European Student Earth Orbiter (ESEO) aims for 2015 launch

Here’s an update on the European Student Earth Orbiter (ESEO) project, which currently involves 9 European  universities : ESA’s student satellite takes important step towards space –  Education/ESA

The mission’s primary goal is to provide students with extensive, hands-on experience of a space project. This will equip them with the necessary skills to confidently enter the high-technology workplace of Europe’s future.

The university collaboration is now working with ALMASpace S.r.l., an Italian company that is a spinoff of satellite group at the University of Bologna.

The mission’s main objectives are to measure the ionizing radiation environment in orbit, to test technologies for future education satellite missions and to take images of the Earth and/or other celestial bodies for outreach purposes.

The universities are providing several of the subsystems such as a microcamera from DTU in Denmark and a radiation detector from the University of Budapest.

The satellite will be around 40kg in mass and measure about 33x33x63cm . It will be launched in 2015-16 and its mission is designed to last for at least six months.

ESEO subsystems configurations

The project is a continuation of an ESA student satellite program:

ESEO is the third mission within ESA’s Education Satellite Programme. It builds upon the experience gained with SSETI Express, launched in 2005, and the YES2 tether and re-entry capsule experiment, launched in 2007.

Amateur astronomers: Discovering a multi-planet system + Awards for comet discoveries

Some news of amateur astronomy accomplishments:

Here is a story about amateur astronomers using the sophisticated technique of microlensing to  discover a multiple-planet system.


The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics award a total purse of $30,000 to amateur astronomers who discovered comets in 2012:

Nearly all comet discoveries nowadays are made by automated telescopes which scan the skies with robotic eyes and check new appearances in a computer. But the Edgar Wilson Award celebrates the few lone amateurs that still practice the old ways of comet watching, scanning the skies during freezing cold nights to get that once-in-a-lifetime finding. Spotting comets is very competitive because the first person to report it gets the honor of having the comet named for him or herself.

The five winners this year all made their discoveries in 2011. For most of the recipients, it is their first time winning. The prize money was split evenly among the discoveries.

Wayne Hale and the Columbia aftermath + Rand Simberg and what ended the Shuttle program

Continuing  his series on the Columbia disaster, former Space Shuttle flight directory and program manager Wayne Hale writes about the memorials and the accident site activities  in the months following the tragedy : After Ten Years: Picking Up the Pieces – Wayne Hale’s Blog.

Find links to Hale’s previous posts here and here.


Rand Simberg responds to some comments in the Space Safety Magazine special report on Columbia : The Columbia Disaster – Transterrestrial Musings

The public supports spaceflight, if someone else pays for it

Stephen C. Smith writes about public support, or lack thereof, for NASA and its projects as seen in polls as far back as the early 1960s: Poll Position – Space KSC.

A July 2011 CNN/ORC International Poll conducted at the end of the Space Shuttle program asked, “In general, do you think the US (United States) should rely more on the government or more on private companies to run the country’s manned space missions in the future?”

54% chose private companies, 38% chose government, 4% chose both equally, 2% said neither, and 2% had no opinion.

At a time one might assume the public was feeling nostalgic, if not outright mourning, for the end of the Space Shuttle program, a majority wanted space turned over to the private sector.


Asking the taxpayer to support a government space program is a different question from asking Americans if they support the overall notion of space exploration. The key difference is who pays for it.