The month of April is concluding with a string of launches from Russia, the United States, China and South America. Things kicked off on Friday with SpaceX’s launch of Crew-2 to the International Space Station (ISS). On Sunday, a Russian Soyuz rocket launched 36 OneWeb satellite broadband spacecraft from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East.
One of the final United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rockets is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Monday afternoon. That flight will be followed by the fifth launch of China’s Long March 6 booster. Launches by Europe’s Vega and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets are scheduled over the next two days.
China will close out the month on Thursday by launching Tianhe-1 core module for that nation’s first permanent space station aboard a Long March 5B booster.
Arianespace is launching a contest for satellite projects by space technology startups, labs or universities, in conjunction with the Viva Technology 2021 (VivaTech) innovation show.
The winner will get a free launch of their satellite on an Arianespace rideshare mission.
The main selection criterion will be the satellite’s mission, which should improve life on Earth or advance human knowledge.
EVRY, France (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace, the European launch services company, is Arianespace, the European launch services company, is organizing a contest in conjunction with the VivaTech international innovation show. First prize will be a spot on a rideshare mission operated by Arianespace, to orbit the winning cubesat-sized satellite.
Company reveals more dedicated launches, propulsive OTVs, and GTO/lunar missions to satisfy growing demand for flexible and comprehensive launch services
SEATTLE, March 3, 2021 (Spaceflight Inc.) —Spaceflight Inc., the global launch services provider, announced it has started the year by signing several significant launch agreements with a wide range of organizations, including growing constellations needing routine and reliable launch schedules, smaller payloads requiring affordable bus-like options to popular orbits, firms needing regulatory and logistical guidance, as well as those seeking a personalized taxi service from loading dock to final orbital destination.
Organizations that recently signed launch deals with Spaceflight include Lynk, Astro Digital, Kleos, BlackSky, Umbra, Orbit Fab and several undisclosed U.S. government payloads.
PARIS, 17 December 2020 — On Tuesday, November 17, Arianespace announced the loss of the Vega VV17 mission, which was carrying two payloads, SEOSAT-Ingenio, an Earth-science observation satellite for the European Space Agency (ESA), on behalf of Spain’s Center for Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), and TARANIS for France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES).
The first three stages functioned nominally until the ignition of the AVUM upper stage, eight minutes after liftoff. At that time, a degraded trajectory was detected, followed by a loss of control of the vehicle and the subsequent loss of the mission.
PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA will contribute to the maintenance, operations and modernisation of Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana over the period 2020–24.
At the ESA Council meeting on 16 December, a contract for the ‘Maintenance of the Guiana Space Centre launch range in operational condition for the period 2020–24, including core launch range renewal activities’ was signed by Jan Wörner, ESA Director General and Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES, France’s space agency.
PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA has signed an €86 million [$104 million] contract with an industrial team led by Swiss start-up ClearSpace SA to purchase a unique service: the first removal of an item of space debris from orbit.
As a result, in 2025, ClearSpace will launch the first active debris removal mission, ClearSpace-1, which will rendezvous, capture and take down for reentry the upper part of a Vespa (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter) used with Europe’s Vega launcher. This object was left in a ‘gradual disposal’ orbit (approximately altitude 801 km by 664 km), complying with space debris mitigation regulations, following the second flight of Vega in 2013.
ROME (Avio PR) — After the yesterday meeting in Rome, the Undersecretary of State with responsibility for Space Riccardo Fraccaro and the French Minister of Finance with responsibility for Space Bruno Le Maire, issued a joint statement highlighting the full institutional support to the Ariane and Vega programmes, with particular regard to the return-to-flight of the Italian launcher designed and produced by Avio S.p.A. with the ESA (European Space Agency) mandate.
The support was also reiterated by the Italian Interministerial Committee for Space and Aerospace Policies.
Engineers say they have identified what caused the loss of a European Vega rocket and its two satellites on Monday evening. The BBC reported:
The problem was traced to the actuators that change the direction of thrust on the Vega’s upper-stage engine.
When they received commands from the guidance, navigation and control (GNC) system, they turned the motor’s nozzle counter to the intended direction.
Roland Lagier, from Arianespace, the company that markets and launches Vega rockets, said cabling on the thrust vector control system must have been inverted when the upper-stage engine was assembled.
“This was of course a production and quality issue. It was a human error and not a design one,” the chief technical officer told reporters.
Lost in the failure were Spain’s SeoSat-Ingenio Earth observation satellite and France’s Taranis research spacecraft, which was to study high-atmosphere lightning.
Vega has compiled a record of 15 successes and two failures since its maiden flight on Feb. 13, 2012. The first failure occurred during the 15th flight on July 11, 2019. An investigation determined the most likely cause was a thermo-structural failure in the forward dome area of the Z23 second stage motor.
Vega made a successful return to flight on Sept. 3, 2020, by launching 53 small satellites on its first rideshare mission.
The satellite carrier completes deployment of all 12 SuperDove satellites
FINO MORNASCO, Italy D-Orbit PR) — D-Orbit, the in-orbit transportation company, announced the successful completion of the deployment phase of Origin mission, the first of ION Satellite Carrier. ION, D-Orbit’s satellite platform, successfully released 12 SuperDove satellites for Earth-imaging company Planet, in the precise orbital slots requested by the client.
The vehicle has been operational since September 3rd, when it was successfully released from an Arianespace Vega launcher. On September 25th, it released successfully the first SuperDove satellite of the batch, and the last satellite was deployed on October 28th, at 10:38:46 UTC.
Vega-C and Ariane 6 are being developed by ESA to assure Europe’s independent access to space. The maiden flight for Vega-C is planned to take place in June 2021, that for Ariane 6 for the second quarter of 2022.
PARIS (ESA PR) — Solid progress is being made on both Vega-C and Ariane 6 development programmes. Since March, some technical events and the COVID-19 pandemic have both impacted the progress of activities. Uncertainty from COVID-19 still persists globally to date.
The test was performed at the presence of the Undersecretary of Defense Hon. Giulio Calvisi who then visited the construction site of the new SPTF industrial site for space activities in Perdasdefogu, Sardinia.
CAGLIARI, Italy (Avio PR) — The qualification test of the Zefiro 9 VT3 engine, an advanced version of the third stage propulsion system already in use on the Vega launcher and specifically enhanced and customized for the new Vega C, was successfully completed this morning in view of the maiden flight scheduled for 2021.
DUBLIN, Ireland (Ubotica Technologies PR) – Ubotica Technologies announced today that its Artificial Intelligence technology has successfully enabled the first ever hardware-accelerated AI inference of Earth Observation images on an in-orbit satellite.