Airbus Pioneers First Satellite Factory in Space

The “orbital factory” envisioned by PERIOD will pioneer construction of major components such as antenna reflectors, assembly of spacecraft components and satellite payload replacements, directly in space. (Credit: Airbus)
  • PERIOD consortium to prepare concept for in-orbit demonstrator
  • In-space antenna and satellite assembly: first steps towards space manufacturing

BREMEN, Germany, 11 March 2021 (Airbus PR) – Airbus has been selected by the European Commission to study spacecraft manufacturing in space through the Horizon 2020 Programme. The PERIOD (PERASPERA In-Orbit Demonstration) project focuses on satellite assembly and manufacturing in orbit. This A/B1 phase study contract, worth €3 million [$3.6 million], will last two years, with the objective to continue with a demonstrator in orbit.

The “orbital factory” envisioned by PERIOD will pioneer construction of major components such as antenna reflectors, assembly of spacecraft components and satellite payload replacements, directly in space.

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ESA Studies Green Satellite Propellants

Candidate ‘green’ satellite propellants within a temperature-controlled incubator, undergoing heating as a way to simulate the speeding up of time. (Credit: European Astrotech Ltd.)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Today hydrazine is the most common propellant employed by thrusters aboard satellites: it is highly energetic in nature but also toxic and corrosive, as well as dangerous to handle and store. ESA initiated a study with European Astrotech Ltd in the UK to look into greener propellants and propulsion systems, to provide comparable performance with reduced toxicity and handling costs.

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European Investment Fund Announces €300 Million of Space Sector Finance with New Investments into Orbital Ventures & Primo Space

  • EIF attracts €300 million to support the innovation and growth of European smaller and medium-sized space technology companies under the InnovFin Space Equity Pilot,
  • New agreements with Orbital Ventures SCA SICAV-RAIF and Primo Space announced at the European Space Conference in Brussels.
  • The EIF’s participation is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the main pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe.

LUXEMBOURG (EIF PR) — The European Investment Fund (EIF) is partnering with the European Commission, to announce €300 million of investments into the EU space sector, supporting ground-breaking innovation in the industry.

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European Union Consolidating Space Programs Under Expanded & Renamed GNSS Agency

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The European Union (EU) is consolidating its space programs under an existing agency that is being given an expanded mandate.

The European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA), which will be renamed the EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUASP), will take on managing the use of the Copernicus Earth observation satellite system and oversee new initiatives in satellite communications named GOVSATCOM and space situational awareness (SSA).

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European Commission Welcomes Political Agreement on EU Space Program

European GNSS Agency (GSA) to evolve into European Union Agency for the Space Programme, with expanded duties and responsibilities

BRUSSELS (European Commission PR) — The Commission welcomes the political agreement between the European Parliament and the EU Member States on the European Union Space Programme proposed by the Commission in June 2018. Trilogue negotiations have now concluded with the political agreement, pending the final approval of the legal texts by the European Parliament and the Council. The EU Space Programme will bring all existing and new space activities under the umbrella of a single programme.

Thanks to the financial envelope of €13.202 billion agreed by the co-legislators, the EU Space Programme will ensure the further development of the current European flagship programmes, Copernicus for earth observation and Galileo/EGNOS for satellite navigation.  It will also enable the launching of European initiatives in satellite communication (GOVSATCOM) and on Space Situational Awareness (SSA) for the protection of space infrastructure from space debris.

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European Space and Digital Players to Study Development of EU’s Satellite-based Connectivity System

BRUSSELS, 23 December 2020 (Airbus PR) — The European Commission has selected a consortium of European satellite manufacturers, operators and service providers, telco operators and launch service providers to study the design, development and launch of a European-owned space-based communication system.

The study will assess the feasibility of a new initiative aiming to strengthen European digital sovereignty and provide secure connectivity for citizens, commercial enterprises and public institutions as well as providing global coverage for rural and ‘not-spot’ areas. Complementing Copernicus and Galileo, this new EU flagship programme, once given the green light, would fully exploit the synergies of the technological potential akin to the Digital and Space industries. The contract value of the year-long feasibility study amounts to € 7.1 million.

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NASA, US, European Partner Satellite Returns First Sea Level Measurements

The data in this graphic are the first sea surface height measurements from the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich (S6MF) satellite, which launched Nov. 21, 2020. They show the ocean off the southern tip of Africa, with red colors indicating higher sea level relative to blue areas, which are lower. (Credits: EUMETSAT)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, a joint U.S.-European satellite built to measure global sea surface height, has sent back its first measurements of sea level. The data provide information on sea surface height, wave height, and wind speed off the southern tip of Africa.

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Thales Alenia Space to Build Copernicus CHIME Satellites

Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission (CHIME) satellite. (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)

CANNES, France (Thales Alenia Space PR) — Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %), announced today that it has signed a 90 million euro [$106.5 million] first tranche contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to design and build the 2 environmental monitoring satellites of the Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission for the Environment (CHIME), the global amount being 455 million euros [$538.5 million].

The CHIME mission is part of the expansion of the Copernicus Space Component programme of the European Space Agency, ESA, in partnership with the European Commission. The European Copernicus flagship programme provides Earth observation and in situ data and a broad range of services for environmental monitoring and protection, climate monitoring, natural disaster assessment to improve the quality of life of European citizens.

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Thales Alenia Space to Build Copernicus CIMR Satellites

Copernicus Imaging Microwave Radiometer (CIMR) satellite. (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)

ROME (Thales Alenia Space PR) — Thales Alenia Space, Joint Venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%) announced today that it has signed a 93 million euro [$110 million], first tranche of the 495 million euro [$585.85 million] global contract, with the European Space Agency (ESA) to build the Copernicus Imaging Microwave Radiometer (CIMR) environmental monitoring satellites.

The CIMR mission is part of the expansion of the Copernicus Space Component programme of the European Space Agency, ESA, in partnership with the European Commission. The European Copernicus flagship programme provides Earth observation and in situ data and a broad range of services for environmental monitoring and protection, climate monitoring, natural disaster assessment to improve the quality of life of European citizens.

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Airbus Wins ESA’s LSTM Temperature-check Mission for Copernicus Next Generation

Copernicus Land Surface Temperature Monitoring (LSTM) satellite. (Credit: Airbus)
  • Contract valued at €380 million [$449.75 million]
  • Airbus Spain to lead industrial consortium: first Copernicus prime for Spain

MADRID (Airbus Defence and Space PR) – The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected Airbus Defence and Space as prime contractor for the new Land Surface Temperature Monitoring (LSTM) mission. LSTM is part of Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth observation programme for global monitoring. It is one of the six new missions, expanding the capabilities of the current Copernicus space component. The contract is valued at € 380 million which includes the development of one LSTM satellite, with an option for two further satellites.

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Thales Alenia Space at Forefront of High-priority Environmental Missions

Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission (CHIME) satellite. (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)
  • 2 new contracts signed today between Thales Alenia Space and the European Space Agency in the presence of French minister, Bruno Le Maire and Italian Undersecretary  Riccardo Fraccaro
  • Involved in 5 out of 6 Copernicus expansion new missions
  • Prime contractor for CHIME, CIMR and ROSE-L, leading industrial consortium from France and Italy

CANNES (Thales Alenia Space PR) – Thales Alenia Space, a Joint Venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %), signed today with the European Space Agency (ESA) two new contracts in the frame of the new high-priority Copernicus satellite missions planned to expand the current capabilities of the Sentinels and serve EU policy as well as citizens needs.

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ESA Signs Contracts for Three High-priority Environmental Missions

Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission (CHIME) satellite. (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)

PARIS, November 13, 2020 (ESA PR) — Today, ESA signed contracts with Thales Alenia Space in France and in Italy, and Airbus in Spain to build three of the new high-priority Copernicus satellite missions: CHIME, CIMR and LSTM, respectively.

Each mission is set to help address different major environmental challenges such as sustainable agriculture management, food security, the monitoring of polar ice supporting the EU Integrated Policy for the Arctic, and all will be used to understand climate change.

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5 Things to Know About Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will map up to 95% of Earth’s ice-free ocean every 10 days in order to monitor sea level variability. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

Set for launch in November, the Earth-observing satellite will closely monitor sea level and provide atmospheric data to support weather forecasting and climate models.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — On Nov. 10, the world’s latest Earth-observing satellite will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. As a historic U.S.-European partnership, the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft will begin a five-and-a-half-year prime mission to collect the most accurate data yet on global sea level and how our oceans are rising in response to climate change. The mission will also collect precise data of atmospheric temperature and humidity that will help improve weather forecasts and climate models.

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Launch of ENTRUSTED Project Dedicated to Secure Government Satellite Communications

Credit: ESA

LUXEMBOURG (Luxembourg Space Agency PR) — A new research project named ENTRUSTED was launched on 15 September 2020. ENTRUSTED stands for European Networking for satellite  Telecommunication Roadmap for the governmental Users requiring  Secure inTeroperable innovativE  and standardiseD services.

ENTRUSTED will be implemented by almost 20 organisations representing EU Member States including Luxembourg and EU agencies. With a budget close to EUR 3 million, allocated under Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, ENTRUSTED will deliver its expected results by February 2023.

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ESA Awards Airbus €300 Million Copernicus Satellite Contract

CRISTAL satellite (Credit: ESA)
  • CRISTAL will measure sea ice thickness and ice sheet elevations
  • Airbus in Germany will lead the industrial consortium
  • Contract is worth € 300 million

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany, 21 September 2020 – The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected Airbus to develop and build the Copernicus polar ice and snow topography mission (CRISTAL). With two satellites the CRISTAL mission will ensure the long-term continuation of radar altimetry ice elevation and change records. It is one of six new missions to expand the current capabilities of the Copernicus space component for the benefit of all European citizens. The contract is worth € 300 million [$352 million].

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