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:

2013

  • 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

2014

  • 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

ATV
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 Discovery.com 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

Liftoff
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.

Herschel Space Telescope and the Vela C Star Forming Region

Vela
Vela and the Butterfly
Image Credit: ESA / PACS & SPIRE Consortia, T. Hill, F. Motte, Laboratoire AIM Paris-Saclay, CEA / IRFU – CNRS / INSU – Uni. Paris Diderot, HOBYS Key Programme Consortium

The European space Agency (ESA) has released images of the Vela Nebula taken by the Herschel Infrared Space Telescope.

The bright butterfly shaped region is a stellar nursery, with a string of bright, hot stars along its body. These massive stars are destined to explode as supernovae within the next 10 million years.

Strung out all along this region of the nebula are wispy filaments with protostars embedded within them.

The image was mapped using Herschel instruments PACS and SPIRE at wavelengths of 70, 160, and 250 microns, corresponding to the blue, green and red channels, respectively. North is to the right and east is up.

Hubble Space Telescope Sees Ancient Galaxy Cluster and Mysterious Object

Cluster
Galaxy Cluster IDCS J1426.5+3508 and Mysterious Blue Arc
Image Credit: NASA / ESA /University of Florida, Gainsville / University of Missouri-Kansas City / UC Davis

In an article in The Astrophysical Journal, astronomers report a massive galaxy cluster 10 Billion light years away, the largest known at that distance, and a bright blue arc (gravitational lense?) perhaps 13 Billion light years away. The astronomers state that for that brightness and distance “…we expect to find no arcs over the entire sky as bright”. The abstract:

The galaxy cluster IDCS J1426.5+3508 at z = 1.75 is the most massive galaxy cluster yet discovered at z > 1.4 and the first cluster at this epoch for which the Sunyaev-Zel’Dovich effect has been observed. In this paper, we report on the discovery with Hubble Space Telescope imaging of a giant arc associated with this cluster. The curvature of the arc suggests that the lensing mass is nearly coincident with the brightest cluster galaxy, and the color is consistent with the arc being a star-forming galaxy. We compare the constraint on M 200 based upon strong lensing with Sunyaev-Zel’Dovich results, finding that the two are consistent if the redshift of the arc is z ~ 3. Finally, we explore the cosmological implications of this system, considering the likelihood of the existence of a strongly lensing galaxy cluster at this epoch in a ΛCDM universe. While the existence of the cluster itself can potentially be accommodated if one considers the entire volume covered at this redshift by all current high-redshift cluster surveys, the existence of this strongly lensed galaxy greatly exacerbates the long-standing giant arc problem. For standard ΛCDM structure formation and observed background field galaxy counts this lens system should not exist. Specifically, there should be no giant arcs in the entire sky as bright in F814W as the observed arc for clusters at z ≥ 1.75, and only ~0.3 as bright in F160W as the observed arc. If we relax the redshift constraint to consider all clusters at z ≥ 1.5, the expected number of giant arcs rises to ~15 in F160W, but the number of giant arcs of this brightness in F814W remains zero. These arc statistic results are independent of the mass of IDCS J1426.5+3508. We consider possible explanations for this discrepancy.

Soyuz TMA-03M Undocks and Returns to Earth.

Separation
Soyuz TMA-03 Undocking from the Mini Research Module (MRM-1)
Image Credit: NASA TV

The Russian Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft undocked from the Mini-Research Module at the International Space Station (ISS) at 9:48 PM Saturday night, while flying above China. This brought Expedition 31 to a close and inaugurated Expedition 32 under the command of Gennady Padalka. The other two crew members on ISS are Russian Sergey Revin, and American Joe Acaba.

The deorbit burn occurred at 12:19 AM Phoenix time Sunday. Russian cosmonaut and Soyuz commander Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Don Pettit, and ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers, returned to Earth aboard the Soyuz Descent Module. The landing in Zhezkaghan took place at 1:14 AM Phoenix time (0814 UTC).

The remainder of the year is heavily booked with activity:

  • 15 July – launch (with 17 July docking) of the Soyuz TMA-05M/31S spacecraft, carrying three additional members of Expedition 32 – Russian Yuri Malenchenko, American Suni Williams, and Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide.
  • 21 July – the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle-3 (HTV-3) spacecraft will launch to the ISS, for a rendezvous and berthing to the ISS
  • 22 July – the Progress M-15M/47P spacecraft will undock from the Docking Compartment-1 (DC-1) module
  • 24 July – the Progress M-15M/47P spacecraft will perform a re-docking to the ISS to test a new Kurs-NA antenna.
  • 30 July – Progress M-15M will undock for the final time and reenter the atmosphere and burn up.
  • 1 August – Launch of Progress M-16M/48P, which will dock to the ISS just a few hours after launch to test a new fast-rendezvous profile.
  • 6 September – departure of the HTV-3 and burn up on reentry
  • 17 September – departure of Soyuz TMA-04M/30S with Gennady Padalka, Sergey Revin and Joe Acaba, marking the end of Expedition 32
  • 23 September – departure of Europe’s ATV-3 spacecraft
  • 5 October – Launch of the first Dragon flight under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract – known as SpX-1
  • 7 October – Docking of SpX-1