Scientific Hardware, Experiments Return to Earth on SpaceX CRS-24 Dragon

Cargo Dragon docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Editor’s Note: Do to adverse weather in the recovery zone, SpaceX and NASA are now targeting 10:40 a.m. EST on Sunday, Jan. 23 for undocking from the International Space Station of a SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft filled with more than 4,900 pounds of valuable scientific experiments and other cargo. NASA Television and the agency’s website will broadcast its departure live beginning at 10:15 a.m. EST.

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — A retired microscope and samples from studies on colloids and cellular signaling are among the cargo returning from the International Space Station aboard the 24th SpaceX commercial resupply services mission. The Dragon craft, which arrived at the station Dec. 22, 2021, is scheduled to undock Jan. 22 with splashdown the next afternoon off the coast of Florida.

These quick return flights allow scientists to make additional observations and analyses of their experiments at Kennedy Space Center, minimizing the effects of gravity on samples. Investigators then can conduct more in-depth analyses back at their home labs.

(more…)

Rosalind Franklin Mars Rover Passes Latest Tests Ahead of September Launch

An artist’s impression of the ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover on the surface of Mars. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The UK-built ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover is set for launch in September after a series of successful tests, including driving off its landing platform.

The European Space Agency (ESA) rover starts the year with months of successful maintenance and functional tests behind it. All its instruments are go for flight, with some minor tuning left to complete this month.

(more…)

Arianespace to Launch Microcarb on Vega C

Vega rocket in flight (Credit: Arianespace)
  • Microcarb is a science satellite that will trace CO2 sinks and sources on a global scale.
  • The requested performance for this launch planned in 2023 is 190kg on a sun-synchronous orbit at 650km.

EVRY-COURCOURONNES, France, January 18, 2022 (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace has been awarded a launch contract by ESA, on behalf of the European Commission, to launch Microcarb in 2023 on Vega C. Microcarb is a 190kg satellite developed by CNES that will be delivered into a sun-synchronous orbit, 650km above the Earth.

(more…)

OHB, LuxSpace and OQ Technology Sign MOU to Explore Collaboration for IoT Services

LUXEMBOURG, 18 Jan 2022 (OHB SE PR) – OHB SE (OHB), one of Europe’s leading space companies, its subsidiary LuxSpace, a provider of space systems, applications and services, and OQ Technology (OQ), a global satellite operator, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore opportunities in the Internet-of-Things (IoT) service sector.

The cooperation between LuxSpace, OHB and OQ will include satellite-based IoT upstream and downstream activities to enhance the portfolio of services available to customers in different markets, including, but not limited to, energy, agriculture, defence and the green economy.

(more…)

NASA TV to Air SpaceX Cargo Dragon Departure from Space Station

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon spacecraft is set to depart the International Space Station on Friday, Jan. 21, for a splashdown Saturday, Jan. 22, off the coast of Florida. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — A SpaceX Dragon cargo resupply spacecraft is set to depart the International Space Station Friday, Jan. 21. NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app will provide live broadcast of the spacecraft’s undocking and departure beginning at 10:15 a.m. EST.

Ground controllers at SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, will send commands at 10:40 a.m. for Dragon to undock from the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module and fire its thrusters to move a safe distance away from the station. Controllers will command a deorbit burn the following day.

(more…)

Plato Exoplanet Mission Gets Green Light for Next Phase

Artist impression of an exoplanet system. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Plato, ESA’s next-generation planet hunting mission, has been given the green light to continue with its development after the critical milestone review concluded successfully on 11 January 2022.

(more…)

Cheops Reveals a Rugby Ball-shaped Exoplanet

Artist impression of planet WASP-103b and its host star. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s exoplanet mission Cheops has revealed that an exoplanet orbiting its host star within a day has a deformed shape more like that of a rugby ball than a sphere. This is the first time that the deformation of an exoplanet has been detected, offering new insights into the internal structure of these star-hugging planets.

The planet, known as WASP-103b is located in the constellation of Hercules. It has been deformed by the strong tidal forces between the planet and its host star WASP-103, which is about 200 degrees hotter and 1.7 times larger than the Sun.

(more…)

AAC Clyde Space Wins 4.5 MSEK Follow-on Order For In-orbit Production Spacecraft

GLASGOW, Scotland (AAC Clyde Space PR) — AAC Clyde Space, a leading New Space company, has received a 441,000 euro (approx. 4.5 MSEK) order from UK-based Space Forge to provide space products for a demonstration spacecraft designed to leverage the space environment for production and experiments, capable of performing multiple trips to space.

The order follows an order in December 2020 to contribute to the design of a satellite platform for the same purpose. The reusable spacecraft is intended to deorbit in a controlled manoeuvre to deliver its products and results back to Earth after six months in-orbit, thereby enabling efficient production and revolutionary experiments by leveraging the micro gravity in-orbit. The design will benefit from AAC Clyde Space’s standard satellite platform heritage, adjusted for re-entry into the atmosphere and landing on Earth. Back on Earth the satellites will be recovered, refurbished, and eventually re-launched.

(more…)

ESA Reignites Space-based Solar Power Research

Artist’s impression of a solar power satellite. (Credit: European SPS Tower concept)

PARIS (ESA PR) — We urgently need solutions to tackle climate change on Earth. Meanwhile, the space sector is working hard to make space exploration more sustainable. ESA is targeting both ambitions by enabling European academia and industry to take further steps towards space-based solar power (SBSP).

(more…)

Biggest Moments on Mars: NASA’s Perseverance Rover 2021 Year in Review

A new video looks back on the six-wheeled scientist’s first 10 months on the Red Planet and all that it’s accomplished so far.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Perseverance rover has been busy since its harrowing touchdown in Mars’ Jezero Crater this past February.

In the 10 months since, the car-size rover has driven 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers), set a record for the longest rover drive in a Martian day, taken more than 100,000 images, and collected six samples of Martian rock and atmosphere that could eventually be brought to Earth for further study.

(more…)

NASA’s Webb Telescope Reaches Major Milestone as Mirror Unfolds

Shown fully stowed, the James Webb Space Telescope’s Deployable Tower Assembly that connects the upper and lower sections of the spacecraft will extend 48 inches (1.2 meters) after launch. (Credits: Northrop Grumman)

BALTIMORE (NASA PR) — NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope team fully deployed its 21-foot, gold-coated primary mirror, successfully completing the final stage of all major spacecraft deployments to prepare for science operations.

(more…)

Aligning the Primary Mirror Segments of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope with Light

Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Mike McClare

Editor’s Note: This NASA feature from October 2017 describes how engineers aligned the James Webb Space Telescope’s (JWST) mirror segments prior to launch. The telescope completed unfolding and latching its mirrors in space today; engineers will now spend five months aligning the mirrors and calibrating the telescope.

By Eric Villard and Maggie Masetti
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

HOUSTON — Engineers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston used light waves to align the James Webb Space Telescope’s mirror segments to each other, so they act like a single, monolithic mirror in the cryogenic cold of the center’s iconic Chamber A.

(more…)

NASA to Host Coverage, Briefing for Webb Telescope’s Final Unfolding

James Webb Space Telescope unfolding sequence. (Credit: NASA)

WASHIINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will provide live coverage and host a media briefing Saturday, Jan. 8, for the conclusion of the James Webb Space Telescope’s major spacecraft deployments.

Beginning no earlier than 9 a.m. EST, NASA will air live coverage of the final hours of Webb’s major deployments. After the live broadcast concludes, at approximately 1:30 p.m., NASA will hold a media briefing. Both the broadcast and media briefing will air live on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

(more…)

Arianespace to Launch Eight New Galileo Satellites

Artist’s view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters (A64) (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)
  • ESA and EUSPA have confirmed that Arianespace will launch eight additional Galileo satellites.
  • Arianespace will launch the first two satellites in 2022, leading to the Full Operational Capability of Galileo open service. Then, three successive launches on Ariane 62 in 2023, 2024 and 2025, will finalize the launch of the first generation of Galileo satellites and will increase the constellation resilience.
  • These will be the 13th to 16th Galileo missions by Arianespace, which has orbited all satellites in the constellation.

Évry-Courcouronnes, France, January 6, 2022 (Arianespace PR) — The European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) has chosen Arianespace to launch four new Galileo satellites for Europe’s own satellite navigation system. With this order, EUSPA takes over the role of placing launch services contracts for Galileo from ESA, which acted so far in the name and on behalf of the European Commission and will continue to be the technical authority for these launches.

(more…)