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Saturday, February 27, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Feb 22 – Feb 29 2016)


Inmarsat selects Thales to develop critical infrastructure for European Aviation Network
Inmarsat has selected Thales to develop and manufacture a Complementary Ground Component (CGC) terminal for its European Aviation Network (EAN) high-speed inflight connectivity solution.
The agreement marks a key milestone for EAN, which was unveiled by Inmarsat last year as the first aviation passenger connectivity solution across European airspace to integrate an advanced satellite network and LTE-based ground network, the latter will be operated by Deutsche Telekom.
Aircraft will switch automatically between satellite and terrestrial connectivity using an onboard network communicator for optimal service delivery. As a result, airlines will be able to offer reliable, high-speed onboard internet access to passengers across Europe’s high-traffic flight paths, utilising Inmarsat’s 30MHz (2 x 15MHz) S-band spectrum allocation in all 28 EU member states.

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SpaceX wins 5 new space station cargo missions in NASA contract estimated at $700 million

NASA has awarded five additional space station cargo-supply missions to SpaceX in a late-December contract with an undisclosed value that industry officials estimate at around $700 million.
The contract, signed just before Christmas, was not announced at the time by either party but has been confirmed by both. It brings to 20 the number of missions now assigned to SpaceX under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract first signed in 2008.
In contrast, the other company performing CRS missions, Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia, has been assigned just 10 flights and was not part of the end-year orders.

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Matt Desch: 1st Iridium NEXT Satellites to Launch in July With SpaceX Rocket

TYSONS CORNER, VA, February 26, 2016 — Iridium Communications (Nasdaq: IRDM) has moved back the launch of the first set of Iridium NEXT satellites to July using SpaceX‘s Falcon 9 rocket following delays in obtaining clearance from the Russian government, ExecutiveBiz reported Thursday.
The report said Iridium CEO Matt Desch told investors at an earnings call that Russia’s defense ministry has not yet provided feedback on the application submitted by launch provider Kosmotras.
“Even with this change, the Iridium NEXT constellation remains on track for full deployment in 2017,” he said.

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SpaceX postpones SES-9 launch

WASHINGTON — SpaceX postponed the launch of an SES communications satellite on an upgraded Falcon 9 by 24 hours Feb. 24.
SpaceX postponed the launch a little more than a half-hour before the launch window opened at 6:46 p.m. Eastern, shortly before propellant loading was scheduled to begin. “Out of an abundance of caution, the team opted to hold launch for today to ensure liquid oxygen temperatures are as cold as possible in an effort to maximize performance of the vehicle,” the company said in a statement.
The upgraded version of the Falcon 9, which is making its second launch on this mission, uses liquid oxygen cooled to near its freezing point to increase its density. The use of “densified” propellants is one of several changes to the vehicle to improve its performance and increase its payload capacity.

falcon 9 SES-9
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Two Texas University-Built Satellites Deployed from ISS

Two satellites, Texas A&M University’s AggieSat4 satellite and University of Texas’ Bevo 2 satellite, have deployed from the International Space Station (ISS), MEI Technologies (MEIT) announced Feb. 23. The satellites are for a mission dubbed the Low Earth Orbiting Navigation Experiment for Spacecraft Testing Autonomous Rendezvous and Docking (LONESTAR), for which MEIT serves as the mentor under aNASA Johnson Space Center Engineering, Technology, and Science (JETS) contract.
The purpose of the LONESTAR mission — which is the second of four missions in the LONESTAR investigation project — is for the two satellites to talk, take pictures and track each other while moving closely together. The LONESTAR project is meant to demonstrate the capability of satellites to autonomously rendezvous and dock with each other, saving man hours and eliminating human error.

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Hughes Received Major Capacity and Equipment Purchase from Mexico’s StarGroup

Mexico-based Internet service provider StarGroup has entered a contract worth more than $200 million for a significant portion of the capacity on EchoStar 19 and a Hughes Jupiter System for the launch of a high speed Internet service in Latin America. Under the contract, Hughes will supply a Jupiter gateway, high-performance Ka-band terminals and a comprehensive suite of managed services for operational and customer support.
Hughes will install a Jupiter gateway in the city of Arica, Chile, and manage it remotely from its Network Operations Center (NOC) in Germantown, Md. The Jupiter System’s flexible configuration management and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) will enable rapid integration with StarGroup’s existing financial and customer support systems.


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Report Suggests NASA Fly Precursor to Asteroid Redirect Mission

LANCASTER, Calif. — A report released by NASA Feb. 18 found no scientific showstoppers for the agency's planned Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), but suggested a precursor mission to the selected asteroid could improve the odds of success.
The 21-member Formulation Assessment and Support Team (FAST) was chartered by NASA last fall to examine scientific issues involved with the mission to support development of its first element, a robotic spacecraft called the Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission (ARRM). That spacecraft will travel to a near Earth asteroid, grab a boulder from its surface, and return it to cislunar space.
The FAST report examined several topics, with a particular focus on 2008 EV5, the asteroid serving as the notional target of the mission. Those analyses included the presence of boulders on the asteroid's surface, the strength of the boulders and their cohesion with the surface. It also addressed issues with bringing the boulder back to cislunar space and safety issues for future crewed missions to the recovered boulder.

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Year-in-Space Astronaut Scott Kelly Packs for Home, Skips Souvenir

Scott Kelly isn't bringing home a souvenir of his year in space.
The NASA astronaut, who has been living and working on the International Space Station since March 2015, is set to return home to Earth on Tuesday (March 1) after 340 days circling the planet. Kelly is the first American to embark on such a long mission and, together with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko is the first to stay for nearly a year at the orbiting outpost.
"I don't look at souvenirs that have been flown in space the same [way] that other people do, only because I've been in space so many times," Kelly explained Thursday (Feb. 25) in a press conference from the space station. "I absolutely understand why other people do and I respect that, but the fact that I've been here four times and well over 500 days, it doesn't have the same meaning to me."

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