SOLARIS: ESA Prepares for Space-Based Solar Power

PARIS (ESA PR) — To prepare Europe for future decision making on Space-Based Solar Power, ESA has proposed a preparatory programme for Europe, initially named SOLARIS, for the upcoming ESA Council at Ministerial Level in November 2022.

Space-based solar power is a potential source of clean, affordable, continuous, abundant and secure energy. This basic concept has been given fresh urgency by the need for new sources of clean and secure energy to aid Europe’s transition to a Net Zero carbon world by 2050. If Europe wants to benefit from this game-changing capability then we need to start investing now.

ESA has undertaken two cost vs. benefit studies on “Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP) for terrestrial energy needs” together with Roland Berger and Frazer-Nash. These two studies were completed in August 2022 and you can read the full results on the ESA website.

The European Space Agency – ESA has just released a new Request for Information for Breakthrough Technologies for Space-based Solar Power (#SBSP) for internal planning purposes and preparation of the SOLARIS proposal for CM22: https://lnkd.in/dk3Ev6_D

Dragon Splashes Down With Scientific Cargo for Analysis

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft backs away from the space station moments after undocking from the Harmony module’s forward port during an orbital sunrise. (Credit: NASA TV)

NASA MISSION UPDATE

SpaceX’s uncrewed Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down at 2:53 p.m. EDT Saturday, Aug. 20, north of Cape Canaveral off the Florida coast, marking the return of the company’s 25th contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. The spacecraft carried more than 4,000 pounds of valuable scientific experiments and other cargo back to Earth.

Some of the scientific investigations returned by Dragon include:

  • Space’s impact on materials: The Materials International Space Station Experiment-15-NASA (MISSE-15-NASA) experiment tests, qualifies, and quantifies the impact of the low-Earth orbit environment on new materials and components, such as spacecraft materials and wearable radiation protection. Successful experiment results could have applications both in the harsh environments of space and on Earth.
  • Spacesuit cooling: Spacesuit Evaporation Rejection Flight Experiment (SERFE) demonstrates a new technology using water evaporation to remove heat from spacesuits and maintain appropriate temperatures for crew members and equipment during spacewalks. The investigation determines whether microgravity affects performance and evaluates the technology’s effect on contamination and corrosion of spacesuit material.
  • Cell signaling in microgravity: The ESA (European Space Agency) sponsored investigation Bioprint FirstAid Handheld Bioprinter (Bioprint FirstAid) enables the rapid use of formerly prepared bio-inks, containing the patient’s own cells, to form a band-aid patch in the case of injury.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: https://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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ESA Astronaut Mogensen to Embark on Huginn Mission to ISS

Portrait of ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen is his blue flight suit with the ESA patch and Danish flag. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen of Denmark is set to return to the International Space Station for his first long-duration Station mission. With only one year left before his launch in mid-2023, a name for the mission has been chosen: Huginn.

This name, chosen by Andreas, originates in Norse mythology with Huginn and Muninn – two raven accomplices of the god Odin. Together, the two symbolise the human mind, with Huginn representing thought, and Muninn, memory.

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Software-defined Satellite Enters Commercial Service

Eutelsat Quantum satellite (Credit: Airbus)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Europe’s first commercial satellite capable of being completely reprogrammed while in space is now in commercial use.

Satellite operator Eutelsat has sold six of its eight beams – used for data and mobile communications – to organisations including governments and other users. It is expected that the entire satellite capacity will be sold in the coming months.

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Earth Strikes Back: NASA Probe Will Crash into Asteroid in 7 Weeks

Credit: NASA

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The countdown is on for NASA’s first attempt to deflect an asteroid — a test that could prove vital in the future should one pose a major threat to the Earth.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Mission (DART) mission is 48 days away from its collision with asteroid Dimorphos on Sept. 26. Edward Reynolds, DART program manager at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, gave a preview of the mission and the role a Cubesat will play in it during the Small Satellite 2022 conference in Logan, Utah.

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Launchapalooza: 26 New Boosters Debuting Worldwide

Vega-C lifts off on its maiden flight on July 13, 2022. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the first seven months of the year, five new satellite launch vehicles from Europe, China, Russia and South Korea flew successfully for the first time. As impressive as that is, it was a mere opening act to a busy period that could see at least 20 additional launchers debut around the world.

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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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NASA Adds Helicopters to Mars Sample Return Mission

This illustration shows a concept for multiple robots that would team up to ferry to Earth samples collected from the Mars surface by NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA Mission Update

NASA has finished the system requirements review for its Mars Sample Return Program, which is nearing completion of the conceptual design phase. During this phase, the program team evaluated and refined the architecture to return the scientifically selected samples, which are currently in the collection process by NASA’s Perseverance rover in the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater.

The architecture for the campaign, which includes contributions from the European Space Agency (ESA), is expected to reduce the complexity of future missions and increase probability of success.

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Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil Reaches Space Station

ROME (ASI PR) — The samples of Italian extra virgin olive oil have reached the International Space Station, thanks to a project included in the framework of the agreement between the Italian Space Agency and CREA, in collaboration with Coldiretti and Unaprol-Consorzio Olivicolo Italiano.

As part of its role as National Agency, ASI promoted the project and, in the context of its institutional relations with other Space Agencies and as a country participating in the ISS program, made available the opportunity to fly and coordination with ESA necessary for the implementation of the experiment.

The collaboration with Coldiretti and Unaprol-Consorzio Olivicolo Italiano aims to underline the importance of the Italian agri-food heritage and to enhance and sensitize an asset for the country’s exports, as well as to promote the principles of proper nutrition.

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New Roscosmos GD Says Russia to Leave ISS Program After 2024

Russian Orbital Service Station (Credit: Roscosmos)

The new head of Roscosmos says that Russia will leave the International Space Station program after 2024. The Associated Press reports:

Yuri Borisov, appointed this month to lead the state space agency, Roscosmos, said during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin that Russia will fulfill its obligations to its partners before it leaves.

“The decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made,” Borisov said, adding: “I think that by that time we will start forming a Russian orbiting station.”

Borisov’s statement reaffirmed previous declarations by Russian space officials about Moscow’s intention to leave the space station after 2024 when the current international arrangements for its operation end.

Roscosmos previously announced that it would build the Russian Orbital Service Station (ROSS) after it leaves ISS.

Russia keeps the station supplied with crews and cargo via Soyuz and Progress spacecraft, respectively. Progress resupply ships raise the station’s orbit and maneuvers the facility to avoid space debris. The Russian section of ISS is about one quarter of the orbiting laboratory.

The United States wants to keep the station operating until 2030. It wants U.S. industry to develop private space stations later in the 2020’s on which the space agency could become a tenant.

ISS is a partnership of NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The four space agencies are partners in the NASA-led Artemis program that plans to return astronauts to the surface of the moon later in this decade.

NASA ISS Program Director Robyn Gatens said the space agency has received no formal notice about Russia withdrawing from the program during an appearance at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

Viasat Selected by European Space Agency to Conduct Multi-Layered SATCOM Study

Study Aims to Answer Fundamental Questions for Future Networks

CARLSBAD, Calif. and FARNBOROUGH, United Kingdom (Viasat, Inc. PR) — Viasat UK Ltd., a subsidiary of global communications company Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), today announced it was selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to conduct a multi-layered Satellite Communication (SATCOM) study focused on evaluating the use cases, market segments and technical aspects of these future systems, which will be comprised of networks that span multiple orbital types including Geostationary Equatorial Orbit (GEO), Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), Low Earth Orbit (LEO), High Altitude Platform Systems (HAPS) and others, as well as include various frequency bands, satellite operators and network designs.

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Commercial Space Travelers Outnumbered Professional Astronauts in First Half of 2022

Axiom Mission 1 astronauts, left to right, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, Michael López-Alegría, and Eytan Stibbe. The astronauts are approved by NASA and its international partners for Axiom Space’s first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. (Credits: Chris Gunn – Axiom Space)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The first half of 2022 saw more commercial travelers — 16 — launch into space than the 10 professional astronauts who work for government-run space agencies. However, those numbers come with an asterisk or two.

Four of the 14 astronauts who launched into orbit flew on Axiom Space’s privately funded and operated crew flight to the International Space Station (ISS). Blue Origin launched 12 individuals into space on two flights of the company’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle.

The other 10 astronauts who launched to ISS and the Tiangong space station worked fulltime for NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), China Manned Space Agency, or Russia’s Roscosmos State Space Corporation. SpaceX flew American and European astronauts to ISS on the company-owned Crew Dragon spacecraft under a NASA contract. The Russians and Chinese flew aboard government-owned and operated spacecraft.

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Innovative Data Satellite Enters Commercial Service

On 23 October 2021, Ariane 5 flight VA255 lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana to deliver two telecom satellites, SES-17 and Syracuse-4A to their planned orbits. (Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A large data-driven telecommunications satellite that uses innovative technology to keep cool as well as other innovations – developed under an ESA Partnership Project – has started its commercial service.

The satellite will provide broadband connectivity for commercial shipping, aviation, governments and enterprises through its operator, SES, as well connecting underserved areas and accelerating digital inclusion.

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77 Launches Conducted During First Half of 2022 as Access to Orbit Expanded

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites while the Dragon that will carry Crew-4 to the International space Station awaits its turn. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a busy first half of 2022 that saw 77 orbital launches with 74 successes and three failures through the 182nd day of the year on July 1. At a rate of one launch every 2 days 8 hours 44 minutes, the world is on track to exceed the 146 launches conducted in 2021.

A number of significant missions were launched during a period that saw more than 1,000 satellite launched. SpaceX flew the first fully commercial crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Boeing conducted an orbital flight test of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, China prepared to complete assembly of its space station, South Korea launched its first domestically manufactured rocket, and Rocket Lab sent a NASA mission to the moon.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

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Satellite Built by Open Cosmos and RHEA Group to Fly on LauncherOne as Part of First UK Mission

Global navigation pathfinder mission, built in the UK, has been added to the flight manifest from Spaceport Cornwall later this year

LONG BEACH, Calif. & FARNBOROUGH, England (Virgin Orbit PR) — In what will be a mission of firsts, Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB), a leading launch provider, announced today that it has been selected to launch RHEA Group’s first satellite into space. The international engineering and solutions firm is working with Open Cosmos to design, build and operate its mission. Open Cosmos and RHEA have selected Virgin Orbit from its UK business to carry the satellite, DOVER Pathfinder (DOVER), to Low Earth Orbit aboard its historic flight from Spaceport Cornwall later this year. The mission will mark the first time in history that a satellite launch has been conducted from British soil, helping fulfill the goals of the UK government to enable full end-to-end space capability.

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