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Monday, October 9, 2017

This Week in Satellite News! (Oct 02 – Oct 09 2017)



SpaceX Launches 10 New Iridium Satellites, Sticks Rocket Landing

The private spaceflight company SpaceX successfully launched 10 communications satellites into low-Earth orbit today (Oct. 9) and landed the spent Falcon 9 first-stage rocket booster on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 8:37 a.m. EDT (1237 GMT/5:37 a.m. EDT), carrying 10 satellites for Iridium Communications, as part of the company's Iridium Next constellation. The first stage of the two-stage Falcon 9 landed on SpaceX's drone ship "Just Read the Instructions" in the Pacific about 7.5 minutes after the launch.

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National Space Council calls for human return to the moon

With the space program’s past as a backdrop, Vice President Mike Pence vowed Oct. 5 to reinvigorate the nation’s future in space through policies developed by the National Space Council, including a renewed emphasis on human missions to the moon.
Pence, chairing the first meeting of the Council since its reestablishment by an executive order in June, specifically instructed NASA to develop plans for human missions to the moon that will serve as a step toward later expeditions to Mars.

Image result for National Space Council
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NASA launching up to 72 smallsats with Spaceflight for $5.5 million

NASA signed its first contract with small satellite rideshare company Spaceflight to launch as many as 72 cubesats between now and 2020 for a total price of up to $5.5 million.
Specifically, the contract enables the launch of 72 “units,” which typically measure 10 centimeters in length, width and height, and have a mass of around 1.33 kilograms. These units are often assembled in groups to form larger cubesats, such as the 3U cubesats Spire and Planet use, or the 6U Arkyd satellites of Planetary Resources.

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Globalstar to make stock offer for $125 million

Mobile satellite services provider Globalstar announced after Wednesday’s closing bell a proposed public offering of $125 million in shares of voting common stock.
Shares of the Covington, Louisiana company’s stock, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange, closed Tuesday at $1.81 a share.
In a filing Wednesday evening with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Globalstar said Thermo Capital Partners LLC — which is led by Globalstar chairman and chief executive Jay Monroe — intends to buy up to $20 million in shares during the public offering. Thermo Capital is Globalstar’s controlling shareholder.

Globalstar constellation
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Iridium Begins On-Orbit Testing of its L-Band Service

Iridium Communications has begun live testing on-orbit of its Iridium Certus service on operational Iridium Next satellites. Iridium Certus will be the company’s new global broadband service, offering safety and critical L-band communications connectivity through the Iridium Next satellite constellation.
The testing and validation process started on Sept. 25 and has involved uploading and activating software to the Iridium Next satellites already in orbit to enable Iridium Certus. As of Oct. 4, several Iridium Next satellites in operation were already undergoing live on-orbit testing.

Thales Iridium NEXT
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In the face of growing threats, Army scrambles to secure satellite links

A recent examination of the Army’s combat networks turned out to be a huge wakeup call: The technology is not up to the job of ensuring systems are protected from enemy electronic attacks. Following years of experiments and failed procurements, the Army is back to the drawing board in its efforts to acquire modern tactical networks that are reliable and resilient for combat use.
A vulnerable satellite infrastructure has sent Army officials scrambling in search of solutions. In areas like satellite anti-jamming and secure communications, the Army is seeking new products from the private sector and trying to patch up existing systems.

Soldiers at Ft. Bragg, N.C. test tactical radios. (Army photo)
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ASRC 3D prints fuel injector prototype for RD-180 successor

ASRC of Beltsville, Md., has test fired a subscale propellant injector built via additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, paving the way for a version that could support whichever engine United Launch Alliance chooses to replace the Russian-built RD-180 on the Atlas 5 rocket.
ASRC’s Federal Technical Services division conducted the full-power test in April, retiring risk on an engine component that could potentially be built in a quarter of the time of previous techniques.

ASRC propellant injector
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ISS partners seek clarity on station’s long-term future

The head of NASA’s human spaceflight program says he would like to see a decision made in the next two years on whether and how International Space Station operations will be extended beyond 2024.
Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, and other representatives of ISS partner nations discussed that timeframe during a panel discussion at the 68th International Astronautical Congress here Sept. 27.

Bigelow module on ISS
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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

This Week in Satellite News! (Sep 25 – Oct 02 2017)

SpaceX Moves Third Iridium NEXT Satellite Launch to Oct. 9

SpaceX has pushed back the launch of a third batch of satellites for Iridium CommunicationsNEXT constellation by five days to Oct. 9, Iridium announced Tuesday on its website.
Iridium CEO Matt Desch said the schedule change was requested by SpaceX to provide more time to prepare the Falcon 9 rocket that will carry the 10 NEXT satellites to low Earth orbit, Spaceflight Now reported Tuesday.

Image result for iridium next launch
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Puerto Rico's cell service is basically nonexistent. So this is happening

So many U.S. satellite phones are being shipped to Puerto Rico right now that phone providers say they may run out soon.
With 88% of the island’s cell phone network down as of Monday and few landlines operating, satellite phones are one of the few ways for people to communicate and for relief workers to coordinate efforts. Unlike cell phones, the heavier and more powerful phones don't rely on cell towers or landlines. Instead, they communicate directly with satellites in orbit around the earth. 

Image result for devastation Hurricane Maria brought to Puerto Rico
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Musk unveils revised version of giant interplanetary launch system

SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk announced plans to develop a revised version of a reusable interplanetary transport system that he said would be more affordable and versatile.
Musk, speaking before a packed auditorium at the conclusion of the 68th International Astronautical Congress here Sept. 29, unveiled an updated version of the Interplanetary Transport System he announced at last year’s conference in Mexico.

BFR lunar base
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JWST launch slips to 2019

NASA announced Sept. 28 that the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope mission, which had been planned for next fall, will now be delayed until the spring of 2019.
In a statement posted on the agency’s website, NASA said that an assessment of overall work needed to complete integration and testing of the $8 billion spacecraft led to the decision to postpone the launch by about half a year.

After much tinkering, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems has at last finished the cryogenic cooler that will keep JWST's Mid-Infrared Instrument at its frosty-cool operating temperature of minus 270 Celsius. Credit: NASA artist's concept
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Hitachi Expands Telematics Service with Iridium Capacity

Iridium announced a new long-term agreement with Hitachi Construction Machinery to bring Iridium network capacity to Hitachi’s Global e-Service construction machinery management system. By integrating Iridium connectivity, Hitachi will now be able to expand the service to regions and markets previously not possible, the company stated.
Hitachi’s Global e-Service construction machinery management system provides customers with maintenance information to help companies control CO2 emissions, minimize idling times and monitor fuel consumption.

A Hitachi EX2600-6 mining excavator and shovel, which comes equipped with Hitachi's Global eService. Photo: Hitachi Construction Machinery.
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Lockheed Martin adds lander to Mars Base Camp concept

Lockheed Martin released an update to its Mars mission architecture Sept. 29, adding a reusable lander capable of making multiple trips between Mars orbit and the surface.
The company presented an updated version of the Mars Base Camp concept during a talk at the 68th International Astronautical Congress here, arguing that the proposal fit into growing interest in operations in cislunar space as well, including landings on the surface of the moon.

Mars Base Camp lander
Read the full story here Deployed in the Caribbean After Hurricanes Irma, Maria

The government of Luxembourg has deployed its Rapid Response Kit to provide vital satellite-enabled connectivity to the coordination center in Dominica following the devastation brought by the Category 5 Hurricane Maria. The connectivity provided on an SES satellite is used for broadband and voice communication to ensure that emergency services and first responders can stay informed and connected, and are able to act quickly where they are most needed.
Luxembourg deployed the solution following a request from the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) to support the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA). Volunteers from Luxembourg Civil Protection helped install the Rapid Response Kit.

NOAA satellite GOES-16 captured this geocolor image of Hurricane Irma passing the eastern end of Cuba at about 8:00 a.m. EDT on Sept. 8, 2017. Photo: NOAA.
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Rocket Lab to fly satellites on second Electron launch

Rocket Lab, the U.S.-New Zealand company developing the Electron small launch vehicle, said Sept. 26 that it will fly four cubesats from two companies on the rocket’s next test flight late this year.
In a statement, Rocket Lab said the Electron’s second test flight later this year will carry two Dove cubesats from Planet and two Lemur cubesats from Spire. The company had originally planned to carry only a test payload on this mission, similar to the rocket’s inaugural launch in May.

Electron launch
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