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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Pre-shipment Review Held on LARES2 Platform for First Vega C Launch

LARES2 satellite undergoing pre-shipment inspection. (Credit: ASI)

The satellite, installed on the LARES System platform, is preparing to leave Italy to reach the European base in French Guiana where, on board the inaugural flight of the ESA Vega C launcher, it will be put into orbit.

MILAN, Italy (Italian Space Agency PR) — On 23 and 24 March 2022, the Pre-Shipment Review was held at the OHB Italia headquarters in Milan , during which the Italian Space Agency checked the status of the LARES2 System and authorized its shipment to the site launch, the European spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana.

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Serco Europe Launches Space Research Incubator in Italy

ROME (Serco Europe PR) — Serco Europe, a leading provider of services to the space sector, has just launched a research incubator at its Italian Head Office near Rome.

The Red Lab is a research hub which aims to strengthen Serco’s relationships with universities and research institutes and encourage cooperation in space research and innovation.

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