Electric Blue Thrusters Propelling BepiColombo to Mercury

Twin ion thrusters firing (Credit: QinetiQ)

PARIS (ESA PR) — In mid-December, twin discs will begin glowing blue on the underside of a minibus-sized spacecraft in deep space. At that moment Europe and Japan’s BepiColombo mission will have just come a crucial step closer to Mercury.

(more…)

ESA Microlauncher Workshop Looks at New Ways to Access Space

Microlauncher concepts (Credit: ESA)

PARIS, 16 November 2018 (ESA PR) — Access to space was in the spotlight at this week’s Φ event which followed an ESA-hosted workshop on Europe’s emerging microlaunch services held in Paris, France for industry, investors and institutions.

(more…)

NASA TV to Air Welcome of European Service Module

The European Service Module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft is loaded on an Antonov airplane in Bremen, Germany, on Nov. 5, 2018, for transport to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. For the first time, NASA will use a European-built system as a critical element to power an American spacecraft, extending the international cooperation of the International Space Station into deep space. (Credits: NASA/Rad Sinyak)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is hosting an event at its Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 9 a.m. EST Friday, Nov. 16, to celebrate the arrival of the European Service Module for the agency’s Orion spacecraft. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will preside over the event, which will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Provided by ESA (European Space Agency) and built by ESA contractor Airbus Space, the service module will provide power, air and water to the Orion spacecraft on missions to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.

Speaking at the event are:

  • Janet Petro, deputy director of Kennedy
  • Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development
  • Sue Motil, Orion European Service Module integration manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center
  • Mark Kirasich, Orion Program manager at the agency’s Johnson Space Center
  • Phillippe Deloo, European Service Module program manager at ESA
  • Jan Wörner, ESA director general

The service module departed Bremen, Germany, Monday, Nov. 5, and arrived at Kennedy the following day. A team at Kennedy will perform final outfitting, integration and testing of the service and crew modules, and other elements of Orion, in preparation for its first mission, an uncrewed test flight.

Find more information about Orion at:

https://www.nasa.gov/orion

ESA Received 79 Proposals in Open for New Transportation Services

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA reaches out to encourage open innovation and offer support. A global response to ESA’s call for ideas on new space transportation services has resulted in 79 proposals of which 41 were considered eligible for expert advice from ESA.

This call for ideas is part of an overall initiative within ESA to provide tools necessary to identify and promote innovation within the European space sector – such as ESA’s Open Innovation Platform.

(more…)

ESA’s Space Vision Presented at Paris Peace Forum

Claudie Haigneré (Credit: ESA–P. Sebirot)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA astronaut Claudie Haigneré attended the Paris Peace Forum this weekend, presenting the Agency’s vision for engaging humankind in multilateral cooperation for space exploration with peaceful objectives.An initiative launched by President Macron of France, the Paris Peace Forum is an annual platform for global governance projects and was conceived as a response to tensions in the contemporary world. Taking place this year on 11-13 November, the centenary marking the end of the First World War, the event includes the attendance of over 60 international Heads of State.

Based on the belief that durable peace can only be achieved through international cooperation in several sectors, including space exploration, the Forum was an ideal opportunity to present ESA’s ‘Moon Village’ vision. This foresees a peaceful global cooperation to achieve a space landmark for humankind in 21st century, realising the potential of humankind as spacefaring species, while providing benefits and opportunities to as many people as possible on Earth.
(more…)

Cosmic Detective Work: Why We Care About Space Rocks

This artist’s concept depicts the spacecraft of NASA’s Psyche mission near the mission’s target, the metal asteroid Psyche. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

By Elizabeth Landau
NASA

The entire history of human existence is a tiny blip in our solar system’s 4.5-billion-year history. No one was around to see planets forming and undergoing dramatic changes before settling in their present configuration. In order to understand what came before us — before life on Earth and before Earth itself — scientists need to hunt for clues to that mysterious distant past.

(more…)

European-Built Service Module Arrives in U.S. for First Orion Moon Mission

The European Service Module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft is loaded on an Antonov airplane in Bremen, Germany, on Nov. 5, 2018, for transport to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. For the first time, NASA will use a European-built system as a critical element to power an American spacecraft, extending the international cooperation of the International Space Station into deep space. (Credits: NASA/Rad Sinyak)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — The powerhouse that will help NASA’s Orion spacecraft venture beyond the Moon is stateside. The European-built service module that will propel, power and cool during Orion flight to the Moon on Exploration Mission-1 arrived from Germany at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday to begin final outfitting, integration and testing with the crew module and other Orion elements.

(more…)

ODYSSEUS Space Wins the SpaceResources.lu Challenge in ESA Space Exploration Masters Competition

BILBOA, SPAIN (Luxembourg Space Agency PR) — ODYSSEUS Space is the winner of the SpaceResources.lu challenge of the European Sprace Agency (ESA) Space Exploration Masters competition that awards the best business ideas for space exploration that also benefit society.

The award was handed over in Bilbao, Spain on October 30, 2018 within the frame of the ESA Space for Inspiration conference, an international conference organized by the ESA for everyone who is curious about space exploration and why it matters.

(more…)

Experience High-Res Science in First 8K Footage from Space

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Fans of science in space now can experience fast-moving footage in even higher definition as NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) deliver the first 8K ultra high definition (UHD) video of astronauts living, working and conducting research from the International Space Station. The same engineers who sent high-definition (HD) cameras, 3D cameras, and a camera capable of recording 4K footage to the space station now have delivered a new camera capable of recording images with four times the resolution than previously offered.

(more…)

Roscosmos Identifies Cause of Launch Failure, Sets Dates for Next ISS Flights

Expedition 57 Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, left, and Flight Engineer Nick Hague of NASA, right. embrace their families after landing at the Krayniy Airport, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The abort of a crewed Soyuz launch to the International Space Station last month was caused by a damaged sensor pin in a mechanism designed to separate one of the rocket’s four strap-on boosters from the core stage, Roscosmos has announced.

“The abnormal separation was caused by the non-opening of the lid of the nozzle intended to separate a side Block D oxidizer tank due to the deformation of the separation sensor pin,” the space corporation said in a press release. “It was damaged during the assembling of the strap-on boosters with the core stage (the Packet) at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The LV [launch vehicle] failure cause is of the operational nature and spreads to the stock of already assembled packets of the Soyuz rocket.”

Oleg Skorobogatov, who headed up the investigation, said at a press conference that the nose of the strap-on booster hit the core stage in the area of the fuel tank, resulting in a decompression that triggered the abort. Skorobogatov is deputy director general of TsNIImash.

Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague landed safely under parachute in their MS-10 Soyuz spacecraft. Neither one was injured.

“The Emergency Crew Rescue System of Soyuz MS-10 spaceship functioned properly,” Roscosmos said in its press statement. “The crew was acting as required by the on-board instructions and those given by the Mission Control Center.”

Roscosmos has taken steps to prevent a recurrence of the incident and approved a plan to resume launches to the space station.

“The State Committee has approved the launch dates under the International Space Station Program as follows: the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket with Progress MS −10 cargo spaceship to go on November 16, 2018, and the launch of Soyuz MS-11 manned spaceship to go on December 3, 2018. The crew of Soyuz MS-09 — Alexander Gerst (ESA), Sergey Prokopiev (Roscosmos) and Serina Auñón-Chensellor (NASA) — will return to the Earth on December 20, 2018,” the corporation said.

NASA, ESA to Hold Ceremony to Mark Arrival of First Orion Service Module

View from below: Orion European Service Module-1 (Credit: ESA–A. Conigli)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is inviting media to its Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 9 a.m. EST Friday, Nov. 16, for an event marking the arrival from Bremen, Germany, of the European Service Module – the powerhouse that will supply NASA’s Orion spacecraft with electricity, propulsion, thermal control, air and water.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and ESA (European Space Agency) Director General Jan Wörner, as well as other senior leaders from NASA and ESA will discuss with media the international cooperation needed to send humans to the Moon and Mars. The event will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

(more…)

BepiColombo Blasts Off to Explore the Mysteries of Mercury

BepiColombo liftoff (Credit: ESA-CNES-Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana, 20 October 2018 (ESA PR) — The ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission to Mercury blasted off on an Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou at 01:45:28 GMT on 20 October on its exciting mission to study the mysteries of the Solar System’s innermost planet.

Signals from the spacecraft, received at ESA’s control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, via the New Norcia ground tracking station at 02:21 GMT confirmed that the launch was successful.

(more…)

ESA’s Luna Facility to Bring the Moon to Earth

A virtual reality rendering of what the Luna facility at ESA’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, might look like once constructed. (Credit: ESA)

COLOGNE, 17 October 2018 (ESA PR) — A facility planned for ESA’s Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany, will recreate the Moon’s surface on Earth. ESA project manager for strategic planning and future development Andreas Diekmann shares how the three-part lunar analogue facility, known as Luna, will help Europe go farther in space.

(more…)

Video: An Overview of the BepiColumbo Mission to Mercury

Video Caption: BepiColombo is scheduled for launch at 01:45 GMT (03:45 CEST) on 20 October on an Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou.

Final assembly of the two orbiters and transfer module has taken place, ready for the spacecraft to be integrated into its Ariane 5 launcher.

BepiColombo is Europe’s first mission to Mercury, the smallest and least explored planet in the inner Solar System. It is a joint endeavour between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, and consists of two scientific orbiters: ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and JAXA’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO).

The mission will study all aspects of Mercury, from the structure and dynamics of its magnetosphere and how it interacts with the solar wind, to its internal structure with its large iron core, and the origin of the planet’s magnetic field.

ESA to Launch BepiColombo Mission to Mercury on Saturday

The Mercury Planetary Orbiter (left) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, with a sunshade module at center. (Credit: ESA)

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — Watch live as the ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission to Mercury is launched on an Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

BepiColombo is the first European mission to Mercury, the smallest and least explored planet in the inner Solar System. It is the first Mercury mission to send two science orbiters to make complementary measurements of the planet’s dynamic environment at the same time.

A third module will transport the orbiters on the seven year cruise to Mercury, using a combination of solar electric propulsion and nine gravity assist flybys at Earth, Venus and Mercury.

Schedule
Saturday, October 20, 2018
(Times Subject to Change)

03:15 CEST [09:15 p.m. EDT on Friday] Start of live transmission
03:45 CEST [09:45 p.m. EDT on Friday] Liftoff, followed by confirmation of acquisition of signal, expected around 40 minutes after launch
04:30 CEST [10:30 p.m. EDT on Friday] End of live transmission