Italy Takes First Steps Towards the Moon

Lunar multi-purpose module (Credit: Italian Space Agency)

The Italian Space Agency and Thales Alenia Space Italia are at work for the American lunar exploration program Artemis.

ROME (Italian Space Agency PR) — Italy is taking its first steps towards the Moon. The country system is preparing for the great leap on the surface of our natural satellite also thanks to the international relations between Italy and the United States and between the respective space agencies ASI and NASA, which have recently intensified on the basis of the mutual interest in collaborating on the program of Artemis exploration.

Within this strategic framework, a contract was born between the Italian Space Agency and Thales Alenia Space Italia, (JV between Thales 67% and Leonardo 33%) dedicated to the feasibility study and preliminary design (phases A / B) of a multi-purpose module linked to NASA’s Artemis mission which provides a human crew on the Moon.

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NASA, International Partners Assess Mission to Map Ice on Mars, Guide Science Priorities

This artist illustration depicts four orbiters as part of the International Mars Ice Mapper (I-MIM) mission concept. Low and to the left, an orbiter passes above the Martian surface, detecting buried water ice through a radar instrument and large reflector antenna. Circling Mars at a higher altitude are three telecommunications orbiters with one shown relaying data back to Earth. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and three international partners have signed a statement of intent to advance a possible robotic Mars ice mapping mission, which could help identify abundant, accessible ice for future candidate landing sites on the Red Planet. The agencies have agreed to establish a joint concept team to assess mission potential, as well as partnership opportunities. 

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Thales Alenia Space to Provide Study for ESA’s Cis-lunar Transfer Vehicle

Artist’s conception of Cis-Lunar Transfer Vehicle. (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)

TURIN, Italy, January 25, 2021 (Thales Alenia Space PR) – Thales Alenia Space, joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%) has signed a contract with European Space Agency (ESA), worth €4.5 million [$5.45 million], for the study of Cis-Lunar Transfer Vehicle (CLTV), a transportation logistic space vehicle to be used for a variety of missions: from the logistic resupply of Lunar Gateway pressurized modules, to the transportation of space infrastructure in low Earth orbit, and the potential use in future missions in support of the European Large Logistic Lander (EL3).

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NASA Advancing Global Navigation Satellite System Capabilities

Deployment of Bobcat-1 from the International Space Station. (Credit: Nanoracks)

by Danny Baird
​NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation program office

NASA is developing capabilities that will allow missions at high altitudes to take advantage of signals from Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) constellations — like GPS commonly used in the U.S. These signals — used on Earth for navigation and critical timing applications — could provide NASA’s Artemis missions to the Moon with reliable timing and navigation data. NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program is developing the technologies that will support this goal.

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NASA Explores Upper Limits of Global Navigation Systems for Artemis

An Orion spacecraft approaches the lunar Gateway. (Credit: NASA)

By Danny Baird
​NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation program office

The Artemis generation of lunar explorers will establish a sustained human presence on the Moon, prospecting for resources, making revolutionary discoveries, and proving technologies key to future deep space exploration.

To support these ambitions, NASA navigation engineers from the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program are developing a navigation architecture that will provide accurate and robust Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) services for the Artemis missions. Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals will be one component of that architecture. GNSS use in high-Earth orbit and in lunar space will improve timing, enable precise and responsive maneuvers, reduce costs, and even allow for autonomous, onboard orbit and trajectory determination.

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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.

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4.5-bil­lion-year-old Ice on Comet ‘Fluffi­er than Cap­puc­ci­no Froth’

Af­ter sev­en hours of freefall, Philae touched the Ag­ilkia land­ing site (top left out­side the im­age) at walk­ing pace as planned. How­ev­er, Phi­lae could not an­chor it­self be­cause the an­chor har­poons pro­vid­ed for this pur­pose did not ac­ti­vate. Due to the low grav­i­ty, Phi­lae bounced off the sur­face, rose to a height of more than one kilo­me­tre, col­lid­ed with a cliff edge while falling, touched the comet’s sur­face a sec­ond time (TD2) and fi­nal­ly came to a halt af­ter two hours (TD3). The lo­ca­tion of TD2 was un­known un­til re­cent­ly and could on­ly now be re­con­struct­ed. Phi­lae was lo­cat­ed in a place with suf­fi­cient sun­light to pro­duce enough en­er­gy to run its ten ex­per­i­ments for ap­prox­i­mate­ly 60 hours. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)
  • Reconstruction of second surface contact by Rosetta’s Philae lander during unplanned ‘hopping’ in November 2014 before its final ‘touchdown’.
  • The probe, rotating like a windmill, scraped a furrow in a highly porous, dark rocky area made of ice and dust on comet 67P, exposing 4.5-billion-year-old ice.
  • The ice has very weak internal cohesion and a consistency that is fluffier than cappuccino froth.

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — After years of detective work, scientists working on the European Space Agency (ESA) Rosetta mission have now been able to locate where the Philae lander made its second and penultimate contact with the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 12 November 2014, before finally coming to a halt 30 metres away. This landing was monitored from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Philae Control Center.

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Italy Signs Artemis Accords

ROME (Italian Space Agency PR) — International cooperation on and around the Moon as part of the Artemis program is taking a step forward today with the signing of the Artemis Accords between NASA and several partner countries

International cooperation on and around the Moon as part of the Artemis program is taking a step forward today with the signing of the Artemis Accords between NASA and several partner countries. The Artemis Accords establish a practical set of principles to guide space exploration cooperation among nations participating in the agency’s 21st century lunar exploration plans.

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Canadian Space Agency Signs Artemis Accords

Canadian Space Agency President Lisa Campbell signed the Artemis Accords on behalf of Canada. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

LONGUEIUL, Quebec (CSA PR) — The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is working with national and international partners to write the next chapter of space exploration—sending humans to more distant destinations like the Moon and Mars.

Today, the CSA proudly joined other space agencies – NASA, the Australian Space Agency, the Italian Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the Luxembourg Space Agency, the United Arab Emirates Space Agency, and the UK Space Agency – in signing the Artemis Accords. This commitment is an important first step towards ensuring safe and sustainable exploration beyond Earth’s orbit.

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Vega’s Zefiro 9 Engine Passes Qualification Test

Zefiro 9 engine test (Credit; Avio)

The test was performed at the presence of the Undersecretary of Defense Hon. Giulio Calvisi who then visited the construction site of the new SPTF industrial site for space activities in Perdasdefogu, Sardinia.

CAGLIARI, Italy (Avio PR) — The qualification test of the Zefiro 9 VT3 engine, an advanced version of the third stage propulsion system already in use on the Vega launcher and specifically enhanced and customized for the new Vega C, was successfully completed this morning in view of the maiden flight scheduled for 2021.

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DART Mission To Deflect Asteroid Moves Toward Early 2022 Launch

DART mission (Credit: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s planetary defense mission to deflect a small asteroid continues to move toward a February 2022 launch date while holding to its $313.9 million budget, according to a new assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will fly to the binary asteroid Didymos and impact the smaller of the two bodies to assess techniques for deflecting dangerous asteroids on collision courses with Earth.

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Soyuz Booster to Launch COSMO-Skymed, Cheops, ANGELS, Eyesat and OPS-SAT

Replica of OPS-SAT (Credit: ESA–Stijn Laagland)

PARIS (CNES PR) — On Tuesday 17 December, Soyuz will lift off for the 23rd time from the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana, carrying COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation for the Italian space agency ASI and the Italian Ministry of Defence, CHEOPS for the European Space Agency (ESA), ANGELS and EyeSat for CNES, and OPS-SAT for operator Tyvak on behalf of ESA.

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Italy Boosts Contribution to ESA Budget

SEVILLE, Spain (ASI PR) — In Seville, Spain, the institutional representatives and heads of the countries that make up the European Space Agency (ESA) have set the course towards new spatial horizons in the coming years. The share of the Italian contribution rises, while Samantha Cristoforetti will return to orbit.

An increase of almost one billion euros [$1.1 billion] compared to the previous Ministerial is what the Italian delegation to the ESA Ministerial Council 2019 has destined as a contribution of our country to the budget of the ESA for the next three to four years. 

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Space Agencies Sign Agreements to Advance Artemis Lunar Program, Commercial Space Activities

Updated Nov. 4, 2019 at 12:45 PST to include agreement between U.S. Department of Commerce and CNES.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The world’s space agencies were busy signing agreements last month to advance lunar exploration and commercial space activities during the International Astronautical Conference in Washington, DC.

NASA signed agreements with the European Space Agency (ESA) and three national agencies in Europe focused on advancing America’s Artemis program, which aims to land astronauts on the moon in 2024.

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