Call Alex: live SocialSpace with Alexander Gerst in orbit

 

Alexander Gerst
 

22 July 2014

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst is sharing beautiful photographs from space on his social media pages. Is there something you want to ask him while he is orbiting our planet? On 22 August you could talk to him in person during ESA’s SocialSpace event.

We are inviting 40 followers to join us at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany for a SocialSpace, with Alexander joining live through a video call from the International Space Station.

The SocialSpace will take place in the homebase for all of ESA’s astronauts. As well as the main event, we will tour the premises to see how astronauts train for their missions.

 
 

The event will also include an introduction to the Station and Alex’s Blue Dot mission by an ESA astronaut, and an opportunity to meet ESA’s social media teams.

Think of what you would most like to ask Alexander in space. The 10 most interesting and original questions will be selected and will be posed directly to Alexander by the person who sent the question. People will be chosen based on their question and their presence on social media.

The most original and interesting questions will be chosen by ESA’s social media team, so research your question – every astronaut has already answered “How do you go to the toilet in space?”

How to apply

Nile river

Please complete the registration form to apply. Be sure to include your name and the question you would like to ask Alexander in English.

Registration is for one person only and is non-transferable. Please do not submit multiple applications. All registrants must be at least 18 years old on 22 August 2014. Please read the full Terms and Conditions before completing your application.

Please note that ESA will not cover travel, accommodation or food expenses. The event will be held in English.

Workspace, free broadband WiFi access and catering will be provided.

Registration closes on29 July at  10:00 GMT (12:00 CEST).

Follow @Social4Space and visit the SocialSpace blog for latest news. The hashtag is #CallAlex. We will use both to post updates and reminders about the event.

Once all applications have been processed, an email with confirmation information and additional instructions will be sent to those selected and those on the waiting list.

We expect to send notifications by 4 August. Please allow us time to process all the applications. We will keep you posted of progress.

Queries may be addressed to
 
contactsocialspace@gmail.com

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ESA mission name for astronaut Tim Peake: Principia

Tim Peake

18 July 2014When ESA astronaut Tim Peake sets off for his six-month space journey next year, he will be flying under the mission name of Principia.

More than 4000 people replied to the call for a mission name earlier this year and Principia was suggested 20 times. The name refers to Isaac Newton’s world-changing three-part text on physics, Naturalis Principia Mathematica, describing the principal laws of motion and gravity.

Famously pondering why apples fall from trees, Newton wrote down the laws of gravity and laid the basis for working with it, a requirement for spaceflight. Tim Peake will spend six months living in weightlessness, the first time a British–ESA astronaut will visit the International Space Station.

“I am delighted with this name that honours one of Britain’s most famous scientists,” Tim says. “I hope it will also encourage people to observe the world as if for the first time ­– just as Isaac Newton did.

“Our planet Earth is a precious and beautiful place and we all need to safeguard it.”

Tim will be launched from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in November 2015 – and will be able to enjoy Newton’s favourite fruit as supply ships arrive at the international space laboratory. One of his aims is to inspire children during his stay in space, in particular by promoting healthy eating.

The International Space Station is first and foremost a place of science, and the six astronauts there spend much of their time working on experiments that cannot be done anywhere on Earth.

It’s a busy time in space for ESA astronauts, with Alexander Gerst currently working in the Station, Samantha Cristoforetti leaving for it in November this year, and Andreas Mogensen being launched shortly before Tim’s mission for a 10-day stay on the Station.

International Space Station

Grandson Logan meets U.K. Astronaut Tim Peake

We visited the Farnborough Air Show yesterday. A great day out as always. Chatted to the various staff members on the ESA stand and the UK Space Agency stand. Listened to a lecture by Tim Peake.

He has had a very busy week and all of the media want a bit of him as the mission reaches the next milestone (mission name chosen-check). Space food chosen-check.

The mission patch is to be designed by children through the Blue Peter TV programme later this year.

Our grandson (space mad, but he also has a passion for steam engines and aeroplanes, especially loud ones) met up with Tim Peake at the airshow.

Logan meets Astronaut Tim Peake at Farnborough.

Logan meets Astronaut Tim Peake at Farnborough.

 

Tim Peake’s Mission to the ISS named ‘Principia’

I was one of the twenty people that proposed the mission name……

Earlier this week with only one day’s notice, Bryar and I were invited to a champagne (neither of drink unfortunately) reception in London. We attended the event at the Royal Society for the official mission naming ceremony.

I had entered the naming competition with ‘Principia’ as my suggestion. As it turned out 19 others had also done so. Some ten winners were able to attend, we met Tim and had a chat, posed with him for some photos. He promised we would all receive a signed mission insignia from the ISS upon his return.

We also managed to get close up to a display of some of the original notes and letters handwritten by Sir Isaac Newton to create the Principia. An original telescope, Newton’s death mask and some space flown apple tree wood. Photo to follow!

We were sworn to secrecy as the name was to be officially released at the Farnborough Air Show the following evening, however events that occurred in the skies above Ukraine quite rightly took precedence. Our thoughts are with the friends and families of all involved.

Onward and upward for Major Tim.

Astronaut Tim Peake Mission naming reception, Royal Society London. 15/07/14

Astronaut Tim Peake Mission naming reception, Royal Society London. 15/07/14

Laser-powered farewell to Moon mission

NASA's LADEE mission sends laser data to ESA's Optical Ground Station, testing future deep-space communication technologies

Laser from the Moon

25 April 2014

Just before NASA’s latest Moon mission ended last week, an ESA telescope received laser signals from the spacecraft, achieving data speeds like those used by many to watch movies at home via fibre-optic Internet.

During an intense, three-day effort starting on 1 April, ESA’s Optical Ground Station in Spain received data signals via laser from the Moon at the stunning speed of 80 megabits per second.

The signals were transmitted from NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, from a distance of 400 000 km. LADEE completed its seven-month exploration and technology mission on 17 April in a planned impact on the Moon.

The speed is high enough to transmit an entire movie DVD in about eight minutes and is many times faster than provided by traditional radio links used by today’s spacecraft.

Faster than traditional radio

“We had already achieved 40 Mbit/s in our first round of laser communication with LADEE in October, so we’re pretty happy that the final test transmissions were able to double that,” says Klaus-Juergen Schulz, responsible for tracking station engineering at ESA’s ESOC operations centre.

“We also demonstrated that we could transmit laser signals to LADEE and even obtain highly accurate range data, just like our traditional but much larger radio tracking stations can. Overall, the test series has been a big success.”

ESA’s station in Spain’s Canary Islands was equipped with advanced technology developed in Switzerland, France and Denmark that could communicate with LADEE using infrared laser beams.

Helping China to the Moon

Kourou tracking station

29 November 2013Shortly after China’s Chang’e-3 spacecraft departs Earth to land on the Moon, ESA’s network of tracking stations will swing into action, providing crucial support for the vessel’s five-day lunar cruise.

China’s Chang’e-3, named after the mythological goddess of the Moon, is scheduled for lift off on 1 December from the Xichang launch base in China’s Sichuan province on a journey to deposit a lander and a six-wheeled rover on the lunar surface.

The landing, in the Sea of Rainbows on 14 December, will be the first since Russia’s Luna-24 in 1976.

Immediately after liftoff, ESA’s station in Kourou, French Guiana, will start receiving signals from the mission and uploading commands on behalf of the Chinese control centre.

The tracking will run daily throughout the voyage to the Moon. Then, during descent and after landing, ESA’s deep-space stations will pinpoint the craft’s path and touchdown.

“We are proud that the expertise of our ground station and flight dynamics teams and the sophisticated technologies of our worldwide Estrack network can assist China to deliver a scientifically important lander and rover to the Moon,” says ESA’s Thomas Reiter, Director for Human Spaceflight and Operations.

“Whether for human or robotic missions, international cooperation like this is necessary for the future exploration of planets, moons and asteroids, benefitting everyone.”

The effort is being run from the Estrack Control Centre in ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

Following lunar mission progress

Chang’e-3 liftoff is set for around 18:00 GMT on 1 December, and the 15 m-diameter dish in Kourou will pick up the first signals around 18:44 GMT.

Working with Chinese tracking stations, Kourou will support the mission through lunar orbit entry on 6 December continuing until just prior to its descent to the surface, expected around mid-day on 14 December.

The landing and rover operations on the Moon will be commanded via two Chinese tracking stations at Kashi, in the far west of China, and at Jiamusi, in the northeast.

“After the lander and rover are on the surface, we will use our 35 m-diameter deep-space antennas at Cebreros, Spain, and New Norcia, Australia, to provide ‘delta-DOR’ location measurement,” says Erik Soerensen, responsible for external mission tracking support at ESOC.

“Using this delta-DOR technique, you can compute locations with extreme accuracy, which will help our Chinese colleagues to determine the precise location of the lander.”

Cebreros and New Norcia stations watch lunar landing

Together with Cebreros, New Norcia will record Chang’e-3’s radio signals during landing, which will help the Chinese space agency to reconstruct the trajectory for future reference.

A team of engineers from China will be on hand in Darmstadt. “While we’re very international at ESOC, hardly anyone speaks Mandarin, so having Chinese colleagues on site will really help in case of any unforeseen problems,” says Erik.

“Both sides are using international technical standards to enable our stations and ESOC to communicate with their mission and ground systems.”

Celebrating Fifteen Years of the International Space Station

Astronaut James H. Newman waves during a spacewalk
Astronaut James H. Newman waves during a spacewalk preparing for release of the first combined elements of the International Space Station. The Russian-built Zarya module, with its solar array panel visible here, was launched into orbit fifteen years ago on Nov. 20, 1998. Two weeks later, on Dec. 4, 1998, NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour launched Unity, the first U.S. piece of the complex. Endeavour’s forward section is reflected in Newman’s helmet visor in this image. During three spacewalks on the STS-88 mission, the two space modules built on opposite sides of the planet were joined together in space, making the space station truly international.

Since that first meeting of Zarya and Unity, the space station grew piece by piece with additions from each of the international partners built across three continents and leading to the largest and most complex spacecraft ever constructed. The space station, now four times larger than Mir and five times larger than Skylab, represents a collaboration between NASA, Roscosmos, the European Space Agency, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, representing 15 countries in all.

In support of station assembly and maintenance, station and shuttle crews have conducted 174 spacewalks totalling almost 1,100 hours – the equivalent to nearly 46 days of spacewalks to build and maintain the complex. The station, with a mass of almost a million pounds and the size of a football field, is second only to the moon as the brightest object in the night sky.

Over the years, a great deal of research has been done on the space laboratory, which has already yielded tremendous results toward various fields. The science of the space station has provided benefits to humankind in areas such as human health, Earth observation and education. Many more results and benefits for both space exploration and life on Earth are expected in the coming years.

ISS 15 Years Insignia – available soon.

Space Station 15 Years Logo

 

What might recyclable satellites look like?

A now-derelict satellite

22 November 2013No matter how painstakingly we choose the materials to build satellites, once a mission is over they are just so much junk. But what if one day they could be recycled in space for future missions – perhaps as construction material, fuel or even food?

As part of its Clean Space initiative, ESA is looking for new ideas on materials that could be recycled or converted into different, useful resources for other processes.

It costs a lot to put anything into space – a payload typically costs its own weight in gold – and the further it travels out into the Solar System the more valuable it becomes. So recycling or converting space hardware for follow-on missions could bring significant added value.

Full article here

NASA, Space Station Partners Announce Future Crew Members

NASA and its international partners have appointed future crew members for the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake are scheduled to launch in December 2015 and return to Earth in spring 2016. They will join the Expedition 45 crew members in orbit and will remain aboard as part of Expedition 46 with yearlong expedition Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko.

This will be the second long-duration spaceflight for Kopra, a former U.S. Army helicopter pilot and graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. Kopra was a flight engineer aboard the station during Expedition 20 in 2009. This will be the first spaceflight for Peake, a former British Army helicopter pilot and graduate of the Royal Military Academy.

The Expedition 45 crew will be:

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, station commander —

Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, flight engineer —

NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, flight engineer —

ESA astronaut Tim Peake, flight engineer

ESA Euronews: The re-entry test

ESA Euronews: The re-entry test

European Space Agency sent this email alert on 28-08-2013 12:45 PM CEST

Europe’s newest spacecraft, the IXV, or Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, has moved a step closer to its planned launch in 2014.

The Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) is a European Space Agency (ESA) experimental re-entry vehicle intended to validate European reusable launchers which could be evaluated in the frame of the FLPP program. The IXV development would be carried out under the leadership of the NGL Prime SpA company. It would inherit of the principles of previous studies such as CNES’ Pre-X and ESA’s AREV (Atmospheric Re-entry Experimental Vehicle).