ESA prepares for the post-ISS era and selects The Exploration Company, Thales Alenia to develop cargo spacecraft

The European Space Agency on Wednesday selected two companies to create designs for a cargo spacecraft that could achieve the continent's first sovereign access to space.

The two prize winners, Thales Alenia Space, a major aerospace giant, and French startup The Exploration Company, will each receive €25 million ($27 million) to develop concepts for vehicles that can transport cargo to and from stations in low Earth orbit . This first phase will run through 2026, after which additional competitive contract opportunities are expected to follow. The goal is to have at least one capsule perform a demonstration flight to the International Space Station (ISS) by 2028 and have a cargo service online by the end of the decade.

Right now, Europe relies on its international partners to transport cargo and crew to space “through a barter system”, the space agency explained when it announced the LEO Cargo Return Service contracts last year. But the impending collapse of the International Space Station and the rise of privately owned space stations means that Europe may no longer have any meaningful means of bartering, and would instead have to pay cash to access space.

The LEO Cargo Return Service contract was designed to hopefully invest that money in European industrial capacity instead. The cargo service could even become a stepping stone to crewed transportation options, just as SpaceX's Dragon capsule has a crewed variant and a cargo-only variant.

“It prepares us for the post-ISS era, strengthens the competitiveness of European industry in low Earth orbit operations, and is also a test case for ESA's transformation and working differently,” said Daniel Neuenschwander, Director from ESA's Human and Robotic Exploration in a statement. .

The LEO Cargo Return Service contract, first announced last year, is similar to NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program established in 2006. That program resulted in lucrative multi-billion dollar service contracts for SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corporation (now part of Northrop Grumman).

Ultimately, however, NASA paid hundreds of millions of dollars to both competitors to develop their respective capsules — SpaceX's Cargo Dragon and what is now Northrop's Cygnus — so the agency will have to do more lobbying to ensure it gets the money it needs. fund these capsules for the rest of the decade.

Hélène Huby, CEO of The Exploration Company, said the capsule, named Nyx, is being designed to serve the International Space Station, future private space stations and NASA's Gateway lunar orbital platform. The French startup has raised about $65 million from venture capitalists for the design of its vehicle, and the first flight is on track for 2026, Huby confirmed in a recent interview.

“This contract is just the beginning,” Huby said.

Related Posts

Apple is joining the race to find an AI icon that makes sense

This week was an exciting one for the AI ​​community, as Apple joined Google, OpenAI, Anthropic, Meta, and others in the long-running competition to find an icon that even remotely…

  • Technology
  • June 15, 2024
  • 5 views
  • 14 minutes Read
A scientific mission to save the sharks

This article was originally featured on Knowable Magazine. A hammerhead shark less than one meter long swims frantically in a plastic container aboard a boat in the Sanquianga National Natural Park,…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You Missed

We lower our price target for Salesforce after disappointing guidance

  • June 15, 2024
We lower our price target for Salesforce after disappointing guidance

Apple is joining the race to find an AI icon that makes sense

  • June 15, 2024
Apple is joining the race to find an AI icon that makes sense

Hidden costs of homeownership average $18,000 per year

  • June 15, 2024
Hidden costs of homeownership average $18,000 per year

I canceled a group trip. Do I still have to pay for the hotel?

  • June 15, 2024
I canceled a group trip.  Do I still have to pay for the hotel?

Gene could provide large wheat yields for a growing population

  • June 15, 2024
Gene could provide large wheat yields for a growing population

Former SpaceX employees are suing after they were fired after complaining of sexual harassment

  • June 15, 2024
Former SpaceX employees are suing after they were fired after complaining of sexual harassment

Biden campaign says it raised more than $28 million ahead of Hollywood fundraiser with Obama and dozens of celebrity supporters

  • June 15, 2024
Biden campaign says it raised more than $28 million ahead of Hollywood fundraiser with Obama and dozens of celebrity supporters

Honey bees can detect lung cancer, researchers say

  • June 15, 2024
Honey bees can detect lung cancer, researchers say

Financial fraud targets older adults. How to recognize it

  • June 15, 2024
Financial fraud targets older adults.  How to recognize it

Ten-year Treasury yields are falling as traders digest the drop in wholesale prices

  • June 15, 2024
Ten-year Treasury yields are falling as traders digest the drop in wholesale prices

According to research, eating more ultra-processed foods is linked to cognitive decline and stroke

  • June 15, 2024
According to research, eating more ultra-processed foods is linked to cognitive decline and stroke