Was There Life on Mars? UK Scientists Play Key Part in NASA Mission to Red Planet

Panorama of Perseverance Rover’s landing site on Mars. (Credit: NASA)

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — After a seven-month journey, NASA’s car-sized Mars Perseverance rover will make its final descent to the Red Planet to begin its search for traces of life.

The rover’s mission – backed by the UK government – is to explore and collect samples for future return to Earth from diverse ancient environments on Mars. Supported by over £400,000 in funds from the UK Space Agency, researchers at Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum will help to decide which samples are sent to Earth in a search for evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars.

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Thales and Airbus Selected by DGA to Upgrade France’s Joint Electronic Warfare Capabilities

TOULOUSE/PARIS, France, 11 February 2021 (Airbus PR) – The French defence procurement agency (DGA) has awarded Thales and Airbus a contract for the new joint tactical signals intelligence (SIGINT) system to upgrade the French forces’ critical signals monitoring, direction finding and spectrum analysis capabilities.

The 10-year contract will equip the three armed forces with a common information system and set of sensors and is designated a high-impact programme (PEM), alongside CONTACT and SCORPION, under France’s defence spending plan. This joint tactical SIGINT system will provide French armed forces command with an expanded tactical electronic support measures (ESM) capability.

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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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Three More Service Modules for Artemis to be Built in Europe

Artist’s impression of Orion over Earth. (Credit: NASA/ESA/ATG Medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA signed a further contract with Airbus for the construction of three more European Service Modules for Orion, NASA’s spacecraft that will fly astronauts to the Moon and lunar Gateway as part of the Artemis programme.

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Airbus Studies “Moon Cruiser” Concept for ESA’s Cis-lunar Transfer Vehicle

CLTV concept from Airbus Moon Cruiser at the lunar Gateway. (Credit: Airbus)

Versatile, autonomous logistics vehicle to support future lunar missions based on heritage from Orion ESM and ATV

Toulouse, 28 January 2021 – Airbus has been awarded a CLTV (Cis-Lunar Transfer Vehicle) study for a “Moon Cruiser” by the European Space Agency (ESA). According to the study concept (two parallel Phase A/B1), the CLTV is a versatile, autonomous logistics vehicle that could, for example, provide timely and efficient support to NASA and ESA in the implementation of the future Artemis Moon missions. The spacecraft will be based on existing and proven technologies and will complement the multipurpose European Large Logistic Lander (EL3).

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ESA Books Two Payload Missions on Airbus Bartolomeo Platform

Bartolomeo external experiment platform (Credit: NASA)
  • Exobiology and material exposure experiments on new ISS payload hosting facility
  • Framework agreement facilitates future slot bookings by ESA

BREMEN / NOORDWIJK, 21 January 2021 (Airbus PR) — The European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus have agreed on service orders for two independent payload missions to be launched to the Bartolomeo payload hosting facility on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2022 and 2024, respectively.

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Astronauts to Boost European Connectivity

Image taken by ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano from outside the International Space Station on the first spacewalk to service the cosmic ray detecting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02). The image shows the three main laboratory modules, clockwise from top: the US Destiny lab, Japanese Kibo module and the European Columbus lab. (Credit: ESA–L. Parmitano, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are planning a spacewalk to install a high-speed satellite link that will improve their connections with Europe.

The system will enable astronauts to connect at home broadband internet speeds – delivering a whole family’s worth of video streaming for communications and a data pipeline connecting the scientific experiments aboard the Station to researchers in Europe.

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SpaceX, L3Harris Win Space Development Agency Awards After Unsuccessful Challenges

National Defense Space Architecture tracking layer. (Credit: Department of Defense)

The Space Development Agency has reaffirmed its decision to award contracts to build missile warning satellites to L3Harris and SpaceX following unsuccessful appeals by rival bidders.

L3Harris and SpaceX will each build four satellites to detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles as part of the agency’s Tracking Layer Tranche 0 program. L3Harris received a $193.5 million contract while SpaceX’s contract is worth $149 million.

The Space Development Agency awarded the contracts in October. However, the agency placed issued temporary stop-work orders after Airbus and Raytheon filed protests with the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

SpaceNews reports that the Space Development Agency agreed to reevaluate the selection process in response to the protests. The second review reaffirmed the original decision to award the contracts to L3Harris and SpaceX. GAO has dismissed the protests filed by Airbus and Raytheon.

Airbus Signs Multi-Satellite Contract with Intelsat for OneSat Flexible Satellites

OneSat Intelsat SDS (Credit: Airbus)

Shaping the future with Intelsat: provision of next-generation Software Defined Satellites for global telecommunications services

New success for OneSat, reinforcing its leading position in the market

Toulouse / Mclean, Va, 8 January 2021 – Airbus has signed a contract with Intelsat to build two OneSat satellites operating in multiple frequency bands for Intelsat’s next-generation software-defined network. The contract was signed on 31 December 2020.

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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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Fraunhofer and Airbus Sign Contract for Payload Mission on ISS Bartolomeo Platform

The Bartolomeo platform, with blue hinges centre-right of the photo, is at the end of the Dextre attachment that is part of Canada’s 16-m robotic arm for the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

Airbus’ novel payload hosting service enables the in-space technology demonstration of a multispectral camera for ConstellR, a Fraunhofer EMI spin-off

Bremen, 14 December 2020 – Airbus and Fraunhofer EMI have signed a contract for an in-orbit demonstration mission on the Bartolomeo platform of the International Space Station (ISS). With this mission, Fraunhofer EMI enables its spin-off ConstellR to demonstrate the core measurement technology required for highly accurate land surface temperature (LST) monitoring on a global scale.

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NASA and DLR Strength­en Co­op­er­a­tion

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — On 17 December 2020, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) extended their framework agreement on bilateral cooperation for a further ten years.

The agreement was signed by NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, Chair of the DLR Executive Board, Professor Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, and Member of the DLR Executive Board and Head of the DLR Space Administration, Walther Pelzer, who met via video conference to mark the occasion.

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Interplanetary Internet & Cameras in Space: ESA’s OPS-SAT First Results

As a flying laboratory, ESA’s OPS-SAT will test and validate new techniques in mission control and on-board systems. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — OPS-SAT is the world’s first open, in-orbit testbed for new spacecraft software and applications. By conducting low-cost, low-risk experiments with OPS-SAT, teams from across Europe are ushering in a new era for European spaceflight innovation and commercial opportunity.

  • OPS-SAT’s commissioning phase ended in September and the first experiments are now being carried out in orbit
  • Innovative new technologies are being tested on OPS-SAT in areas such as artificial intelligence, data compression, and space-based web services
  • Initial experimental results have exceeded expectations
  • Results from many more experiments expected soon
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ArianeGroup Signs Contract with ESA to Develop Themis Reusable Stage Demonstrator

Themis rocket in flight. (Credit: CNES)
  • The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded ArianeGroup the contract for the initial development phase of the Themis reusable rocket stage demonstrator
  • This first contract, worth 33 million euros, was awarded to ArianeGroup following preparatory work done by ArianeWorks, the innovation accelerator platform created by the French space agency CNES and ArianeGroup
  • Themis, powered by the Prometheus engine, will enable Europe to develop technologies for future low-cost reusable launchers

PARIS (ArianeGroup PR) — ArianeGroup has received a 33-million-euro contract from the European Space Agency (ESA), to begin the first development phase for the Themis reusable rocket stage demonstrator. Themis will use Prometheus, the very low-cost rocket engine demonstrator currently under development as an ESA programme.

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Arianespace to Launch CO3D Constellation on Vega C Booster

Artist’s impression of Vega-C launcher in flight. (Credit: ESA-Jacky Huart)

EVRY, France (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace has signed a contract with Airbus to launch four new-generation optical observation satellites of the CO3D (Composante Optique 3D) constellation, to be orbited using the Vega C launcher.

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