at the Vernon site in Normandy.

(more…)

7 Things to Know About the NASA Rover About to Land on Mars

In a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers observed the first driving test for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover on Dec. 17, 2019. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — With only about 50 million miles (80 million kilometers) left to go in its 293-million-mile (471-million-kilometer) journey, NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is nearing its new planetary home. The spacecraft has begun its approach to the Red Planet and in 43 days, on Feb. 18, 2021, Perseverance will blaze through Mars’ atmosphere at about 12,100 mph (19,500 kph), touching down gently on the surface about seven minutes later.

(more…)

ESA Director to Retire Early

Johann Dietrich Woener

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

ESA Director General Johann-Dietrich ‘Jan’ Wörner has announced he plans to leave his post running the space agency on Feb. 28, four months ahead of the original no-later-than date of June 30.

In a blog post, Wörner said a quicker transition was possible because his successor, Josef Aschbacher, already serves as ESA’s director for Earth Observation and is thus familiar with how the agency functions. In December, the ESA Council named Aschbacher to secede Wörner, who is nearing the end of his five-year term.

Wörner also cited planning work needed for the ESA ministerial in 2022. At that session, ministers from ESA’s 22 member states, two associate members and cooperating nation Canada meet to set the agency’s budget and policies.

(more…)

Hyperion’s Laser Communication Terminal to Fly into Space in 2022

Dutch consortium secures technology demonstration within the ESA ScyLight programme

DELFT, The Netherlands, 5 January 2021 (Hyperion Technologies PR) — Ultra-high data rates for small satellites, free of licencing fees and year-long application processes – this will soon be reality. Thanks to the award to carry out an ESA ScyLight technology demonstration project supported by the Netherlands Ministry of Defense and Netherlands Space Office (NSO), a Dutch consortium consisting of TNO and Hyperion Technologies will be launching the jointly developed laser satellite terminal into space. Target launch is set for early 2022 on board the NorSat-TD satellite.

(more…)

European Gateway Module to be Built in France as Thomas Pesquet Readies for Second Spaceflight

Artemis Gateway orbiting the moon. (Credit: NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA signed a contract today with Thales Alenia Space to start building the European module for the lunar Gateway that will provide the new human exploration facility with communications and refuelling.

The Gateway is being built by the partners of the International Space Station and will enable sustainable exploration around – and on – the Moon, while allowing for space research and demonstrating the technologies and processes necessary to conduct a future mission to Mars.

(more…)

Canada’s Top Space Highlights of 2020

Credit: Canadian Space Agency

LONGUEUIL, Que. (CSA PR) — It’s an understatement to say that 2020 was an exceptional year. As the year draws to a close, here’s a look at some of the most compelling, inspirational and incredible moments for Canada in space. Happy New Year!

(more…)

What We Learned This Year from Space Station Science

NASA astronaut Anne McClain is pictured in the cupola holding biomedical gear for the Marrow experiment. The study measures fat changes in the bone marrow before and after exposure to microgravity. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Dozens of experiments are going on at any given time aboard the International Space Station. Research conducted in 2020 is advancing our understanding in areas of study from Parkinson’s disease to combustion.

Space station research results published this year came from experiments performed and data collected during the past 20 years of continuous human habitation aboard the orbiting laboratory. Between October 1, 2019, and October 1, 2020, the station’s Program Research Office identified more than 300 scientific publications based on space station research.

(more…)

The Good, the Bad and the Brexit: UK’s Participation in European Space Programs Curtailed by EU Departure

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Although the United Kingdom’s (UK) “Brexit” departure from the European Union (EU) on Jan. 1 will not affect its membership status in the European Space Agency (ESA), the nation’s participation in a number of European space programs is either ending or being curtailed.

On Christmas Eve, the UK and EU announced an agreement in principle that will govern trade, security and political relations after Brexit. Under the agreement, the UK’s participation in the:

  • Galileo satellite navigation and European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) program will end;
  • Copernicus Earth observation satellite program will continue, contingent upon a further agreement to be worked out next year; and
  • EU Space Surveillance and Tracking (EUSST) program will end, although the Britain will continue to receive data as a non-EU country.
(more…)

NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic to Complete Successful 2020

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA made significant progress on America’s Moon to Mars exploration strategy, met mission objectives for the Artemis program, achieved significant scientific advancements to benefit humanity, and returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States, all while agency teams acted quickly to assist the national COVID-19 response.

(more…)

EMXYS & Royal Observatory of Belgium Receive Go Ahead for Participation in ESA’s Hera Planetary Defense Mission

Juventas CubeSat coming in for asteroid landing (Credit: ESA – Science Office)

ELCHE, Spain (EMXYS PR) — EMXYS and the Royal Observatory of Belgium have been selected by the European Space Agency to provide a gravimeter for the Juventas spacecraft that will land on asteroid Dimorphos as part of the European Space Agency’s planetary defence programme.

(more…)

European ‘Comet Chaser’ Probe to be Designed in UK

Comet Interceptor (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — Design work will soon begin in the UK on the spacecraft for a new European Space Agency science mission, which will 3D-map a comet for the first time,

Thales Alenia Space, who have three sites in the UK and employ nearly 200 highly skilled engineers and scientists, have won one of two parallel mission study contracts for the design concept of the mothership and a smaller robotic probe for the European Space Agency (ESA) Comet Interceptor mission. Design work is also taking place in Italy.

(more…)

Interplanetary Internet & Cameras in Space: ESA’s OPS-SAT First Results

As a flying laboratory, ESA’s OPS-SAT will test and validate new techniques in mission control and on-board systems. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — OPS-SAT is the world’s first open, in-orbit testbed for new spacecraft software and applications. By conducting low-cost, low-risk experiments with OPS-SAT, teams from across Europe are ushering in a new era for European spaceflight innovation and commercial opportunity.

  • OPS-SAT’s commissioning phase ended in September and the first experiments are now being carried out in orbit
  • Innovative new technologies are being tested on OPS-SAT in areas such as artificial intelligence, data compression, and space-based web services
  • Initial experimental results have exceeded expectations
  • Results from many more experiments expected soon
(more…)

NASA Moves Forward with Campaign to Return Mars Samples to Earth

As seen in this artist’s concept, the SHERLOC instrument is located on the end of the robotic arm of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) are moving to the next phase in a campaign to deepen understanding of whether life ever existed on Mars and, in turn, better understand the origins of life on Earth.

(more…)

ESA Partnering on UK’s New Space Thruster Test Site

An aerial shot taken by drone shows the site of the newly commissioned UK National Space Propulsion Test Facility, developed with ESA support. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Today marks the start of final assembly of the UK’s new National Space Propulsion Facility. ESA is providing technical oversight and financial backing for the facility, which is being equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure to test the most powerful engines used to shift the orbits of space missions.

The National Space Propulsion Facility is based at Westcott Venture Park in Buckinghamshire, a historic centre for UK rocketry.

(more…)

Northrop Grumman and NASA Complete Final Sunshield Deployment Test on the James Webb Space Telescope

For the last time on Earth, the James Webb Space Telescope’s sunshield was deployed and tensioned by testing teams at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California where final deployment tests were completed. Webb’s sunshield is designed to protect the telescope from light and heat emitted from the sun, Earth, and moon, and the observatory itself. (Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn)

REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Dec. 18, 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and NASA have successfully completed the final sunshield deployment test on the James Webb Space Telescope in preparation for its 2021 launch.

(more…)