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Monday, November 30, 2015

This Week in Satellite News! (Nov 23 – Nov 30 2015)

Developers Are Invited By Inmarsat To Attend IDC 16

Inmarsat will convene the firm's second annual Inmarsat Developer Conference (IDC 16) at the Park Plaza Hotel in London on February 29 to March 1, 2016, following a highly successful inaugural event.
Software, hardware and application developers are invited to attend and hear from prominent industry experts, including Ford and SpaceX, and to discover more about the latest development opportunities for the creation of innovative solutions using Inmarsat’s L-band and Global Xpress (Ka-band) networks.
Inmarsat’s open technology strategy, announced in January of this year at the first IDC, has given the growing developer community the freedom to use Inmarsat technologies to develop innovative and bespoke applications, based on cutting edge technology. The latest development opportunities are set to be unveiled at the industry event next year.

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Turkey and Football: How Astronauts Celebrate Thanksgiving in Space

Thanksgiving in space will be a lot like the holiday down here on the ground — minus the gravity, of course.
Like most Americans, NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren have Thanksgiving (Nov. 26) off, and they'll spend the day aboard the International Space Station (ISS) watching football and enjoying a turkey-centric feast, agency officials said.
Kelly and Lindgren gave viewers a look at that feast in a special Thanksgiving video this week, breaking out bags of smoked turkey, rehydratable corn, candied yams and potatoes au gratin. Lindgren tore off a chunk of turkey and took a bite on camera.

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NOAA Weather Satellite Breaks Up in Orbit

LONDON — A U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite retired in 2014 has suffered an apparent breakup, the second time in less than a year that a polar-orbiting weather satellite has generated orbital debris.
The Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) announced Nov. 25 that it had identified a possible breakup of the NOAA 16 satellite. The center, which tracks objects in orbit and warns of potential collisions, said it first detected the breakup at 3:41 a.m. Eastern time and was tracking an unspecified number of “associated objects” in the orbit of NOAA 16.
JSpOC said later Nov. 25 that the debris from NOAA 16 posed no current threat to other satellites in orbit. It added that it did not believe the debris resulted from a collision with another object, suggesting that NOAA 16 broke up on its own.

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Could Iridium Communications Inc Rise Even More? The Stock Had Another Big Increase Today

The stock of Iridium Communications Inc (NASDAQ:IRDM) is a huge mover today! The stock increased 5.15% or $0.4 during the last trading session, hitting $8.17. About 1.55M shares traded hands or 96.67% up from the average. Iridium Communications Inc (NASDAQ:IRDM) has declined 27.59% since April 27, 2015 and is downtrending. It has underperformed by 26.69% the S&P500.
The move comes after 7 months positive chart setup for the $737.76M company. It was reported on Dec, 1 by We have $12.66 PT which if reached, will make NASDAQ:IRDM worth $405.77M more.

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Lebanese Red Cross Equips Volunteers with Globalstar Spot Gen3 Safety Devices

The Lebanese Red Cross, the sole provider of emergency medical services in Lebanon, is deploying 125 handheld Spot Gen3 safety devices from Globalstar subsidiary Globalstar Europe Satellite Services to enhance the safety of its workers.
The humanitarian organization will be using Spot Gen3 to track the location of its volunteers and search and rescue teams as they respond to emergencies. Spot devices can be quickly set up to automatically report the user’s location at regular intervals using a “check-in” button, which sends a prepared message to Lebanese Red Cross headquarters indicating that all is fine. Red Cross managers can also install the Spot app on their smartphones and tablets to read messages and see where each volunteer is located using Google Maps.

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Blue Origin Makes Historic Reusable Rocket Landing in Epic Test Flight

The private spaceflight company Blue Origin just launched itself into the history books by successfully flying and landing a reusable rocket.
Powered by the company's own BE-3 engine, the rocket kicked off the launchpad yesterday (Nov. 23) at 11:21 a.m. Central Time, carrying the New Shepard space vehicle. The stunning feat was captured in an amazing test flight video released by the company.
Shortly after liftoff, the rocket separated from the vehicle. In the past, a spent rocket would fall back to Earth like a stone, having completed its one and only flight.

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ExoMars Work at Frenzied Pace To Make 2016 Launch Date
CANNES, France — Europe’s two-launch ExoMars mission to Mars in 2016 and 2018, which has run a budgetary obstacle course from the start, remains in deadlined-stressed mode with triple-shift work days on the eve of first mission’s shipment to Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome to prepare for a March launch, government and industry officials said Nov. 24.
Contrary to what several European Space Agency governments thought as they reluctantly financed the 1.2 billion-euro ($1.28 billion) ExoMars project — Europe’s principal space exploration mission — the industrial team led by Thales Alenia Space has been able to keep to the schedule and save the 2016 launch date.
A component defect discovered only this summer forced a slip in the schedule and the loss of the January launch window. But a backup date of March 14-25 has been secured on a Russian Proton rocket. Russia is ESA’s partner in ExoMars and is providing two Proton rockets for the launches, plus considerable scientific hardware for the 2018 mission.

ExoMars module
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Satellite Sensors Would Deliver Global Fire Coverage

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., is working on a concept for a network of space-based sensors called FireSat in collaboration with Quadra Pi R2E, form San Francisco, Calif. FireSat would be a constellation of more than 200 thermal infrared imaging sensors on satellites designed to quickly locate wildfires around the globe. Once operational, FireSat would represent the most complete monitoring coverage of wildfires ever from space, according to NASA.
“While many wildfires are reported by 911 calls soon after ignition, some are not, and delays in detection can lead to rapid escalation of a fire, and dramatic growth of the cost of suppression. The system we envision will work day and night for fires anywhere in the world,” said Robert Staehle, lead designer of FireSat at JPL.
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Friday, November 20, 2015

This Week in Satellite News! (Nov 16 – Nov 23 2015)

Ericsson gives shipping a boost with Inmarsat connectivity

Mobile communications technology and services supplier Ericsson is to offer Inmarsat’s combined L-band and Ku-band VSAT network communications service, XpressLink, to customers operating in the maritime shipping sector.
The two companies have signed an agreement to facilitate the sharing of cargo, logistics and vessel operational data to develop new services that establish and drive standards for satellite communications and application integration among shipping companies.
Providing XpressLink to users at sea will be the first step in this relationship, the two companies said, and also opens up an upgrade path to Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress service, which will become available in the next few months.

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SpaceX Gets First Commercial Crew Order
SpaceX, Hawthorne, California, will launch astronauts to the International Space Station in late 2017 under a Commercial Crew order NASA announced Nov. 20.
SpaceX netted its first order some six months after Boeing, NASA’s other provider of astronaut transportation services under Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts awarded in September 2014. SpaceX’s umbrella contract is worth $2.6 billion, while Boeing’s deal is worth $4.2 billion.
Under the CCtCap contracts, NASA pledged to order at least two missions from each company. Assuming Congress funds the program at the levels the White House has requested — which Congress never has — both companies would start launching in late 2017.

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Foxcom Opens Defense, Security and Aeronautics Division

Foxcom, a Global Invacom company, has launched a new division called Foxcom DSA to focus on the Defense, Security and Aeronautics (DSA) markets. The division’s offerings include Iridium and GPS repeaters, military radio links, and timing and reference distribution.
Foxcom’s capabilities cover 1KHz to 18GHz, and have been deployed around the world for a variety of military platforms, including fixed applications, mobile, land-based, airborne or maritime. The company has more than 20 years of RF-over-fiber experience and is a supplier to satellite operators, broadcasters and integrators.

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New Space Mining Legislation Is 'History in the Making'

Space mining just got a big boost.
The U.S. Congress' passage of a bill that allows American companies to own and sell materials they extract from the moon, asteroids or other celestial bodies should help spur the development of off-Earth mining, representatives of the nascent industry say.
"It sets up a firm foundation for the next phase of our business," said Chris Lewicki, president and chief engineer of Planetary Resources, which plans to mine water and metals from near-Earth asteroids.

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Inflight internet on Australian airlines in near future: Inmarsat

Australian airline passengers can expect inflight internet in the near future as new satellite systems provide greatly improved data streaming at reduced costs, predicts a senior executive with satellite company Inmarsat.
Inmarsat vice-president, aviation, Asia-Pacific Bill Peltola said Australian carriers were very interested in the British company’s Global Xpress inflight connectivity service, which now had global coverage after the successful launch in August of its third satellite.
GX uses the higher-frequency Ka band to provide connection speeds of up to 50 megabits per second to aircraft, compared with the 426 kilobits per second provided by Inmarsat’s older L-band.

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Space Companies Seek Closer Ties with Other Industries
HOUSTON — As NASA plans to increasingly rely on commercial space companies, those companies are, in turn, looking to build partnerships with other industries to access new markets and technologies.
The inaugural Space Commerce Conference and Exposition, or SpaceCom, here sought to bring together representatives of the space industry with those from several others, including medicine, energy, and maritime. Conference organizers said about a fifth of the more than 1,700 attendees came from non-aerospace industries.
NASA, a conference partner, used the event to provide another reminder of the importance of commercial space activities to the agency’s long-term plans to send humans to Mars. Commercial cargo and crew “has freed up NASA to focus on the farther horizons,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a keynote address at the conference Nov. 17.

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ViaSat Planning Global Ka-band Constellation

Communication services provider ViaSat Inc. is still a year away from the launch of its Ka-band high-throughput ViaSat-2 satellite. But the Carlsbad, California-based company is not waiting for that before starting work on ViaSat-3, another behemoth spacecraft that will almost triple the broadband capacity of its successor. Delivering a staggering 1 terabits per second of throughput, ViaSat-3 will also be the first spacecraft in a three-satellite constellation designed to provide global ...

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ULA to Launch Academic CubeSats for Free

United Launch Alliance (ULA) is kicking off a new program providing free launches to academia for CubeSat missions on the Atlas 5 rocket. The program signals a major commitment to ensuring academic CubeSats, which have ceded space to commercial ventures in recent years, are not crowded out of the launch market.
President and CEO of ULA Tory Bruno said Nov. 19 during a press conference that the Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture would start placing a standard CubeSat carrier on the Atlas 5 starting a year and a half from now with the ability to deploy as many as 24 individual CubeSats. This, he said, would relieve the fast but still stunted progress of CubeSat missions in getting to orbit.
“My vision is that we will transition to a point where nearly every Atlas rocket is carrying this standard carrier with these CubeSats. We fly Atlas 10 times a year or more. We are going to more than double the entire worldwide capacity for a CubeSat to get to space. It will completely transform that environment,” said Bruno.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

This Week in Satellite News! (Nov 9 – Nov 16 2015)

First Iridium NEXT Satellites to Launch in April

TYSONS CORNER, VA, November 13, 2015 — Iridium Communications (Nasdaq: IRDM) has moved back the launch schedule for the first two Iridium NEXT satellites in order to fix an issue discovered on the Ka-band transmit-receive modules, ExecutiveBiz reported Thursday.
Spaceflight Now reported Tuesday the satellites will launch instead in April after prime contractor Thales Alenia Space discovered the “bug” during tests.
“[A] resistor needs to be changed in the circuitry, and then the component can be re-installed on the first two [spacecraft] and certified through another round of testing,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch.

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Strategic Command Issues Statement on Trident Missile Test that Freaked Out the West Coast

With images like these, it's no wonder California — not to mention the Twittersphere — freaked out Saturday evening when an unannounced test of a submarine-launched Trident missile lit up the evening sky.
Photographer Porter Tinsley and her wife were on the shore of California's desolate Salton Sea taking long exposures and time lapses with three different cameras when they witnessed what they thought at the time was a chemical or nuclear weapon detonating over Los Angeles two and a half hours to the west.
The pyrotechnics Tinsley and thousands of other casual skywatchers observed Saturday were due to the first of two Trident 2 D5 missiles with dummy warheads the U.S. Navy test fired between Saturday evening and Monday afternoon. The big, bright flash some mistook Saturday for a detonation, missile intercept or UFO is actually the result of the solid-fueled Trident missile jettisoning one of its three stages. 

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Space Junk Meets Fiery Demise as Scientists Watch (Video)

This footage was collected by a team of scientists working with SETI, the United Arab Emirates Space Agency, the InterActiveCorp, and other institutions.
To get such a close look, some of the team members hopped on a plane so they could be in the air at the time WT1190F entered the atmosphere. Of course, they were flying at a safe enough distance from the object that it posed no threat to their aircraft.
WT1190F re-entered Earth's atmosphere over a patch of Indian Ocean off the Sri Lankan coast, which meant that only people located in the southern province of Sri Lanka had a chance to spot it.

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Fidelity Raises Estimate of SpaceX Stake
Fidelity's downgrading of Snapchat and other investments has understandably drawn a lot of attention, but not every company that Fidelity is invested in has had its value cut. Fidelity has actually boosted its valuation of Elon Musk's SpaceX, in which Fidelity invested $7.54 million in January.
SpaceX was valued at about $12 billion in that January round, which also included a major investment from Google. Now Fidelity has written up their own investment by 15 percent—as Fortune notes in a chart here—suggesting that SpaceX's valuation is even higher than previously reported.
As to why SpaceX would see its value go up amid a drop by other companies, it likely has a lot to do with Musk himself and how he has outlined his plans for SpaceX. While Musk has made pitches for long-term things like exploring Mars, it's ideas like a network of Internet-providing satellites that likely keep Fidelity feeling optimistic. The possible revenue from a network of satellites capable of providing high-speed Internet access anywhere on Earth is enormous. And now that the factory for building satellites is coming together, it may be relatively soon that Fidelity starts seeing some return on its investment.

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Air Force Funds 3-D Printing Study for Rocket Engines
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force awarded the Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering a $545,000 contract to study additive manufacturing techniques to make cooling chambers for liquid rocket engines, according to a Nov. 4 press release from the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center.
The contract is part of a broader effort to end reliance on a Russian rocket engine that powers United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket, which is used to launch a majority of U.S. national security satellites.
In 2014, Congress banned the future use of Russian engines as tensions with Moscow escalated over Russia’s incursions into Ukraine. Congress also allocated funding to develop a U.S. alternative to the RD-180, but the Air Force hopes to fund work on a brand new rocket as part of its broader strategy to have competition in military launches.

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Watch SpaceX Fire Up Its Crew Dragon Capsule's Escape Engines

This week, SpaceX successfully tested the engines it will use in its Crew Dragon, the spacecraft it's building to transport NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. The engines, called SuperDracos, were fired up 27 times at the company's test stand in McGregor, Texas. The SuperDracos are meant to help to carry the spacecraft to safety in case something goes wrong during launch.
SpaceX is building the Crew Dragon for NASA through the agency's Commercial Crew Program, which tasks private companies with shuttling astronauts to and from the ISS. The Crew Dragon, which can hold up to seven passengers, is designed to travel to the station on top of a Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX has successfully flown its Falcon 9 to the ISS many times before, but sometimes accidents happen. This past June, for example, one of the company's rockets exploded en route to space. If a Falcon 9 were to explode during launch with people on board, both NASA and SpaceX want to make sure the astronauts can escape the rocket as quickly as possible.

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Ariane 5 Lofts Arabsat, ISRO Satellites in Rocket’s Final Launch of 2015

PARIS — Europe's heavy-lift Ariane 5 rocket on Nov. 10 successfully placed telecommunications for Arabsat of Saudi Arabia and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in the vehicle's sixth and final launch for 2015 and its 69th consecutive success.
Builders of the Arabsat 6B/Badr-7 and GSAT-15 satellites said the spacecraft were healthy in orbit and sending signals.
The launch, from Europe's Guiana Space Center on the northeast coast of South America, kept launch-service provider Arianespace on track to conduct a record 12 missions this year. Two more campaigns, one with the light-lift Vega rocket and one with the medium-lift Europeanized Soyuz vehicle, are scheduled in November and December.

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U.S. Senate Passes Compromise Commercial Space Bill
WASHINGTON — The Senate passed Nov. 10 the final version of a commercial space bill that extends two key regulatory provisions and provides limited property rights for resources extracted from asteroids.
The Senate approved by unanimous consent H.R. 2262, the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act. The bill reconciles a House bill, originally known as the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015, passed in May with a Senate bill approved in August.
The final bill includes lengthy extensions of two provisions of commercial launch law that were scheduled to expire next year. It extends through September 2025 government indemnification of third-party damages from commercial launches beyond a “maximum probable loss” amount launch providers must ensure against. That indemnification was scheduled to expire at the end of 2016.

DSI Dragonfly
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Friday, November 6, 2015

This Week in Satellite News! (Nov 2 – Nov 9 2015)

Inmarsat Sees Solid Growth Driven By Commercial Aviation Connectivity

Inmarsat, the satellite communications provider, has reported a 7.5% increase in revenues for the third quarter to $323.1m (£213.4m, €297.2m), up from $300.6m (£198.5m, €276.4m) for the same period last year. The sturdy results were driven by a 57.7% increase from the firm's aviation division, which was up $11.9m to $32.6m, for the three months to 30 September.
Inmarsat is developing the European Aviation Network, an LTE-based hybrid satellite and ground network for commercial passenger connectivity. To this end, it has established a strategic partnership with Deutsche Telekom. It has also signed an MOU signed with Lufthansa, regarding a 10-year contract to provide inflight connectivity services initially to 150 of its aircrafts.
Rupert Pearce, Inmarsat's chief executive officer, said in a statement: "Our aviation business also took two major steps forward, when we joined in a strategic partnership with Deutsche Telekom to develop the ground component of our European Aviation Network.

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Spacewalking Astronauts Tackle 'High-Flying Plumbing' Job on Space Station

Two American astronauts took a marathon spacewalk on Friday, spending nearly eight hours outside the International Space Station on a truly out-of-this-world plumbing job.
NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindrgren spent seven hours and 48 minutes working outside the station to perform the vital maintenance on their spacecraft. It was their second spacewalk in nine days.
The duo's first-ever spacewalk last week, commanded by Kelly, had the two on separate tracks as they performed a variety of long-term maintenance tasks outside the station. This time around, commanded by Lindgren, they worked together, synchronizing their actions to reconfigure and add ammonia to the port-side station cooling systems — "high-flying plumbing," as NASA officials called it via Twitter.

 Scott Kelly Spacewalk
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GSMA Report Claims Urgent Need for C-band

Released coinciding with the long-awaited 2015 World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC-15), the GSM Association (GSMA) shared a study on the use of C-band spectrum, 3400MHz to 4200MHz, that says the International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) industry needs access to this spectrum soon or it could face oversaturation in growing markets. The “Use of C-Band Spectrum for Mobile Broadband in Cities: London and Shenzhen” study, conducted by Plum Consulting with analysis from the GSMA and Huawei, evaluates the potential benefits of C-band for mobile use in the cities of London, U.K., and Shenzhen, China, as well as the repercussions of not opening up the band.
Plum Consulting’s study suggests London will experience a “capacity crunch” around 2022 if IMT is denied access to C-band, leading to slower download speeds and greater latency, subsequently resulting in poor Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE). Shenzhen reaches this crunch even sooner, according to the study, around 2020. Furthermore, the study states that these results are based on “conservative mobile data traffic demand forecasts.” Should demand climb by 30 percent more than predicted, London would reach its capacity crunch in 2020, and Shenzhen in 2018.

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How to Make History as a NASA Astronaut Without Walking on Mars

NASA this week announced it would soon begin accepting applicants for its next class of astronauts, enticing potential candidates with the chance to "advance a future human mission to Mars."
But with the space agency's schedules pegging a journey to the Red Planet in the mid-2030s timeframe, it may fall to even more future recruits to become the first astronauts to walk on Mars.
That's not to say there aren't opportunities to make history as a new NASA astronaut. Although there have been more than 365 NASA astronauts to date, there remains firsts to be achieved and all that you have to do to claim them is get chosen for the corps.

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Industry Looking To Government For Commercial Satellite Cues

With no current government manned space programs and heavy reliance on industry to meet space and satellite needs, the landscape in the U.S. today is changing with regard to how satellite communications are provided. As competition heats up in industry, particularly outside of the U.S., private companies are looking to the government for a framework of requirements for where satcom is headed next.
Industry’s search for guidance comes as the Defense Department grapples with challenges to its space and satcom programs, including aging hardware and systems as well as resiliency needs and evolving security concerns.
Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said as much in a September internal memo outlining the findings of a Space Strategic Portfolio Review that revealed space’s role as a war domain, not a sanctuary.

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Musk's SpaceX Faces Competition for $3.5 Billion NASA Cargo Flights

Less than a decade after its first rocket launch, Elon Musk’s SpaceX finds itself in an unfamiliar position.
The upstart venture is the incumbent vying to win the bulk of a $3.5 billion U.S. contract renewal while facing rivals that include Boeing Co., whose spaceflight roots date to the 1950s. At stake: a seven-year agreement to haul supplies and experiments to the International Space Station.
SpaceX is pushing the only made-in-the-USA entry in a four-way derby with Boeing, Orbital ATK Inc. and Sierra Nevada Corp., each of which relies to some extent on rockets with Russian engines. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration will award the work as soon as Thursday as it juggles support for commercial missions while Congress clamors to end U.S. dependence on the imported motors.

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It’s not rocket science: we need a better way to get to space

Human beings will always be explorers. We’ve pretty well surveyed our planet, our tiny blue dot, for answers and only found more questions. Why are we here? How did we get here? What does it mean?
We’ve already taken baby steps out into the solar system. But cheap, affordable space travel would be revolutionary, heralding in technologies we haven’t even yet imagined. Social and economic changes introduced by the internet would pale in comparison.
But here’s the thing: we won’t be heading to the stars in a rocket. Rockets are a terrible way of getting to space.

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Hughes Rolls Out New HM Satellite System for Mobility and Portability Applications

Hughes Networks Systems has unveiled its new HM System, engineered around its Software-Definable Modem (SDM) technology and Scrambled Code Multiple Access (SCMA) waveform. Hughes is launching with three Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) products for government applications.
The new HM System employs a commercially based, open standards architecture and band-agnostic platform that enables solutions to meet a variety of mobility and portability requirements for government users. In addition to supporting fixed applications, the HM System provides satellite-on-the-move capabilities for airborne, maritime and land mobility solutions, including a complete, ultra-compact and portable terminal for small teams reliant on quick-deploy connectivity. With the first gateway installed and fully operational in September, the COTS products are now ready for market rollout.
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Sunday, November 1, 2015

This Week in Satellite News! (Oct 26 – Nov 2 2015)

Night Sky: Visible Planets, Moon Phases & Events, November 2015

The night sky tonight and on any clear night offers an ever-changing display of fascinating objects you can see, from stars and constellations to bright planets, often the moon, and sometimes special events like meteor showers. Observing the night sky can be done with no special equipment, although a sky map can be very useful, and a good beginner telescope or binoculars will enhance some experiences and bring some otherwise invisible objects into view. You can also use astronomy accessories to make your observing easier. Below, find out what’s up in the night sky tonight (Planets Visible Now, Moon Phases, Observing Highlights This Month) plus other resources (Skywatching Terms, Night Sky Observing Tips and Further Reading)

Monthly skywatching information is provided to by Geoff Gaherty of Starry Night Education, the leader in space science curriculum solutions. Follow Starry Night on Twitter @StarryNightEdu
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Skull-Shaped Halloween Asteroid Zips by Earth, a Treat for Scientists

On Halloween night, while ghouls and goblins did their trick-or-treating, an asteroid that is most likely a dead comet made a close flyby of Earth, with radar images revealing its eerie skull shape.
On Saturday (Oct. 31), the asteroid 2015 TB145 passed by Earth at a range of just over 300,000 miles (480,000 kilometers), placing it just outside the orbit of the moon, where it posed no threat to the planet. The timing of the flyby earned the asteroid - which is about 2,000 feet (600 meters) across - the nickname "Spooky" and "Great Pumpkin."
Unfortunately for skywatching hobbyists, 2015 TB145 was extremely difficult to see from the ground, but the online Slooh Community Observatory hosted a webcast Saturday afternoon that featured updates on the asteroid's path, and discussions about the dangers of near-Earth asteroids.

This radar image of asteroid 2015 TB145, which NASA says is likely a dead comet, was captured using the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico on Oct. 30, 2015 with a resolution of 25 feet per pixel. The skull shaped asteroid flew by Earth on Halloween (Oct.
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Halloween in Space: A Vampire Astronaut and Nightmare in Orbit

You might masquerade as an astronaut for Halloween, but what about when astronauts dress up? Here's how one spacefarer celebrated the spooky season.
In search of eerie holiday cheer, caught up with retired astronaut Clayton Anderson to hear about his dedication to Halloween garb. (We also checked in with NASA for any current space station celebration plans and uncovered one terrifying tweet.)
"It was Halloween," Anderson recounted. The year was 2007, and Anderson was in the midst of a 5-month stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the ISS Expedition 15 crew. "My wife had sent a vampire cape up with Pam Melroy and the STS-120 crew, and on Halloween day, when I found out I had a cape like that, I said, 'Oh, I know what I'm doing today.'"

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'Be the Astronaut' and 'Journey to Space' in New Museum Exhibits

Two museums' new exhibits offer the public a chance to "Be the Astronaut" as they "Journey to Space."
In Los Angeles, the California Science Center has debuted "Journey to Space," a hands-on, climb-aboard experience at what it takes to live and work off the Earth.
And in Texas, Space Center Houston recently opened "Be the Astronaut," a multimedia exhibit that takes visitors on trips to the moon, Mars, asteroids, Jupiter and beyond. From exploring the International Space Station to landing on multiple worlds, these new, separate attractionsfeature authentic artifacts, replica space hardware and interactive displays to entertain and educate children and the general public about the physics, science and technology needed to support human space exploration, both now and in the future.

'Be the Astronaut' Exhibit
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Search for Life: Where Should a Europa Lander Touch Down?

If humanity ever launches a life-hunting mission to the icy surface of Europa, the probe should probably touch down on the "chaos terrain" of the ocean-harboring Jupiter moon, a new study suggests.
Europa's complex chaos regions — which feature numerous cracks, ridges and other signs of geological activity — may offer a way to sample the moon's huge subsurface ocean of liquid water, which is buried beneath an estimated 60 miles (100 kilometers) of ice, researchers said.
"If you had to suggest an area on Europa where ocean water had recently melted through and dumped its chemicals on the surface, this would be it," study co-author Mike Brown, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), said in a statement

Jupiter's Moon Europa
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Virgin Galactic on Road to Recovery After Fatal SpaceShipTwo Crash

It's been one year since Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo space plane broke apart during a test flight, a tragic accident that killed the copilot and seriously injured the pilot. Now, the commercial spaceflight company is moving forward on construction of its next SpaceShipTwo passenger spaceliner as it pursues other projects to become a global competitor in the new frontier of commercial space.
Founded in 2004 by billionaire Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic has made headlines for pre-selling tickets for its private SpaceShipTwo spaceplane at $250,000 a passenger. Nearly 700 people have signed up, despite there being no specific timeframe for when the flights will become available. The company is also branching into other space-related ventures, including the development of the reusable LauncherOne vehicle, which will deliver small satellites into orbit at relatively low cost.
At an industry meeting earlier this month, the company's CEO George Whitesides said, "The accident that we had on Oct. 31 last year was a tough blow for Galactic but it was one that will not define the company. It was one that we must move past and we are moving past with determination and with spirit."

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo
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Star Ships: New Science Cruises Offer Pristine Cosmic Views

A new line of science-themed cruises lets passengers stargaze from the open ocean, a unique location far away from city lights.
Princes Cruises and Discovery Channel have created a line of science-themed cruises called "Discovery at Sea." The excursions feature activities like diving with sharks, spending time with exotic wildlife, looking at auroras and stargazing.
Viewing the night sky from a location far away from city lights can be a magical experience, but it usually requires traveling to very remote locations (which, for some people, is part of the fun). But stargazing on a cruise ship is unique, because the vessel can travel to locations completely devoid of light pollution, and yet viewers are never more than a few steps away from the ship's accommodations.

Discovery at Sea Cruise
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Rookie Spacewalkers Perform Critical Space Station Work

NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren successfully completed their first-ever spacewalks today (Oct. 28), completing a handful of tasks vital to the International Space Station's longterm endurance.
NASA's 32nd International Space Station (ISS) spacewalk officially started at 8:03 a.m. ET (1203 GMT) and lasted for 7 hours and 16 minutes as Kelly and Lindgren performed a handful of important maintenance tasks, including putting additional shielding over a science experiment, lubricating the station's robotic arm and rerouting cables to a future docking site for commercial spacecraft.
Kelly, who commanded the spacewalk and is on day 214 of his yearlong stay on the ISS, went out first, and Lindgren followed several minutes later. For their next spacewalk, on Nov. 6, Lindgren will take the lead.

Lindgren Spacewalks
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'Alien Megastructure' Mystery May Soon Be Solved

The mystery behind a strangely dimming star could soon be solved.
Astronomers around the world are keeping a close eye on the star KIC 8462852, which has dimmed dramatically numerous times over the past few years, dropping in brightness by up to 22 percent. These big dips have spurred speculation that the star may be surrounded by some type of alien megastructure — a hypothesis that will be put to the test if and when KIC 8462852 dims again.
"As long as one of those events occurs again, we should be able to catch it in the act, and then we'll definitely be able to figure out what we're seeing," said Jason Wright, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University.

Kepler Space Telescope Artist's Illustration
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