ESA Sends Astronauts to China for Spaceflight Training

Samantha Cristoforetti is a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut of Italian nationality. Between November 2014 and June 2015 she spent 199 days on board the International Space Station as a Flight Engineer for Expedition 42 and 43. During ASI’s Futura Mission, Samantha conducted experiments in the Station’s laboratories. Samantha is a Captain in the Italian Air Force.

Matthias Maurer is ESA’s newest recruit for the Agency’s astronaut corps. From Germany, Matthias was among the 10 finalists in the 2009 selection and is now undergoing basic training at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.

ELSE Raises $3 Million Seed Round for Internet of Things Constellation

Lausanne, Switzerland (August 10th, 2017) – ELSE SA, the Swiss new space start-up, today announced the funding of a $3 million seed round. The successful capital raise was enabled by a group of investors including Airbus Ventures, a Geneva-based Independent Assets Manager and Multi Family Office, as well as numerous additional Swiss- and internationally-based private investors. The seed round follows $3 million previously raised by the company in public support.

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ESA Signs Contracts to Improve Ariane 5, Vega Boosters

Vega launch vehicle (Credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA Director of Space Transportation, Daniel Neuenschwander, signed five contracts with industry at the Paris Air and Space show in France this week.

“Five contracts, one goal: to consolidate space transportation services and capacities for the benefit of Europe’s competitiveness,” he commented.

Contracts signed with ELV SpA and Airbus Safran Launchers will improve launch performance and flexibility, and maintain the competitiveness of Europe’s current and future space transportation systems.

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ESA Gives Go Ahead for Low-cost Prometheus LOX-Methane Rocket Engine

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA has given Airbus Safran Launchers the go-ahead to start working on a full-scale prototype of an ultra-low cost engine demonstrator, Prometheus, using liquid oxygen–methane propellants.

The methane reusable engine precursor in the thrust class 1000 kN will be ground tested in 2020 for use on future versions of the European launcher family, after Ariane 6 and Vega-C. Next-generation launch vehicles require a factor 10 reduction in recurrent costs of propulsion systems compared to current cryogenic engines. New propellants, the systematic application of design-to-cost approach and innovative manufacturing technologies will also be applied.

The project can derive and provide significant synergies with other propulsion demonstration projects within ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Programme, national agencies and industry.

Luxembourg, ESA Enhance Cooperation on Asteroid Missions

PARIS (Luxembourg Government PR) — At the occasion of the 2017 Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Etienne Schneider visited the ESA pavilion and, together with ESA Director General, Jan Wörner, signed a joint statement on future activities concerning missions to the asteroids, related technologies and space resources exploration and utilisation.

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Magnetic Space Tug Could Target Dead Satellites

Magnetic tug nears derelict satellite (Credit: Philippe Ogaki)

TOULOUSE, France (ESA PR) — Derelict satellites could in future be grappled and removed from key orbits around Earth with a space tug using magnetic forces.

This same magnetic attraction or repulsion is also being considered as a safe method for multiple satellites to maintain close formations in space.

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Alba Orbital Wins ESA Contract to Build Space Unicorn

Unicorn-2 spacecraft platform (Credit: Alba Space)

GLASGOW, Scotland (Alba Orbital PR) — Alba Orbital, the world leaders in PocketQube technology, today announced their second major contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop and build the Unicorn-2 satellite platform for turnkey In-Orbit demonstration and In-Orbit verification.

“This is Alba Orbital’s second contract with the European Space Agency and is great news for Alba Orbital and the Scottish space industry.” said Andrew Paliwoda, Business Development Manager, Alba Orbital “It clearly demonstrates the success of Alba Orbital as a startup and our expertise within research, Alba Orbital are going from strength to strength and are ready to offer innovative space solutions to the industry”.

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ESA Completes Inquiry into ExoMars Schiaparelli Failure

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) imaged the ExoMars Schiaparelli module’s landing site on 25 October 2016, following the module’s arrival at Mars on 19 October. The zoomed insets provide close-up views of what are thought to be several different hardware components associated with the module’s descent to the martian surface. These are interpreted as the front heatshield, the parachute and the rear heatshield to which the parachute is still attached, and the impact site of the module itself. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The inquiry into the crash-landing of the ExoMars Schiaparelli module has concluded that conflicting information in the onboard computer caused the descent sequence to end prematurely.

The Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator module separated from its mothership, the Trace Gas Orbiter, as planned on 16 October last year, and coasted towards Mars for three days.

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ESA Selects 6 CubeSats in Fly Your Satellite Competition

Student teams during a tour of the facilities at ESTEC. (Credit: ESA)

NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands (ESA PR) — Six university teams have been selected for the second edition of the Fly Your Satellite! programme after an intensive week at the Selection Workshop, held at ESTEC from 1st to 5th May. The CubeSats evaluation and selection were carried out by a CubeSat Evaluation Panel, consisting of ESA experts from a range of disciplines.

The Fly Your Satellite! programme released a call for proposals on 20 December 2016 for its second edition. Since then, teams from many universities have been working hard to prepare proposals which were reviewed by the CubeSat Evaluation Panel.

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ESA Narrows Finalists for Lunar CubeSat Mission

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

PARIS (ESA PR) — If you could fly a CubeSat to the Moon, what could such a tiny satellite do there? ESA posed this question – and now four proposals will be studied in more detail for possible flight over the coming decade.
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Printing Bricks From Moon Dust Using Solar Heat

Brick 3D printed from moondust using focused sunlight. (Credit: ESA–G. Porter)

COLOGNE, Germany (ESA PR) — Bricks have been 3D printed out of simulated moondust using concentrated sunlight – proving in principle that future lunar colonists could one day use the same approach to build settlements on the Moon.

“We took simulated lunar material and cooked it in a solar furnace,” explains materials engineer Advenit Makaya, overseeing the project for ESA.

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Airbus Safran Launchers Begins Production of Ariane 6 Ground Qualification Models

Ariane 6 variants (Credit: ESA–David Ducros,)
  • The “Maturity Gate 6.1” industrialization review was held March 27 to April 20, 2017, among Airbus Safran Launchers, its industrial partners and independent experts
  • Based on the positive outcome of this review, production of the Ariane 6 ground qualification models has been green-lighted
  • The first flight of Ariane 6 is scheduled 2020

TOULOUSE, France (Airbus Safran Launchers PR) — With “Maturity Gate 6.1”, Airbus Safran Launchers and its industrial partners have passed a major milestone in the development of Ariane 6, under contract with the European Space Agency (ESA).

The review confirmed that the maturity of the industrialization of Ariane 6 is sufficient to begin production of the ground qualification models for the future European launcher, in accordance with the objectives of the program.

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ESA Focuses on Addressing Orbital Debris

As of April 2017, more than 290 break-ups in orbit have been recorded since 1961. Most were explosions of satellites and upper stages – fewer than 10 involved accidental and intentional collisions. (Credit: ESA/ID&Sense/ONiRiXEL)

DARMSTADT, Germany (ESA PR) — With more than 750 000 pieces of dangerous debris now orbiting Earth, the urgent need for coordinated international action to ensure the long-term sustainability of spaceflight is a major finding from Europe’s largest-ever conference on space debris.

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Study Examines Effects of Spaceflight on Immune System

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins removes samples from the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI). Blood, saliva and urine samples will be stored in MELFI until they can be transported back to Earth for analysis. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Getting sick isn’t fun for anyone, but it could be especially taxing for crew members aboard the International Space Station. Protecting crew health is important as NASA prepares for long duration, deep-space missions. Functional Immune, a new investigation taking place in the orbiting laboratory, studies previously uninvestigated areas of the body’s immune response and if spaceflight alters a crew member’s susceptibility to disease.

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Video: ESA Looks to Tackle Space Debris Problem

Video Caption: Earth is surrounded by a cloud of space debris. This material ranges from dead satellites and rocket stages to fragments of material and even flecks of paint… and all this junk could do enormous damage to working satellites.

During 18–21 April, experts from around the world will meet at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany for the 7th European Conference on Space Debris.

Delegates will discuss the extent of the debris problem and what can be done to ensure that satellites we rely on – providing us with services such as navigation, TV and weather forecasting – can operate safely in the future.

Talks will address acute issues like current practices in debris avoidance, novel concepts for removing debris, and the deployment of large constellations of several thousand satellites for telecommunications.

The conference will be opened by ESA Director General Jan Woerner and NASA’s former orbital debris chief scientist, Donald Kessler.

On 18 April and 21 April, live webcasts will cover the keynote address and press briefing, respectively. Details via esa.int/debris.

More information
ESA Space Debris http://www.esa.int/debris
ESA CleanSpace http://www.esa.int/CleanSpace