The Best Laid Plans: Europe’s Ambitious Launch Year Goes Awry Due to International Tensions, Schedule Delays

The James Webb Space Telescope lifted off on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, at 13:20 CET on 25 December 2021 on its exciting mission to unlock the secrets of the Universe. (Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On Christmas Day 2021, an European Ariane 5 rocket roared off its launch pad in French Guiana with the most expensive payload the booster had ever carried, the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope. The launcher performed perfectly, sending the most powerful space telescope on a journey to its final destination 1.5 million km (900 million miles) from Earth. The launch was so accurate that Webb should have sufficient propellant to perform science operations for much longer than its planned 10-year lifetime.

There was a collective sigh of relief among the European, American and Canadian scientists and engineers involved in the long-delayed program. It was a superb Christmas gift to a world suffering through the second year of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

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First Ariane 5 Launch of 2022 Orbits Satellites for MEASAT and NSIL

Ariane 5 launches on June 22, 2022. (Credit: Arianespace)

– The Ariane 5, operated by Arianespace, has successfully placed two telecommunications satellites into geostationary orbit: MEASAT-3d for the Malaysian operator MEASAT, and GSAT-24 built by the Indian Space Agency ISRO on behalf of NSIL.
– Carrying out its first mission of the year, and the 113th overall, Ariane 5 once again demonstrates its exceptional reliability.
– Mission VA257 will improve broadband coverage in the Asia-Pacific region and represents another commercial success for Ariane 5 in the Asia-Pacific market.

KOUROU, French Guiana, June 22, 2022 (Arianespace PR) — On Wednesday, June 22, 2022 at 06:50 pm local time, an Ariane 5 launcher lifted off from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana (South America), successfully orbiting two geostationary telecommunication satellites, MEASAT-3d and GSAT-24.

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Hindustan Aeronautics, L&T Consortium to Build PSLV Boosters for ISRO

PSLV rocket launches the EOS-4 Earth observation satellite. (Credit: ISRO)

Indian media are reporting that a partnership of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and L&T consortium submitted the winning bid to manufacture five Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) privatizes key elements of the nation’s space program. BusinessToday.In reports:

“The company is the lead partner with L&T sharing the work. Other vendors too will be involved with the consortium in the manufacturing of the launch vehicles (LVs). However, the contract is yet to be formalised/ awarded,” HAL said in a statement.

This will be the first time that the industry will build a LV and will pave the way for commercialisation of other LVs, including the small satellite launch vehicle.

“ISRO’s commercial arm, NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) had floated a request for proposal for the said work in December, 2020,” HAL added.

The first rocket is expected to be realised sometime during the second half of 2024 and the balance four rockets will be delivered during 2025 and 2026 at two rockets per year.

India has taken a number of legal steps to privatize the nation’s government-run space program. Legal and regulatory changes have been undertaken, and private Indian space companies have signed agreements giving them access to ISRO facilities for testing purposes.

ISRO Looks to Transfer Mini Satellite Bus to Private Sector

IMS-1 bus (Credit: ISRO)

As part of its effort to commercialize the nation’s space program, the Indian Space Research Organisation is looking to transfer a small satellite bus to the private sector. The notice for transferring the Indian Mini Satellite-1 bus is below.

Interest Exploratory Note

UR Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has developed small satellite platform which would enable low cost access to space by providing dedicated platform for payloads for earth imaging, ocean and atmospheric studies, microwave remote sensing and space science missions with a quick turnaround time.

Department of Space has authorised NSIL for Technology Transfer of IMS-1 Satellite Platform to suitable entrepreneurs/industry in India. Interested Parties may please fill the enclosed form and send by email to contact-nsil@isro.gov.in on or before 25 March 2022.

Indian Mini Satellite-1 (IMS-1) Bus Specifications

Stability3-axes stabilised small satellite (Bus + P/L) of 100 kg Class
StructureSize 600 (Y) x 552 (R) x 600 (P) mm3
Pointing Accuracy±0.1° (3σ) about all axes
Drift Rate±7.5 x 10-04°/s (3σ) about all axes
Nominal Mission Life2 years
Payload Mass30 Kg
BDH32 Mbps
InterfacesLVDS, 1553, Standard TM/TC Interface
Solar PanelSolar Array consists of two wings, each having one panel of size 0.915 x 0.83 m2
Power330 W (EOL with one string failure)
BatteryLithium ion battery of 27.2 Ah capacity
Attitude SensorsMagnetometer -1 No., 4 PI Sensors, micro Star Sensors, micro-IRU
Reaction Control System
Magnetic Torquers (2nos. of 20 A-m2)
Reaction Wheels (4 Nos. of 1 Nm-s @ 8000 RPM & 0.02 Nm)
Thruster of 1N-1No.
Tank- 7.5 litre Volume
SSR32 Gb
ThermalThermistors – 48,
FTS- 16,
PRTs – 10,
Thermocouples – 2,
On-board heaters-28



Arianespace to Launch GSAT-24 Satellite for NSIL with Ariane 5

The Ariane 5 for Flight VA251 departs the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch zone with its EUTELSAT KONNECT and GSAT-30 satellite passengers. (Credit: Arianespace)
  • NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), a Government of India company under Department of Space (DOS), has chosen Arianespace to launch its GSAT-24 telecommunications satellite.
     
  • The satellite will be placed into orbit during an Ariane 5 mission scheduled for the 1st quarter of 2022.
     
  • GSAT-24 will be the 25th Indian satellite orbited by Arianespace, highlighting an outstanding partnership. 

ÉVRY-COURCOURONNES, France (Arianespace PR) — On September 28, 2021, NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) entrusted Arianespace with the launch of its GSAT-24 telecommunications satellite. GSAT-24 is scheduled for launch in the 1st quarter of 2022, from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on one of the seven Ariane 5 missions remaining to be performed with the heavy-lift launcher.

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India Moves Forward with Plans to Privatize Production of Launch Vehicles

GSLV Mark III inaugural flight test. (Credit: ISRO)

India is moving forward with transferring production of its government-built launch vehicles to private companies, Outlook India reports.

The Department of Space (DoS) plans to realise entirely-built rockets — GSLV-Mk III and SSLV — from Indian industry partners, in addition to PSLV, according to a top official of its commercial arm NSIL.

NSIL (NewSpace India Limited) has received three bids — HAL-L&T, BEL-Adani-BEML, and BHEL, in response to the request for proposal (RFP) floated by it for end-to-end production of PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle).

“We are now going through the techno-commercial evaluation (in respect of the three bids)”, NSIL Chairman and Managing Director, D Radhakrishnan, told PTI here.

He said the process will be completed within the next two months with one of the bidders bagging the contract. The selected bidder will be responsible for realisation of five numbers of PSLV.

GSLV-Mk III is India’s most powerful satellite booster. It will be used to launch ISRO’s Gaganyaan crewed spacecraft. SSLV is the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle, whose maiden flight has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

ISRO to Launch Brazilian Earth Observation Satellite, 18 Secondary Payloads

PSLV-C51 on the launch pad. (Credit: ISRO)

SRIHARIKOTA, India (ISRO PR) — PSLV-C51, which is the 53rd mission of PSLV, will launch Amazonia-1 of Brazil as primary satellite and 18 Co-passenger satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. The launch is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 28 at 1024 IST [0454 UTC/11:54 p.m. on Feb. 27], subject to weather conditions.

Watch live from 0950 IST [0420 UTC/11:20 p.m. on Feb. 27] onwards here.

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ISRO Outlines Plans to Commercialize Space Sector

BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — Opening up of the space sector is part of the larger vision of transforming India to become self-reliant through a set of socio-economic reforms. The reforms in the space sector are aimed at tapping the potential of entire country for unlocking its potential by enabling private enterprises and start-ups to undertake end-to-end space activities.

In addition, the reforms are also aimed at mitigating the large and upfront investments required to set up facilities for undertaking space activities through sharing of such existing facilities under ISRO.

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Spaceflight Purchases First Commercial Launch on India’s New Small Satellite Launcher

SEATTLE, August 6, 2019 (Spaceflight PR) Spaceflight, the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, today announced it has purchased the first commercial launch of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) from NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) scheduled for launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India later this year.

Spaceflight has already sold-out the entire manifest for this secured SSLV-D2 launch with spacecraft from an undisclosed U.S.-based satellite constellation customer. Spaceflight will aggregate the mission, delivering a single point of contact for the customer, handling all aspects of integration and mission management for the launch. 

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