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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Sep 19 – Sep 26 2016)

SpaceX performs first test of Raptor engine

On the eve of a major presentation outlining his Mars exploration plans, SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk announced early Sept. 26 the first test of a rocket engine believed to be a key element in those plans.
Musk, in a series of tweets, disclosed the test of the Raptor engine, which uses methane and liquid oxygen propellants rather than the refined kerosene and liquid oxygen of the company’s Merlin engines. Musk did not disclose details about the test, including when it took place and how long it fired.
A company executive recently that SpaceX would soon begin Raptor tests. In An Aug. 9 speech at the Conference on Small Satellites in Logan, Utah, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said the company had just shipped the first Raptor engine to the company’s Texas test site. “We should be firing it soon,” she said then.

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Satellite tracking could prevent airliner disappearances, developers say

Two U.S. companies have developed an airline tracking system that they say would prevent planes disappearing in the manner of the Malaysia Airlines MH370.
Instead of sending tracking signals to ground stations - which means planes' locations can be lost over oceans or remote areas - the new system would beam them to satellites.
"It doesn't matter if they're flying over the ocean, desert, or North Pole, we'll know where the plane is," said Daniel Baker, CEO of FlightAware, the internet flight tracking service which is working with Aireon LLC, which has developed the satellite technology.

Top 10 Aircraft crashes and disappearances
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Inmarsat launches search for its next generation of ‘space pioneers’

Inmarsat launches its 3rd Technology Development Programme at New Scientist Live in London with British ESA astronaut Tim Peake.
A career in the rapidly expanding space industry is not just about launching and flying spacecraft according to Inmarsat, a world leader in mobile satellite communications.
Announcing the company’s search for its next generation of ‘space pioneers’, the company’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Michele Franci, emphasised that to remain a global leader, Inmarsat is focused on attracting world-class engineering talent.

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Falcon accident investigation points to breach in rocket’s helium system

Investigators have traced the explosion that destroyed a SpaceX Falcon 9 on the pad Sept. 1 to a “large breach” in the helium system in the rocket’s second stage, although the root cause of the accident remains unknown.
In a Sept. 23 update, the first released by the company in nearly three weeks, SpaceX said that an accident investigation team continues to study evidence from the explosion that took place while the rocket was being fueled for a static-fire test.
“At this stage of the investigation, preliminary review of the data and debris suggests that a large breach in the cryogenic helium system of the second stage liquid oxygen tank took place,” the company said in a statement. What caused that breach, though, is still a mystery.

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ESA, CNES Test Fire Ariane 5 Booster

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the French space agency CNEScompleted a test firing of the Ariane 5’s solid-propellant booster on Sept. 8 in Kourou, French Guiana. The burn lasted 128 seconds with the motor delivering a mean thrust of more than 500 tons, simulating the firing time of an Ariane 5 flight.
ESA and CNES conducted the burn to ensure that the launcher’s qualification, reliability and performance levels are maintained. The test demonstrated the motor’s capabilities and qualified improvements in design resulting from obsolescence or changes in technology.

ESA Ariane 5 solid propellant booster       Photo credit: ESA
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Air Force Base Wildfire Postpones Hi-Res Satellite Launch

A wildfire burning at a central California Air Force base on Sunday forced the postponement of a satellite launch, officials said. An Atlas 5 rocket was to carry a satellite known as WorldView-4 into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The satellite is designed to produce high-resolution images of Earth from space.
The fire burning in a remote canyon didn't immediately threaten the space launch complex, Col. Paul Nosek said on the base's Facebook page. But he said the blaze required firefighters to be redeployed from standing by at the launch.
Nearly 800 firefighters were trying to corral the fire that was nearly 2 square miles in size.

Imaging Satellite Launch
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SES Reveals Balloon-lifted Tactical Persistent Surveillance Product

SES has unveiled its first Government+ product offering: Tactical Persistent Surveillance (TPS), an inflatable aerostat-technology capable of hosting a variety of advanced Electro-Optical (E/O) sensor and communications payload options at altitudes up to 1,000 feet.
TPS is a portable, modular solution capable of quick global deployment and operations for surveillance and communications activities, designed to provide enhanced situational awareness for border security, special event monitoring and disaster response missions around the world. The sensor payload can transmit or backhaul Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) video and data via satellite to a centralized monitoring and control center using small aperture and quick deploy flyaway Ku-band antennas.

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Roscosmos confirms plans to reduce space station crew

Officials with the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos said Sept. 26 they planned to reduce the size of their crew on the International Space Station next year from three to two.
The comments, by Roscosmos head Igor Komarov during a press conference at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) here, confirmed Russian media reports dating back to August that Russia would reduce its crew to save money.
“We checked and found that we can complete all of our programs with two cosmonauts,” Komarov said. “That’s when we decided to optimize our crew to two for the next year.”

The Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft being prepared for launch in September. A problem with the spacecraft found only after it was placed inside its payload fairing has delayed its launch until the end of October. Credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov
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DOD Heightens Importance of Cybersecurity in Future Ground Systems

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) wants to make sure its future ground system for government satellites, known as the Enterprise Ground Segment (EGS), makes cybersecurity a much bigger priority compared to the approach taken with ground systems currently in use. Today, DOD ground systems for military satellite programs all run separate from each other. EGS will seek to unify ground segment operations onto a single comprehensive system, but DOD does not want to make that system into a jackpot hack for intruders who could see it as an opportunity to get into every military satellite system at once.
Speaking Sept. 22 at a Mitchell Institute event, Colonel Brian Bracey, chief architect at the Advanced Systems and Development Directorate of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), said all of today’s DOD programs of record have the same problems in regard to cyber, and that the current defense strategy relies heavily on what DOD perceives to be the system’s greatness weakness: dissimilarity.

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NASA bill calls for hard look at Asteroid Redirect Mission

A bipartisan NASA authorization bill introduced by several senators Sept. 15 would require NASA to evaluate alternatives to its Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) and develop a plan to transition activities currently performed on the International Space Station to commercial platforms.
The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016, sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee’s space subcommittee, is intended to address policy issues and give the agency some degree of certainty as a new administration takes office in January.
“This NASA reauthorization bill brings us one step closer to reasserting American leadership in space by ensuring NASA has the certainty it needs to continue to grow and improve upon what it does best: lead the world in space exploration,” Cruz said in a Sept. 16 statement announcing the bill.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Sep 12 – Sep 19 2016)

Inmarsat Sponsorship for safety H.E.R.O.

Inmarsat will commemorate the untimely passing earlier this year of one of the architects of its Maritime Safety Operations network by sponsoring the first International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) H.E.R.O. Award for outstanding service to maritime search and rescue, 'The Vladimir Maksimov Award'.
The sponsorship is seen as a fitting tribute to Vladimir Maksimov, Inmarsat Director of SOLAS Services, who died on 4th May 2016 after a short illness, following 25 years with Inmarsat. Mr Maksimov played a central role in the Inmarsat safety team. 
The H.E.R.O. (Honouring Excellence in Rescue Operations) Awards, launched by the IMRF in April this year, have been developed to draw attention to the extraordinary work done to save lives in maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) across the world.

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Iridium Waits For SpaceX

Next-generation satellites are ready, but SpaceX is not
In 1998, Iridium switched on the world’s first global telephone service, utilizing a constellation of 66 interconnected satellites operating in six low-Earth-orbit planes. Less than a year later, the company went bankrupt and took its place in history as one of the worst business blunders of the 1990s. But Iridium’s satellites have proven more resilient than its original business plan. Designed by Motorola to last five years, most of the spacecraft are still operating or have ...

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Kymeta and TECOM Bring New, Cutting Edge Antenna Technology to the Aviation Market

Partnership seeks to provide inflight entertainment and communications (IFEC) providers and airlines better efficiency and cost savings, through metamaterials based flat panel technology.
REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 13, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Kymeta, the company delivering on the promise of global, mobile connectivity and TECOM, a Smiths Microwave brand and a leader in innovative design and manufacturing of high-performance antenna systems, today announced a Partner Development Program Agreement for the aviation market. Under the terms of the agreement, TECOM will incorporate Kymeta® mTenna® technology into an aviation grade terminal to demonstrate connectivity to a Ku-band satellite.

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Globalstar Prepares for Release of the Next Generation Sat-Fi® Satellite Wi-Fi Hotspot
COVINGTON, La., Sept. 13, 2016 -- Globalstar Inc. (NYSE:GSAT) announced today that alpha testing of its next generation duplex device, Sat-Fi2, has commenced in preparation to fully launch the highly anticipated mass consumer and enterprise product in early 2017. Building upon its predecessor, Sat-Fi2 allows customers to use their smartphones and tablets to stay connected when beyond cellular.
With the newest model and second-generation satellites and ground infrastructure in place, businesses and recreationalists will experience affordable, seamless connectivity unprecedented within the MSS industry. The smaller, more portable Hughes-based form factor will enable a wide range of enterprise and individual customers to economically leverage the benefits of Globalstar’s newest mobile satellite network.

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Cubic’s GATR Technologies and Intelsat General Achieve High-Throughput Link via Ultra-Portable Satellite Terminal

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Cubic Corporation today announced that its subsidiary GATR Technologies(GATR), which operates within the Cubic Mission Solutions (CMS) business division, and Intelsat General Corporation (IGC) successfully established a 26-megabits per second (mbps) downlink and a 10+ mbps uplink, carrying multiple data streams during performance testing of GATR’s prototype GATR-FLEX® sub-meter Ku-band, ultra-portable terminal.
GATR and IGC performed a series of tests using the open architecture, high-performance Intelsat EpicNG satellite IS-29e, GATR-FLEX antenna and GATR’s e850 ruggedized iDirect satellite modem, which maximized the throughput of the iDirect Evolution series modems. The tests measured throughput while taxing a single satellite link with data, voice and high-definition (HD) streaming video, which is normally done by two separate terminals over separate networks.

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ITC Global to Provide Connectivity for World’s Largest Semi-Submersible Rig

ITC Global has been awarded a three-year contract to provide broadband connectivity to the world’s largest semi-submersible drilling rig. The end-to-end service will enable the newly built rig to manage essential business communications and monitor and maintain operations through ITC Global’s Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) solution. The ultra-deepwater, harsh environment rig has been commissioned by a major petroleum exploration and production company to begin operations in October in the Great Australian Bight, positioned on the coastline of southern and western Australia.

Ocean Greatwhite Rig
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Inmarsat is named Global Satellite Operator of the Year

Inmarsat is proud to announce that it has been awarded the ‘Global Satellite Operator of the Year’ title at Euroconsult’s 13th Annual Awards for Excellence in Satellite Communications.
Euroconsult, the leading global consulting firm specialising in space markets, announced the winning recipients during World Satellite Business Week in Paris on 14 September.
The annual awards recognise companies and their management for outstanding accomplishments in the satellite sector.

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5G and IoT: Big winners of CTIA Super Mobility 2016

This year’s CTIA Super Mobility show, held Sept. 7-9 in Las Vegas, Nevada, shone the spotlight most brightly on 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). The killer app use case for 5G is IoT and, symbiotically, IoT cannot be fully realized without the higher capacity of 5G.
IoT is the world of interconnected devices and includes smart cities, connected vehicles, smart homes, wearables, enterprise and healthcare solutions. The magnitude of growth forecast in connected devices is staggering; 23 billion in 2020 and increasing to 75 billion five years later, and will dwarf the number of smartphones, say analysts at Frost & Sullivan.

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Antares return to flight now planned for early October
The first launch of an Orbital ATK Antares rocket with a new first stage engine is now planned for early October, a company official said Sept. 13.
Speaking on a launch systems panel during the AIAA Space 2016 conference here, John Steinmeyer, director of business development at Orbital ATK’s Launch Vehicle Division, said the company was working with NASA to finalize a date for the launch, which will carry a Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station.
“We’re targeting an initial launch capability in early October. We’re working with NASA to select an optimal launch date,” he said. “We’re very diligent in our preparations for that launch, and making sure we completely validate the system and the RD-181 engines.”

Antares hotfire test
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Inmarsat, Hughes and SpeedCast Become Skynet Partners

Airbus Defence and Space, owner and operator of the Skynet X-band satellite system, has struck up partnerships with Inmarsat Government, Hughes Network Systems, and SpeedCast to offer Skynet military satellite communication services. The three companies are able to offer Skynet services to Australian, New Zealand and U.S. forces operating across the globe.
Inmarsat Government will include Skynet services as part of its portfolio offer to U.S. government customers. Hughes will use the partnership for U.S. government tactical missions, primarily using the Xebra service, which uses the Hughes HM300 lightweight X-band satellite terminal and Airbus Defence and Space’s Skynet capacity. SpeedCast will be offering the tactical secure communications services to the Australian and New Zealand government. In addition, Airbus Defence and Space has recently appointed SpeedCast to manage a new anchor station facility for the Skynet 5A military satellite, which is based at SpeedCast’s existing teleport in Adelaide, Australia.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Sep 5 – Sep 12 2016)

Iridium remains fully behind SpaceX as Musk hints at difficult investigation

PARIS — The commercial company with arguably the most at stake in a quick and successful return to flight of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on Sept. 8 gave a ringing endorsement of the launch-service provider even as SpaceX founder Elon Musk issued statements saying the investigation will be complicated.
The comments from Iridium Chief Financial Officer Thomas J. Fitzpatrick at an investor conference came just hours before SpaceX founder Elon Musk, in a series of statements on Twitter, suggested the company does not yet know what happened.
“Still working on the Falcon fireball investigation,” Musk said in the first of three tweets whose time stamp implied that he was burning the midnight oil. “Turning out to be the most difficult and complex we have ever had in 14 years.”

Artist view of an IRIDIUM NEXT satellite. The IRIDIUM NEXT operation is a modernisation programme of Iridium satellites. Iridium is a provider of mobile satellite communications services.
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Inmarsat successfully demonstrates Global Xpress ‘SATCOM as a Service’ capability for U.S. government aero connectivity

Inmarsat the leading provider of global mobile satellite communication services, today announced that its Global Xpress ‘SATCOM as a Service’ capability is ready for U.S. Government aero applications worldwide. Supported by the only commercial worldwide Ka-band constellation built for mobility, Global Xpress represents the first and only globally available high-throughput communication solution for aero connectivity.
The service was successfully demonstrated in multiple user scenarios with U.S. government end users and in close cooperation with Inmarsat’s Value Added Reseller (VAR) and Value Added Manufacturer (VAM) partners. During CONUS and OCONUS world tour airborne and ground demonstrations, the Honeywell JetWave™ SATCOM terminals in the Fuselage Mount Antenna (FMA) and Tail Mount Antenna (TMA) configurations seamlessly connected with the Global Xpress network.

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Atlas 5 launches NASA asteroid sample return mission

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — An Atlas 5 successfully launched a NASA mission to visit a near Earth asteroid and return samples of it to Earth Sept. 8.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 411 lifted off at 7:05 p.m. Eastern from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. No significant problems were reported during the countdown, and weather remained favorable throughout the day leading up to launch.
The Atlas 5 launched NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx, spacecraft. The spacecraft separated from the Atlas nearly one hour after liftoff.

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Thuraya Announces Plans for L-Band Network Evolution, New Constellation

Thuraya Telecommunications Company has finalized its next generation constellation plans to extend its geographical reach, move into new market sectors and launch new services and devices. The company announced its L-band network will undergo extensive evolution. While continuity is assured with both existing satellites Thuraya 2 and Thuraya 3 continuing to operate as planned, the current satellite footprint will be enhanced significantly with the planned launch of next generation satellites from 2020.
The next generation system will focus on delivering high mobility services in core and new markets. These will be complemented with High Throughput Satellite (HTS) services for bandwidth-hungry applications in land, maritime and aeronautical markets. The constellation will be supported by highly advanced platforms for the provision of “new wave” Internet of Things (IoT) and content services, with multicasting and broadcasting capabilities.

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After SpaceX-Amos 6 Loss, Arianespace Sees Demand Surge

Following the explosion of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with Spacecom’s Amos 6 satellite, Arianespace CEO Stephane Israel said satellite operators have reached out to the company to inquire about launch services. However, the European launch services provider has only one launch slot for a large satellite available between now and the end of 2018. Speaking Sept. 12 at a press conference, Israel said the Arianespace manifest is the fullest it’s ever been, and the company is trying to create room for more launches to accommodate near-term demand.
“We are almost full up to 2018 with one opportunity for a big satellite in 2018,” he said, adding that Arianespace is endeavoring to offer additional launch slots “with Soyuz as a backup for small satellites, and by introducing one more Ariane next year and the year after.”

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Iridium Leads Maritime Market with High-Performing Numbers

Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) announced today that over the last 12 months, ending June 30, 2016, the company shipped over 2,200 Iridium Pilot® units, concluding with one of the best quarters in company history. Iridium Pilot, which is powered by Iridium OpenPort®, Iridium’s current global broadband service, is one of the fastest growing maritime products in the Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) industry today. Over the same 12-month period, Iridium OpenPort subscriber base increased by 9 percent across the company’s vast partner network and customer base.
“We equip our customers’ fleets with the most reliable solutions, not only to ensure business continuity, but also so personnel feel safe and connected to life on land,” said Tore Morten Olsen, president maritime, Marlink.“We are pleased to work with Iridium to provide truly global back up coverage which we pair with our best-in-class Marlink Sealink VSAT. By combining VSAT and MSS we are able to offer a broader range of connectivity solutions for ship owners to choose from. Therefore, Iridium is an important partner for Marlink to provide the highest levels of flexibility for ship owners across all maritime segments and vessel sizes.”

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Blue Origin Introduces New Glenn, its Reusable, Vertical-Landing Booster

Blue Origin has introduced New Glenn, its new reusable, vertical-landing booster. Named in honor of John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, New Glenn is 23 feet in diameter and lifts off with 3.85 million pounds of thrust from seven BE-4 engines. Burning liquefied natural gas and liquid oxygen, these are the same BE-4 engines that will power United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) new Vulcan rocket.
The 2-stage New Glenn is 270 feet tall, and a single vacuum-optimized BE-4 engine powers its second stage. The 3-stage New Glenn is 313 feet tall, powered by a single vacuum-optimized BE-3 engine, burning liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. The booster and the second stage are identical in both variants.

Comparison of Blue Origin's New Glenn rockets with other launch vehicles in the market.
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Army Weighs Ring of CubeSats in Next Satellite Demonstration

The United States Army is considering a demonstration constellation comprised of a ring of small satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for telecommunications services. The potential constellation, known as the Army Global on the Move Satcom (ARGOS) system, would prove out an Army science and technology experiment, determining if such a system would be practical for filling telecommunications infrastructure gaps for U.S. ground forces.
The Army has conducted two other satellite demonstrations in the recent past. In 2010, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) flew the SMDC Operational Nanosatellite Effect (SMDC-ONE) — the Army’s first satellite in 50 years — which demonstrated the viability of using CubeSats to relay and exfiltrate data from isolated ground sensors. SMDC flew five satellites as part of SMDC-ONE, showcasing over-the-horizon communications including voice, text message and data. The organization followed this with the SMDC Nanosatellite Program (SNaP-3), a trio of CubeSats that are still functioning today as a Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) led by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).

MDC-ONE rendition. Photo: U.S. Army illustration
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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Aug 29 – Sep 5 2016)

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Amos-6 satellite destroyed during static-fire test

WASHINGTON — An explosion on a Florida launch pad early Sept. 1 destroyed a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and its payload, the Amos-6 communications satellite, being prepared for an upcoming launch there.
Authorities said the explosion occurred at approximately 9:07 a.m. Eastern at Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where SpaceX was preparing to conduct a static fire test of the Falcon 9 in advance of a scheduled Sept. 3 launch. The test, which entails briefly firing the rocket’s first stage, is a routine pre-launch procedure for Falcon 9 missions.
SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk, in a tweet four hours after the incident, said the explosion originated around the Falcon 9’s the upper stage liquid oxygen tank while it was being loaded in the minutes before the scheduled static fire test. He said there was no information yet on the cause of the explosion.

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Launch of NASA asteroid mission unaffected by SpaceX failure

WASHINGTON — NASA said Sept. 1 that the launch of an asteroid sample return mission from Florida remained on schedule for next week despite the explosion of SpaceX Falcon 9 at a neighboring launch pad.
The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft was inside its payload fairing atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 at Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 41 when the Falcon 9 at the neighboring Space Launch Complex 40, less than two kilometers away, exploded during preparations for a static-fire test on the morning of Sept. 1.
Mike Curie, a NASA spokesman at the Kennedy Space Center, said a few hours after the SpaceX incident that he was not aware of any effects the explosion had on OSIRIS-REx. The agency confirmed that assessment later in the day.

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InSight delay adds $150 million to mission’s cost

WASHINGTON — NASA announced Sept. 2 that it has approved plans to launch a delayed Mars lander mission in 2018, although at an additional cost that could affect plans for later planetary missions.
The InSight Mars lander, originally scheduled for launch in March, will now launch no earlier than May 5, 2018, after NASA’s Science Mission Directorate formally approved the revised mission plan this week. That launch will allow a landing on Mars in November 2018.
NASA postponed the launch in December 2015 after a series of problems with one of its primary instruments, the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), provided by the French space agency CNES. The instrument suffered a series of vacuum leaks that NASA concluded could not be fixed in time to permit a launch during a window that lasted about a month.

Concept art of InSight Lander drilling beneath Mars' surface. Credit: NASA
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Falcon 9 pad explosion highlights unique aspect of SpaceX launch campaigns

WASHINGTON — The explosion Sept. 1 that destroyed a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and its satellite payload took place not during a launch attempt but instead in a pre-launch test that is all but unique to SpaceX.
The explosion at Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station occurred while the Falcon 9 was being filled with liquid oxygen and kerosene in preparation for a static-fire test, where the rocket’s nine first stage engines are briefly ignited on the pad a few days before the scheduled launch.
The static-fire tests have been a standard part of pre-launch preparations for Falcon 9 launches throughout the vehicle’s history. They are intended to serve as full dress rehearsals for launches and also verify the performance of the first stage engine.

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Cobham Expands Explorer 8000 VSAT Family with 1.2-Meter Version

Cobham Satcomis releasing the Explorer 8120 VSAT at IBC 2016 next week. The 1.2-meter stabilized, auto-acquire, drive-away antenna system harnesses the same “dynamic pointing correction” technology and carbon fiber construction introduced with the 1-meter Explorer 8100 model released last year.
The Explorer 8120 is available in Ku-band configuration and works with most major satellite networks. The VSAT’s larger reflector dish provides for improved service availability and higher throughput across more of the satellite footprint.

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Carmanah Technologies and Globalstar Forge Pact on IoT, Solar M2M Devices

Carmanah, a Canada-based producer of energy-optimized LED solutions for infrastructure, has signed a far-reaching agreement with Globalstar to collaborate on the design and manufacture of new solar-powered M2M satellite solutions as well as use of the operator’s satellite constellation for remote connectivity for all strategic Carmanah products. As part of the multi-year supply agreement, Carmanah will design, develop, and supply the next generation of Globalstar devices incorporating solar power charging capabilities.
“Many of our customers are interested in broadening the data capture and increasing the frequency of data transmissions from their mobile assets. When available, our new solar powered devices will support larger and more frequent data transmission capability and, most importantly, have a much longer field life than our current devices” said Dave Kagan, president and COO of Globalstar.

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Marlink Increases Data Speeds for Sealink VSAT

Marlink has doubled the burst speed on its Sealink VSAT services, enabling up to 3 Mbps for users on its data allowance packages. New 40, 60 and 80 Gigabyte (GB) data allowances have been introduced in parallel to the burst speed increase, enabling users with high bandwidth requirements to extend their smart shipping and crew welfare strategies.
Combined with the potential for faster internet access, the new Sealink allowances enable significantly more capacity for smarter operational efficiency and enhance crew data communications while providing access to social media and web browsing. Sealink allowances combine up to four voice lines with eight data allowance plans available from 1 GB up to 80 GB per month.

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Startup to Use CubeSats for IoT and Inter-Satellite Communications

Kepler Communications, a small satellite startup, is designing a constellation of CubeSats for Internet of Things (IoT) and inter-satellite communications services. The company last month announced $5 million in capital raised through an oversubscribed seed round, along with plans to potentially deploy an initial service in the second half of 2017.
Kepler’s goals are to provide a vastly improved IoT backhaul for customers on the ground, as well as real time access to satellites in the same orbit. In an interview with Via Satellite, Co-Founder and CTO Wen Cheng Chong said the fresh capital has given the company the means to start building out its system.
“This $5 million allows us to launch our pilot service,” he said. “This means two satellites will go up by the end of next year. In the meantime we’re securing contracts with launch providers, signing with bus suppliers and ground station suppliers so that we get to roll out a full network.”

Wen Cheng Chong Kepler
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SES Becomes First Reusable Rocket Customer for SpaceX

SES and SpaceX have reached an agreement to launch SES 10 on a previously flown Falcon 9 orbital rocket booster later this year. The mission is currently scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2016 to put the satellite on its way to geosynchronous orbit for telecommunications services over Latin America.
“Re-launching a rocket that has already delivered spacecraft to orbit is an important milestone on the path to complete and rapid reusability,” Gwynne Shotwell, president and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of SpaceX, said in an Aug. 30 press release.
SpaceX previously announced intentions of reusing a rocket with a commercial customer earlier this year at the SATELLITE 2016 Conference & Exhibition. Elon Musk, CEO and chief designer at SpaceX,made similar comments in a NASA press conference this spring following the landing of the company’s second booster after launching a Dragon capsule to the International Space Station for the Commercial Resupply Services 8 (CRS-8) mission. SpaceX tweeted Aug 30 that the SES 10 mission will use that same booster from CRS-8. The NASA mission delivered roughly 3,200 kilograms, or 7,000 lbs of cargo to the ISS in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

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Juno completes first orbit of Jupiter

Braving intense radiation, NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully completed its first low-altitude swing around Jupiter early Saturday, passing within about 2,600 miles of the giant planet’s cloud tops at a velocity of some 130,000 mph, the space agency said.
A single image posted on NASA’s Juno web page showed a half-lighted Jupiter and its great red spot, along with numerous atmospheric bands and swirls. Much higher resolution images are expected to be posted in the next few weeks as mission scientists process downlinked data and telemetry.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Aug 22 – Aug 29 2016)

Mock Mars Explorers Emerge from Habitat to End Year of Isolation in Hawaii

MAUNA LOA, Hawaii ─ A crew of six "astronauts" returned to Earth Sunday (Aug. 28), after a yearlong mock mission to Mars.
At about 9 a.m. HDT, on the barren slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano, the six crewmembers emerged from the domed white habitat they've called home for the last 12 months. The crew had no physical contact with anyone but each other, and had limited communication with friends, family and the outside world.
How did the crew feel upon their release? Christiane Heinicke, chief scientific officer and crew physicist, summed it up in one word: "Happyyyyy!". This is the fourth and longest isolation mission by the HI-SEAS program(which stands for Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation), run by the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and funded by NASA.

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SpaceX Dragon Capsule Returns to Earth from Space Station

SpaceX's Dragon cargo spacecraft has safely splashed down in the Pacific Ocean off of Baja California, Mexico. The vessel returned to Earth with more than 3,000 lbs. (1,360 kilograms) of cargo and science experiments, including 12 mice.
The crewless spacecraft was released from the International Space Stationearlier this morning by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi using the station's robotic arm. The spacecraft returned to Earth at 11:47 a.m. EDT (1547 GMT) today (Aug. 26), NASA officials said in a statement
"Good splashdown of Dragon confirmed, carrying thousands of pounds of @NASA science and research cargo back from the @Space_Station,"SpaceX officials tweeted

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Mexico, Boeing Complete Mexsat System Testing

Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transportation has formally accepted the Mexsat satellite system from prime contractor Boeing following the completion of final field-testing, the company announced today. Mexsat provides 3G+ voice and data services to mobile terminals on land, air and sea for the enhancement of the country’s national security, civil and humanitarian programs. Telecomunicaciones de Mexico (Telecomm) operates the system on behalf of the government.
Boeing designed, integrated and delivered the system, which includes two satellites, two network and satellite control stations, associated network operations procedures, and prototype user terminals. The network was originally to consist of three satellites, however the second failed to reach orbit due to a Proton launch anomaly in May 2015.

Boeing Mexsat-5a Morelos
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Atlas V to Launch Mars 2020 Rover

SANTA FE, N.M. — NASA's next Mars rover will fly on the same version of the launch vehicle that launched its predecessor, NASA announced Aug. 25.
NASA awarded a contract to United Launch Alliance for the July 2020 launch of the Mars 2020 rover on an Atlas V 541. The total value of the contract, including payload processing and related services, is $243 million.
Mars 2020 is based on the Mars Science Laboratory mission, which landed the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars in August 2012. That mission also launched on an Atlas V 541 under a contract awarded to Lockheed Martin, one of the parent companies of ULA, in June 2006 for $195 million, or approximately $232 million in current-year dollars.

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ISRO Launches Scramjet Engine Demonstration Mission

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) completed an experimental mission using a scramjet engine on Aug. 28. The test used ISRO’s Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV), a two stage spin stabilized sounding rocket with identical solid motors, as the booster to carry the engines. ISRO mounted the twin scramjet engines on the back of the second stage. The engines functioned for about 5 seconds as planned for the short duration test, with a hypersonic flight at Mach 6.
The experimental mission is a step toward the agency’s goal of realizing an air breathing propulsion system for a future space transportation system. The ISRO-designed scramjet engine uses hydrogen as fuel and oxygen from the atmosphere as the oxidizer. Some of the technological challenges handled during the development include hypersonic engine air intake, the supersonic combustor, development of materials withstanding very high temperatures, computational tools to simulate hypersonic flow, ensuring performance and operability of the engine across a wide range of flight speeds, proper thermal management, and ground testing of the engines.

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Arianespace Mission Launches Two Intelsat Satellites on Ariane 5

Arianespace completed its heaviest mission ever with the Ariane 5 rocket Aug. 24, delivering two Intelsat satellites into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). The 41-minute mission delivered Intelsat 33e, the second of Intelsat’s EpicNG High Throughput Satellite (HTS) fleet, and Intelsat 36, a traditional satellite supporting media neighborhoods in Africa and the Indian Ocean regions. Together the satellites required a payload lift performance of 10,735 kg, topping the Ariane 5’s record of 10,730 kg set during the rocket’s previous flight in June.
Intelsat 33e deployed first, expanding Intelsat’s HTS footprint to cover Africa, Europe, Middle East and Asia from 60 degrees east. The satellite joins Intelsat 29e, launched in January this year, stitching together more C- and Ku-band capacity. Boeing built the satellite on the 702MP platform, which boasts what Intelsat refers to as the “most advanced digital payload on a commercial spacecraft.” A derivation of the system used in the U.S. military’s Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) satellites, the digital payload boosts security and flexibility, according to Intelsat, bringing the ability to seamlessly shift capacity based on customer usage needs in a particular region or timeframe.

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Appareo and Iridium Partner to Provide Global Connectivity to Farm Equipment

Appareo Systems, LLC, and Iridium Communications Inc. ( NASDAQ : IRDM ) announce the release of technology that can equip motorized farm vehicles with terrestrial and satellite communication capabilities, enabled by the global Iridium® satellite network.
Appareo, a global leader in the development of innovative electronic and software solutions for advanced machine control systems and sensing equipment, has been working with Iridium to deliver wireless satellite connectivity for the products and systems it develops. Iridium operates the largest commercial satellite network, spanning the entire globe including polar regions. As part of a long-term development and supply agreement with Iridium, Appareo integrates the Iridium 9603 chipset -- the world's smallest commercial two-way satellite transceiver -- into a range of products. The company recently received certification from Iridium on a new device containing the Iridium 9603 chipset: a machine gateway designed in partnership with AGCO Corporation

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Honeywell’s JetWave receives final certification from Inmarsat

Honeywell’s JetWave hardware has received final certification from Inmarsat, meaning the GX Aviation solution can be brought to the aerospace market.
The JetWave hardware is a key enabler in allowing passengers and crew members to connect to the GX Aviation network, which promises a fast, reliable home-like broadband service that performs consistently throughout the flight.
The hardware had previously received certification from the Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency for its environmental, safety and installation standards. This latest approval from Inmarsat confirms that JetWave operates as planned throughout different environmental conditions with the Global Xpress satellite network.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Aug 15 – Aug 22 2016)

NASA test fires former shuttle engine for 420 seconds

The latest static fire test of the development RS-25 engine (E0528) has taken place at the Stennis Space Center. The test is part of a series aimed at validating hardware and software elements, such as the improved engine controller, as the former Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME) prepare to launch the opening Space Launch System (SLS) missions.
That engine was E2059, which flew on five Space Shuttle missions; it first flew three times on Shuttle Orbiter Atlantis (STS-117, STS-122, and STS-125) and then on Orbiter Endeavour’s last two flights (STS-130and STS-134). It is currently assigned to fly installed in the second Core Stage on Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2), which is planned to be the first crewed SLS/Orion flight.
The tests are designed to validate a new engine controller and how the RS-25 engine design functions in the SLS operating environment, which has functional and environmental differences from the Space Shuttle.

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Delta 4 lifts off carrying two Air Force space surveillance satellites

WASHINGTON —A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket carrying twin space surveillance satellites for the U.S. Air Force lifted off early this morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The mission, known as AFSPC-6, short for Air Force Space Command-6, launched around 12:52 a.m. local time and included the third and fourth satellites in the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program, also known as GSSAP. The Air Force has said those satellites provide a kind of “neighborhood watch” for the geosynchronous belt, home to some of the Defense Department’s most exquisite and expensive satellites.
The launch went into a news blackout several minutes after liftoff.

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Inmarsat extends Fleet Xpress service in Northern Europe

Inmarsat announces at Nor-Fishing 2016 that Fleet Xpress is being extended in Northern Europe, demonstrating a new market-specific commitment for the high-speed broadband service, powered by Global Xpress, that is revolutionising maritime connectivity.
Launched at the end of March 2016, Inmarsat Maritime’s Fleet Xpress service sets a new standard in broadband maritime communications. It achieves the highest levels of reliable high speed connectivity and exceptional performance across the world’s oceans, as well as facilitating innovative applications to enhance safety, crew welfare and operational efficiency. The extension of Fleet Xpress will reach across the North Sea, Norwegian Sea, Barents Sea and Baltic Sea.

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Industry remains optimistic about continued growth of cubesats

LOGAN, Utah — Despite concerns about reliability and access to launch vehicles, the small satellite industry expects the number of cubesats to continue to grow as they find new commercial and government applications.
In a presentation at the Conference on Small Satellites at Utah State University here Aug. 8, Bill Doncaster of SpaceWorks Engineering said his company was maintaining a forecast issued earlier this year that predicted about 200 satellites weighing between 1 and 50 kilograms would launch this year, a number that would break the record of 158 set in 2014. That vast majority of those satellites would be versions of cubesats weighing 10 kilograms or less.
SpaceWorks, in a similar forecast last year, forecast 163 such satellites would launch in 2015, but only 131 actually flew. “That was an anomaly based on available launch slots,” he said. He noted that both Antares and Falcon 9 rockets, which have launched many such spacecraft on cargo missions to the International Space Station, were recovering from launch failures. “The number of opportunities was somewhat limited.”

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Iridium-Based Portable Tracker Tested on Scandinavian AirAmbulance

A Swedish air ambulance helicopter, along with a fixed-wing aircraft, recently took part in trials testing Marlink and IDG Europe’s portable tracking system operated on the Iridium satellite network. An Airbus Helicopters AS365 Dauphin N2 operated by Sweden’s Scandinavian AirAmbulance (or MediCopter) was outfitted with Smalltrack, a mobile device that can be used anywhere wirelessly. Testing was performed daily for three weeks.
Marlink’s Smalltrack can operate on a single charge for one week and provides tracking to support flight safety and logistics, and manual and automatic emergency alerts. The system is also designed to start up using the built-in accelerometer, which Marlink Enterprise President Danny Cote said makes it ideal for small aircraft such as helicopters, without adding an additional pre-flight check requirement.

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Globosat, Tektronix Support Live IP Media Production for Rio Olympics

Globosat, one of the largest pay TV providers in Latin America, has partnered with Tektronix, a video quality monitoring solutions provider, to support live IP media production of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This represents the first use of IP for live production on this scale in Latin America, according to Tektronix.
Globosat, which produced the worldwide content for the 2016 Olympics, deployed 16 linear channels by satellite, and more than 56 by internet amounting to 16 produced channels and 40 channels of audio ambience, for the Games. At the center of this network infrastructure are two Tektronix SPG8000A master sync and PTP grandmaster clock generators that offer support for both traditional SDI-based and IP-based media infrastructures. Alongside these instruments are two Prism IP/SDI media analyzers that offer the ability to diagnose and correlate both SDI and IP signal types.

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Globalstar Supports Communications Needs During Catastrophic Louisiana Flooding

COVINGTON, La., Aug. 18, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Globalstar, Inc. (NYSE MKT:GSAT) announced today the deployment of its satellite communications solutions to the Louisiana regions most affected by flooding in conjunction with its partner Disaster Tech Lab, a first responder communications specialist.
Coordinating with local Globalstar team members, Disaster Tech Lab has set up base operations in Prairieville, LA and will deliver much needed communication support to Southeast Louisiana by troubleshooting and fixing network issues as well as providing the use of satellite phones and satellite hot-spot units where traditional forms of communication have failed. Having traveled from all over the world, the team will be monitored via SPOT tracking as they carry out relief efforts.
Disaster Tech Lab is meeting with Incident Commanders and representatives of the affected communities, the Department of Homeland Security, First Responder organizations and Law Enforcement to assess needs for internet access and communication services.

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Europa mission planning for possible budget cuts in 2017

While NASA says its support for a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa is now aligned with Congress, project officials are preparing for a possible “squeeze” on mission funding in the next fiscal year.
In presentations at an Aug. 11 meeting of NASA’s Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG) in Flagstaff, Arizona, officials involved with what’s widely known as the Europa Clipper mission said they are looking for ways to cut costs in 2017 while keeping the mission on track for a 2022 launch.
“There is this squeeze in FY17 that we have,” said Bob Pappalardo, the mission’s project scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said. “We’re asking the instrument teams and various other aspects of the project, given that squeeze, what will it take in the out years to maintain that ’22 launch. We’re actively pursuing that question as we speak.”

Europa Clipper
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Satcom Global partners with Intellian on strategic hardware deal

Satcom Global, a leading maritime satellite communications provider, and Intellian, a global leader in satellite antenna development and manufacture, have signed a strategic partnership agreement covering the global supply and distribution of maritime satellite equipment.
Under the partnership, Satcom Global will have access to Intellian’s full range of Ku-Band, Ka-Band and FleetBroadband hardware, supporting the delivery of its portfolio of VSAT and L-Band services to maritime customers across the globe.
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NASA moves ahead with Asteroid Redirect Mission despite cost increase

WASHINGTON — The robotic element of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) has cleared a major review despite a $150 million cost increase that the agency blames on a delayed mission schedule.
NASA announced Aug. 15 that it had approved a review of ARM’s robotic segment known as Key Decision Point B (KDP-B), which allows the mission to move into Phase B of its design and development. That KDP-B review took place last month.
NASA said that, as a part of the review, it increased the mission’s cost cap from $1.25 billion to $1.4 billion, an increase the agency said was based on a decision earlier this year to delay the launch of the robotic mission by one year, to 2021. The new estimate, like the earlier one, does not include launch or operations costs.

ARM boulder return
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