Showing posts with label Space. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Space. Show all posts

11 April, 2024

Vast’s Haven-1 aims to be the world’s first commercial space station connected by SpaceX starlink

Vast’s Haven-1, is scheduled to be the world’s first commercial space station and will be equipped with SpaceX’s Starlink laser terminal providing Gigabit/s speed, low latency connectivity to its crew users, internal payload racks, external cameras and instruments.

“If you need to provide high-speed, low-latency, continuous internet connectivity on a space station in orbit in 2025, SpaceX Starlink is the only option,” said Max Haot, Vast’s CEO. “We expect their network and technology leading position to continue and accelerate over time, which is why we are excited to have the chance to partner with SpaceX on deploying their first laser connectivity for a space station.”

The Haven-1 crew will be able to connect their personal devices via Wi-Fi to the Starlink network and have unprecedentedly better internet connectivity on orbit to host outreach video calls and perform experiments and science with full, high-speed internet access. Even during crew rest time, they will be able to use high-speed internet.

“High-speed, low-latency connectivity on orbit for crew and critical scientific research is critical to any space station experience,” said Stephanie Bednarek, SpaceX’s Senior Director of Commercial Sales. “We are excited for Vast’s Haven-1 to be the first commercial space station to stay connected with Starlink.”

Vast and SpaceX have reached an agreement for SpaceX to provide Starlink connectivity to future Vast platforms beyond Haven 1, including connectivity for Vast’s next space station, which the company plans to bid for in NASA's upcoming commercial Low Earth Orbit destinations (CLDs) competition.

In May 2023, Vast announced that SpaceX will launch Haven-1, followed by two human spaceflight missions to the Haven-1 space station.

This new partnership between Vast and SpaceX will continue to create and accelerate greater accessibility to space and more opportunities for exploration on the road to making humanity multiplanetary.
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10 April, 2024

Sierra Space Ghost Enters Flight Test Enabling Global Payload Delivery in 90 Minutes

Sierra Space, a leading commercial space-tech company and next-generation defense-tech prime, building a platform in space to benefit life on Earth and protect the freedom of economic activity in the Orbital Age®, has successfully beta-tested a revolutionary new logistics spacecraft, Sierra Space Ghost.

This new technology propels Sierra Space into a new era of national security space and space logistics, promising to redefine the way critical defence supplies are delivered across the globe. The Sierra Space Ghost Beta decelerator, part of the company’s recently announced Sierra Space Axelerator™ incubator, is a cutting-edge thermal protection system tailored for the safe return of small payloads from space. 

Last month, the first drop test of the Sierra Space Ghost was completed in Florida, enabling Sierra Space test engineers to fully understand the flight characteristics of the system and how recovery operations can be rapidly completed on the ground.

“As we continue to innovate at speed, this test enables us to build, test, learn and accelerate the development of a revolutionary new operational asset for national security,” said Tom Vice, CEO of Sierra Space. “We envision having an inventory of Sierra Space Ghost vehicles strategically positioned and readily accessible and deployable within 90 minutes to critical locations anywhere on Earth. Sierra Space Ghost enables our customers to deliver vital resources to frontline personnel with unparalleled precision and speed.”

08 April, 2024

Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) confirms deployment of HawkEye 360 microsatellite clusters 8 and 9

Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) confirmed that six radio frequency geolocation microsatellites developed for HawkEye 360 of Herndon, Va., have successfully communicated with ground control. The HawkEye 360 Cluster 8 and 9 satellites were launched yesterday at 7:16 pm EDT from Florida aboard the SpaceX Bandwagon-1 Rideshare.

The two new three-satellite clusters bring to 27 the total number of geolocation microsatellites developed by SFL for HawkEye 360, which integrated Cluster 8 at its own plant in Virginia under SFL’s Flex Production Program. For Cluster 9, which represents the next evolution and includes updated payload and platform features, SFL handled the entire process, including development, integration, and testing, at its Toronto facility.

“SFL is proud to play a key role in the development of HawkEye 360’s space assets as it continues to expand and enhance its unparalleled space-based RF data detection and analytics capabilities,” said SFL Director Dr. Robert E. Zee.

03 April, 2024

Rocket Lab prepares to launch mission for KAIST and NASA to deploy satellites to two separate orbits

Rocket Lab USA has set the launch window for its next Electron launch.

The ‘Beginning Of The Swarm’ mission is scheduled to launch from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand during a 14-day launch window that opens on April 24th. Electron will carry two satellites for two separate customers: NEONSAT-1, an Earth observation satellite for the Satellite Technology Research Center (SaTReC) at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), and NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System (ACS3).

The launch will broadcast live at

The primary payload for this mission, NEONSAT-1, is an Earth observation satellite with a high-resolution optical camera designed to monitor for natural disasters along the Korean Peninsula by pairing its images with artificial intelligence. NEONSAT-1 is the first satellite developed under the NEONSAT program by SaTReC and KAIST, Korea’s leading university in science and technology, which developed and operated Korea’s very first satellite KITSAT-1 more than 30 years ago. Other NEONSAT satellites are planned to be launched in 2026 and 2027 to build out the NEONSAT constellation. The program is a collaboration across multiple Korean academic, industry, and research institutions including SaTReC in KAIST, which is leading the program’s system design and engineering; the SaTReC Initiative, a Korean satellite manufacturer that has successfully developed seven previous remote sensing satellites for low Earth orbit; and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), which is managing the mission’s ground segments and technology supervision for the NEONSAT program. NEONSAT is funded by the Koren government’s Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT).

19 March, 2024

Airbus continues to collaborate with NASA to monitor climate change from Space

GRACE-C contract for two spacecraft awarded to Airbus

NASA and DLR mission will continue measurements of Earth’s gravity field

Airbus has been awarded a contract to design and build the GRACE-C twin spacecraft by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory JPL (Pasadena, California). This new mission of NASA and the German Space Agency at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) will strengthen the more than 20 year long partnership between the USA and Germany to ensure uninterrupted measurement of the Earth's gravity field, which started in 2002 with GRACE and continues with GRACE Follow-On, launched in 2018.

During its five year nominal mission lifetime, the GRACE-C Mission (Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment-Continuity) will continue the series of measurements observing how Earth’s groundwater, oceans, ice sheets, and land shift, month-to-month, by measuring changes in the planet’s gravity field. 

Alain Fauré, Head of Space Systems at Airbus, said: “It is amazing to think that, without looking down at Earth, two satellites more than 200 km away from each other, can tell us how quickly our ice sheets are melting. In environmental monitoring, continuity is key. The valuable data provided by the previous GRACE missions is testament to their success and it is great news that Airbus continues to be part of this international mission providing the tools to measure how our climate is evolving.”

GRACE-C consists of two identical satellites flying around 200 km apart at an orbit altitude of 500 km with an inclination of 89 degrees. Each satellite will measure approximately 3 x 2 x 1 metres and weigh around 600 kg. Launch is planned no earlier than late 2028 from the USA.

14 March, 2024

Latest SpaceX launch goes further than before.

The latest starship from SpaceX launched today, becoming the heaviest manmade object in space, at least for a while.  Elon Musk claimed it would be the starship that takes humanity to Mars. The two-stage vehicle made what appeared to be a perfect getaway from its Texas launch site, to send its upper portion around the globe to a re-entry over the Indian Ocean.

Radio contact was lost towards the end but the firm said it was "incredible to see how far we got this time around".  They lost contact with it, presumably because it had broken up and according to some, the fact the craft didn't survive re-entry to splashdown would be a disappointment, it still represents a major step forward in the development of the world's most powerful rocket. 

The FAA said, a mishap occurred during the SpaceX Starship OFT-3 mission that launched from Boca Chica, Texas, on 14th March. The mishap involved both the Super Heavy booster and the Starship vehicle.

No public injuries or public property damage have been reported. The FAA is overseeing the SpaceX-led mishap investigation to ensure the company complies with its FAA-approved mishap investigation plan and other regulatory requirements. 
A mishap investigation is designed to further enhance public safety, determine the root cause of the event, and identify corrective actions to avoid it from happening again. 
SpaceX will not need to worry though, the FAA is taking a back seat in the investigation process allowing Musk's space firm to say what went wrong and what went right and the regulator would then rubber stamp whatever SpaceX’s final report says, including any corrective actions. 

A return to flight is based on the FAA determining that any system, process, or procedure related to the mishap does not affect public safety. In addition, SpaceX may need to modify its license to incorporate any corrective actions and meet all other licensing requirements. 

13 March, 2024

Rocket Lab successfully launches 45th Electron mission for Synspective

Rocket Lab USA, a global leader in launch services and space systems, today launched its 45th Electron rocket, successfully deploying a fourth synthetic aperture radar satellite to Synspective’s Earth-observation constellation.

“Owl Night Long,” a dedicated mission for Synspective, launched from Pad B at Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand at 04:03 NZDT on March 13, 2024 (15:03 UTC, March 12). The mission delivered a single spacecraft, the StriX-3 satellite, to a 561km Sun Synchronous Orbit, where it joined Synspective’s growing constellation.

Rocket Lab has been the sole launch provider for Synspective’s constellation, previously delivering three satellites across launches in September 2022, February 2022, and December 2020. Rocket Lab will launch two more missions for Synspective as part of a multi-launch agreement signed in 2023.

06 March, 2024

1200 MHz radar bandwidth in-orbit technology demonstrator enhances ICEYE’s expansive SAR satellite constellation

ICEYE strengthens its persistent Earth Observation capabilities with the successful launch of three new satellites.
                  ICEYE, the global leader in persistent monitoring and natural catastrophe solutions, successfully launched three additional synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites on March 4, 2024, including a 1200 MHz radar bandwidth in-orbit technology demonstrator that will enable 25 cm imaging. The satellites were integrated via launch integrator Exolaunch and successfully lifted off aboard SpaceX’s Transporter-10 rideshare from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, USA. Each spacecraft has established communication, and early routine operations are underway. 

ICEYE strengthens its persistent Earth Observation capabilities with the successful launch of three new satellites.

Two of the three SAR satellites launched on the mission are manufactured by ICEYE US, while one is an in-orbit technology demonstrator manufactured by ICEYE in Finland. The in-orbit demonstrator model features an upgrade to ICEYE’s unique X-band antenna, increasing radar bandwidth to 1200 MHz. This enables higher-resolution imagery, up to 25 cm, and will be initially assigned to engineering tests before being made available to ICEYE customers. 

“Our growing constellation provides an objective and reliable source of intelligence, enabling a faster, more accurate response to changes taking place anywhere on the planet,” Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and Co-founder of ICEYE. “The launch of the 1200 MHz bandwidth technology demonstrator delivers 25 cm resolution SAR imaging, unlocking a new level of clarity and detail for high-priority decision-making.” 

The satellites launched include an advanced radar that enables major improvements in image quality, faster downlink speeds for more agile imagery collections, and better integration with ICEYE’s global network of ground stations. 

Eric Jensen, CEO of ICEYE US, said: “Our partners require dependable and persistent change detection to address emergent, time-critical needs. We are proud to add two additional U.S-built satellites to our constellation, strengthening our commitment to deliver strategic insights for our defense, intelligence, civil, and commercial customers.” 

ICEYE has now successfully deployed 34 spacecraft since 2018 and operates the world’s largest constellation of SAR satellites, which can image any location on the Earth’s surface in any environmental condition, day or night. SAR data provides precise insights for ICEYE’s government and commercial customers in near real-time.


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23 February, 2024

Rocket Lab to launch NRO mission from Wallops, Virginia

The mission will be Rocket Lab’s first NRO launch from Wallops, Virginia, following four previous successful launches for the agency from New Zealand 

Rocket Lab USA, a global leader in launch services and space systems, announced it will launch a dedicated mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) from Launch Complex 2 in Wallops, Virginia, during a launch window that opens March 20th, 2024.   

The NROL-123 mission, called ‘Live and Let Fly’, will be Rocket Lab’s first launch for the NRO from the United States after previously launching four NRO missions from Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. It will be Rocket Lab’s 4thmission from Launch Complex 2, a dedicated pad for the Electron rocket located at Virginia Spaceport Authority's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport within the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.  

Rocket Lab schedules launch date for 45th Electron Mission........

Rocket Lab USA,  a global leader in launch services and space systems, today announced the launch window for its 45th Electron launch, a dedicated mission for Synspective, a Japanese Earth-imaging satellite constellation operator.

The “Owl Night Long” mission is scheduled to launch during a 14-day window that opens on March 10th NZDT (March 9th UTC). The mission will lift off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand and will deploy a StriX-3 satellite to orbit, continuing a multi-launch agreement to deliver Synspective’s StriX-series satellites to low Earth orbit.

Rocket Lab has been the exclusive launch provider for Synspective to date and the “Owl Night Long” mission will be Rocket Lab’s fourth launch for the constellation operator following launches in 2020 and 2022:

The Owls’ Night Begins: Launched December 2020
The Owl’s Night Continues: Launched February 2022
The Owl Spreads its Wings: Launched September 2022

Synspective is a satellite data solutions provider with its own constellation of SAR satellites. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) is an active system that transmits microwave pulses toward the Earth's surface and receives the reflected signals to create an image of the target area. Unlike other imaging technologies, SAR can penetrate clouds and other atmospheric conditions, enabling it to collect data day or night with frequent revisit rates.

05 February, 2024

The world’s first metal 3D printer for space is on its way to the ISS

The first metal 3D printer for space, developed by Airbus* for the European Space Agency (ESA), will soon be tested aboard the Columbus module of the International Space Station (ISS). It could be a real game changer for manufacturing in space and future missions to the Moon or Mars. 

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is an industrial process that has opened up new ways of looking at how parts are designed. It has many uses from the day-to-day to the surprising: from simple repairs to bio-ink implants, from printing whole houses to producing spacecraft parts. 

Metal 3D printing makes life easier for astronauts

There are already several plastic 3D printers on board the International Space Station (ISS), the first of which arrived  in 2014. Astronauts have already used them to replace or repair plastic parts, since one of the major problems of everyday life in space is the supply of equipment, which can take months to arrive. But not everything can be made from plastic… 

This logistical constraint will intensify on future Moon and Mars stations in the next few decades. Even though the raw material still needs to be launched, printing the part is still more efficient than transporting it whole up to its final destination.

Gwenaëlle Aridon, Airbus Space Assembly lead engineer, says: “The metal 3D printer will bring new on-orbit manufacturing capabilities, including the possibility to produce load-bearing structural parts that are more resilient than a plastic equivalent. Astronauts will be able to directly manufacture tools such as wrenches or mounting interfaces that could connect several parts together. The flexibility and rapid availability of 3D printing will greatly improve astronauts’ autonomy.” 

The challenges of printing metal in space

01 February, 2024

Airbus Announces Purchase of Eutelsat OneWeb’s Stake in Satellite Constellation Manufacturing Joint Venture

Airbus U.S. Space & Defense, Inc. announced the completion of a deal with Eutelsat OneWeb to purchase its 50% share of the Airbus OneWeb Satellites (AOS) joint venture. 

Airbus is now the sole owner of AOS and the satellite manufacturing facility in Merritt Island, Florida.

The new structure is expected to provide maximum efficiency and increased competitiveness for commercial, institutional and national security space customers.

“This agreement furthers our position as a market leader in the small satellite constellation business, building on our successful partnership with OneWeb,” said Robert Geckle, Chairman and CEO, of Airbus U.S. Space & Defense, Inc. “We will continue mass-producing small satellites for our customers and are excited for what the future holds for us on Florida’s Space Coast as we move forward,” he added.

Airbus U.S. Space & Defense recently retooled the Merritt Island factory to accommodate the Arrow450 production line and is starting an expansion project to meet increased demand for small satellites from commercial and government customers deepening the company’s presence in Florida.

The Airbus OneWeb Satellites joint venture, established in 2016, built more than 600 satellites at the rate of two per day for the OneWeb first-generation constellation, currently operating on-orbit. 

27 January, 2024

Virgin Galactic Completes 11th Successful Spaceflight

Virgin Galactic is an aerospace and space travel company, pioneering human spaceflight for private individuals and researchers with its advanced air and space vehicles. Scale and profitability are driven by next generation vehicles capable of bringing humans to space at an unprecedented frequency with an industry-leading cost structure.
Virgin Galactic Holdings has successfully completed its first spaceflight of 2024 and 11th mission to date. The ‘Galactic 06’ flight marked the first time all four seats aboard VSS Unity were occupied by private astronauts.

Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, said: "The incredible team at Virgin Galactic supported another successful mission and delivered an unforgettable experience for four new astronauts. The success of ‘Galactic 06’ and the Company’s other commercial spaceflights in recent months only increases our confidence in the repeatability of our product and our ability to deliver a superlative experience to our customers. With the production of our next-generation Delta-class ships underway, we look forward to expanding our flight capacity with testing expected to start next year and commercial service in 2026.”

Onboard ‘Galactic 06’:

Astronaut 023 – Lina Borozdina, Ukraine and Nevada, U.S.
Astronaut 024 – Robie Vaughn, Texas, U.S.
Astronaut 025 – Franz Haider, Austria
Astronaut 026 – Neil Kornswiet, California, U.S.

The launch was watched from the ground at Spaceport America by more than 150 guests alongside Virgin Galactic’s team.

VSS Unity was commanded by C.J. Sturckow with pilot Nicola Pecile. Michael Masucci commanded mothership VMS Eve joined by pilot Dan Alix.

‘Galactic 06’ Flight Facts:

Take-off Time: 10:00 am MT
Altitude at Release: 44,493 ft
Apogee: 55.2 miles
Top Speed: Mach 2.98
Landing Time: 10:56 am MT

The Company’s next mission, expected in the second quarter of 2024, will include both a researcher and private astronauts. More information on that mission will be announced soon.

10 January, 2024

Rocket Lab USA has set the launch window for its first mission of 2024.

Rocket Lab USA, Inc. has set the launch window for its first mission of 2024.

Rocket Lab will also attempt to recover Electron’s first stage from the mission in next step for reusability.

The ‘Four of a Kind’ mission is scheduled to launch no earlier than January 18 between 19:15-20:00 NZT (January 18 between 06:15-07:00 UTC) from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand. The mission will deploy four Space Situational Awareness (SSA) satellites for Spire Global, Inc’s (Spire) customer NorthStar Earth & Space (NorthStar). NorthStar´s satellites, built and operated by Spire, will be the first to simultaneously monitor all near-Earth orbits from space, delivering a radically enhanced level of SSA services to the global satellite community, with timely and precise information for space object detection, tracking, orbit determination, collision avoidance, navigation, and proximity alerts.

As a secondary mission, Rocket Lab will be attempting to splash down and retrieve Electron’s first stage as part of the Company’s plan to evolve Electron into a reusable rocket. After launch and stage separation, Electron’s first stage will return to Earth under a parachute and splash down in the Pacific Ocean several hundred kilometers down range from Launch Complex 1. Rocket Lab’s recovery vessel will extract the stage from the water for transportation back to Rocket Lab’s production complex where it will undergo detailed analysis. Rocket Lab is not launching any pre-flown engines as part of this mission.

“With each recovery mission we iterate toward Electron reusability and with recent launches we’ve made significant leaps forward with more successful splashdowns, recoveries and the first launch of a pre-flown Rutherford engine,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “We’re looking forward to putting advanced heat-shielding and waterproofing systems to the test on this mission as one of the final steps before re-flying an entire first stage. To launch an advanced mission like this with Spire as a mission partner is a real privilege, as they were on our very first orbital mission in 2018. To be partnered up again and both still pushing boundaries with new technology and capabilities all these years later is a great full circle moment.”

16 December, 2023

Sierra Space’s Revolutionary Dream Chaser Enters Final Test Campaign

Wings Are Back
Sierra Space’s Revolutionary Dream Chaser Enters Final Test Campaign, Spaceplane Transitioning to Orbital Operations.

Sierra Space, a leading commercial space company building the first end-to-end business and technology platform in space to benefit of life on Earth, has delivered the first Dream Chaser spaceplane, Tenacity, to NASA’s Neil Armstrong Test Facility in Sandusky, Ohio.

Dream Chaser, the world’s only commercial spaceplane, has entered the final testing phase ahead of its first flight in 2024. The testing campaign will confirm the spacecraft’s resilience to the challenges of launch and the demanding conditions of space as it prepares for its inaugural mission to the International Space Station under a multi-mission NASA contract.

Dream Chaser joins Sierra Space’s cargo module, Shooting Star™, which arrived at the NASA test facility in November. The two vehicles are set to be stacked in launch configuration and undergo rigorous environmental testing starting in the Mechanical Vibration Facility. The test will subject them to the extreme conditions of launch vibrations on the world’s most powerful spacecraft shaker table.

Sierra Space is unwavering in its commitment to ensuring the utmost reliability of its cutting-edge technologies. Dream Chaser, crafted in tandem with the groundbreaking Shooting Star cargo module, will reinvent space transportation and usher in the burgeoning era of space commercialization known as the Orbital Age®.

“At Sierra Space, we are ushering in the next industrial revolution with a business and technology platform that provides our customers with a complete turn-key solution offering space as a service,” said Sierra Space CEO Tom Vice. “Our platform includes Dream Chaser, a revolutionary, highly reusable commercial spaceplane with global runway access, and the first business-ready commercial space station, leveraging the most advanced expandable structural architecture that will exponentially decrease the cost of product development and manufacturing in space.”

Sierra Space is Revolutionizing Space Transportation – Dream Chaser’s Unique Capabilities:

No More Plunging into the Ocean – Dream Chaser Uses the World’s Global Commercial Runways
Designed To Be Highly Reusable – Minimum 15 Missions Per System
Fully Autonomous Operations
High-Capacity Up Mass and Down Mass Payloads (Pressurized & Unpressurized)
Low G Landings – Better for Science, Cargo and Crew
Fast Access to Payloads and Science Upon Landing – Easy to Integrate into Ground Logistics
Breakthrough Green Hydrogen Peroxide-Based Propulsion System
Second Dream Chaser Vehicle, Reverence, In Production

Selected by a NASA contract:

Dream Chaser was selected by NASA for cargo delivery, return and disposal service for the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services-2 (CRS-2) contract.

Rocket Lab Reaches New Annual Launch Record with 10th Electron Mission This Year

The mission successfully deployed a satellite for Japan-based Earth imaging company Institute for Q-shu Pioneers of Space, Inc.

Rocket Lab a global leader in launch services and space systems, today successfully launched its 42nd Electron rocket and deployed a satellite for Japan-based Earth imaging company the Institute for Q-shu Pioneers of Space, Inc. (iQPS). The mission was Rocket Lab’s 10th Electron launch for the year, surpassing the Company’s previous annual record of nine launches in 2022. For the fifth year in a row, Electron has retained the title of the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually.

The mission, named “The Moon God Awakens”, launched from Pad B at Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand at 17:05 NZDT / 04:05 UTC on December 15th. Named after the Japanese God of the Moon, the iQPS-SAR-5 satellite “TSUKUYOMI-I” is a synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite that will collect high-resolution images of Earth. The satellite joins another iQPS satellite already in orbit and forms part of what will eventually be a 36-satellite constellation capable of monitoring Earth at specific fixed points every 10 minutes.

05 December, 2023

Airbus awarded next stage of ESA’s TRUTHS mission for metrological traceability of Earth observation data

TRUTHS will provide a benchmark of Earth’s energy balance by consistent calibration traced to a metrological reference

Consistent calibration will also enhance existing satellite missions

Airbus has been awarded the latest phase in the European Space Agency (ESA) TRUTHS mission as part of ESA’s Earth Observation Earth Watch programme. The contract covers detailed definition of the mission and payload, and focuses on payload development and de-risking activities with an option for the procurement of long lead time hardware ahead of the full implementation phase following the 2025 ESA Ministerial budget meeting. The contract is worth €109.3 million including options and was signed at COP28 in Dubai.

The TRUTHS satellite mission will measure the Sun’s radiation and the sunlight reflected off Earth's surface relative to an accurate reference, which will then be used to improve the climatological data sets and calibrate the observations of other satellites. This space-based climate and calibration observing system will enable data from other satellites to be compared more easily providing greater standards of data harmonisation for even more accurate climate change forecasts.

Jean Marc Nasr, Head of Space Systems at Airbus said: “This contract takes us one step closer to building a mission that will enable scientists and climatologists to cross reference their measurements and data enabling much more accurate forecasts and analysis in a shorter time. TRUTHS will provide the gold standard of calibration for space-based Earth observation – a kind of ‘standards laboratory in space’.”
UK Science, Research and Innovation Minister, Andrew Griffith, said: “This UK-led mission will have a global impact, providing invaluable measurements to improve our understanding of climate change. Overseen by Airbus UK, this work is generating growth and developing important industrial capabilities across our space sector, driving forward our ambitions to make the UK a science and technology superpower.” 

ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Simonetta Cheli, said: “We are glad to award the contract to Airbus in the UK to take their work on developing TRUTHS into the next all-important phase. We see here at COP28 that the world is committed to climate action and having reliable data on which to base decisions is of the utmost importance. TRUTHS will be used as a benchmark so that data from other satellites can be compared more easily, thereby improving reliability.”

04 December, 2023

Airbus starts Galileo Second Generation satellite production

Manufacturing of six state-of-the-art GNSS satellites to augment the current Galileo constellation

Full production has begun on the six Galileo Second Generation (G2) satellites at Airbus’ site in Friedrichshafen, Germany, with the arrival of the first satellite Flight Model structure from Beyond Gravity in Zurich. After initial preparation the panels will be dispatched to other Airbus sites before final integration and testing at Friedrichshafen. The Galileo G2 satellites are scheduled for launch in the coming years to support the initial deployment and validation of the G2 System.

Jean-Marc Nasr, Head of Space Systems at Airbus, said: “After the successful design phase we are now kicking off production in earnest of the state-of-the-art Galileo G2 satellites. Our teams in Friedrichshafen are working with engineers across Europe to meet the challenging schedule and finalise these sophisticated satellites which will further improve the global Galileo system opening up even more opportunities for services on Earth.”

To meet the demanding schedule to deliver all six satellites in less than two years, Airbus has developed a coordinated production programme to leverage the spacecraft manufacturing, integration, and testing expertise across Airbus sites including Backnang (near Stuttgart), Friedrichshafen, Madrid, Ottobrunn (near Munich) and Toulouse. The second satellite structure is due to arrive in early 2024 and the third towards the end of next year. Airbus’ modular approach to the manufacturing of the G2 satellites will see three spacecraft being produced in parallel at any one time.

The G2 satellites will incorporate enhanced navigation antennas which will help improve accuracy of the flagship European Global Navigation Satellite System. The spacecraft, equipped with electric propulsion for the first time and higher-strength navigation antennas, will also feature fully digital payloads which will be easily reconfigured in orbit, enabling them to actively respond to the evolving needs of users with novel signals and services.

24 November, 2023

Airbus awarded UK Space Agency grant to develop Space Catalyst in Stevenage

Airbus Defence and Space in the UK has been awarded £3.9 million from the UK Space Agency (UKSA) to create a space and connectivity catalyst at its headquarters in Stevenage. Airbus will create a range of facilities at its 14 acre site available to new and existing space players to encourage growth in the wider space ecosystem. The new Space Catalyst will be part of Airbus’ Community for Space Prosperity (CUSP) programme which aims to grow the activity of the UK space supply chain, research and outreach activities.

Ben Bridge, Chairman of Airbus Defence and Space UK said: “We have always been committed to encouraging new entrants into the UK’s vibrant space economy, and this award will enable us to take it to the next level. By building dedicated facilities at our Stevenage headquarters, new and existing space players will be able to take advantage of the laboratories, test facilities and existing infrastructure and tap into the expertise of the 1,200 skilled workforce based on site, further strengthening the UK’s sovereign space capability.”

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for Airbus to create a range of new space facilities in Stevenage to support the wider sector, as part of its Community for Space Prosperity (CUSP) programme. Infrastructure like this will help ensure the UK stays at the forefront of international space missions and fosters advanced capabilities, generating more opportunities for business, suppliers and researchers, and inspiring the future workforce. 

14 November, 2023

Starlab Space Station to boost European Space Agency ambitions in low-Earth orbit

MoU between ESA, Airbus and Voyager Space outlines collaboration on post-International Space Station infrastructure and missions

The European Space Agency (ESA), Airbus Defence and Space, and Voyager Space have signed a trilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the ESA Space Summit in Seville, outlining their collaboration for the Starlab space station in the post-International Space Station era.

The MoU outlines that the parties intend to commonly foster science and technology development and explore the potential for collaboration in conjunction with post-International Space Station low-Earth orbit (LEO) destinations.

The collaboration will initially focus on, but is not limited to, exploring opportunities for sustained access to space for Europe through the Starlab space station. These could include:
Access to the Starlab space station for ESA and its Member States, for astronaut missions and sustained long-term research activities as well as commercial business development.

Contributions to research projects on upcoming missions, leveraging European technology across various fields, including (but not limited to) advanced robotics and automation/artificial intelligence, and advancing European science priorities, such as health and life sciences.

Establishment of a complete ‘end-to-end’ ecosystem comprising the Starlab space station as a low-Earth orbit destination and a potential ESA-developed European transportation system (cargo and crew), leveraging standardised interfaces in the interest of an open access policy.

This agreement reflects ESA’s ambition to enable a smooth transition from the International Space Station towards the sustained exploitation of human and robotic infrastructures in low-Earth orbit after 2030, including through commercial services.

“ESA appreciates the transatlantic industry initiative for the commercial Starlab space station, and the potential that its strong European footprint holds for significant European industrial and institutional contributions to, and use of, said station,” said Josef Aschbacher, Director General of the European Space Agency. “Our teams are looking forward to working closely with the Starlab teams here in Europe and in the US.”

“This agreement with the European Space Agency is critical as we continue to foster international collaboration in the space domain and move towards succeeding the International Space Station with Starlab,” said Matt Kuta, President, Voyager Space. “We look forward to working with Airbus and ESA to extend Europe’s footprint in space and ensure they remain a leader in the new generation of commercial space exploration.”

“At Airbus, we are very pleased that ESA is continuing to look to the future and demonstrating such a keen interest in Starlab,” said Mike Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space. “Our collaboration on this next-generation space station builds on a long and successful partnership between ESA and Airbus in developing and operating a wide range of crewed and uncrewed spacecraft.”

In the past, Airbus has supplied ESA with iconic spacecraft such as the International Space Station Columbus Module, all five Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV) and – most recently – the European Service Module (ESM) for Orion, Europe’s contribution to NASA’s Artemis missions back to the Moon.

In August 2023, Voyager and Airbus first announced an agreement to form a transatlantic joint venture to support a continuous human presence in low-Earth orbit and a seamless transition of microgravity science and research opportunities in the post-International Space Station era. Starlab is also expected to have a European affiliated joint venture to directly serve the European Space Agency and its member state space agencies.