In a two-day Council meeting in Naples, Italy. Ministers from ESA’s 20 member states and Canada today allocated €10 billion for ESA’s programs. They approved ESA’s level of resources for 2013-17. This includes Earth Observation and also confirmed Europe’s commitment to the exploitation of the International Space Station (ISS). ESAs meeting focused on ares with high growth potential or with a direct and immediate impact on the economy such as telecommunications and meteorology. The meeting agreed to support funding for the new launcher Ariane 6 and the continuation of the development of Ariane 5 ME . The goal is to develop as many commonalities as possible between the two launchers. These activities are funded for two years with a decision on the continuation of both launchers to be taken in 2014. IIn supporting NASA’s manned program Europe agreed to provide capability for the service module of NASA’s new Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) as an in-kind contribution for ISS operations for 2017–20. This decision is strategically important for Europe as it will enable a cooperation between ESA and NASA [...]
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(Source NASA) — A Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 2:22 p.m. CDT Sunday a few hundred miles west of Baja California, Mexico. The splashdown successfully ended the first contracted cargo delivery flight contracted by NASA to resupply the International Space Station. “With a big splash in the Pacific Ocean today, we are reminded American ingenuity is alive and well and keeping our great nation at the cutting edge of innovation and technology development,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “Just a little over one year after we retired the Space Shuttle, we have completed the first cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. Not with a government owned and operated system, but rather with one built by a private firm — an American company that is creating jobs and helping keep the U.S. the world leader in space as we transition to the next exciting chapter in exploration. Congratulations to SpaceX and the NASA team that supported them and made this historic mission possible.” The Dragon capsule [...]
(Source NASA) – SpaceX Dragon cargo craft was attached to the International Space Station’s robotic arm and then released at 9:29 a.m. EDT. It will first maneuver away from the ISS and then fire it’s thrusters three times to begin the return to Earth. A 10-minute, 40-second deorbit burn beginning at 2:28 p.m. will slow Dragon down for its descent, culminating in a parachute-assisted splashdown 250 miles off the coast of Baja California at 3:20 p.m. Dragon is the only space station cargo craft capable of returning a significant amount of supplies back to Earth, including experiments. The ground team at Mission Control Houston remotely commanded the station’s robotic arm to uninstall Dragon from the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node at 7:19 a.m. after Expedition 33 Commander Suni Williams removed the bolts and latches of the Common Berthing Mechanism that had secured the cargo craft to the station since Oct 10. A set of programmed commands to Canadarm2 then maneuvered Dragon out to the 15-meter release point, where Williams and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide [...]