ESA’s Agenda 2025 Focuses on Improved EU Cooperation, Commercial Markets, Green Tech and Space Security

ESA has published Agenda 2025, a strategy that focuses on making the space agency more agile by assisting commercial ventures, developing green technologies, ensuring space security and working more closely with the European Union in devising new flagship programs to benefit the continent’s 500 million citizens.

The plan also includes negotiating with NASA to place the first European astronaut on the moon by the end of the decade as part of the U.S. space agency’s Artemis program.

Agenda 2025 Full Report | Agenda 2025 Executive Summary

A summary of ESA Agenda 20215 follows.

(more…)

Coverage Set for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 Briefings, Events, Broadcasts

Crew-2 members Megan McArthur, Thomas Pesquet, Akihiko Hoshide and Shane Kimbrough. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission with astronauts to the International Space Station. This is the second crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the first with two international partners. The flight follows certification by NASA for regular flights to the space station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

(more…)

SpaceX Crew Ship Moves to New Station Port

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is pictured after undocking from the forward port on the Harmony module beginning its short trip to the space-facing port. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Crew Dragon Resilience with NASA astronauts  Michael HopkinsVictor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, have re-docked to the International Space Station, another first for a commercial crew spacecraft.

Crew Dragon autonomously undocked from the forward port of the station’s Harmony module at 6:30 a.m. and relocated to the space-facing port at 7:08 a.m.

This is the start of a process that will enable extraction of new solar arrays from the SpaceX CRS-22 cargo mission’s trunk when it arrives to dock at the Node 2 zenith port following Crew-1 departure.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and  Megan McArthur, JAXA astronaut  Aki Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet  are scheduled to launch to the station Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Following a short handover, Crew-1 NASA astronauts Hopkins, Glover and Walker, along with JAXA astronaut Noguchi, plan to return home off the coast of Florida about five days after the Crew-2 arrival to the space station as long as mission priorities and weather cooperate.

ESA Invites Ideas to Open Up In-orbit Servicing Market

Clean Space has broadened the concept of an active debris removal to a multi-purpose Space Servicing Vehicle that would include debris removal as one of its aims. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA is seeking to open the way to a new era of in-space activities such as refuelling, refurbishment, assembly, manufacturing, and recycling. The Agency is now soliciting ideas for In-Orbit Servicing activities from European industry and academia.

(more…)

NASA Invites Public to Share Excitement of Agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 Mission

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station on Nov. 15, 2020, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission is targeted for no earlier than Thursday, April 22, at 6:11 a.m. EDT. (Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

By Emily McLeod Sulkes
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

NASA invites the public to take part in virtual activities and events ahead of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission. Liftoff of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket with astronauts is targeted for no earlier than 6:11 a.m. EDT Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

(more…)

NASA TV to Air First US Commercial Crew Port Relocation on Space Station

Crew Dragon docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA webcast)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts aboard the International Space Station will mark another first for commercial spaceflight Monday, April 5, when the four astronauts will relocate the Crew Dragon spacecraft to prepare for the arrival of new crew members in late April and the upcoming delivery of new solar arrays this summer.

Live coverage will begin at 6 a.m. EDT on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

(more…)

Space Telescope Delivers the Goods: 2,200 Possible Planets

A newly published catalog reveals a fascinating variety of possible exoplanets detected by TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

By Pat Brennan
NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program

The news is out of this world: NASA’s TESS space telescope has captured evidence of more than 2,200 candidate planets orbiting bright, nearby stars, including hundreds of “smaller” planets – many possibly rocky worlds in some ways similar to Earth.

(more…)

UK Space Sector Receives £1 Million Government Boost to Support International Innovation

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — Five new projects have been awarded a share of over £1 million [$1.38 million] of government funding to work with international partners on innovative space technology.

Projects to remotely probe ice on Mars to help explorers find life below the surface, a system to warn of impacts of flood risks to infrastructure based on research in India and a scheme to design UK imaging technology for a space telescope are among the new international initiatives to receive backing from the UK Space Agency’s National Space Innovation Programme (NSIP).

The funding will see UK companies and organisations working with partners such as NASA, and space agencies from Canada, Japan and Italy. NSIP is the first fund dedicated to supporting the UK space sector’s innovation through collaborations with international partners designed to contribute to UK science, security and prosperity.

(more…)

ESA Provides €10.45 Million to Support Orbex & Skyrora Launch Vehicle Development

Skyrora XL lifts off the launch pad. (Credit: Skyrora)

PARIS (ESA PR) — As part of its Boost! programme, ESA has signed two new contracts which support UK-based Orbex and Skyrora in their separate proposals for new commercial launch services for small satellites. These services are set to start in the UK from 2022.

ESA has awarded €7.45 million [£6.42 million/$8.11 million] of co-funding to Orbex and its partners, and €3 million [£2.59 million/$3.55 million] to Skyrora.

(more…)

Another First: Perseverance Captures the Sounds of Driving on Mars

NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its onboard left Navigation Camera (Navcam). The camera is located high on the rover’s mast and aids in driving. This image was acquired on Mar. 7, 2021 (Sol 16). (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s newest rover recorded audio of itself crunching over the surface of the Red Planet, adding a whole new dimension to Mars exploration.

As the Perseverance rover began to make tracks on the surface of Mars, a sensitive microphone it carries scored a first: the bangs, pings, and rattles of the robot’s six wheels as they rolled over Martian terrain.

(more…)

Galileo will Help Lunar Pathfinder Navigate Around Moon

Lunar Pathfinder will relay signals from other Moon missions. (Credit: Surrey Satellite Technology)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s Lunar Pathfinder mission to the Moon will carry an advanced satellite navigation receiver, in order to perform the first ever satnav positioning fix in lunar orbit. This experimental payload marks a preliminary step in an ambitious ESA plan to expand reliable satnav coverage – as well as communication links – to explorers around and ultimately on the Moon during this decade.

(more…)

Prometheus Test Campaign Moves Forward

The Prometheus engine (Credits: ArianeGroup)

LAMPOLDSHAUSEN, Germany (CNES PR) — While the 1st copy of the engine of the future will soon be delivered, the 1st phase of demonstration tests is being prepared. The campaign will take place in 2 stages, in Vernon then at the P5 test bench in Lampoldshausen (Germany), refitted to accommodate Prometheus.

(more…)

Space Station Hardware Developers, Payload Support Teams Celebrate Two Decades of Success, Prepare for Third

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson conducts a science experiment in the Microgravity Science Glovebox during Expedition 51 in 2017. The glovebox is one of 15 space station science hardware facilities managed for the agency by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. (Credits: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Ask International Space Station facility engineers and payload operations teams at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, what makes them proudest as they look back on two decades of developing and testing science hardware and providing real-time support for experiments on orbit. Many will instinctively glance upward, as if the source of that pride might be passing overhead at that moment, 250 miles up.

Just as often though, they look to one another.

(more…)

Perseverance Rover’s SuperCam Science Instrument Delivers First Results

Combining two images, this mosaic shows a close-up view of the rock target named “Yeehgo” from the SuperCam instrument on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. The component images were taken by SuperCam’s Remote Micro-Imager (RMI). To be compatible with the rover’s software, “Yeehgo” is an alternative spelling of “Yéigo,” the Navajo word for diligent. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/CNRS/ASU/MSSS)

Data from the powerful science tool includes sounds of its laser zapping a rock in order to test what it’s made of.  

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The first readings from the SuperCam instrument aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover have arrived on Earth. SuperCam was developed jointly by the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico and a consortium of French research laboratories under the auspices of the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES). The instrument delivered data to the French Space Agency’s operations center in Toulouse that includes the first audio of laser zaps on another planet.

(more…)