SpaceX to Launch Italian Surveillance Satellite on Thursday, Starlink Satellites on Saturday

SpaceX is scheduled to launch the Italian Space Agency’s COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation radar surveillance satellite tonight from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The launch is scheduled for 6:11 p.m. EST (2311 GMT). It will be the company’s fourth launch of the year.

After stage separation, Falcon 9 will return to Earth and land on Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission previously supported the launch of Arabsat-6A and STP-2. One half of the fairings supporting this mission previously supported Transporter-1, Transporter-2, and one Starlink mission, and the other half previously supported SAOCOM 1B, Transporter-2, and one Starlink mission.

SpaceX plans to launch another group of Starlink broadband satellites from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Saturday, Jan. 29. The launch is scheduled for 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT).

SpaceX will stream both launches beginning about 15 minutes before liftoff. 

Arianespace to Launch PLATiNO 1 & 2 on Vega and Vega C

Vega rocket in flight (Credit: Arianespace)
  • PLATiNO 1 and 2 are Earth observation satellites that will be launched on a Sun-synchronous orbit.
  • Both small satellites are due to be launched between 2022 and 2024.
  • PLATiNO is an all-electric multi-purpose small satellite platform developed in Italy, suitable for a wide range of applications (e.g. Optical, SAR, Telecom, etc.)

Évry-Courcouronnes, France, January 6, 2022 (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace has been awarded a launch contract by SITAEL, with the Italian Space Agency (ASI) as the final customer, to orbit PLATiNO 1 & 2 satellites, between 2022 and 2024 on Vega and Vega C. PLATiNO 1 and 2 are Earth observation small satellites operating on Sun-synchronous orbits. PLATiNO 1 will embark a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), operating in the X band, while PLATiNO 2 will carry an optical thermal instrument.

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Investing Recovery and Resilience Funds in Italian Space Projects

PARIS (ESA PR) — Green and digital transition in Europe will benefit from ESA expertise that supports national plans for investing recovery and resilience funds in space projects.

At the 303rd ESA Council meeting in Paris on 15 December 2021, ESA Member States took the decision to further the role of ESA as provider of expertise in support of national space plans, in particular in order to accompany the investment of Italian recovery and resilience funds in space programmes.

The corresponding arrangement for ESA’s assistance to the Italian National Project concerning Earth observation and space transportation and associated protocol were signed on the margin of the first Giornata Nazionale dello Spazio (Italian National Space Day), held at the Italian Space Agency (ASI) headquarters in Rome on 16 December 2021, by the Italian Minister for Digital Transition and Technological Innovation and delegated authority for space, Vittorio Colao, and ESA Director General, Josef Aschbacher, in the presence of the ASI President, Giorgio Saccoccia.

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Italy Contributed 3 Instruments to NASA-ASI IXPE Mission

NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission is the first satellite dedicated to measuring the polarization of X-rays from a variety of cosmic sources, such as black holes and neutron stars. (Credits: NASA)

ROME (ASI PR) — A lot of Italian science born from the exclusive collaboration between NASA and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) was aboard the IXPE (Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer) satellite, which took off punctually from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 7.00 Italian time on 9 December. A Falcon 9 carrier from the private company SpaceX was used for the launch. The launch was attended by the president of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), Giorgio Saccoccia, and the administrator of NASA, Bill Nelson.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches NASA IXPE Scientific Satellite

Falcon 9 lifts off with NASA’s IXPE satellite on Dec. 9, 2021. (Credit: NASA webcast)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer ( IXPE) early Thursday morning from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The spacecraft will study of the most energetic objects in the universe – the remnants of exploded stars, powerful particle jets spewing from feeding black holes, and more.

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Planetary Defense: Italy’s LICIACube Flies with DART Toward a Collision with an Asteroid

LICIACube (Credit: Argotec)

The journey into deep space of the satellite of the Italian Space Agency’s LICIACube satellite has begun.

ROME (ASI PR) — The first planetary defense mission of NASA DART, which carries the LICIACube satellite built by Argotec, in collaboration and with the contribution of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), was launched as scheduled on Nov. 24 at 07.21 Italian time from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

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NASA’s New X-ray Mission Will Unlock the Secrets of Extreme Cosmic Objects

The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer mission is set to launch Dec. 9 on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In space, IXPE will explore the leftovers of exploded stars, black holes, and more by looking at a special property of light called polarization. (Credits: NASA)

by Rick Smith
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA is gearing up to launch a new set of X-ray eyes on the cosmos. The first space observatory of its kind, the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer, or IXPE, is built to study some of the most energetic objects in the universe – the remnants of exploded stars, powerful particle jets spewing from feeding black holes, and much more.

IXPE is set to launch Dec. 9 on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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NASA, SpaceX Launch DART: First Test Mission to Defend Planet Earth

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft onboard, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, Pacific time (Nov. 24 Eastern time) from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. DART is the world’s first full-scale planetary defense test, demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection technology. The mission was built and is managed by Johns Hopkins APL for NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the world’s first full-scale mission to test technology for defending Earth against potential asteroid or comet hazards, launched Wednesday at 1:21 a.m. EST on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

Just one part of NASA’s larger planetary defense strategy, DART – built and managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland – will impact a known asteroid that is not a threat to Earth. Its goal is to slightly change the asteroid’s motion in a way that can be accurately measured using ground-based telescopes.

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NASA TV to Air DART Prelaunch Activities, Launch

Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft at Didymos. (Credit: NASA)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s first planetary defense test mission, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). The mission will help determine if intentionally crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid is an effective way to change its course. DART’s target asteroid is not a threat to Earth.

DART is scheduled to launch no earlier than 1:20 a.m. EST Wednesday, Nov. 24 (10:20 p.m. PST Tuesday, Nov. 23) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

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ESA Business Incubation Centre Turin Opens to Support Italian Space Startups

TURIN, Italy (ASI PR) — The incubator linked to space supported by ESA and ASI and born from the synergy between the Incubator of the Polytechnic of Turin I3P, the Polytechnic of Turin and the LINKS Foundation, inaugurates in Turin the new node of the European network, the ESA Business Incubation Center Turin, with the aim of supporting innovative companies in the space sector.

The start-up and technological and business development of new innovative companies in the Space Economy sector is the main purpose of the ESA Business Incubation Center Turin (ESA BIC Turin), which officially inaugurates the works with an opening ceremony at the Politecnico di Turin and with the launch of the first call dedicated to the most promising startups in the space sector who want to receive support from this new incubation center and become part of its ecosystem.

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Ball Aerospace Delivers NASA’s X-Ray Observatory to Kennedy Space Center for Launch

IXPE satellite (Credit: Ball Aerospace)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Ball Aerospace PR) — NASA’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), built by Ball Aerospace, safely arrived Friday at Cape Canaveral in Fla. A collaboration between Ball, NASA, and the Italian Space Agency (ASI), IXPE is an astrophysics observatory set to launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in December.

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D-Orbit Signs Agreement with Oman’s International Emerging Technology Company ETCO

The agreement focuses on a partnership aiming at setting up a satellite manufacturing facility in Oman, the first initiative of this kind in the Sultanate.

DUBAI, UAE, October 27th, 2021 (D-Orbit PR) — Space logistics company D-Orbit announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with International Emerging Technology Company (ETCO), a technology leader in the Sultanate of Oman. The document sets the basis for a potential partnership aiming at setting up a satellite manufacturing and space logistics facility in Oman.

The contract was signed on October 26th, during the 72nd International Astronautical Conference, by Luca Rossettini, D-Orbit’s CEO, and Ammar Al Rawahi, Director of Astro and Space Technologies at ETCO. The signing happened in the presence of Giorgio Saccoccia, President of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and Dr. Saoud Al Shoaili, Head of the National Space Program at the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology (MTCIT).

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Italian Space Agency Shifts Satellite Launch From Vega-C to SpaceX Falcon 9

COSMO SkyMed satellite (Credit: ASI)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Citing delays with Europe’s new Vega-C rocket, two Vega booster failures and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Italian Space Agency (ASI) has shifted the launch of the second COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation (CSG-2) Earth observation satellite to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

“The delays, postponing the Vega-C Maiden Flight to Q1 2022, with a consequent tight schedule of launches in 2022, made the  launch period of CSG-2 no longer compatible with the needs of the COSMO Mission. Since Arianespace backlog was already full on Soyuz and Ariane systems in 2021, it was not possible to have a European back-up solution compliant with the CSG-2 schedule, thus an alternative solution with the US provider SpaceX has been adopted allowing to keep the CSG-2 launch within the current year,” ASI said on its website.

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EPSC 2021: Life Support Cooked up From Lunar Rocks

Artist impression of a Moon Base concept. (Credit: ESA – P. Carril)

STRASBOURG, France (Europlanet Society PR) — Engineers have successfully shown how water and oxygen can be extracted by cooking up lunar soil, in order to support future Moon bases. A laboratory demonstrator, developed by a consortium of the Politecnico Milano, the European Space Agency, the Italian Space Agency and the OHB Group, is presented this week at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2021.

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ASI and Qascom to Bring Italy and Galileo Navigation System to the Moon

Photo of Mare Crisium taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. (Credit: NASA)

ROME (ASI PR) — Finding the best route for lunar orbit and easy parking on the Moon is the goal of NEIL (Navigation Early Investigation on Lunar surface) GNSS receiver with Software Defined Radio (SDR) technology. The creation of NEIL, named in honor of Neil Armstrong, the first man to touch the lunar soil, is at the center of an agreement between the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and NASA linked to the CLPS 19-D mission (NASA missions with contributions commercial and private of an experimental nature) with which the American space agency has planned to land with a lander in the Mare Crisium basin in 2023. [Editor’s Note: This is Firefly Aerospace’s Blue Ghost lander mission.]

NEIL, subject of the contract signed between ASI and the company Qascom SRL, is the on-board payload that will be an integral part of the experiment called Lunar GNSS Receiver Experiment  (LuGRE), defined in the ASI/NASA agreement, which aims to develop an activity in a lunar and cislunar environment.

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