Vast, a pioneer in space habitation technologies, and The Exploration Company, builder and operator of the Nyx reusable space capsule, signed a cargo services agreement for a 2028 mission to Vast’s second Haven space station. Walther Pelzer, Director General of the German Space Agency at DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt) and Bale Dalton, NASA Chief of Staff, attended the signing event along with Max Haot, Chief Executive Officer of Vast, and Helene Huby, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of the The Exploration Company.

The Exploration Company’s Nyx cargo vehicle can carry upwards of 4,000 kilograms to Vast’s second Haven space station. Nyx can also return upwards of 2,600 kilograms of payload (down-mass) from the space station safely back to Earth. The new cargo agreement between Vast and The Exploration Company expands cooperation in human spaceflight between the American and European space industries, enabling a research-based economy in LEO. The contract reaffirms The Exploration Company’s technological leadership, demonstrating it can competitively serve the cargo needs of future commercial space stations.

Vast builds commercial in-space habitation, research, and manufacturing facilities to serve NASA, ESA, DLR, and other government space agencies around the globe, driving demand for affordable and sustainable space transportation to LEO.

Max Haot, CEO at Vast: “Vast is excited to partner with The Exploration Company as we strengthen our collaboration with European industry and enable human space exploration with ESA member space agencies such as DLR. We are building strong ties with the European space ecosystem and Nyx is an excellent solution for our space station cargo needs.”

Helene Huby, CEO and Founder of the Exploration Company: “We are grateful for the trust Vast is placing in our Nyx cargo system. We are excited to support future Haven commercial space station operations as Vast fields a replacement to the International Space Station before the end of the decade. I am proud of our team for continuously delivering on our promises, unleashing its talent, and strengthening the credibility of not only The Exploration Company, but Europe’s space industry.”

About The Exploration Company

The Exploration Company’s mission is to build accessible, sustainable, and cooperative space worlds. To realize this mission, The Exploration Company builds and operates ‘Nyx’, a modular and reusable space capsule. Nyx provides a wide scope of missions ranging from resupplying space stations around the Earth and the Moon, free flying around the Earth or landing on the Moon - and safely coming back to Earth. Nyx starts with flying cargo to space stations around the Earth and has the potential to carry humans.

About Vast

Vast is a pioneer in space habitation technologies focused on expanding humanity across the solar system. Founded in 2021, the company is building Haven-1, the world’s first private space station slated to launch no earlier than August 2025. Vast is developing their future Haven space station to serve NASA’s Commercial LEO Destinations (CLD) program. Vast’s long term goal is to build low-cost artificial gravity crewed stations so people can live and work in space for long periods of time without the adverse effects of zero-gravity.

Source: Vast

Thales (Euronext Paris: HO), Spire Global (NYSE: SPIR), and European Satellite Services Provider (ESSP) have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the goal of introducing a range of innovative global satellite-based surveillance services to the air traffic management (ATM) industry and broader aviation market. These services will be powered by a specialized constellation of over 100 satellites collecting Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) messages broadcast from aircraft and transmitting the data back to Earth in real time.

Spire will develop the space segment, including system design, building the satellites and payloads, ground control and data collection. Thales will provision the ground air traffic management system and the service supervision infrastructure. ESSP will manage the certification and the delivery of the service for air traffic surveillance purposes and perform H24 operation and supervision, ensuring the compliance with real-time, safety-critical requirements imposed to ATC. The partners will also rely on the Space Alliance* formed by Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio, to identify and implement possible synergies bringing further added value in terms of key-enabling technologies, secured network optimization and sustainable operations and services. The partners plan to certify, commercialize and start the operation of the service by 2027.

“The birth of a satellite constellation fully dedicated to serving the demanding needs of air traffic management, air domain awareness and national security is a groundbreaking development for the aviation industry,” said Philip Plantholt, general manager of Aviation at Spire. “Through our strategic partnership with Thales and ESSP, we are poised to offer the first real alternative to the aging systems that exist today and embark on a journey towards even more advanced space-based solutions for aviation in the years to come.”

“This innovative satellite-based surveillance service will accelerate the implementation of our new ‘Air Traffic Control as a service’ offering,” said Christian Rivierre, vice president, Airspace Mobility Solutions, Thales. “It will play a crucial role in shaping the future of the skies, serving as a vital facilitator for trajectory-based operations and laying the foundation for a safer, more environmentally friendly, and cost-efficient ATM system. Additionally, this new solution will also draw on the competences of Thales Alenia Space satellite-based surveillance systems.”

Charlotte Neyret, chief executive officer of ESSP, said: “Taking the best of three worlds: Space Systems, ATC Systems and ATC Service Provision, is a game-changer for the aviation industry, providing the most valuable solution based on advanced new technologies. Our service is developed driven by users’ needs and expectations to face new service-levels, the challenge of ATC digitization and to support greener and more sustainable air travel. We will provide the full range of ESSP’s Space-based CNS expertise to implement and to operate mission-critical services to ensure the highest quality of service to all aviation stakeholders.”

The aviation industry faces critical challenges, with safety, security and achieving climate impact neutrality emerging as top priorities. These challenges have placed significant strain on ATM, particularly due to the absence of a surveillance solution that is high performing, scalable, and economically viable.

The initiative will rely on Thales’s global stature in ATM, built upon more than 50 years of terrestrial surveillance experience and the longstanding space technological background of Thales Alenia Space as a world space leader in telecommunications, earth observation, exploration and navigation. With over 175 satellites launched into orbit and nearly a decade of expertise in developing and operating ADS-B payloads, Spire holds a unique position within the New Space technology landscape. The approach is bolstered by ESSP’s credentials as a certified space-based Navigation and Communication service provider, the consortium possesses the ideal resources to tackle these ambitious objectives.

The new end-to-end system will meet the rigorous requirements, including latency, coverage and revisit standards, set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and aviation authorities to be certified for air traffic surveillance. The constellation’s satellites are designed to be replenished every five years, ensuring the system offers the latest and most advanced technology. This evolutionary roadmap approach ensures that end users’ operational needs are consistently met with the latest advancements.

In parallel to building the initial constellation, the companies will design and demonstrate a system that goes beyond ADS-B to geolocate the position of aircraft in real time, without relying on GNSS/GPS satellites. This novel system will provide a resilient solution for tracking aircraft that cannot be impacted by vulnerabilities with GNSS/GPS such as interference or outages. The expected follow-on of a successful demonstration will be the commercialization of a second generation, highly resilient service — opening the door to holistic infrastructure optimization strategies for ANSPs by the end of the coming decade.

About Thales

Thales (Euronext Paris: HO) is a global leader in advanced technologies specialized in three business domains: Defence & Security, Aeronautics & Space, and Cybersecurity & Digital identity.It develops products and solutions that help make the world safer, greener and more inclusive.The Group invests close to €4 billion a year in Research & Development, particularly in key innovation areas such as AI, cybersecurity, quantum technologies, cloud technologies and 6G.Thales has close to 81 0001 employees in 68 countries. In 2023, the Group generated sales of €18.4 billion.

About Spire Global, Inc.

Spire (NYSE: SPIR) is a global provider of space-based data, analytics and space services, offering unique datasets and powerful insights about Earth so that organizations can make decisions with confidence in a rapidly changing world. Spire builds, owns, and operates a fully deployed satellite constellation that observes the Earth in real time using radio frequency technology. The data acquired by Spire’s satellites provides global weather intelligence, ship and plane movements, and spoofing and jamming detection to better predict how their patterns impact economies, global security, business operations and the environment. Spire also offers Space as a Service solutions that empower customers to leverage its established infrastructure to put their business in space. Spire has nine offices across the U.S., Canada, UK, Luxembourg, Germany and Singapore.

About ESSP

ESSP SAS (European Satellite Services Provider) is a company owned by 7 keys European ANSPs (Air Navigation Service Providers). ESSP’s core business is the provision of space-based Communication, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) services. As multi-service CNS provider, we operate complex space-based systems and deliver critical services under strict regulation conditions. ESSP, is the sole private company certified by EASA in Navigation and Communication satellite-based service provision. Our mission is to boost the potential of space-based technologies in critical operations, offering safe and secure services for greener and more connected worlds. We enable satellite technologies to power today’s transport solutions around the world, providing essential 24/7 services to air navigation service providers and airspace users. ESSP offers specific engineering expertise including performance and network management of the latest space-based technologies such as but not limited to: GNSS for Navigation, Datalink for Communications and ADS-B technology in Surveillance.

Source: Spire Global

At ILA Berlin, ESA and Vast signed a Memorandum of Understanding for future Vast space stations. The agreement outlines the parties’ intention to foster human spaceflight, science, technology and commercialization development and explore collaboration in low Earth orbit destinations other than the International Space Station.

The collaboration will initially focus on exploring opportunities for access to space for Europe through the Vast Space Stations. These could include:

  • Access to the Vast Space Stations for ESA and its Member States, for astronaut missions and research activities as well as commercial business development.
  • Supporting European industry to supply subsystems and equipment for future Vast Space Stations.
  • Vast making use of future qualified European LEO cargo and/or crew transportation services, at market rates and commercially viable terms and conditions, also as a means for offsetting future ESA Astronaut Missions.
  • Vast and ESA jointly supporting European industry in getting certified for docking to future Vast Space Stations.
European astronauts have been going to the International Space Station for over 20 years, offering European scientists access to a weightless environment via ESA’s Columbus laboratory.

The signed memorandum of understanding reflects ESA’s ambition for a smooth and efficient transition from the International Space Station towards sustained exploitation of human and robotic infrastructures in low Earth orbit after 2030, including through commercial services. “Today ESA has further proven its determination to play a crucial role into the further development of the LEO economy in space for Europe and European citizens,” explained ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher, “This signature underlines once again ESA’s ambition to modernise itself and to meet the demands of the next era of the space economy,”. He added “Our teams are looking forward to working closely with VAST teams to ensure the European interests and our collective role in space exploration.”

“Vast is building Haven-1 with European technology to enable ESA astronaut missions starting in 2026. Today’s signature is the first step to providing ESA and its member states with access to space for research and science to benefit life here on Earth,” said Max Haot, CEO of Vast.

About Vast

Vast, a pioneer in space habitation technologies, was founded in 2021 to expand humanity across the solar system with artificial gravity crewed space stations. Vast’s first station, Haven-1, is launching no earlier than 2025 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 and is expected to be the world’s first commercial space station. The first crewed expedition, Vast-1, will visit Haven-1 in a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for up to 30 days. Haven-1 provides commercial and government customers with payload opportunities for science, research, and in-space manufacturing. Additionally, the team will perform a Lunar artificial gravity demonstration on Haven-1. Vast is headquartered in Long Beach, California.

Source: Vast / ESA

AST SpaceMobile, Inc. (“AST SpaceMobile”) (NASDAQ: ASTS), and Verizon (NYSE, NASDAQ: VZ) today announced a strategic partnership with a commitment of $100 million from Verizon, to provide direct-to-cellular AST SpaceMobile service when needed for Verizon customers.

“This new partnership with Verizon will enable AST SpaceMobile to target 100% coverage of the continental United States on premium 850 MHz spectrum with two major U.S. mobile operators in the most valuable wireless market in the world, a transformational commercial milestone,” said Abel Avellan, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of AST SpaceMobile. “This partnership will enhance cellular connectivity in the United States, essentially eliminating dead zones and empowering remote areas of the country with space-based connectivity.”

“Verizon has always been strategic and efficient with our spectrum strategy. We use the spectrum entrusted to us to deliver outstanding cellular service for our customers through our terrestrial network. By entering into this agreement with AST, we will now be able to use our spectrum in conjunction with AST’s satellite network to provide essential connectivity in remote corners of the U.S. where cellular signals are unreachable through traditional land-based infrastructure,” said Srini Kalapala, Senior Vice President of Technology and Product Development at Verizon.

The combination of Verizon’s highly reliable terrestrial mobile network, the multi-operator 850 Mhz band and the largest and most powerful commercial communications arrays ever deployed in low Earth orbit, is planned to enable cellular consumers to stay connected wherever they are, anywhere in the continental United States. The $100 million Verizon commitment includes $65 million ​of​ commercial prepayments, $45 million of which are subject to certain conditions, and $35 million of convertible notes.

Today, AST SpaceMobile has agreements with more than 45 mobile network operators globally who collectively serve over 2.8 billion existing subscribers. The company produces its state-of-the-art satellite technology in Midland, Texas, with manufacturing and testing facilities that collectively span 185,000 square feet.

About AST SpaceMobile

AST SpaceMobile is building the first and only global cellular broadband network in space to operate directly with standard, unmodified mobile devices based on our extensive IP and patent portfolio. Our engineers and space scientists are on a mission to eliminate the connectivity gaps faced by today’s five billion mobile subscribers and finally bring broadband to the billions who remain unconnected.

About Verizon

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) was formed in 2000 and is one of the world’s leading providers of technology and communications services. Headquartered in New York City and with a presence around the world, Verizon generated revenues of $134.0 billion in 2023. The company offers data, video and voice services and solutions on its award-winning networks and platforms, delivering on customers’ demand for mobility, reliable network connectivity and security.

Source: AST SpaceMobile

ESA has signed two contracts with European industry to develop a commercial service capable of transporting cargo to and from the International Space Station in low Earth orbit by 2030.

On May 22, 2024 at the Space Council in Brussels, ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher signed contracts with Hélène Huby from The Exploration Company based in Germany, and Massimo Comparini from Thales Alenia Space based in Italy, to develop a low Earth orbit (LEO) cargo return service.

Member States of ESA decided to launch this competition for European industry at the Space Summit in November, asking companies to propose a first step towards a cargo service to and from space stations in low Earth orbit, such as the International Space Station. Just six months later, after evaluating several proposals from European companies, ESA has selected two projects that will go ahead in the competition, awarding 25 million euros of funding to each to support them in developing the cargo service.

Today, Europe relies on its international partners to bring its cargo and crew to space, providing in exchange key contributions to international space projects, such as the Columbus laboratory on the International Space Station, or the European Service Modules which power the Orion vehicles for Artemis missions.

This competition to build a cargo service to space stations in low Earth orbit, both to the International Space Station and space stations after its lifetime, will enable ESA to continue its exploration endeavours, as well as strengthen European industry’s independence in the future low Earth orbit economy.

Next steps

The selected companies will continue working on their projects with ESA’s support in the first phase of this competition. At the Ministerial Council in 2025, ESA will present its proposal for the remaining phases of the competition to its Member States for approval.

“The LEO Cargo Return Service project exemplifies ESA’s commitment to ensuring Europe’s prominent role in space exploration. It prepares us for the post-ISS era, strengthening European industry’s competitiveness in low Earth orbit operations, as well as being a test case for the ESA transformation and working differently,” says ESA Director of Human and Robotic Exploration, Daniel Neuenschwander.

Selected companies

Thales Alenia Space, a French-Italian company, has a long history in the space industry, with pressure shells for components being machined at their premises from Turin, from Space Shuttle’s Spacelab over 40 years ago, to ESA’s Columbus laboratory on the International Space Station, to modules for the future lunar Gateway station.

The Exploration Company, a French-German company established in 2021, has quickly become a known name in the space industry. The company has been developing its Nyx capsule, aiming for a first demonstration flight this summer. ESA has already awarded a contract to the company to study European solutions for the future of the space transportation sector.

Source: ESA

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