ESA to Supply ATV for Use as Orion Service Module

ATV / Orion
European Space Agency ATV as Orion Service Module
Image Credit:

The European Space Agency (ESA) has reached an agreement with NASA to build a Service Module for the Orion spacecraft based on their Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which has been a workhorse in the resupply of the International Space Station (ISS) since 2008.

Launch Schedule – European Space Agency 2013

Here is the current calendar for 2013 for the European Space Agency (ESA) satellites and rocket launch vehicles as listed on the Forum at NASASpaceFlight from 22 December 2012:


  • Complete
  • Upcoming
  • February 7 – Amazonas 3, Azerspace-1/Africasat-1a – Ariane 5 ECA (VA212)
  • March 13 – Proba-V, multiple auxiliary payloads – Vega (VV02) (or April)
  • April 18 – ATV-4 Albert Einstein – Ariane 5 ES (VA213) – 16:45
  • May (TBD) – Alphasat I-XL/Inmarsat-XL – Ariane 5 ECA (VA214) (or second quarter)
  • May 29 – O3b (4 sats) – Soyuz-STB/Fregat-MT (VS05)
  • June – INSAT 3D – Ariane 5 ECA (or second quarter)
  • June – GSAT 7 – Ariane 5 ECA (or second quarter)
  • July – Galileo-FOC (2 sats) – Soyuz-STB/Fregat-MT (VS06) (or late Summer)
  • midyear – ABS 2- Ariane 5 ECA
  • midyear – Eutelsat 25B/Eurobird 2A/Eshail – Ariane 5 ECA
  • midyear – Optus 10 – Ariane 5 ECA
  • Late July-Early August – O3b (4 sats) – Soyuz-STB/Fregat-MT (VS07)
  • Late August-September – Galileo-FOC (2 sats) – Soyuz-STB/Fregat-MT (VS08)
  • third quarter – Astra 5B – Ariane 5 ECA
  • September – Arsat 1 – Ariane 5 / Soyuz
  • October – Gaia – Soyuz-STB/Fregat-MT
  • November – Sentinel-1A – Soyuz-STB/Fregat-M


  • January – Seosat-Ingenio – TBD
  • early – THOR 7 – Ariane 5 ECA
  • early – Amazonas 4A – Ariane 5 / Soyuz
  • early – DirecTV 14 – Ariane 5 ECA
  • early – Arsat 2 – Ariane 5 / Soyuz
  • April 12 – ATV-5 Georges Lemaître – Ariane 5 ES
  • first half – SES-8 – Ariane 5 ECA – (or second half 2013 on Falcon 9 v1.1)
  • June – Prisma – Vega
  • second quarter – Kazakhstan DZZ-HR sat – Vega
  • July – LISA Pathfinder – Vega (VV03)

Updated 1 January 2013

2012 Launches
2011 Launches

Britain Adds Funds to Repurpose ESA ATV as Orion Service Module

European Space Agency (ESA) Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV)
Image Credit: ESA / CNES / Arianespace / Photo optique video du CSG

The European Space Agency (ESA) announced they will inform NASA they are ready to build an ATV derived Service Module for Orion, to be ready for the first launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) in 2017. The announcement came after the UK stepped up with additional funding, marking the country’s first real human Beyond Earth Orbit (BEO) commitment.

ESA press release.

Tiny Galaxy Observed 420 Million Years After the Big Bang

MACS 0647-JD
Hubble Image of Very Young Dwarf Galaxy MACS0647-JD
Image Credit: NASA / ESA / M. Postman / D. Coe (STScI) / CLASH Team.

NASA has released an image of a newly discovered galaxy that is the youngest object seen so far. The young dwarf galaxy, named MACS0647-JD, is only 600 light-years across and is seen only 420 million years after the Big Bang (13.3 Billion light-years away from Earth).

The galaxy is tiny. For comparison, the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy companion to the Milky Way, is 14,000 light-years wide. Our Milky Way is 150,000 light-years across.

The image above is a composite taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC 3) and the Advanced Camera for Surveys ( ACS) on 5 October and 29 November 2011. The work was done by the Cluster Lensing And Supernova Survey with Hubble (CLASH) team.

Is Pluto A Binary Dwarf Planet?

Pluto Binary
Four Tiny Satellites Orbit the Pluto-Charon Binary
Image Credit: NASA / ESA / and M. Showalter (SETI Institute)

With the discovery by the Hubble Space Telescope of a fifth tiny moon orbiting Pluto, interest continues to mount about this peculiar system.

Now, there is a suggestion on that the system is actually a Double Planet with four moons (see the image).

The four tiny moons, all discovered by Hubble in the past seven years, do not orbit Pluto itself. Instead, they orbit the center of mass of the Pluto-Charon system.

Charon is 12% the mass of Pluto, and could well qualify as a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) and is perhaps a dwarf planet itself.

Ceres is a dwarf planet in the Asteroid belt, with a mass of 0.000 15 that of Earth. Pluto’s mass is 0.002 2 of Earth, which would make Charon’s mass 0.000 27 that of Earth (more than Ceres).

ILS Proton-M Launches SES-5 Communications Satellite

Proton-M at Liftoff with SES-5
Image Credit: ILS

An International Launch Systems (ILS) Proton-M rocket lifted off its pad in Baikonur Kazakhstan yesterday at 11:38 AM Phoenix time (1838 UTC). There have been almost 400 launches of the Proton system since 1965.

Nine hours after launch, the Briz-M upper stage delivered the satellite to Geostationary Orbit.

Originally scheduled for launch last December, it was postponed due to an upper stage problem. Then, in June, an out of tolerance telemetry reading for a first stage sub-assembly eventually forced the vehicle off the pad and back to the processing hall for extensive testing.

Satellite Services (SESthe ) owns SES-5, which is equipped with 24 C-band transponders and 36 Ku-band transponders.

This 6,000 Kg communications satellite will be stationed at five degrees East, and provide Ku-band capacity for Africa and Nordic and Baltic countries. The C-band coverage is for Africa and the Middle East. It has an expected lifetime of 15 years.

SES-5, built by Space Systems/Loral, will also carry the first hosted L-band payload for the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS). The EGNOS payload, which was developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission (EC), will help verify, improve, and report on the reliability and accuracy of navigation positioning signals in Europe.