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Monday, October 31, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Oct 24 – Oct 31 2016)

This Technology Will Make Missing Planes a Thing of the Past

It’s called ADS-B, and it’s a big deal for aviation.

Of the many questions raised by the vanishing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in 2014, the most vexing was also the most fundamental: How could aviation authorities lose track of an entire Boeing 777 BA -0.01% and the 239 people on board? Many were surprised to learn that across vast swaths of the planet—particularly over oceans—air traffic controllers have only a vague idea of the location of many of the world’s airliners at any given moment.
“Air traffic controllers aren’t tracking you in real time,” says Don Thoma, CEO of Aireon, a partnership between global communications satellite operator Iridium and a handful of air traffic control providers. By early 2018 Aireon intends to change that. Instead of conventional radar, it plans to launch a satellite-based communications network that can precisely track passenger aircraft—and in doing so, trim fuel consumption, shorten flight times, and save airlines hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

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Iridium Gains Altitude Despite NEXT Delays

Satellite communications specialist Iridium Communications has aimed its offerings at business customers who need truly global access to wireless networks, with voice and data services that provide vital links to the rest of the world for its users. Yet some recent setbacks related to rocket company SpaceX have threatened to delay Iridium's key NEXT satellite upgrade program, and coming into Thursday's third-quarter financial report, Iridium investors weren't expecting more than flat performance on its bottom line. For its part, Iridium managed to grow its earnings, and although it now believes the NEXT program might not be finished until 2018, it is still optimistic about its long-range plan. Let's look more closely at how Iridium Communications did and what's ahead for the company.

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Harris combat radios get National Security Agency clearance for MUOS upgrade

Harris Corp. said Nov. 1 that the backpack-sized military radios it builds for U.S. troops  to carry into combat were recently certified by the National Security Agency to use the higher-throughput capabilities of the Navy’s Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellites.
Having completed testing earlier this year to make the Falcon 3 AN/PRC-117G manpack radio MUOS-compatible via a software patch, Melbourne, Florida-based Harris Corp. anticipates a sizable revenue opportunity upgrading the manpacks to send and receive secure voice, video and data transmissions via the constellation of MUOS satellites that the U.S. began deploying in 2012.

Harris Corp. says that 30,000 of its Falcon 3 AN/PRC-117G manpack radios are currently deployed. Credit:  Harris Corp.
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Aerojet Rocketdyne Completes Launch Abort Engine Hot Fire Tests for Starliner

Aerojet Rocketdyne announced it has successfully completed a series of hot-fire tests on two Launch Abort Engines (LAE) featuring new propellant valves for Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner service module propulsion system. The tests were conducted in the Mojave Desert in California, and confirmed the ability for the new valves to modulate propellant flow and control peak LAE thrust in the event of a launch abort.
The LAEs, designed by Aerojet Rocketdyne, include a fuel valve and oxidizer valve, which were developed and tested under the company’s Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) subcontract to Boeing. The Starliner aims to carry humans to the International Space Station (ISS) once again from United States soil.

Hot-fire tests on two Launch Abort Engines for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner service module propulsion system. Photo: Aerojet Rocketdyne
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Honeywell to Offer Inmarsat Satellite In-Flight Broadband to Military Users

Honeywell has announced it will offer high-speed, high-bandwidth satellite communications capabilities for military use. Inmarsat’s Global Xpress “satcom as a service” in-flight broadband service and Honeywell’s JetWave satellite communications hardware work together to provide a consistent, high-speed, high-bandwidth connectivity experience for military users around the world, improving overall situational awareness and safety while allowing troops to communicate more effectively, the company announced.

Inmarsat Global Xpress network, rendering
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An Internet of Things World: Where does Satellite fit in?

One of the big buzz terms at recent satellite events has been the Internet of Things (IoT), where we live in an uber-connected world full of connected devices which can pretty much track everything man and machine do as billions of devices talk to each other. While IoT is great news for the wireless industry, it could also offer some interesting new growth opportunities for satellite companies as they look to secure a role in this hyper-connected state of affairs.
Organizations such as the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) have already started work on IoT strategies in Europe and Singapore, respectively. Beh Kian Teik, executive director of the Office for Space Technology and Industry (OSTIn) at the Singapore Economic Development Board (SEDB), says OSTIn is focused on building up satellite technology capabilities in both its public research institutions and for industry players, particularly through encouraging public-private collaborations.

Image result for Internet of Things satellite
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Cobham To Develop Palletized Aerial Refuelling System For US Marines’ MV-22s Ospreys
Cobham has been awarded a contract by the Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office to develop a palletized aerial refuelling system to give the the US Marine Corps’ MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft the ability refuel other aircraft while inflight.
Known as V-22 Aerial Refueling System (VARS), the system will utilize Cobham's existing FR300 Hose Drum Unit with some modifications. The roll-on/roll-off kit will enable the Marines to use their land- and carrier-based MV-22B aircraft to refuel F-35B Lightning II and F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, thereby extending their operational range and loiter times, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

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Virgin Galactic set to begin SpaceShipTwo glide flights

Virgin Galactic is planning to begin glide flight tests of its second SpaceShipTwo next Tuesday, almost exactly two years after a fatal test flight of its first suborbital spaceplane.
Virgin Galactic test pilot CJ Sturckow, speaking at a “Space Stories” event at The Explorers Club here Oct. 29, said the company has scheduled the first glide flight of the vehicle, named VSS Unity, on Nov. 1. That flight would come after a single “captive carry” test flight of the vehicle in September, when the vehicle remained attached to its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft for its entire flight.

SpaceShipTwo test flight
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NASA seeks concepts for commercial lunar lander instruments

NASA announced Nov. 1 that it is seeking information regarding instruments that could be flown to the moon on future commercial spacecraft, with one company that is developing a lander offering financial support for their development.
The request for information (RFI) released by NASA seeks details about “small payloads that could be delivered to the moon as early as the 2017–2020 timeframe using U.S. commercial lunar cargo transportation service providers.” The RFI, issued though NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems division, is focused on instruments and experiments that address “strategic knowledge gaps” in robotic and human lunar exploration, versus pure science investigations.

Moon Express's MX-1 lander. Credit: Moon Express artist's concept
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Industry committee to start work on human spaceflight safety standards

With the Federal Aviation Administration restricted from developing safety regulations for people flying on commercial human spacecraft, an industry standards organization is moving ahead with plans to establish a committee to develop a voluntary set of standards.
At a meeting here Oct. 24, ASTM International, an organization founded in 1898 that develops voluntary consensus standards for a wide range of industries, agreed to move ahead with the creation of a committee that will work on creating such standards for commercial launch vehicles, spacecraft and spaceports.

SpaceShipTwo test flight. Credit: Virgin Galactic
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This Week in Satellite News! (Oct 17 – Oct 24 2016)

Musk offers more details about Mars mission architecture

SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk provided some additional details Oct. 23 about a Mars transportation system he unveiled last month, including plans to test in the near future one of its key technologies.
In an “Ask Me Anything” discussion on the website Reddit, organized on short notice, Musk answered more than a dozen questions posed by users about the Interplanetary Transport System he announced in a Sept. 27 speech at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico.
That system consists of a large reusable booster that will use 42 of the company’s Raptor engines currently under development, along with a reusable spacecraft designed to carry 100 people to the surface of Mars and return to Earth. Development of the Raptor engine, which completed its first test firing shortly before his speech, was one of the key technologies for the system that he announced.

SpaceX unveils first development tank for Mars spaceship. Credit: SpaceX
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Intelsat, SES Donate Satellite Capacity to Hurricane Matthew Relief in Haiti

Global satellite operators Intelsat and SES have both donated satellite capacity to humanitarian efforts in Haiti following the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Intelsat for 90 days is providing high throughput Ku-band capacity from the Intelsat 29e satellite to the American Red Cross, which has a VSAT connection at its facility in Les Cayes. SES is supplying C-band capacity from SES 6 to, a public-private partnership between the Luxembourg government and three Luxembourg-based companies — SES Techcom Services, Hitec Luxembourgand Luxembourg Air Ambulance.

Haiti SES
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Inmarsat’s LISW17 set stage for Digital future of Maritime

Inmarsat has announced plans in support of its diamond sponsor commitment for London International Shipping Week, 11-15 September 2017 (LISW17) by staging three key events focusing on the maritime industry’s digital future.
To coincide with the official launch of LISW17 on October 19th 2016, Inmarsat announced that its separate events would target: shipping’s response to digital disruption; the future of maritime safety; and maritime cyber security myth-busting. All three sessions will be held at Inmarsat Global HQ, London on 12-13 September, 2017.

Image result for Maritime inmarsat
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Why outer space matters: Krystal Wilson on humanitarian uses of space

It’s easy to think of space as far away, as the domain of wealthy countries, as science fiction, as cool technology, as something far off in the future. In reality, it’s essential for being able to respond to humanitarian crises right now. Space-based capabilities, particularly weather, communication, navigation, and Earth observation satellites, contribute to every phase of humanitarian work from damage assessment to early recovery to community building to disaster and conflict risk reduction. Satellites are an integral part of forming a comprehensive understanding of a location in crisis, supporting logistics, ongoing decision-making, and even public outreach…

Image result for Earth observation satellites
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Europe’s ExoMars enters Mars orbit, but lander feared lost

The European Space Agency on Oct. 19 successfully placed its Trace Gas Orbiter satellite into Mars orbit, where it will examine Mars’s atmosphere before changing orbit to become a data relay station for future U.S. and European Mars rover missions.
The orbiter’s Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing payload, which successfully separated from the orbiter on Oct. 16, entered the Mars atmosphere on Oct. 19 and survived long enough to confirm that its heat shied functioned as designed and that its parachute appeared to deploy as expected before being ejected too early.

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Orbital ATK’s Antares Returns to Flight Using RD-181 Engines

Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket lifted off Oct. 17 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, returning to flight after a nearly two-year hiatus. The upgraded Antares 230 rocket now uses RD-181 engines from Russian manufacturer NPO Energomash in lieu of the AJ-26s implicated in the Oct. 28, 2014 Antares launch failure.
Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash, both of Ukraine, designed the rocket core and manufactured it respectively. Orbital ATK produced the Castor 30XL solid rocket motor second stage. The launch also marks the third flight of an enhanced Cygnus spacecraft featuring a greater payload capacity, supported with new fuel tanks and UltraFlex solar arrays.

OA-5 Antares Orbital ATK
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White House announces small satellite initiative

The White House announced a new initiative Oct. 21 to promote the development of small satellites, collecting under one roof a number of efforts, some of which started months ago.
The “Harnessing the Small Satellite Revolution” initiative, announced in a White House Office of Science and Technology Policy statement, highlights several ongoing efforts by NASA, the Pentagon and other federal government agencies to help develop smallsats or make use of images or other data they provide.

Two cubesats after launch from the International Space Station's Small Satellite Orbital Deployer. Credit: NASA
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Inmarsat and Vodafone form IoT Roaming Agreement

Inmarsat and Vodafone have established a roaming agreement that lets Internet of Things (IoT) devices use international satellite and cellular roaming connectivity. The agreement will use the Inmarsat I-4 satellite network, providing global L-band coverage for Vodafone IoT customers.
“This agreement marks a first for Inmarsat; enabling a mobile operator to utilize broadband roaming services on our global network,” said Rupert Pearce, CEO, Inmarsat.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Oct 10 – Oct 17 2016)

Antares launches Cygnus on return-to-flight mission

In its first flight in nearly two years, an Orbital ATK Antares successfully launched a Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station Oct. 17.
The Antares lifted off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia, at 7:45 p.m. Eastern, at the end of a five-minute launch window. The launch shifted from the beginning to the end of the window because of an unspecified but minor engine issue.

An Orbital ATK Antares rocket lifts off from Wallops Island, Virginia, Oct. 17, carrying a Cygnus cargo spacecraft bound for the ISS. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
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Blue Origin on track for human suborbital test flights in 2017

A “picture perfect” in-flight abort test last week by Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle keeps the company on schedule to begin crewed test flights by the end of next year, the company’s president said Oct. 13.
In a speech at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS) here, Rob Meyerson said the Oct. 5 test, which demonstrated the ability of the crew capsule to safely escape its booster in an emergency, brings the company closer to start crewed flights.

Blue Origin abort test
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SpaceX to reuse Dragon capsules on cargo missions

SpaceX plans to reuse a Dragon cargo spacecraft for the first time next year, allowing the company to focus on production of the next generation of that spacecraft for crew and cargo missions.
In a presentation at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS) here Oct. 13, Benjamin Reed, director of commercial crew mission management at SpaceX, said the company was planning to fly a used Dragon spacecraft on its eleventh Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) cargo mission to the station in early 2017.

Dragon after splashdown
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In the Oil and Gas Recovery, Satellite Will Rise

It’s no overstatement: there is seemingly always something going on in the Middle East. And now, with nuclear-related sanctions lifted from Iran, the region has, perhaps, even more eyes on it. The geopolitical implications of Iran are significant; the country has the potential to redefine the Middle Eastern landscape.
Oil rich and with numerous other valuable resources virtually untapped, Iran will likely resuscitate its economy, and the world will feel the wake of this large nation kicking off from the sin-bin pond into the global economy’s flowing river. The first evidence is the shaky price of oil. Iran stepping back from production cuts earlier this year left other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the oil and gas (O&G) market as a whole in even greater turbulence.

Image result for Oil and Gas satellite
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Kymeta Takes a Step Closer to Production with Successful Live Flat-Panel Satellite Demonstration

Kymeta has announced performance results of a weeklong live demonstration at the Monaco Yacht Show. The company realized data rates of 65 Mbps down and 6 Mbps up, and also demonstrated 2.9 dB additional gain when combining two Kymeta mTennau7 Antenna Subsystem Modules (ASMs). The demonstration represents a major milestone for the company, which aims to begin pilot production in December.
During the demonstration, Kymeta mTennau7 ASMs simultaneously received eight live Panasonicmulticast eXTV channels, performed multiple live Skype video sessions, multiple HD and Ultra-HDNetflix video sessions, and provided Wi-Fi access to an average of 80 users at any one time during the show. The demonstration also confirmed the low-power consumption of the Kymeta mTenna technology, drawing only 12 watts of power per ASM.

Kymeta mTenna at the Monaco Yacht Show 2016.
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SpaceX to Launch Terra Bella Satellites Through Spaceflight Industries

Terra Bella, a Google company, has signed an agreement withSpaceflight Industries to launch SkySats on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The company will be the co-lead on Spaceflight’s first Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO) dedicated rideshare mission, designated SSO-A, purchased in 2015. The mission is currently scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in late 2017.
Spaceflight has government and commercial microsats and cubesats booked for the SSO-A mission, and is currently at 90 percent capacity with more than 20 payloads from 10 countries. Confirmed spacecraft include Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology’s (KAIST) NEXTSat-1 satellite, an astronomy mission and technology demonstrator; an Iceye Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) micro-satellite for all-weather imaging; and HawkEye 360’s first three formation-flying satellites to detect, characterize, and geolocate RF signals worldwide.

skysat SSL Terra Bella
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Marlink Achieves full Inmarsat Global Xpress Readiness

Marlink has announced the implementation of Inmarsat Global Xpress (GX) across its global network infrastructure and service delivery platform is now complete. Following successful installation and testing at all three Global Xpress “Meet Me Points” in the Indian Ocean Region, Atlantic Ocean Region and Pacific Ocean Region, Marlink will be able to offer Fleet Xpress globally along with its maritime digital solutions, such as XChange and SkyFile.
Combined with Fleet Xpress, XChange and SkyFile will enable maritime clients and their vessels to achieve further operational efficiencies and cost reductions, as well as boosting crew wellbeing on-board, the company said. Also available to Fleet Xpress users is Marlink’s messaging and data-transfer solution for ship-shore communications, in addition to a solution offering full control for private crew communications (voice, internet access and social media).

Inmarsat Global Xpress network, rendering
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21-Year-Old Lockheed Martin Satellite Providing Connectivity for Antarctic Researchers

Scientists and researchers at the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Amundsen-Scott Station, located at 90 degrees south on the South Pole, are using the Lockheed Martin-built Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) satellite DSCS-3-B7 for telecommunications services. Due to the research station’s extreme latitude, communications is difficult even for satellites. In June, the U.S. Air Force satellite took over the role of providing communication and data links between Amundsen-Scott and the U.S. Antarctic Program facility in Christchurch, New Zealand, which serves as the station’s link to the rest of the world.
DSCS-3-B7 replaces the NSF’s GOES 3 satellite, which is being decommissioned. The DSCS satellite provides the station with internet access for 3.5 hours a day at speeds of up to 30 Mbps, an upgrade from about 1.5 Mbps achieved under GOES.

NSF DSCS South Pole
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NASA to move ahead with plans to offer ISS docking port for private modules

NASA will move ahead later this year with plans to offer a docking port and other resources to companies interested in adding a commercial module to the International Space Station, NASA and the White House said Oct. 11.
In a blog post published on the agency’s web site, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren said that responses the agency received from a request for information (RFI) earlier this year led NASA to decide to proceed with some kind of competition or other mechanism for adding commercial modules to the station.

Image result for ISS docking port
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Eutelsat Becomes First Customer of ILS Proton Medium Variant

Eutelsat has revealed that the third launch in its Multi-Launch Agreement (MLA) withInternational Launch Services (ILS) will use a Proton Medium rocket, making the operator the first to commit to using one of the new launch vehicle variants. The mission is to occur in the 2019 to 2020 timeframe from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The Proton Medium mission is the second Eutelsat launch contract announced this week. Yesterday the operator revealed that the newly ordered Eutelsat West 5 B will launch on a Proton Breeze M rocket, also from ILS, on a shared launch with Orbital ATK’s first Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV 1). Eutelsat 5 West B will be stacked on top of MEV 1 for a dual launch in the last quarter of 2018.

Image result for ILS Proton

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Oct 3 – Oct 10 2016)


Hurricane damage at Florida launch facilities not as bad as feared

A powerful hurricane moving up Florida’s east coast Oct. 7 caused some damage to NASA, military and commercial facilities at Cape Canaveral, but far less than what some had feared prior to the storm’s arrival.
Hurricane Matthew had sustained winds of nearly 200 kilometers per hour when is passed just off the coast from Cape Canaveral on the morning of Oct. 7. The hurricane’s track kept the strongest part of the storm offshore, but weather stations in the area did report hurricane-force winds for several hours during the storm’s closest approach.
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center closed midday Oct. 5 as the hurricane approached, with only a small “rideout” crew in place at the center as the hurricane passed. By Oct. 8, a damage assessment crew had started initial checks of the center’s launch facilities and other buildings.

VAB after Hurricane Matthew
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Shotwell says SpaceX “homing in” on cause of Falcon 9 pad explosion

SpaceX is getting closer to finding the cause of a September pad explosion that destroyed a Falcon 9, and the company’s president remains confident the vehicle will return to flight later this year.
In an Oct. 9 speech at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Engineering here, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell suggested that the Sept. 1 accident prior to a planned static-fire test on the company’s Cape Canaveral, Florida, launch pad was not a flaw in the vehicle’s design.
“We’re homing in on what happened,” she said. “I think it’s going to point not to a vehicle issue or an engineering design issue but more of a business process issue.”

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket explodes Sept. 1 during fueling  operation in preparation for a static-fire test. 
Credit: videoCredit:
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NASA plans for Mars missions beyond 2020 remain uncertain

Despite concerns that aging spacecraft currently at Mars will fail in the next several years, NASA has yet to formally approve plans for any Mars missions beyond a 2020 rover, such as a new orbiter.
At a teleconference held by NASA’s Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group Oct. 6, Jim Watzin, director of the agency’s Mars Exploration Program, said he had made little progress on future missions beyond the Mars 2020 Rover mission, currently under development at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“Somewhat disappointingly, we are still in a situation where we have no missions beyond 2020 on the books that are approved or budgeted,” he said. “It’s a difficult environment to get new missions into the program right now, and so we continue to work hard to try to build the advocacy necessary to get some missions.”

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DigitalGlobe Planning WorldView 4 Satellite Launch for Late October/Early November

DigitalGlobe is working with the U.S. Air Force and United Launch Alliance (ULA) to identify a new launch date for its WorldView 4 satellite after California wildfires resulted in an unexpected delay. The Earth Observation (EO) company and partners are now targeting late October or early November for the launch.
Vandenberg Air Force Base, the launch site for WorldView 4, took damage during the wildfires last month. The military needs additional time to finish ongoing efforts to restore and test infrastructure at the facility.

WorldView 4 DigitalGlobe
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Japan Resets Next ISS Mission Launch Date to December 9

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have pushed back the sixth H-2 Transfer Vehicle (HTV-6) cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) to Dec. 9, Japan Standard Time (JST), after discovering a leak in the vehicle back in August. The company and space agency team discovered the leak during an air tightness test as part of preparations for a previously anticipated Oct. 1, launch. At the time, MHI and JAXA said they would “disband the HTV-6 module and take necessary measures,” to fix the leak.

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General Dynamics Taps Newtec for Canadian Defense Aero Project

General Dynamics Mission Systems-Canada has selected Newtecto supply MDM9000 satellite modems to the Canadian Department of National Defence(DND) for use in the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Aurora Incremental Modernization Project Block 4 upgrades.
The CP-140 Aurora is a long-range patrol aircraft the Royal Canadian Air Force operates for domestic and international defense missions. They are used in a wide variety of operations, including strategic airborne surface and subsurface missions, as well as maritime, overland Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and Search and Rescue (SAR) missions.

Image result for General Dynamics aero  project
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Antares return to flight now scheduled for Oct. 13

NASA and Orbital ATK have set a new launch date of Oct. 13 for the return to flight of the company’s Antares launch vehicle on a mission to the International Space Station, the organizations announced Oct. 4.
The launch of the Antares 230 rocket, carrying a Cygnus cargo spacecraft, is scheduled for 9:13 p.m. Eastern Oct. 13 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia. The launch was previously scheduled for a window between Oct. 9 and 13.
Orbital ATK said in a statement that it set the launch date after completing a flight readiness review, but didn’t disclose why they were now targeting the end of the original window versus the beginning. One potential factor, regardless of the technical readiness of the launch vehicle and spacecraft, is the weather: forecasts project Hurricane Matthew will travel up the East Coast in the next several days, passing Wallops Island Oct. 8.

Antares hotfire test
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Blue Origin successfully tests New Shepard abort system

Blue Origin carried out a successful test of the abort system of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle Oct. 5, managing to safely land both the vehicle’s crew capsule and propulsion module.
The New Shepard vehicle lifted off from its test site in West Texas at 11:36 a.m. Eastern. The launch was delayed by more than a half-hour because of an unspecified problem with the vehicle discovered a little more than one minute before the original liftoff time, causing the countdown to hold and they recycle before restarting.
Approximately 45 seconds after liftoff, the vehicle’s crew capsule fired its solid-fuel abort motor, sending it away from the propulsion module. The capsule then descended under parachutes as it would on a typical flight after separating from the booster, landing four minutes and 15 seconds after liftoff.

new shepard propulsion module landing
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Stratolaunch to launch Pegasus rockets

Stratolaunch Systems will use the giant aircraft the company is currently developing to launch Pegasus rockets from Orbital ATK as part of a “multi-year” partnership, the two companies announced Oct. 6.
Under the agreement, Orbital ATK will provide “multiple” Pegasus XL rockets, currently launched by its own Lockheed L-1011 aircraft, to Stratolaunch Systems, which will launch them from its own aircraft. An illustration released by Stratolaunch showed three Peagsus XL rockets suspended under the wing of the aircraft.

stratolaunch pegasus
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Ariane 5, in 74th straight success, launches Australian, Indian telecom satellites

Europe’s Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket on Oct. 5 successfully placed telecommunications satellites for Australia and India into geostationary-transfer orbit.
Both satellites were reported healthy in orbit by their builders.
Operating from the Guiana Space Center, a French overseas department on the northeast cost of South America, the Ariane 5 vehicle posted its 74th consecutive success, equaling the record of its predecessor, Ariane 4, which was retired in 2003.

decollage Toucan le 05/10/2016Credit: Arianespace
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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Sep 26 – Oct 3 2016)

United Nations to fly first space mission on Dream Chaser

The United Nations plans to purchase a dedicated mission on a Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft in 2021 to give developing nations an opportunity to fly experiments in space.
At a press conference during the International Astronautical Congress here Sept. 27, the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) said the agreement to fly the dedicated Dream Chaser mission is part of a broader effort by the office to increase access to space to emerging nations.
“Our project is the first-ever United Nations space mission,” said Simonetta Di Pippo, director of UNOOSA. “The mission has one very important goal: to allow United Nations member states to conduct research that cannot be done on Earth.”

Image result for Dream Chaser
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Inmarsat and Honeywell take ‘GX Aviation’ on global flight tour to complete system integration
Inmarsat (ISAT.L) and Honeywell (NYSE: HON) have successfully completed the first GX Aviation Global Flight Tour, in preparation for launching the ground-breaking new broadband solution for airline passengers later this year.
The tour covered more than 10 locations across North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia, logging over 120 flight hours and 45,000 miles onboard the Honeywell Boeing 757 test aircraft – almost equivalent to flying twice around the globe.
The 38-day tour focused on complete system integration and fine-tuning in a wide range of operational circumstances and locations, including over land and in the middle of the ocean.

Image result for gx aviation inmarsat
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SpaceX’s Mars plans call for massive 42-engine reusable rocket

SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk announced plans by his company to develop a large new launch vehicle and reusable spacecraft that could be ready to take large numbers of people to Mars as soon as the mid-2020s.
Musk, in a highly-anticipated speech at the International Astronautical Congress here that attracted an unusually raucous audience for a professional conference, said that SpaceX had made initial progress on those plans despite only a small fraction of the company working on the effort.
The “Interplanetary Transport System” announced by Musk involves the development of a large reusable booster that will launch a spaceship into low Earth orbit. That spaceship will be fueled by later booster launchers of tanker vehicles, then fly to Mars.

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Airbus Defence and Space Gets First Customer for ISS Bartolomeo Platform

Airbus Defence and Space has gained its first hosted payload customer for the Bartolomeo platform, a planned attachment to the European Columbus module of the International Space Station (ISS). Neumann Space, an Australian Space technology company, plans to use an allotted volume of more than 50 liters of payload space on Bartolomeo for the Facility for Australian Space Testing (FAST) program.
“The FAST program provides a unique opportunity for the in-orbit demonstration of technology for small and medium enterprises, schools and universities filling a gap in the current market,” said Patrick Neumann, chief scientist and co-founder of Neumann Space. “With FAST, a collection of payloads starting at just 1 kg mass will be sent together with our Neumann Drive to be operated in space for up to 12 months.”

Bartolomeo platform
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GlobalStar Says NASA Completes Test Flight Using ALAS Aviation Tracking Solution

Globalstar, Inc. and its partner, ADS-B Technologies, announced the completion of the NASA Langley Research Center research flight with the Cirrus SR22 Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Surrogate designed to test the operation of the ADS-B Link Augmentation System (ALAS). Initial results indicated continuous communication between the aircraft and Globalstar’s satellite system with only brief interruptions during extreme maneuvering, which reconnected quickly.
The Cirrus SR22 test flights focused on testing the ability of ALAS to continuously pass two-way data between the aircraft and NASA’s ground control station using remote control capabilities. The first of two 40 minute flights included extreme maneuvering with two 60 degree bank angle turns specifically designed to test the ALAS connection. The second flight produced similar results during a series of maneuvers involving heading and altitude changes.

Image result for ALAS globalstar
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NanoRacks to Deploy RemoveDebris Mission from ISS in 2017

NanoRacks has received a launch contract from the RemoveDebris consortium to deploy an Active Debris Removal (ADR) experiment from International Space Station (ISS) in June 2017. The launch sequence will involve the satellites on the Kaber platform being launched in a box to the ISS on-board a cargo resupply mission, unpacked by astronauts on the ISS, then attached to a slide table in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), and finally deployed into space.
The RemoveDebris mission started in 2013 and has more than 60 people assigned to the mission. The European Commission and partners have co-funded the project, with earlier program research funded through the European Union Seventh Framework Program.

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Firefly Alpha Rocket Combustor Completes Full Mission Duty Cycle Test

Firefly Space Systems has successfully completed more than 50 hot fire tests, including multiple full Mission Duty Cycle (MDC) tests, of the combustor for the Firefly Alpha launch vehicle. The combustor is designed for both stages of the smallsat launcher; the upper stage will use an engine with a single combustor, while the first stage engine will use an array of 12 identical combustors arranged in an annular aerospike configuration.
Firefly rocket engines operate using LOx/RP-1 propellants. The basic combustor design can use either methane or RP-1 fuels. The FRE-1 upper stage variant of the engine will produce 7,000 lbf thrust, and the first stage cluster used in FRE-2 will produce 125,000 lbf thrust.

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ULA Launches Rocket Hardware Design Challenge with GrabCAD

United Launch Alliance (ULA) has kicked off the 3-2-1 Liftoff! ULA Rocket Hardware Challenge via GrabCAD Community Challenges, inviting participants to design a launch support attachment bracket — to be produced using additive manufacturing technology — for ULA’s current Atlas 5 rocket. The design will subsequently be evaluated for application on ULA’s next-generation Vulcan Centaur rocket. GrabCAD, a division of Stratasys, is a digital manufacturing hub helping designers and engineers build products faster.
Participants will design a support bracket used during ground processing at the base of the Atlas 5 payload fairing. It is used at numerous locations around the vehicle’s Centaur upper stage, acting as a support point for work platforms on the days leading up to launch. The bracket remains with the upper stage of the rocket during flight.

ULA OA-6 Atlas 5
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Launch contract deadline looms for lunar lander teams

The organization running the Google Lunar X Prize said Sept. 27 it has no plans to extend an impending deadline for launch contracts that most teams are currently in danger of missing.
The competition offers a $20 million prize for the first team to land on the moon, travel at least 500 meters and return video “mooncasts” and other data. It requires teams to have a launch contract, verified by the X Prize Foundation, in place by the end of this year in order to remain in the competition. The prize itself has a deadline of the end of 2017.
Andrew Barton, director of technical operations for the prize at the X Prize Foundation, said in a talk at the International Astronautical Congress here that three teams out of the 16 still in the competition have launch contracts verified by the foundation. Two of those teams, SpaceIL and Moon Express, had their launch contracts verified last year.

SpaceIL lander
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DataPath in Need of 200 Field Services Experts after Major Contract Win

DataPath is seeking to expand its field services division by nearly 200 new positions following the receipt of a massive U.S. government contract to provide all four branches of the U.S. military with remote communications support. The company is actively hiring field engineers and technicians with significant experience supporting deployed satellite communications and Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) networking systems for the U.S. military.
Under the award, DataPath’s field personnel will support a complete range of fielded satellite communications equipment from man-pack antennas to trailer-based earth terminals to large-scale earth terminals. The company is seeking in-theater personnel to help provide services in 20 countries including Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, Djibouti, Germany, the United Kingdom, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Korea, Japan, and the United States.

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