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Monday, December 5, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Nov 28 – Dec 5 2016)


Iridium Announces Date for First Iridium NEXT Launch

Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) announced today the date for the first launch of its next-generation global satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT.  Iridium will be launching on SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket on December 16, 2016 at 12:36 p.m. PST. Launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the Falcon 9 rocket will deliver 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into low-earth orbit. 
This launch is contingent upon the FAA's approval of SpaceX's return to flight following the anomaly that occurred on September 1, 2016 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The investigation has been conducted with FAA oversight. Iridium expects to be SpaceX's first return to flight launch customer.

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Second SpaceShipTwo performs first glide flight
Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShipTwo performed its first free flight Dec. 3, a glide test that begins the next phase in testing of the commercial suborbital spaceplane.
SpaceShipTwo, named VSS Unity, and its carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California at about 9:50 a.m. Eastern. The spaceplane separated from WhiteKnightTwo at 10:40 a.m. Eastern, gliding back to a runway landing in Mojave ten minutes later, according to updates provided by the company.
At the controls of SpaceShipTwo were David Mackay, Virgin Galactic’s chief pilot, and Mark Stucky, a former Scaled Composites pilot who flew a number of test fights of the first SpaceShipTwo before joining Virgin Galactic in 2015.

SS2 glide flight
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GlobalSat Licenses Inmarsat Ka, L-band Services Throughout Mexico
Globalsat Group has obtained a license for all Inmarast services through its Mexican affiliate MultiSAT, has received official authorization and landing rights for foreign satellite signals in the Ka- and L-bands.
The Ka-band authorization includes Inmarsat I5 satellites, which deliver the new generation Global Express (GX) service, both for transmission (Earth to satellite) and reception (satellite to Earth), making it possible for Globalsat to legally provide mobile and fixed internet or point-to-point maritime, land and aeronautical data connectivity anywhere within Mexican territory.

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NASA considers shorter first crewed SLS/Orion mission
The first crewed flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft may fly a shorter mission than previously considered, with only a loop around the moon rather than an extended stay there.
In a presentation to a Nov. 30 meeting of the NASA Advisory Council in Palmdale, California, Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, discussed what he described as a new proposal for Exploration Mission 2 (EM-2) that would last eight days.
The concept, called the multi-translunar injection free minimum mission, would initially place the Orion spacecraft and its Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) into an elliptical orbit around the Earth with an apogee of 35,000 kilometers. After spending one day in that orbit, the spacecraft would separate from the EUS and use its service module engine for a final burn to send the spacecraft towards the moon.

Orion at moon
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Klas Telecom Launches Government Network Service Device for Inmarsat GX

Klas Telecom has launched its Government Network Service Device (NSD), a software-defined tactical networking solution for use with Inmarsat’s new Global Xpress (GX) satellite network services. The Government NSD combines Klas Telecom’s Atlas virtualization platform allied with a 5th Gen Intel Dual-Core virtual machine server that enables Cisco 5921 routing and VDS-IS content distribution in an easy-to-use, 2-pound, ruggedized module.
The Government NSD provides a smart interconnection between proprietary military networks and the worldwide, high speed GX family of satellites. In addition to GX, the Government NSD also terminates BGAN services for L-band links and enables Inmarsat Over-The-Top (OTT) services like GX Voice, managed browsing services, content delivery and applications.

Inmarsat Global Xpress network, rendering
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Iridium Reconstructs Longstanding Relationship with Boeing as New Development Services Contract Develops
Iridium Communications announced the restructuring of its longstanding operations and maintenance relationship with Boeing. Under the agreement, Iridium is expected to hire the majority of the Boeing team that currently supports Iridium by performing operations and maintenance on Iridium’s satellites, beginning January 3, 2017. In addition, Iridium will enter into a separate development services contract with Boeing.
This change comes as Iridium Next nears its first launch and the start of the transition to a new Iridium satellite constellation. Iridium will more directly manage its network and optimize operational expenses going forward, while the new development contract will dedicate key Boeing personnel to continue the design and growth required for bringing new services and capabilities into the Iridium Next era.

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ULA debuts online pricing tool for Atlas launches
An interactive website unveiled by United Launch Alliance Nov. 30 both offers potential customers the ability to get price estimates for launches as well as serves as the latest sign of the ten-year-old company’s self-described transformation in a more competitive launch market.
The RocketBuilder website is designed to let users select variables about their launch, including their desired orbit, payload mass, fairing size and desired launch date. The site then calculates the estimated price of the Atlas 5 rocket for that mission.
“It will be easier to buy a ride in space than to get a plane ticket home for the holidays,” said Tory Bruno, ULA chief executive. “All of that guesswork and all of that murkiness that an operator has to go through to figure out launch services, how that balances against the choices they make on their spacecraft, that is a thing of the past.”

Rocketbuilder
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National Satellite Operators Challenging the Paradigm

It’s getting busy up there: in addition to commercial FSS, MSS, LEO and MEO operators both existing and planned, we are also witnessing an increase in the emergence of national satellite operators. We take a look at the reasons why these programs are established and the influence that they are having on the wider satellite landscape.

For decades, satellite programs were the preserve of the countries that could afford them. Harnessing the cash and capability to buy, build and launch a satellite has long been beyond the remit, and budget, of many nations. However, there are several crucial factors that are changing and, in 2016, going forward with a satellite initiative is suddenly a much more viable proposition. Added to this greater accessibility, there is a new awareness and interest in what space can do for us. People all over the world are engaged in talk of space. Space and satellites are in the news and there is much talk about current and future programs.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Nov 21 – Nov 28 2016)


ESA: Mars lander crash caused by 1-second inertial measurement error
The European Space Agency on Nov. 23 said its Schiaparelli lander’s crash landing on Mars on Oct. 19 followed an unexplained saturation of its inertial measurement unit, which delivered bad data to the lander’s computer and forced a premature release of its parachute.
Polluted by the IMU data, the lander’s computer apparently thought it had either already landed or was just about to land. The parachute system was released, the braking thrusters were fired only briefly and the on-ground systems were activated.

Image result for ESA's Schiaparelli Mars entry
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Inmarsat selected as the Volvo Ocean Race’s Global Satellite Communications Partner for 2017-18 Race
Inmarsat (LSE:ISAT.L) will return as the Volvo Ocean Race’s official Global Satellite Communications Partner.
The ongoing partnership advances the possibilities of onboard satellite communications and powers the Race’s digital content delivery from the oceans, while supplying crucial safety and tracking services.
Inmarsat’s fleet of satellites, some 36,000km out in space, deliver the Race communications technology. Inmarsat FleetBroadband provides an ‘always-on’ connection for teams allowing applications such as internet access, emails, calls, weather reporting and telemedicine. It also features streaming IP available on demand, for live applications such as high-quality video streaming. Global Xpress will make its first contribution to the Race supporting press and media at race villages throughout the globe.

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More than 1 in 4 planes worldwide have Wi-Fi

Surfing in the air is increasingly becoming available for Singapore Airlines (SIA) travellers, with half of the carrier's fleet - about 50 planes - Wi-Fi friendly. More aircraft will be progressively equipped. Subsidiary Scoot, which operates budget flights, has a fleet of 12 Boeing 787s which all offer customers Wi-Fi access. SIA and Scoot are among about 70 airlines that provide the service, for a fee in many cases.
The take-up rate for inflight Wi-Fi service has been good, said both SIA and Scoot, but they declined to provide numbers for "competitive reasons". For Scoot, the service is particularly popular for longer-haul flights and flights operated in the day, said the airline's chief commercial officer Leslie Thng.

how to get free wifi on planes
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Orbital Completes ISS Resupply Mission for NASA

Orbital ATK has completed its sixth cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station for NASA the company announced on Nov. 28. Known as OA-5, the mission marked the company’s return to flight operations from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, and the second time Cygnus has been used as a platform for conducting research in space.
On Nov. 27, at approximately 6:40 p.m. EST, Cygnus performed a safe, destructive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand, successfully concluding the OA-5 mission.

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Launchers: The Race to Orbit Tomorrow’s Spacecraft

It’s no secret that every launch services provider is working on new rockets. The industry has entered a time of accelerated change, with SpaceX being a far from inconsequential reason. But more factors than just SpaceX are stirring up change. Satellites, as well as operator expectations, are evolving, and as a result, launch services must evolve too.

There was a time when satellites could be described as more “routine.” Yes, most are heavily customized beasts of machines, but the launch sector knew what operators needed and had solutions to fit the bill. Now, times are different, and the same rockets will no longer suffice.

Image result for launch new rocket
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AST Announced as a Go-to-Market Partner for Iridium® Push-to-Talk

The AST Group of companies (AST), a leading global provider of satellite and radio communications, including custom satellite solutions, Push-to-Talk and remote asset management and tracking is excited to have been selected as a Service Provider for Iridium PTT.
Iridium PTT is the world’s first global, satellite-based push-to-talk service, enabling instant communication between participants located anywhere on earth. Iridium PTT provides a fast, simple, and global service making the Iridium network available to tens, or tens of thousands of devices with the push of a single button.

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NASA Taps SpaceX to Launch Surface Water Survey Satellite

NASA has selected SpaceX to provide launch services for the agency’s Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission. NASA targets launch for April 2021 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, according to a statement released by the agency.
The total cost for NASA to launch SWOT is approximately $112 million, which includes the launch service, spacecraft processing, payload integration, and tracking, data and telemetry support.

NASA Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite, rendering. Photo: NASA
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Spire deploys four satellites from Cygnus
WASHINGTON — An Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo spacecraft deployed four small satellites for Spire Global Nov. 25, the first time a cargo vessel deployed satellites above the orbit of the International Space Station.
The four Lemur-2 satellites were released from the Cygnus vehicle after it raised its orbit to an altitude of 500 kilometers. The Cygnus, which departed the ISS Nov. 21, raised its orbit for the satellite deployment prior to a planned reentry Nov. 27.
While Cygnus vehicles have deployed cubesats after departing the station, this was the first time that the Cygnus raised its orbit above the ISS prior to the deployment. The higher orbit gives the satellites a longer orbital lifetime: about two years from that higher orbit, versus nine months had they been deployed at the same altitude of the station.

Cygnus
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Monday, November 21, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Nov 14 – Nov 21 2016)


Next-generation weather satellite launches to begin forecasting “revolution”

A powerful new satellite that will give forecasters their best-ever looks at storms and other severe weather has taken to the skies.
The GOES-R weather satellite lifted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Nov. 19 at 6:42 p.m. EST (2342 GMT), riding a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket to orbit. The spectacular launch, which lit up the Florida evening sky, occurred about one hour later than planned due to issues with the rocket and launch range that were swiftly resolved.

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US, Russian and French Crew Arrives at Space Station for 6-Month Stay

HOUSTON — The International Space Station (ISS) received three new crewmembers today (Nov. 19), with the arrival of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of the Russian federal space agency Roscosmos, astronaut Peggy Whitson of NASA and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) arrived at the space station at 4:58 p.m. EST (2158 GMT), docking their Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft to the orbiting laboratory’s Rassvet module.
The linkup, 260 miles (419 kilometers) above Earth, took place two days after the crew lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday (Nov. 17).

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Inmarsat safety pioneer remembered in first Vladimir Maksimov H.E.R.O Award for Outstanding Achievement
Mohammed Drissi, the regional coordinator for the Rabat search and rescue (SAR) region was presented with the first Inmarsat ‘Vladimir Maksimov Award for Outstanding Achievement’ at the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) H.E.R.O. (Honouring Excellence in Rescue Operations) Awards 2016, announced yesterday.
Mr Drissi received the award in recognition of his outstanding contribution as Moroccan National SAR Coordinator and Chairman of the NW Africa SAR Committee, which monitors and coordinates SAR activities in Morocco and six bordering countries.
The event was held jointly in Washington, USA and Lisbon, Portugal.

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Vector Space raises additional funds to support 2017 first launch
WASHINGTON — Vector Space Systems said Nov. 18 that it has raised $1.25 million in funding to support development of its small launch vehicle, with a goal of a first launch by the end of next year.
The seed investment into the Tucson, Arizona-based company is led by Space Angels Network, a group of individual angel investors that make early-stage investments in space companies. While Space Angels Network has invested in a number of space startups, including Astrobotic Technology, Planetary Resources, and World View Enterprises, this is its first investment in a launch company

.Vector-R rocket
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Extraterrestrial Gold Rush: What's Next for the Space Mining Industry?

HOUSTON -- If humans eventually want to become a space-faring species, we'll need to be able to collect basic resources, like water, straight from the space environment; it's too expensive and risky to send everything up from Earth, most experts agree. 
As such, multiple companies are now trying to initiate a space mining industry, which could provide those basic resources for space travelers, or for robotic space operations. In the future, asteroids or the moon could even provide humans with resources that are rare on Earth, such as precious metals.
But there are major hurdles that need to be overcome before space mining can get off the ground, so to speak. Representatives from various companies pursuing space mining activities recently spoke about the state of the industry here at the 2016 Space Commerce Conference and Exposition.

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Thuraya Launches Next Generation Satellite Handset

Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) operator Thuraya Telecommunicationshas launched what it claims as the world’s first dual mode, dual Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) phone. The Thuraya XT-Pro Dual satellite phone aims to bridge the gap between satellite and terrestrial communications, allowing users to move in and out of terrestrial coverage, according to a statement released by the company.
Thuraya’s handset includes a dedicated SIM slot for satellite communications and a second one for GSM communications. Users can opt for a Thuraya SIM card and their GSM card, or select any combination of SIM cards that meets their requirements. Callers can be contacted on their GSM number even while on an active satellite call – and vice versa.

Thuraya XT-Pro Dual satellite phone. Photo: Thuraya
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Intellian Technologies launches new GX terminal specially designed for use in defence and intelligence applications.
The GX100PM is the 1m military grade maritime terminal, Type Approved for use on Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network.
It is compatible with Inmarsat’s Global Xpress ‘SATCOM as a Service’ capability, which allows maritime users to access seamless reliable commercial wideband connectivity delivered as managed service worldwide.
The GX100PM shares the same pedestal as the v100PM, a 1m Ku-band mil-grade antenna currently deployed on government vessels around the world. It delivers exceptional Ka-band performance helping to leveraging the proven reliabilityof the v100PM.

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Globalstar In Tunisa Takes Safety Seriously Safeguards Staff With SOS Button For Drivers
The contracts deploy iVMS (Integrated Vehicle Monitoring System) from Tunisian Globalstar partner, Virtual Mobile Data (VMD). These new customers have chosen to deploy iVMS (Integrated Vehicle Monitoring System) from Tunisian Globalstar partner, Virtual Mobile Data (VMD). iVMS switches seamlessly between Globalstar’s simplex satellite network and the land-based GSM/GPRS network to ensure the safety of people and equipment even in the most remote areas.
VMD worked with local technology partner, Neuron Technology Systems (NTS), to design iVMS, which switches automatically to simplex satellite communications when the GSM network becomes unreliable or if a GPRS transmission fails for any reason.

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Advanced Military-Grade Satellite Modems

The AMT-73L and the new AMT-83L line of modems from Advantech Wireless, are the first worldwide satellite modems to be MIL-STD-188-165A certified. Based on the Advantech Wireless Software Defined Radio architecture, the design of these modems ensures unrivaled flexibility and upgrade paths to meet increasing demanding requirements. Several thousand units have been deployed in the field on tactical terminals and gateway sites.
The newer AMT-83L military-grade satellite modem from Advantech Wireless adds a number of advanced features to the DISA certified AMT-73L series. Among these new features there are DVB-S2 with LDPC Coding and Adaptive Coding and Modulation (ACM), IP data interface, GSE encapsulation, Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) spreading and is available with AES 128/256 Encryption.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Nov 7 – Nov 14 2016)


Inmarsat delivers record-breaking data rate to support small-aperture aero capability for global C4ISR

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Inmarsat the leading provider of global mobile satellite communication services, today announced the operational availability of enhanced aeronautical services in support of critical U.S. government Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) operations.
In use today on multiple platforms and missions, government operations are using Inmarsat’s reliable, worldwide L-band space and ground network through micro-antennas as small as 5 inches at unmatched speeds. Inmarsat’s partners now have the ability to deliver record-breaking data rates as high as 10Mbps x 10Mbps. Using high-order modulation, efficiencies up to 4.5 bits per hertz are achieved allowing cost-efficient bandwidth utilization.

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Elon Musk’s rocket blew up in September. Here’s why one of his main customers isn’t worried.

Few have more riding on SpaceX’s next launch than Iridium Satellite Communications. The McLean-based company has spent $3 billion to build a fleet of new, state-of-the-art satellites that would replace an aging constellation that’s been in orbit for years. The company has hired SpaceX for seven missions over the next year to launch dozens into orbit.
The only problem: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has blown up twice. The company is currently grounded again for the second time in two years. And even though SpaceX’s Elon Musk has said the company should fly by mid-December, the investigation into the explosion on Sept. 1 isn’t yet complete and the Federal Aviation Administration hasn’t yet given it the green light to fly.

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NASA Sets Launch Date for First Smallsat Constellation

NASA is set to launch its first Earth science small satellite constellation, which will help improve hurricane intensity, track, and storm-surge forecasts, on Dec. 12 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) hurricane mission will measure previously unknown details crucial to accurately understanding the formation and intensity of tropical cyclones and hurricanes.
“As a constellation of eight spacecraft, CYGNSS will do what a single craft can’t in terms of measuring surface wind speeds inside hurricanes and tropical cyclones at high time-resolution, to improve our ability to understand and predict how these deadly storms develop,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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WorldView-4 launches successfully after two-month fire delay
WASHINGTON — After nearly two months of delay due to wildfires, United Launch Alliance successfully launched an Atlas 5 rocket Nov. 11 carrying an important imaging satellite for DigitalGlobe.
The Atlas 5 lifted off at 1:30 p.m. Eastern from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, carrying the Worldview-4 satellite. DigitalGlobe later confirmed that it received signals from the spacecraft 45 minutes after launch, confirming it was in good health after separation from the rocket’s upper stage.
“This morning’s Atlas 5 launch delivered the WorldView-4 satellite into near sun-synchronous orbit during a flawless flight,” Gary Wentz, ULA’s vice president of human and commercial services, said in a press release. “ULA is proud to have launched the entire constellation of DigitalGobe’s satellites and served in an essential role to get this revolutionary capability to orbit.”

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket stands ready for launch early Friday morning, carrying DigitalGlobe's WorldView-4 advanced imaging satellite. Credit: ULA
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How the GX for Aviation Tour showcased aviation’s connected future

It reads like a famously hedonistic Rolling Stones tour from the early 1970s: 10 cities visited across four continents and 80,128km travelled. Rest assured, however, Inmarsat Aviation’s 38-day global trek during summer 2016 was anything but retro.
The GX for Aviation Tour was, in fact, a showcase of the future of connected flying. Together with onboard hardware partner Honeywell, our aviation team took to the skies in Honeywell’s B757 test aircraft. This saw them successfully complete system integration in preparation for the launch of GX for Aviation, the world’s first truly global high-speed broadband service from a single provider.

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U.S. defense agency encourages allied nations to join unlimited-use Iridium program
LONDON — The agency providing U.S. government access to Iridium’s global constellation of mobile communications satellites on Nov. 9 urged other nations to join the program to take advantage of its fixed-price, unlimited-access feature.
Clare Grason, who manages the Enhanced Mobile Satellite Services (EMSS) program at the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency, said allied nations are welcome to join the other “Five Eyes” nations — Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand — which have already joined the program as EMSS Fair Share members in addition to the United States.
“They have the same privileges as the U.S. Department of Defense,” Grason said at the Global Milsatcom conference here, organized by SMi Group.

iridium-emss
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Low-cost Satellite Communications Option for Currents and Waves

Ocean Scientific International Ltd has added a low-cost, low-power satellite modem to its range of telemetry equipment. The system will publish data (including traditionally high cost/volume currents and waves) from any location globally using the Iridium satellite network. Monthly line rental costs are minimal and data costs are kept low (as little as GBP0.04 per message) by using SBD messaging with big bundle deals available for multiple or long-term deployments.
Conventionally current and wave data transmitted via satellite has proved expensive for the end user owing to the large amount of data produced, however OSIL are able to vastly reduce the costs by handling this data differently within the Iridium system.

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Intellian launches one-meter military grade, Inmarsat type-approved Global Xpress maritime terminal

Intellian Technologies, the world’s leading provider of maritime satellite antenna systems announced today the launch of the GX100PM, a 1m GX terminal specially designed for use in Defense and Intelligence applications.
The GX100PM is the 1m military grade maritime terminal, Type Approved for use on Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network. It is compatible with Inmarsat’s Global Xpress ‘SATCOM as a Service’ capability, which allows maritime users to access seamless reliable commercial wideband connectivity delivered as managed service worldwide.

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Heavy Duty Ahead For Iridium Communications With Komatsu Limited
Now all set to provide the world’s second largest manufacturer of heavy equipment for the construction and mining industries—Komatsu Limited—is Iridium Communications Inc.
This agreement will enable Komatsu to integrate their vehicle monitoring system, KOMTRAX, with the Iridium® network to further extend the firm’s reach into global markets that are currently not served by the company. Iridium will provide global asset tracking and monitoring for Komatsu’ KOMTRAX system, a system with more than 400,000 vehicles in the field today.

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EchoStar 19 reaches Cape Canaveral for mid-December Atlas 5 launch
WASHINGTON — Hughes’ latest high-throughput satellite, EchoStar 19, reached Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station last week in preparation for a Dec. 16 launch atop an Atlas 5 rocket.
EchoStar, the parent company of Hughes, switched launch providers last year after it became evident that the satellite, also known as Jupiter 2, would be too large to launch as a co-passenger on an Ariane 5 rocket as originally planned.
EchoStar 19/Jupiter 2 — which reached Cape Canaveral Nov. 4 — is a Ka-band satellite that will use high-throughput spot beams to provide consumer broadband under the HughesNet brand.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Oct 31 – Nov 7 2016)


Iridium Announces Next-Generation Aviation Broadband Products and Services Suite

Iridium CertusSM to offer game-changing broadband connectivity solutions for business and general aviation users
Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) announced today its new suite of aviation products and services, featuring Iridium Certus technology.  This next-generation suite features a broad portfolio of products from four leading avionics manufacturers, which will deliver global broadband connectivity for cockpit and passenger communications.
Scheduled to launch commercial service in 2017, Iridium Certus is the Company's next-generation multi-service communications platform enabled by its new Iridium NEXT satellite constellation. Iridium Certus will deliver higher throughputs, enterprise-grade reliability and global overage at an unprecedented value.  After completion of the Iridium NEXT constellation, Iridium Certus will deliver speeds eventually reaching 1.4 Mbps through some of the smallest and most cost-effective antennas in the industry.    

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Orbital to launch next Cygnus mission on Atlas 5
WASHINGTON — Citing a desire to both maximize the cargo delivered to the International Space Station and ensure it stays on schedule, Orbital ATK said Nov. 4 it will launch its next Cygnus mission on an Atlas 5 rather than its own Antares rocket.
Orbital ATK said that the OA-7 Cygnus mission, previously planned to launch on an Antares rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia, will instead launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in the spring of 2017. The company said this is a one-time arrangement, with future Cygnus launches returning to the Antares.

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Inmarsat, juggling two launches, says SpaceX to return to flight in December

PARIS — Mobile satellite services provider Inmarsat on Nov. 3 said launch-service provider SpaceX has identified the root cause of the Sept. 1 explosion of its Falcon 9 rocket during a launch-pad test and likely will return to flight in December.
“SpaceX has obviously spent some time investigating the reasons behind their recent launch failure,” Inmarsat Chief Executive Rupert Pearce said in a conference call with investors. “We believe they now have found a root cause that is fixable quite easily and quite quickly. So they should be able to return to flight in December.”

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Finding the Right Fit: How Antennas Are Evolving for IFC
Airplanes need antennas, and lots of them. Some can carry well over 60 for a variety of purposes, but one has come to the spotlight — the antenna for passenger connectivity. This much-needed device is the gateway for in-flight Wi-Fi, but make the antenna too big, and you increase the amount of fuel the airline needs. Make the antenna too small, and it will fail to meet bandwidth demands. The right In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) antenna must balance this dichotomy, and that is where antenna manufacturers find themselves today.
IFEC is creating new needs for a sector that doesn’t necessarily move at breakneck speeds. Asked if aeronautical antenna technology development is moving faster or slower than expectations in recent years, Norman Haughton, manager of IFEC product design at Air Canada, gives a curt answer: “slower.”
Image result for In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity inmarsat cobham
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Innovation a priority for new NASA science chief
The new head of NASA’s science directorate says he wants to incorporate more innovation into its various missions, but acknowledges that there are limited opportunities to do so in the near future with current missions.
In an Oct. 31 roundtable with reporters at NASA Headquarters, Thomas Zurbuchen, named the agency’s associate administrator for science Sept. 27, said he would seek opportunities to incorporate so-called “disruptive” technologies, like small satellites, into the agency’s portfolio of science missions, while making sure it successfully carried out larger missions.

NASA CubeSats Heading into Orbit (Artist's Concept) Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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The role of improved connectivity in the rollout of smart shipping and the human factor

As we discuss the oncoming advent of smart shipping, we seem to concentrate on the technologies and possibilities to our operations.
There is one key factor that is crucial for all of this to occur. The connectivity. It is it obvious that we assume that connectivity has improved to make this possible? Today I will consider what has improved and what is left to be done.
If the connectivity has improved this should logically improve the life of the seafarer, and therefore I want to also examine the human factor in smart shipping but more importantly the human factor when considering connectivity and operations.

The role of improved connectivity in the rollout of smart shipping and the human factor
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DataPath® Partners with Dejero for Complete, Simplified Broadcast Solution

ATLANTA, Nov. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- DataPath, Inc., a leading provider of remote field communications and information technology solutions to the aerospace, broadcast, government, and infrastructure markets, announced today the company has become a value-added reseller of Dejero products and services.
Dejero's LIVE+ cloud-based platform is known throughout the broadcast industry for instantly and cost-effectively delivering high-quality live video over IP. Including the portable GoBox and EnGo transmitters, as well as the rack-mountable VSET and Transceiver solutions, the combination of Dejero's LIVE+ platform with DataPath's network mobility products, satellite network services and portable satellite terminals allows DataPath to provide newsgathering teams the most robust satellite or bonded cellular connection available at any given time and location worldwide.

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Spacecom to Receive Full Payment of $196 Million for Lost Amos 6

[Via Satellite 11-04-2016] Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) insurers will pay a sum of $196 million to Spacecom, which is the full amount paid to IAI for the construction and delivery of the Amos 6 satellite, which was destroyed in a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket explosion during mission preparations Sept. 1. The sum will be paid directly into Spacecom’s bank account during the month of November.
Alongside this notice, IAI requested that Spacecom agree to delay this payment from the beginning of the month, as required under the contract, until Nov. 24. Spacecom acceded to this request. Following Spacecom’s receipt of the $196 million payment, the company and IAI will discuss the interest to be paid, as well.

Spacecom Amos 6
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Virgin Galactic Postpones 1st Glide Test with New SpaceShipTwo
Virgin Galactic has postponed the glide test portion of today's flightdue to strong winds. The VSS Unity has landed safely, and the company plans to announce a new test date soon. The space tourism company Virgin Galactic took to the air with its VSS Unity space plane today (Nov. 1) to attempt the craft's first glide flight. 
Virgin Galactic representatives announced the test this morning. If weather permits, the SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity will be carried to drop altitude by its mothership, called the VMS EVE, and then released so that it can glide back to Earth and make a runway landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The VMS Eve took off at about 10:35 a.m. EDT (7:35 a.m. PDT/1435 GMT) from the Mojave spaceport.

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Monday, October 31, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Oct 24 – Oct 31 2016)


This Technology Will Make Missing Planes a Thing of the Past

It’s called ADS-B, and it’s a big deal for aviation.

Of the many questions raised by the vanishing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in 2014, the most vexing was also the most fundamental: How could aviation authorities lose track of an entire Boeing 777 BA -0.01% and the 239 people on board? Many were surprised to learn that across vast swaths of the planet—particularly over oceans—air traffic controllers have only a vague idea of the location of many of the world’s airliners at any given moment.
“Air traffic controllers aren’t tracking you in real time,” says Don Thoma, CEO of Aireon, a partnership between global communications satellite operator Iridium and a handful of air traffic control providers. By early 2018 Aireon intends to change that. Instead of conventional radar, it plans to launch a satellite-based communications network that can precisely track passenger aircraft—and in doing so, trim fuel consumption, shorten flight times, and save airlines hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

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Iridium Gains Altitude Despite NEXT Delays

Satellite communications specialist Iridium Communications has aimed its offerings at business customers who need truly global access to wireless networks, with voice and data services that provide vital links to the rest of the world for its users. Yet some recent setbacks related to rocket company SpaceX have threatened to delay Iridium's key NEXT satellite upgrade program, and coming into Thursday's third-quarter financial report, Iridium investors weren't expecting more than flat performance on its bottom line. For its part, Iridium managed to grow its earnings, and although it now believes the NEXT program might not be finished until 2018, it is still optimistic about its long-range plan. Let's look more closely at how Iridium Communications did and what's ahead for the company.

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Harris combat radios get National Security Agency clearance for MUOS upgrade

Harris Corp. said Nov. 1 that the backpack-sized military radios it builds for U.S. troops  to carry into combat were recently certified by the National Security Agency to use the higher-throughput capabilities of the Navy’s Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellites.
Having completed testing earlier this year to make the Falcon 3 AN/PRC-117G manpack radio MUOS-compatible via a software patch, Melbourne, Florida-based Harris Corp. anticipates a sizable revenue opportunity upgrading the manpacks to send and receive secure voice, video and data transmissions via the constellation of MUOS satellites that the U.S. began deploying in 2012.

Harris Corp. says that 30,000 of its Falcon 3 AN/PRC-117G manpack radios are currently deployed. Credit:  Harris Corp.
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Aerojet Rocketdyne Completes Launch Abort Engine Hot Fire Tests for Starliner

Aerojet Rocketdyne announced it has successfully completed a series of hot-fire tests on two Launch Abort Engines (LAE) featuring new propellant valves for Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner service module propulsion system. The tests were conducted in the Mojave Desert in California, and confirmed the ability for the new valves to modulate propellant flow and control peak LAE thrust in the event of a launch abort.
The LAEs, designed by Aerojet Rocketdyne, include a fuel valve and oxidizer valve, which were developed and tested under the company’s Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) subcontract to Boeing. The Starliner aims to carry humans to the International Space Station (ISS) once again from United States soil.

Hot-fire tests on two Launch Abort Engines for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner service module propulsion system. Photo: Aerojet Rocketdyne
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Honeywell to Offer Inmarsat Satellite In-Flight Broadband to Military Users

Honeywell has announced it will offer high-speed, high-bandwidth satellite communications capabilities for military use. Inmarsat’s Global Xpress “satcom as a service” in-flight broadband service and Honeywell’s JetWave satellite communications hardware work together to provide a consistent, high-speed, high-bandwidth connectivity experience for military users around the world, improving overall situational awareness and safety while allowing troops to communicate more effectively, the company announced.

Inmarsat Global Xpress network, rendering
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An Internet of Things World: Where does Satellite fit in?

One of the big buzz terms at recent satellite events has been the Internet of Things (IoT), where we live in an uber-connected world full of connected devices which can pretty much track everything man and machine do as billions of devices talk to each other. While IoT is great news for the wireless industry, it could also offer some interesting new growth opportunities for satellite companies as they look to secure a role in this hyper-connected state of affairs.
Organizations such as the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) have already started work on IoT strategies in Europe and Singapore, respectively. Beh Kian Teik, executive director of the Office for Space Technology and Industry (OSTIn) at the Singapore Economic Development Board (SEDB), says OSTIn is focused on building up satellite technology capabilities in both its public research institutions and for industry players, particularly through encouraging public-private collaborations.

Image result for Internet of Things satellite
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Cobham To Develop Palletized Aerial Refuelling System For US Marines’ MV-22s Ospreys
Cobham has been awarded a contract by the Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office to develop a palletized aerial refuelling system to give the the US Marine Corps’ MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft the ability refuel other aircraft while inflight.
Known as V-22 Aerial Refueling System (VARS), the system will utilize Cobham's existing FR300 Hose Drum Unit with some modifications. The roll-on/roll-off kit will enable the Marines to use their land- and carrier-based MV-22B aircraft to refuel F-35B Lightning II and F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, thereby extending their operational range and loiter times, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

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Virgin Galactic set to begin SpaceShipTwo glide flights

Virgin Galactic is planning to begin glide flight tests of its second SpaceShipTwo next Tuesday, almost exactly two years after a fatal test flight of its first suborbital spaceplane.
Virgin Galactic test pilot CJ Sturckow, speaking at a “Space Stories” event at The Explorers Club here Oct. 29, said the company has scheduled the first glide flight of the vehicle, named VSS Unity, on Nov. 1. That flight would come after a single “captive carry” test flight of the vehicle in September, when the vehicle remained attached to its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft for its entire flight.

SpaceShipTwo test flight
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NASA seeks concepts for commercial lunar lander instruments

NASA announced Nov. 1 that it is seeking information regarding instruments that could be flown to the moon on future commercial spacecraft, with one company that is developing a lander offering financial support for their development.
The request for information (RFI) released by NASA seeks details about “small payloads that could be delivered to the moon as early as the 2017–2020 timeframe using U.S. commercial lunar cargo transportation service providers.” The RFI, issued though NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems division, is focused on instruments and experiments that address “strategic knowledge gaps” in robotic and human lunar exploration, versus pure science investigations.

Moon Express's MX-1 lander. Credit: Moon Express artist's concept
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Industry committee to start work on human spaceflight safety standards

With the Federal Aviation Administration restricted from developing safety regulations for people flying on commercial human spacecraft, an industry standards organization is moving ahead with plans to establish a committee to develop a voluntary set of standards.
At a meeting here Oct. 24, ASTM International, an organization founded in 1898 that develops voluntary consensus standards for a wide range of industries, agreed to move ahead with the creation of a committee that will work on creating such standards for commercial launch vehicles, spacecraft and spaceports.

SpaceShipTwo test flight. Credit: Virgin Galactic
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