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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Video: First Hot Fire Testing of 75kN HyImpulse Hybrid Rocket Motor

Video Caption: At midday of Tuesday 15 September, the first firing of the HyImpulse 75kN hybrid rocket motor was a full success! It was performed at the world class DLR Lampoldshausen testing facility.

This is the biggest hybrid rocket motor ever built and tested in Europe. This marks an important milestone in accomplishing our plan for a suborbital flight in early 2021 and the first flight of the three stage HyImpulse launcher SL1 by the end of 2022.

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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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What’s On Board Vega Booster

The European Vega rocket that launched this evening was carrying 53 satellites on its first rideshare mission as part of the Small Spacecraft Mission Service Proof of Concept Flight.

The payloads included 14 Flock 4V Earth imaging satellites from Planet, 12 SpaceBEE Internet of Things spacecraft from Swarm Technologies, and 8 maritime monitoring satellites from Spire.

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Delayed Vega Launch Now Set for September 1

Vega begins its ascent from the Spaceport in French Guiana, carrying Italy’s PRISMA Earth observation satellite on the third Arianespace mission of 2019. (Credit: Arianespace)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A new launch date of 1 September 2020 has been announced by Arianespace for Vega flight VV16.

Due to the persistence of exceptionally unfavourable winds at altitude over Europe’s Spaceport, Vega flight VV16, originally scheduled for 18 June 2020, was postponed, despite full availability of the launcher and the 53 satellites on this Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) mission.

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Contract Signed to Build Europe’s Carbon Dioxide Monitoring Mission

PARIS (ESA PR) — With the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere approaching levels that humans may have never before experienced, the need to monitor sources of emissions is more urgent than ever – hence the Copernicus Carbon Dioxide Monitoring mission being one of Europe’s new high-priority satellite missions.

Taking the mission a significant step forward, ESA and OHB System AG have, today, signed a contract to build the first two satellites that make up the mission.

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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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Data Relay Satellite Beams at Light Speed

EDRS antennas undergoing tests. (Credit: DLR)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The most sophisticated laser communication network ever designed has gained its second satellite.

The European Data Relay System (EDRS) was built to accelerate the flow of information from Earth-observation satellites to people on the ground.

The second satellite in the network, EDRS-C, has now passed its user commissioning review and entered into full service.

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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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ESA Council Approves Lunar Gateway, Mars Sample Return MOUs with NASA

PARIS (ESA PR) — The ESA Council met today in its 290th session and took some important decisions regarding the Executive’s senior management.

Several other decisions were taken in the meeting, in particular:

  • An adaptation of ESA’s decision-making to ensure efficient deliberation and ultimately, business continuity amid the current pandemic, particularly allowing remote participation and voting by Council members
  • The approval of a Memorandum of Understanding with NASA concerning Cooperation on the Civil Lunar Gateway, taking a step towards sending the first European to the Moon 
  • The approval of a Memorandum of Understanding with NASA concerning the Flight elements of the Mars Sample Return Campaign, consolidating the ambitious schedule towards the first-ever ‘round trip’ to Mars with return of pristine martian soil samples
  • In order to prepare the ESA/EU Council at ministerial Level (Space Council) to be held in November 2020, the ESA Council adopted a resolution to set-up a Council Working Group.
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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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