ESA Develops Breakthrough Mesh Reflector for Shaped Radio Beams

A prototype 2.6-m diameter metal-mesh antenna reflector. (Credit: Leri Datashvili/Large Space Structures GmbH)

NOORDWIJK, Netherlands (ESA PR) — This prototype 2.6-m diameter metal-mesh antenna reflector represents a big step forward for the European space sector: versions can be manufactured to reproduce any surface pattern that antenna designers wish, something that was previously possible only with traditional solid antennas.

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ESA Selects New CubeSat Missions for Fly Your Satellite Program

Fly Your Satellite! selection workshop (Credit: ESA)

NOORDWIJK, Netherlands (ESA PR) — Three university teams have been selected for the third edition of the Fly Your Satellite! programme following a call for proposals open in the second half of 2019. The CubeSats’ evaluation and selection was carried out by a CubeSat Evaluation Panel, consisting of ESA experts from a range of disciplines. 

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Qarman CubeSat: Falling Into a Fireball

ESA’s next CubeSat mission seen enduring the scorching heat of simulated atmospheric reentry inside the world’s largest plasma wind tunnel. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s latest mission will enter the vacuum of space, not aboard a rocket but by being released from the International Space Station. The first task of the shoebox-sized Qarman CubeSat is simply to fall. While typical space missions resist orbital decay, Qarman will drift down month by month until it reenters the atmosphere, at which point it will gather a wealth of data on the fiery physics of reentry.

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ESA Opens Oxygen Plant – Making Air Out of Moondust

ESA research fellow Alexandre Meurisse and Beth Lomax of the University of Glasgow preparing to make oxygen and metal out of simulated moondust inside ESA’s Materials and Electrical Components Laboratory. (Credit: ESA–A. Conigili)

ESA’s technical heart has begun to produce oxygen out of simulated moondust.

NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands (ESA PR) — A prototype oxygen plant has been set up in the Materials and Electrical Components Laboratory of the European Space Research and Technology Centre, ESTEC, based in Noordwijk in the Netherlands.

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ESA Calls for Industry to Extend ISS Columbus Lab Capabilities

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano sets up University of Edinburgh experiment Biorock by installing experiment containers in the small temperature-controlled Kubik incubators onboard the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The International Space Station is open for business and ESA is calling on industry to help extend the capabilities of Europe’s Columbus laboratory to support science and technology in space beyond 2024.

Columbus is Europe’s single largest contribution to the International Space Station. Launched in 2008, it is the first permanent European research facility in space.

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Jumping Space Robot Flies Like Spacecraft

Spacebok jumping in simulated lunar gravity. (Credit; ETH Zurich/ZHAW Zurich)

NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands (ESA ) — Astronauts on the Moon found themselves hopping around, rather than simply walking. Switzerland’s SpaceBok planetary exploration robot has followed their example, launching all four legs off the ground during tests at ESA’s technical heart.

SpaceBok is a quadruped robot designed and built by a Swiss student team from ETH Zurich and ZHAW Zurich. It is currently being tested using robotic facilities at ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in the Netherlands.

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ESA Sets Up CubeSat Central for Smaller Space Missions

Qarman CubeSat in Hertz chamber (Credit: ESA)

NOORDWIJK, Netherlands, 2 April 2019 (ESA PR) — ESA has set up a dedicated unit to work on the standardised nanosatellites called ‘CubeSats’, teaming up with European companies to develop low-cost technology-testing missions. Missions in preparation include a double CubeSat to test rendezvous and docking techniques, and one to explore near-Earth asteroids.

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Reaction Engines Signs ESA Contract

Skylon concept (Credit: Reaction Engines)
Skylon concept (Credit: Reaction Engines)

FARNBOROUGH, UK (Reaction Engines PR) — Reaction Engines Ltd., today announces the signing of a €10m European Space Agency (ESA) contract which will enable the development of a ground based demonstrator of SABRE™, a new class of aerospace engine which is highly scalable with multiple potential applications in hypersonic travel and space access.

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Fly Your Satellite! CubeSats Phone Home

CubeSats (Credit: ESA/Medialab)
CubeSats (Credit: ESA/Medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — All three satellites of ESA’s Education Office Fly Your Satellite! programme have established their first contact with the ground.
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ESA Prepares More Student CubeSats for Space

Installation of OUFTI-1 on the electrodynamic shaker at ESTEC (Credit: ESA)
Installation of OUFTI-1 on the electrodynamic shaker at ESTEC (Credit: ESA)

NOORWIJK, The Netherlands (ESA PR) — While waiting for the first ESA student CubeSat to be deployed from the International Space Station at the beginning of October, the three Fly Your Satellite! CubeSats candidate for rocket launch are completing their environmental test campaign.

During the past few months, the student satellites had to pass a number of tests in order to make sure they would be able to perform properly in the harsh conditions encountered during launch and in orbit. This test campaign represented Phase 2 of the Fly Your Satellite! educational programme.

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ESA Astronaut Controls Ground Robot From ISS

ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen controls the Interact Rover at ESA’s ESTEC technical centre from the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA)
ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen controls the Interact Rover at ESA’s ESTEC technical centre from the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA)

NOORDWIJK, the Netherlands — Putting a round peg in a round hole is not hard for someone standing next to it. But yesterday ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen did this while orbiting 400 km up aboard the International Space Station, remotely operating a rover and its robotic arm on the ground.

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XCOR Signs Agreements with DLR, ESA-ESTEC

Credit: XCOR
Credit: XCOR

Here are a couple of short XCOR press releases related to agreements signed by CEO Jay Gibson in Europe back in May. One is an agreement with the German space agency DLR relating to medical screening protocols for Lynx passengers. The second involves a multi-party letter of intent Gibson signed with ESA-ESTEC and two other organizations to jointly develop a new space mission concept.

XCOR didn’t publicize the trip at the time, and the information only recently appeared on the company’s revamped website.

COLOGNE, Germany — XCOR’s CEO Jay Gibson signed an agreement with Professor Rupert Gerzer, General Director of the prestigious DLR Institute for Aerospace Medicine in Cologne, Germany on May 20.

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UK Space Update: Astronaut Training, Space Station Designs, Microsats and More

Four brief updates on developments in the UK, courtesy of Rocketeers.co.uk….

UK-based Worldview Spaceflight is offering astronaut training in collaboration with Rocketplane Global. “We can offer the full package, from trainee to astronaut, Worldview will take you through every step of your training and your eventual spaceflight in 2010,” Worldview says. Rocketplane, based in Oklahoma, will apparently fly from bases in Europe.

The N-prize is offering a £9,999.99 prize to any group capable launching a satellite between 9.99 and 19.99 grams into orbit for no more than £999.99. The spacecraft must complete at least 9 orbits in order to win the prize, which seems awkwardly named (to American ears, anyway). The “N” stands for “Nanosatellite” or “Negligible Resources,” BTW.

The Space ’08 conference will be held at the Barbican Conference Centre in London on 4th September 2008. The conference “will identify and examine the key rationales” of the British National Space Centre’s Civil Space Strategy 2008-2012.

ESA will conduct the Space Station Design Workshop in collaboration with the Institute of Space Systems of the Universitaet Stuttgart on July 13-18, 2008. The event – held at ESTEC, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands – is open to university students (up to Masters level or equivalent) from ESA member states. The ESA website has more information.