Upcoming Satellite Mission will Improve Hurricane Forecasts and Climate Science, NOAA Expert Says

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)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — A new satellite designed to capture detailed measurements of sea-surface height and other ocean features is scheduled to launch in November 2020. The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite will help provide enhanced hurricane intensity forecasts and improved information of Earth’s climate.

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NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic, Looks Ahead in 2020, 2021

SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — With 2020 more than half way through, NASA is gearing up for a busy rest of the year and 2021.

Following the recent successful launch of a Mars rover and safely bringing home astronauts from low-Earth orbit aboard a new commercial spacecraft, NASA is looking forward to more exploration firsts now through 2021.

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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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Building Satellites Amid COVID-19

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)

MUNICH (ESA PR) — During these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 lockdown, trying to work poses huge challenges for us all. For those that can, remote working is now pretty much the norm, but this is obviously not possible for everybody. One might assume that like many industries, the construction and testing of satellites has been put on hold, but engineers and scientists are finding ways of continuing to prepare Europe’s upcoming satellite missions such as the next Copernicus Sentinels.

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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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World Space Alliance Continues to Strengthen

TOULOUSE, France (ESA PR) — The ESA–SAP World Space Alliance continues to grow as Airbus Defence and Space, the Environmental Systems Research Institute and GeoVille join the partnership.

Earlier this year, SAP – a German-based multinational software corporation – and ESA created the World Space Alliance (WSA). This was another milestone in the ESA—SAP partnership that was initiated in 2016.

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Two ICEYE SAR Satellites Commissioned, Added to Constellation

A stereo visualization of two SAR images from Indonesia, taken only minutes apart from each other with ICEYE’s two satellites launched in July 2019. (Credit: ICEYE)

Helsinki, FINLAND – September 12, 2019 (ICEYE PR) – ICEYE, the leader in small synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite technology, today announced its two SAR satellites launched in July 2019 have finalized their initial commissioning, and are available for customer data orders.

The company now provides standardized commercial imaging access to three of its SAR satellite units, in addition to serving a number of customers with custom data products and solutions. ICEYE is set to launch two more SAR satellite units by the end of 2019 to further increase the commercial availability and coverage of the globe with the company’s constellation.

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Advisory Committee Recommends Keeping Landsat Data Free

Landsat 8 (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Citing a combination of negligible revenues and negative economic impacts on the economy, an Interior Department advisory committee has recommended that the government not implement fees for the use of data from the Landsat 8 and 9 satellites.

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European Union Provides $109 Million in Additional Funding for ESA’s Copernicus Program

BRUSSELS, 22 January 2019 (ESA PR) — An amendment to the current Copernicus Agreement has been signed by the EU and ESA, adding €96 million [$109.1 million] to ESA’s space component budget for the world’s largest environmental monitoring programme: Copernicus.

The 3rd Amendment of the EU–ESA Copernicus Agreement was signed at the 11th European Policy Conference in Brussels, Belgium.

This additional contribution of €96 million is related to ESA being entrusted with additional tasks such as the development of the Copernicus Sentinel-6 mission and the new European Copernicus Data Access and Information Services.

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Some Rocket Launches to Watch in 2018

The world’s most powerful booster is set to make a flight test sometime in January. If all goes well, 27 first stage engines will power the new booster off Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The three first stage cores will peel off and land for later reuse while the second stage continues into space.

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Atlas V Scrubbed for Weather, Soyuz Launches Progress to Station

Atlas V with NROL-52 satellite. (Credit: ULA)

ULA says it scrubbed an early-morning launch of an Atlas V carrying the NROL-52 satellite due to weather violations. The launch has been rescheduled for Sunday, Oct. 15, at 3:28 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It was the third scrub of the flight due to weather constraints and the fourth scrub overall.

A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying a Russian Progress resupply ship blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Saturday. The freighter will take about two days to reach the International Space Station. The launch comes two after a last-minute abort of the Soyuz booster.

On Friday, the European Sentinel 5 Precursor satellite was orbited by a Russian Rockot booster from the Plesestk Cosmodrome. The mission, a joint collaboration of the European Commission and European Space Agency, will measure greenhouse gases.











ESA Teams Prepare for Critical Days

ESA's José Morales is Spacecraft Operations Manager for Sentinel-3A, a Copernicus satellite set for launch in February 2016. (Credit: ESA)
ESA’s José Morales is Spacecraft Operations Manager for Sentinel-3A, a Copernicus satellite set for launch in February 2016. (Credit: ESA)

DARMSTADT, Germany (ESA PR) — Moments after Sentinel-3A separates from its rocket, a team of European mission control specialists will assume control, shepherding the new spacecraft through its critical first days in space.

Carrying a suite of cutting-edge instruments, Sentinel-3A is set to join the Sentinel-1A radar satellite and the Sentinel-2A high-resolution optical satellite in orbit to monitor the health of our planet.

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ESA Budget Gets 18 Percent Boost

ESA_budget_2016_node_full_imageBuoyed by major satellite and launch vehicle programs, the European Space Agency (ESA) has received an 18.44 percent increase in its budget for 2016.

The space agency’s budget rose from 4.43 billion euros in 2015 to 5.25 billion euros ($4.8 billion to $5.69 billion),  an increase of 817 million euros ($884.8 million).

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NASA Terminates Space Act Agreement With B612 Foundation

sentinel_diagram
NASA has terminated an unfunded Space Act Agreement with the B612 Foundation, a private organization whose goal is to launch a spacecraft called Sentinel that would conduct a comprehensive search for asteroids.

Its primary purpose was obtaining NASA technical consulting and agreement for B612 to use NASA tracking facilities for Sentinel after it was launched.  In return, B612 would keep NASA informed of the spacecraft’s technical characteristics and progress and deliver data from the spacecraft to the Minor Planet Center….

NASA spokesmen Dwayne Brown and Dave Steitz confirmed via email that NASA terminated the agreement with B612.  Steitz explained that B612 had not met an important milestone in the SAA — starting Sentinel’s development — and NASA therefore terminated the agreement because “due to limited resources, NASA can no longer afford to reserve funds” to support the project.  “NASA believes it is in the best interest of both parties to terminate this agreement but remains open to future opportunities to collaborate with the B612 Foundation,” he added.

B612 Vice President for Communications Diane Murphy also confirmed the termination, but said NASA had invited them to return to obtain another SAA when Sentinel’s launch date is closer.   She noted that “our timeline is dependent on our fundraising — and while that is going well – it is hard … and taking longer than we first anticipated.”   She provided a statement from Lu asserting that the “status of the SAA in no way changes the resolve of the B612 Foundation to move forward. … We will continue to work independently and together with NASA, the US Congress and others to see our goals realized.”

According to data compiled by Pro Publica, the foundation became tax exempt in July 2013. The foundation’s tax return for 2013, which is the most recent available, shows it received $1,618,005 in contributions that year while spending $1,556,227. Net assets at the end of the year totaled $195,931.

Foundation President Ed Lu received $240,000 in compensation in 2013. Secretary and Chief Operating Officer Danica Rema received $209,443 for the year. The tax return also lists an additional $271,277 in other salaries and wages. The return does not state who received this compensation. Almost half of it — $132,171 — is attributed to fund-raising expenses.











Asteroid Hunting Satellite Effort Floudering Due to Lack of Funds

b612foundationIn a setback for efforts to find giant space rocks that could kill us all, the B612 Foundation is not having much luck raising money for its asteroid-hunting Sentinel spacecraft.

Yet progress has been slow. The B612 Foundation raised donations of roughly $1.2 million in 2012 and $1.6 million in 2013 — far short of its annual goal of $30 million to $40 million. NASA says that Sentinel has also missed every development milestone laid out in the 2012 agreement. In a January statement to an advisory panel, NASA said that its “reliance on the private sector for a space-based NEO survey … is being re-examined”. NASA’s Lindley Johnson, director of the near-earth object programme, declined to speak to Nature, citing the ongoing discussions between the B612 Foundation and the agency…

If Sentinel receives substantial funding soon, it could launch by late 2019, says B612 Foundation chief executive and former astronaut Edward Lu. Even if NASA terminates its agreement with the foundation, he vows to keep the project going. “Believe me, I could do a lot of other things,” he says. “But I feel this is extremely important.”

Meanwhile, a group at NASA is pursuing a satellite of its own, which is competing with two dozen other proposals for funding.

NEOCam, meanwhile, would use an infrared telescope to search for asteroids from a vantage point between Earth and the Sun. In September, NASA will decide whether it is a finalist out of more than two dozen proposals being considered for launch by 2022 through the Discovery programme, which caps each mission’s cost at $450 million.