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Friday, July 29, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Jul 25 – Aug 1 2016)

Atlas 5 launches NRO mission from the Cape

WASHINGTON — A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket carrying a classified payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office successfully launched July 28 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The launch went into a news blackout typical for NRO missions several minutes after its 8:37 a.m. Eastern liftoff. Almost all missions for the NRO, which buys and operates U.S. spy satellites, are classified, meaning few details are released.
In a July 28 press release, Air Force officials said the mission, known as NROL-61, was successful.

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SpaceX estimated to spend $300 million on Red Dragon mission

WASHINGTON — NASA estimates that SpaceX is spending on the order of $300 million on its Red Dragon Mars lander mission, a down payment on the company’s long-term ambitions for human Mars missions.
At a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council’s technology committee in Cleveland July 26, Jim Reuter, deputy associate administrator for programs in NASA’s space technology mission directorate, provided an overview of NASA’s agreement with SpaceX, announced in April, to support that company’s plans for an uncrewed Mars landing mission that could launch as soon as May 2018.
That agreement, in the form of an unfunded Space Act Agreement, does not include any exchange of funds between NASA and SpaceX. Reuter said NASA estimates it will spend approximately $32 million over four years, primarily in the form of NASA personnel providing technical support for SpaceX. About $6 million of that will be spent this fiscal year, he added.

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New Space Startup Audacy Shoots for the Moon

A new company aims to provide the communications capacity required for the ongoing private spaceflight revolution.
Around Aug. 1, California-based Audacy plans to close a Series A fundraising round of at least $15 million to begin creating three satellites and two Earth stations. The goal is to raise four major rounds of funding, build the ground stations and get the satellites launched by 2019. All told, the plan will cost about $750 million — $250 million in funding and $500 million more in government-backed debt, Audacy representatives said.
The three satellites could support perhaps 2,000 tiny cubesats, all working at the same time, anywhere in Earth orbit. Alternatively, Audacy could have up to 12 high-capacity customers and perhaps 1,000 smaller ones sharing the bandwidth simultaneously.

New Space Startup Audacy Shoots for the Moon
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Watch SpaceX's 1st Test-Fire of a Used Falcon 9 Rocket

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's private spaceflight company, SpaceX, is another step closer to making its Falcon 9 rockets fully reusable.
Late yesterday (July 28), the company released this video of its first test firing of a used Falcon 9 rocket stage, one that already launched and landed during a mission in May. The burn lasted for about 2 minutes and 30 seconds, and a brief description of the video said the test was "full duration."
Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of flight reliability at SpaceX, said on July 16 that the company plans to launch one of its used rockets this fall, assuming it has a customer for the flight. The company also plans to reuse one of its Dragon cargo capsules for a cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station, representatives of SpaceX and NASA said earlier this month.

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Inmarsat Approves DataPath QCT90 Man-Pack Terminal for Global Xpress

DataPath’s new QCT90 man-packable antenna has achieved full Inmarsat Type Approval for use on commercial Ka-band frequencies over the operator’s Global Xpress (GX), high-throughput wideband service. Introduced to the market last fall, the QCT90 man-pack terminal employs a 90-cm antenna with a carbon fiber reflector and cast magnesium frame for maximum durability while maintaining a light weight.
The system’s fully integrated design avoids loose cables and includes a GPS-enabled Graphical User Interface (GUI) to allow an operator to take the antenna from case to connection within three minutes. The terminal also fits into a single backpack style case.

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NASA approves Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser plan

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has passed the second Integration Certification Milestone under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract. NASA assessed and fully approved SNC’s detailed approach for getting the Dream Chaser Cargo System to the International Space Station (ISS). SNC’s approved strategy demonstrates a thorough understanding of design requirements and available resources on both a system and subsystem level. 
Dream Chaser will provide a minimum of six cargo delivery missions to and from the ISS between 2019 and 2024.  The first milestone was passed several weeks ago and outlined technical, logistic and schedule procedures for the program.

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