Main space milestones of 2023 in Spain and around the world | Atalayar

2023 is a year like no other in the global space sector. Much less for Spain, which in a few days, at the latest the first or second week of February, will officially create its national space agency.

Its creation will be followed by the appointment of the first “Míster Espacio” or “Madam Espacio”. By giving a face to the person who will lead the national space strategy, Spain will no longer be absent from international forums other than ESA, as has been the case until now. This person will be able to sit down with senior officials from various agencies to share plans and experiences on the present and future of the competitive global space scene.

And what more will 2023 bring to Spain? For now, Hispasat, the main commercial satellite communications operator in Spain, is starting the year with the launch of the Amazonas Nexus. The Cape Canaveral (Florida) take-off window for the Falcon 9 carrier rocket opens on February 5. If there are no delays, Hispasat expects it to start providing services “sometime in August”.

PHOTO/European Space Conference 2022 – Hispasat’s advanced Amazonas Nexus communications satellite will mark the start of a new era for the company, says Hispasat CEO Miguel Ángel Panduro

Amazonas Nexus benefits from a “high level of contracted services” and ushers in a “new era” for the company, says Miguel Ángel Panduro, CEO of Hispasat. It incorporates a so-called “transparent” digital processor (DTP), which allows it to redirect the traffic of its communication bundles according to changes in market demand. As a result, the company’s commercial director, Ignacio Sanchis, secured major contracts to supply broadband to the growing demand from cruise lines and airlines on their routes in the Atlantic, Caribbean, Canary Islands and the Mediterranean.

But there is more. Satlantis, the company headed by Juan Tomas Hernani, plans to put two satellites into orbit: in June, it will be Geisat, to detect methane. In December, Urdaneta 2, to duplicate the observations that its big brother began in May 2022. There is also news of the future Atlantic Constellation, which is being promoted in equal parts by the governments of Madrid and Lisbon. Spanish companies Alén Space, DHV Technology, Elecnor Deimos and Satlantis have joined forces to present a joint offer for the eight spacecraft that Spain is in charge of developing and manufacturing.

PHOTO/Moncloa - The Constelación Atlántica that promoted even los gobiernos de Madrid y Lisboa cuenta con la implication directa de las ministras de Ciencia de España, Diana Morant, y de Portugal, Elvira Fortunato (derecha)
PHOTO/Moncloa – The Atlantic Constellation promoted by the governments of Madrid and Lisbon benefits from the direct involvement of the Spanish Minister of Science, Diana Morant, and the Portuguese Minister of Science, Elvira Fortunato (right)

Miura 1 from PLD Space will finally take off

The national community is eagerly awaiting the first mission of the Miura 1 recoverable suborbital launcher from PLD Space, the company from Elche (Alicante) that since 2018, year after year, proclaims that the launch will take place the following year. During the presentation of the full-size model of the Miura 1 in Madrid in November 2021, its managers, Raúl Verdú and Raúl Torres, planned take-off “at the end of 2022”. With testing and trials almost complete, hopefully this will finally happen in the first half of 2023.

In the field of global space transport, the year 2023 began with the failure of the launch, on January 10, of the American micro-launchers RS1 from ABL Space Systems and LauncherOne from Virgin Orbit. But in the first 20 days of the month, five more Chinese launchers and five other American launchers successfully took off. The 186 orbital flights of 2022 are expected to be exceeded later this year. SpaceX founder Elon Musk wants to reach 100 launches – 61 in 2022 – including the first of his Starship vector to get to the Moon. China has planned more than 70, which if realized will exceed last year’s 64.

4.- PHOTO/Real Estate Market - El fundador de la compañía SpaceX, Elon Musk, pretends to conseguir que los lanzamientos Durante 2023 de su familia de cohetes Falcón alcancen o rocen el centenar.  China tiene planeados más de 70
4.- PHOTO/Real Estate Market – SpaceX founder Elon Musk is targeting more than 100 launches of his Falcon family of rockets in 2023. China has planned more than 70

The ones getting the most attention are the trio of new heavy launchers slated for first launch this year.. They have several common characteristics, one of which is that none of them are salvageable. They are disposable and are designed to retire four veteran rockets in Europe, the United States and Japan.

The first to debut is the Japanese H3, under development since 2013 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA). It is called upon to replace the H-IIA and B, whose first mission dates back to August 2001. The launch of the H3 is “scheduled for February 12 from the Tanegashima base”, announced the Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, during of a meeting with the main space authorities of the country on December 23.

The H3, which is 63 meters high, weighs 574 tons and has two propulsion stages, is to orbit the Japanese stereoscopic observation satellite ALOS-3, which weighs 3 tons and has a resolution of 80 centimeters.. A few days later, on February 25, the United States scheduled the maiden flight of the Vulcan Centaur, developed by United Launch Alliance (ULA), a company created in December 2006 and owned 50/50 by the space branches of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

5.- PHOTO/JAXA - El nuevo espacial de Japón es el H3, desarrollado por Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.  El propio primer ministro nipón, Fumio Kishida, ha sido quien ha desvelado que su despegue inaugural se producirá el 12 de febrero
5.- PHOTO/JAXA – Japan’s new space vehicle is the H3, developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has revealed that its inaugural launch will take place on February 12

From the European Ariane 6 to the Boeing manned capsule

With a height of 61.6 meters, a weight of 547 tons and equipped with two stages of acceleration, it will be able to transport up to 27 tons in low orbit. But because it’s a qualifying flight, it carries just two prototypes of Amazon’s Kuiper mega-constellation, which has pledged to put more than 3,200 satellites into space. Next to them is the Peregrine 1 lunar surface module from the American company Astrobotic.

The Vulcan Centaur is to take over from Lockheed Martin’s Atlas V and Boeing’s Delta IV, which have been in service since the early 2000s. Both rockets enjoyed a monopoly on launching into orbit the large and heavy platforms of the Department of Defense, NASA and other federal organizations, including spy satellites. But the arrival of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, their low cost and proven reliability, broke this monopoly.

6.- PHOTO/CNES - During the Franco-German cumbre celebrated el 22 de enero, el presidente de la agencia espacial gala, Philippe Baptiste (derecha), detailed al presidente Macron y al canciller Scholz la importancia del cohete Ariane 6 (maqueta a the izquierda)
6.- PHOTO/CNES – During the Franco-German summit on January 22, the president of the French space agency, Philippe Baptiste (right), explained to President Macron and Chancellor Scholz the importance of the Ariane 6 rocket (model on the left)

What about the European Ariane 6? 60 meters long, with a maximum mass of 860 tonnes and capable of placing up to 26.6 tonnes in low orbit, its maiden flight will be a reality “probably by the end of 2023”, confirmed the president in mid-January. of the French space agency, Philippe Baptiste. But this forecast is conditioned, underlined Mr. Baptiste, “on the condition that no technical problem is discovered during the combined tests”, which are continuing. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to think it could slip into the first quarter of 2024.

The European Space Agency (ESA) also has important commitments in 2023. In April, the initial training phase will begin for the 17 astronaut candidates selected at the end of November, including two Spaniards, Pablo Álvarez and Sara García. Also in April, the penultimate Ariane 5 will fly with the European probe JUICE. Its mission, which weighs 6 tons, is to discover the secrets of Jupiter and its three icy moons.

7.- PHOTO/ESA - Para el mes de abril está prevista la puesta en órbita de la sofisticada sonda europea JUICE.  El penúltimo lanzador europeo Ariane 5 la propulsará camino de Jupiter para decubrir sus secretos y los de sus tres heladas lunas
7.- PHOTO/ESA – The sophisticated European probe JUICE is due to be launched in April. The penultimate European launcher Ariane 5 will propel it towards Jupiter to discover its secrets and those of its three icy moons

In the second half of the year, the European infrared space telescope Euclid will take off. Weighing just over 2 tons, it will take off aboard a Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral in search of the dark universe. And in June, Arianespace will carry out the 117th and final launch of Ariane 5, thus closing the story of a rocket that had a difficult start in June 1996 but which has had 112 successes.

At least half a dozen manned missions are planned. Some will be crew relief missions to China’s Tiangong orbital complex and others to the International Space Station (ISS), where private flights will also arrive for very short stays. And finally, after several years of delay, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule will carry out its first mission with astronauts. It’s the alter ego of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, so NASA will have two models of capsules to send and return humans to the ISS.

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