Blog

ESA JUICE Program Requires Exceptional Technology

0

ESA continues to advance the technology necessary to explore new space frontiers.  The research and planning necessary to survive in the hostile environment continues to exceed expectations.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)

Find this article and others on ESA’s website here.

ESA’s Jupiter Mission Moves Off the Drawing Board

16 March 2017Demanding electric, magnetic and power requirements, harsh radiation, and strict planetary protection rules are some of the critical issues that had to be tackled in order to move ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer – Juice – from the drawing board and into construction.

Scheduled for launch in 2022, with arrival in the Jovian system in 2029, Juice will spend three-and-a-half years examining the giant planet’s turbulent atmosphere, enormous magnetosphere, its set of tenuous dark rings and its satellites.

It will study the large icy moons Ganymede, Europa and Callisto, which are thought to have oceans of liquid water beneath their icy crusts – perhaps even harbouring habitable environments.

The mission will culminate in a dedicated, eight-month tour around Ganymede, the first time any moon beyond our own has been orbited by a spacecraft.

Jupiter’s largest moons

Juice will be equipped with 10 state-of-the-art instruments, including cameras, an ice-penetrating radar, an altimeter, radio-science experiments, and sensors to monitor the magnetic fields and charged particles in the Jovian system.

In order to ensure it can address these goals in the challenging Jovian environment, the spacecraft’s design has to meet stringent requirements.

An important milestone was reached earlier this month, when the preliminary design of Juice and its interfaces with the scientific instruments and the ground stations were fixed, which will now allow a prototype spacecraft to be built for rigorous testing.

The review also confirmed that the 5.3 tonne spacecraft will be compatible with its Ariane 5 launcher.

Operating in the outer Solar System, far from the Sun, means that Juice needs a large solar array: two wings of five panels each are foreseen, which will cover a total surface area of nearly 100 sq m, capable of providing 820 W at Jupiter by the end of the mission.

After launch, Juice will make five gravity-assist flybys in total: one each at Mars and Venus, and three at Earth, to set it on course for Jupiter. Its solar panels will have to cope with a range of temperatures such that when it is flying closer to the Sun during the Venus flyby, the solar wings will be tilted to avoid excessive temperatures damaging the solar cells.

The spacecraft’s main engine will be used to enter orbit around the giant planet, and later around Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede. As such, the engine design has also been critically reviewed at this stage.

Special measures will allow Juice to cope with the extremely harsh radiation that it must endure for several years around Jupiter. This means careful selection of components and materials, as well as radiation shielding.

One particularly important topic is Juice’s electromagnetic ‘cleanliness’. Because a key goal is to monitor the magnetic fields and charged particles at Jupiter, it is imperative that any electromagnetic fields generated by the spacecraft itself do not interfere with the sensitive scientific measurements.

This will be achieved by the careful design of the solar array electrical architecture, the power distribution unit, and the reaction wheels – a type of flywheel that stabilises the attitude.

The review also ensured that Juice will meet strict planetary protection guidelines, because it is imperative to minimise the risk that the potentially habitable ocean moons, particularly Europa, might be contaminated by viruses, bacteria or spores carried by the spacecraft from Earth. Therefore, mission plans ensure that Juice will not crash into Europa, on a timescale of hundreds of years.

“The spacecraft design has been extensively and positively reviewed, and confirmed to address the many critical mission requirements,” says Giuseppe Sarri, Juice project manager. “So far we are on schedule, and are delighted to begin the development stage of this ambitious large-class mission.”

ESA’s industrial partners, led by Airbus, now have the go-ahead to start building the prototype spacecraft units that will subjected to tough tests to simulate the conditions expected during launch, as well as the extreme range of environmental conditions.

Once the design is proved beyond doubt, the flight model – the one that will actually go into space – will be built.

 

For further information, please contact:

Markus Bauer
ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer
Tel: +31 71 565 6799
Mob: +31 61 594 3 954
Email: markus.bauer@esa.int

Giuseppe Sarri
ESA Juice project manager
Email: Giuseppe.Sarri@esa.int

Olivier Witasse
ESA Juice project scientist
Email: Olivier.Witasse@esa.int

March 16, 2017 |

NASA Tests Supersonic Passenger Airplane

0
Supersonic passenger travel could become a reality again with the support of NASA.  Lockheed Martin is responding to the X-Plane challenge with the first scale model.  Let’s hope to see the final version soon.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)
Feb. 24, 2017
RELEASE 17-022

NASA Wind Tunnel Tests Lockheed Martin’s X-Plane Design for a Quieter Supersonic Jet

Supersonic passenger airplanes are another step closer to reality as NASA and Lockheed Martin begin the first high-speed wind tunnel tests for the Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) X-plane preliminary design at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

The agency is testing a nine percent scale model of Lockheed Martin’s X-plane design in Glenn’s 8’ x 6’ Supersonic Wind Tunnel. During the next eight weeks, engineers will expose the model to wind speeds ranging from Mach 0.3 to Mach 1.6 (approximately 150 to 950 mph) to understand the aerodynamics of the X-plane design as well as aspects of the propulsion system. NASA expects the QueSST X-plane to pave the way for supersonic flight over land in the not too distant future.

“We’ll be measuring the lift, drag and side forces on the model at different angles of attack to verify that it performs as expected,” said aerospace engineer Ray Castner, who leads propulsion testing for NASA’s QueSST effort. “We also want to make sure the air flows smoothly into the engine under all operating conditions.”

Mechanical technician Dan Pitts prepares a nine percent scale model of Lockheed Martin’s Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST)
Mechanical technician Dan Pitts prepares a nine percent scale model of Lockheed Martin’s Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) X-plane preliminary design for its first high-speed wind tunnel tests at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.
Credits: NASA

The Glenn wind tunnel is uniquely suited for the test because of its size and ability to create a wide range of wind speeds.

“We need to see how the design performs from just after takeoff, up to cruising at supersonic speed, back to the start of the landing approach,” said David Stark, the facility manager. “The 8-by-6-foot supersonic wind tunnel allows us to test that sweet spot range of speeds all in one wind tunnel.”

Recent research has shown it is possible for a supersonic airplane to be shaped in such a way that the shock waves it forms when flying faster than the speed of sound can generate a sound at ground level so quiet it will hardly will be noticed by the public, if at all.

“Our unique aircraft design is shaped to separate the shocks and expansions associated with supersonic flight, dramatically reducing the aircraft’s loudness,” said Peter Iosifidis, QueSST program manager at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. “Our design reduces the airplane’s noise signature to more of a ‘heartbeat’ instead of the traditional sonic boom that’s associated with current supersonic aircraft in flight today.”

According to Dave Richwine, NASA’s QueSST preliminary design project manager, “This test is an important step along the path to the development of an X-plane that will be a key capability for the collection of community response data required to change the rules for supersonic overland flight.”

NASA awarded Lockheed Martin a contract in February 2016 for the preliminary design of a supersonic X-plane flight demonstrator. This design phase has matured the details of the aircraft shape, performance and flight systems. Wind tunnel testing and analysis is expected to continue until mid-2017. Assuming funding is approved, the agency expects to compete and award another contract for the final design, fabrication, and testing of the low-boom flight demonstration aircraft.

The QueSST design is one of a series of X-planes envisioned in NASA’s New Aviation Horizons (NAH) initiative, which aims to reduce fuel use, emissions and noise through innovations in aircraft design that depart from the conventional tube-and-wing aircraft shape. The design and build phases for the NAH aircraft will be staggered over several years with the low boom flight demonstrator starting its flight campaign around 2020, with other NAH X-planes following in subsequent years, depending on funding.

For more information about QueSST, visit:

http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/products/QueSST0.html

For more information about NASA’s aeronautics research, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/aero

-end-

J.D. Harrington
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-5241
j.d.harrington@nasa.gov

Jan Wittry
Glenn Research Center, Cleveland
216-433-5466
jan.m.wittry-1@nasa.gov

Erica Turner
Lockheed Martin Communications
661-572-6263
erica.r.turner@lmco.com

February 27, 2017 |

Important Discovery of Seven Planets

0
This illustration shows the possible surface of TRAPPIST-1f, one of the newly discovered planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system.
Feb. 22, 2017
RELEASE 17-015
NASA Telescope has had many firsts, but the discovery of seven planets is truly amazing.  Congratulations to the team.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)

NASA Telescope Reveals Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star

This illustration shows the possible surface of TRAPPIST-1f, one of the newly discovered planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system. Scientists using the Spitzer Space Telescope and ground-based telescopes have discovered that there are seven Earth-size planets in the system.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

“This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.”

Continue reading at NASA website here.

February 23, 2017 |

Boeing Continues GPS Legacy

0
 

The GPS program has pushed the boundaries of satellite capabilities for decades.  Boeing has been at the heart of this innovative program and will continue for years to come.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)

Boeing, U.S. Air Force Extend Partnership to Sustain GPS Constellations

Agreement enables persistent GPS capability as Boeing works on next-generation GPS

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Feb. 2, 2017 – Boeing [NYSE: BA] and the U.S. Air Force recently signed a Global Positioning System (GPS) sustainment agreement that will ensure the navigation capabilities relied upon by millions of military and commercial users remain robust for years to come.

Under the agreement, Boeing will support GPS IIA and IIF satellites currently on orbit for the next five years. Boeing, which has been the prime GPS contractor for more than 40 years, is now part of the Air Force effort that may lead to the next generation of GPS satellites.

“This agreement continues Boeing’s strong legacy of GPS innovation and mission support,” said Dan Hart, vice president, Government Satellite Systems. “We are focused on delivering reliable, affordable and resilient GPS capability now and for generations to come.”

Collectively, Boeing GPS satellites have accrued more than 550 years of on-orbit operation. In March 2016, the company delivered its 50th GPS satellite on orbit to the Air Force and has built more than two-thirds of the GPS satellites that have entered service since 1978.

For more information on Defense, Space & Security, visit www.boeing.com. Follow us on Twitter: @BoeingDefense.

# # #

Contact:

Addrian Brooks
Network & Space Systems
Office: +1 310-335-6463
Mobile: +1 310-529-3079
addrian.brooks@boeing.com

February 2, 2017 |

Russian Resupply Spacecraft Bound for ISS Lost

0
Expedition 50 backup crew members, NASA astronaut Jack Fisher, left, Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos, center, and ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli, left, 
answer questions from the press ahead of their Soyuz qualification exams, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) in Star City, Russia. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The Russian space agency Roscosmos has confirmed a Progress cargo resupply spacecraft bound for the International Space Station has been lost. The spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Thursday on a Soyuz rocket, but experienced an anomaly around six and a half minutes into its flight.

Six crew members living aboard the space station are safe and have been informed of the mission’s status. Both the Russian and U.S. segments of the station continue to operate normally with onboard supplies at good levels.

The ISS Progress 65 cargo spacecraft launched on time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 9:51 a.m. EST (8:51 p.m. Baikonur time). The first few minutes of flight were normal, but Russian flight controllers reported telemetry data indicating a problem during third stage operation. The Russians have formed a State Commission and are the source for details on the specific failure cause.

The spacecraft was not carrying any supplies critical for the United States Operating Segment (USOS) of the station. The next mission scheduled to deliver cargo to the station is an H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)-6 from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on Friday, Dec. 9.

Cargo packed inside the Progress 65 included more than 2.6 tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the space station crew, including approximately 1,400 pounds of propellant, 112 pounds of oxygen, 925 pounds of water, and 2,750 pounds of spare parts, supplies and scientific experiment hardware. Among the U.S. supplies on board were spare parts for the station’s environmental control and life support system, research hardware, crew supplies and crew clothing, all of which are replaceable.

As teams continue to monitor the situation, additional updates and more information about the International Space Station will be available online at:

http://www.nasa.gov/station

-end-

Cheryl Warner
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1100
cheryl.m.warner@nasa.gov

Dan Huot
Johnson Space Center, Houston
281-483-5111
daniel.g.huot@nasa.gov

Last Updated: Dec. 1, 2016
Editor: Allard Beutel
December 3, 2016 |

Last Chance to See Sentinel 2B Before Launch

0

Sentinel-2B in the cleanroom

15 November 2016The Sentinel program has been a great success with a free and open policy.  The addition of 2B will only improve the number of images available.  We look forward to the launch of this new satellite and would like to share these images before it is buttoned up.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)

Find this article and others on ESA’s website here.

Fairwell to Sentinel 2B

Just weeks before Sentinel-2B is packed up and sent to French Guiana for its launch next March, media representatives and specialists got one last look at the second satellite for Europe’s Copernicus programme.

At an event held at ESA’s site in the Netherlands – where the satellite has been undergoing testing since June – ESA and Airbus Defence and Space project managers gave journalists an overview of how the satellite was built and tested, and its numerous benefits.

“It’s a European satellite, built by more than 60 contractors from 15 countries,” noted Michael Menking from Airbus, the prime contractor leading the industrial consortium. Twenty-nine of the companies were small- or medium-sized.

Offering ‘colour vision’ for Europe’s environmental monitoring Copernicus programme, Sentinel-2 combines high-resolution and novel multispectral capabilities to monitor Earth’s changing lands in unprecedented detail and accuracy.

Sentinel-2 is designed as a two-satellite constellation: Sentinel-2A and -2B. Sentinel-2A was launched on 23 June 2015 and has been providing routine imagery for the EU Copernicus Land Monitoring Service, among others. Once Sentinel-2B is launched and operational, the constellation will cover the globe every five days.

Information from this mission is helping to improve agricultural practices, monitor the world’s forests, detect pollution in lakes and coastal waters, and contribute to disaster mapping, to name a few.

Josef Aschbacher at Sentinel-2B press event

“Sentinel-2B will be the fifth satellite launched for Copernicus,” said Josef Aschbacher, Director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes. “The Sentinels already in orbit are providing massive amounts of data: 6.5 petabytes so far.

“While handling these data is a major challenge, the large amount being downloaded by users is testament to their worth.”

More data are downloaded by Sentinels every day than are uploaded to Facebook in the form of photos.

“The free and open data policy is one of the key achievements of Copernicus, and is also the key to its success,” said Andras Roboz, Policy Officer for the European Commission’s Copernicus unit. Sentinel-2 supports EU policies and stimulates economic growth, particularly for small businesses.

But before a satellite can deliver data, it must arrive in working order in orbit. While in the Netherlands, Sentinel-2B has been subjected to the vibrations and noise of launch, undergone solar array deployment, and sat in a thermal–vacuum chamber to simulate the harsh space environment.

Once the tests are completed, the satellite is expected to be cleared for shipping on 5 January to Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

November 15, 2016 |

MUOS-5 Program Averts Propulsion Issues

0
MUOS-5 Secure Communications Satellite Reaches Orbit,  Begins Pre-Operational Testing
MUOS-5 completes the U.S. Navy’s network of orbiting satellites and relay ground stations that is revolutionizing secure communications for mobile military forces.
We track the development and launch of various satellite programs throughout the world.  Some are deployed without an issue and others remind us of the difficulties in the execution of a successful program.  Lockheed Martins MUOS program has been a tremendous success, but the latest launch has reminded us the importance of a great team anticipating challenges.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)

MUOS-5 Secure Communications Satellite Reaches Orbit, Begins Pre-Operational Testing

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Nov. 4, 2016 – The fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite built by Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) for the U.S. Navy has reached orbit, successfully deployed its solar arrays and antennas, and is beginning pre-operational, on-orbit testing.

Originally launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on June 24, MUOS-5 experienced an anomaly with its orbit raising propulsion system on its way to geosynchronous orbit on June 29. Out of caution, the Navy and Lockheed Martin engineering team immediately placed the satellite in a safe mode in transfer orbit as they investigated and examined their options.

“In the end, the Navy and Lockheed Martin engineering team were able to isolate the issue and develop a work-around using alternative propulsion,” said Mark Woempner, director of Narrowband Communications Systems at Lockheed Martin. “Once we had a plan together, in early October we carefully re-started orbit raising maneuvers.”

MUOS-5 completed orbit raising on Oct. 22, and successfully deployed its solar arrays for power generation and its antennas for mission operations on Oct. 30. The satellite will begin on-orbit testing before being turned over to the Navy for further testing and eventual commissioning into service.

For the Navy, MUOS-5 completes a network of orbiting satellites and relay ground stations that is revolutionizing secure communications for mobile military forces. Users with MUOS-capable terminals will be able to seamlessly connect beyond line-of-sight around the world and into the Global Information Grid, as well as into the Defense Switched Network. MUOS’ capabilities include simultaneous, crystal-clear voice, video and mission data over a secure high-speed Internet Protocol-based system.

The MUOS network provides near-global coverage, including communications reach deep into polar regions. Once fully operational, the network will provide users with 16 times more communications capacity than the legacy system it will eventually replace.

The Navy’s Program Executive Office for Space Systems and its Communications Satellite Program Office responsible for the MUOS program are based in San Diego. Lockheed Martin assembled and tested all five now-on-orbit MUOS satellites at its Sunnyvale, California, facility.

For additional MUOS information, photos and video visit: www.lockheedmartin.com/muos.

About Lockheed Martin

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 98,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

November 7, 2016 |

ESA Discovers Why GPS Blacks out at Equator

0

GPS interruptions

28 October 2016

 

Producing satellites that will function in the hostile space environment is always a challenge.  The latest disruptions uncovered yet another anomaly to be considered when developing future platforms.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)

Find this article and others on ESA’s website here.

Swarm Reveals Why Satellites Lose Track

Satellite engineers have been puzzling over why GPS navigation systems on low-orbiting satellites like ESA’s Swarm sometimes black out when they fly over the equator between Africa and South America. Thanks to Swarm, it appears ‘thunderstorms’ in the ionosphere are to blame.

Launched in 2013, the Swarm trio is measuring and untangling the different magnetic fields that stem from Earth’s core, mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere – an undertaking of at least four years.

As with many satellites, ESA’s three Swarm satellites carry GPS receivers as part of their positioning system so that operators keep them in the correct orbits. In addition, GPS pinpoints where the satellites are making their scientific measurements.

However, sometimes the satellites lose their GPS connection. In fact, during their first two years in orbit, the link was broken 166 times.

A paper published recently describes how Swarm has revealed there is a direct link between these blackouts and ionospheric ‘thunderstorms’, around 300–600 km above Earth.

Claudia Stolle from the GFZ research centre in Potsdam, Germany said, “Ionospheric thunderstorms are well known, but now we have been able to show a direct link between these storms and the loss of connection to GPS.

GPS losses

“This is thanks to Swarm because it is the first time that high-resolution GPS and ionospheric patterns can be detected from the same satellite.”

These thunderstorms occur when the number of electrons in the ionosphere undergoes large and rapid changes. This tends to happen close to Earth’s magnetic equator and typically just for a couple of hours between sunset and midnight.

As its name suggests, the ionosphere is where atoms are broken up by sunlight, which leads to free electrons. A thunderstorm scatters these free electrons, creating small bubbles with little or no ionised material. These bubbles disturb the GPS signals so that the Swarm GPS receivers can lose track.

It transpires that 161 of the lost signal events coincided with ionospheric thunderstorms. The other five were over the polar regions and corresponded to increased strong solar winds that cause Earth’s protective magnetosphere to ‘wobble’.

Resolving the mystery of blackouts is not only good news for Swarm, but also for other low-orbiting satellites experiencing the same problem. It means that engineers can use this new knowledge to improve future GPS systems to limit signal losses.

Christian Siemes, who works at ESA on the mission, said, “In light of this new knowledge, we have been able to tune the Swarm GPS receivers so they are more robust, resulting in fewer blackouts.

Earth’s protective shield

“Importantly, we are able to measure variations in the GPS signal which is not only interesting for engineers developing GPS instruments, but also interesting to advance our scientific understanding of upper-atmosphere dynamics.”

ESA’s Swarm mission manager, Rune Floberghagen, added, “What we see here is a striking example of a technical challenge being turned into exciting science, a true essence of an Earth Explorer mission such as Swarm.

“These new findings demonstrate that GPS can be used as a tool for understanding dynamics in the ionosphere related to solar activity. Perhaps one day we will also be able to link these ionospheric thunderstorms with the lightning we see from the ground.”

October 31, 2016 |

NASA Awards $129M Satellite to Orbital ATK

0
L9-logo-1
NASA’s latest award for $129M of Landsat 9 to Orbital ATK is not only significant in its value, but also its deliverables.  This program has been around since 1972 and will continue to provide value for several decades to come.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)
Find this article and others on NASA’s website here.
Oct. 25, 2016
CONTRACT RELEASE C16-026

NASA Awards Contract for Sustainable Land Imaging Spacecraft

NASA has awarded a delivery order under the Rapid Spacecraft Acquisition III (Rapid III) contract to Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Virginia, known publicly as Orbital ATK, for the Landsat 9 spacecraft.

This contract is a 5-year, firm fixed-price delivery order for the purchase of the Landsat 9 spacecraft in the amount of $129.9 million. Orbital will design and fabricate the spacecraft, integrate the mission’s two government-furnished instruments, and conduct satellite-level testing, in-orbit satellite checkout, and mission operations support. The work will be performed at the contractor’s facilities and at the launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The spacecraft will extend the Landsat program’s record of land images to half a century. Landsat has provided accurate, 98-foot (30-meter) resolution, multi-spectral, global measurements of Earth’s land cover since 1972, building a freely available archive of more than six million satellite images. With data from Landsat satellites, ecologists have tracked deforestation in South America, water managers have monitored irrigation of farmland in the American West, and researchers have watched the growth of cities worldwide.

Landsat 9 is a cornerstone of our nation’s multi-satellite, multi-decadal, Sustainable Land Imaging (SLI) program. SLI is a NASA-U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) partnership to develop, launch, and operate a spaceborne system that will provide researchers and other users with high-quality, global, continuous land-imaging measurements. These data are compatible with the 44-year Landsat record and will evolve through introduction of new sensor and system technologies.

NASA will build, launch, and perform the initial check-out and commissioning of the satellite. USGS will operate Landsat 9 and process, archive, and freely distribute the mission’s data.

The Rapid III contract provides a rapid and flexible means to procure spacecraft in support of the scientific and technology development goals of NASA and other federal government agencies.

For information on NASA and agency programs, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov

-end-

Steve Cole
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-0918
stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov

Cynthia M. O’Carroll
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
301-286-4787
cynthia.m.ocarroll@nasa.gov

Last Updated: Oct. 25, 2016
Editor: Karen Northon
October 25, 2016 |

ESA’s NEOSAT Expects 50% Global Marketshare

0

All-Electric Satellites have provided significant promise to the satellite industry for some time.  ESA’s Neosat is projecting to capture 50% global satellite marketshare.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)

Find this article and others on ESA’s website here.

BOOSTING EUROPE’S ALL-ELECTRIC SATELLITES

18 October 2016Today, ESA astronaut Tim Peake opened a UK facility that will expand Europe’s capability with satellites that rely wholly on electric propulsion.

Sited in Belfast, Northern Ireland, it builds on the advanced manufacturing skills there. Propellant tanks, electric thrusters and steering mechanisms with the interconnecting harness and fuel lines will be assembled and installed on the satellite structure.

In the future, the thruster steering assembly will also be built in the same cleanroom, which will expand to 500 sq m by the end of the year.

These complete propulsion modules will then be sent to Thales Alenia Space France in Cannes for insertion into the Spacebus Neo satellites, which will offer all-electric propulsion or a mix of electric and traditional thrusters.

Three have already been ordered – the first, for Eutelsat, will provide broadband communications across sub-Saharan Africa from 2019.

This effort is part of ESA’s Neosat programme, which intends to reduce the cost of a 3–6 tonne satellite in orbit by 30% by the end of the decade.

Magali Vaissiere, ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, commented: “Neosat aims to help European satellite builders to capture at least half of the world’s satcom market in the years to come.

“The opening of this dedicated facility in Belfast is an important milestone in the electric propulsion revolution.”

Thales Alenia Space UK’s dedicated Electric Propulsion Integration Centre is the first of its kind in the UK.

Spacebus Neo

Spacebus Neo will offer all-electric propulsion to reach its final orbit and maintain its position using significantly less propellant than traditional thrusters – meaning lower cost or greater capacity at launch. Thales plans to build up to four per year from 2018.

Apart from Neosat, the design, manufacture and test facilities will also support other satellite programmes that use chemical and electric propulsion.

Tim Peake opened the facility on his postflight tour of the UK, in the presence of Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland’s First Minister, with representatives from ESA, the UK Space Agency and NASA.

The Neosat cooperation between ESA and France’s CNES space agency is part of ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems programme.

October 18, 2016 |
Epiq Space

Epiq Space

Skip to toolbar