Germany Invests 3.3 Billion Euros in European Space Exploration, Becomes ESA’s Largest Contributor

  • Three years after the last ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level, held in Lucerne, Switzerland, government representatives from the 22 Member States met in Seville, Spain, on 27 and 28 November 2019 and committed a total of almost 14.4 billion euro [$15.87 billion] for space programmes over the next few years.
  • Germany is contributing 3.3 billion euro [$3.6 billion] to ESA programmes focusing on Earth observation, telecommunications, technological advancement and commercialisation / NewSpace.
  • At 22.9 percent, Germany is now ESA’s largest contributor, followed by France (18.5 percent, 2.66 billion euro), Italy (15.9 percent, 2.28 billion euro) and the United Kingdom (11.5 percent, 1.65 billion euro).
  • The ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level is the highest political decision-making body, and it defines the content and financial framework for ESA’s space programmes every two to three years.
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UK Invests in European Space Agency Programs

SEVILLE, Spain (UKSA PR) — The UK Space Agency has today (28 November) announced it will invest £374m [$411.75 million] per year with the European Space Agency (ESA) to deliver international space programmes over the next five years.

The UK is one of the founding members of ESA, an inter-governmental organisation established in 1975 to promote cooperation in space research, technology and applications development. ESA is independent of the EU, bringing together countries across Europe and around the world.

Membership enables the UK to collaborate with space agencies across the world on projects like the International Space Station and the ExoMars programme to send a UK-built rover to search for signs of life on Mars.

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ESA Ministers Commit to Biggest Ever Budget of $15.84 Billion

Credit: ESA

Ministers approved funding lunar Gateway, space station operations until 2030, Mars Sample Return and Hera asteroid missions

SEVILLE, Spain (ESA PR) — ESA’s Council at Ministerial Level, Space19+, has concluded in Seville, Spain, with the endorsement of the most ambitious plan to date for the future of ESA and the whole European space sector. The meeting brought together ministers with responsibility for space activities in Europe, along with Canada and observers from the EU.

The Member States were asked to approve a comprehensive set of programmes to secure Europe’s independent access to and use of space in the 2020s, boost Europe’s growing space economy, and make breakthrough discoveries about Earth, our Solar System and the Universe beyond, all the while making the responsible choice to strengthen the efforts we are making to secure and protect our planet.

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ESA Looks to Automate Orbital Collision Avoidance

A satellite mega-constellation (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA is preparing to use machine learning to protect satellites from the very real and growing danger of space debris.

The Agency is developing a collision avoidance system that will automatically assess the risk and likelihood of in-space collisions, improve the decision making process on whether or not a manoeuvre is needed, and may even send the orders to at-risk satellites to get out of the way.

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SIA Releases Principles of Space Safety for Commercial Satellite Industry

WASHINGTON, DC (SIA PR) — The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) today announced the release of a set of Principles of Space Safety, drafted to help protect freedom of use and long-term access to space by ensuring safe flight operations for satellites, human spacecraft and other space missions.

SIA is a U.S.-based trade association that for more than two decades has advocated on behalf of the U.S. satellite industry regarding policy, regulatory, and legislative issues affecting the commercial satellite business. 

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LeoLabs Unveils Kiwi Space Radar

Kiwi Space Radar (Credit LeoLabs)

MENLO PARK, Calif., October 14, 2019 (LeoLabs PR) — LeoLabs, Inc., the leading commercial provider of low Earth orbit (LEO) mapping and space situational awareness (SSA) services, introduced a new era of transparency in LEO today with the launch of its Kiwi Space Radar (KSR).

As the first commercial radar to track objects in LEO smaller than 10 centimeters, the KSR sets a new standard for tracking the full range of threats to satellites from orbital debris. Located in New Zealand, the KSR also expands LeoLabs’ radar network to the southern hemisphere, and marks the first of a series of next generation LeoLabs radars to be deployed globally.

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Using AI to Stave Off Collisions in Space

Predicted conjunction between Aeolus and Starlink 44 satellites. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA is challenging machine learning experts to help forecast and prevent collisions in space. The Agency’s Advanced Concepts Team and Space Debris Office have come together to set up the latest in a series of AI-themed competitions based on actual space data.

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Canada Seeks Proposals on Tracking & De-orbiting Space Debris

Department of National Defence & Canadian Armed Forces

Challenged Details

Collision Course – Tracking and De-orbiting Space Debris
Full Tender

Challenge Statement

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF) are looking for viable and cost-effective solutions for tracking and de-orbiting space debris in order to reduce the collision threat for orbiting space systems.

Background and Context

While “space debris” technically includes asteroids, comets and meteoroids, this challenge refers specifically to orbit debris, space junk, space waste, space trash, space litter or space garbage, as well as fragments from their disintegration and collisions. Space surveillance networks regularly track about 22,300 debris objects in earth orbits, totaling more than 8,400 tonnes, which includes 1,950 operational satellites. As of January 2019, the total number of debris objects that are estimated by statistical models to be in earth orbits are 34,000 (greater than 10 cm); 900,000 objects (1 cm to 10 cm); and 128 million objects (1 mm to 1 cm)1.

When in Earth orbits, space debris pose a risk of collision with space vehicles, humans, and even with other debris. The hazards posed by debris collisions include erosion to hulls, solar panels and optics; fragmentation leading to rapid increases in the total population of space debris; total loss of a vehicle and/or an asset; and major injury and/or loss of human life. Space debris will grow as the number of human-made objects in Earth orbits increase over time.

There are no operational debris removal capabilities in use, globally, and existing prototypes lack important capabilities and have proven ineffective. For instance, there is a need to capture and deorbit multiple pieces of debris per clean-up effort or the capability becomes extremely expensive; as well, capabilities are needed to track and capture space debris smaller than 10cm or larger than the capturing vehicle (e.g., rocket bodies).

Desired Outcomes

The DND/CAF is looking for innovative space debris solutions for one or more of the following:

  • Reliable and robust solutions for tracking space debris below the 10cm diameter size;
  • Concepts, designs or prototypes for deorbiting multiple pieces of debris of any size.

Maximum Funding and Performance Period

Multiple contracts could result from this Challenge.

The individual maximum contract funding available under Competitive Projects – Component 1a is up to $200,000 CAD [$170,412 USD] (excluding applicable taxes) for a maximum performance period of up to 6 months.

This disclosure is made in good faith and does not commit Canada to contract for the total approximate funding.

ISRO to Create Space Situational Awareness Center

BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — Space Situational Awareness & Management (SSAM) has become an internationally significant area due to the ever growing man made space debris population and the increased collision threat with operational spacecraft.

ISRO Chairman K Sivan laid the foundation stone for Space Situational Awareness Control Centre at Peenya, Bengaluru on 2nd August, which is an important milestone in the progress of ISRO.

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Astroscale Advances Environmentally Sustainable Use of Space through ESA / OneWeb Sunrise Project

End-of-Life Service by Astroscale demonstrator (ELSA-d) satellite. (Credit: Astroscale UK Ltd)

HARWELL, UK (Astroscale PR) – Astroscale Ltd. (“Astroscale”), the market-leader in developing a space debris removal service to secure long-term orbital sustainability, has been awarded a contract under the Sunrise Project, a Public-Private Partnership led by the European Space Agency (ESA) and OneWeb, a global communications company on a mission to connect the unconnected through a global satellite constellation.

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NIAC Award: Crosscutting High Apogee Refueling Orbital Navigator for Active Debris Removal

Crosscutting High Apogee Refueling Orbital Navigator (CHARON) for active debris removal. (Credit: John Slough)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program
Phase I Award: Up to $125,000 for 9 Months

Crosscutting High Apogee Refueling Orbital Navigator (CHARON) for Active Debris Removal
John Slough
MSNW LLC

As of January 2018 an estimated 8,100 tons of space debris has accumulated in low Earth orbit consisting of spent rocket bodies, mission-related debris, and collision fragments. The vast majority of these objects are too small to detect with radar systems, but there are over 29,000 known objects larger than 10 cm. Impacts between these objects and operating missions have damaged costly equipment, required expensive collision avoidance maneuvers, and endangered the lives of astronauts on the international space station.

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Astroscale Raises $30 Million Series D Round, Opens U.S. Office

End-of-Life Service by Astroscale demonstrator (ELSA-d) satellite. (Credit: Astroscale UK Ltd)

DENVER, April 10, 2019 (Astroscale PR) – Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market-leader in developing a space debris removal service to secure long-term orbital sustainability, today announced the opening of a new office in Denver, Colorado (“Astroscale U.S.”), adding a strategic United States base to already established entities in Singapore, Japan and the United Kingdom. In concert with the expansion of its global presence, Astroscale has solidified its leadership team and secured an additional US $30 million in an extension of its Series D investment round. The funding extension round brings the total Series D amount to US $80 million and total capital raised to US $132 million.

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