ESA Awards Airbus €300 Million Copernicus Satellite Contract

CRISTAL satellite (Credit: ESA)
  • CRISTAL will measure sea ice thickness and ice sheet elevations
  • Airbus in Germany will lead the industrial consortium
  • Contract is worth € 300 million

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany, 21 September 2020 – The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected Airbus to develop and build the Copernicus polar ice and snow topography mission (CRISTAL). With two satellites the CRISTAL mission will ensure the long-term continuation of radar altimetry ice elevation and change records. It is one of six new missions to expand the current capabilities of the Copernicus space component for the benefit of all European citizens. The contract is worth € 300 million [$352 million].

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Pixxel Enters Service Agreement with Momentus for Second Satellite Launch

SANTA CLARA, Calif. and Bangalore, India, September 22, 2020 (Momentus PR) — Momentus Inc. (“Momentus” or the “Company”), a commercial space company providing in-space satellite transportation and infrastructure services, and Pixxel, a Bengaluru headquartered space-tech startup, today announced the execution of a service agreement for delivering Pixxel’s second smallsat to SSO orbit in December 2021 onboard a SpaceX Falcon-9 launch, as well as options to fly again in 2022.

Pixxel is building a constellation of cutting-edge earth imaging small satellites that can provide real-time remote sensing data across the world. The Momentus Shuttle Service will provide a rideshare for multiple Pixxel spacecraft to predefined orbits.

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SSTL Demonstrates New GNSS-R Capabilities

4 Delay Doppler Maps (DDMs) collected by DoT-1 that show signal reflections from 4 GPS satellites. (Credit: Surrey Satellite Technology)

GUILDFORD, UK (SSTL PR) — Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has successfully demonstrated GNSS-Reflectometry (GNSS-R) from its 18kg DoT-1 satellite. SSTL has pioneered the new field of GNSS-R with successful payloads on board TechDemoSat-1 and the CYGNSS constellation, and is continuing to develop the technology and data analysis in pursuit of this new science.

The latest GNSS-R payload on-board the DoT-1 satellite is incorporated within the new small form factor Core Avionics module integral to all SSTL’s future satellite platforms. This innovation paves the way for any SSTL satellite that can accommodate a nadir pointing antenna to become part of a GNSS-R small-sat constellation.

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UrtheCast Granted Protection Order From Creditors as it Seeks to Restructure

VANCOUVER, BC, Sept. 4, 2020 (UrtheCast PR) – UrtheCast Corp. (TSX: UR) (“UrtheCast” or the “Company”) was granted an initial order (the “Initial Order”) today pursuant to the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (the “CCAA”) by the Supreme Court of British Columbia on application by the Company seeking court protection from its creditors to allow it to pursue a restructuring of its business and property as a going concern.

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ESA Launches First AI Earth Observation Satellite, Selects a Second

Vega begins its ascent from the Spaceport in French Guiana, carrying CubeSats and microsatellites on a flight to validate Europe’s innovative Small Spacecraft Mission Service. (Credit: Arianespace)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Following the successful launch of ɸ-sat-1 – Europe’s first artificial intelligence Earth observation mission – plans are already underway for the next innovative state-of-the-art technology, ɸ-sat-2.

ɸ-sat-1, an enhancement of the Federated Satellite Systems mission, was launched onboard a Vega rocket from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on 3 September at 02:51 BST/03:51 CEST (22:51 on 2 September, Kourou local time). ɸ-sat-1, pronounced PhiSat-1, will demonstrate how satellite data, coupled with advanced onboard digital technologies, can bring benefits to business, industry and science.

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China Launches Remote Sensing Satellite

TAIYUAN SATELLITE LAUNCH CENTER, China (CNSA PR) — At 13:57 on September 7, the Long March 4B carrier rocket ignited and lifted off at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, successfully sending the Gaofen 11 02 satellite into the scheduled orbit, and the launch was a complete success.

Gaofen 11 02 is an optical remote sensing satellite with a ground pixel resolution of up to sub-meter level. It is mainly used for land surveys, urban planning, land right confirmation, road network design, crop yield estimation, disaster prevention and mitigation, etc.

At the same time, it can also provide information guarantee for the implementation of major national strategies such as the “Belt and Road” initiative and the modernization of national defense.

This mission is the 345th launch of the Long March series of carrier rockets.

What’s On Board Vega Booster

The European Vega rocket that launched this evening was carrying 53 satellites on its first rideshare mission as part of the Small Spacecraft Mission Service Proof of Concept Flight.

The payloads included 14 Flock 4V Earth imaging satellites from Planet, 12 SpaceBEE Internet of Things spacecraft from Swarm Technologies, and 8 maritime monitoring satellites from Spire.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches Argentine Satellite

Falcon 9 lifts off with the SAOCOM 1B satellite. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched an Argentine Earth observation satellite on Sunday in a rare polar orbit flight from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

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A Whole Bunch of Launches Scheduled — Again

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanity’s first-ever mission into a part of the Sun’s atmosphere called the corona. Here it will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Bored beyond tears due to the lockdown? Got nothing to do and nowhere to go? Only reruns on the tube?

Stay home, grab some beers, and fire up that computer. There’s a whole bunch of launches on the schedule over the next four days. ULA, Rocket Lab, SpaceX, Astra and Arianespace are all back in action with six launches from three countries.

SpaceX will attempt two launches on the same day from Florida on Sunday. The company might also attempt a hop of its sixth Starship prototype this weekend. The timing for that is uncertain.

Remember: launches are subject to change without notice. And wagering is strictly prohibited.

August 29

UPDATE: The booster performed an abort at T minus 3 seconds. United Launch Alliance says it will be at least seven days before they can attempt another launch.

Launch Vehicle: Delta IV Heavy
Payload: NROL-44
Launch Time: 2:04 a.m. EDT (0612 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.ulalaunch.com/

An United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket will launch the classified NROL-44 satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

August 29/30

UPDATE: New Electron launch date is Aug. 30/31 with the same launch window.

Launch Vehicle: Electron
Mission Name: “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Optical”
Payload: Sequoia
Launch Window: 11:05 p.m.-3:05 a.m. EDT on Aug. 29/30 (0305-0705 GMT on Aug. 29)
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com

Rocket Lab is back in action after the failure of its 13th launch on July 4. Electron will carry the Capella Space’s Sequoia synthetic aperture radar satellite on a dedicated mission.

August 30

UPDATE: Launch scrubbed due to weather. Next possible launch window is on Tuesday.

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Starlink 11
Launch Time: 10:08 a.m. EDT (1408 GMT)
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

The 12th batch of approximately 60 satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband constellation.

August 30

UPDATE: Launch successful.

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: SAOCOM 1B
Launch Time: 7:19 p.m. EDT (2319 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

SpaceX will launch the SAOCOM 1B environmental satellite for Argentina’s space agency, CONAE. The mission includes the first polar orbit launch from Cape Canaveral since February 1969. The Falcon 9 first stage will attempt a relatively rare return to land instead of touching down on an offshore drone ship.

August 30/31

UPDATE: Astra has postponed the launch to Sept. 10 from 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. EDT (7-9:30 p.m. PDT)

Launch Vehicle: Rocket 3.1
Payloads: None
Launch Window: 10:00 p.m.-12:30 a.m. EDT on Aug. 30/31 (0200-0430 GMT on Aug. 31
Launch Site: Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska
Webcast: none

Astra Space will attempt the first orbital flight of its inexpensive launch vehicle.

September 1/2

Launch Vehicle: Vega
Mission Name: Small Spacecraft Mission Service Proof of Concept (SSMS POF)
Payloads: 53 small satellites
Launch Time: 9:51:10 p.m. EDT on Sept. 1 (0151:10 GMT on Sept. 2)
Launch Site: Kourou, French Guiana
Webcast: Arianespace YouTube channel

Arianespace will attempt the first rideshare mission of its Vega booster. The window for the long delayed launch extends until Sept. 4.

Four Launches in Four Days Scheduled for Coming Week

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Are you ready for some launches?

Scattered shouts

I SAID, ARE YOU READY FOR SOME LAUNCHES?!

Crowd goes crazy

That’s better. As Doc Brown once said, starting Thursday you’re going see some serious s***.

August 27

Launch Vehicle: Delta 4 Heavy
Payload: NROL-44
Launch Time: 2:12 a.m. EDT (0612 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.ulalaunch.com/

An United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket will launch the classified NROL-44 satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

August 28

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: SAOCOM 1B
Launch Time: 7:19 p.m. EDT (2319 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

SpaceX will launch the SAOCOM 1B environmental satellite for Argentina’s space agency, CONAE. The mission includes the first polar orbit launch from Cape Canaveral since February 1969. The Falcon 9 first stage will attempt a relatively rare return to land instead of touching down on an offshore drone ship.

August 28/29

Launch Vehicle: Electron
Mission Name: “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Optical”
Payload: Sequoia
Launch Time: 11:05 p.m. EDT on Aug. 28/29 (0305 GMT on Aug. 29)
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com

Rocket Lab is back in action after the failure of its 13th launch on July 4. Electron will carry the Capella Space’s Sequoia synthetic aperture radar satellite on a dedicated mission.

August 30

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Starlink 11
Launch Time: 10:08 a.m. EDT (1408 GMT)
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

The 12th batch of approximately 60 satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband constellation.

Note: Launches subject to change. Absolutely no wagering.

UK Space Innovation Programme Launches with £15 Million for Climate Change, Communications Projects

  • The first projects to be funded will use space technology to tackle global issues such as climate change or increase connectivity
  • £5 million of the funding is set aside exclusively for international space projects, to strengthen the UK’s partnerships with space faring nations

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — A new National Space Innovation Programme has launched, with an initial £15 million funding for projects related to Earth observation, communications and international partnerships.

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ESA Awards OHB Contracts for Copernicus Missions

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)

BREMEN, Germany (OHB System PR) — OHB System AG, a subsidiary of Bremen-based space and technology group OHB SE (Prime Standard, ISIN DE0005936124), has been selected by the European Space Agency ESA as the prime contractor for the CO2M mission (CO2 Monitoring Mission in the Copernicus program).

This mission includes the Copernicus satellites, which will measure global anthropogenic CO2 emissions and thus play a key role in studying the causes of climate change and monitoring it.

OHB System and OHB Italia will also be responsible for the payload on two further missions (CHIME: Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission for the Environment and CIMR: Copernicus Imaging Microwave Radiometer) as subcontractors of Thales Alenia Space.

The order volume resulting from today’s bid decisions is expected to be more than EUR 800 million [$900 million]. Final contract negotiations will start shortly and contract signings are expected in the coming weeks.

Copernicus is a satellite Earth observation program of the European Commission and the European Space Agency ESA. It provides Earth observation data for environmental protection, climate monitoring, natural disaster assessment and other social tasks.

In addition, ESA’s Industrial Policy Committee (IPC) has approved OHB System’s proposal for the HERA asteroid defense mission for final negotiations. Implementation of the HERA mission has already commenced. The contract is expected to be worth around EUR 130 million [$146 million].

ESA Selects Thales Alenia Space Proposals for Copernicus Project

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

CANNES, July 2, 2020 (Thales Alenia Space PR) — Thales Alenia Space, a Joint Venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %), has recently been selected  by the European Space Agency (ESA) in coordination and with the agreement of the European Commission, for major Copernicus missions.

Copernicus is the core satellite Earth observation program of the European Commission and the European Space Agency ESA. It provides Earth observation data for environmental protection, climate monitoring, natural disaster assessment and other social tasks.

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Unlucky 13: Rocket Lab Electron Launch Fails

Electron’s second stage fires. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Rocket Lab’s 13th launch of its Electron booster was unlucky today, with a failure of the second stage sending seven small satellites to burn up in the atmosphere instead of entering orbit after launch from Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.

“An issue was experienced today during Rocket Lab’s launch that caused the loss of the vehicle. We are deeply sorry to the customers on board Electron. The issue occurred late in the flight during the 2nd stage burn. More information will be provided as it becomes available,” the company tweeted.

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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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