ESA Signs First Ariane 6 Contract for Galileo Launches

Ariane 6 variants (Credit: ESA–David Ducros,)

PARIS, 15 September 2017 (ESA PR) — Four of the latest set of Galileo navigation satellites will be launched on Ariane 6 rockets – ESA’s first contract to use Europe’s new vehicle.

The launches are scheduled between the end of 2020 and mid-2021, using two Ariane 62 rockets – the configuration of Europe’s next-generation launch vehicle that is best suited to haul the two 750 kg navigation satellites into their orbits at 23 222 km altitude.

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Orbex Wins EC Horizon 2020 Grant

LONDON, 11 July 2017 (Orbex PR) — Orbex, the UK-based developer of launch vehicles and services for small satellites, has won a prestigious European Commission Horizon 2020 SME Instrument award.

The grant was awarded to assist in the development of an innovative space launch vehicle fuel tank architecture developed by Orbex, which reduces the dry mass of launch vehicles by as much as 30% compared to traditional technologies.

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European Commission Commits to Minimum Ariane 6, Vega C Orders

Ariane 6 variants (Credit: ESA–David Ducros,)

There’s was some good news this week for Airbus Safran Launchers and Arianespace, which were looking for a guaranteed number of orders for their new boosters.

The European Commission will commit to buying at least five Ariane 6 and two Vega C launches per year when both rockets are in operation, Elzbieta Bienkowska, the European Commission’s lead space commissioner, said Wednesday….

“We will aggregate our institutional launches to support those two launchers,” she said…

Bienkowska also said Europe’s confidence in the suitability of Ariane 6 and Vega C, both of which are single-use rockets, remains unshaken by the early success of SpaceX and Blue Origin in demonstrating their reusable rockets.

“We observe very closely the ongoing revolution in the launcher market, especially here in the United States, around the principle of reusability,” she said. “Europe’s answer is the development of the next-generation of cost effective, reliable and competitive European launchers: Ariane 6 and Vega C.”

The launch orders will be aggregated from the European Commission, ESA, Eumetsat and various national space agencies.

Ariane 6, which is the successor to Ariane 5, is expected to begin flight tests in 2020. The booster is designed to lift payloads weighing up to 10.5 tonnes into geostationary transfer orbit.

The Vega C will be an upgraded version of the Vega booster, which can place payloads weighing up to 2.5 tonnes into orbit. The Vega C’s capacity will be increased by at least 300 kg. The booster will use a first stage engine being developed for Ariane 6.

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Airbus Safran Launchers Seeks Guaranteed Number of Ariane 6 Flights

Ariane 6 variants (Credit: Airbus Defense and Space)

As it ramps up development of the Ariane 6, Airbus Safran Launchers is looking for a guarantee from European governmental bodies to order a set number of flights per year.

The company estimates that European government demand for launches accounts for only 27 percent of Arianespace’s launch activity, with the rest coming from the commercial sector. The U.S. market is 65-percent government demand, going largely to domestic launch providers, and the Russian market is 76-percent government, according to Airbus Safran Launchers numbers.

“The target now is to try to federate the European Commission, ESA, Eumetsat and national agencies for similar applications so that we organize a production order to be awarded to Arianespace as quickly as possible in order to give European industry a minimum critical mass for production of Ariane 6, and the same for Vega C,” [CEO Alain] Charmeau explained.

He said Airbus Safran Launchers is seeking a commitment of five Ariane 6 launches per year, and believes a commitment of two Vega C launches a year for Italy’s Avio would constitute enough demand to provide stability. Charmeau said demand for launches of European satellites is rising and should make this an attainable target.

“We anticipate a slight increase in institutional requirements in line with the increasing space budget in Europe, both at the European Commission level and ESA level, which means that there will be more programs, more satellites and therefore more launch services,” he said.

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Arianespace Signed 13 Launch Contracts in Past Year

Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)
Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)

While Elon Musk and SpaceX have been dominating the media spotlight with their spectacular Falcon 9 first-stage landings and even more spectacular launch pad firexplanomaly, Arianespace has quietly went about the task of putting satellites into orbit and signing new launch contracts.

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Q&A on European Union’s New Space Policy

European_Commission_LogoBRUSSELS, 26 October 2016 (EU PR) — EU space programmes already deliver services that benefit millions of people. The European space industry is strong and competitive, creating jobs and business opportunities for entrepreneurs. Today’s proposal for a new space policy will foster new services and promote Europe’s leadership in space.

1. Why a space strategy now?

The EU is developing three high quality space projects: Copernicus, a leading provider of Earth observation data across the globe; Galileo, Europe’s own global navigation satellite system (GNSS); and the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), which provides precision navigation services to aviation, maritime and land-based users over most of Europe. A total of EUR 12 billion from the EU budget will be invested in these projects and in research over 2014-2020. Now that the infrastructure of EU space programmes is well advanced, the focus needs to shift to ensuring a strong market uptake of space data and services by the public and private sector. By generating more services which respond to people’s needs and new economic opportunities, every euro spent on EU space policy is a euro well spent. This is also in line with the Commission’s Budget for Results initiative.

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ESA, EU Sign Joint Statement of Shared Visions and Goals

ESA logoBRUSSELS, 26 October 2016 (ESA PR) — A ‘Joint Statement on Shared Vision and Goals for the Future of European Space’ was signed by ESA Director General Jan Woerner and European Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska in Brussels today.

In the past two Space Councils, in an informal setting under the EU Council Presidency of Luxembourg and the Netherlands, the Member States of ESA and the EU have requested ESA and the EC together to come up with a set of joint visions and goals for the future of European space.

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New EU Space Policy Focused on Improving Lives, Boosting Competitiveness

European_Commission_LogoBRUSSELS (EU PR) — EU space programmes already deliver services that benefit millions of people. The European space industry is strong and competitive, creating jobs and business opportunities for entrepreneurs. Today’s proposal for a new space policy will foster new services and promote Europe’s leadership in space.

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said: “The European Union is a key player in space policy. We want to build on that and use this leadership role strategically to create jobs and growth and deliver on our common policy priorities: security,climate change, transport, data economy, management of natural disasters. This requires cooperation with our partners and stakeholders in Europe and internationally. The Joint EU – ESA Declaration on our “Shared Vision and Goals for the Future of Europe in Space” to be signed this afternoon is another important step in that direction.”

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Commission Approves Airbus Safran Launchers Acquisition of Arianespace

Ariane 6 variants (Credit: Airbus Defense and Space)
Ariane 6 variants (Credit: Airbus Defense and Space)

BRUSSELS (EU PR) — Following an in-depth review, the European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Arianespace by Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL), a joint venture between Airbus and Safran. This approval is subject to conditions.

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European Commission Releases Space Strategy Roadmap

eu_flagEUROPEAN COMMISSION ROADMAP

Title of the Initiative: A Space Strategy for Europe
Lead DG – Responsible Unit – AP Number: DG GROW – DIRECTORATES I & J – 2016/GROW/007
Date of Roadmap: 12/2015
Likely Type of Initiative: Communication from the Commission
Indicative Planning: tbd
Additional Information: http://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/space/index_en.htm

This indicative roadmap is provided for information purposes only and can be subject to change. It does not prejudge the final decision of the Commission on whether this initiative will be pursued or on its final content and structure.
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ESA EDRS Launched as First Node of Space Data Highway

Relaying data via laser (Credit: ESA)
Relaying data via laser (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The European Data Relay System’s first laser terminal has reached space aboard its host satellite and is now under way to its final operating position.

EDRS-A was launched on 29 January as part of the Eutelsat-9B telecom satellite at 22:20 GMT (23:20 CET, 04:20 30 January local time) atop a Proton rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

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EU Provides $77 Million for SABRE Engine R&D

Skylon with the SABRE engine. (Credit: Reaction Engines)
Skylon with the SABRE engine. (Credit: Reaction Engines)

BRUSSELS, Belgium (EC PR) — The European Commission has found that a £50 million (around €71 million) grant that the UK authorities intend to provide for designing a SABRE space launcher engine is in line with EU state aid rules.

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ESA Looks Toward Expansion, Deeper International Cooperation

Credit: ESA
Credit: ESA

The 20-member European Space Agency (ESA) is looking to rapidly add two more nations to its list of member states while deepening cooperation with five other European countries, according to a resolution approved by ESA ministers on Tuesday.

In addition, ESA is looking at “seizing future cooperation opportunities” offered by its three strategic partners — the United States, Russia and China — while improving cooperation with new emerging space powers outside of Europe.

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Investigation Begins into Launch Anomaly; Prognosis for Galileo Satellites Grim

Europe's Galileo constellation. Credits: ESA-J. Huart
Europe’s Galileo constellation. Credits: ESA-J. Huart

Arianespace and ESA have issued an update on the launch anomaly that stranded two Galileo navigation satellites in the wrong orbits. The statement confirms that investigators are focused on an apparent problem with the Fregat upper stage of the Russian Soyuz ST launch vehicle.

The update provides no information about the fate of the satellites other than to say they are healthy and communicating with the ground. The European Commission has not issued an update since Friday, when it celebrated what it thought was a fully successful launch.

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