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Monday, January 25, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Jan 18 – Jan 25 2016)


Scott Kelly Spends 300th Day in Space Playing Ping Pong With a Water Droplet

Thursday marked the 300th day of astronaut Scott Kelly's historic year-long stay on the International Space Station, and he celebrated in suitably spacey style: bouncing a sphere of water around like a ping pong ball.
The paddles are etched with a special hydrophobic pattern, then covered in teflon — causing water droplets like this one to bounce right off instead of making the paddles wet. As Kelly demonstrates, this means a droplet can be bounced back and forth with ease.


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Blue Origin to ramp up New Shepard tests

WASHINGTON — After completing two successful flights of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle in two months, Blue Origin plans to increase the frequency of future test flights, with dozens more planned before the company is ready to start flying people.
In a Jan. 25 interview, Blue Origin President Rob Meyerson said that the company was continuing to review data from the most recent New Shepard flight on Jan. 22, but that initial indications were that the vehicle performed as expected.
“We haven’t seen or heard of anything that’s of concern. The vehicle performed perfectly,” he said. “Everything we’ve seen looks really good.”

New Shepard launch
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Federal Aviation Administration approves Honeywell’s hardware for Inmarsat Global Xpress in-flight wireless network

PHOENIX, Honeywell Aerospace's (NYSE: HON) JetWave™ wireless in-flight connectivity system has received U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approval for the Boeing 757. Honeywell's JetWave is the exclusive hardware for aircraft to connect to Inmarsat's Global Xpress, the only high-speed broadband satellite network spanning the globe that will provide fast, seamless and reliable connectivity over both land and water.
The certification validates the reliability and capability of Honeywell's hardware to connect to Global Xpress (GX) Aviation service to provide passengers with the same high-speed Wi-Fi experience they get at home or in the office while traveling at 35,000 feet. JetWave and GX Aviation will enable fliers to have seamless access to onboard Wi-Fi to browse the Internet, check emails, stay connected on social media, watch videos and more, even on transcontinental flights. It also simplifies the path for U.S. government approval for the use of JetWave hardware on other aircraft.

GX Aviation installation on Honeywell B757 test aircraft
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Falcon 9 Upgrade gets Air Force OK to launch military satellites

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Air Force has certified the latest version of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, known as the Falcon 9 Upgrade, to launch national security satellites, the Air Force said Jan. 25.
The Falcon 9 Upgrade, which made its maiden launch in December, includes increased thrust, an improved stage separation system and a stretched upper stage that can hold additional propellant.
The new certification allows SpaceX to use its most up-to-date rocket to bid to launch military and spy satellites. The Air Force is expected to put roughly four launch contracts up for bid later this year. United Launch Alliance, which uses the Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets, is the only other provider certified to launch so-called EELV-class national security satellites.

Falcon 9 in SpaceX's Cape Canaveral hangar in advance of the Orbcomm OG2 Mission 1. Credit: SpaceX
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Paradigm Providing VSAT for Urgent Africa Project

U.K.-based Paradigm is in the process of rapidly shipping multiple Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) systems out for a European Union (EU)-funded project that will serve more than 50 countries in the African market. The African program has been setup to enable improved management of the environment at continental, regional and national levels throughout the region.
The project requires multiple complete terminals consisting of 2.4m and 3.7m antennas, along with spare components and specialized RF components to enhance signal reception. The remaining order will be dispatched over the next few months as per the project rollout specification.

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Mission Accomplished! 747-Space Shuttle Exhibit Launches in Houston

HOUSTON — Under a banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished," Space Center Houston officials celebrated on Saturday (Jan. 23) the opening of Independence Plaza, a new $12 million exhibit featuring NASA's historic space shuttle-carrying jumbo jet topped by a full-size mockup of the iconic winged orbiters.
With astronauts in attendance and flag-carrying skydivers having just landed nearby, the officials counted down to a spectacular daytime fireworks display to launch the eight-story-tall exhibit and welcome the public to begin boarding both vehicles.
"With the ability to walk through both [vehicles], you will experience a behind-the-scenes look at life in the shuttle era," said Richard Allen, the president and CEO of Space Center Houston. "It is a visitor experience that can't be found anywhere else in the world.”


Credit: collectSPACE.com
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Snecma prepares for Airbus, Thales satellite electric thruster orders

PARIS — France’s Snecma expects to sell 35 plasma-electric satellite propulsion units per year over the next decade following an agreement with Europe’s two largest satellite prime contractors on the use of Snecma’s PPS 5000 thruster, Snecma said Jan. 20.
Vernon, France-based Snecma, a division of France’s Safran aero-engine manufacturer, has been working on plasma-electric satellite thrusters for 20 years, starting with a collaboration with Russia’s OKB Fakel, a pioneer in the use of electric propulsion as a lighter-weight alternative to chemical propellant for telecommunications satellites.
The French space agency, CNES, has used a public bond fund to help finance a made-in-France thruster, and the 22-nation European Space Agency has also contributed funding as part of the Neosat program to build next-generation telecommunications satellites.

Snecma's PPS 5000 plasma-electric propulsion will be used on Airbus, Thales satellites.
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Globalstar Spot Activations Hit 2015 Record in Europe

European Globalstar Spot safety device activations reached 9,800 in 2015 — a new record year for the company. According to Globalstar Europe Satellite Services, activations have increased 71 percent in two years. Excluding rescues handled by Value Added Resellers (VARs) and other third parties, Spot’s SOS feature enabled 41 customer rescues last year in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
Globalstar Spot has seen significant growth in the French and U.K. markets, with 360 percent and 74 percent increases in activations respectively since 2013. Spain and Germany also saw very strong growth.

http://cdn.satellitetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Iceland-SPOT-rescue.jpeg?_ga=1.107401666.1136712789.1410989505
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Friday, January 15, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Jan 11 – Jan 18 2016)


Inmarsat Achieves Global Coverage with New High Speed Wireless Network

Inmarsat plc has confirmed that its Global Xpress constellation achieved global commercial service introduction in December last year.
Global Xpress is a worldwide high-speed wireless network that delivers broadband connectivity on land, at sea, and in the air. The Global Xpress constellation is formed of three Ka-band, high-speed mobile broadband communications satellites. Each I-5 satellite is expected to have a commercial life of 15 years. Together, the three satellites provide the coverage required to deliver global GX services.
In 2010, Inmarsat awarded a contract to Boeing to build a constellation of three Inmarsat-5 satellites as part of Global Xpress. Inmarsat 5-F1, the first satellite launched in December 2013, entered commercial service in July 2014. The second satellite was launched in February 2015, followed by the third in August 2015.

satellite-693222_1280
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First British Space Station Astronaut Takes 'Electrifying' Spacewalk Today

NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Tim Peake will take venture outside the International Space Station on a spacewalk today (Jan. 15) to repair one of the station's eight vital power channels.
Peake is the first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station, and this will be his first spacewalk. Kopra, who has flown once before, went on a spacewalk with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly in December. This is his third spacewalk.  You canwatch the spacewalk live here beginning at 6:30 a.m. EST (1130 GMT), courtesy of NASA TV. The two spacewalking Tims are expected to exit the station by about 7:55 a.m. EST (1255 GMT).

Astronaut, Spacewalk, Space, Spacecraft, Tools, Suit
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SpaceX to Attempt Another Rocket Landing Sunday

SpaceX is planning to try another epic rocket landing during a satellite launch Sunday (Jan. 17), according to media reports.
The private spaceflight company aims to bring the first stage of its two-stageFalcon 9 rocket back for a soft touchdown on an uncrewed ship in the Pacific Ocean during Sunday's launch of the Jason-3 Earth-observation satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The news was first reported by space journalist Charles Lurio via Twitter, and subsequently confirmed by NBC News.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Attempts Landing at Sea
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Orbital, Sierra Nevada, SpaceX Win NASA Commercial Cargo Contracts

WASHINGTON — NASA awarded contracts valued at several billion dollars Jan. 14 to three companies, including one newcomer, for commercial cargo deliveries to the International Space Station through 2024.
The agency announced it awarded Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contracts to Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX for cargo missions to and from the ISS starting in late 2019. The contracts, which run through 2024, include at least six missions for each company.
Orbital and SpaceX offered versions of their Cygnus and Dragon vehicles, respectively, that currently support the station. NASA said that Orbital offered three versions of Cygnus, two to transport pressurized cargo to the station and one for unpressurized cargo. Those missions would launch on either Orbital’s own Antares rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia, or a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Challenger Space Shuttle, Launch, Mission, Astronauts
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NASA Safety Panel Worries about Schedule Pressure on Exploration Programs

WASHINGTON — An independent safety panel warns that “a continuing and unacknowledged accretion of risk” in NASA’s human space exploration programs, caused by schedule pressures and flat funding, could put crews on future missions in jeopardy.
NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), in its annual report published Jan. 13, stated it has growing concerns about a variety of issues in the development of the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft that result in “an apparent erosion of safety” in those programs.
“Over the past year, the Panel has noted a continuing and unacknowledged accretion of risk in space flight programs that we believe has the potential to significantly impact crew safety and the safe execution of human space missions,” the report stated. “The Panel’s concern is not the result of singular action but the accumulated impact of decisions made and risks assumed — either explicitly or tacitly, in small or large steps — that have mounted up and led to an apparent erosion of safety.”

Engineers developing Orion’s thermal protection system have been improving the spacecraft’s heat shield design and manufacturing process since the vehicle successfully traveled to space for the first time last year. Credit: NASA
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Philae lander fails to respond to last-ditch efforts to wake it

Farewell, Philae. The space lander that touched down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (and in our hearts) in November 2014 has not responded to a last-ditch attempt to wake it, and it now looks almost certain that the lander is permanently sleeping.
Comet 67P is moving away from the sun, and in just a few weeks will become too cold and dim for the lander to survive. It has not been heard from since July 2015. Last night, mission managers at the German Aerospace Center in Cologne sent a signal to Philae commanding it to spin its internal flywheel, a risky and unpredictable manoeuvre that could dislodge it from its shady landing spot in the hope of getting more sunlight on its solar panels. It didn’t work.
“We did not hear anything,” says lander manager Stephan Ulamec. In the best-case scenario, Philae may have received the command and moved, but be unable to respond due to a damaged transmitter. It is more likely that the signal was not received.

Philae lander fails to respond to last-ditch efforts to wake it
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David Kagan Becomes Globalstar President and COO

Globalstar appointed David Kagan as the company’s new president and Chief Operating Officer (COO) effective Jan. 13. Kagan is responsible for all functions in support of the company’s revenue growth and will report to Jay Monroe, chairman and CEO.
Immediately before joining Globalstar, Kagan was president of ITC Global. He also served as president and CEO of Globe Wireless for three years, and as president and CEO of MTN — now part of EMC — for 12 years. He has 19 years of leadership experience in the international satellite industry, having held various board, CEO/president, COO and CFO positions since 1997.

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U.S. Air Force’s First GPS 3 Satellite Passes Key Test

WASHINGTON – The long-delayed first satellite in the U.S. Air Force’s next generation of positioning, navigation and timing satellites has passed a key test, a top Lockheed Martin executive said Jan. 13.
Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver, tweeted that the first GPS 3 satellite has “successfully completed” its thermal vacuum test.
In an email to SpaceNews, Chip Eschenfelder, a Lockheed Martin spokesman, said the thermal vacuum test “is the most comprehensive and perceptive test performed at the spacecraft level.” The test is used to validate that the satellite can operate in extreme temperatures comparable to the space environment, Eschenfelder said.


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Monday, January 11, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Jan 4 – Jan 11 2016)


NASA’s Next Major Space Telescope Project Officially Starts in February

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — NASA’s next flagship astronomy mission after the James Webb Space Telescope will become a formal project in February thanks to increased funding and direction from Congress, even as the agency looks to make cuts elsewhere in its astrophysics program.
Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s astrophysics division, told astronomers attending the 227th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society here Jan. 4 that the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) will enter its “formulation phase,” the beginning of NASA’s project management process, in February after the proposed space telescope passed a mission concept review in December.
That decision also comes after the passage of the fiscal year 2016 omnibus spending bill in December that provided $90 million for WFIRST, far above NASA’s request of $14 million. The report accompanying the bill adopted language approved by Senate appropriators in June directing NASA to move WFIRST into the formulation phase by early 2016.

Space Telescope, Mirror Segments, James Webb, Cosmos
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Satellite Technology Making a Difference in Agriculture

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been mentioned in almost as many conversations as small satellites over the last 12 months. It is a hot buzzword as the satellite industry looks to play in new verticals that need connected devices. One area where satellite and cellular technology could make a greater impact going forward is in agriculture. A company that is looking to take advantage of the need for this enhanced connectivity is Field Intell, an outfit that develops turnkey smart monitoring solutions for its customers. Field Intell works with companies such as IRZ Consulting, which provide water resource engineering with state-of-the-art technologically advanced irrigation, resource management (water, power and human) and conservation services to its agricultural client base.
Art Gomez, Field Intell’s CEO discusses how he sees satellite making a difference. He said that in 2009 Field Intell started doing field intelligence, working with the likes of John Deere in terms of how they could improve irrigation techniques. Gomez said he saw there was an opportunity for telematics systems for agriculture, because the amount of territory being covered.


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France, Germany Admit to Second Thoughts about Sticking with ISS

PARIS — Europe’s two biggest backers of the International Space Station are suggesting it’s possible Europe may end its space station role in 2020 despite the fact that its major partners – the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada – have all said they will continue using the orbital complex until at least 2024.
In separate statements Jan. 4 and Jan. 5, the heads of the French and German space agencies said a detailed study is under way to assess the future operating cost of the station, and whether the cost can be justified given the pressure on near-term budgets.
Pascale Ehrenfreund, chairman of the board of the German Aerospace Center, DLR, which is Germany’s space agency, said DLR would make no promises until after a full review of ISS’s value.

Nasa, Earth, Outer Space, Aerospace, Technology
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NWG Selects Globalstar’s and Lone Worker Solutions to Enhance Safety

U.K. water provider Northumbrian Water Group(NWG) has selected Globalstar Europe Satellite Services’ Spot Gen3 safety device to track and protect lone and remote workers. The initial deployment of more than 300 Spot Gen3 devices enhances the safety of 1,500 employees who carry out checks on reservoirs in remote areas, where GSM signal can be unreliable or non-existent. A “low-risk” category of occasional lone workers, either in offices or in the field, have access to a bespoke smartphone app for summoning help as part of a unique solution developed by Globalstar’s specialist partner, Lone Worker Solutions, who spearheaded the agreement.
Lone Worker Solutions provides a unified platform that monitors both voice calls and SMS from smartphones and alert messages from Spot Gen3s. Calls and SOS alerts go to Lone Worker Solutions’ operations center and to NWG’s employee support center for prompt handling. The ability to provide accurate information about all devices in one inclusive interface helps make safety operations seamless and more effective.


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Arianespace Surpassed SpaceX in Commercial Launch Orders in 2015

PARIS — The chief of Europe’s Arianespace launch consortium on Jan. 5 said competitor SpaceX’s recovery of the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket, spectacular though it was, does not demonstrate the economic viability of stage reuse.
The proof of the pudding, Arianespace Chief Executive Stephane Israel said, will come only after a thorough assessment of the stresses incurred by the stage as it traced what time-lapse photos show as a giant “X” in the sky — a line for its ascent, and then another, broken line as it powered its way back from about 75 kilometers in altitude.
At a briefing here outlining Evry, France-based Arianespace 2015 record and plans for 2016, Israel sought to portray Arianespace as once again in the driver’s seat when it comes to commercial launches.


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FCC Ranks HughesNet Gen4 Highest in Meeting Advertised Performance

HughesNet Gen4 satellite broadband service ranked first among all major Internet service providers for delivering on advertised performance promises in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) fifth annual report on consumer broadband services, “Measuring Broadband America – 2015,” issued on Dec. 30, 2015. HughesNet has more than 1 million subscribers in the United States, and is delivered by Hughes Network Systems.
The FCC report evaluated satellite, Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), cable and fiber Internet access services from 16 providers, covering more than 80 percent of the United States residential marketplace. It found that the HughesNet Gen4 service exceeded advertised download and upload speeds at higher rates than any other satellite or terrestrial broadband provider. Download speeds were consistently more than twice advertised, even during peak usage times. Similarly, upload speeds were more than 1.5 times advertised speed, according to the report.


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SpaceX Plans Drone Ship Rocket Landing for Jan. 17 Launch

SpaceX hopes to make history again on Jan. 17 by landing a Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship at sea after launching a payload into orbit. SpaceX confirmed to NBC News that it would be making the attempt; the news was earlier reported by space journalist Charles Lurio on Twitter.
This launch will take off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, carrying NASA's Jason-3 satellite. Jason-3 carries instruments to monitor the ocean's surface, collecting information about circulation patterns and perhaps rising sea levels.
The commercial spaceflight company succeeded Dec. 21 in making its first-stage rocket, which is usually discarded after reaching space, return safely to Earth and land upright at a predetermined location nears its launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

spaceX_drone_ship
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U.S. Air Force Releases Solicitation For Next GPS 3 Satellites

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force released Jan. 8 a formal solicitation for companies to demonstrate their ability to build the next batch of GPS 3 positioning, navigation and timing satellites.
The announcement is one of the first steps toward a contract that could top several billion dollars.
The Air Force said in April it plans to award multiple contracts worth up to $6 million apiece as a forerunner to a competition in 2017 or 2018 for a fixed-price contract to build up to 22 follow-on navigation satellites. The first contracts will be awarded in the spring of 2016, the Air Force said in a Jan. 8 press release.
“Industry told us they were ready to compete for the GPS 3 space vehicles,” Col. Steve Whitney, director of the GPS Directorate at the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, said in a Jan. 8 press release. “We listened and are looking forward to working with industry to assess the feasibility of a follow-on, competitive production contract.”

Artist's concept of Lockheed Martin's GPS 3 satellite. Credit: U.S. Air Force
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Monday, January 4, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Dec 28 – Jan 4 2016)


Spending Bill To Accelerate NASA Habitation Module Work
WASHINGTON — An omnibus spending bill passed by Congress this month directs NASA to accelerate work on a habitation module that could be used for future deep space missions, although how NASA will implement that direction is unclear.
The report accompanying the fiscal year 2016 omnibus appropriations bill instructs NASA to spend at least $55 million on a “habitation augmentation module” to support the agency’s exploration efforts. The money would come from the Advanced Exploration Systems program, part of the Exploration Research and Development line item in the budget that received $350 million in the bill.
“NASA shall develop a prototype deep space habitation module within the advanced exploration systems program no later than 2018,” the report states. It also requires NASA to provide Congress with a report within 180 days of the bill’s enactment on the status of the program and how it has spent the funds provided.

Rocket Launch, Rocket, Take Off, Nasa, Space Travel
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SpaceX Reports No Damage to Falcon 9 First Stage After Landing
WASHINGTON — The SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage that made a historic landing in Florida after a launch last month survived the flight with no damage, clearing the way for ground tests, the company’s chief executive said.
In a Dec. 31 tweet, Elon Musk published a photo of part of the Falcon 9 first stage. “Falcon 9 back in the hangar at Cape Canaveral. No damage found, ready to fire again,” he wrote. The image, a closeup of part of the first stage, showed only superficial effects from the flight, such as discoloration from soot deposited by the rocket’s engine plumes.

Hangar, Rocket, Rocket Science, Transportation, Spacex
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CNES Vows To Get to the Bottom of Leaks that Forced Mars InSight Delay
PARIS — The French space agency, CNES, on Jan. 4 created an outside board of inquiry to examine the circumstances surrounding the discovery of multiple leaks in an instrument intended to launch on NASA’s Mars InSight lander — leaks that appeared so late in the instrument’s development that NASA and CNES were forced to scrap a planned March launch.
The next launch opportunity is in May 2018.
In a briefing at the agency’s headquarters here, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall said it was only natural to want to have “a set of new eyes” investigate an anomaly of such serious consequence, which he said was “a real blow” to CNES.

Space Probe, Discovery Program, Nasa, Messenger

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Russia's Monkeys-to-Mars Mission Draws PETA Protest

The word from Russia is that the country wants to send monkeys to the Red Planet by 2017. But waving the red flag on such a plan are the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
A few months ago, it was reported that researchers from the Russian Academy of Science are busy training four macaque monkeys to make a long-distance trek to the Red Planet.
Researcher Inessa Kozlovskaya is the leader of the team responsible for teaching the monkeys at the Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Educating the animals includes joystick training and tapping into the cognitive thinking and learning skills of the animals.

Planet, Moon, Orbit, Solar System, Space, Earth, Globe
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SpaceX Falcon 9 First Stage Comes In Hot In Alternate NASA View | Video

A NASA camera tracked the Dec. 21st, 2015 first stage landing of the commercial spaceflight company’s uprated Falcon 9 booster, a key step to lower cost, reusable operation. The vehicle can be seen, coming in fast, with a last moment deploy of its landing legs before touchdown.

 
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NASA Selects Aerojet Rocketdyne to Further Develop Thruster that Uses Green Propellant

NASA has selected Aerojet Rocketdyne for a public-private partnership to mature the design of the 1-Newton GR-1 monopropellant thruster, which uses a green propellant known as AF-M315E. Once matured, the improved GR-1 thruster will enable the technology to transition from development to production for commercial and government customers, using a green propellant that provides a safer, more efficient and higher-performance alternative than traditional hydrazine propellants.
The 1-Newton GR-1 is a small rocket engine used for attitude, trajectory and orbit control of small and medium-sized satellites and spacecraft. Under the partnership, Aerojet Rocketdyne will deliver for development and validation testing a fully integrated 1-Newton GR-1 thruster that uses AF-M315E propellant. In return, NASA will test the thruster at NASA Glenn Research Center; NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center will oversee test planning and ensure infusion of the green technology on future NASA missions.
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European Space Propulsion Completes Testing of 5-Kilowatt Hall Thruster

European Space Propulsion (ESP), a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, successfully completed testing of a five-kilowatt Hall Thruster with a Power Processing Unit (PPU) supplied by Thales Alenia Space in Belgium. The test program was successfully conducted in the United Kingdom, and marks the first time a flight-proven five-kilowatt class Hall Thruster has been tested with a European-manufactured PPU.
ESP, a UK-registered company located in Belfast focused on providing in-space chemical and electric propulsion products for the European space market, was awarded a contract valued at approximately 11 million euros from the European Space Agency (ESA) in March 2015 for the flight qualification of the five-kilowatt XR-5E Hall Thruster, under the ESA Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) initiative, with targeted application on telecommunication satellites.

Rocket, Houston, Thrusters, Texas, Nasa, Usa
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