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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New Funding Call for UK Earth Observation Sector

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — More than £800,000 [$983,000] is available to the UK space sector as part of European Space Agency (ESA) support for innovative commercial projects related to Earth Observation.

The programme, InCubed, aims to support industry-led initiatives that will open new market opportunities. The call will bring innovative systems and products to market faster and help Earth Observation businesses compete in the global marketplace.

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Kleos Space to Launch Development Technology in Early July

Kleos Scouting Mission (Credit: Kleos Space)

LUXEMBOURG, 26 June 2020 (Kleos Space PR) — Kleos Space S.A. (ASX : KSS, Francfort : KS1), the Luxembourg RF Earth Observation Company, is launching new data collecting technology (software defined radio payload) integrated in an In-Space Missions (In-Space) Faraday-1 spacecraft to be launched into a sun-synchronous orbit from New Zealand by Rocket Lab in a weeks’ time as part of the Company’s R&D programme.

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LeoStella Delivers First BlackSky Satellites from its New Production Line

TUKWILA, Wa., June 22, 2020 – LeoStella, a specialized satellite constellation design and manufacturer, announced today the delivery of the first two satellites fully manufactured from its state-of-the-art production line. The satellites are the fifth and sixth of an ongoing Earth observation constellation program for the global monitoring company, BlackSky.

LeoStella’s intelligent manufacturing facility is the first of its kind and opened in 2019. The satellites were delivered to the launch facility on June 1, 2020 and have been prepared for an upcoming SpaceX launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

LeoStella’s ability to minimize costs and reduce development and manufacturing time helps meet the increasing demand for satellite constellations in a time sensitive ecosystem. 

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New International Ocean Satellite Completes Testing

Mission team members perform acoustic tests of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite in a chamber outfitted with giant speakers that blast the spacecraft with sound. This is to ensure that the high decibels associated with liftoff won’t damage the spacecraft. (Credit: Airbus)

A team of engineers in the U.S. and Europe subjected the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft to a battery of trials to ready it for liftoff later this year.


Once the state-of-the-art Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite launches in November, it will collect the most accurate data yet on sea level – a key indicator of how Earth’s warming climate is affecting the oceans, weather and coastlines. But first, engineers need to ensure that the spacecraft can survive the rigors of launch and of operating in the harsh environment of space. That’s where meticulous testing comes in.

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JAXA to Launch Vietnamese Satellite on Upgraded Epsilon S Launcher

Epsilon rocket on launch pad (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has signed a contract to launch the Earth observation satellite LOTUSat-1 for Vietnam developed and manufactured by NEC Corporation (NEC) on the Epsilon rocket from Uchinoura.

We have signed a contract with NEC for launching the the observatory. This launch is scheduled for 2023, and this is the first time that the Epsilon rocket has been commissioned to launch an overseas satellite payload.

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Schedule for Upcoming Launches

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

The week ahead features launches by Rocket Lab and SpaceX, Vega’s first rideshare mission, two Chinese launches, and a Japanese sounding rocket flight.

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Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator Announces Class of 2020

LOS ANGELES (Techstars PR) — Today Techstars announce the 10 companies joining the second class of the Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator, typically located in Los Angeles but running virtually this summer due to COVID-19.

Over the next three months these companies will rapidly accelerate their businesses by working closely with Techstars, Starburst, our network of expert mentors, and our formal sponsors from industry and government: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, Maxar Technologies, SAIC, Israel Aerospace Industries North America, and the U.S. Air Force, with support from The Aerospace Corporation. Our Demo Day is on September 9, 2020.

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China Launches 4 Satellites on 2 Boosters

While the United States was focused last week on its first domestic flight of astronauts to orbit in 9 years, China was busy with a pair of launches that placed four satellites into space.

A Long March 11 booster launched the Xinjishu Shiyan-G and Xinjishu Shiyan-H technology test satellites from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Friday, May 29.

The Xinjishu Shiyan-G satellite was developed by the Shanghai Institute of Microsatellite Innovation, which is part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The National University of Defence Technology developed the Xinjishu Shiyan-H satellite.

The satellites will test new Earth observation technology and inter-satellite communications.

On Sunday, a Long March 2D rocket launched the Gaofen-9 (02) remote sensing satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Inner Mongolia.

The microwave spacecraft is the latest in a series of high-definition Earth observation satellites. Gaofen-9 (02) will be used for a variety of civilian purposes ranging from land use and urban planning to crop estimation and disaster prevention.

The Long March 2D booster carried the HEAD-4 technology and communications satellite as a secondary payload. The spacecraft is owned by HEAD Aerospace Tech Co. Ltd. of Beijing.

Planet to Launch Six Satellites on SpaceX Falcon 9 Flights

Falcon 9 launch with fourth batch of Starlink satellites. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

SAN FRANCISCO (Planet PR) — Planet is set to launch six more SkySat satellites (SkySats 16-21) into Low Earth Orbit this summer, rounding out the fleet of 15 SkySats already in operation.

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CSA Issues Letter of Interest for 7 Priority Technologies

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has issued a Letter of Interest (LOI) for seven priority technologies the agency wants industry to develop under its Space Technology Development Program.

The technologies include: improved wide-field astronomical imaging; exoplanet search; advanced planetary exploration instruments; improvements in synthetic aperture radar imaging; and the use block chain with Earth observation data.

Below is a table summarizing the seven technologies.

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Satellogic Raises $50 Million

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Satellogic PR) — Satellogic, the first company to develop a scalable earth observation platform with the ability to remap the entire planet at both high-frequency and high-resolution, today announced $50M in funding from new and existing investors. Today’s announcement comes on the heels of Satellogic’s $38M Dedicated Satellite Constellation (DSC) agreement with ABDAS to deliver access to a dedicated fleet of satellites providing them with high-resolution geospatial insights that will contribute to the monitoring of agriculture over the Henan Province in China and strengthen governmental decisions.

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USAF Seeks SBIR Proposals for Cislunar Space Operations

In what might be a reaction to China’s ambitious space program, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) will award funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to proposals for commercial technology that will allow it to operate in cislunar space.

“As the space beyond geosynchronous orbit becomes more crowded and competitive, it is important for the Air Force to extend its space domain awareness responsibilities to include this new regime.. To support this new body of work, the Air Force is seeking commercial innovation in support of space domain awareness for future cislunar operations,” the service said in a pre-solicitation notice.

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International Space Station Adds a Powerful New Camera

Orange County, Calif. (Credit: The Aerospace Corporation)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — Aerospace’s new infrared camera is now obtaining unique high-contrast, nighttime images from its home on the International Space Station (ISS). The 45-kilogram instrument, known as the Near Infrared Airglow Camera (NIRAC), will provide detailed observations of clouds at night for weather prediction, among other applications.  

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Soyuz Booster to Launch COSMO-Skymed, Cheops, ANGELS, Eyesat and OPS-SAT

Replica of OPS-SAT (Credit: ESA–Stijn Laagland)

PARIS (CNES PR) — On Tuesday 17 December, Soyuz will lift off for the 23rd time from the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana, carrying COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation for the Italian space agency ASI and the Italian Ministry of Defence, CHEOPS for the European Space Agency (ESA), ANGELS and EyeSat for CNES, and OPS-SAT for operator Tyvak on behalf of ESA.

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