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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.”

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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.
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