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Monday, November 6, 2017

This Week in Satellite News! (Oct 30 – Nov 06 2017)

Iridium’s time sequencing solution may be a player in 5G to augment GPS

Iridium Communications doesn’t discuss 5G all that much, but its time sequencing solution could be of interest to mobile carriers that rely on the GPS clock in urban canyons, where GPS doesn’t perform well inside buildings.
“We right now are a backup to IoT, to LTE,” said Iridium CFO Thomas Fitzpatrick during the Wells Fargo 2017 Media & Telecom Conference in New York. “We’ll be the same thing with 5G.”

Iridium user (Iridium)
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NASA issues study contracts for Deep Space Gateway element

NASA awarded contracts Nov. 1 to five companies to examine how they could develop a power and propulsion module that could become the initial element of the agency’s proposed Deep Space Gateway.
NASA issued the contracts, part of the agency’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships, or NextSTEP, program, to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Space Systems and Space Systems Loral. The contracts, which run for four months, have a combined value of approximately $2.4 million.

Lockheed Martin gateway
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SpaceX to First Launch Prototype Satellite This Year

SpaceX is on track to begin launching its broadband constellation as early as 2019, and aims to have the full system on orbit by 2024. In an Oct. 25 testimony delivered to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, SpaceX Vice President of Satellite Government Affairs Patricia Cooper reaffirmed the company’s plans to launch the first prototype of its Low Earth Orbit (LEO) broadband constellation before the end of the year and an additional prototype in the early months of 2018.

A Falcon 9 rocket launches the SES 10 satellite on March 30, 2017. Photo: SpaceX.
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Air Force ‘hopeful’ Congress will support new strategy to phase out Russian rocket engines

As the House and Senate move to wrap up negotiations on the 2018 defense policy bill, the Air Force’s “launch systems enterprise” anxiously is waiting to see the final language in the National Defense Authorization Act. One of the concerns: Will Congress limit the options available to the Air Force to phase out Russian engines from U.S. military space launch vehicles?
The political battle over the next-generation evolved expendable launch vehicle started about three years ago when Congress set a deadline for the Air Force to stop funding the Russian RD-180 heavy rocket engine. The Air Force last month issued a request for vendor proposals and expects to have at least three options to choose from. With the completion of the NDAA just days away, Air Force officials worry that the House language, if adopted, would restrict the path forward to end U.S. dependence on Russian engines.

United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket (Courtesy photo/United Launch Alliance)
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Morocco to Orbit Earth Observation Satellite Next Week

Morocco is set to join a select group of countries in Africa that have a satellite in orbit with the launch on Nov. 8 of its Earth Observation satellite. An Arianespace Vega rocket will launch the satellite, Mohammed 6-A, from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana. The launch will mark the North African country’s major breakthrough in mastering space technology, an official statement said.
The Mohammed 6-A satellite is an EO satellite built for the Kingdom of Morocco by Thales Alenia Space as system prime contractor and Airbus as co-prime. The satellite will be used for mapping and land surveying activities, regional development, agricultural monitoring, the prevention and management of natural disasters, monitoring changes in the environment and desertification, as well as border and coastal surveillance, according to an Arianespace statement. A three-axis stabilized satellite, the Mohammed 6-A will weigh approximately 1,110 kg.

Image taken of Fez, Morocco from space in August 2016. Photo: Planet.
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Minotaur launches 10 satellites for Planet

An Orbital ATK Minotaur-C rocket successfully launched two sets of satellites for Earth observation company Planet Oct. 31 in what was effectively the return to flight of a vehicle that failed in its two previous missions.
The Minotaur-C lifted off from Space Launch Complex 576E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on schedule at 5:37 p.m. Eastern. The rocket deployed its payload of six SkySat spacecraft and four Dove cubesats between 13 and 19 minutes after liftoff, but a lack of real-time telemetry meant that confirmation of the successful launch did not come until more than two hours after liftoff, once Planet made contact with all 10 satellites via its ground stations.

Minotaur-C launch
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Marlink Adds Satellite Capacity for Luxury Vessels

Marlink has added satellite capacity for its yachting customers in the Caribbean and Mediterranean. The additional capacity comes as yachts are preparing to head south after this year’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS).
The additional  capacity builds on the existing High Speed Zones service for luxury vessels, which launched in November 2016. Extra capacity ensures higher availability and greater redundancy with a new satellite and a new beam joining the Sealink network, ensuring even higher Quality of Service (QOS) for reliable internet access, 4K TV streaming, voice calling, and high-end IP applications in the most popular yachting destinations year-round. The newly added capacity increases diversity in Marlink’s network covering the key yachting regions, ensuring that a link is always available and that communication services work seamlessly.

Abeking & Rasmussen's Cloudbreak vessel. Photo: FLIBS.
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Iridium, its satellites & launches on track, now focusing on cash-flow stability

Mobile satellite services provider Iridium Communications has changed the terms of its loan from the French export-credit agency and won payment extensions from its satellite prime contractor as it pivots from building a $3 billion network to paying the debt associated with it.
As it does so, it is providing a window on the French agency’s risk tolerance to other low-orbiting constellations trying to cut their own deals.
Formerly called Coface, Bpifrance Assurance Export is reviewing solicitations from the multibillion-dollar OneWebsatellite constellation and from startup LeoSat in addition to managing existing facilities with Iridium and Globalstar.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

This Week in Satellite News! (Oct 23 – Oct 30 2017)

Inmarsat taps Arianespace for fifth Global Xpress launch

British satellite operator Inmarsat will launch its next Global Xpress satellite on an Ariane 5 rocket from Arianespace, the companies announced today.
The mission, slated for the second half of 2019, follows four other Global Xpress satellites, the first three of which launched on International Launch Services Proton rockets, followed by the fourth on a SpaceX Falcon 9. Global Xpress is Inmarsat’ Ka-band high-throughput constellation, operating in geosynchronous orbit.

Image result for Arianespace inmarsat
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SpaceX ties ULA’s annual launch record with 16th launch this year

SpaceX’s Oct. 30 launch of the Koreasat-5A telecommunications satellite doubled the number of Falcon 9 missions completed in a single year and ties the company with United Launch Alliance’s record of 16 launches in one year.
The successful mission took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 3:34 p.m. Eastern, deploying the satellite 36 minutes after liftoff. The Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage booster overcame choppier waters from tropical storm Philippe to land on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” nine minutes later in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX Falcon 9 Koreasat 5A launch
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Honeywell’s Connected Aircraft Hardware Certified for Helicopters

The helicopter industry can now take advantage of higher-speed onboard Wi-Fi, video transmission and telemedicine capability in Europe and North America using Honeywell’s Connected Aircraft solution, the Aspire 200 system, the company announced.
Honeywell was awarded a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for the Aspire 200 satellite communications system on the Airbus Helicopters AS350 and Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk and has applied for an FAA STC for the Bell 429, while Transport Canada has certified the system on the Bell 429. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approvals for those helicopters are also underway. In addition, EASA recently approved the installation of the Aspire 200 system on the Leonardo AW139 helicopter.

Airbus Helicopters delivers new Mississippi-built AS350 B3e helicopter to Mississippi Department of Public Safety. Photo: Airbus Helicopters.
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Globalstar Provides Satellite Tech to Protect Norway’s Reindeer

Globalstar Europe Satellite Services announced that its technology is at the heart of the SaveMyReindeer Internet of Things (IOT) solution developed by specialist animal tracking provider, FindMy. Accordign to FindMy, the solution is designed to prevent trains from colliding with reindeer in Norway’s hinterland.
Hundreds of kilometers of Norway’s railroads, reaching inside the Arctic Circle, traverse territories inhabited by the region’s indigenous Sami people, for whom keeping herds of reindeer as livestock has for millennia been central to their culture and economy. These animals roam free, often migrating into Sweden and Finland.

Reindeer traverse the Norwegian hinterlands. Photo: Globalstar.
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How close are high-altitude platforms to competing with satellites?

Balloons, airships, unmanned planes and other so-called pseudo satellites loitering in the stratosphere are likely to enrich the global communications and Earth-observation ecosystem in the not-so-distant future.
Google, an especially deep-pocketed proponent of these satellite alternatives,  demonstrated again this week that at least some high-altitude pseudo satellites have passed the purely research and development stage, when it dispatched its helium-filled balloons, developed as part of the Google Loon Project, to provide basic internet and text messaging services to a Puerto Rico still reeling from Hurricane Maria more than month ago.

Google deployed its Project  Loon high-altitude balloons to Puerto Rico to provide LTE service to the storm-ravaged island. Credit: Google Project Loon
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NanoRacks Has Deployed its Largest Microsatellite from ISS

NanoRacks has successfully deployed the Kestrel Eye 2M (KE2M) microsatellite via the company’s Kaber Microsatellite Deployer from the International Space Station (ISS). This is the largest satellite NanoRacks has deployed to date, and the first deployed from the Kaber deployer.
According to NanoRacks, the Kaber program allows for a larger “express” class of satellites to be deployed from ISS, up to 100 kg. NanoRacks deploys these Kaber-class satellites currently through the Japanese Experiment Module Airlock, and will shift deployments to the NanoRacks airlock module when the company’s commercial airlock becomes operational in 2019.

Image result for Microsatellite NanoRacks
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MicroLink Develops New Solar Cell Tech for Department of Energy

MicroLink Devices has entered into an exclusive license agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to commercialize Inverted Metamorphic Multi-Junction (IMM) solar cell technology. The IMM solar cell architecture enables the manufacture of solar cells with very high efficiency as well as light weight, which are ideal for powering satellites and solar aircraft.

MicroLink's ELO-based IMM wafers. Photo: MicroLink Devices.
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Vector to perform first orbital launches from Virginia

Vector, an Arizona-based company that has done test flights from California and Georgia, announced Oct. 19 it plans to make its first orbital launch from a Virginia site as soon as next summer.
Vector announced an agreement with the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority for three launches of the company’s Vector-R rocket from Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), the commercial launch facilities on Wallops Island, Virginia, in the next two years. The agreement includes an option for five additional launches.

Vector-R Wallops
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