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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (May 23 – May 30 2016)

SpaceX launches Thaicom-8, returns Falcon 9 first stage to offshore drone ship

PARIS — A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on May 27 successfully placed the Thaicom-8 commercial telecommunications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit in the fifth of what SpaceX has said would be a year with up to 18 launches.
SpaceX and satellite builder Orbital ATK confirmed Thaicom-8’s successful separation in orbit. Orbital ATK said the satellite was sending signals post separation.

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BEAM Module Fully Expanded on International Space Station

WASHINGTON — An expandable module on the International Space Station finally deployed to its full size May 28 after a day’s worth of work, overcoming earlier problems with the experimental module.
NASA announced that the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) had expanded to its full size shortly after 4 p.m. Eastern, more than seven hours after ground controllers, working with ISS astronaut Jeff Williams, started the deployment process. A short time later, air tanks inside BEAM released air to bring the module’s pressure up to the same level as the rest of the station.
BEAM reached its full size after a gradual, and at times tedious, process of manually adding air to the module. NASA took a slow approach, sometimes asking Williams to open an air valve for as little as one second before waiting for an extended period to see how the additional air affected the expansion.

BEAM expansion
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Why NASA is Hitching a ride on Red Dragon

When NASA and SpaceX announced April 27 that they had modified an existing unfunded Space Act Agreement that involves the company’s “Red Dragon” Mars lander concept, it was, unsurprisingly, SpaceX that got all the attention. No company has ever flown a private Mars lander, and not even NASA has landed a spacecraft as large as SpaceX’s Dragon. Moreover, Red Dragon is the latest sign that SpaceX and its founder, Elon Musk, are serious about pursuing a long-term goal of Mars settlement.
But what’s in it for NASA? The answer might be summed up in two words: supersonic retropropulsion, a landing technology that the agency increasingly sees as critical to its own Mars goals.
“We’ve had some ongoing entry, descent and landing architecture studies, and they’ve concluded that supersonic retropropulsion technology is going to be required for any human mission to Mars,” said Jim Reuter, deputy associate administrator for programs in NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, in a May 16 interview.

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Inmarsat’s Jet Connex Makes Strides Toward Business Aviation Launch

Inmarsat’s broadband In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) service is moving closer to launch. Rockwell Collins announced it has validated the network’s performance as well as a number of its own value-added services and Gogo has added the Ka-band connectivity service to its portfolio for business aircraft operators flying globally.
Inmarsat expects Jet ConneX will be available globally in mid-2016, and will support high-speed Internet via Inmarsat’s Ka-band Global Xpress fleet.

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ISRO Flight-Tests Reusable Launch Technology

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on May 23 flight tested India’s first winged body aerospace vehicle operating in a hypersonic flight regime. The mission flew a Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) to test critical technologies such as autonomous navigation, guidance and control, a reusable thermal protection system and re-entry mission management, all of which were successfully validated according to the agency.
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Report endorses greater use of cubesats for science missions

WASHINGTON — A National Academies report recommends that NASA and the National Science Foundation make greater use of cubesats for science missions, while also centralizing the management of NASA’s diverse cubesat efforts.
The report, prepared by a committee under the auspices of the National Academies’ Space Studies Board and released May 23, argued that cubesats represent a “disruptive innovation” whose capabilities continue to grow while remaining faster to develop and less expensive than more conventional spacecraft.
“Fueled by the excitement of access to space, a newfound pioneering spirit, and sometimes even overenthusiastic optimism of first adopters in academia, industry, and the government, the progress of CubeSats toward becoming a science platform has been rapid,” the report states.

NASA CubeSats Heading into Orbit (Artist's Concept) Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Iridium Offers Alternative GPS Service Using its Own LEO Constellation

Iridium has launched a new Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) capability called Satellite Time and Location (STL) that can substitute or augment traditional location-based technologies. STL technology deployed through the operator’s network of 66 cross-linked satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and in end-user receivers can verify GPS, Glonass, Galileo, and other navigation services and, if needed, can fill in for them should they become compromised.
Iridium says STL can protect, toughen and augment traditional GPS technology by providing a position or timing source when GPS signals are degraded or unavailable. It can also provide an alternative source of time to check the integrity of a GPS signal, and works indoors, according to the company.

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SpaceX will try to land on solid ground again in July

SpaceX's ninth cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station will take place no earlier than 1:32AM ET on Saturday, July 16th, NASA announced today. A representative for SpaceX has confirmed to The Verge that the company will attempt to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral. This will be the first time that SpaceX has attempted a landing on solid ground since the initial attempt last December, which was also the company's first successful landing.
SpaceX will use its Falcon 9 rocket to launch the uncrewed version of its Dragon spacecraft to the ISS. The Dragon will be carrying crew supplies and hardware, including an "international docking adapter." This will be attached outside the ISS to help prepare for commercial flights from SpaceX and Boeing. Those flights will start in 2017.

The Falcon 9 first stage at Cape Canaveral's LZ1 following its successful  Dec. 22  return to the launch site. Credit: SpaceX
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Gmail is now supported on Iridium GO®!

Iridium is happy to announce Gmail support on Iridium GO! via OneMail - a new app by OCENS - designed to increase the usability of Iridium GO!, which provides global voice and text messaging service for up to five smartphone users anywhere on the planet, and targeted additional data capabilities for any Android or Apple iOS device. The new offering will enhance the functionality of Iridium GO! for both leisure and business customers.
OneMail app provides convenient and cost-effective access to personal email for anyone out of cellular range. The app will quickly compress the emails from users’ Gmail accounts and download them onto their smartphone or tablet. OneMail is compatible with Android and Apple iOS devices and additionally allows customers to send pictures without compromising their quality.
OneMail is now available in the iOS App Store(SM) and Google Play(TM) marketplace. Iridium GO! customers will also be able to use it for two months free of charge when  they enter code IRONEPROMO upon registration here.

For more information click here

Arianespace to use Ruag Space Payload Dispenser Systems for OneWeb Launches

Arianespace has signed a contract with OneWeb to design, qualify and supply 21 payload dispensers for the deployment of the company’s small satellite constellation, along with five more on option. Ruag Space in Sweden will be the prime contractor in charge of development and production of the dispenser systems, which will first secure the satellites during their flight to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and then release them into space. The dispensers are designed to accommodate up to 32 spacecraft per launch, allowing Arianespace to deliver the larger part of the OneWeb constellation over a period of 18 months, starting in 2018.

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Inmarsat: Global Demand for In-Flight Broadband Hits New Heights amongst Airline Passengers

One of the most comprehensive surveys of airline customers worldwide reveals that passengers now not only expect broadband services to be offered as standard during flights, but more than half would prefer in-flight connectivity to in-flight meals.
The In-Flight Connectivity Survey was conducted by Inmarsat (LSE: ISAT.L), the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, and market research company GfK between August 2015 and March 2016. Responses were gathered from more than 9,000 passengers in Europe, Asia, Australasia, and Central and South America who had taken a short, medium or long haul flight in the past year and carried at least one personal device onboard the aircraft.

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