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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ICEYE Raises $87 Million Series C Round to Expand Radar Imaging Services

Helsinki, FINLAND – September 22, 2020 – ICEYE, a World-leading SAR data provider, today announced the closing of a larger than planned $87M Series C funding, led by return investor True Ventures, with a significant additional investment by OTB Ventures.

ICEYE has so far successfully launched 5 satellite missions, starting with the first ever small SAR satellite launched in January 2018. The company is launching 4 additional SAR satellites this year and is on course to launch at least an additional 8 in 2021. This will grow the existing operational constellation into a capability that is unique in the World. To date, ICEYE has raised a total of $152M in financing.

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OTB Ventures Launches OTB Space Program I, Investing in ICEYE’s $87 Million C Round

  • Newly launched space investment program supports $87m series C funding round for ICEYE
  • Builds on OTB Ventures alliance with Draper Venture Network

AMSTERDAM, 22 September 2020 – OTB Ventures, a leading venture capital firm specialized in investments in technology companies originating in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), today announces the launch of a dedicated investment vehicle to support Europe’s leading space technologies – OTB Space Program I – backed by the European Investment Fund and the European Commission through the InnovFin for Equity programme.

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Plasma Propulsion for Small Satellites

Rest firing of Europe’s Helicon Plasma Thruster. (Credit: SENER)

A test firing of Europe’s Helicon Plasma Thruster, developed with ESA by SENER in Spain. This compact, electrodeless and low voltage design is ideal for the propulsion of small satellites, including maintaining the formation of large orbital constellations.

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EU Space Budget Request Slashed

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The European Commission (EC) has slashed its space budget for 2021-27 from a proposed €16 billion ($18.8 billion) to €13.2 billion ($15.1 billion) due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic and the exit of Britain from the European Union (EU).

Under terms worked out last week by EU leaders, the space budget will devote €8 billion ($9.4 billion) on the Galileo satellite navigation system and €4.8 billion ($5.65 billion) to the Copernicus constellation of environmental satellites.

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‘Primo Space’ has Lift-off: First Italian Fund to Invest in Space Economy

  • Primomiglio SGR launches first Italian venture capital fund – ‘Primo Space’ – focusing on space investments, with first closing at €58 million and target size of €80 million.
  • European Investment Fund (EIF) and CDP Venture Capital SGR act as cornerstone investors in the fund, which was developed with the support of the Italian Space Agency.
  • €30 million EIF commitment backed by the new InnovFin Space initiative and the Investment Plan for Europe of the European Commission.

BRUSSELS (European Commission PR) — Italian fund manager Primomiglio  announces the first closing of Primo Space, an early stage venture fund focused on space start-ups.

The first closing of Primo Space reached an initial amount of €58 million with contributions of the European Investment Fund (EIB group), CDP Venture Capital SGR through the VenturItaly Fund of Funds, Compagnia di Sanpaolo, Luigi Rossi Luciani S.a.p.a., Banca Sella, in addition to the SGR itself and its key men.

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EUMETSAT Shifts Weather Satellites to Ariane 6

DARMSTADT, Germany — Meeting on 30 June in virtual configuration, the Council of Europe’s operational satellite agency for weather and climate, EUMETSAT, approved the transition plan from the second to the third generation of Meteosat geostationary satellites for 2022-2026.

As part of this plan, EUMETSAT will move Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) spacecraft Meteosat-9 over the Indian Ocean in 2022 to replace the ageing Meteosat-8 and continue MSG observations of that region until at least 2025. Meteosat observations of the Indian Ocean started in 1998 with a first-generation satellite, Meteosat-5.

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ESA Selects Thales Alenia Space Proposals for Copernicus Project

Copernicus Sentinel-3 (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

CANNES, July 2, 2020 (Thales Alenia Space PR) — Thales Alenia Space, a Joint Venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %), has recently been selected  by the European Space Agency (ESA) in coordination and with the agreement of the European Commission, for major Copernicus missions.

Copernicus is the core satellite Earth observation program of the European Commission and the European Space Agency ESA. It provides Earth observation data for environmental protection, climate monitoring, natural disaster assessment and other social tasks.

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Six New Missions for the European Copernicus Earth Observation Program

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)
  • On 1 July 2020, the European Space Agency awarded contracts for the development and construction of six further Copernicus satellites.
  • Contracts with a value of more than 800 million euro are being awarded to space companies in Germany, a high percentage of which are SMEs.
  • The new satellites are intended to help find answers to the global challenges posed by climate change, population growth and environmental problems.

BONN, Germany (DLR PR) — Sentinel satellites are at the heart of Copernicus, Europe’s largest Earth observation programme. Sentinels are already reliably and continuously providing large amounts of data on the state of the climate, vegetation and oceans. Now, six more ‘Earth Guardians’, the High Priority Candidate Missions (HPCM), are being added.

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ESA Approves €2.55 billion in Contracts for 6 Copernicus Satellite Missions

Copernicus Sentinel-3 (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Following the financial commitment from ESA Member States at last November’s Council at Ministerial Level Space19+, ESA’s industrial policy committee has approved contracts totalling €2.55 billion [$2.87 million] to forward the development of six new Copernicus satellite missions, each mission comprising two satellites, a development and a recurrent unit. 

The overall package is co-funded by the EU and ESA Member States, and relies on future funding from the EU Multiannual financial framework.

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New International Ocean Satellite Completes Testing

Mission team members perform acoustic tests of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite in a chamber outfitted with giant speakers that blast the spacecraft with sound. This is to ensure that the high decibels associated with liftoff won’t damage the spacecraft. (Credit: Airbus)

A team of engineers in the U.S. and Europe subjected the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft to a battery of trials to ready it for liftoff later this year.


Once the state-of-the-art Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite launches in November, it will collect the most accurate data yet on sea level – a key indicator of how Earth’s warming climate is affecting the oceans, weather and coastlines. But first, engineers need to ensure that the spacecraft can survive the rigors of launch and of operating in the harsh environment of space. That’s where meticulous testing comes in.

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COVID-19: How Can Satellites Help?

Normally busy, Frankfurt airport stands still amid the COVID-19 crisis. The image was captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission on 30 March 2020. (Credits: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data – 2020, processed by ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has virtually paralysed daily life as we know it. Even when the spread of this highly infectious disease has been stemmed, the world will face huge challenges getting back to normal. To help support experts working in Europe’s research centres and technical organisations during these unprecedented times, ESA has issued two new initiatives related to understanding the effects that COVID-19 is imposing on society, the economy and the environment.

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European Commission Approves UTC’s Acquisition of Raytheon

BRUSSELS (European Commission PR) — The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of Raytheon by United Technologies Corporation (UTC). The approval is conditional on the divestiture of a remedy package.

The transaction combines UTC’s aerospace businesses and Raytheon’s defence business. Both companies are global suppliers of military systems and equipment to aircraft and guided munition producers, as well as armed forces.

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