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ESA

Artists concept of the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle in orbit during its first atmosph...

The European Space Agency is preparing to test the atmospheric re-entry capabilities of its new early concept spaceplane, the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV). The test flight is slated for launch in November atop a European made Vega rocket, with the hope that results will inform the design of future ESA spacecraft.  Read More

Artist's impression of ATV-5 Georges Lemaître burning up on re-entry (Image: ESA-D/Ducros)

Ever wonder if the light goes out when you close the fridge door? Or what it’s like to ride a spacecraft as it burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere? The fridge may remain an eternal mystery, but ESA plans to answer the latter question when its unmanned Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV)-5 Georges Lemaître completes its six-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The space agency has developed a “black box” camera system designed to record the dramatic event and transmit the images back to Earth after the craft breaks up.  Read More

ESA's prototype dropship attached to a mock lander (Photo: Airbus Defence & Space)

The ESA has tested a novel system that may allow the agency to safely land rovers on Mars using a quadcopter-like dropship. A fully automated, proof of concept Skycrane prototype was created over the course of eight months under the ESA's StarTiger program, with the system's hardware largely derived from commercially available quadcopter components.  Read More

Artist's concept of a derelict satellite being reeled in after being harpooned by the e.De...

In 2021, as part of its Clean Space Initiative, ESA plans to launch the e.DeOrbit mission. The aim of this mission is to clean up the important polar orbits between altitudes of 800 to 1,000 km (500 to 625 mil) that face the prospect of becoming unusable due to the increasing buildup of space debris. The ESA has now announced plans to examine the potential for the mission to use space harpoons to capture large items, such as derelict satellites and the upper stages of rockets.  Read More

The ISSpresso is designed to work in the zero gravity of the International Space Station

Living on the International Space Station (ISS) has its drawbacks. For one thing, the morning coffee run to the local espresso shack is the definition of impractical. To make sure that astronauts are suitably caffeinated, Italian coffee company Lavazza is developing the ISSpresso; the first espresso machine built to meet the needs of astronauts who need a decent jolt before facing the day.  Read More

Artist's impression of Rosetta's Philae probe approaching comet (Image: ESA/ATG medialab)

The European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft, which back in January awoke from 957 days hibernation on its way to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, has now started its first instrument observations. Included in these instruments are three NASA science packages; MIRO, ALICE, and IES, all of which have started sending science data back to Earth.  Read More

The ESA Common Berthing Mechanism is intended to replace other devices, such as this Russi...

Docking is the paradox of spaceflight. On the one hand, it’s as boring to watch as an apple turning brown; on the other, it’s white-knuckle suspense when you realise that tons of paper-thin metal are one misstep away from destruction. What’s worse, the number of different docking port designs makes compatibility a major concern, so ESA is developing a universal docking mechanism that will allow any spacecraft to lock onto any other.  Read More

Earth is surrounded by a cloud of debris that is becoming increasingly hazardous to operat...

As part of its Clean Space Initiative, the ESA is planning a satellite salvage mission called e.DeOrbit that would use a satellite to net space debris and remove it from low Earth orbit. To capture such debris using an autonomous system, it needs to be targeted effectively, which is difficult when the debris is tumbling unpredictably. To fine tune the design of the e.DeOrbit mission, the ESA will commission a study to shed light on why space debris tumbles the way it does.  Read More

Artist's impression of Sentinel-1A in low-Earth orbit (Image: ESA/ATG medialab)

Despite being in orbit for less than two months, the ESA's Sentinel-1A satellite is already showing its worth in the humanitarian sphere by aiding with relief efforts in the Balkans, where flood waters are estimated to have killed dozens, leaving thousands more displaced.  Read More

An artists impression of the ESA's CryoSat satellite (Image: ESA)

An analysis of data from the European Space Agency's (ESA) CryoSat satellite shows that ice loss in the Antarctic is increasing at an exponential rate. It is estimated that the polar region now loses 159 billion tonnes of ice each year, with the worst instances of degradation located in the Western area of the Amundsen Sea.  Read More

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