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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

This Week in Satellite News! (Feb 13 – Feb 20 2017)

Iridium Selects Target Date for Second Launch of Iridium Next

Iridium Communications has announced a targeted launch date of mid-June for the second mission of 10 Iridium Next satellites. Originally anticipated for mid-April 2017, the date has shifted due to a backlog in SpaceX’s launch manifest as a result of last year’s anomaly on Sept. 1. This second launch will deliver another 10 Iridium Next satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX is targeting six subsequent Iridium Next launches approximately every two months thereafter.
“Even with this eight week shift, SpaceX’s targeted schedule completes our constellation in mid-2018,” said Matt Desch, chief executive officer at Iridium.

Falcon 9 liftoff.
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Rocket Lab ships first Electron rocket to launch site

Small satellite launch company Rocket Lab shipped its first orbital launch vehicle to the company’s Launch Complex 1 facility to kick off pre-flight checkouts ahead of a test campaign consisting of three trial launches.
The startup had originally planned to commence test launches in 2016, but opted to perform additional ground testing, give its team some downtime around the Christmas holiday, and also complete infrastructure for the launch facility at Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand, Founder and Chief Executive Peter Beck told SpaceNews Feb. 15.

Rocket Lab Electron It's a Test
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Falcon 9 lifts off on first mission from Kennedy Space Center pad

A SpaceX Falcon 9 lifted off for the first time from a launch site here previously used by Apollo and shuttle missions Feb. 19, placing a Dragon cargo spacecraft into orbit.
The Falcon 9 lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at 9:39 a.m. Eastern and placed the Dragon cargo spacecraft into orbit 10 minutes later. The rocket’s first stage successfully landed at Landing Zone 1, a former launch site at neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, eight minutes later.

F9 LC-39A launch
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Indian PSLV-C37 Launches Record 104 Satellites in a Single Flight

In its 39th flight, the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) successfully launched ISRO’s 714-kilogram Cartosat-2 satellite along with 103 co-passenger satellites from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. This is the 38th successful mission for PSLV in a row.
PSLV-C37 lifted off at 9:28 a.m. Indian Standard Time (IST), as planned. After a flight of 16 minutes and 48 seconds, the satellites achieved a polar sun synchronous orbit of 506 kilometers inclined at an angle of 97.46 degrees to the equator. In the succeeding 12 minutes, all 104 satellites successfully separated from the PSLV fourth stage in a predetermined sequence, beginning with Cartosat-2 series satellite, followed by ISRO NanoSatellite-1 (INS-1) and INS-2.

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Expert panel supports study to accelerate first crewed SLS mission

A panel of former NASA astronauts and officials offered tentative support Feb. 16 for an agency study announced this week to examine putting a crew on the first flight of the Space Launch System.
The witnesses, which included two former astronauts, a former chief scientist and a former center director, were asked about the issue late in a two-and-a-half-hour hearing on NASA by the House Science Committee. The hearing took place a day after NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot announced plans to study the feasibility of putting crew on Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1), currently scheduled to launch in late 2018 without a crew.

NASA artist's concept of SLS.
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GAO drops one weather satellite from list of high-risk missions, but adds another

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued its biennial assessment of high-risk government programs yesterday.  The report addresses programs in all parts of the government, including civil and national security space programs.  NOAA's weather satellites have been on the high-risk list for several years, but GAO praised NOAA's progress with its GOES series of geostationary weather satellites and concluded they no longer warrant inclusion. NOAA's polar orbiting satellites remain on the list.  GAO also added DOD's weather satellite program to the high-risk list because DOD lacks a comprehensive plan for providing required capabilities.

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SpaceX delays next Iridium launch two months

Iridium Communications says SpaceX has pushed back the launch of its second batch of next-generation satellites from mid-April to mid-June, a move that shifts the expected completion date for Iridium Next to the middle of 2018.
In a Feb. 15 statement, Iridium said the two-monthly launch delay is “due to a backlog in SpaceX’s launch manifest as a result of last year’s September 1st anomaly.”
Iridium’s satellites are launching 10 at a time on Falcon 9 rockets lifting off from  from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California — part of what Iridium Chief Executive Matthew Desch described last June as a “separate queue” from SpaceX missions launching from the more frequently used Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. However, that was before a Falcon 9 exploded on the Cape’s Pad 40 during a routine pre-flight test. The accident halted SpaceX launches for four-and-half months. Falcon 9 returned to flight Jan. 14 delivering the first 10 Iridium Next satellites to orbit.

Falcon 9 Iridium-1 launch
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Commercial Space Industry Can Deliver Agility and Innovation for Better Space Resilience

The U.S. government urgently needs to transform its approach to space defense. Slow and onerous procurement processes are stunting the innovation necessary to sustaining the nation’s leadership in the national security space arena. A more responsive approach to acquisition can help the Department of Defense (DOD) boost the resiliency of its space enterprise, and provide access to the agility, diversity, and innovation of the commercial space sector.
Late last year senior government leaders from Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) and senior executives from a variety of companies gathered for the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) annual Executive Forum in Colorado Springs. The theme was “Preparing for Tomorrow’s Fight,” a priority identified in Gen. John Hyten’s Commander’s Strategic Intent. I had the privilege of representing Intelsat General (IGC) as the only commercial satellite operator invited to attend the event.

Can the Commercial Space Industry and National Parks Get Along?
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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

This Week in Satellite News! (Feb 6 – Feb 13 2017)

SPOT Satellite Devices Set New Safety Record with 274 Rescues in Canada in 2016

Globalstar Canada Satellite Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Globalstar Inc. (NYSE MKT: GSAT) and the leader in satellite messaging and emergency notification technologies, announced today that its SPOT family of products has set a new safety record with 274 rescues initiated in Canada in 2016. The new milestone surpasses the previous record of 196 rescues which was set in 2014. To date, an estimated one-third, or 30% of all SPOT rescues worldwide have been initiated in Canada. SPOT is a proven and essential life-saving line of communication using 100% satellite technology for messaging, tracking and emergency notification completely independent of cellular coverage. 

Image result for Globalstar Canada Satellite rescue
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Kepler Communications: a Toronto startup’s quest to connect all things, everywhere

Mina Mitry is at the helm of a seven-person company that has raised $5.5 million since forming in 2015 to develop a global constellation of cubesats to connect any device on Earth or in orbit. Kepler Communications is the fourth startup on the 27-year-old’s resume, but the first he co-founded — and his first dealing with space.
Before launching Kepler Communications, located in a small office suite above a nail salon and Wild Wing restaurant in downtown Toronto, Mitry put his aerospace engineering degrees to work at a succession of tech-heavy startups, including TeaBot, a company that makes self-serve, loose-leaf tea kiosks, and Brizi, a company that aims to equip the world’s sports arenas with augmented-reality camera systems that fans can control from their smartphones.

Image result for Kepler Communications
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Inmarsat, Actility Deliver Global LoRaWAN IoT Network for Business Applications

Inmarsat announced that its LoRaWAN-based network developed in partnership with Actility, is delivering on its strategy to bring the Internet of Things (IoT) to every corner of the globe. Early applications in asset tracking, agribusiness and oil and gas are helping businesses in remote regions of the world become more efficient, reduce costs and drive new revenue through IoT-based solutions.

Global Xpress GX
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SpaceX planning Feb. 18 launch of cargo spacecraft on first mission from historic launch pad

SpaceX could attract a holiday weekend crowd for its first launch from Kennedy Space Center, now targeted for Saturday, Feb. 18, at the start of Presidents Day weekend.
Liftoff from historic pad 39A of a Falcon 9 rocket and unmanned Dragon capsule carrying International Space Station supplies would be expected just before 10 a.m.

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Comtech Releases Evolved High-Performance Satellite Modems

Comtech Telecommunications announced the release of the VersaFEC-2 High-Performance Low-Density Parity-Check (LDPC) option board and version 1.5 for the CDM-570A/Large Internet Packet (L-IP) satellite modems.
The VersaFEC-2 waveform is an evolved version of the VersaFEC waveform. VersaFEC-2 was designed to provide optimal performance for latency sensitive applications that require the highest coding performance at the lowest latency, according to Comtech. It features 74 modulation and coding combinations (ModCods) and a new family of constellations that allows better operation on non-linear satellite channels, outperforming the Digital Video Broadcasting-Satellite-Second Generation (DVB-S2) standard. This new innovation provides two operational modes: Long-Block and Short-Block.

Comtech Telecommunications
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Thales: 22 Iridium Next satellites are ready for SpaceX and 22 more will be soon

Iridium Next satellite prime contractor Thales Alenia Space on Feb. 3 said the successful early in-orbit tests of the first 10 Iridium Next satellites, launched Jan. 14, make it all but certain that deliveries of the 60 other satellites will occur as scheduled.
Thales Alenia Space is nonetheless sticking with its conservative estimates of when the coming launches will occur, especially since the schedule depends not only on Thales Alenia Space and its contracting team, including Orbital ATK, but also the readiness of launch provider SpaceX.

Image result for Iridium Next thales
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NanoRacks, Boeing partnering on ISS airlock with spinoff potential

NanoRacks announced plans Feb. 6 to work with Boeing on a commercial airlock designed to satisfy growing demand by companies seeking to launch cubesats and small satellites from the International Space station.
Boeing plans to fabricate and install the airlock’s Passive Common Berthing Mechanism, the doorway satellites pass through as they move from the pressurized environment of the ISS into space. NanoRacks and Boeing are designing the new airlock to be used on the ISS and then moved to a future commercial space platform, Jeff Manber, NanoRacks chief executive, told SpaceNews.

NanoRacks and Boeing are designing the new airlock to be used on the ISS and then moved to a future commercial space platform, Jeff Manber, NanoRacks chief executive, told SpaceNews. Credit: NanoRacks
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Harris Corp. says deployable satellite mesh antenna market booming

Harris Corp. Chief Executive William M. Brown said last year’s indications of a coming strong market for unfurlable mesh antennas have been confirmed, with the company booking two new orders in the last three months of 2016 and more likely on the way. While used mainly for mobile communications, the large reflectors have also found markets in Earth observation.
“In the back half of 2016, we were awarded two unfurlable antennas and we commented that prospects were stronger than they've ever been in more than almost a decade,” Brown said in a Feb. 2 conference call with investors. “In this quarter, we were awarded another two reflectors and were pursuing another 10 opportunities, with expected awards over the next few years. So prospects remain positive.”

Image result for Harris Corp deployable satellite
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