Cruz, Nelson Criticize Plan to End Direct ISS Funding in 2025

International Space Station (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Sharply conflicting opinions about the future of the International Space Station (ISS) and America’s path forward in space were on view last week in a Senate hearing room turned boxing ring.

In one corner was NASA Associate Administrator Bill Gerstenamier, representing a Trump Administration that wants to end direct federal funding for ISS in 2025 in order to pursue an aggressive campaign of sending astronauts back to the moon. NASA would maintain a presence in Earth orbit, becoming one of multiple users aboard a privatized ISS or privately-owned stations.

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GAO: NASA Asteroid Impact Mission Faces Technical, Schedule Challenges

DART spacecraft (Credit: JHU APL)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s ambitious effort to redirect a small asteroid has run into challenges with its financing, technology and foreign partner that could delay its launch and reduce its scientific return, according to a new assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will impact the smaller of the binary near-Earth asteroid Didymos. Scientists will study how the asteroid is deflected to learn how similar systems might be used on potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.

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ESA Selects Three New Mission Concepts for Study

M5 mission themes (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A high-energy survey of the early Universe, an infrared observatory to study the formation of stars, planets and galaxies, and a Venus orbiter are to be considered for ESA’s fifth medium class mission in its Cosmic Vision science programme, with a planned launch date in 2032.

The three candidates, the Transient High Energy Sky and Early Universe Surveyor (Theseus), the SPace Infrared telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics (Spica), and the EnVision mission to Venus were selected from 25 proposals put forward by the scientific community.

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GAO: Orion Program Plagued by Delays, Cost Overruns

NASA’s Orion with the European Service Module (Credit: ESA–D. Ducros)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Cost overruns and schedule delays continue to plague NASA’s Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle, according to a new assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

NASA expects the Orion program to exceed its $11.28 billion baseline budget, which covers expenditures through the Exploration Mission-2 mission, the report stated. The space agency expects to complete a new cost estimate by June.

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ESA and NASA to Investigate Bringing Martian Soil to Earth

Martian soil (Credit: NASA)

BERLIN (ESA PR) — ESA and NASA signed a statement of intent today to explore concepts for missions to bring samples of martian soil to Earth.

Spacecraft in orbit and on Mars’s surface have made many exciting discoveries, transforming our understanding of the planet and unveiling clues to the formation of our Solar System, as well as helping us understand our home planet. The next step is to bring samples to Earth for detailed analysis in sophisticated laboratories where results can be verified independently and samples can be reanalysed as laboratory techniques continue to improve.
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HyperScout Successfully Captures First Images From Space

This first-light image from the miniature HyperScout instrument aboard ESA’s newly launched GomX-4B CubeSat, shows the southern coast of Cuba. (Credit: ESA/cosine Research)

WARMOND, The Netherlands (cosine PR) — HyperScout, the first miniaturized hyperspectral camera in space, has captured its first images. Developed by an international consortium led by cosine, HyperScout was launched into space on 2 February 2018. The images are the first Earth observation images of their kind captured by an instrument onboard a nanosatellite.

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GomSpace Successfully Commissions GOMX-4 Nanosats

ESA’s biggest small satellite yet: the GomX-4B six-unit CubeSat will demonstrate miniaturised technologies, preparing the way for future operational nanosatellite constellations. (Credit: GomSpace)

STOCKHOLM (GomSpace PR) — As part of a mission to demonstrate interlink communication on nanosatellite tandem formation flights and data retrieval, including surveillance of the Arctic area, the Danish nanosatellite specialist GomSpace launched two nanosatellites in February.

Twelve weeks later, GomSpace for the first time showed the possibility of live data capture from the two nanosatellites in space at a press conference held in Aalborg, Denmark. At the same time, the press conference marked the official transition to the so-called demonstration phase, following the mission’s test phase. The latter has thus been successfully completed, and the mission is now ready to carry out its scheduled tasks.

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SSTL & Goonhilly Sign Agreement With ESA for Commercial Lunar Missions

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Surrey Satellite PR) — Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), Goonhilly Earth Station (GES) and the European Space Agency (ESA) have signed a collaboration agreement for Commercial Lunar Mission Support Services at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs today. This innovative commercial partnership for exploration between ESA, GES and SSTL aims to develop a European lunar telecommunications and navigation infrastructure, including the delivery of payloads and nanosats to lunar orbit.

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Announcement of Opportunity to Fly Payloads on ESA’s Space Rider

Space Rider mission profile (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s Space Rider aims to provide Europe with an affordable, independent, reusable end-to-end space transportation system integrated with Vega-C, for routine access and return from low Earth orbit.

Space Rider will debut in 2021 to provide a laboratory in space for an array of applications, orbit altitudes and inclinations. ESA has released a dedicated Announcement of Opportunity with no restriction on nationality for commercial or institutional customers.
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Ariane 5 Launches Communications Satellites

Ariane 5 liftoff (Credit: ESA)

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — An Ariane 5, operated by Arianespace, has delivered the DSN-1/Superbird-8 and Hylas-4 telecom satellites into their planned orbits.

Liftoff was announced at 21:34 GMT (23:34 CEST, 18:34 local time) yesterday from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The mission lasted about 33 minutes.

DSN-1/Superbird-8, with a launch mass of 5348 kg, was moved into position for release after about 25 minutes. The 4050 kg Hylas-4 was released 33 minutes after liftoff.

DSN-1/Superbird-8, operated by Sky Perfect JSAT, will provide communications services for Japan. The satellite has a design life of more than 15 years.

Hylas-4, owned and operated by Avanti, provides broadband and connectivity services to Africa and Europe. The satellite has a design life of 15 years.

The performance requested for this launch was about 10 260 kg. The satellites totalled about 9398 kg, with payload adapters and support structures making up the rest.

Flight VA242 was the 98th Ariane 5 mission.

ESA Tests Largest Mars Parachute

KIRUNA, Sweden (ESA PR) — The largest parachute ever to fly on a Mars mission has been deployed in the first of a series of tests to prepare for the upcoming ExoMars mission that will deliver a rover and a surface science platform to the Red Planet.

The spacecraft that will carry them is due for launch in July 2020, with arrival at Mars in March 2021. The rover will be the first of its kind to drill below the surface and determine if evidence of life is buried underground, protected from the destructive radiation that impinges the surface today.

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ICEYE & ESA Announce Earth Observation Partnership

HELSINKI, March 26, 2018 (ICEYE PR) – ICEYE, a New Space satellite manufacturer active in synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) technology, today announced a cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) to mutually explore opportunities provided by ICEYE’s technology. By using ICEYE’s SAR satellite technology and imagery, this new agreement demonstrates ESA’s interest in taking advantage of recent innovative New Space developments to foster business.

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UK Team to Lead European Mission to Study New Planets

ARIEL spacecraft (Credit: ESA/STFC RAL Space/UCL/Europlanet-Science Office)

SWINDON, England (UKSA PR) — A multi-million pound European mission to study newly discovered planets will be led by University College London, supported by investment from the UK Space Agency.

The ARIEL (Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey) mission was selected today as the next European Space Agency (ESA) science mission, putting UK leadership at the heart of research into planets that lie outside our solar system – exoplanets.

Thousands of exoplanets have now been discovered with a huge diversity of masses, sizes and orbits, but very little is known about their chemical composition, formation, or their evolutionary links to their host stars.

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ESA’s Next Science Mission to Focus on Nature of Exoplanets

Hot exoplanet (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO )

PARIS (ESA PR) — The nature of planets orbiting stars in other systems will be the focus for ESA’s fourth medium-class science mission, to be launched in mid 2028.

Ariel, the Atmospheric Remote‐sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large‐survey mission, was selected by ESA today as part of its Cosmic Vision plan.
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ESA Testing the Detection of Plastic Litter From Orbit

Testing detection of ocean plastic from space. (Credit: ESA–J. Veiga)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The millions of tonnes of plastic ending up in the oceans every year are a global challenge. ESA is responding by looking at the detection of marine plastic litter from space, potentially charting its highest concentrations and understanding the gigantic scale of the problem.

We dump around 10 million tonnes of plastic in the oceans annually. Though most conspicuous along coastlines, plastic litter is also found out in the open ocean and from the equator to the pole – even frozen in polar ice.

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