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N° 2–2011: Overview of ESA activities in 2011 relevant to media

5 January 2011

Expected key events of the year (follow the ESA web site to get the final dates):

Update: 12 January



  • Planck early release of compact source catalogue

Release of the first processed data package from Planck’s first full-sky scan, which will help the investigation into the origin of the Universe.
Location: Planétarium. Cité des sciences et de l'industrie (La Villette)
Date : 11 January

  • Director General’s Annual Press Conference

Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain will provide media with a synthesis of the major achievements of 2010 and the key milestones foreseen for 2011.
Location: ESA HQ, Paris
Date: 14 January


  • Launch of ATV-2 by Ariane 5

ATV Johannes Kepler, Europe’s space supply ferry, will be launched to the International Space Station. 
Location: CSG, Europe’s Spaceport (French Guiana); events in Germany and ESA establishments

  • Docking of ATV-2 to the ISS

Location: ATV Control Centre (Toulouse) and ESA establishments

  • Cosmic Vision: third Medium-class mission proposal selection

    Announcement of the proposals selected for an initial study phase for the third Medium-class mission in the Cosmic Vision Plan, with a planned launch in 2022


  • Mars-500 simulated undocking and landing on Mars

Location:  Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP), Moscow

  • ‘Greenhouse’ project. Inflight call with ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli

The Greenhouse experiment is an international education experiment that will run in Germany, Italy, France, Portugal, Russia and UK.
Location: ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands and other places around Europe


  • ‘Mission-X’. Inflight call with ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli

The Mission-X initiative invites children all over Europe to exercise physically like astronauts. National teams will start training in January and the final event will take place in April.
Location: ESTEC, Noordwijk (The Netherlands) and other places around Europe

  • EGNOS safety-of-life declaration

The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) augments the GPS satellite navigation system, making it suitable for safety-critical applications such as flying aircraft or navigating ships through narrow channels. With the certification for safety-of-life, aviation authorities can adopt new landing procedures.


  • Launch of STS-134 with ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori and the AMS experiment

The STS-134 launch, perhaps the last launch of the Space Shuttle, will carry ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori participating in ASI’s ‘DAMA’ mission, as well as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), an experiment to study the formation of the Universe by searching for evidence of dark matter and antimatter.
Location: Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

  • Soyuz ready for launch from Europe’s Spaceport

A strategic cooperation between Europe and Russia, the Soyuz medium-class launcher, will be ready for launch at the CSG in April. A complete dry-run will be performed to test the ground facilities and their compatibility with the launcher.
Location: CSG, Europe’s Spaceport (French Guiana)

  • James Webb Space Telescope. Delivery of NIRSpec instrument

The successor to the Hubble Space telescope will feature several major ESA contributions: the NIRSpec near-infrared spectrograph is one of them. This scientific instrument will allow the continuous observation of 100 faint galaxies to determine their metallicity, star-formation rate and reddening.
Location: EADS Astrium, Ottobrun (Germany)

  • Technology Innovation days

Presentations of and about space technology.
Location: ESTEC, Noordwijk (The Netherlands)

  • GMES event

Information on the services to be provided by the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES).
Location: ESRIN, Frascati (Italy)


  • Landing of ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli

Paolo Nespoli will complete his six-month MagISStra mission by landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan.
Location: Baikonour Cosmodrome (Kazakhstan), and ESA establishments


  • Rosetta enters hibernation until 2014

Rosetta will be switched to hibernation mode as it enters deep space on the way to its final target, Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, in 2014.
Location: ESOC, Darmstadt (Germany)

  • 49th International Paris Air Show Le Bourget, France

ESA will be present in the biggest air and space event of the year.
Location: Le Bourget, Paris (France)
Date: 20-26 June


  • 20 years of ESA Earth Observation missions

Achievements from 20 years of Earth observation missions, coinciding with the deorbiting of ERS-2.


  • Media day on LISA Pathfinder

After the completion of crucial tests, a Media Day will be arranged for LISA Pathfinder.
Location:  IABG, Ottobrunn (Germany)

  • Launch of two Galileo IOV satellites

Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system will see the launch of the first two satellites intended for the final constellation.
Location:  CSG, Europe’s Spaceport (French Guiana)

  • Launch of Expert

The European eXPErimental Reentry Testbed, Expert, is an experimental vehicle that will test the science and technology involved in space transportation during the reentry phase into Earth’s atmosphere.
Location: Pacific Ocean (off the Kamchatka coast)

  • CryoSat: Delivery of first data of Arctic ice thickness and cover

Scientific and validation campaign in Greenland, performed in collaboration with NASA.


  • First Vega Launch

Europe’s family of launchers will welcome its smallest member, Vega.
Location: CSG, Europe’s Spaceport (French Guiana)


  • Cosmic Vision: M1 and M2 Medium-class mission selection


Announcement of the Medium-class missions selected for the two launch opportunities in 2017 and 2018.
Location: ESA HQ, Paris


  • End of Mars-500 isolation study

The completion of the first full-duration simulation of a manned flight to Mars.
Location: Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP), Moscow (Russia)

  • Sounding rocket launch

Launch of microgravity research rocket in the Maser programme.
Location: Kiruna, Sweden

  • Swarm press event after final testing

The multi-satellite Swarm mission, to be launched in 2012, will provide the best survey of the geomagnetic field and its temporal evolution, and improve our knowledge of Earth’s interior and climate. Media will be invited for a briefing and a last look at the satellites after completion of testing.
Location:  IABG, Ottobrun (Germany)


  • Launch of ESA astronaut André Kuipers

Dutchman André Kuipers will start his six-month mission to the International Space Station on a Soyuz launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Location: Baikonur Cosmodrome (Kazakhstan) and ESA establishements

For further information, please contact:

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