From: Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES)
Posted: Wednesday, April 19, 2006
** 1: BOEING AWARDS ALCATEL ALENIA SPACE WITH MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR CONTRACT
Alcatel Alenia Space announced April 18th, 2006 that the Boeing Company has awarded it with a contract for the construction of 12 additional Second Stage Tank Assemblies for the Delta II rocket. The contract is worth roughly $11 million. The tanks will be manufactured at the Alcatel Alenia Space facilities in Turin, Italy, and are scheduled for delivery between 2007 and 2009. This is the second contract Boeing has awarded Alcatel Alenia Space for the construction of Second Stage Tank Assemblies; the first was signed in 2001 for 21 tanks. Alcatel Alenia Space has an active role in the United States in regards to space infrastructures and transportation systems; it has contributed to the construction of the International Space Station and is currently a major subcontractor for the European Columbus Laboratory Module and the ATV Cargo Carrier. [Alcatel 04/18/06]
** 2: CALIPSO CLIMATOLOGY SATELLITE READY FOR LAUNCH THIS WEEK
The Calipso (Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation) satellite, a joint CNES and NASA program, is ready to be launched this Friday, April 21st at 3:02 a.m. PDT. The satellite will be launched along with the Cloudsat satellite aboard a Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Calipso satellite is part of a French-American climate study program which endeavors to help scientists better understand the climatic system and predict changes. Calipso will join other satellites, flying only seconds apart, in a formation christened A-Train. The satellites that make up the A-Train constellation carry out a wide range of both passive and active measurements to study the Earth’s climate and its relation between radiation, clouds, aerosols and the water cycle. With the launch of Calipso and Cloudsat, the constellation will now include five satellites: Aqua, launched in April 2002, Aura in July 2004 and Parasol in December 2004. Alcatel Alenia Space is a main industrial partner in the Calipso mission and supplied the Proteus multi-mission platform (designed in collaboration with CNES) for the satellite. EADS-Sodern has also developed an imaging system dedicated to this mission. [Alcatel 04/13/04]
** 3: ESA CREATES TASK FORCE TO EXAMINE POSSIBLE SPACE MONOPOLY
ESA has created a task force to examine the consequences of a possible merger of EADS Astrium and Alcatel, Europe’s two principal satellite builders. The task force was established following the admission that the owners of EADS Astrium were seeking to sell the company to the French defense-electronics group, Thales, in exchange for an ownership stake in Thales at the same time as Alcatel was completing the merger of its satellite division with the same company. Thales and Alcatel rejected the EADS Astrium proposal but nevertheless left the door open for a later acquisition. ESA, Europe’s most important satellite customer, has not yet weighed in on the consequences of a satellite monopoly in Europe. Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General, believes that a monopoly in the sector would have profound effects on the way the agency does business. The task force’s main goal is to determine in detail just how ESA would be affected by such a consolidation. It expects to present its findings to ESA’s 17 member countries in May. [Space News 04/17/06]
** 4: ESA WORKING HARD TO KEEP HERSCHEL-PLANCK’S LAUNCH IN 2008
Engineers working on the two-satellite Herschel-Planck astronomy project, Europe’s largest-ever space science mission, are working hard to effectively correct small leaks in the Herschel cryostat tank so that the project will stay on schedule. Construction and testing of the two satellites is being carried simultaneously in hopes that the leaks can be repaired on time to allow the two satellites to be launched together on a single Ariane 5 rocket in early 2008. If the two are launched in 2008 they would only be a year late in entering operations. Earlier difficulties regarding the delivery of the payload and instruments caused delays and stretched the budget roughly 20% beyond what was initially anticipated. ESA engineers are confident that if testing of the cryostat in October is successful a launch of the two satellites in February 2008 will be possible. [Space News 04/17/06]
** 5: COROT SPACE TELESCOPE COMPLETES TESTING, REMAINS ON SCHEDULE FOR LAUNCH
After successfully completing electromagnetic compatibility and vibration testing, the French telescope COROT is on its way to launch in October. Led by CNES, with the participation of French laboratories and ESA, the 1.1 meter telescope is set to be launched into a circular polar orbit at an altitude of 900 kilometers, a board a Russian Soyuz 2-1B rocket, from Baikonur Cosmodrome. COROT’s telescope is expected to both observe a myriad of stars (120,000 approximately) and search for Earth-like exoplanets during its two-and-a-half year trip around the Earth. The variations in brightness of the stars could give information about their mass, age and chemical composition, while detecting planets whose size and temperature are close to our own planet’s could supply interesting facts about the formation of these particular bodies.
** 6: THREE EUROPEAN CONSORTIA CHOSEN FOR ASTEROID DEFELECTION MISSION
ESA has selected three European consortia to do competing studies on an asteroid-deflection mission that could be launched as soon as 2011. The three groups chosen are Alcatel Alenia Space, EADS Astrium and QinetiQ, which have each been given approximately 450,000 euros for a preliminary design of the mission, dubbed Don Quijote. The mission would include two small satellites; one satellite would collide with the asteroid, and the other would watch the collision from close and measure the resulting change in the asteroid’s trajectory. [Space News 04/17/06]
** 7: IN BRIEF
The European probe Venus Express, which reached its target approximately one week ago, has already begun observations of the planet from its temporary orbit. The actual position is said to be interesting by the scientists who wish to use this distant point to make as many observations as possible before the transfer to its final operating orbit, planned for May 7. [Space News 04/17/06]
France In Space is a weekly synthesis of French space activities based on French press. Its content does not reflect an official position of the French Government or CNES. It is provided by the CNES office and the Office of Science and Technology of the French Embassy in Washington D.C Editors: Jean-Jacques Tortora, Clémence Le Fèvre, Noëlle Miliard
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