2011 to be 'revolution' for Europe in space - ESA

January 14, 2011
Europe is set for a space "revolution" in 2011 when two new types of rocket join its launch pad in French Guiana, European Space Agency (ESA) boss Jean-Jacques Dordain, pictured in 2010, said on Friday.

Europe is set for a space "revolution" in 2011 when two new types of rocket join its launch pad in French Guiana, European Space Agency (ESA) boss Jean-Jacques Dordain said on Friday.

ESA's heavy launcher is to be joined at Kourou this year by a tried-and-tested workhorse of , Russia's medium-sized Soyuz, and by a new European-designed rocket, Vega, for small payloads.

"2011 will be the year of the launchers," Dordain said at a press conference at ESA headquarters.

"We will go from having one launcher to having three. It will transform our capacity."

Dordain cautioned that both Soyuz and Vega had to undergo tests before being certified for operation and ESA faced the challenge of having to master three different rocket types at the same time.

But, he declared, "By the end of 2011, ESA will not look like it does today. It is a revolution for Europe."

The Ariane 5 can place up to 9.5 tonnes in low Earth orbit, while the capacity of Soyuz is rated at three tonnes and that of Vega at 1.5 tonnes.

Having a choice of rockets will give ESA greater flexibility for its scientific payloads and widen the operational menu for Arianespace, a joint company that is the world's biggest launcher of commercial satellites.

Other highlights in ESA's year include the launch of its second robot freighter, named the Johannes Kepler, to the (ISS) on February 15.

The first two operational satellites in Europe's Galileo system, a rival to the US (GPS), are scheduled for launch by Soyuz in August-September, said Dordain.

Romania, meanwhile, is set to be admitted as ESA's 19th member, and Israel is scheduled to sign a cooperation agreement.

The budget for 2011 has been set at 3.99 billion euros (5.34 billion dollars), of which 75 percent comes from member states and around 20 percent from the European Union (EU), with which ESA has a partnership agreement.

Earth observation missions -- satellites that scan the planet to garner scientific knowledge or monitor its environmental health -- account for 21 percent of the total.

Other big spending items are scientific exploration of the Solar System; navigation, including Galileo; and manned missions to the ISS.

ESA sends astronauts to and from the orbital outpost using Russian and US transport. It does not have its own manned flight capability.

Explore further: Delays seen for Soyuz, Vega launches at Europe's space base

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not rated yet Jan 14, 2011
The R-7 (aka the Soyuz launcher) has a capacity of about 6.5 tons in LEO at ca. 60 degrees orbital inclination and 300 km altitude. The load quoted must be for higher orbits and/or higher inclinations.
An idea: -Let a manned Soyuz craft install new gyros on the Hubble space Telescope. This is not possible with Russia-launched Soyuz craft because their launch pads are too far north to make the orbits match up, but it will be possible using Kourou.

The cost would be a sixth of what a shuttle mission costs. But it will not happen, because NASA will never pass control of Hubble to another space agency. Nor will NASA invest in yet another Hubble repair, since that would be seen as competition to the (next generation) James Webb space telescope.
5 / 5 (1) Jan 15, 2011
Much as I love to view Hubble data, I'd rather the emphasis at NASA switch to the Webb telescope. It will see much farther into the past.
1 / 5 (2) Jan 15, 2011
May ESA and NASA both continue to invest time and talent into the study of "Earth's heat source - the Sun" [Energy & Environment 20 (2009) 131-144].

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo

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