Six New Missions for the European Copernicus Earth Observation Program

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS 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)
  • On 1 July 2020, the European Space Agency awarded contracts for the development and construction of six further Copernicus satellites.
  • Contracts with a value of more than 800 million euro are being awarded to space companies in Germany, a high percentage of which are SMEs.
  • The new satellites are intended to help find answers to the global challenges posed by climate change, population growth and environmental problems.

BONN, Germany (DLR PR) — Sentinel satellites are at the heart of Copernicus, Europe’s largest Earth observation programme. Sentinels are already reliably and continuously providing large amounts of data on the state of the climate, vegetation and oceans. Now, six more ‘Earth Guardians’, the High Priority Candidate Missions (HPCM), are being added.

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ESA Approves €2.55 billion in Contracts for 6 Copernicus Satellite Missions

Copernicus Sentinel-3 (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Following the financial commitment from ESA Member States at last November’s Council at Ministerial Level Space19+, ESA’s industrial policy committee has approved contracts totalling €2.55 billion [$2.87 million] to forward the development of six new Copernicus satellite missions, each mission comprising two satellites, a development and a recurrent unit. 

The overall package is co-funded by the EU and ESA Member States, and relies on future funding from the EU Multiannual financial framework.

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Virgin Galactic to Unveil SpaceShipTwo Cabin Design

VSS Unity roll out on Feb. 19, 2016. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Virgin Galactic PR) — Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (“Virgin Galactic” or “the Company”), a vertically integrated aerospace company, today announced that SpaceShipTwo’s cabin interior design reveal will take place on July 28, 2020. The virtual event will be streamed live on YouTube. In celebration of this milestone, the Company will also be announcing plans to bring immersive versions of Virgin Galactic’s spaceflight and cabin interior experience, to aspiring astronauts around the world.

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UK Government to Acquire Bankrupt OneWeb

LONDON (UK Government PR) — The government has today (3 July) led a successful bid to acquire OneWeb, which develops cutting-edge satellite technology in the UK and in the US.

The move signals the government’s ambition for the UK to be a pioneer in the research, development, manufacturing, and exploitation of novel satellite technologies through the ownership of a fleet of Low Earth orbit satellites.

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Bankrupt OneWeb Acquired by Consortium Led by UK Govt, Bharti Global

OneWeb satellite (Credit: OneWeb)
  • A consortium of Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) (through the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) and Bharti Global Limited have committed to provide more than USD$1 billion to acquire OneWeb and fund the full restart of its business operations.
  • OneWeb will look to resume operations as soon as possible and continue with progress towards providing global high-speed, low latency connectivity via its state-of-the-art satellite constellation.
  • Agreement remains subject to approval by OneWeb’s creditors, the Bankruptcy Court, and applicable regulators, with completion expected by the fourth quarter of 2020.

LONDON, July 3, 2020 (OneWeb PR) – OneWeb, the communications company whose mission is to bring connectivity to governments, businesses, and people everywhere, announced today that it has entered into an agreement with a consortium led by HMG  (through the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy) and Bharti Global Limited (“Bharti”) for the acquisition of the OneWeb business in connection with its court-supervised sale process. The bid is designed to capitalise the company sufficiently as a going concern to effectuate the full end-to-end deployment of the OneWeb system.

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USSF Commercial SATCOM Office Announces Development of New Security Program

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (USSF PR) — The U.S. Space Force Commercial Satellite Communications Office recently announced the development of its Infrastructure Asset Pre-Assessment Program.

The objective of the IA-PRE Program is to advance the security posture of current and future commercial satellite communications procurements for the Department of Defense. As the sole authority for procurement of COMSATCOM services for all of the DoD, the USSF must ensure the most secure space systems are available to support the U.S., its allies, and the joint warfighters.

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Ground Control to Faraday-1: DSTL to Operate First Space Mission

Faraday-1 satellite (Credit: DSTL)

LONDON (DSTL PR) — The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s (DSTL) new satellite control ground station will support its first space mission following the launch of the Faraday-1 satellite. This mission will contribute towards international research collaborations to facilitate satellite operations between nations in support of wider defence science and technology goals in the space domain.

Manufactured by In-Space, Faraday-1 (also known as Prometheus-1 in the MOD community) will be launched from the Rocket Lab’s complex in Mahia, New Zealand, on 3 July, and orbit the Earth for a nominal period of three years to collect commercial data for industry partners.

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NASA Awards Space Weather Follow On Instrument Contract to SwRI

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — On behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA has awarded the Space Weather Follow On-Lagrange 1 (SWFO-L1) Solar Wind Plasma Sensor (SWiPS) contract to South West Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas.

This is a cost plus fixed-fee contract with a total value of $15,579,930. The performance period begins on July 1 and runs for 76 months. The work will be performed at SwRI’s facility in San Antonio, Texas.

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NASA, University Hospitals Join Forces in Response to COVID-19

Doctors Amrita John and Shine Raju at UH Cleveland Medical Center with the device that decontaminates masks using atomic oxygen. (Credit: University Hospitals)

CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — NASA’s Glenn Research Center and University Hospitals (UH) in Cleveland have collaborated to develop new methods and technologies for decontaminating personal protective equipment (PPE) for aerospace applications and for safeguarding the health of workers caring for patients with coronavirus (COVID-19).

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NOAA to Purchase Commercial Radio Occultation Weather Data

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NOAA will purchase radio occultation (RO) data from commercial companies after determining that the measurements are useful in improving weather forecasting.

In a report released last week, NOAA said measurements provided by Spire Global and GeoOptics satellites during the second round of the Commercial Weather Data Pilot (CWDP) program in 2018 and 2019 demonstrated the utility of commercial RO data.

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USSF Field Command Structure Reduces Command Layers, Focuses on Space Warfighter Needs

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) — The Department of the Air Force and the United States Space Force have finalized the new service’s organizational structure for echelons below the headquarters, reflecting the newest branch of the armed forces’ guiding principles of being a lean, agile and mission-focused organization.

The USSF field organization will consist of three echelons of command, where the Air Force currently is organized into five echelons. USSF’s organizational structure will initially consolidate and align all organize, train and equip mission execution from former Air Force space-related units.

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NASA’s TESS Delivers New Insights Into an Ultrahot World

This illustration shows how planet KELT-9 b sees its host star. Over the course of a single orbit, the planet twice experiences cycles of heating and cooling caused by the star’s unusual pattern of surface temperatures. Between the star’s hot poles and cool equator, temperatures vary by about 1,500 F (800 C). This produces a “summer” when the planet faces a pole and a “winter” when it faces the cooler midsection. So every 36 hours, KELT-9 b experiences two summers and two winters. [Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (USRA)]

By Francis Reddy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Greenbelt, Md. — Measurements from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) have enabled astronomers to greatly improve their understanding of the bizarre environment of KELT-9 b, one of the hottest planets known.

“The weirdness factor is high with KELT-9 b,” said John Ahlers, an astronomer at Universities Space Research Association in Columbia, Maryland, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “It’s a giant planet in a very close, nearly polar orbit around a rapidly rotating star, and these features complicate our ability to understand the star and its effects on the planet.”

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Johnson: Commerce Department Obstructing Hurricane Dorian Investigation

Eddie Bernice Johnson

DALLAS (Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson PR) — Today, the Department of Commerce’s Inspector General Peggy Gustafson sent a memo to Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross expressing concerns over the Department’s obstruction of a completed Office of Inspector General (OIG) report.

The OIG report examines a statement issued on September 6, 2019, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration regarding a tweet sent by the Birmingham National Weather Service forecast office.

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CSA Awards CAD $9 Million for Technology Development

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has awarded 14 contracts worth just over CAD $9 million (US $6.6 million) to eight companies under its Space Technology Development Program (STDP).

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) received a total of six contracts worth CAD $3.5 million (US $2.6 million). COM DEV of Cambridge, Ont., received a pair of contracts worth nearly CAD $1.6 million (US $1.1 million). And UrtheCast of Vancouver received a contract worth $999,916 (US $736,131).

“As part of a competitive process, proposals are selected based on the applicant’s (mainly industry) capacity to advance the development of specific space technologies for which they receive financial support of up to 75% of their project cost,” CSA said on its website.

The space agency plans to award additional contracts under the STDP. Details of the awards are below.

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Orion’s ‘Twin’ Completes Structural Testing for Artemis I Mission

The Orion STA, in its “full stack” launch configuration — the crew module, service module and launch abort system, as well as the spacecraft adapter and jettisonable fairings — was lifted into a reverberant acoustic chamber at Lockheed Martin for acoustic testing. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

DENVER (NASA PR) — Before NASA astronauts fly the Orion spacecraft on Artemis missions to the Moon and back, engineers needed to thoroughly test its ability to withstand the stresses of launch, climb to orbit, the harsh conditions of deep space transit, and return to Earth. NASA designed Orion from the beginning specifically to support astronauts on missions farther from Earth than any other spacecraft built for humans.

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