ESA Explores Greener Way to Get Satellites Moving

A sustained test firing of a ‘green’ satellite thruster at Poland’s Institute of Aviation. (Credit: IIA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A sustained test firing of a ‘green’ satellite thruster at Poland’s Institute of Aviation, intended as a future alternative to today’s hydrazine-based apogee engines, typically used by telecommunication satellites to manoeuvre into their final geostationary orbits.

Today hydrazine is the most common propellant employed by thrusters aboard satellites: it is highly energetic in nature but also toxic and corrosive, as well as dangerous to handle and store.

ESA initiated the Green Liquid Apogee Engine for Future Spacecraft project, GRACE, to evaluate more environmentally friendly thruster options, with testing culminating in a sustained 60-second thruster firing.

GRACE assessed various options, finding the most effective bipropellant combination used ‘high test peroxide’ (HTP) as oxidiser – a much purer version of the same chemical used to bleach hair, which is split into oxygen and water steam using a catalyst – plus TMPDA fuel.

This was a nearly all-Polish project, supported through ESA’s Polish Industry Incentive. Poland’s Institute of Aviation oversaw management, design and testing, with Jakusz providing the HTP, WB Electronics, represented by Flytronic manufacturing most thruster components. Thales Alenia Space in the UK provided requirements and guidelines for design and testing – including the provision of a 500 Newton kerosene-powered thruster, used as a model for the GRACE demonstrator.

“The programme successfully demonstrated a robust catalyst bed capable of sustaining a minute’s continuous firing,” notes ESA propulsion engineer Ferran Valencia Bel.

”GRACE’s success demonstrates Poland’s technical excellence in the area of rocket propulsion, part of a larger ESA effort to put the space industry onto a more sustainable footing, finding non-toxic alternatives to legacy chemicals and materials.” 

Telesat Lightspeed to Receive $400 Million Investment from the Government of Québec

  • The Lightspeed program is expected to bring $1.8 billion of investment into the Québec aerospace sector, creating 600 new highly-skilled, high-paying jobs and billions of dollars in economic growth.
  • Telesat selects Canada’s MDA to deliver the state-of-the-art phased array antennas for Lightspeed satellites.
  • Telesat’s prime contractor, Thales Alenia Space, will establish the Lightspeed satellites’ final assembly and manufacturing in Québec and is in discussions with Québec-based partners.

MONTRÉAL (Telesat PR) – Telesat, one of the world’s largest satellite operators, announced today that it has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Québec for an investment of $400 million [US $317 million] into Telesat Lightspeed, Telesat’s highly advanced Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite network. Telesat will invest $1.6 billion [US $1.27 billion] into Québec, both directly and through its supply chain, which will include a significant portion of Lightspeed manufacturing and operations. The Lightspeed program will create 600 high-paying STEM jobs, leverage Québec’s substantial aerospace expertise and infrastructure, and allow the province to harness the significant economic growth from the burgeoning New Space Economy.

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Telesat to Redefine Global Broadband Connectivity with Telesat Lightspeed, the World’s Most Advanced Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellite Network

Thales Alenia Space Selected to Manufacture First-of-its-kind Dynamic LEO Broadband Network with Services Starting in 2023

OTTAWA, CANADA, February 09, 2021 (Telesat PR) – Telesat, one of the world’s largest satellite operators, announced today that it has entered into an agreement with Thales Alenia Space to be the prime manufacturer of Telesat’s global LEO constellation, Lightspeed, initially comprised of a fleet of 298 next-generation satellites integrated with an advanced ground network. Lightspeed is the most innovative, cutting-edge broadband satellite network ever conceived. Thales Alenia Space and its affiliate Telespazio have made a Lightspeed capacity commitment in connection with the agreement.

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Sentinel-6 Passes In-orbit Tests with Flying Colors

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will map up to 95% of Earth’s ice-free ocean every 10 days in order to monitor sea level variability. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — In November 2020, the Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite was launched into orbit from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US. Now, months later, the satellite has successfully passed what is known as the ‘in-orbit verification phase’, where its equipment is switched on and the instruments’ performance is checked.

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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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LIST & Gradal Announce Joint Luxembourg Lab Producing Ultra-lightweight Structures for Satellites

Ultra-lightweight technology. (Credit: Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology)

LUXEMBOURG (LIST PR) — The Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) is thrilled to announce a new partnership venture with established Luxembourg company Gradel to research and produce ultra-lightweight structures for the aeronautics and space industry. Parts will be produced for three European giants in satellite construction; Thales Alenia Space (France), Airbus Defence and Space (France), and OHB (Germany).

*LIST will be the home of a joint laboratory at the institute’s new premises in Hautcharage to research and develop the ground-breaking Gradel’s technology known as “xFK in 3D”. 

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European Commission Awards €1.47 Billion in Contracts for 2nd Generation of Galileo Satellites

BRUSSELS (European Commission PR) — Today the Commission awarded two contracts for 12 Satellites (6 satellites each) for a total of €1.47 billion, to Thales Alenia Space (Italy) and Airbus Defence & Space (Germany) following an open competition.

With this, the Commission is initiating the launch of the 2nd Generation of Galileo, the European satellite positioning system. The aim is to keep Galileo ahead of the technological curve compared to global competition and maintaining it as one of the best performing satellite positioning infrastructures in the world while strengthening it as a key asset for Europe’s strategic autonomy.

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European Gateway Module to be Built in France as Thomas Pesquet Readies for Second Spaceflight

Artemis Gateway orbiting the moon. (Credit: NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA signed a contract today with Thales Alenia Space to start building the European module for the lunar Gateway that will provide the new human exploration facility with communications and refuelling.

The Gateway is being built by the partners of the International Space Station and will enable sustainable exploration around – and on – the Moon, while allowing for space research and demonstrating the technologies and processes necessary to conduct a future mission to Mars.

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Russia Achieves Clean Launch Record for Second Year in Row

Soyuz-2 rocket lifts off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome with 36 OneWeb satellites. (Credit: Arianespace)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The outgoing year 2020 has become a difficult test for the entire world marked by the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Many world economic players have encountered objective difficulties in the implementation of previously outlined plans.

Unfortunately, Roscosmos also had to correct a number of plans, including those related to launch activities. Nevertheless, Roscosmos management put the quality of production and the safety of personnel working at the Russian rocket and space industry enterprises and cosmodromes at the forefront.

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European Space and Digital Players to Study Development of EU’s Satellite-based Connectivity System

BRUSSELS, 23 December 2020 (Airbus PR) — The European Commission has selected a consortium of European satellite manufacturers, operators and service providers, telco operators and launch service providers to study the design, development and launch of a European-owned space-based communication system.

The study will assess the feasibility of a new initiative aiming to strengthen European digital sovereignty and provide secure connectivity for citizens, commercial enterprises and public institutions as well as providing global coverage for rural and ‘not-spot’ areas. Complementing Copernicus and Galileo, this new EU flagship programme, once given the green light, would fully exploit the synergies of the technological potential akin to the Digital and Space industries. The contract value of the year-long feasibility study amounts to € 7.1 million.

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European ‘Comet Chaser’ Probe to be Designed in UK

Comet Interceptor (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — Design work will soon begin in the UK on the spacecraft for a new European Space Agency science mission, which will 3D-map a comet for the first time,

Thales Alenia Space, who have three sites in the UK and employ nearly 200 highly skilled engineers and scientists, have won one of two parallel mission study contracts for the design concept of the mothership and a smaller robotic probe for the European Space Agency (ESA) Comet Interceptor mission. Design work is also taking place in Italy.

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Arianespace to Launch EUTELSAT 10B Satellite

The Ariane 5 for Arianespace’s Flight VA253 was equipped with a new vehicle equipment bay that enabled the launcher’s payload capacity to be increased. (Credit: Arianespace)

EVRY, France (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace and Eutelsat have confirmed that EUTELSAT 10B, Eutelsat’s next generation high-throughput telecommunications satellite, will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket.

EUTELSAT 10B is scheduled for launch in 2022 on one of eight Ariane 5 missions remaining to be performed with the heavy-lift launcher.

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Teledyne e2v Signs Detector Supply Contract for Copernicus Sentinel MAP Instrument

Teledyne e2v’s Space Imaging division completes signing of Thales Alenia Space contract for the supply of a specialized image sensor for the Multi-Angle Polarimeter (MAP)

CHELMSFORD, UK, December 15, 2020 (Teledyne e2v) – Teledyne e2v, a part of the Teledyne Imaging Group, will supply image sensors to the recently announced grouped proposal of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) industrial policy committee to place six Copernicus Sentinel satellite missions in space. As the sensor partner for Thales Alenia Space, the UK team will develop, manufacture and supply variants of their Capella CMOS visible image sensor from Chelmsford.

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Government Funds UK Companies at the Forefront of Space Innovation

21 UK organisations have been awarded a share of over £7 million of funding to put the UK at the forefront of the latest advances in space innovation

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The cash injection is going to high-risk, high-reward projects that support companies and universities with radical ideas for how we tackle climate change through Earth Observation or address satellite communications challenges, from providing greater connectivity to remote places to increasing the efficiency of our homes.

Projects set for the cash boost include The Open University who will use the money to create the UK’s first Precision Forestry tool, TreeView, which will support efforts to tackle the climate emergency through detailed measurement of tree-planting initiatives aimed at increasing carbon dioxide removal.

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Telespazio and ALTEC Sign Contract with ESA for Ground Segment of Space Rider Mission

Vega payload carriers and Space Rider (Credit: ESA)

ROME, 9 December 2020 (Telespazio PR) — ALTEC and Telespazio today signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to manage the ground segment and operations for the Space Rider mission.

Space Rider is an unmanned space vehicle with a payload capacity of about 600 kg, able to carry out scientific and technological experiments in microgravity conditions, while orbiting at an altitude of about 400 km.

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