Russia plans at least 10 launches from Baikonur in 2021

martes, 16 de febrero de 2021


Ar­i­ane 6 – DLR ready to test first up­per stage



press release


On 14 February 2021, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) will receive the first upper stage of the European Ariane 6 launcher. The fully functional test module will be subjected to extensive testing at DLR's Lampoldshausen site over the coming months. The aim is to verify that the rocket's upper stage is fit for flight – a major milestone on the way to its first launch, which is planned for the second quarter of 2022.

After being manufactured at the ArianeGroup factory in Bremen, on 29 January 2021 the upper stage was dispatched in a specially designed container. With the upper stage inside, the container weighed approximately 57 tonnes. It is roughly 14 metres long, seven metres wide and six metres high. Its journey has been split into several stages – being carried by ship then by heavy transporter – via the Weser, Hunte, Ems and Ijsel rivers, then the Rhine and Neckar rivers, before reaching its final destination of Lampoldshausen, near Heilbronn.
Unique, flexible and efficient – DLR's infrastructure and expertise for future space transport systems

"By launching its test campaign for the upper stage of the future European launcher, Ariane 6, DLR is demonstrating its scientific and technological expertise in space research," says Professor Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, Chair of the DLR Executive Board. "Our new P5.2 test rig meets the requirements of modern space transport; it is cost effective and can be quickly adapted. We are harnessing the potential of flexible testing facilities and working alongside industry to lay the groundwork for the future of European space transport."

"Thanks to its test facilities, DLR is able to validate not only engines and individual launcher components, but also entire cryogenic upper stages," says Hansjörg Dittus, Member of the DLR Executive Board for Space Research and Technology.
Refuelling and hot-firing tests during test campaign lasting several months

Following the arrival of the upper stage, it will be integrated into the new P5.2 test rig. The launcher will be lifted by a crane, hung on the test rig and fastened in place. The upper stage measures 5.4 metres across and is more than 10 metres high. It weighs approximately seven tonnes without fuel, but 38 tonnes once fuel has been added.

P5.2 was specially designed and constructed by DLR for the purpose of testing the upper stage of Ariane 6. The upper stage consists of the Vinci engine, which can be ignited multiple times, the tanks for the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, piping, valves and the electronic and hydraulic control and steering systems.
Cryogenic upper stage – low temperatures, major challenges

Lasting several months, the test campaign will involve a clean fuelling and defuelling test and four 'hot-firing' tests. In the fuelling and defuelling test, the focus will be on filling and emptying the tank safely. The test is designed to build experience and facilitate the development of safe methods for carrying out such processes but also for aborting them if necessary. The fact that this is a cryogenic upper stage makes this no simple task. The hydrogen and oxygen that serve as the fuel must be cooled to extremely low temperatures –minus 183 and minus 253 degrees Celsius respectively. These temperatures require the use of specialist materials that must be handled very carefully. Ariane 6’s Vinci engine is ignited up to three times during the hot-firing tests – which simulate different flight scenarios – with the thrust and duration of the ignition varying from test to test. With this flexibility, Ariane 6 will be able to deploy its payloads in different orbits.

"With the P5.2 test rig and the test programme for the Ariane 6 upper stage, DLR has all the test facilities it needs in Lampoldshausen to comprehensively test all the space engines that Europe will require in the future," says Stefan Schlechtriem, Director of the DLR Institute of Space Propulsion, describing the unique test rig. "In addition, new development programmes and standardised acceptance tests of Ariane flight engines can take place in parallel. This makes it the most flexible and efficient test centre for rocket engines in Europe."


Humanitarian aid with uncrewed aircraft and artificial intelligence


press release
  • Drones4Good will increase the safety of delivering aid supplies via drone by harnessing space and aeronautics technologies for the rapid analysis of aerial images.
  • DLR's two-year research project is being carried out in collaboration with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (Technisches Hilfswerk; THW), the non-profit aid organisation I.S.A.R Germany and the international project Wings for Aid.
  • Focus: Space, aeronautics, security, disaster relief, humanitarian aid

In the event of a disaster, humanitarian aid organisations need to determine the extent of damage to buildings in the affected location and work out which transport routes are safe to use as quickly as possible – ideally in real time. Relief supplies must be delivered to inaccessible areas quickly and effectively. With these demands in mind, researchers from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) are developing and testing new artificial intelligence (AI) technologies that enable drone-based analysis as part of the Drones4Good project. DLR's interdisciplinary team includes researchers from the fields of security, aeronautics and space. They are working closely with the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP), the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (Technisches Hilfswerk; THW), the aid organisation I.S.A.R Germany and the international project Wings for Aid. "Aid organisations have very specific requirements, and DLR is developing the technology they need," says Thomas Kraft, DLR Project Manager for Drones4Good. "In this project, we are looking closely at how our technology can assist international aid missions in the event of a humanitarian crisis or natural disaster."
One project, two aims

The two-year project has two main aims. The first is to use a camera installed on a drone to image a larger area than ground-based systems can while flying at speeds of 80 to 140 kilometres per hour. The images will be processed in real time on board the drone. Humanitarian aid workers on the ground will thus receive processed information about damage to buildings, supply routes and people in need who are cut off from their surroundings via a radio link to the ground while the drone is in flight. The extracted geoinformation will then be distributed via the UN’s existing systems; this will ensure that the tools and technology developed by DLR can be evaluated together with the aid organisations involved. This scenario is due to be simulated in autumn 2021 at DLR’s National Experimental Test Centre for Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Cochstedt. One of the planned activities is to fly the equipped drone over mannequins and containers on the test site and transmit an image of the situation in real time to the emergency services on the ground.

The researchers' second primary aim for the project is to develop safe techniques for drones to drop supplies without endangering people and infrastructure below. For example, using specially developed AI technology, delivery drones could automatically detect people on the ground. With this information the remote pilot and drone would be able to assess the safety of the drop and only release the supply package – which can weigh up to 20 kilograms – if the drop site is clear.

Transferring technologies developed at DLR to operational activities for disaster relief will be particularly useful for the humanitarian aid organisations involved in Drones4Good. In the case of Wings for Aid, improving route planning and ensuring automatic access to affected areas are key to facilitating deliveries by transport drones. Being able to execute such tasks remotely is crucial to the organisation's success, but it is also proving a major challenge. For the World Food Programme, cutting down on the time between a disaster occurring and receiving information about the local situation is considered a huge benefit of Drones4Good. Following the Idai and Kenneth cyclones in Mozambique, it took 72 to 120 hours to process image data of the affected areas. The technologies developed at DLR should enable aid supplies to be delivered faster and more effectively to those in need.
Cooperation between DLR institutes

Drones4Good pools the efforts of four DLR institutes and facilities – the Institute of Optical Sensor Systems, the Remote Sensing Technology Institute, the Institute of Flight Systems and the National Test Centre for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. The Modular Aerial Camera System (MACS) developed by the Institute of Optical Sensor Systems has already made it possible to transmit aerial images from commercial drones to the ground in real time. Systems on the ground then merge these image tiles into a coherent image mosaic and overlay it on a digital map. This makes it possible to assess the current situation using digital mapping services such as Google Maps or OpenStreetMap.

The Remote Sensing Technology Institute is drawing upon its research into AI technologies to contribute towards the rapid analysis of aerial and satellite images. This research will help adapt drones for optical reconnaissance, transforming them into a 'pocket satellite'. The primary focus is on identifying people, building damage and roads. Within a short space of time, a digital image of the situation can be generated displaying the areas flown over by the drone; this is immediately available to emergency services in the crisis region. DLR will work with the partner organisations to assess the extent to which such technology and image data can assist international relief efforts. "We welcome direct feedback from our partners, as it helps us to continue to develop our methods and adapt them to specific applications," says Nina Merkle, who leads the Drones4Good project at the DLR Remote Sensing Technology Institute.

AI that can identify people at the drop site using information from aerial images is particularly important for dropping relief supplies using drones, as this dropping poses a danger to individuals on the ground. The Institute of Flight Systems has already conducted initial testing of such technology in the Dominican Republic. "Drones have the potential to perform tasks quicker and in a more targeted way than their alternatives. However, we have to be able to guarantee the highest standards of safety and build trust in the technology," explains Johann Dauer, Head of the Unmanned Aircraft Department at the Institute of Flight Systems. "As part of Drones4Good, a tailored version of DLR's MACS camera system will be integrated into DLR's superARTIS research helicopter. We will use specific hardware and software developments to determine the extent to which it is possible to identify people in aerial images in real time and determine whether relief supplies can be dropped safely."

"Once we have successfully tested the various technologies for drone-based reconnaissance and the safe dropping of aid supplies under these conditions, the next step will be to test them as part of international exercises conducted by the project partners," says DLR Project Manager Thomas Kraft. Findings from the Drones4Good project are also being fed into the work of the Optical Technologies for Situational Awareness Lab (OPTSAL) – a Helmholtz Innovation Lab led by DLR – which makes relevant research findings from the field of optical technology directly available to end users working in civil protection and disaster management.


Nat Geo Provides Unprecedented View of New Air Force VC-25B “Air Force One”.


Pipistrel is one of the winners of the worldwide Re.Invent Air Mobility initiative



press release


To develop a system of air mobility in the Paris region, the RATP Group, Groupe ADP and Choose Paris Region launched an international initiative on 1 October 2020. The purpose of the call was selection of companies, institutions and projects that can make a key contribution to the development and implementation of more efficient air transport within large cities and accelerate the emergence of a new branch of industry: Urban Air Mobility.

This initiative, the scope of which is unprecedented in Europe, brought together leading industrial players in the field of air mobility, such as Airbus, as well as international start-ups and major academic and research institutions, including the University of Berkeley and the French Civil Aviation School.
All together 150 applications from 25 countries.

To meet the challenges posed by this new form of mobility (terms of use cases, public acceptance, technologies and industrialization etc.) the call was structured around the following five categories:
– Vehicle development
– Urban infrastructure
– Operations
– Airspace integration
– Acceptability

Pipistrel’s application was selected as one of the winners in the “vehicle development” category, for its expertise in electric aircraft and logistics VTOL manufacturing, together with the following other organizations:
  • Airbus (France): aircraft manufacturer;
  • Ascendance Flight Technologies (France): Hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft manufacturer;
  • Ehang (China): passenger electric VTOL manufacturer;
  • H3 Dynamics (Singapore): manufacturer and ultralight hydrogen-electric systems developer;
  • Safran Electronics & Defense (France): manufacturer of the Patroller VTOL and optronics, avionics, electronics systems and critical software provider for civil and military applications;
  • Volocopter (Germany): manufacturer of the VoloCity electric VTOL;
  • Vertical Aerospace (United Kingdom): manufacturer of the VA-1X eVTOL;
  • Zipline (USA): logistics drone operator and manufacturer.

After being selected as winners, the companies will now be able to share their expertise, identify synergies and deploy experimentation. The first step will be an online kick-off meeting gathering laureates and organizers in the beginning of February.

The winners are to conduct experiments and start flight testing already from June 2021 onward.
Tests of parking, takeoff and landing operations, as well as operations around the vehicle, maintenance and electrical recharging, will be carried out in a real aeronautical environment at the Pontoise-Cormeilles-en-Vexin airfield, about 16km northwest of Paris, in close cooperation with the French civil aviation authority (DGA) and with the support of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Eurocontrol.

More information:

Download the original .pdf press release: HERE


Pipistrel selects C-Astral Aerospace as industrial and R&D partner with C4 solutions for the Nuuva V20 re-launch

 press release

Following the immense market response after the initial launch of the NUUVA products family (on 1st September 2020), Pipistrel is relaunching the NUUVA V20 based on initial customer feedback and needs, in order to deliver even greater value for the end users’ diverse needs. Beginning today, the NUUVA V20 is gaining capability that goes beyond delivery of cargo such as spare parts, valuable items, medical supplies etc., by adding ISR functionality with a diverse array of payloads, sensors and data link options for achieving superior situational awareness and C4I systems integration. First deliveries of NUUVA V20, furnished for VLOS as well as BVLOS operations, to our launch customers will begin already in Q1 2022.

Pipistrel is excited to partner with C-ASTRAL Aerospace, whose UAS integration and R&D experience will enrich the product with proven and class-leading C4 solutions intuitive ground station elements and support suites.

Boštjan Bremec, C-ASTRAL Aerospace CTO: The global unmanned systems space is undergoing a not so quiet evolution, with pioneering companies such as Pipistrel and C-ASTRAL Aerospace joining forces to field integrated innovative unmanned systems that will work for our customers and their “customers” down the goods, materials and information supply chains. C-ASTRAL Aerospace is excited to work with Pipistrel on the advanced NUUVA V20 family of unmanned systems and widen this efficient platform customer base from the commercial to the C4ISR world. Our joint sales and support through Pipistrel, C-ASTRAL and Terra Drone networks will also provide a unique value global support and MRO structure for our new customers.

Ivo Boscarol, Pipistrel founder and CEO: To make innovation a true success, you need to first set the trend, always respect market feedback and deliver unique, unprecedented solutions, which solve significant customer challenges. The relaunch of NUUVA V20, also thanks to C-ASTRAL Aerospace’s competences, will create a superior product, fulfilling exactly what our customers have asked us to do. At the same time, I see that the NUUVA V20 can be a unique complement to the larger NUUVA V300, or be used as a standalone highly efficient and capable platform. About NUUVA V20:


Pipistrel makes significant progress with Miniliner designs for a new generation of zero-emission aerial mobility

press release

Pipistrel is proud to announce that conceptual design studies that had been conducted are indicating significant market potential on the premise of identified technological and infrastructural feasibility. Our Miniliner concept will deliver a leading solution for future small regional aircraft that will enable clean, fast, and cost-effective transportation.

The Miniliner is a new kind of zero-emission airplane in the 20-seat size class, capable of operating quietly from runways shorter than 1 km, including grass airstrips at small aerodromes. These aeroplanes have therefore the potential to disrupt aerial mobility, connecting currently unserved populations at 200 to 1,000 km range, but also catering for microfeeder services from small airports to large hubs.

Having started considering larger zero-emission aircraft already as a part of the MAHEPA project several years ago, Pipistrel is now actively performing conceptual design studies in-house, as well as partnering with universities under the also EU-funded UNIFIER19 project.

While several powertrain solutions are being evaluated, advanced hydrogen-based propulsion systems answer the non-negotiable requirements of zero-emission, quiet and safe operations.

Current aircraft in this segment rely on 40-year-old designs, powered by fuel-burning, noisy and maintenance-intensive turboprop engines. Pipistrel’s Miniliners allow for a Direct Operating Cost (DOC) reduction of 30 to 40% on a per-seat metric relative to today’s solutions, even with the introduction of new zero-emission propulsion, real-time emissions monitoring and advanced flight control automation technologies. The latter will, at the same time, facilitate single-pilot operations.

Pipistrel aims for an EIS (Entry into Service) of 2028-2030, as the proposed concepts are geared towards not requiring large infrastructural investments. To overcome current challenges on the regulatory, operational, and technological domains, Pipistrel is engaging with Europe’s Clean Aviation, SESAR, and EASA, as well as setting up multiple industry partnering initiatives.

We are excited to be surrounded by like-minded organisations which will achieve regulatory adaptations to next-generation single-pilot cockpits and commuter operations from unpaved runways. Microfeeder flights will leverage advanced air traffic control systems to safely integrate the miniliners into the busy airspaces around large airports. With airports becoming zero-emission multimodal nodes, as directed by EC Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, hydrogen powered zero-emission miniliners are every day closer to reality and will Springboard the developments to bring Clean Aviation closer to communities.


New-gen Airliner Values Steady as Older Models Continue To Fall


Airbus Racer First Flight Pushed to 2022


Ascendance proposes a long-range, low-emission hybrid VTOL air taxi



Biomass forest sensing satellite shaping up

press release

Satellite to deliver exceptional insights only possible from space

Structural model is now ready for test campaign

Stevenage/Toulouse, 11 February 2021 – Biomass, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) forest measuring satellite is taking shape at Airbus’ site in Stevenage with the Structure Model Platform completed. In line with UK Government guidelines the Stevenage site is COVID-secure – enabling spacecraft production to continue safely.

Assembly of the satellite’s mechanical structure could not be carried out as planned due to COVID. But during April and May 2020, the Airbus team put in place a digital solution to enable collaboration with ESA and suppliers, ensuring progress continued on the development of the satellite’s mechanical structure.

Airbus teams finalised the structure build in the second half of 2020 and integration hardware onto the Structure Model Platform was completed in early January 2021. The Structure Model is now at Airbus Toulouse for its mechanical test campaign.

Richard Franklin, Managing Director, Airbus Defence and Space UK said: “Despite the pandemic the teams have really stepped up finding innovative ways to keep manufacture on track. The progress made demonstrates the high level of skills and capabilities of the Airbus teams and their commitment to deliver on the project.”

Michael Fehringer, ESA’s Biomass Project Manager said: “The status of the structure build as of today is a remarkable achievement given the number and variety of problems the teams had to face.”

Biomass is an ESA Earth Explorer mission due to launch in 2022. It will measure forest biomass to assess terrestrial carbon stocks and fluxes for five years. The spacecraft will carry the first space-borne P-band synthetic aperture radar to deliver exceptionally accurate maps of tropical, temperate and boreal forest biomass that are not obtainable by ground measurement techniques.


Call for expressions of interest for the hydrogen branch in airports

 press release

Paris Region, Choose Paris Region, Groupe ADP, Air France-KLM and Airbus are launching an unprecedented worldwide call for expressions of interest for the hydrogen branch in airports

Paris region, Groupe ADP, Air France-KLM and Airbus are launching a call for expressions of interest to explore the opportunities generated by hydrogen in Paris airports with the aim to decarbonize air transport activities.

This worldwide call for expressions of interest complies with the French government’s energy transition strategy and supported by the European Commission, which strives for zero-emission aircrafts by 2035.

Aware that the advent of hydrogen will revolutionize the way airport infrastructures are designed and operated, the partners want to anticipate and support developments that should help transform the Paris airports into true "hydrogen hubs".

The international call for expressions of interest – launched with the support of the international agency Choose Paris Region agency, in charge of the international promotion and attractiveness of Paris Region – aims to build a unique airport ecosystem federated around hydrogen, major corporations, SMEs, start-ups, laboratories and universities. 

This open innovation initiative is a key step to initiate this technological breakthrough across the entire hydrogen value chain within the airport city.

The five partners share a common ambition: to identify and qualify research advances in research and technologies, and then to test the economically viable solutions that will meet the needs of hydrogen at an airport, to prepare in the medium term the challenges of its supplies and uses in a larger scale, particularly with a view to operate a future hydrogen-powered aircraft.
This unprecedented call for expressions of interest focuses on three main themes:

  • Storage, transport and distribution of hydrogen (gaseous and liquid) in an airport environment (storage systems, micro-liquefaction, aircraft fueling, etc.);
  • Diversification of hydrogen use cases in airports and in aeronautics (ground handling vehicles and equipment, rail transport at airports, energy supply for buildings or aircraft during ground operations, etc.);
  • Circular economy around hydrogen (recovery of hydrogen dissipated during liquid hydrogen fueling, recovery of a by-product from a reaction to produce decarbonated hydrogen, etc.).

Applications will be open from February 11th to March 19th, 2021, via the website and selected projects will be disclosed at the end of April.

Regarding this, Edward Arkwright, Deputy CEO of Groupe ADP said: "we are ready, with our partners, to federate a unique ecosystem to make possible the progressive integration of hydrogen at Paris airports. We must prepare today to welcome the hydrogen aircraft in 2035 by transforming our airports into real hydrogen hubs, in which we wish to develop various uses, with our stakeholders, around airside and city-side ground mobility. Alongside other solutions, such as sustainable alternative fuels, the deployment of hydrogen aims to accelerate the decarbonisation of air transport."

Alexandra Dublanche, Vice-President of Paris Region in charge of the Economic development and Attractiveness, declared: " with Valérie Pécresse, President of Paris Region, we were the first in France to experiment two hydrogen buses in commercial service, between Jouy-en-Josas and Versailles Chantiers, in order to test the potential of this energy. We also adopted a Hydrogen Plan in November 2019, which provides regional support for the sector, in order to reveal its potential in Paris Region. This call for expressions of interest makes it possible to realize these ambitions, and help us build together the airport at the service of the inhabitants and the attractiveness of Paris Region."

Franck Margain, President of Choose Paris Region, stated: "thanks to the collaboration of the public and private actors involved in this call for proposals, we wish to contribute very concretely to the implementation of new innovative and sustainable solutions that side with the energy transition commitments made by Paris Region."

For her part, Anne-Sophie Le Lay, Executive Vice President, Corporate Secretary Air France-KLM, reminds that: "the support for research and development and the use of new energies is fundamental to move towards a more sustainable and responsible air transport. This call for expressions of interest brings together leading partners to lay the foundations of an innovative and ambitious ecosystem."

And Jean-Brice Dumont, Executive Vice President Engineering at Airbus, to add: "Airbus is determined to drive a bold vision for the future of sustainable aviation, and to lead the transition to zero-emission commercial flight. Hydrogen is the one of the most promising technologies that will help us meet that objective - but we won't be able to do it alone. This revolution will also require our regulatory and infrastructure ecosystems to change worldwide. Airports have a key role to play in enabling that transition, starting today, and we hope that this open innovation initiative will foster the development of creative projects and solutions."


Thales and Airbus selected by DGA to upgrade France's joint electronic warfare capabilities

press release

The French defence procurement agency (DGA) has awarded Thales and Airbus a contract for the new joint tactical signals intelligence (SIGINT) system to upgrade the French forces' critical signals monitoring, direction finding and spectrum analysis capabilities.

The 10-year contract will equip the three armed forces with a common information system and set of sensors and is designated a high-impact programme (PEM[1]), alongside CONTACT and SCORPION, under France's defence spending plan. This joint tactical SIGINT system will provide French armed forces command with an expanded tactical electronic support measures (ESM) capability.

The tactical SIGINT programme will upgrade the electronic warfare capabilities of front-line units, providing a set of high-performance portable or vehicle-mounted assets compatible with the latest communications technologies. The new system to monitor and localise enemy communications will support tactical manoeuvres in the theatre of operations, helping to keep our forces safe and secure. It will equip the electronic support vehicles of the French Army's 54th Signals Regiment (SCORPION programme), the French Navy's front-line warships and the Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft, and could be deployed to protect air bases on military operations overseas.

The system will be the only one of its kind in service with the French forces. All three armed forces will rely on the same logistics infrastructure to simplify training of specialist operators and optimise through-life support delivery.

The programme will benefit from the combined experience of co-contractors Thales and Airbus.

Thales will draw on the SIGINT expertise developed by the Group on several legacy programmes: COHORTE (the current French Army tactical SIGINT system), MINREM[2] (French Navy SIGINT system), ARCHANGE[3] (French Air Force new-generation SIGINT aircraft) and CLOVIS[4] (strategic interministerial communications localisation project). Thales will also build on its capabilities in end-to-end communications, radio communications and communications security.

Airbus will provide its expertise in strategic ELINT systems, drawing on its experience on programmes such as RAMSES (strategic radio and satellite communications information system) and PARADOS (radio signal acquisition sensor). These systems are currently in operational service with France's defence intelligence agency (DRM[5]), the French Army, the French Air and Space Force, and the French Navy. Airbus will also draw on its complex-systems integration and security know-how.

The first phase of the programme will provide the three armed forces with an initial operational capability for signals monitoring, with subsequent optional tranches to significantly increase the number of units in service. New functions (new data analytics functions for the information system, expanded detection and technical analysis capabilities, etc.) will be added incrementally over the term of the contract to provide the French armed forces with a set of state-of-the-art electronic warfare systems and capabilities.

"As risks evolve and expand, reliable intelligence is an essential element of sovereignty and a strategic asset for operational decision-making, force protection, territorial integrity and civil security. We are proud to be taking part in this programme to upgrade France's intelligence capabilities in support of front-line forces across all environments and to be helping to keep them safe and effective on their crucial missions" said Marc Darmon, Executive Vice President, Secure Communications and Information Systems, Thales

"Our armed forces face an increasing number of threats and need to rely on ever expanding volumes of data," added François Lombard, Director of Intelligence Business at Airbus Defence and Space. "Combined with aerial and satellite imagery and other sources, these new electronic intelligence capabilities will make it possible to identify these threats, and above all to characterise them with significantly greater precision."

[1] PEM: Programme à Effet Majeur

[2] MINREM: Moyen Interarmées Navalisé de Renseignement d’origine Electro Magnétique

[3] ARCHANGE: Avion de Renseignement à CHArge utile de Nouvelle GEnération

[4] CLOVIS: Capacité de LOcalisation à Vocation Interministérielle et Stratégique

[5] DRM: Direction du Renseignement Militaire


Airbus to showcase world-class helicopters, defence and space capabilities at IDEX 2021

press release

Airbus will showcase a wide range of cutting-edge technologies, capabilities and solutions from Airbus Defence and Space and Airbus Helicopters at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) 2021.

The event is set to take place at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from 21 - 25 February and is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Airbus will exhibit at stand 08B05. The company’s presence at the exhibition will be in strict accordance with COVID-19 protocols laid down by the UAE Government to ensure the safety of employees and visitors.

Airbus Defence and Space will display a model version of the A400M, the most advanced airlifter available, as well as a scale model of an A330 MRTT – Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), the 21st century benchmark for new generation tanker/transport aircraft. There will also be a mock-up of the C295, the most versatile and efficient tactical transport aircraft. Visitors can also view a model of Inmarsat 6, the latest and most sophisticated satellite of the world leading communications satellite operator, Inmarsat.

Airbus Helicopters will showcase a scale model of the NH90 NATO frigate helicopter and the NH90 TTH tactical troop transport - which contain unique, fully integrated mission systems for operations in the most demanding conditions over land and sea, day and night. The H225M, the fully effective, versatile and flexible helicopter can also be viewed at the Airbus booth.
Present in the Middle East for more than 40 years, Airbus collaborates with governments across the region to drive aerospace, space and defence initiatives. Having initiated a number of landmark partnerships that have contributed to the development of the industry through localization of skills and capabilities as well as driving economic diversification.


Airbus space technology reaches Mars

press release

NASA's Perseverance rover relies on Airbus built weather station and communications antenna

Madrid, 16 February 2021 – When NASA's Perseverance rover lands on the surface of the Red Planet next Thursday, key Airbus technology will be on board: the MEDA meteorological station will provide scientists with valuable Mars weather data and the High Gain Antenna System will ensure a high-speed comms link with Earth for the duration of the MARS2020 mission.

Perseverance will use seven scientific instruments to study the Martian biological and geological environment, including the MEDA (Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyser) meteorological station, designed and built by Airbus.

The MEDA instrument will measure many environmental parameters using sensors distributed across the rover: wind speed and direction, relative humidity, atmospheric pressure, soil and air temperatures, solar radiation and also properties of suspended dust. These parameters will also be key when making the autonomous decision to release the Ingenuity helicopter on board the rover.

MEDA is the third Martian environmental station led by Airbus demonstrating its expertise in this field. The first was on board the Curiosity rover in 2012, known as REMS (Rover Environmental Monitoring Station), and the second on InSight in 2018, called TWINS (Temperature and Wind for InSight). Both were successful NASA / JPL missions.

All data from Perseverance’s discoveries will be sent to Earth through the high gain antenna system (HGAS) also designed and built by Airbus, based on an X-band transmitting and receiving antenna that will allow high speed data communications. The antenna is based on microstrip technology, developed in-house. It is protected from dust, to maintain clean conditions and thermal stability.

The antenna will directly send scientific data generated by the different instruments and information on the health status of the rover, without the need for intermediate links (e.g. orbiters). In addition, the vehicle will receive daily instructions from Earth with the tasks of the day. As the antenna is steerable, it can send a “beam” of information pointing directly at the Earth without moving the vehicle, which contributes to energy savings.

The extreme thermal excursions on Mars required qualification of the antenna system at temperatures ranging from -135ºC to + 90ºC with exhaustive thermal fatigue tests. This will be Airbus' second HGAS antenna system on Mars, with the first still operating flawlessly on board Curiosity eight years later.

Mars2020 is the most ambitious mission ever sent to Mars as it will examine Martian rock and soil in greater detail than ever before in search of evidence of past life on the planet and store, for their subsequent return to Earth, signs or traces of past life (bio-signatures). Likewise, it will characterise the geological processes that make up the surface, and will measure the daily and seasonal evolution of the processes occurring in the Martian atmosphere, including the characterisation of suspended dust. Perseverance will also test technologies to help pave the way for future human exploration of Mars, such as generating oxygen from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere or the first flight of a small helicopter on another planet.

Airbus and Mars

Mars Express and Beagle 2

Airbus built Europe’s first mission to Mars – Mars Express which was launched in 2003. Airbus also designed and manufactured the surface lander Beagle 2 (carried to Mars by Mars Express), which was unfortunately lost after its release.


Airbus has designed and built the ESA ExoMars rover vehicle, Europe’s first rover to another planet. The ExoMars rover was built in a special bio-burden cleanroom in Stevenage (UK) to ensure it meets planetary protection guidelines.

Sample Fetch Rover

Airbus is working on the next study design phase (B2) of the Sample Fetch Rover (SFR) study on behalf of ESA as part of the Mars Sample Return mission. In 2026, SFR will be launched to Mars and search for the samples left behind by Perseverance. IT will collect and carry them back to the lander and place them in a Mars Ascent Vehicle which will launch them into orbit around Mars.

Earth Return Orbiter

Airbus is to build the Earth Return Orbiter that will collect the samples from Martian orbit and return them to Earth. Airbus is the European Space Agency (ESA)’s prime contractor for the Mars Sample Return’s Earth Return Orbiter (ERO) – the first ever spacecraft to bring samples back to Earth from Mars.


Boeing’s First Japan KC-46 Tanker Takes Flight

press release

  • First KC-46 for an international customer completes successful first flight
  • Japan Air Self-Defense Force scheduled to receive tanker this year

The first Boeing [NYSE: BA] KC-46 tanker destined for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) took to the skies on its maiden flight yesterday. This successful flight highlights an important milestone as the aircraft now transitions into the certification phase of development.

“This is an exciting milestone for the JASDF and Boeing,” said Jamie Burgess, KC-46 program manager. “Japan is getting closer to receiving the most advanced air refueling tanker in the world.”

Japan is the KC-46 program’s first international customer and is scheduled to receive its first jet this year.

“Boeing’s KC-46 and its robust defensive systems will play an invaluable role in the security alliance between our two countries,” said Will Shaffer, president of Boeing Japan. “This tanker’s ability to carry cargo and passengers also makes it a critical tool to support humanitarian relief efforts across the Pacific region and beyond.”

The KC-46 refueling certification encompasses U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and JASDF aircraft.

Boeing is assembling KC-46A aircraft for both the U.S. Air Force and Japan on its 767 production line in Everett, Washington. Boeing’s Japanese partners produce 16% of the KC-46 airframe structure.

For more information on Boeing Defense, Space & Security, visit Follow us on Twitter: @BoeingDefense and @BoeingSpace.

Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services. As a top U.S. exporter, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries. Building on a legacy of aerospace leadership, Boeing continues to lead in technology and innovation, deliver for its customers and invest in its people and future growth.


International Space Station Tests Virus-fighting Surface Coating Developed by Boeing, University of Queensland

press release

BRISBANE, Australia, Feb. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are conducting experiments with an antimicrobial surface coating designed to fight the spread of bacteria and viruses, including the Earth-bound SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Developed by Boeing [NYSE: BA] and The University of Queensland (UQ), the joint research project was tested aboard Boeing's ecoDemonstrator last year as part of the company's Confident Travel Initiative.

"While testing continues on orbit and on Earth, we're encouraged by the preliminary results of the antimicrobial chemical compound," said Mike Delaney, Boeing's chief aerospace safety officer. "There is the potential for broad-based applicability for a surface coating like this when used in conjunction with other measures to prevent disease transmission."

The ISS experiment tests two identical sets of objects, including an airplane seat buckle, fabric from airplane seats and seat belts, and parts of an armrest and a tray table. One set received the antimicrobial surface coating, the other did not. ISS crew members are touching both sets of objects every few days to transfer microbes naturally occurring on human skin; no microbe samples were sent to the station for this experiment. Later this year, the test objects will be returned to Earth for analysis at Boeing's labs to measure the effectiveness of the surface coating in a space environment.

"After years of development, it is truly exciting to see our research in space," said Professor Michael Monteiro from UQ's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology. "The primary purpose of our antimicrobial coating was to help protect space missions. After the current pandemic struck, we modified the coating's formula to also target the COVID-19 virus if it is present on a surface on Earth. We look forward to continuing our testing regimen and working to gain regulatory approvals."

An antimicrobial surface coating in a spacecraft could help ensure the health of the crew and protect the spacecraft's systems from bacteria – and ultimately may help prevent interplanetary contamination from Earth-borne or another planet's microbes.

Boeing was selected by NASA as the prime contractor for the ISS in 1993. Since then, Boeing has provided round-the-clock engineering support – maintaining the station at peak performance levels through dynamic missions and ensuring that the full value of the unique research laboratory is available to NASA, its international partners and private companies for years to come.

Since 2003, Boeing and The University of Queensland have collaborated on a broad portfolio of joint research and development projects. In 2017, the Brisbane-based Boeing Research & Technology engineers relocated to the university in a first-of-its-kind partnership for the company's Asia-Pacific region.

The Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) at UQ has been a driver for multidisciplinary research to tackle global problems. The AIBN houses over 400 researchers across a wide range of scientific disciplines.

Boeing is the world's largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services. As a top U.S. exporter, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries. Building on a legacy of aerospace leadership, Boeing continues to lead in technology and innovation, deliver for its customers and invest in its people and future growth.


GMV establishes a permanent Brussels Office

press release

The opening of this new office continues the company´s international expansion drive, thus consolidating its main business activities
GMV’s Brussels office will work in close cooperation with European Union (EU) institutions, such as The European Commission, the Council of the EU, the European Parliament and EU Agencies

The technology multinational GMV, boasting a strong EU footprint and established companies in seven member states, has now become the sixth biggest space employer among the large industrial groups. To match this growth, the company has announced the establishment of a permanent Brussels office to reinforce the dialog with the EU and to enable a continuous and constructive communication with the various institutions and stakeholders, doing so with the aim of shaping and implementing the EU agenda, and addressing the important challenges and opportunities of GMV’s main business activities today: Space, Defence, IT and Transportation.

GMV’s Brussels office will work in close cooperation with EU institutions, in particular the European Commission, the Council of the EU, the European Parliament and EU Agencies. The new office will also liaise with national Permanent Representations to the EU and the Committee of Permanent Representatives, in order to bring company and sectorial views into the decision-making process. GMV will also work locally together with industrial partners, industrial associations, and local government to seek the best way of contributing to the growth of the sectors the company operates in.

GMV is a key contributor of EU Space flagship programs such as Galileo, Copernicus, SST, Govsatcom, Horizon Europe, with a strong role in implementation of Security and Defence agendas, particularly in the European Defence Funds (EDFs). From its Brussels office, the company will bring local presence to strengthen communication and coordination with EU on ongoing programs and new initiatives such as the Secure Connectivity Constellation, Quantum Encrypted Communications and Space Traffic Management.

In the words of Jorge Potti, General Space Manager, “This reflects the importance of GMV’s role and its ambition to be a key contributor in the development of the Space sector in Europe, reinforcing from there its presence overseas”.

The office located in the heart of the European Quarter in Brussels will be also be a place for stakeholders to meet up and swap views on EU industrial policy and programs.


GMV consolidates its Space Traffic Management leadership

press release

The European Commission awards a H2020 Grant to a GMV-led consortium the EUSTM project to help shaping a future European Space Traffic Management capability
The EUSTM team involves SSA/SST experts, satellite operators & manufacturers and launch providers (including relevant actors in the New Space) as well as policy, governance and legal stakeholders.

The technological multinational GMV, European leader in Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST), has been chosen by the European Commission to lead a Coordination and Support Action (CSA) within the H2020 program to make proposals for a future European Space Traffic Management (STM) capability: EUSTM.

Space activity has increased exponentially in recent decades. The emergence of new public and private actors, plus new concepts such as small satellites and large constellations, orbiting satellite services, reusable rockets, etc, all pose new challenges. The number of objects in orbit is likely to increase drastically, and it is therefore necessary to develop capabilities to manage them in an efficient manner. An increasing need for a policy and legal framework supported by the required technology developments has also emerged to foster and ensure the desired security, safety, sustainability and stability of space operations. These frameworks are broadly known as Space Traffic Management (STM) while the technology supporting is referred to as Space Situational Awareness (SSA) or Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST).

In Europe, the SSA/SST remit is held by ESA and the European Commission. SSA/SST activities are currently focused on creating an architecture of radars, telescopes, SLR stations and data centers dedicated to the surveillance and protection of space infrastructure. They perform functions of detection, identification, and cataloging of objects that orbit the Earth. SSA/SST activities also support missions, the safety of satellites in Earth orbit, and reduce the risks of the re-entry of space objects into the Earth's atmosphere. The importance of tracking space debris has come to the fore in the last two decades. Initiatives at a national and international level aim to tackle this issue by promoting prevention, achieving a better understanding of the situation and pursuing active collision-avoidance operations as well as active debris removal.

Europe greatly benefits from the open policy of the U.S. federal government in terms of accessing SSA/SST data and services by means of dedicated SSA Data Sharing agreements. To ensure sovereignty, autonomy and leadership in this domain whilst reducing this dependability, the European Commission started to work on an independent SSA/SST capability. It has recently awarded a H2020 Grant to the EUSTM project, an end-to-end activity towards the definition of future European STM capabilities.

EUSTM´s objective is to strengthen the European public and private space sector, encourage an innovative, competitive, and profitable space industry, as well as a research community that develops and runs space infrastructure. EUSTM will roll out an innovative collaborative platform to encourage the exchange of information among team members and also relevant external stakeholders. This platform’s goal is to create an active community of interest that will be an endless source of STM information for the EC.

The GMV-led EUSTM consortium is made up of the following18 European industries and institutions: Weber-Steinhaus and Smith (Germany); Europaisches Institut fur Weltraumpolitik (Austria); Spacetec Partners SRL and Qinetiq Space NV (Belgium), GomSpace (Denmark); Satellite Center of the European Union, ENAIRE, Payload Aerospace, SL (Spain); Iceye Oy (Finland); Eutelsat SA, PriceWaterhouseCoopers Advisory SAS, Office National d'Estudes et de Recherches Aerospatiales, Safran and Université Paris-Saclay (France); AVIO SPA (Italy); and Universitaet Bern, Clearspace SA, Sceye SA (Switzerland).

As well as leading and coordinating EUSTM consortium, GMV is also leading the work packets (WP) on SST technology applicable to STM in the EUSTM project.

The EUSTM project, running during a period of 20 months until August 31, 2022, has a global budget of €1,500,000.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101004319.

This PR reflects the author’s view and not necessarily the views of the European Commission or of the EU Research Executive Agency


[Iberia] Nuestro proyecto de reconocimiento facial en el aeropuerto de Madrid evoluciona hacia la detección biométrica con tablets

Nota de rensa de Iberia

  • Iberia participa junto con Aena, Inetum y Thales en este ambicioso proyecto que ha recibido el apoyo de CDTI (Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico Industrial).
  • Permite la detección biométrica de los pasajeros a través del uso de equipos moviles tipo tablet.
  • Su objetivo es incrementar la seguridad evitando el contacto, y agilizar y facilitar los procesos en el aeropuerto en una gran cantidad de vuelos y destinos diferentes.
  • Es una fórmula innovadora que mejora la experiencia de viaje y responde a las nuevas medidas de seguridad implantadas a raíz del Covid-19.

Iberia forma parte de un consorcio participado por Aena, Inetum y Thales para la realización de un proyecto de I+D, con el objetivo de buscar nuevas formas de operar en el sector del transporte aéreo, atendiendo a las nuevas medidas de seguridad sanitaria implantadas como consecuencia del Covid-19.

Este proyecto de innovación permite la detección biométrica de los pasajeros gracias al uso de equipos móviles tipo tablet, lo que mejorará su experiencia de viaje en el aeropuerto, al agilizarse todo el proceso y eliminarse cualquier tipo de contacto físico, lo que incrementa aún más la seguridad en todos los trámites aeroportuarios.

El uso de dichos equipos móviles también incorpora el concepto de movilidad, de manera que con un número reducido de equipos se podrá operar una gran cantidad de vuelos y destinos diferentes. Además, el sistema permitirá mejorar las capacidades de detección, llegando a identificar a un pasajero incluso con la mascarilla de protección.

Esta iniciativa ha recibido el apoyo del CDTI (Centro para el desarrollo tecnológico industrial), a través del programa de cooperación I+D, contribuyendo así a la mejora del nivel tecnológico y la digitalización de las empresas españolas mediante el desarrollo de propuestas basadas en la innovación.

Para este proyecto de I+D y en cumplimiento con las nuevas medidas de seguridad sin contacto, la plataforma de reconocimiento facial desplegada en el Aeropuerto Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas, que actualmente se encuentra en fase de prueba piloto, servirá de escenario para el desarrollo de las nuevas funcionalidades. Esto supone su integración en el proceso único de enrolamiento a través de una aplicación dedicada, controles de seguridad y embarque. Con este objetivo, se ha unificado la contribución de empresas líderes en sus sectores para alcanzar los desarrollos y la validación tecnológica necesarios. Iberia, como aerolínea operadora, Inetum, como empresa integradora de sistemas; Thales, como proveedor de tecnologías biométricas y procesos de validación de identidad; y Aena, como gestor de aeropuertos, responsable de los sistemas de integración intermedios entre aerolínea y motor de biometría.


NASA's 'Mars Helicopter' to reach red planet this week for its first 'controlled flight'


AESA ha autorizado los vuelos experimentales para la vuelta al servicio del avión Skydweller | AESA-Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aérea - Ministerio de Fomento

Nota de prensa 

Madrid, 15 de febrero de 2021 (AESA)

La Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aérea (AESA) ha autorizado los vuelos experimentales para la puesta en servicio del avión Skydweller, el avión que en 2016 consiguió dar la vuelta al mundo utilizando únicamente energía solar, y que ha sido adquirido por Skydweller.

La División de Aeronavegabilidad Inicial de AESA ha autorizado los dos vuelos experimentales de esta primera fase que se han realizado en Albacete, tras supervisar un completo programa de ensayos en tierra. Ahora comienza la evaluación por AESA, tanto de los resultados de la campaña como de las modificaciones del diseño y de las envolventes de vuelo propuestas, para emitir una nueva autorización para la próxima fase de vuelos experimentales, cuyo objetivo final es desarrollar un dron de vuelo perpetuo basado en la plataforma.


Former Bombardier plant in NI to be used to build military drones


Análisis y opinión: eVTOL y movilidád aérea (2) - Sandglass Patrol 

El punto de vista de un ingeniero de aeropuertos: La movilidad aérea urbana ha llegado para quedarse.