Europe’s New ISS Commercial Research Facility Inaugurates Service

ICE Cubes in Columbus (Credit: ESA/NASA)

SINT-STEVENS-WOLUWE, Belgium — 13 July 2018 (ESA PR) — Europe’s new commercial research facility on the International Space Station, called ICE Cubes or International Commercial Experiments Service, is inaugurating its new service today with a special event in Belgium. With the first experiments installed, the service is ready to perform operations in orbit.

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UK Government Lays Out Future Cooperation with EU in Space After Brexit

The European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) is ESA’s facility in the United Kingdom. It is based at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire. (Credit: Harwell Campus)

With the United Kingdom (UK) now negotiating its withdrawal from the European Union (EU), the government has published a plan for how the two governments can continue to work together across a broad range of areas after Brexit.

While the UK can remain a full member of the European Space Agency without being a member of the EU, a number of disruptions could occur across the space and aerospace sector. Continued British participation in the EU’s Galileo satellite navigation system and the Copernicus Earth observation program are  key areas of concern.

Below are excerpts from the report covering possible cooperation in space and in the harmonization of standards in aerospace manufacturing. (Emphasis mine)

The Future Relationship Between the United Kingdom and the European Union

Presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister
by Command of Her Majesty
July 2018

Full Report

Selected Excerpts

2.4.6 Space

91. The UK and the EU are both reliant on access to space technologies for national resilience and military capabilities, and to reduce vulnerability to threats such as hacking and severe space weather.

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ESA, EIB Cooperate on Increasing Investments in European Space Sector

PARIS — 10 July 2018 (ESA PR) — Today Ambroise Fayolle, Vice President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), welcomed Jan Wörner, Director General of ESA, to sign a Joint Statement on behalf of the two organisations.

The Joint Statement puts forth the intention of the two organisations to cooperate on supporting increased investment in the European space sector, thus helping create a level playing field for European companies to grow and become globally competitive. It also supports setting the foundations for Europe’s engagement in Space 4.0 and new space.

“I am very pleased to enhance a fruitful collaboration with ESA, raising awareness for investors, while improving access to finance for promoters in the space sector,” said the EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle.

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Airbus Wins Two ESA Studies for Mars Sample Return Mission

Mars in opposition. [(Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Bell (ASU), and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute) ]

Sample Fetch Rover to retrieve cached samples on Mars
Earth Return Orbiter to capture the samples and return them to Earth

STEVENAGE/TOULOUSE (Airbus PR) – Airbus has won two studies from the European Space Agency (ESA) to design a Sample Fetch Rover and an Earth Return Orbiter. These two elements will be critical parts of a mission to return samples of the planet Mars to Earth before the end of the next decade. NASA and ESA signed a letter of intent in April 2018 to pursue a Mars Sample Return mission.

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Largest Ever Solid Rocket Motor Set for First Hot Fire

P120C awaits first hot firing. (Credit: ESA)

KOUROU, French Guiana – 9 July 2018 (ESA PR) — This week, the largest solid rocket motor ever built in one piece will be test fired at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana for the first time.

This important milestone validates the booster for use on Vega-C next year and on Ariane 6 from 2020.

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UK Industry to Design a Future Mars Rover

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — UK industry will design a future Mars rover, Science Minister Sam Gyimah announced today after a visit to the Harwell space cluster with Tim Peake.

A new rover set to visit Mars and collect the first ever samples from the planet to be brought back safely to Earth, will be designed in Stevenage by Airbus following the award of a £3.9 million contract by the European Space Agency (ESA).

The sample fetch rover will retrieve samples left by NASA’s Mars 2020 rover and transfer them to an ascent vehicle. This will put them into orbit about the planet, where they will then be brought back to Earth by a separate spacecraft.

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Complex Organics Bubble From Depths of Ocean World Enceladus

Enceladus jets and shadows. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Data from the international Cassini spacecraft have revealed complex organic molecules originating from Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus, strengthening the idea that this ocean-world hosts conditions suitable for life.

Very little was known about Enceladus prior to 2005 – the year when Cassini first flew close. Since then, it has become a continuous source of surprises, with secrets still being revealed even now, after the mission end.

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Asteroid Day Postage Stamps Ready for Delivery

Asteroid Day postcard (Credit: ESA / ScienceOffice.org / Luxembourg Post )

PARIS (ESA PR) — In a unique cooperation between ESA, Asteroid Day and Luxembourg Post, a limited edition set of first-day stamps and postcards is being released for this year’s Asteroid Day.

Asteroid Day is a global campaign to increase awareness about asteroids and the threats and opportunities they pose. Celebrated each year on 30 June, Asteroid Day marks the largest asteroid impact event experienced on Earth in recorded history, the 1908 Tunguska event.

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Dragon Delivers Some ICE to Space Station

ICE Cubes experiment unit (Credit: ICE Cubes/ISU)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The newly installed International Commercial Experiments service – ICE Cubes for short – facility providing commercial access to microgravity will soon receive the first experiment cubes after today’s successful SpaceX Dragon resupply launch.

The 15th resupply mission lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 5:42 ET (11:42 CEST) with standard cargo for the International Space Station as well as the first 10 x 10 x 10 cm experiment cubes.

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Watch Asteroid Day Live From Luxembourg


LUXEMBOURG (ESA PR) — The world’s first 48-hour webcast about asteroids and their place in space will begin at 12:00 CEST [6 a.m. EDT], on Friday, 29 June 2018. Kicking off this exciting event, physicist, science advocate and former rock star Brian Cox will host the first 6-hour segment live from Luxembourg.

Brian will be joined by asteroid scientists, astronauts, rock stars and experts from around the world all in the name of Asteroid Day – the annual UN-endorsed global campaign to raise awareness about asteroids, and the risks and opportunities that they bring.

Asteroid Day takes place each year on 30 June, commemorating the 1908 Tunguska airburst over Siberia, the biggest impact event in recorded history. Since its inception, ESA has long supported the Asteroid Day initiative and plays a leading role in the global hunt for risky near-Earth objects that might one day cross our path.

On Friday, ESA’s Director General Jan Wörner will join the live kick-off webcast from Luxembourg, along with Ian Carnelli, mission manager for the proposed Hera mission to the Didymos double-asteroid system.

Astronauts on the Rocks

ESA astronaut and materials scientist Matthias Maurer, the newest member of the Agency’s astronaut corps, will also take part, together with several other astronauts.

During the full 48-hour broadcast, a range of topics will be covered including ‘How to survive an asteroid strike’, ‘Scientists Rock’, and — perhaps most exciting — the global broadcast will include the joint ESA/European Southern Observatory 2-hour live segment from the ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre in Garching, Munich.

Watch Live

The entire Asteroid Day webcast can be viewed live via asteroidday.org/live, or via the Asteroid Day Youtube and Twitter channels. The ESA/ESO segment will run starting at 13:00 CEST on Saturday, 30 June; this will also be available at esa.int/asteroidday.

For more information, including the full list of experts and celebrity guests, visit the Asteroid Day website.

Interstellar Visitor is Really a Comet Not an Asteroid

Artist impression of ‘Oumuamua (Credit: ESA/Hubble, NASA, ESO, M. Kornmesser)

PARIS (ESA PR) — An object from another star system that made a brief appearance in our skies guised as an asteroid turns out to be a tiny interstellar comet.

‘Oumuamua, a name that reflects the Hawaiian meaning for ‘a messenger from afar, arriving first’, was discovered by astronomers working with the Pan-STARRS survey in Hawaii in October last year as the object came close to Earth’s orbit. Follow-up observations by ESA’s Optical Ground Station telescope in Tenerife, Canary Islands, and other telescopes around the world helped determine its trajectory.

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Join the Planetary Defenders on Saturday

Video Caption: On Saturday, 30 June, watch live when scientists, mission planners, asteroid experts and astronauts from ESA, the European Southern Observatory and worldwide bring you the latest news and science from the work they do to help defend our planet. Watch online from the ESO Supernova planetarium, 30 June 13:00 CEST: http://www.esa.int/asteroidday

James Webb Space Telescope Launch Slips into 2021, Cost Overruns

Artist’s impression of James Webb Space Telescope. (Credit; NASA)

Costs Rise from $8.8 Billion to $9.66 Billion

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — The Independent Review Board (IRB) established by NASA to assess progress on its James Webb Space Telescope has unanimously recommended that development on the world’s premier science observatory should continue; NASA has established a new launch date for Webb of March 30, 2021.

A report issued by the review board addresses a range of factors influencing Webb’s schedule and performance, including the technical challenges and tasks remaining by primary contractor Northrop Grumman before launch.

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Earth’s First Mission to Binary Asteroid to Further Planetary Defense

NASA’s DART spacecraft is due to collide with the smaller body of the Didymos binary asteroid system in October 2022. ESA’s Hera mission will survey ‘Didymoon’ post-impact and assess how its orbit has been changed by the collision, to turn this one-off experiment into a workable planetary defence technique. (Credit: ESA–ScienceOffice.org)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Planning for humankind’s first mission to a binary asteroid system has entered its next engineering phase. ESA’s proposed Hera mission would also be Europe’s contribution to an ambitious planetary defence experiment.

Named for the Greek goddess of marriage, Hera would fly to the Didymos pair of Near-Earth asteroids: the 780 m-diameter mountain-sized main body is orbited by a 160 m moon, informally called ‘Didymoon’, about the same size as the Great Pyramid of Giza.

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ESA Council Backs Lunar Gateway & Exploration, Mars Sample Return

The space station formerly known as the Deep Space Gateway (Credit: NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Over the past 18 months, ESA and its Member States have gathered in a series of space exploration workshops culminating in a discussion in the ESA Council held in Paris on 13 June 2018.

The Council discussed Europe’s ambition to play a leading role in the global exploration of space based on its European Exploration Envelope Programme, (known as E3P) that was created by ESA’s ministers when they met in December 2016 in Lucerne, Switzerland.

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