Arianespace Looks Back on Solid 2019

Ariane 5 booster lifts off. (Credit: Arianespace)

COURCOURONNES, France (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace recorded a solid operational and business performance in 2019 by orbiting 24 satellites with nine launches, while signing 14 launch services contracts during the year for a total of 44 satellites ranging in mass from six kilograms to nearly six metric tons – marking the flexibility of the company’s commercial offer.

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ESA Signs Contract with Arianespace for Euclid Launch

Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA) today announced the signature of a launch services contract for the Euclid satellite – with the mission’s timeframe for liftoff starting in mid-2022 from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana (South America).

Euclid mission will be compatible with Ariane 62 and Soyuz.

Euclid is a medium-class astronomy and astrophysics space mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 scientific program to investigate the history of the expansion of our Universe over the past 10 billion years, looking into the current acceleration of cosmic expansion fueled by a mysterious component referred to as dark energy, and the growth of cosmic structures driven by the presence of dark matter.

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Liftoff for Cheops, ESA’s Exoplanet Mission

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — ESA’s Cheops mission lifted off on a Soyuz-Fregat launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 09:54:20 CET on 18 December on its exciting mission to characterise planets orbiting stars other than the Sun.

Signals from the spacecraft, received at the mission control centre based at INTA in Torrejón de Ardoz near Madrid, Spain, via the Troll ground tracking station at 12:43 CET confirmed that the launch was successful.

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Soyuz Booster to Launch COSMO-Skymed, Cheops, ANGELS, Eyesat and OPS-SAT

Replica of OPS-SAT (Credit: ESA–Stijn Laagland)

PARIS (CNES PR) — On Tuesday 17 December, Soyuz will lift off for the 23rd time from the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana, carrying COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation for the Italian space agency ASI and the Italian Ministry of Defence, CHEOPS for the European Space Agency (ESA), ANGELS and EyeSat for CNES, and OPS-SAT for operator Tyvak on behalf of ESA.

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ESA to Launch Cheops Exoplanet Satellite on Tuesday

CHEOPS space telescope (Credit: ESA/ATG Medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Tune in to ESA Web TV from  08:30 GMT (09:30 CET) Tuesday, 17 December to watch ESA’s exoplanet mission soar into space on a Soyuz-Fregat rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Cheops, the CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite, is scheduled for liftoff at 08:54 GMT (09:54 CET)  on its exciting mission to study planets orbiting stars other than the Sun. It is ESA’s first mission dedicated to the study of exoplanets.

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Russia Launches Glonass-M Navigation Satellite

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Today, December 11, 2019, at 11:54 Moscow time, the Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle with the Fregat upper stage successfully launched a Glonass-M navigation satellite from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

Separation of the satellite from the Fregat took place normally after three firings of the main engine of the upper stage. 

Glonass-M satellites form the basis of the orbital constellation of the GLONASS system. They provide navigation information and accurate time signals to land, sea, air and space consumers.

Progress Resupply Ship Launched to ISS

A Soyuz rocket launches the Progress MS-13 cargo ship to the International Space Station. (Credit: Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — On December 6, 2019, at 09:34:11 UTC the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with the Progress MS-13 cargo spacecraft launched from launchpad No. 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Antennas and solar batteries panels’ extension went routinely.

After the cargo vehicle separation from the third stage of the carrier rocket, the Chief Operating Control Group of the Russian segment of the International Space Station at the Mission Control Center took over the flight control.

Progress MS-13 spacecraft approach to the ISS and berthing to the Pirs docking module is planned to be performed automatically under control of the Chief Operating Control Group of the Russian segment of the ISS at the Mission Control Center and the Russian ISS crewmembers – Roscosmos cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka. The docking is scheduled for December 9, 2019, at 10:38 UTC. The broadcast will be available in the Live Broadcast section at Roscosmos website.

The spacecraft is to deliver 700 kg of fuel and gas, as well as 1,350 kg of various equipment and cargo including resource facilities of the onboard control and life support systems, equipment to conduct scientific and research experiments, sanitary and hygiene products and medical control means, 420 kilograms of water in the Rodnik system tanks and standard food rations.

Russia to Launch Progress Cargo Ship on Friday

Progress MS-12 approaches the International Space Station. Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — TsNIIMash Mission Control Center has completed the planned activities to prepare for the Progress MS-13 cargo vehicle flight. The Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on December 6, 2019, at 09:34:11 UTC [4:34:11 a.m. EST].

The Chief Operating Control Group of the Russian segment of the International Space Station at the Mission Control Center will take over the flight control after its separation from the third stage of the carrier rocket. The estimated orbit insertion time is 09:42:59 UTC [4:42:59 a.m. EST].

Progress MS-13 spacecraft approach to the ISS and berthing to the Pirs docking module is planned to be performed automatically under control of the Chief Operating Control Group of the Russian segment of the ISS at the Mission Control Center and the Russian ISS crewmembers.

The Progress MS-13 spacecraft is to deliver about 2.5 tons of various cargo including fuel, air, equipment to support the station workability, packages and life support means for the crewmembers. The cosmonauts will also get the new belt for the BD-2 running machine meant to keep the crew’s physical fitness under the zero-g conditions.

The launch broadcast will be available in the Live Broadcast section starting from 08:45 UTC [3:45 a.m. EST] on December 6.

Dmitry Rogozin Briefs Vladimir Putin on Vostochny Progress

Vladimir Putin

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin briefed the President on the progress in the construction of the second stage of Vostochny Space Centre.

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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Rogozin, we met at Vostochny fairly recently, although several months have already passed, and discussed the issues of the industry’s development and the construction of the space centre. What has been done in the past period, which issues remain unresolved, and what is progressing as we agreed?

Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin: Mr President,

I would like to report on the construction of the second stage of Vostochny Space Centre. As you know, the first stage comprised the creation of the launch pad and a technical complex with infrastructure for the Soyuz 2 rocket. The second stage is for the Angara, a heavy load rocket. In accordance with your executive order, we are planning to have the first launch in 2023.

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Surrey Satellite Ships Target Satellite for Astroscale End of Life Mission

Target satellite for the ELSA-d mission. (Credit: Surrey Satellite Technology)

GUILDFORD, UK (Surrey Satellite PR) — Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has shipped a 16kg Target satellite for Astroscale’s End-of-Life Services by Astroscale demonstration (ELSA-d) mission to Tokyo, where it will be bolted to the Chaser satellite for environmental testing ahead of launch in 2020. 

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Turkey Looks to Send Astronaut to Space Station with Russians

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — On October 31, 2019, Roscosmos State Corporation Director General Dmitry Rogozin met with Turkish Ambassador to Russia Mehmet Samsar.

The parties discussed the topical questions of the mutually beneficial cooperation in space, noting the high potential and importance of the subject in the Russo-Turkish relations.

The meeting resulted in an agreement to start preparing a frame intergovernmental agreement between the countries on space. The Turkish delegation also reconfirmed the plans mentioned earlier to organize Turkish cosmonaut training in the Zvyozdny gorodok.

NASA Assigns Chris Cassidy to Next Space Station Crew, Holds Media Briefing

Chris Cassidy

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy will return to the International Space Station next April. Cassidy will join his crewmates – Russian space agency Roscosmos cosmonauts Nikolai Tikhonov and Andrei Babkin – to discuss their upcoming mission during a news conference at 2 p.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 7, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The briefing will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. The crew will be available for in person and remote media interviews following the news conference.

Media following the briefing on social media may ask questions using #AskNASA.

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Arianespace, ESA Announce EarthCARE Launch Contract

PARIS (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA) today announced the signature of a launch services contract with a Soyuz launch vehicle for the EarthCARE satellite.

EarthCARE (Cloud, Aerosol and Radiation Explorer) satellite – the sixth mission in ESA’s Earth Explorer program – will advance our understanding of the role clouds and aerosols play in reflecting incident solar radiation back into space and trapping infrared radiation emitted from Earth’s surface.

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Russians Go 12 Months Without Launch Failure

A Proton takes a nose dive at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. (Credit: Tsenki TV)

It’s been a long road, getting from there to here….

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Russian space program reached a milestone last week: for the first time in nearly a decade, it went a full 12 months — 365 days — without a single partial or complete launch failure.

On Oct. 11 the program passed the one-year anniversary of the Soyuz MS-10 in-flight abort that sent NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin on a wild ballistic ride. Neither one was injured; both later flew to the International Space Station.

The last time Russia went more than one year between launch failures was a 14-month stretch between March 14, 2008 and May 21, 2009.

The last calendar year in which the Russian space program had a clean sheet was in 2003. They have 76 days left in 2019 to equal that feat.

The table below shows the program’s 22 failures and six partial failure over the past 15 years.

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Boeing Starliner Commercial Crew Delay: ~3 Years

Boeing’s first crewed Starliner finished initial production at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. and is readied for its cross-country trip. (Credit: Boeing)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On March 26, Vice President Mike Pence went to Huntsville, Ala., to declare that the Trump Administration would use “any means necessary” to accelerate the return of American astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024 — four years earlier than planned.

Pence was putting Huntsville-based Marshall Space Flight Center and prime contractor Boeing on notice to get the delayed, over budget Space Launch System (SLS) being built to accomplish that goal back on track. If they didn’t, the administration would find other rockets to do the job.

In his effort to accelerate the Artemis lunar program, however, Pence unintentionally contributed to delays in NASA’s behind schedule effort to launch astronauts to a much closer location: low Earth orbit.

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