SpaceX cargo ship departs station, returns to EarthA SpaceX Dragon cargo ship loaded with 3,800 pounds of science samples, no-longer-needed equipment and trash was released from the International Space Station early Sunday for a fiery return to Earth, splashing safely into the Pacific Ocean to wrap up a month-long stay in space.
The Dragon capsule, the only space station cargo ship capable of bringing research samples and other material back to Earth, descended under three large parachutes to a gentle splashdown about 230 miles southwest of Long Beach, Calif., at 10:46 a.m. ET.
NASA Recognizes MDA for Robotic Servicing of International Space StationSpace Systems Loral (SSL) announced that NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) recognized MDA US Systems, a division of MDA managed by SSL, for its support of a robotic upgrade to the International Space Station’s (ISS) power system which took place in January. According to NASA, the MDA team based in Houston played a critical role in planning and validating the robotic maneuvering both before and during the mission.
NASA JSC ground controllers used the 15-degrees-of-freedom Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator (Dextre) arm to install six new 430-pound lithium-ion batteries in two power channel integrated electronics assembly pallets. Dextre first removed 12 older and depleted 740-pound nickel-hydrogen batteries from the pallets, nine of which were put on the Japanese H-2 transfer vehicle’s external pallet to burn up on re-entry with it.
Intelsat Epic Increases Bandwidth 220 Percent on Marlink Sealink VSATIntelsat and Marlink announced that their partnership to deliver High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) services to cruise and passenger vessels using Intelsat EpicNG has contributed to an increase in bandwidth delivered on Marlink’s Sealink Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) service of more than 220 percent during 2016.
This growth in bandwidth enabling broadband connectivity for Marlink cruise and passenger segment customers is more than three times larger than what Marlink was delivering at the beginning of 2016. The global services capability that Marlink offers on its Sealink VSAT service portfolio has driven this growth, enabled using the Intelsat Globalized Network, including the Intelsat Epic platform and strategically located teleports around the world, the company said.
ULA successfully launches Air Force satcom satellite into orbitThe United Launch Alliance successfully launched the Air Force’s Wideband Global Satcom 9 satellite Saturday evening aboard a Delta 4 rocket.
The Delta 4 Medium-Plus (5,4) lifted off from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 37 at 8:18 p.m. Eastern, about halfway into its 75-minute launch window. The window opened at 7:44 p.m., but an issue with the swing-arm system on the gantry extended a planned hold in the countdown.
White House budget proposal targets ARM, Earth science missions, educationA fiscal year 2018 budget proposal released by the Trump administration March 16 would cancel NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) and several Earth science programs, but spares NASA the deeper cuts proposed for many other agencies.
The budget blueprint document, an outline of the administration’s budget request but with only limited details, requests $19.1 billion for NASA, a cut of about one percent from the $19.285 billion the agency received in fiscal year 2016. NASA, like other government agencies, is currently operating under a continuing resolution that funds programs at 2016 levels.
Kymeta expects to ship its first flat-panel antennas in MayKymeta will finally start shipping its first flat-panel antennas this spring, some five years after Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates first opened his wallet to help the startup bring thin, lightweight, low-power antennas to a satellite market hungry for mobility solutions.
The Redmond, Washington-based startup has raised $144 million since spinning off from Intellectual Ventures in 2012. Among customers awaiting Kymeta’s May release of its flat, beam-steering antenna system are Panasonic, Toyota, and armored car company Aurum Security.
SpaceX launches EchoStar 23A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched the EchoStar 23 satellite early March 16 on the rare mission that did not attempt a recovery of the rocket’s first stage.
The Falcon 9 lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2:00 a.m. Eastern. The launch was delayed by about 25 minutes because of upper level wind conditions. Poor weather scrubbed the previous launch attempt March 14.
The rocket’s payload, EchoStar 23, separated from the Falcon 9 upper stage 34 minutes after liftoff, after being inserted into a geostationary transfer orbit. The satellite, built by Space Systems Loral, will ultimately operate at 45 degrees west in geostationary orbit.
Zero 2 Infinity conducts first flight test of Bloostar balloon-assisted launcherSpanish high-altitude balloon specialist Zero 2 Infinity completed its first test flight of Bloostar, a balloon-assisted small-satellite launcher four years in development.
During the test, conducted March 1 from a vessel a few kilometers off Spain’s coast, a stratospheric balloon lifted the Bloostar vehicle to a 25-kilometer altitude before its vacuum-optimized engine ignited.
The Barcelona-based company announced March 13 that the test proved Zero 2 Infinity’s ability to perform a controlled ignition in space, stabilize the rocket and monitor the launch sequence. The test also allowed Zero 2 Infinity to demonstrate Bloostar’s telemetry systems in space and recover the vehicle at sea following parachute deployment.
Commercial Space Industry Can Deliver Agility and Innovation for Better Space ResilienceOn February 14, 2017, an Indian Space Research Organization rocket launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre carrying a record-breaking 104 satellites into orbit. These satellites have now joined more than 22,000 additional objects in space that are tracked by the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC), where they are cataloged and screened for possible collisions with other space objects.
The JSpOC has provided this data at no-cost to U.S. satellite owner-operators as well as international commercial and government entities for nearly 20 years. Sharing this data has been essential in preventing satellite collisions in space by allowing owner-operators to perform further conjunction analysis for close approaches and execute risk mitigation maneuvers, if necessary.
SpaceX studying landing sites for Mars missionsSpaceX has been working with NASA to identify potential landing sites on Mars for both its Red Dragon spacecraft and future human missions.
In a presentation at a symposium here March 18 on planetary surface exploration and sample return, Paul Wooster of SpaceX said the company, working with scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and elsewhere, had identified several potential landing sites, including one that looks particularly promising.
Wooster, who is involved in Mars mission planning in addition to his “day job” as manager of guidance, navigation and control systems on SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, said that site selection is based on several criteria. One is access to large quantities of ice near the surface that could, ultimately, support human settlements.