ESA Selects Five Micro Launcher Feasibility Studies

PARIS (ESA PR) — Small satellites usually ride piggyback on larger missions but finding a suitable match is difficult because the launch date and orbit are set by the primary payload.

A microlauncher can place a small satellite typically used for Earth observation, technology demonstration, education and telecoms into low orbits, starting from the ground or from an aerial platform.

ESA has chosen five feasibility studies from industry proposing an economically viable, commercially self-sustaining microlauncher, without public funding.

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Indra & Zero 2 Infinity Team Up

MADRID, 24 January 2018 (Zero 2 Infinity PR) – The leading consulting and technology company Indra has signed a collaboration agreement with Zero 2 Infinity, a startup specializing in Space transportation systems, with a view to rendering more simple and accessible trips into Space, a sector of enormous potential that continues opening up to private initiatives. Manuel Ausaverri, Indra Innovation and Strategy Director, and José Mariano López Urdiales, Zero 2 Infinity CEO and founder, signed the agreement at Zero 2 Infinity’s Barcelona headquarters.

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The Year Ahead in Space

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)
Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

It’s going to be busy year in space in 2017. Here’s a look at what we can expect over the next 12 months.

A New Direction for NASA?

NASA’s focus under the Obama Administration has been to try to commercialize Earth orbit while creating a foundation that would allow the space agency to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030’s.

Whether Mars will remain a priority under the incoming Trump Administration remains to be seen. There is a possibility Trump will refocus the space agency on lunar missions instead.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), who is currently viewed as a leading candidate for NASA administrator, has written two blog posts focused on the importance of exploring the moon and developing its resources. Of course, whether Bridenstine will get NASA’s top job is unclear at this time.

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An Update on the Bloostar Launch System

Bloostar balloon launch system (Credit: zero2infinity)
Bloostar balloon launch system (Credit: zero2infinity)

José Mariano López Urdiales, founder and CEO of the Spanish startup zero2infinity, gave a presentation on Thursday about the company’s Bloostar balloon-launched smallsat rocket during the International Astronautical Conference in Jerusalem.

Mark Schaffer ‏(@mgschaffer), a senior Senior Aerospace Engineer at SpaceWorks Enterprises, provided the following details via Twitter.
  • Rocket lifted by balloon to 20 km altitude for launch
  • Balloon launched from boat off Canary Islands at  27 degrees latitude
  • Payloads: 125kg to 400km @ 27 degrees low Earth orbit, 75kg to 600 km sun synchronous orbit
  • 3-stage rocket with all engines using LOX/CH4
  • 1st stage has 6 15kN LOX/LCH4 engines. 2nd & 3rd stages use same 2kN LOX/LCH4 engine; 6 engines on 2nd stage, 1 engine on 3rd
  • Balloon to be used as communications relay after rocket release
  • First test flight of orbital vehicle Q2 2018, first commercial flights after 4th test flight
  • Developing upper stage first
  • Will offer suborbital flights with 75 kg to 180km by Q4 2016
  • Expects $4.0M USD per launch, lower for block buy
  • Launch cost will be half price of competitors
  • Program has 25 investors from Hong Kong, France, Germany and Spain
  • Funding available to reach initial operations
  • €198M in letters of intent from customers across 7 countries.