Arianespace Prepares for Intense 2018, Looks to Future with Ariane 6 & Vega C

Ariane 5 launch on Dec. 12, 2017. (Credit: Arianespace)

EVRY, France 9 (Arianespace PR) — The past year saw Arianespace carry out 11 successful launches; sign 19 additional launch contracts, including three for Vega C and two for Ariane 6; and enter a new governance structure alongside ArianeGroup.

Building on these achievements, Arianespace is targeting a record number of launches in 2018, while actively focusing on the next decade with its Ariane 6 and Vega C launchers.
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ESA Looks Ahead to Busy Year in Space

Video Caption: After a fruitful 2017 with many exciting launches and the end of some historic missions, ESA is ready for the year to come.

2018 will see the 10th anniversary of the International Space Station’s Columbus module and an ESA astronaut taking the helm of the ISS as commander.

There will be more launches of new Earth observation and exploration satellites and ESA will venture to the innermost planet in our Solar System.

2018 will also mark the completion of the first part of the Copernicus constellation observing the Earth and of the full Galileo constellation, Europe’s own satellite navigation system.

Ariane 5 Orbits Four Galileo Satellites

Ariane 5 launch on Dec. 12, 2017. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace has successfully launched satellites 19, 20, 21 and 22 in the Galileo constellation, using an Ariane 5 heavy launcher on behalf of the European Commission (DG GROW) and under a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA).

The launch took place on December 12, 2017 at 3:36 p.m. (local time) from the Guiana Space Center (CSG), Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.
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Busy Launch Week With Flights to ISS, Electron Test

The Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

We’ve got a busy launch week coming up with a new three-man crew headed for the International Space Station (ISS), SpaceX launching a Dragon resupply mission to the station, and Rocket Lab attempting the second flight test of its Electron small-satellite launcher. Europe and China are also launching satellites this week.

December 10

Launch Vehicle: Long March 3B
Payload: Alcomsat 1 communications satellite (Algeria)
Launch Time: Approx. 1635 GMT (11:35 a.m. EST)
Launch Site: Xichang, China

December 10/11

Launch Vehicle: Electron
Payloads: 3 Planet and Spire CubeSats
Launch Window: 0130-0530 GMT on 11th (8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. EST on 10/11th)
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Webcast: http://www.rocketlabusa.com

December 12

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Dragon (CRS 13 mission)
Launch Time: 1646 GMT (11:46 a.m. EST)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
Webcast: http://www.spacex.com and http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv/

Launch Vehicle: Ariane 5
Payloads: Galileo 19-22 navigation satellites
Launch Time: 1836:07 GMT (1:36:07 p.m. EST)
Launch Site: ELA-3, Kourou, French Guiana
Webcast: http://www.esa.int

December 17

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payload: Soyuz spacecraft with Anton Shkaplerov (Roscosmos), Scott Tingle (NASA) and Norishige Kanai (JAXA)
Launch Time: 0720 GMT (2:20 a.m. EST)
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Webcast: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv/

ESA Signs First Ariane 6 Contract for Galileo Launches

Ariane 6 variants (Credit: ESA–David Ducros,)

PARIS, 15 September 2017 (ESA PR) — Four of the latest set of Galileo navigation satellites will be launched on Ariane 6 rockets – ESA’s first contract to use Europe’s new vehicle.

The launches are scheduled between the end of 2020 and mid-2021, using two Ariane 62 rockets – the configuration of Europe’s next-generation launch vehicle that is best suited to haul the two 750 kg navigation satellites into their orbits at 23 222 km altitude.

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European Commission Releases Space Strategy Roadmap

eu_flagEUROPEAN COMMISSION ROADMAP

Title of the Initiative: A Space Strategy for Europe
Lead DG – Responsible Unit – AP Number: DG GROW – DIRECTORATES I & J – 2016/GROW/007
Date of Roadmap: 12/2015
Likely Type of Initiative: Communication from the Commission
Indicative Planning: tbd
Additional Information: http://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/space/index_en.htm

This indicative roadmap is provided for information purposes only and can be subject to change. It does not prejudge the final decision of the Commission on whether this initiative will be pursued or on its final content and structure.
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ESA Budget Gets 18 Percent Boost

ESA_budget_2016_node_full_imageBuoyed by major satellite and launch vehicle programs, the European Space Agency (ESA) has received an 18.44 percent increase in its budget for 2016.

The space agency’s budget rose from 4.43 billion euros in 2015 to 5.25 billion euros ($4.8 billion to $5.69 billion),  an increase of 817 million euros ($884.8 million).

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Arianespace Looks to 2016 and Beyond

Arianespace Chairman & CEO Stéphane Israël outlines Arianespace’s 2016 launch planning for reporters during the company’s traditional year-opening press conference in Paris. (Credit: Arianespace)
Arianespace Chairman & CEO Stéphane Israël outlines Arianespace’s 2016 launch planning for reporters during the company’s traditional year-opening press conference in Paris. (Credit: Arianespace)

PARIS (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace is targeting another busy year of activity in 2016 – continuing its launch services excellence by performing up to 11 missions utilizing Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega, while reinforcing its international marketplace competitiveness with commercial offers that combine the company’s attributes of reliability, availability and price.

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Russia Led in Launch Successes and Failures in 2015

Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)
Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)

Russia continued its dominance of the global satellite launch industry in 2015, conducting 29 of 86 orbital launches over the past 12 months. It also maintained its lead in botched launches, suffering two failures and one partial failure.

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A Video Look Back at Europe’s Year in Space

Video Caption: 2015 began and ended with two pioneering missions: IXV, the Intermediate Experimental Vehicle, proving Europe’s ability to return autonomously from space, and LISA Pathfinder, which set out in December to test the technologies needed to detect gravitational waves and, with them, a new way to look at our Universe! But a lot has happened in between… More European astronauts have visited space and more satellites are beefing up Galileo and ESA’s Earth Observation programme!

Arianespace Goes 12 for 12 in Record Launch Year

Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)
Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)

PARIS (Arianespace PR) — With 12 successful launches over 12 months, Arianespace’s mission performance in 2015 was one for the record book – concluding with today’s Soyuz flight that further expanded the European Galileo global navigation satellite system.

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Years of Failures Haunt Russian Space Program

Holy shi'ski! The rocket...it go KABOOMSKI! (Credit: Tsenki TV)
Proton rocket falls to Earth at Baikonur in July 2013. (Credit: Tsenki TV)

Sixteen botched launches in six years.

That’s the Russian space program’s sad record since May 2009. The failure of a Proton rocket earlier today with the loss of a Mexican communications satellite was yet another sign of the prolonged crisis affecting Russia’s once powerful space program.

The crash came less than three weeks after a botched launch left a Progress supply freighter spinning end over end like an extra point before it burned up in Earth atmosphere. There was also news today that another Progress cargo ship attached to the International Space Station failed to fire its engine as planned to boost the station’s orbit.

The list of Russian launch accidents over the last six years includes:

  • 13 complete failures resulting in the loss of all payloads;
  • 3 partial failures that left spacecraft in the wrong orbits;
  • complete loss of 20 spacecraft;
  • 6 Russian GLONASS navigation satellites destroyed; and,
  • an ambitious Mars mission left stranded in Earth orbit.

The table below shows the full extent of the damage.

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Investigation Begins into Launch Anomaly; Prognosis for Galileo Satellites Grim

Europe's Galileo constellation. Credits: ESA-J. Huart
Europe’s Galileo constellation. Credits: ESA-J. Huart

Arianespace and ESA have issued an update on the launch anomaly that stranded two Galileo navigation satellites in the wrong orbits. The statement confirms that investigators are focused on an apparent problem with the Fregat upper stage of the Russian Soyuz ST launch vehicle.

The update provides no information about the fate of the satellites other than to say they are healthy and communicating with the ground. The European Commission has not issued an update since Friday, when it celebrated what it thought was a fully successful launch.

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Oops! Soyuz Places 2 Galileo Satellites in Wrong Orbits

Soyuz launches two Galileo satellites (Credit: ESA)
Soyuz launches two Galileo satellites (Credit: ESA)

After much celebratory rhetoric on Friday over the launch of two Galileo navigation satellites from Kourou, European officials realized the spacecraft were placed in the wrong orbits.

Arianespace, which managed the launch of the Russian Soyuz booster, made a terse announcement:

Complementary observations gathered after separation of the Galileo FOC M1 satellites on Soyuz Flight VS09 have highlighted a discrepancy between targeted and reached orbit.

Investigations are underway. More information will be provided after a first flight data analysis to be completed on August 23, 2014.

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Awesome Find: Data Point to Great Lake on Europa

Europa's "Great Lake." Researchers predict many more such lakes are scattered throughout the moon's icy shell. Credit: Britney Schmidt/Dead Pixel VFX/Univ. of Texas at Austin.

NASA PR — Data from a NASA planetary mission have provided scientists evidence of what appears to be a body of liquid water, equal in volume to the North American Great Lakes, beneath the icy surface of Jupiter’s moon, Europa.

The data suggest there is significant exchange between Europa’s icy shell and the ocean beneath. This information could bolster arguments that Europa’s global subsurface ocean represents a potential habitat for life elsewhere in our solar system. The findings are published in the scientific journal Nature.

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