Space weather has various effects on out technology. One important effect is on atmospheric density and thus space operations. Space weather driven atmospheric density variations in particular affect low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, which represent a several hundred million EUR per year business. These LEO satellites (which include the International Space Station) are crucial for earth observation and communication, are affected by space weather effects during all phases of their operational lifetime. Likewise, all rocket launches and re-entry events and some space debris are affected. A better understanding of space weather processes and their impact on atmospheric density is thus critical for satellite operations. The ‘Space Weather Atmosphere Model and Indices’ (SWAMI) project aims to enhance this understanding by: • developing improved neutral atmosphere and thermosphere models, • make a major leap forward by combining these physics-based and empirical models, • exploiting new geomagnetic, and • improve the forecast of the activity indices. The project stands out by providing an integrated approach to the satellite neutral environment, in which the various space weather drivers are addressed together with model improvement. The outcomes of SWAMI will provide a pathway to improved space weather services as the project will not only address the science issues, but also the transition of models into operational services. Our overarching aim is to give Europe a strategic advantage in whole atmosphere modelling, geomagnetic and solar activity forecasting, and the associated LEO satellite operator services for orbit maintenance, re-entry estimations, as well as launch operations. The objectives of the project are to: Develop a unique new whole atmosphere model, by extending and blending the Unified Model (UM), and the Drag Temperature Model (DTM), which are leading models of their kind in the field. A user-focused operational tool for satellite applications sh
For Europe’s non-dependence, access to space is crucial. To foster the European industry competitiveness, the costs of the European launch systems need to be reduced and flexibility needs to be improved. The development of reusable launch vehicle (RLV) is currently changing the global market of space transportation systems and is promising immense cost savings. The only operational approach of RLV to date is the Vertical Take-off Vertical Landing launcher (VTVL), which is decelerating by firing its engines against the velocity vector, the so called retro propulsion. The know-how in the technologies of retro propulsion assisted landing in Europe is spares. In this project we aim to investigate and developed these technologies. Therefore, the two main scientific and technological objectives of the RETALT project are: • To investigate the launch system reusability technology of VTVL TSTO (Vertical Take-off Vertical Landing - Two Stage To Orbit) by applying retro propulsion combined with aerodynamic control surfaces that is currently dominating the global market. • To investigate the launch system reusability technology of VTVL SSTO RLV (Vertical Take-off Vertical Landing - Single Stage To Orbit) applying retro propulsion for future space transportation systems. To meet these two main project objectives of the project, described above, two reference launch vehicle configurations will be defined: • A configuration similar to the SpaceX rocket “Falcon 9” that will be the reference for the state-of-the-art TSTO RLV. • A configuration similar to the DC-X that will serve as a reference for a VTVL SSTO.
The EFESTO (European Flexible hEat Shields: advanced TPS design and tests for future in-Orbit demonstration) end goal is to improve the TRL of Inflatable Heat Shields for re-entry vehicles from 3 to 4/5, and pave the way towards further improvements (TRL 6 with a future In-Orbit Demonstrator). EFESTO aims at (1) the definition of critical space mission scenarios (Earth and Mars applications) enabled by the use of advanced inflatable Thermal Protection Systems (TPS), (2) characterization of the operative environment and (3) validation by tests of both the flexible materials needed for the thermal protection (flexible thermal blanket will be tested in arcjet facility in both Earth and Martian environments) and the inflatable structure at 1:1 scale (exploring the morphing dynamics and materials response from packed to fully inflated configuration). These results will be injected into the consolidated design of a future In-Orbit Demonstrator mission. Fully in line with the call subtopic b, EFESTO will provide advances in the three areas of thermal control, materials and structures through the design and testing of innovative inflatable TPS solutions for re-entry vehicles. It will enable new space mission concepts, which require bringing a payload from space to ground of a planetary body with an atmosphere beyond the current limits imposed by launcher fairing size or rigid heat shields geometrical and structural aspects. Morphing solutions will allow for example landing bigger or heavier payload on Mars or will enable the reusability of launchers upper stages enhancing European reusability and cost reductions in the access to space industry. Non space applications in the areas of materials and structures will also be considered. Leveraging on the consortium background and on past, current and planned tests results in the field, competitiveness in the space sector will be fostered and key contributions to the long term European re-entry technology roadmap will be provided