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Alphasat hitched a ride aboard an Ariane 5 ECA rocket, which took off from Kourou in Frenc...

Europe's largest telecommunications satellite has gone into orbit following a successful launch from French Guiana on Thursday. At 8:38 p.m. GMT, Alphasat (all 6.6 tonnes of it) was picked up at Inmarsat's Beijing ground station, confirming that the satellite was operating as expected.  Read More

Skylon with the SABRE engine in sutaway

The British government announced on Tuesday that it has authorized an investment of £60 million in the Skylon spaceplane. The funds will be used to further develop the revolutionary SABRE engine, which is designed to power the Skylon into orbit and back without the need for outside boosters or tanks.  Read More

ESA’s Herschel space observatory set against a background image of the Vela C star-forming...

On Monday at 12:25 GMT, the European Space Agency (ESA) executed final shutdown on the Herschel space telescope after shooting it into solar orbit. This shutdown marks the end of Herschel’s successful four-year mission of deep space observation, which was terminated when it ran out of liquid helium in April. Without liquid helium to cool its super-sensitive infrared instrument, Herschel was unable to continue its mission, but it was otherwise fully functional, so ESA took the opportunity to use the probe to carry out technical tests that couldn't be done earlier.  Read More

ESA’s Proba-V satellite pinpointed the location of aircraft in flight over the Atlantic ap...

When the ESA’s Proba-V was launched on May 7, its main mission was to map land cover and vegetation growth across the entire surface of the Earth every two days. But the miniaturized ESA satellite is also casting its gaze higher, to test whether it is possible to track aircraft continuously from space. Proba-V has now shown this is indeed possible, by becoming the first satellite to pick up aircraft tracking signals from space.  Read More

ESA's Biomass Earth Explorer mission will map and measure the amount of biomass and carbon...

Kicking off with the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE), which was launched in March 2009, the European Space Agency’s Earth Explorer missions are intended to provide a greater understanding of the Earth and the interactions between various natural Earth processes. “Biomass” is the seventh Earth Explorer satellite to get the nod and will provide and accurate picture of the amount of biomass and carbon stored in the world’s forests.  Read More

The ESA's Proba-V satellite (Image: ESA)

When it comes to keeping tabs on the location of aircraft, radar has long ruled the roost. But radar range is limited, and long-haul planes become untraceable when passing over oceans and large deserts or polar regions. By equipping orbiting satellites with instruments that listen in on ADS-B signals, scientists think that it should possible to track aircraft over the course of their entire journey, and with the launch of Proba-V, they're ready to put the idea to the test.  Read More

Artist's impression of Herschel (Image: ESA)

All good things come to an end and the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory mission is no exception. After more than three years in orbit, the most powerful infrared telescope ever flown in space has ceased scientific operations after the last of the liquid helium used to supercool its instruments ran out.  Read More

Hubble's stunning near-infrared image of the Horsehead Nebula (Image: NASA)

New near-infrared and far-infrared views captured by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the European Space Agency's Herschel space telescope have provided a spectacular new look at the famous Horsehead Nebula.  Read More

Proba-3 satellites in formation

The European Space Agency (ESA) wants to bring the sort of precision normally associated with Swiss watch making to satellite navigation. When it launches in 2017, ESA’s Proba-3 mission will incorporate the first satellite pair capable of flying in formation to within a tolerance of a millimeter to one another. It's part of a demonstration technology that could one day be used to build space telescopes using formation-flying satellites as a “rigid structure” that would be impossibly large to achieve in a single spacecraft.  Read More

Scanning electron microscope image of a strand of the new solar sail tehther (Image: ESA/H...

This month, the University of Helsinki and the European Space Agency (ESA) will test a new space tether that has less chance of snapping under the stresses of operating in orbit. Installed aboard Estonia’s ESTCube-1 cubesat, the new tether is scheduled to be launched with ESA’s Proba-V satellite atop a Vega rocket as part of an experiment in developing an electric solar sail.  Read More

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