Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: COMPET-03-2014 | Award Amount: 3.50M | Year: 2014
EPIC proposes a Programme Support Activity which will produce a clear integrated roadmap & masterplan for its implementation through a Strategic Research Cluster (SRC) on In-space Electrical Propulsion & Station-Keeping. EPIC plans to do a survey of the current worldwide Electric Propulsion (& related) technologies & their TRL. A collection of requirements from all stakeholders will be done, also assessing potential future missions. Both tasks will build on the 2014 EP Harmonisation & the consultation will be expanded to all EU actors. This will allow to focus efforts on the SRC roadmap specific goals. Based on this work, a critical gap analysis of technologies & needs will be done, to create the basis for selection of candidate SRC developments, oriented to satisfy short-term (incremental advances) & medium/long term (disruptive) needs. Then the prioritisation will be the driver & challenge, leading to the selection of activities for an SRC roadmap & masterplan for its implementation, aiming at a validation flight in 2023 & to contribute to European leadership in EP technologies. EPIC will provide a solid & widely consulted advice to the EC on the call texts for operational grants & continuous support to EC/REA to maximise the SRC success. EPIC will analyse the SRC progress, evaluate its risks & put a mitigation plan in place, including the Collaboration Agreement. The EPIC consortium will disseminate its progress & results, & intends to contribute to the SRC results dissemination not only with an exploitation plan but also by exercising a close coordination with all operational grants. EPIC is coordinated by ESA & complemented by renowned National Agencies: ASI, BELSPO, CDTI, CNES, DLR & UKSA, & by the major European space industrial associations, Eurospace & SME4Space. This teaming of beneficiaries brings together the multidisciplinary mix of expertise required to deliver an unbiased, rational strategic roadmap & masterplan for EP developments in H2020.
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Three more astronauts are set to fly to the International Space Station on Tuesday at 11:03 a.m. GMT. One of the crew members is the first British astronaut named Tim Peake. The other two team members are Tim Kopra from NASA and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko from Russia. They will be performing experiments aboard the space station for six months. Peake, in particular, has created quite a bit of a buzz as he is the first British astronaut to fly under the European Space Agency (ESA). After a long preparation, it is now his time to fly off the planet. Peake graduated from the the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and worked as a helicopter test pilot. He saw ESA's online advertisement entitled, "Do you want to become an astronaut?" and tried out. Soon, he found himself a new job as an astronaut. He was chosen from about 8,000 applicants from all across Europe. Peake trained for a total of six years for his mission called Principia. The said mission is derived from Isaac Newton's "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica," which tackles the laws of gravity — a topic which, once fully understood, can help enhance knowledge of life on Earth and beyond. Specifically, Peake will be performing experiments on himself to evaluate the effects of space flight on the human body. Such investigations would be thoroughly helpful to the future human mission to Mars. Peake is the second engineer of the crew and is also the youngest of the three. "Tim is a fantastic astronaut," said Libby Jackson, manager of the Astronaut Flight Education Program in the UK Space Agency. He added that Peake is friendly, calm, and thinks logically without putting off the smile on his face. While aboard the ISS, Peake plans to participate in the London marathon, which is set for April 2016. While the 26.2-mile-run for earthlings may sound difficult, it could not get any more challenging for ISS-bound Peake, who will be running the marathon from space. "I have to wear a harness system that's a bit similar to a rucksack," said Peake. He further described the device as having shoulder straps and a waist belt to help him stay on the treadmill as he runs. He anticipates getting uncomfortable 40 minutes into the run. The last time a British national flew in space was in 1991, when Helen Sharman went to the Russian Mir space station via Project Juno. She wishes the best for Peake and even advised the young astronaut to look out the window and remember the colors in sight. The three-man crew will fly via the 50-year-old Soyuz rocket, which will orbit for nine minutes and circle Earth for about four times before it finally arrives at the ISS. If no delays will be encountered, Soyuz will dock at 5:23 p.m. GMT.
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Peake, 43, joins Russian space veteran Yury Malenchenko and Tim Kopra of NASA for a six-month mission onboard the ISS. Their launch from the Moscow-operated Baikonur cosmodrome went according to plan, but after their six-hour journey the astronauts docked with the ISS manually due to a technical glitch, a spokesman for the Russian space agency said. "The commander switched to manual control and everything went well," the spokesman told AFP, adding they docked with the ISS at 1733 GMT. "It was great to watch Tim Peake blast off on his mission to join the International Space Station," British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter. His spokeswoman said the British cabinet had hailed Peak's mission as "an inspiration for people up and down the country, particularly young people and children looking to study science". Queen Elizabeth II's official Twitter account @BritishMonarchy retweeted the UK Space Agency saying "We have liftoff! @astro_timpeake is on his way to space! #GoodLuckTim, the #UK is with you!" Fire from the boosters of the Soyuz rocket cut a bright light through the overcast sky at the cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as the spacecraft launched on schedule at 1103 GMT. "Don't Stop Me Now" by the rock group Queen was blaring in the Soyuz roughly half an hour before blastoff as the astronauts listened to their favourite music in preparation for the mission. Former army major Peake—a European Space Agency flight engineer—begins a 173-day mission at the orbiting research outpost along with Malenchenko and 52-year-old Kopra. Malenchenko, who will celebrate his 54th birthday aboard the ISS next week, has already logged 641 days in space, while Kopra has chalked up 58. Crowds gathered in the Science Museum in London to witness the launch, with thousands of people including around 2,000 schoolchildren breaking into screams and waving British flags as giant screens showed the rocket blasting off. The Chichester Observer, local paper in Peake's hometown, quoted his former physics teacher Mike Gouldstone as saying: "This is every physics teacher's dream, to have had a future astronaut in front of you. "It is all quite emotional for me." While Peake is not the first Briton to visit the ISS, he is the first qualified astronaut to enter space on a British passport. Michael Foale, a holder of both British and American citizenships, first went into space in 1992 and even commanded the ISS in 2003, but flew all his missions as an astronaut of NASA which does not admit non-American citizens. Helen Sharman became the first British citizen in space when she visited the Mir space station in 1991, with her launch backed by private companies. Peake himself was relaxed ahead of his first voyage into space, talking about his expectations of a festive season aboard the ISS during a pre-flight news conference at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur on Monday. "We'll be enjoying the fantastic view of planet Earth and our thoughts will be with everyone on Earth enjoying Christmas and with our friends and family," he said. Britain unveiled an ambitious new space policy on the eve of Peake's departure, aiming to more than triple the value of the sector to the national economy to £40 billion ($60 billion, 55 billion euros) by 2030. Business Secretary Sajid Javid said the new policy will "turn science fiction into science fact" while helping London increase its share of the global space market to 10 percent from seven percent. Space travel has been one of the few areas of international cooperation between Russia and the West that has not been wrecked by the Ukraine conflict. The Soyuz trio will join up with three astronauts already at the ISS—Scott Kelly of NASA and Russians Sergei Volkov and Mikhail Kornienko. Three other astronauts—NASA's Kjell Lindgren, Japan's Kimiya Yui and Russia's Oleg Kononenko—returned to Earth on Friday. The ISS space laboratory has been orbiting the Earth at roughly 28,000 kilometres (17,500 miles) an hour since 1998. Explore further: ESA astronaut Tim Peake arrives in Baikonur on his last stop before space
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Young scientists are on the process of growing seeds that were sent to space for several months. The aim of the experiment is to determine the effects of microgravity on plant survival. British astronaut Tim Peake asked school kids to grow seeds that stayed in the International Space Station (ISS) for six months. The kids are tasked to grow the seeds and compare them to other seeds that were not sent to space. The 43-year-old astronaut, who is on board the ISS, urged school children to participate in the newest experiment. He is backing a UK Space Agency and Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) project, dubbed Rocket Science. About 4.4 pounds of rocket seeds stayed in the ISS after it was flown by Soyuz 44S. Scientists aimed to let the seeds stay in space for several months in microgravity before returning to Earth on March. The children who will receive packets of seeds are not aware what type of seeds they are planting until all results have been collected. Professional biostatisticians are tasked to analyze the results of the experiment. In the program, schools across the United Kingdom applied to become part of the experiment. The program is designed for pupils 4 to 18 years old and who are part of a school or institution. Each participant of each institution will receive 100 seeds and are required to begin the experiment in April 2016. The program encompasses 35 days wherein the students will measure and observe the seedlings regularly. After over one month of looking after the plants, the students are required to enter their measurements and data in an online database. The nationwide experiment will enhance children's understanding of human life preservation on another planet in the future. It also provides an insight on ways on how astronauts can survive long-term space missions by growing fresh food in challenging climates. "It's a huge privilege to be the first British ESA astronaut flying to the International Space Station. During my six-month tour, I'll be conducting a number of experiments on the International Space Station," Tim Peake said. "I hope that Rocket Science will inspire the next generation to think scientifically, and to consider the fulfilling careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)," he added.
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CubeSats and other small-sized satellites promise to democratise space and open up the final frontier. But there’s one big thing in their way—or rather hundreds of thousands of small things: space debris. And before we go launching more future-junk into space, we need to figure out what to do about it. Lesley Jane Smith, a visiting professor of space law at the University of Strathclyde and a member of the London Institute of Space Policy and Law, explained some of the regulatory issues facing the small satellite revolution in a talk at London Space Week. “Everything that’s involved in space is dangerous and hazardous,” she told Motherboard in an interview. “But the CubeSats, because of the particular orbit that they’re going into—that is the orbit that has the greatest amount of debris already.” Example of a CubeSat. Masat-1 was launched in 2012. Image: Dávid Czifra/ESA CubeSats are small satellites made of parts measuring around 10 cm cubed and weighing less than 1.33 kg. They’re cheaper to build and launch than conventional satellites, offering the chance for more organisations (aside from nation states) to get into the satellite game. They boast a compelling array of potential applications, from telecommunications to Earth observation. CubeSats and other small satellites are generally launched into lower Earth orbit (LEO) because of latency issues higher up. But that means there are a lot of satellites all wanting a share of the same space—especially as the full potential of CubeSats lies in constellations of tens or even hundreds of the things. Not only are these satellites trying to access an area already crowded with junk; they will create a lot of new space debris after their limited lifetime is up. And anyone who’s seen Gravity knows how damaging that debris can be. The diagram below from a UK Space Agency presentation shows the predicted probability of a collision in lower Earth orbit in 2070 compared to in 2001, though Smith suggested the 2070 prediction could come much earlier. As a result, Smith said that “the entire issue of debris has been brought to a head by the CubeSats.” That’s why, if the small satellite industry is going to be sustainable, regulations regarding space debris mitigation need to be discussed pronto. The problem is, it seems mighty unjust to impose regulations on small satellites given the amount of junk that bigger players already dumped in the same orbital territory. Smith reckons a state-backed programme such as the European Space Agency (ESA) should therefore lead the way and put up the money to clean up space before anything too bad happens—or before commercial companies are put off the satellite industry due to the looming risk and cost. ESA is responsible for a particularly large piece of space junk in the form of its defunct Envisat satellite. “If you want to be a team leader, then my feeling is that an agency like ESA should get involved, and bring down its own satellite, Envisat, to show that it can be done,” said Smith. “Of course it’s dangerous, but it will set a precedent that it can be done and states are responsible, liable, for their own satellites.” ESA has already started testing techniques to catch space debris such as using a giant high-tech fishing net. Another option would be commercial space debris salvage operations, where companies could collect space trash for a fee—but international space law doesn’t allow for that at the moment, and changing it would require a fair amount of thought. “There’s complicated issues if they remove a functioning satellite instead of a dysfunctional satellite—there are legal issues out there,” said Smith, stressing the need for global understanding and consent. One of the main regulatory issues for CubeSats is that most current rules don’t recognise them as any different from other satellites, whether on the issue of debris and de-orbiting or other legal hurdles such as licensing and insurance. There is an argument that exceptions should be made, given smaller satellites’ promise both to open up space and provide services to more people; Smith recognised that the technology has “fantastic potential.” “In a way we’re talking about a transformative phase,” she said in her talk. Regulation was necessary, she explained, in order for the UK and other countries to keep their place in the current, evolving space industry. And when it comes down to it, Smith pointed out, the industry and its regulatory system has never really been tested. “If two satellites collide, and they’re functional, somebody’s going to do something,” she said.