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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Mar 21 – Mar 28 2016)


DMSP-19 Weather Satellite Dead After Air Force Ends Recovery Effort

WASHINGTON — The Air Force has stopped trying to recover a two-year-old weather satellite after operators lost the ability to command the spacecraft last month, an Air Force spokesman said March 24.
Operators at the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado have “ceased all recovery efforts” of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 19 satellite, Andy Roake, a spokesman for Air Force Space Command, said in a March 24 email to SpaceNews.
NOAA satellite operators unexpectedly lost the ability to command the Air Force’s DMSP Flight 19 satellite on Feb. 11. The satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, is used to help weather forecasters predict fog, thunderstorms and hurricanes that could impact military operations. Launched in April 2014, the spacecraft is the Air Force’s newest weather satellite on orbit and had a five-year design life.
In the last week, Gen. John Hyten, the head of Air Force Space Command, ordered the creation of a safety investigation board to look into the incident, Roake said. Further investigations are still possible.

DMPS satellite. Credit: U.S. Air Force/Lockheed Martin artist's concept
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Lockheed Martin Space Fence Test Facility Opens in New Jersey

Lockheed Martin has established a test site in New Jersey for the U.S. Air Force‘s Space Fence to validate hardware, firmware and software for detection, tracking, and cataloging of orbital objects more than 1.5 million times a day. The test site will also provide early lessons learned on installation of the S-band ground-based radars, support maintenance training and allow engineers to test verification procedures.
Lockheed Martin is using Gallium Nitride (GaN) semiconductor materials within the Space Fence radar design. According to the company, GaN provides significant advantages for active phased array radar systems, including higher power density, greater efficiency and improved reliability over previous technologies.

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Globalstar wins certification for light aircraft antenna

The general aviation market can now, for the first time, access affordable in-flight voice and data services for recreational and business communications

COVINGTON, La., March 24, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Globalstar Inc. (NYSE MKT:GSAT) announced today the awarding of a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) from the FAA for its Part 23 Light Aviation Aircraft Antenna. The issuance of the STC validates that all quality and safety requirements of the FAA for the product have been met through rigorous testing and evaluation which took place over the past year. The initial issuance was obtained on a Beechcraft Baron with an additional 700 models expected to be added to the Approved Model List (AML). A market consisting of hundreds of thousands of General Aviation Pilots can now practically and affordably make calls, send emails and text messages and browse the internet from the cockpit, without the need for cellular access.


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Orbital ATK Cygnus Spacecraft Reaches International Space Station

Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft, launched March 22 on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 rocket, rendezvoused and berthed with the International Space Station (ISS) on March 26. Cygnus will remain at the ISS for approximately two months before departing with approximately 4,400 pounds (2,000 kilograms) of disposable cargo.
Following departure from the ISS, Cygnus will conduct three payload mission objectives. Using a NanoRacks-provided deployer, the spacecraft will place five CubeSats into orbit to conduct their own autonomous missions. Onboard Cygnus, the Spacecraft Fire Experiment-I (Saffire-I) will intentionally light a large-scale fire that will grow and advance until it burns itself out. The final experiment is the Reentry Breakup Recorder (REBR). The ISS crew will install the REBR experiment on Cygnus as they pack the spacecraft with disposal cargo. REBR will measure and record data during Cygnus’ safe, destructive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

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ULA confirms engine issue on latest Atlas launch

WASHINGTON — The upper stage of the Atlas 5 that launched a Cygnus cargo spacecraft March 22 fired for more than a minute longer than planned, apparently to compensate for the premature shut down of the rocket’s first stage engine.
United Launch Alliance confirmed March 24 that the Centaur upper stage used on the launch of the Cygnus OA-6 mission burned for longer than scheduled, although the company did not provide a reason for the extended engine firing.
“The Centaur burned for longer than planned,” ULA spokeswoman Lyn Chassagne said in a statement provided to SpaceNews. “The team is evaluating the occurrence as part of the standard post-flight data analysis.” She later said that burn lasted about 60 seconds longer than planned.

Atlas Cygnus OA-6 launch
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Rocket Lab plans to begin launches mid-year

WASHINGTON — Rocket Lab, the U.S.-New Zealand company developing the Electron small launch vehicle, now plans to begin launches in the middle of this year after completing qualification tests of the vehicle’s main engine.
The company announced March 22 that it has completed qualification tests of the Rutherford engine, allowing it to be used in flights of the Electron vehicle. A video released by the company showed the engine firing on a test stand for more than two and a half minutes.
The first launch is planned for the middle of this year, company spokeswoman Catherine Moreau-Hammond said March 23, with the overall flight test program running through the second half of the year. Those launches are planned from a site the company is developing on New Zealand’s North Island.

Rocket Lab Electron
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ULA’s Vulcan Centaur Rocket Passes Preliminary Design Review

United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for the Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle with dual Blue Origin BE-4 engines. The PDR confirms that the design meets the requirements for handling a diverse set of missions for commercial and government customers. The ULA team plans to build upon this milestone to refine and test key elements of the design while executing a busy manifest of 14 launches in 2016.
The Vulcan Centaur rocket design conflates features from the Delta 4 and Atlas 5 launch vehicles while introducing new technologies. ULA intends to replace the Delta 4 and Atlas 5 rockets with the more competitive Vulcan Centaur.

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Thuraya Releases IP Commander Broadband Data Terminal

Thuraya has announced the launch of the IP Commander, a voice and data terminal purpose-built for military, government, civil defense and emergency response teams. The new terminal enables mission-critical voice and data connectivity in minutes.
SRT is the exclusive designer of the Thuraya IP Commander, which is upon a single board solution that offers every service on Thuraya’s network. Independently tested, IP Commander is certified to IK10 and IP66 standards, making it the most durable and dependable product in Thuraya’s portfolio of satellite communication

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Thales Alenia Space Qualifies Plasma Thruster Power Unit for All-Electric Satellites

Thales Alenia Space Belgium has qualified its new PPU Mk3 power supply units for plasma thrusters on upcoming all-electric satellites. The recently qualified PPU Mk3 will provide electrical power to the plasma thrusters used for handling orbital positioning and station-keeping on all-electric versions of new telecom satellites.
Thales Alenia Space Belgium developed the new units to reflect customer feedback and changing market requirements. The Belgian subsidiary of French-Italian company Thales Alenia Space developed a new avionics system for satellite power management, improving performance, flexibility and lightness.

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Friday, March 18, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Mar 14 – Mar 21 2016)


Go-ahead contract finally signed for Electra all-electric satellite platform

PARIS — Satellite fleet operator SES, satellite manufacturer OHB SE and the European Space Agency on March 11 signed the go-ahead contract to produce a lightweight, all-electric commercial telecommunications satellite platform called Electra.
While it was highly innovative when first decided in 2012, Electra has fallen at least three years behind schedule and is now targeting a 2021 inaugural launch. In the time since its inception, commercial all-electric satellites have entered into regular production, although only one – Boeing’s 702SP, which is already in service with two satellites – is in Electra’s weight class.
Electra is designed to fill a market niche for satellites weighing 3,000 kilograms or less at launch. It is the latest in ESA’s public-private partnerships, designed to help Europe’s commercial satellite sector to remain competitive in the international market.

Electra_OHB
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New Crew Launching to Space Station Today: Watch It Live

Three new crewmembers will launch toward the International Space Station (ISS) this evening (March 18), and you can watch all the spaceflight action live.
NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka are scheduled to blast off aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket today at 5:26 p.m. EDT (2126 GMT) from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. You can watch the liftoff live here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV; coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT).
If all goes according to plan, the trio's Soyuz spacecraft will reach the orbiting lab at 11:12 p.m. EDT tonight (0312 GMT on Saturday, March 19), less than 6 hours after leaving Earth. The hatches between the newly docked Soyuz and the space station are scheduled to open at 12:55 a.m. EDT Saturday (0455 GMT), NASA officials said.

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ULA intends to lower its costs, and raise its cool, to compete with SpaceX

PARIS — A senior United Launch Alliance official on March 15 gave a candid assessment of his company’s attempt to reinvent itself at a time when competitor SpaceX has almost single-handedly caused a rebirth of the cool in U.S. rocketry that has all but bypassed ULA.
In a presentation by turns admiring and resentful of SpaceX – not the first time a ULA official has expressed these sentiments — ULA Engineering Vice President Brett Tobey said his company accepts the fact that SpaceX has forced the U.S. government, and thus ULA, to change the way rockets are made and sold.
It still views SpaceX’s Falcon 9 reusability design – returning the full first stage – as “dumb” given the huge amount of fuel needed to bring the stage back. ULA’s plan for its future Vulcan rocket is to separate the Vulcan’s main-stage engines, cover them in a package that deploys a parachute and then scoop them up in midair with a helicopter.

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Industry frustrated with slow adoption of hosted payloads

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Despite the schedule and cost savings promised by flying government hosted payloads on commercial satellites, industry and former government officials expressed frustration, directed largely at government agencies, with the difficulties they’ve encountered in trying to fly such payloads.
During a panel session about hosted payloads at the Satellite 2016 conference here March 7, one former government official said he recently left the Air Force after seeing several proposals for hosted payloads be rejected by the service.
“I left frustrated,” said Earl White, who ended a 27-year career with the National Reconnaissance Office and U.S. Air Force Space Command last month. That included, he said, seven years at Air Force Space Command where he saw three major proposals for commercially hosted payloads go through his office.

CHIRP
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U.S. allies working on framework to build a sixth MUOS satellite

WASHINGTON — A consortium of U.S. allies, led by Canada, could reach an agreement early next year to build a sixth Mobile User Objective System narrowband communications satellite, a top Lockheed Martin executive said March 15.
By funding a sixth satellite, the participating countries would get full access to the U.S. Navy’s MUOUS constellation, which is designed to  provide smartphone-like communications almost anywhere on the globe.
A similar model of allied participation has allowed the U.S. Air Force to expand the size of its Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) satellite constellation in recent years.

MUOS SV 3 (MUOS 5) final SAWA installation in B/159 deployment stand. Credit: Lockheed Martin.
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SES Increases Ultra-HD Content on Fleet with 4KUniverse

SES has included Ultra-HD programming from Mance Media’s 4KUniverse on the operator’s UHD1 Ultra-HD channel. 4KUniverse content includes documentaries, theatrical movies, experimental films, feature films and television series. The Ultra-HD content will be featured on UHD1 and is delivered over SES 3, one of three SES satellites (SES 1, SES 3, and AMC 18) that comprise the company’s Ultra-HD distribution neighborhood at the center of the orbital arc over North America.
“With the support of global satellite operator SES, our 4KUniverse content and channel will be available to millions of cable, [Internet Protocol Television] IPTV and other subscribers across the U.S. and around the world,” said Matthew Mancinelli, founder and CEO of 4KUniverse.

4K_Hot_air_balloon_festival.jpg (514×386)
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Air Force Says DMSP-19 Weather Satellite Is 'About Dead'

WASHINGTON — The head of Air Force Space Command told lawmakers March 15 that a two-year-old weather satellite is "about dead" and that the Air Force does not expect the satellite to return to operations.
"It doesn't look like we're going to get it back," Gen. John Hyten, commander of Air Force Space Command, told reporters.
NOAA satellite operators unexpectedly lost the ability to command the Air Force's Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 19 on Feb. 11. The satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, is used to help weather forecasters predict fog, thunderstorms and hurricanes that could impact military operations. Launched in April 2014, the spacecraft is the Air Force's newest weather satellite on orbit and had a five-year design life.

Air Force Says DMSP-19 Weather Satellite Is 'About Dead'
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ExoMars 2016: Why We Keep Going Back to the Red Planet

DARMSTADT, Germany —In 1877, Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli reported that he observed intriguing thin lines on the surface of Mars.
The discovery of those "canali" proved sensational. It fueled wild speculation that Earthlings were not alone in the solar system. American astronomer Percival Lowell interpreted the channels as canals dug by thirsty Martians desperate to get water flowing through their civilization.
Schiaparelli's canali turned out to be an optical illusion, and nearly 150 years later, scientists can safely say there are no shovel-wielding aliens living on Mars. Though the history of Mars exploration is littered with failures, dozens of robotic spacecraft have successfully made it to the Red Planet over the last 50 years. They've photographed its surface, analyzed its atmosphere and dug into its soil. Scientists now know the topography of Mars in greater detail than many parts Earth.

ExoMars 2016: Why We Keep Going Back to the Red Planet
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Monday, March 14, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Mar 7 – Mar 14 2016)


Iridium® Push-to-Talk Wins Top Emergency Response Innovation Award at SATELLITE 2016

Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM) today announced that Iridium Push-to-Talk (PTT) was recognized as the "Top Emergency Response Innovation" during the first annual Mobile Satellite Users Association (MSUA) 2016 Mobility Satellite Innovation Awards at SATELLITE 2016. Commercially launched in 2015 and featuring more than a dozen service partners, Iridium PTT is the world's first global, satellite-based push-to-talk service, enabling communication between participants located anywhere on Earth.
The "Top Emergency Response Innovation" award recognizes Iridium PTT for enabling rapid and reliable communication for emergency organizations globally — all with the push of a button. In regions where traditional telecommunications networks are limited or damaged, first responders rely on Iridium PTT to communicate and coordinate relief efforts.

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SpaceX says reusable stage could cut prices 30 percent, plans November Falcon Heavy debut

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland – SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell on March 9 said the company expected to conduct 16 more launches this year, including an inaugural Falcon Heavy rocket in November, and would accelerate its launch rhythm in 2017.
Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX has made lavish forecasts in the past and has come up short. But the company has now launched, twice, the Falcon 9 Upgrade rocket and has not announced any major enhancements for the coming months. A stable product line makes it easier to accelerate launch cadence.
Addressing the Satellite 2016 conference here, organized by Access Intelligence, Shotwell said launching 18 times this year – two launches have already occurred – will not be a stretch, and that the launch rate could increase to 24 or more in 2017.

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NASA commits to 2018 Mars InSight launch

GREENBELT, Md. — A Mars mission that had to cancel plans to launch this month because of an instrument problem will instead fly in 2018, although the additional cost to NASA will not be known for several months.
NASA announced March 9 that the launch of the InSight Mars lander has been rescheduled for May 2018, the next available launch window. A launch then would set up a landing on Mars in November 2018.
InSight was scheduled to launch this month on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. However, in December NASA cancelled the launch after concluding that a seismometer, one of the spacecraft’s key instruments, would not be ready in time after experiencing a series of leaks in its vacuum-sealed components.

Concept art of InSight Lander drilling beneath Mars' surface. Credit: NASA
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Inmarsat’s Global Xpress Wins Mobile Satellite Users Association Award for Government Mobility

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Inmarsat (LSE:ISAT.L), the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, today announced that Global Xpress was awarded “Top Government Mobility Satcom Innovation” in the first annual Mobile Satellite Users Association (MSUA) 2016 Mobility Satellite Innovation Awards presented at Satellite 2016. Global Xpress is the industry’s first end-to-end commercial Ka-band network that spans the world, bringing the benefits of seamless, consistent, high-throughput access to the U.S. government to meet mobile, interoperable communication needs, at an affordable price.

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Liftoff! European Mission to Mars Launches to Seek Signs of Life

Next stop, Mars!
Two robotic spacecraft began a seven-month journey to the Red Planet today (March 14), blasting off together atop a Russian Proton-M rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:31 a.m. EDT (0931 GMT; 3:31 p.m. local Kazakhstan time).
The spacecraft — the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and a lander called Schiaparelli — constitute the first part of the two-phase ExoMars program, a European-Russian project to hunt for signs of life on the Red Planet. The second phase will launch a deep-drilling rover in 2018, if current schedules hold.

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Fearing SpaceX Falcon Heavy delays, Inmarsat reserves ILS Proton

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland – Satellite fleet operator Inmarsat, worried that delays in the introduction of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will compromise a major new growth initiative, has booked an option to launch the Europasat/Hellas-sat 3 satellite aboard an International Launch Services (ILS) Proton rocket in 2017, industry officials said.
Reston, Virginia-based ILS, which markets Russia’s heavy-lift Proton vehicle, on March 7 announced the Inmarsat booking without naming the satellite or providing a launch date.
But industry officials said the reservation was for the Europasat/Hellas-sat 3, under construction by Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Successfully Tests 3-D Printer in Upper Stage Rocket Engine

Aerojet Rocketdyne has completed a series of successful hot-fire tests of its RL10 upper-stage rocket engine. The RL10 development engine, dubbed XR708, included a core main injector built using additive manufacturing technology, often referred to as 3-D printing. The work was done in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force and NASA’s Glenn Research Center as part of the RL10 Additive Manufacturing Study (RAMS) program, which aims to demonstrate the capability of additively manufactured complex parts and qualify them for use in large rocket engines.
The core main injector was fabricated using an additive manufacturing technology known as Selective Laser Melting (SLM). SLM is essentially a micro-welding technique that uses a high-powered laser beam to fuse powdered metal to form detailed components that can perform under the extreme pressures and operating conditions of rocket engines.

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Scientists Talk Astronaut Health on 1-Year Mission

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are back on Earth after spending a record 340 days on the International Space Station. The mission's primary goal was to investigate the physiological and psychological effects of long stints in space, to help pave the way for future crewed missions to Mars.
Last Friday (March 4), a group of NASA scientists fielded questions from the public about Kelly and Kornienko's extended stay on the station, during a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA). The scientists discussed specific questions about the physical and metal toll that spaceflight can have on humans — questions they will have to answer before NASA can safely send humans to Mars or other distant locations. You can read the entire AMA here, or check out some of the highlights below.

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Friday, March 4, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Feb 29 – Mar 7 2016)


SpaceX Launches SES-9 Satellite

WASHINGTON — After a variety of problems delayed four previous launch attempts, a SpaceX Falcon 9 successfully launched the SES-9 communications satellite March 4, although an attempted landing of the rocket’s first stage on a ship was not successful, as expected.
The upgraded Falcon 9 lifted off at 6:35 p.m. Eastern from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket released the SES-9 satellite into geostationary transfer orbit 31 minutes after liftoff.
The outcome of an attempt by SpaceX to land the rocket’s first stage on a ship about 600 kilometers downrange from the launch site was initally uncertain. Video from the ship was lost at the stage appeared to be approaching, and SpaceX ended its webcast coverage of the launch without providing an update on the status of the landing attempt. SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk later tweeted that the rocket “landed hard” on the ship.

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Scott Kelly Back on Earth After Nearly a Year In Space

The Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft carrying Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov landed in Kazakhstan at 11:26 p.m. Eastern Tuesday night, more than three hours after undocking from the International Space Station.
Kelly and Kornienko spent 340 days in space, a U.S. record for Kelly, while Volkov spent a more typical six months on the station.
All three appeared to be in good condition after landing. Kelly is scheduled to return to Houston late tonight.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly rests in a chair outside of the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft just minutes after he and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos landed in Kazakhstan on March 2.
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Inmarsat to Launch Fourth Global Xpress Satellite

Inmarsat has decided to launch the fourth Global Xpress satellite, originally procured fromBoeing as a spare but with the potential to support an incremental business case, in the latter part of 2016.
The operator announced intentions to orbit the satellite with its full year financial results March 3, stating that the company is exploring a number of different orbital locations, business opportunities and related revenues for this satellite. Following the decision to launch, Inmarsat has adjusted its 2018 revenue outlook. Inmarsat expects that group revenues, excluding those from LightSquared, will increase to between $1.2 billion and $1.3 billion in 2016, and will reach between $1.45 billion and $1.6 billion in 2018, mainly as a result of Global Xpress.

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NASA Decision on InSight Mars Lander’s Future Expected Soon

WASHINGTON — NASA could make a decision within a week on the fate of a NASA Mars lander that is facing about $150 million in additional costs because of an instrument problem that caused it to miss its launch window this year.
In a presentation to a meeting of the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) here March 2, Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator of the InSight Mars lander mission, said the project has completed a revised plan for the mission that supports a launch in 2018, and presented that plan to NASA officials a day earlier.
“That presentation went very well,” he said of the NASA briefing. “We had a lot of probing questions and difficult conversations, but overall, I think that we got a positive response.”

Concept art of InSight Lander drilling beneath Mars' surface. Credit: NASA
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Air Force Could Fund Aerojet Rocketdyne Engine Even if ULA Doesn’t Use It

WASHINGTON – Aerojet Rocketdyne has held discussions with at least two unnamed launch providers, in addition to United Launch Alliance, who have an interest in using the AR1  rocket engine the company is developing, Aerojet’s president said March 1.
The U.S. Air Force announced Feb. 29 it was investing $115 million this year, and with options, as much as $536 million over the next five years, in AR1, a new liquid oxygen- and kerosene-fueled  main-stage engine. The contract award is part of an Air Force initiative to end reliance on the Russian-built RD-180 engine that powers ULA’s Atlas 5 workhorse rocket.
The Air Force said in a Feb. 29 announcement that its AR1  investment is being made with the intent that it would power ULA’s next-generation rocket, known as Vulcan.

A 1/6 scale model of the AR1 engine currently in development by Aerojet Rocketdyne as a replacement for the Russian-built RD-180 engine that powers United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5 rocket. Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne
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X Prize Planning For Next Space Competition

WASHINGTON — With its current flagship space competition set to end in less than two years, the X Prize Foundation is starting the planning for its next space-related challenge.
In a Feb. 24 presentation to the Future In-Space Operations working group, Andrew Barton, director of technical operations for the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) competition, said the X Prize Foundation is preparing to develop a new space prize to succeed the GLXP.
“X Prize, beyond the Google Lunar X Prize, does want to keep doing this kind of thing,” Barton said. The foundation held a prize design workshop at a recent meeting of teams involved in the GLXP, he said, and plans additional such workshops in the future.

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How a Hospital Ship Relies on Satellite to Save Lives

Off the coast of sub-Saharan Africa there is a hospital ship where volunteers have conducted thousands of life-changing, often life-saving surgeries and medical procedures. Operated by Mercy Ships, a nonprofit with teams of professionals from around the world, this vessel uses satellite communications to heal and teach people in areas with limited resources.
Maritime is a big and growing area for satellite communications, but Mercy Ships is not your typical example. Since 1978, the organization has operated between one and three ships, reaching people with medical services and teaching life skills in more than 70 countries. Today, the Texas-based nonprofit uses one ship known as Africa Mercy. Chris Gregg, chief information officer at Mercy Ships, told Via Satellite that satellite technology has played a role on Mercy Ships since its first charity ship, the Anastasis, sailed in the early 1980s, and that the applications for satellite are changing.

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Home Again, At Last: Soyuz Capsule Brings Astronauts to Earth

After a record-setting 12-month stay on the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko returned to Earth yesterday (March 1). Cosmonaut Sergey Volkov returned with them after spending six months in space.
A stunning photograph snapped by veteran NASA photographer Bill Ingalls shows the Soyuz capsule serenely parachuting through Earth's clouds, carrying the space travelers home.
The Soyuz-TMA-18M spacecraft landed near Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, at 11:25 p.m. EST (0425 GMT on March 2) carrying the space travelers home after completing Expedition 46. Upon landing, the space fliers underwent a 60-minute "field test" to assess their initial condition.


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