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Monday, August 21, 2017

This Week in Satellite News! (Aug 14 – Aug 21 2017)

Check Out The Solar Eclipse Through the Eyes of NASA

On Monday, Aug. 21, North America was treated to an eclipse of the Sun. The eclipse's path stretched from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. NASA covered it live from coast to coast from unique vantage points on the ground and from aircraft and spacecraft, including the International Space Station. Check out some of the amazing video and images captured during the event:

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TDRS launch marks end of an era

The successful launch of a NASA communications satellite Aug. 18 is the final flight of the current generation of data relay spacecraft as well as for a venerable satellite bus.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 401 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 8:29 a.m. Eastern. The launch was delayed by 26 minutes because of an issue with the temperature on the Centaur upper stage detected during the standard T-4 minute hold.

Atlas 5 TDRS-M launch
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Google Lunar X Prize teams get extra time to win competition

After months of stating that it would offer no further extensions of the Google Lunar X Prize competition, the X Prize Foundation announced Aug. 16 it was effectively giving the five remaining teams a little extra time.
In a statement, the foundation, which administers the lunar landing competition, said that teams now had until March 31, 2018, to complete all the requirements of the prize, which include landing on the lunar surface, traveling at least 500 meters, and returning video and other data.

MX-1E Moon Express
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Options grow for smallsats seeking secondary payload opportunities

As the number of small satellites seeking launch continues to grow, new opportunities are emerging fly those satellites as secondary payloads on other launches as well as tools to identify those opportunities.
The latest entrant in the field is Precious Payload, a company that seeks to provide a global reservation service for smallsat secondary payloads analogous to booking airline tickets or hotel rooms.

An ISRO Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle lifts off Feb. 14 carrying 104 satellites on a single rocket. Credit: ISRO
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Smallsat developers propose self-regulation to address orbital debris concerns

As the number of cubesats and other small satellites grows, experts advise that some degree of industry self-regulation will be needed to avoid collisions that could lead to more restrictive government regulations.
During a panel session at the 31st Annual Conference on Small Satellites here Aug. 6, representatives from across the smallsat community said that while the odds of a collision involving a smallsat remained low, such an event could trigger an overreaction of government regulations if the community isn’t prepared.

NASA CubeSats Heading into Orbit (Artist's Concept) Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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NSR Projects Satellite Ground Segment to Reach $158 Billion by 2026

Analysts at Northern Sky Research (NSR) have forecast 2016 to 2026 revenues for commercial satellite ground equipment to surpass $158 billion, according to the second edition of its Commercial Satellite Ground Segment report.
In the report, NSR states satellite TV continues to be the largest segment by shipments and revenues, with Set-Top Boxes (STBs) and antennas generating the largest shares. However, in terms of growth, Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) platforms driven by verticals such as consumer broadband and mobility represent the highest opportunity.

L-band antenna at Redu ground station. Photo: ESA.
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Beyond HAL: How artificial intelligence is changing space systems

Mars 2020 is an ambitious mission. NASA plans to gather 20 rock cores and soil samples within 1.25 Mars years, or about 28 Earth months — a task that would be impossible without artificial intelligence because the rover would waste too much time waiting for instructions.
It currently takes the Mars Science Laboratory team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory eight hours to plan daily activities for the Curiosity rover before sending instructions through NASA’s over-subscribed Deep Space Network. Program managers tell the rover when to wake up, how long to warm up its instruments and how to steer clear of rocks that damage its already beat-up wheels.

This computer-generated view depicts part of Mars at the boundary between darkness and daylight, with an area including Gale Crater beginning to catch morning light. Curiosity was delivered in 2012 to Gale crater, a 155-kilometer-wide crater that contains a record of environmental changes in its sedimentary rock. Credit: NASA JPL-CALTECH
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North Korea puts spotlight on U.S. space-based missile defense

North Korea’s threat to strike Guam with a salvo of ballistic missiles has raised the stakes for a U.S. missile shield some see as compromised by potentially exploitable seams in its all-important space layer.
Years of program changes, delays and cancellations have created gaps in parts of the space-based layer of the missile defense shield meant to protect the United States and some allies from ballistic missile attacks, say military space analysts, although U.S. missile defense officials dispute such claims.

North Korea launches the Hwasong-14 in July on a lofted trajectory that demonstrated sufficient range to hit the continental United States. Credit: Korean Central News Agency
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Monday, August 14, 2017

This Week in Satellite News! (Aug 07 – Aug 14 2017)

RigNet, Inmarsat disputing cancelled $65 million Global Xpress contract

RigNet, a supplier of telecommunications services to the oil and gas industry, has pulled out of a $65 million capacity lease on Inmarsat’s Global Xpress satellite constellation, triggering a legal dispute between the two companies.
In an Aug. 8 filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, RigNet said it gave Inmarsat a “notice of termination” for the contract, “pursuant to its contractual rights under the agreement.”

Inmarsat 5 F1 and F2 Global Xpress satellites at Boeing's El Segundo, California-facility. Credit: Inmarsat
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Falcon 9 launches Dragon with heavy science payload

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched a Dragon cargo spacecraft Aug. 14 with a diverse payload of science experiments for the International Space Station.
The Falcon 9 lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 12:31 p.m. Eastern, and deployed the Dragon spacecraft into low Earth orbit 10 minutes later. Neither NASA nor SpaceX reported any issues during the countdown or liftoff. The Dragon, flying a mission designated SpX-12, will arrive at the ISS early Aug. 16.

Falcon 9 CRS-12 launch
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Addvalue, Inmarsat Jointly Launch Inter-satellite Data Relay Service

As a follow-through of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) announced in February, Addvalue Technologies has formalized an agreement with Inmarsat to jointly offer a commercial on-demand communications service specifically designed to address the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite market. According to the companies, the service, termed Inter-Satellite Data Relay Service (IDRS), will enhance and improve the operational efficiency of LEO satellite operations globally and could be of particular interest to operators of scientific, weather forecasting, Earth observation and imaging missions.

Addvalue produced the terminal for Inmarsat's Inter-Satellite Data Relay System, which was tested in orbit on the Velox-11 satellite built by Nanyang Technological University's Satellite Research Center in Singapore. Credit: AVI
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Researchers Send Quantum “Hack-Proof” Message Via Satellite

Chinese researchers have been experimenting with laser technology in hopes of unlocking a new way to securely transmit data via satellite using quantum technology. Now, researchers have announced some progress using Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) to communicate with the Micius satellite, which beamed messages to two mountain-top receiving stations.

Rendition of satellite laser communications. Photo: NASA.
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U.S. Army prepares to launch Kestrel Eye satellite atop Falcon 9

The U.S. Army is set to launch its Kestrel Eye electro-optical microsatellite Aug. 14 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, service officials said last week at the annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium.
The Kestrel Eye satellite, built by Adcole Maryland Aerospace, is due to launch from Cape Canaveral as part of a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station, Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, commander of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, said during the symposium.

Kestrel Eye
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Smallsat industry seen as robust enough to survive any bubble

Is the smallsat industry in the midst of a bubble? Yes and no, according to one group of experts.
A panel discussion about smallsat business and finance issues during the 31st Annual Conference on Small Satellites here Aug. 8 argued that while the recent surge of investment in small satellite ventures will likely lead to future consolidation, the underlying industry itself is not in danger of collapse.
“I think the trend is absolutely to smallsats,” said Randy Segal, senior partner at law firm Hogan and Lovells. “I think the existence of smallsats, going from big sats to smallsats, is not a bubble. It’s going to stay.”

Tyvak cubesat
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Smallsat market forecast to exceed $30 billion in coming decade

French consultancy Euroconsult forecasts that significant expansion in terms of capabilities and demand is underway in the smallsat market.
More than 6,200 smallsats are to be launched in the next 10 years, with the market value expected to reach up to $30.1 billion, compared with $8.9 billion in the previous decade, according to a report Euroconsult released last month.

Walter Ballheimer, the CEO of German Orbital Systems, said the company considers Euroconsult’s estimates realistic, but space “is a risky and expensive business.”

The forecast is “based on estimations of a successful deployment of OneWeb and SpaceX megaconstellations which technically are also small satellites,” he said. Credit: German Orbital Systems
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Inmarsat says business largely immune to current capacity oversupply

British satellite operator Inmarsat says the mobility markets where it does the most business are largely unaffected by today’s oversupply of capacity, and in some cases might need even more.
London-based Inmarsat placed one of the only three geostationary satellite orders awarded industry-wide this year as other operators continue to hold on new investments.
Rupert Pearce, Inmarsat’s CEO, told investors Aug. 3 that it’s arguably not a surprise that operators who do worry about oversupply “are beginning to sit on their hands and let the supply play out” rather than worsen their predicament, but that burden is not Inmarsat’s.

Inmarsat EAN satellite
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Monday, August 7, 2017

This Week in Satellite News! (Jul 31 – Aug 07 2017)

Clyde Space joins Teledyne e2v to explore quantum technology in space

Scotland’s Clyde Space Ltd. is joining forces with industrial conglomerate Teledyne e2v to develop a free-flying nanosatellite to demonstrate the unique quantum properties of cold atoms.
The Cold Atom Space Payload mission “will create a new wave of space applications,” Craig Clark, Clyde Space chief executive, said in a statement.

A view of the clean room at Clyde Space's Glasgow facility. Credit: Clyde Space
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SES agrees to launch another satellite on previously-flown Falcon 9 booster

Six months after sending one of its communications satellites to orbit on the first re-flight of a SpaceX rocket, SES intends to launch a hybrid television broadcasting satellite owned in partnership with EchoStar on another previously-used Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s Space Coast as soon as late September, industry officials told Spaceflight Now.
The launch of the SES 11 spacecraft, also named EchoStar 105, will be the third time SpaceX has sent a customer’s satellite into orbit with the help of a reused rocket stage. Industry officials said SES, EchoStar and SpaceX agreed in recent weeks to shift the satellite from an all-new rocket to one with a previously-flown first stage.

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Telemetry glitch kept first Electron rocket from reaching orbit

Rocket Lab blamed the failure of its first Electron rocket to reach orbit on a telemetry glitch in ground equipment that can be easily corrected, keeping the company on track to begin commercial launches by the end of this year.
In a statement released late Aug. 6, the U.S.-New Zealand company said its Electron rocket was flying as planned on its May 25 inaugural launch when a dropout of telemetry from the vehicle required range safety officials to terminate the flight four minutes after liftoff, at an altitude of 224 kilometers.

Electron launch
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Virgin Galactic carries out “dry run” for powered SpaceShipTwo flights

Virgin Galactic performed the latest glide flight of its second SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane Aug. 4, calling it a “dry run” for upcoming powered test flights.
SpaceShipTwo, carried aloft by its WhiteKnightTwo aircraft, separated from the plane about an hour after its 11:58 a.m. Eastern takeoff from Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The spaceplane landed back in Mojave ten minutes later.

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Phasor sets 2018 release for electronically steered antenna

Satellite antenna startup Phasor Solutions has completed full system testing of its electronically steered, phased-array antenna, and is now preparing for commercial release next year.
David Helfgott, CEO of Phasor, told SpaceNews field testing remains as the only major milestone, which involves partners trialing the antennas in various mobile environments.

Phasor 6 panel aero ESA
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Rocket Crafters Exec on the Advantages of Hybrid Rocket Engines

Rocket Crafters Inc. (RCI) has developed a new hybrid rocket engine that is both safer and less expensive than its liquid and solid chemical engine counterparts, according to the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sid Gutierrez. Following a research contract awarded in late July, RCI will build and test a new large-scale engine based on its Direct-Digital Advanced Rocket Technology (D-DART) for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Rocket Crafters Inc. conducts a hot-fire test of its hybrid rocket engine. Photo: RCI.
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Vector Launches First Ever Rocket from Spaceport Camden

Vector, a NewSpace microsatellite launch provider, conducted a successful suborbital flight of its B0.002 test vehicle, a full-scale prototype of the company’s Vector-R launch vehicle. The launch is the first out of Spaceport Camden in Georgia, which was originally used by NASA in the 1960s for ground-based static fire testing of large solid rocket motors.

Vector's test flight vehicle takes off from Spaceport Camden. Photo: Vector Space Systems.
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Inmarsat Demonstrates Seamless Global Xpress Connectivity

Inmarsat has successfully completed its Global Xpress “Around the World” test flight. The exercise, conducted on a Gulfstream 4 aircraft between June 5 and June 11, covered more than 25,000 miles and demonstrated Global Xpress’ ability to deliver seamless, worldwide coverage across multiple spot beams and satellites. The flight route spanned the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, beginning in the United States with stops in the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Australia and Fiji.

Inmarsat's Gulfstream 4 aircraft used for its "Around the World" test flight. Photo: Inmarsat.
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Monday, July 31, 2017

This Week in Satellite News! (Jul 24 – Jul 31 2017)


SpaceX sets Sept. 30 for third Iridium Next launch

Mobile satellite services operator Iridium announced July 28 that SpaceX will conduct the third launch in its fleet replenishment Sept. 30 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Scheduled for 6:30 a.m. Pacific time, the launch will carry 10 Iridium Next satellites, bringing to 30 the number of satellites orbited for Iridium’s modernized constellation of low-Earth orbit telecommunications satellites.
SpaceX launched the first 10 Iridium Next satellites Jan. 14, followed by the second set of 10 on June 25. Iridium is launching its entire Next constellation on SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets, with completion expected in mid-2018.

SpaceX Inmarsat Global Xpress launch
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ILS Proton to launch AsiaSat-9 on Sept. 28

Hong Kong-based satellite fleet operator AsiaSat said July 31 that its next satellite will launch Sept. 28 on a Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The satellite, AsiaSat-9, has been in storage with manufacturer Space Systems Loral since passing its pre-ship review in April, AsiaSat said.
The launch, arranged by International Launch Services, the commercial arm of Proton manufacturer Khrunichev, will be the third commercial Proton launch this year. ILS spokesperson Karen Soriano told SpaceNews July 31 that Hispasat’s Amazonas 5 is ahead of AsiaSat-9 in Proton’s launch queue. She declined to say when the Amazonas-5 launch would occur.

Proton Roscosmos
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Iridium Reports 2 Percent Year-Over-Year Revenue Increase for Q2

In its financial results for the second quarter of 2017, Iridium reported total revenue of $111.6 million, which consisted of $86.6 million of service revenue and $25 million related to equipment sales and engineering and support projects. This is a revenue increase of approximately 2 percent versus the same period a year ago.
Commercial service remained the largest part of the company’s business, comprising 58 percent of total revenue during the second quarter.

Iridium SNOC Next
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New funding round values SpaceX at $21.2 billion

SpaceX has raised more than $350 million in a new funding round that values the company at $21.2 billion, according to data obtained by a financial company.
Equidate, a San Francisco company that operates a market for trading shares in privately-held companies and publishes financial information about them, said that SpaceX had closed a $351 million funding round, designated Series H, in July. News of the funding was first reported by the New York Times, which recently profiled Equidate.

Falcon Heavy at LC-39A
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Soyuz rocket carries 3-man crew to space station

After a picture-perfect launch from Kazakhstan and a problem-free rendezvous, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked at the International Space Station Friday, boosting the lab's crew back to six and, for the first time, giving NASA and the European Space Agency four astronauts devoted to research in the U.S. segment of the complex.
With commander Sergey Ryazanskiy monitoring an automated approach, flanked on his left by NASA flight engineer Randy Bresnik and on the right by Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli, the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft docked at the Earth-facing Rassvet module at 5:54 p.m. ET.

the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft, carrying a three-man crew, moves in for docking at the International Space Station six hours after launch Friday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA
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Senate restores funding for NASA Earth science and satellite servicing programs

An appropriations bill approved by a Senate committee July 27 would restore funding for several NASA Earth science missions slated for termination by the administration as well as a satellite servicing program.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a commerce, justice and science (CJS) appropriations bill, along with two other spending bills, during a markup session. The CJS bill, offering $19.529 billion for NASA overall, had cleared its subcommittee July 25.

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Astrobotic to launch first lunar lander on Atlas 5

Astrobotic, a company developing commercial lunar landers, announced July 26 that it will launch its first spacecraft to the moon on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 in 2019.
Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic said it selected ULA to launch its Peregrine lunar lander, carrying 35 kilograms of payloads from a number of customers to the lunar surface. The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal.

astrobotic peregrine lander
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Raytheon under “pressure” after GPS 3 ground control network extension

Following an acknowledgment of another deployment extension for the GPS 3 ground control network, the U.S. Air Force publicly and forcefully called on contractor Raytheon to put the program back on track.
It will take at least another additional nine months to deploy the Global Positioning System Next Generation Operational Control System (GPS OCX), Capt. AnnMarie Annicelli, an Air Force spokeswoman, said July 31.

GPS 3 satellite. Credit: Lockheed Martin
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Friday, July 28, 2017

This Week in Satellite News! (Jul 17 – Jul 24 2017)

Big Bend Telephone Company Adopts New Comms-On-the-Move Solution

Big Bend Telephone Company in Texas has become the first commercial user of the Explorer MSAT-G3 system for the next generation Mobile Satellite (MSAT) service, which combines Cobham Satcom’s Push-to-Talk technology, Ligado Networks’ SkyTerra 1 satellite and ViaSat’s low-latency, IP-based L-band mobile satellite services network. According to Cobham, MSAT-G3 is the only system in its class to provide AES-256 encrypted push-to-talk voice and associated data over satellite.

An emergency services worker holds the Explorer MSAT-G3 radio. Photo: Cobham Satcom.
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DLR to fly experiments on Blue Origin’s New Shepard

The German Aerospace Center, Germany’s space agency, will fly two experiments on a suborbital flight by Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle later this year as part of an effort to diversify its microgravity research efforts.
Thomas Driebe, head of the physical and material sciences program at the center, known by the German acronym DLR, said in a presentation July 18 at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference here that the center planned to fly the physical sciences experiments under a commercial deal with Blue Origin.

Space for Humanity is considering purchasing rides for participants on Blue Origin's New Shepard reusable, suborbital rocket, which has undergone multiple test flights, and may take tourists into space as early as 2018. Credit: Blue Origin
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Atlas 5 to Launch Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser

Sierra Nevada Corporation has selected United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) commercially developed Atlas 5 rocket to launch the first two missions of its Dream Chaser cargo system in support of NASA’s Cargo Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract. The two Atlas 5 missions will carry pressurized and unpressurized cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).
The first mission is set to lift off in 2020 from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, in Florida. The second contracted mission is scheduled to lift off in 2021. Dream Chaser will launch atop an Atlas 5 552, with a dual engine Centaur upper stage, according to ULA.

Frontal view of Dream Chaser vehicle. Photo: Sierra Nevada Corporation.
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JPL moves ahead with Mars and Europa missions despite funding uncertainty

The director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said his center is pressing ahead with work on current and proposed missions to Mars and Europa despite ongoing debates on Capitol Hill about funding some of those missions and the impact they could have on the lab’s capabilities and workforce.
In a July 13 presentation at a Space Transportation Association luncheon here, Michael Watkins said that work is going well on two flagship-class planetary science missions under development at JPL, the Mars 2020 rover and the Europa Clipper multiple-flyby mission.

Mars 2020 rover
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SpaceX drops plans for powered Dragon landings

SpaceX no longer plans to have the next version of its Dragon spacecraft be capable of powered landings, a move that has implications for the company’s long-term Mars plans.
SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk, speaking at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference here July 19, confirmed recent rumors that the version of the Dragon spacecraft under development for NASA’s commercial crew program will not have the ability to land on land using SuperDraco thrusters that will be incorporated into the spacecraft primarily as a launch abort system.

Red Dragon landing
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Star Navigation Announces First Purchase Order for Star V-trk

Star Navigation Systems has confirmed the first order for Star V-trk units, the company’s newest tracking and monitoring equipment for airborne applications. Tianjin Zhonglian Tiantong Space Technology (ZLT), Star’s distributor in China for Star V-trk, will deploy these first two units before the end of October. ZLT will also use Star ground segment technology for tracking and data display.
The Star V-trk is the latest part of Star’s patented family of systems, able to track and monitor aircraft, in real time, worldwide. According to Star Navigation, it is the smallest piece of equipment in its portfolio, able to perform tracking and positioning through satcom, as well as provide on-board data collection, processing and downloading.

Star V-trk. Photo: Star Navigation Systems Group.
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NASA seeks information on developing Deep Space Gateway module

NASA is taking the next small step in the development of a proposed Deep Space Gateway in cislunar space by requesting information about one of its core modules.
A request for information (RFI), released by NASA July 17, seeks information from industry regarding their capabilities to build a Power and Propulsion Element (PPE), a module that will produce electrical power and provide chemical and electrical propulsion for the gateway.

An illustration of NASA's proposed "deep-space gateway" in orbit around the moon. Japan plans to make use of gateway as a jumping-off point for future lunar expeditions.  Credit: NASA
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Rock Seven Now Offers Tracking for Land-Based Applications

Launched in June for general aviation customers, Rock Seven has now made its RockAIR tracking system available for land-based applications. According to the company, the move is a result of high demand for dual mode communication received from land vehicle fleet owners and operators in government, charity and commercial organizations.
With RockAIR, Rock Seven initially delivered a carry-on, cockpit-mounted tracking system for helicopters and light aircraft that not only provided precise location reporting globally, but also introduced new Internet of Things (IoT) functionality that allowed pilots to send and receive messages and data over the internet.

RockAir mounted on a dashboard. Photo: Rock Seven.
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Are Satellites the Key to Cybersecurity in the Cloud?

Cloud Constellation has partnered with Turkish satcom company Teknomobil to resell its Space Belt data services to customer markets in Turkey and the Middle East. Cloud Constellation is a startup that is currently developing a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation of secure data centers for cloud service providers. According to Cloud Constellation President Cliff Beek, the partnership is a step toward the company’s broader market strategy of aggregating global resellers in regions and verticals where data security is paramount.

Cloud Constellation SpaceBelt
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Intelsat joins group urging U.S. regulator to delay approval of SpaceX constellation

Intelsat has joined a group of current and prospective satellite fleet operators in asking U.S. regulators to withhold approval of SpaceX’s mega-constellation of low-orbiting satellites until it can be analyzed for interference risk.
Intelsat’s comment to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not oppose SpaceX’s 4,425-satellite Internet delivery constellation as such. Instead, the company is protesting that SpaceX only filed a detailed analysis of its plans to avoid signal inference on July 12.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

This Week in Satellite News! (Jul 10 – Jul 17 2017)

Inmarsat Provides Pacific Northwest, Bering Sea Coverage for Dunlap

Mobile satellite communications company Inmarsat said it has partnered with satellite communications provider Network Innovations and maritime transportation provider Dunlap Towing to install Fleet One across its fleet of 12 vessels. 
For Dunlap, the Dutch Harbor and Pacific Coast routes in Alaskan waters have traditionally been challenging and its existing service did not offer the reliability required to transmit important operating and safety reports, communicate back to shore or make critical inter-fleet voice calls, according to Inmarsat. Dunlap needed a service that could accommodate its coastal requirements and support its longer open water routes providing a reliable, guaranteed connection.

Image result for Bering Sea Coverage satellite
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Luxembourg adopts space resources law

The government of Luxembourg has passed a bill giving companies the rights to space resources they extract from asteroids or other celestial bodies.
The parliament of Luxembourg, a unicameral body known as the Chamber of Deputies, voted 55 to 2 in favor of the space resources law July 13. Passage of the bill means the act will become law on Aug. 1.
“Luxembourg is the first adopter in Europe of a legal and regulatory framework recognizing that space resources are capable of being owned by private companies,” Étienne Schneider, deputy prime minister and minister of the economy, said in a statement. “The Grand Duchy thus reinforces its position as a European hub for the exploration and use of space resources.”

Image result for space resources
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Iridium Poised to Make Global Maritime Distress and Safety System History

Iridium® GMDSS is a key element of the Company's Iridium Certus(SM) multi-service strategy
MCLEAN, Va., July 11, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) announced today that two key milestones along the path to becoming the second recognized provider of Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS) services have been reached. During its 98th session this past June, the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) adopted new performance standards for GMDSS equipment and approved amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Treaty, which pave the way for Iridium to become a recognized GMDSS service provider. The key remaining step in the approval process is an IMO resolution recognizing Iridium as a certified GMDSS mobile satellite service provider.  Iridium expects this will be completed during calendar year 2018, with Iridium GMDSS service to begin in 2020.

Image result for Maritime Distress and Safety
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Soyuz launches 73 satellites

A Soyuz rocket successfully launched 73 satellites, including spacecraft for four companies’ cubesat constellations, July 14.
The Soyuz-2.1a lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 2:36 a.m. Eastern. The rocket deployed the primary payload, the Kanopus-V-IK remote sensing satellite, about an hour after launch, followed by 72 smallsat secondary payloads over the next seven hours.
“We had a great launch and all the satellites separated as planned,” Vsevolod Kryukovskiy, launch program director at Glavkosmos, said in an interview after the launch. “Everything is good.”

Fregat satellite deployment
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Aerojet Rocketdyne Completes Hot-Fire Tests of Electric Propulsion System

Aerojet Rocketdyne successfully conducted a series of hot-fire tests on a Power Processing Unit (PPU) for an Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) designed to further the United States’ commercial space capabilities as well as support NASA’s plans for deep space exploration. The tests were conducted at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.
“The PPU successfully demonstrated stable operation of the propulsion system and responded appropriately to all of our planned contingency scenarios,” said Julie Van Kleeck, vice president of advanced space and launch programs and strategy at Aerojet Rocketdyne. “This is a critical step in providing advanced Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP), which is necessary for affordable cargo and logistics transportation in support of human missions to Mars.”

Image result for Electric Propulsion System Aerojet Rocketdyne
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On-orbit operations the next frontier for space, experts say

Operating while in orbit is the next big challenge for the space sector, be it manufacturing, assembly, satellite servicing, or debris removal, experts said Thursday. Speaking at a technology summit hosted by Defense One, Bhavya Lal, with the Institute for Defense Analysis at the Science and Technology Policy Institute, said focusing on the problems of the future will help the U.S. maintain its technological lead in space.
“One of the things we need to worry about is what are going to be the emerging technologies a decade from now so we can stay ahead of the Russia’s and China’s?” she said. “One potential technology that both the government and the private sector are starting to look at is on-orbit manufacturing, assembly, and servicing. I think it’s an area we need to think about more, we need to bring the private sector in more, the government needs to think differently about how you construct and use an on-orbit platform in the case of war.”

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Satellite industry generated more than $260 billion in revenues in 2016, according to new report

The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) released its annual report on the "State of the Satellite Industry" today with data on how the industry fared in 2016 compared with prior years.  SIA President Tom Stroup said 2016 "was once again a positive year," though results for the four industry market segments varied widely.  Global satellite manufacturing revenue dropped 13 percent, for example, while satellite ground equipment revenue grew 7 percent.
SIA released the 2017 report, the 20th in the series, at a press conference this morning in Washington, D.C.  The report was prepared for SIA by Bryce Space and Technology. Overall, worldwide satellite industry revenue grew by two percent in 2016 to a new high of $261 billion, up from $255 billion in 2015.

  Image result for Satellite industry
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Moon Express releases details of its lunar lander missions

Moon Express, a company developing commercial lunar landers, said July 12 its first mission is still on schedule to launch by the end of this year in a bid to win the Google Lunar X Prize.
The Florida-based company used an event on Capitol Hill to unveil the design of that lander, known as MX-1E, as well as plans for future missions that include larger landers and sample return spacecraft.
That spacecraft, capable of placing up to 30 kilograms of payload onto the lunar surface, is the building block of a “flexible, scalable and innovative exploration architecture that can help us open the moon as a frontier for humanity,” said Moon Express Chief Executive Bob Richards.

MX-1E Moon Express
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NASA planning August release of Mars robotic exploration architecture

With time running out to start work on a 2022 Mars orbiter, a NASA official said July 10 the agency plans to have a “coherent Mars architecture” for future robotic Mars missions ready for presentation an at August committee meeting.
Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters, said that architecture is on track to be presented at a meeting in late August of a National Academies committee reviewing progress NASA has made implementing the planetary science decadal survey published in 2011.

Artist's concept of NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter using its sounding radar to probe beneath the Martian surface to see if water ice is present at depths greater than one meter. Credit: NASA/JPL
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