Space Mission: ESA’s Juice Mission

Image (Credit): Upper stage of the Ariane 5 rocket that will launch ESA’s Juice mission. (ESA)

On April 13th, the European Space Agency (ESA) will launch its Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) mission from French Guiana. The purpose of the mission is to conduct a detailed study of Jupiter as well as three of its moons (and their oceans) – Ganymede, Callisto and Europa. The spacecraft will eventually go into orbit around Ganymede, which will be the first orbit of a moon in our solar system other than Earth’s Moon.

The key milestones for the mission are listed below and shown in greater detail within the graphic as well:

February 2023: Juice arrives in French Guiana

April 13, 2023: Launch on Ariane-5 rocket

July 2031: Arrival at Jupiter

-July 2031 – November 2034: 35 icy moon flybys

December 2034: Arrival at Ganymede

Image (Credit): Juice mission milestones. (ESA JUICE Launch Kit)

In addition to ESA/European scientific instruments and equipment, the spacecraft will also carry items from NASA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and the Israel Space Agency.

The delayed arrival at Jupiter relates to the need for multiple flybys cover this great distance. In The Financial Times, Justin Byrne, head of science for lead contractor Airbus, stated, “Ariane-5 is a very powerful rocket but it can only give us about half the energy we need to get to Jupiter…We get the rest by doing planetary fly-bys, each one giving us a gravitational assist through a slingshot manoeuvre.”

The ESA put together a useful Launch Kit that answers any question you may have about the Juice mission, as well as related missions.

One More Rocket Mishap, This Time in Japan

Image (Credit): Japan’s Advanced Land Observing Satellite-3, which was lost in the latest rocket failure. (JAXA)

The string of rocket failures continues. I had earlier mentioned the UK and Alaskan mishaps, while an Arianespace Vega C rocket launch from French Guiana when awry last December, and now Japan has suffered its own failure this week. Tuesday’s failed launch of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) H3 rocket is a setback for this new rocket. When the second stage of the rocket failed to ignite, the rocket self-destructed. The destruction included the rocket’s payload – the Advanced Land Observing Satellite-3.

In additional to assisting with key Japanese defense and research satellite payloads, the H-3 rocket is part of Japan’s plan to assist with cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) as well as future Artemis missions. Japan will need to figure out what happened here and get back into the game as soon as possible.

Following the recent failure of two Russian capsules at the ISS, this latest mishap demonstrates that both new and well-tested government-run space missions are subject to failure and delays. Redundancy within the commercial space industry will be critical as a backstop to these government-run programs.

Space Stories: SpaceX ISS Launch, Israeli Space Telescope, and Japanese Asteroid Results

Image (Credit): Artist’s rendering of Israel’s ULTRASAT space telescope. (Weizmann Institute of Science)

Here are some recent stories of interest.

Reuters News: “SpaceX Ready to Retry Launching NASA’s Next Space Station Crew

Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX was ready to try again at sending NASA’s next long-duration crew of the International Space Station to orbit on Thursday, about 72 hours after a first attempt was scrubbed due to a clogged filter in the launch system. Two NASA astronauts will be joined by a Russian cosmonaut and an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates for a six-month science mission made up of experiments ranging from human cell growth in space to controlling combustible materials in microgravity.

NASA: “NASA to Launch Israel’s First Space Telescope

NASA will launch Israel’s first space telescope mission, the Ultraviolet Transient Astronomy Satellite (ULTRASAT). ULTRASAT, an ultraviolet observatory with a large field of view, will investigate the secrets of short-duration events in the universe, such as supernova explosions and mergers of neutron stars. Led by the Israel Space Agency and Weizmann Institute of Science, ULTRASAT is planned for launch into geostationary orbit around Earth in early 2026. In addition to providing the launch service, NASA will also participate in the mission’s science program.

Carnegie Science: “Organic Molecules Found on First Primitive Asteroid Sample Returned to Earth

Approximately 20,000 organic molecules composed of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, or sulfur were found in samples returned to Earth from the asteroid Ryugu by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hayabusa2 mission, according to  new work published in two Science papers from an international team that included Carnegie’s George Cody, Jens Barosch, and Larry Nittler. Named after a Japanese folktale, Ryugu is a near-Earth object, half a mile across, shaped kind of like a spinning top that orbits the Sun every 16 months. Hayabusa2 was the first mission to bring material back to Earth from a primitive asteroid, offering unique insight into the building blocks from which our Solar System was formed and the possible origin of organic material that contributed to Earth’s habitability.

Lunar Traffic Jam – Japan Heads to the Moon

Image (Credit): iSpace mission milestones for the upcoming lunar landing. (iSpace)

While the Orion spacecraft was heading back to Earth, the Japanese HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lunar lander was on its way to the Moon. The name HAKUTO refers to the white rabbit that lives on the moon in Japanese folklore.

The Japanese private firm iSpace is behind the lunar mission, becoming the first private company to place a lander on the Moon. The lunar lander’s milestones are shown below, with the landing to occur next April.

Both the mission and payload are multinational. Investors in iSpace include the Development Bank of Japan, Suzuki Motor, Japan Airlines, and Airbus Ventures, which the payload includes items from the U.S. (including a NASA satellite looking for water), Canada, Japan (rover), and the United Arab Emirates (rover).

This should be the first of many iSpace lunar missions, demonstrating the role of commercial parties in the ongoing race back to the Moon.

Image (Credit): Milestones for the AKUTO-R Mission 1 lunar lander. (iSpace)

Japan Supports the ISS Through 2030 and Expands Support for the Lunar Gateway

Image (Credit): Graphic showing Lunar Gateway elements from commercial and international partners. (NASA)

Late last week, the White House announced that Japan plans to support the operations of the International Space Station (ISS) through 2030 as well as further collaborate with the United States on the Artemis Lunar Gateway platform that will orbit the Moon.

On November 17, Vice President Kamala Harris stated:

The United States welcomes Japan’s intention to extend its support of International Space Station (ISS) operations through 2030, following the United States’ announcement of our ISS extension one year ago. In addition, our two countries are taking a step forward by reaching an agreement on collaboration on the Lunar Gateway orbiting platform, which will pave the way for the return of humanity to the Moon.

Under a previous agreement that has been expanded further, Japan’s JAXA has promised a number of contributions to the Lunar Gateway, including:

  • Critical components of the International Habitation (I-HAB) module that will provide the heart of the Gateway space station’s life support capabilities, as well as space for crew to live, conduct research, and prepare for lunar surface activities during Artemis missions. Japan will provide I-HAB’s Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS), thermal control system functions, and cameras.
  • Batteries for I-HAB, the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) module, the initial crew cabin for astronauts visiting the Gateway, and the European System Providing Refueling Infrastructure and Telecommunication (ESPRIT) refueling module.
  • The JAXA HTV-XG spacecraft for launch and delivery of a logistics resupply mission for Gateway, scheduled for no later than 2030.

With the successful start of Artemis I lunar mission, it is good to hear that partner nations are increasing their support for a return to the Moon as well as plans to travel to Mars. While the United States went to the Moon alone last century, the Artemis partnership ensures this century’s return to the Moon is an international project.