Launchapalooza: 26 New Boosters Debuting Worldwide

Vega-C lifts off on its maiden flight on July 13, 2022. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the first seven months of the year, five new satellite launch vehicles from Europe, China, Russia and South Korea flew successfully for the first time. As impressive as that is, it was a mere opening act to a busy period that could see at least 20 additional launchers debut around the world.

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The Best Laid Plans: Europe’s Ambitious Launch Year Goes Awry Due to International Tensions, Schedule Delays

The James Webb Space Telescope lifted off on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, at 13:20 CET on 25 December 2021 on its exciting mission to unlock the secrets of the Universe. (Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On Christmas Day 2021, an European Ariane 5 rocket roared off its launch pad in French Guiana with the most expensive payload the booster had ever carried, the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope. The launcher performed perfectly, sending the most powerful space telescope on a journey to its final destination 1.5 million km (900 million miles) from Earth. The launch was so accurate that Webb should have sufficient propellant to perform science operations for much longer than its planned 10-year lifetime.

There was a collective sigh of relief among the European, American and Canadian scientists and engineers involved in the long-delayed program. It was a superb Christmas gift to a world suffering through the second year of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

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ESA Releases Exploration Roadmap for Space Autonomy and Leadership

Credit: ESA–Olivier Pâques

PARIS (ESA PR) — In a bold vision to secure Europe’s role in space exploration and so benefit from the many scientific, economic, and societal rewards, ESA is publicly releasing its new exploration roadmap after its presentation to its Council, the agency’s highest ruling body.

Called Terrae Novae 2030+ (Latin for new worlds), the document lays the groundwork for Europe to ensure its leading role in space exploration for future prosperity.

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NASA, ESA Finalize Agreements on Climate, Artemis Cooperation

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, right, and ESA (European Space Agency) Director General Josef Aschbacher pose for a photograph following the signing of two agreements at the ESA Council meeting in Noordwijk, Netherlands, June 15, 2022. The agreements aim to further advance the space agencies’ cooperation on Earth science and Artemis missions. (Credits: ESA/S.Corvaja)

NOORDWIJK, Netherlands (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and ESA (European Space Agency) Director General Josef Aschbacher signed two agreements Wednesday at the ESA Council meeting in Noordwijk, Netherlands, further advancing the space agencies’ cooperation on Earth science and Artemis missions.

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From the Earth to the Moon and on to Mars – ESA and NASA take decisions and plan for the future

Noordwijk, The Netherlands (ESA PR) — The next steps in exploring and using space for the benefit of European citizens were this week on the agenda at ESA’s Council meeting in ESA/ESTEC, the Netherlands on 14 and 15 June. The possibility of the first-ever European astronaut to set foot on the Moon, a telecommunication satellite for lunar exploration and a mission to return precious rock samples from Mars were all discussed.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson joined the meeting with ESA Member States in a decisive gesture to advocate for Europe’s strong role in multiple projects which reinforce the enduring partnership between the two leading space agencies.

“From understanding our changing planet to exploring Mars, I hugely value the cooperation we have with NASA” says ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher.  “By contributing key European hardware and services to exciting programmes such as Artemis and Mars Sample Return, we are building Europe’s autonomy while also being a reliable partner.”

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ESA to Open Centre for Space Economy and Commerce

PARIS (ESA PR) — Entrepreneurs, fledgling firms and established space companies are to receive a boost with the launch of the European Centre for Space Economy and Commerce.

The ESA centre aims to create jobs and prosperity in Europe by fostering a fertile environment to promote the development of the space economy and boost the commercialisation of space in Europe. It will encourage disruptive innovation and foster partnerships between professionals and enthusiasts.

The European Centre for Space Economy and Commerce will be launched at an event on 4 July that will be livestreamed from the European Space Policy Institute in Vienna, Austria, where it will be based.

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ESA Spurs Investment in Space Entrepreneurs

BERLIN, Germany (ESA PR) — Dozens of people who have set up start-up companies and fledgling businesses are pitching their ideas to investors today, as part of an ESA Investor Forum held in Berlin.

The forum is part of ESA’s efforts to encourage private investment in space – bringing Europe closer to the levels seen in the US – and to promote innovation by fast-moving private companies.

Many of the entrepreneurs have nurtured their businesses in ESA’s various business incubation centres in Austria, Germany and Poland. Others have received business advice and financial support from ESA.

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UK Company Orbex Reveals Micro-Launcher Rocket

Prime rocket prototype (Credit: Orbex)

KINLOSS, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The UK Space Agency has welcomed news that the British rocket company Orbex has unveiled the first full-scale prototype of its Prime orbital space rocket.

Orbex’s Prime rocket reaching technical readiness represents a significant achievement that brings together key elements of the ground infrastructure and prototype launch vehicle for the first time and is a major step forward for the company and for the UK launch industry.

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Minerva Mission Begins as Samantha Cristoforetti Arrives at Space Station

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti shows off her yellow and white striped socks aboard the space station. The PGTIDE experiment tests a fully degradable detergent specifically for cleaning clothes (including socks) in space. (Credits: NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Crew Dragon spacecraft Freedom, carrying ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and her NASA colleagues Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines and Jessica Watkins, docked to the International Space Station at 01:37 CEST Thursday 28 April.

The docking marks the start of Samantha’s second space mission, known as Minerva.

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Crew-4 Arrives at International Space Station

Crew-4 arrives at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronauts Mission Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Bob Hines, and Mission Specialist Jessica Watkins, and Mission Specialist Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) now are aboard the International Space Station following Crew Dragon’s hatch opening about 9:15 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, April 27.

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NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Astronauts Launch to International Space Station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti onboard, Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credits: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

NASA Mission Update

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts are in orbit following their launch to the International Space Station at 3:52 a.m. EDT Wednesday, April 27, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The international crew of astronauts will serve as the fourth commercial crew rotation mission aboard the space station.

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Coverage Updated for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Briefing, Events, Broadcast

NASA astronauts and Crew-4 crewmembers Jessica Watkins, Bob Hines and Kjell Lindgren stand alongside ESA astronaut and Crew-4 crewmember Samantha Cristoforetti. (Credit: SpaceX)

NASA Mission Update

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission, which will send astronauts to the International Space Station.

The launch is targeted for 3:52 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Dragon spacecraft, dubbed Freedom by the mission’s crew, is scheduled to dock to the space station at 8:15 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27.

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Coverage Set for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Briefing, Events, Broadcast

Official portrait of Crew-4 astronauts Bob Hines, Samantha Cristoforetti, Jessica Watkins and Kjell Lindgren. (Credit: NASA-J.Valcarcel/ R.Markowitz/N.Moran)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission sending astronauts to the International Space Station.

The launch is targeted for 5:26 a.m. EDT Saturday, April 23, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, dubbed by Crew-4 as Freedom, is scheduled to dock to the space station at 6 a.m. Sunday, April 24.

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Ariane 6, Vega-C, Microlaunchers: ESA Looks to Full Range of Launch Options for European Institutional Missions

Artist’s view of Ariane 6 and Vega-C. (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher today underscored the Agency’s determination to ensure that ESA’s work in space is not derailed by the tragic events in Ukraine. Mr Aschbacher stresses that work continues to assess the impact on each ongoing programme, including on missions affected by Roscosmos’ withdrawal of Soyuz launch operations from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

In addition, ESA is preparing proposals that, if endorsed by its Member States, will further support European microlauncher services to complement the Ariane and Vega programmes, which form the backbone of Europe’s space transportation capability.

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Micro-geostationary Satellite Enters Design Phase

PARIS (ESA PR) — A small but powerful European telecommunications satellite – the first of a series – is to be developed under a contract signed between ESA and SWISSto12, an innovative company based in Renens, Switzerland.

The MicroGEO Partnership Project is part of ESA’s efforts to support fast, dynamic and agile private space firms to foster innovation and promote the competitiveness of the European space industry.

The slimline satellite will be placed into geostationary orbit some 36,000 kilometres above the Earth, from where it will stream data or broadcast television. Measuring just one cubic metre, the MicroGEO satellite will be one tenth the size of conventional geostationary satellites.

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