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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

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

Launch Overhaul: What New Rockets Mean for the Next Decade

Satellite companies are eagerly awaiting the arrival of new vehicles that will speed up launch and overhaul their process for creating new applications. Announcements from some heavy hitters in rocketry should provide hope for exponential progress in the next 10 years.

New programs are producing a robust amount of architecture that will effectively put multiple clusters of small satellites into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in the coming years. Companies continue to combine their operations to work in concert with new rocketry emerging that will clear the path for multiple missions that will affect growth of the smallsat industry moving forward.

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Experts call for legislation and improved tracking to deal with orbital debris

As the amount of debris in low Earth orbit continues to increase, experts at a recent conference called for both improved efforts to track debris as well as national legislation to mitigate that growth.
Delegates at the Seventh European Conference on Space Debris, held at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, from April 18 to 21, warned that without improved measures, a long-feared cascade of debris that renders low Earth orbit useless could occur.
According to Holger Krag, head of the European Space Agency’s Space Debris Office, only 60 percent of all missions currently end with a successful disposal of the satellite in line with orbital debris mitigation guidelines promulgated by the United Nations.

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Lockheed Martin on Cutting Costs with Virtual Reality

Lockheed Martin is saving $10 million a year by implementing Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR, AR) tools in the production line of its space assets. “And a lot of folks would say that’s a conservative estimate, including myself,” Darin Bolthouse, engineering manager at Lockheed Martin, said in an interview with Via Satellite.
Bolthouse, who heads up the company’s Collaborative Human Immersive Laboratory (CHIL), mentioned that it cost just $5 million to set up the lab back in 2010, and so the company has seen a significant (and continually increasing) return on its original investment.

A Lockheed Martin engineer manipulates components in VR.
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Flat NASA budgets pose risk to researchers

The prospect of extended flat budgets for NASA has some scientists concerned that research funds could be raided to support other programs.
In a presentation April 19 to a microgravity research colloquium at the National Academies here, Gale Allen, acting chief scientist, said she had been warned at a recent agency meeting not to expect even increases to keep pace with inflation for the next five years.

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Iridium and Lindsey Manufacturing Strike Utility Partnership

Iridium Communications announced a new partnership with Lindsey Manufacturing. The partnership expands Iridium’s footprint in the transmission utility day-ahead-power-transfer capacity market by integrating satellite communications with transmission line analytic solutions.
Lindsey Manufacturing specializes in power line conductor behavior monitoring, which typically relies on cellular connectivity. Their new software solution, called Smartline, enhances traditional Dynamic Line Rating (DLR) methods for utility companies by enabling more reliable and accurate measurement capabilities and better managing power line capacity to maximize the power grid. They do this through leveraging the Iridium network and integrating their software with an Iridium 9603 modem. The integrated device is then attached to the energized, high voltage conductor and can store all collected data in a cloud-based site or on a company’s server.

Lindsey Manufacturing TLM conductor monitor. Photo: Lindsey Manufscturing.
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Luxembourg, serious about mining asteroids, prospects for Silicon Valley partners

Few events at the NASA Ames Research Center draw the crowd that greeted Luxembourg’s royal delegation April 12. The Grand Duchy’s prince, princess and deputy prime minister met with NASA officials, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors to discuss Luxembourg’s campaign to harvest valuable materials from asteroids, moons or planets.
“We are looking to extend and to build new, strong and mutually beneficial ties,” Prince Guillaume told the audience gathered for a panel discussion and reception.

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Globalsat Group and Iridium present the Iridium NEXT constellation and Iridium Certus services in Chile

The event, organized by Globalsat Chile, the local affiliate of the Globalsat Group, took place at the W Hotel Convention Center, where an interested audience was presented with the array of services which will be enabled by the new satellites.
Representatives of the Chilean Navy, Directemar, SHOA, Army, emergency services and businesses were among the many attendees which learned about the evolution of the Iridium NEXT constellation and the new functionality that will be provided thanks to its full renovation.

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How to Mitigate the Threat Space Junk on Mars Poses to Future Missions

The landscape of Mars is predominantly shaped by winds these days, as its volcanoes appear dormant and the atmosphere is too thin to let water easily flow on the surface. But what sort of a risk would these winds pose to missions on the Red Planet if discarded hardware happens to be near a lander?
It's common for Mars missions — such as the 2012 Curiosity rover and the upcoming Mars 2020 rover — to have separate entry, descent, and landing (EDL) systems from the surface hardware. A rover that makes it through the atmosphere and lands safely on the surface would have no further need of a heat shield or parachute or similar items to accomplish its mission, so such features are typically ditched.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

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

Atlas 5 launches Cygnus cargo mission to ISS

An Atlas 5 successfully launched a Cygnus spacecraft April 18 carrying three and a half tons of cargo for the International Space Station.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 401 lifted off on schedule at 11:11 a.m. Eastern from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral, Florida, after a countdown free of any major issues. The Cygnus spacecraft separated from the Centaur upper stage 21 minutes after launch in low Earth orbit.

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These 3 Nations are Aiming Higher in the International Space Race

Japan and Canada are making significant changes to how their national space agencies operate, while Australia is examining whether there is a need for national space agency at all. Speakers from each had time to dig deeper into their respective countries’ space industry plans during the 33rd Space Symposium last week in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield attached to the Canadarm. Photo: NASA.
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Malaysia Air Is First Airline to Track Fleet With Satellites

Malaysia Air, which lost a wide-body jet with 239 people aboard three years ago in one of history’s most enduring aviation mysteries, has become the first airline to sign an agreement for space-based flight tracking of its aircraft.
The subsidiary of Malaysian Airline System Bhd reached a deal with Aireon LLC, SITAONAIR and FlightAware LLC to enable it to monitor the flight paths of its aircraft anywhere in the world including over the polar regions and the most remote oceans, according to an emailed press release from Aireon.

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“Ocean Worlds” discoveries build case for new missions

Discoveries involving two “ocean world” moons in the outer solar system announced April 13 are likely to bolster the case for planned and proposed spacecraft missions to those worlds.
At a press conference, NASA announced that its Cassini spacecraft, orbiting Saturn, had detected hydrogen gas in previously-discovered plumes emanating from the surface of the icy moon Enceladus. Scientists suspect that the moon has an ocean of liquid water beneath the surface that provides the source material for the plumes.

Cassini Enceladus
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Better, Faster, Stronger: The Future of Heavy Lift Rockets

Although the capabilities of our space assets continue to improve, the industry is constrained by what we are able to lift up into orbit. During the deep space exploration panel at the 33rd Space Symposium, the speakers concluded that the space industry needs larger, more powerful boosters to continue to progress. Panelists agreed that technologically we have evolved enough to do new things from Earth orbit, such as search for potentially habitable exoplanets, for example. Now, the biggest hurdle is bettering our launch capabilities to improve access to space.
While the James Webb Telescope, scheduled to launch in October 2018, is the largest telescope ever built to date, astrophysicist and former NASA astronaut John Mace Grunsfeld said it still is somewhat limited in its ability to detect the elementary building blocks of life such as methane, water and carbon dioxide. “It’s an incredible machine but it’s not big enough to find out if we’re alone in the universe. An Earth 2.0 will be dimmer than the faintest galaxy in the Hubble deep field,” he said.

Rob Meyerson takes the stage at the 33rd Space Symposium.
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NASA Invests in 22 Exploration Concepts

NASA is investing in 22 early-stage technology proposals that have the potential to transform future human and robotic exploration missions, introduce new exploration capabilities, and significantly improve current approaches to building and operating aerospace systems.
The 2017 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) portfolio of Phase 1 concepts covers a range of innovations selected for their potential to revolutionize future space exploration. Phase 1 awards are valued at approximately $125,000, for nine months, to support initial definition and analysis of their concepts. If these basic feasibility studies are successful, awardees can apply for Phase 2 awards.

Concept of synthetic biology architecture to detoxify and enrich Mars soil for agriculture. Photo: NASA.
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Bosch, Inmarsat Back Startup That Links Canals to the Internet

Actility, the European startup battling with rival Sigfox to connect things from fuel tanks to Amsterdam’s canals to the internet, has raised $75 million from investors in a bid to win business in the industrial sector.
Private-equity firm Creadev SAS, industrial company Robert Bosch GmbH and satellite operator Inmarsat Plc are among new investors, Actility said in a statement Wednesday. They join existing financial backers including Ginko Ventures -- the European investment fund of Foxconn Technology Co. -- as well as investments by operators of wireless networks like Koninklijke KPN NV, Orange SA and Swisscom AG. Actility had previously raised $25 million in 2015.

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Globalstar's SPOT to be Used in Oceanic Hydrocarbon Research

Globalstar announced that the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science will deploy 550 Spot Trace satellite trackers in its continued research expedition with the Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE), which is dedicated to forecasting the fate of oil dispersed into the environment to help inform and guide response teams. This research is an extension of an ongoing project that launched in 2012 after the BP oil spill to monitor how pollutants behave in normal and emergency conditions.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

This Week in Satellite News! (Apr 03 – Apr 10 2017)

Italian radar satellite, European exoplanet telescope to launch on Soyuz next year

The Italian government has decided to launch two next-generation radar reconnaissance satellites on Soyuz and Vega rockets from French Guiana, and a European Space Agency telescope to study the structures of planets around other stars will likely ride to orbit as a co-passenger on one of the missions.
The Italian Space Agency, or ASI, considered launching the first of the two second-generation Cosmo-SkyMed surveillance satellites on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, but officials ultimately elected to book the launch on a Europeanized version of Russia’s Soyuz rocket next year, ASI announced this week.

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Paradigm’s game-changing Swarm45 terminal Type Approved for Inmarsat Global Xpress

Paradigm’s unique flat panel Swarm45 terminal can now add full worldwide coverage on Inmarsat Global Xpress (GX) to its impressive list of features; a list that includes it being the first GX terminal that can be packed as carry-on baggage on board commercial aircrafts.
In use on multiple platforms and missions today, Global Xpress complements military satellite communications and delivers a highly reliable commercial Ka-band network that meets mobile, on-demand communication needs worldwide. Inmarsat recently granted Type Approval for the Swarm45 terminal as it enhances portability and ease of use of the GX service by offering fast setup and pointing. During successful demonstrations in multiple user scenarios, U.S. government end users were connected in under five minutes, anywhere in the world without requiring specific region configurations or set up procedures.

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Leveraging Big Data to Unlock Value in Space

By the mid-21st century, businesses in nearly every industry on the planet will have to leverage Big Data to stay competitive, according to a panel of experts at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Without an in-house ability to analyze large datasets, running a business will become increasingly difficult, said Chris Boshuizen, entrepreneur in residence at Data Collective VC. And while this isn’t limited to the space industry due to the world’s entry into what he calls a “data-centric economy,” Boshuizen pointed out that space companies in particular are “on average a little behind in terms of the adoption of machine learning … and really using the data as a core part of the business.”

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Blue Origin ready to support NASA lunar missions with Blue Moon

If NASA’s human spaceflight program is redirected back to the Moon, Blue Origin is ready to support it with its proposed “Blue Moon” lunar lander system, company president Robert Meyerson said April 5.
Blue Moon can “cost effectively soft-land large amounts of mass onto the lunar surface,” Meyerson said at the 33rd Space Symposium here, his first public comments about the system since its existence was first reported in March by the Washington Post. “Any credible first lunar settlement is going to require such a capability.”

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Swedish Space Corporation, BridgeSat Partner to Improve Optical Comms

The Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) and BridgeSat announced a long-term partnership under which BridgeSat will install satellite optical communications equipment at a number of SSC’s established Radio Frequency (RF) ground sites.
SSC owns and operates a global network of ground stations to provide secure and reliable access to satellites seeking RF services. BridgeSat is developing a global optical communications network that will offer secure delivery of data from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites at fast speeds and low cost. The partnership creates incentives for the two companies to cooperate commercially for the benefit of their customers in leveraging their respective capabilities in optical and RF satellite communication solutions.

SSC ground station.
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Award honors former astronaut Piers Sellers for climate change work

During the Space Foundation’s luncheon honoring Piers Sellers, speakers lauded the former astronaut for his tireless work to draw attention to Earth’s changing climate and to seek technological solutions to limit mankind’s impact on the planet.
James Ellis, a retired U.S. Navy admiral and chairman of the Space Foundation’s Board of Directors, honored Sellers posthumously with the General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award. Sellers, a British-born climate scientist and veteran of three space shuttle missions, served as acting director of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Earth Sciences Division and deputy director of its Goddard Sciences and Exploration Directorate. He died of pancreatic cancer in December 2016.

Piers Sellers, climate scientist and NASA astronaut, looks out the window of Space Shuttle Discovery during a 2006 mission. He was honored posthumously at the 33rd Space Symposium Wednesday. Credit: NASA
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GlobalStar to Leverage Yippy’s Compression Technology

Globalstar announced it will launch a new compression service for the satellite industry. The effort will include rolling out compression services developed by Yippy to Globalstar’s subscribers as well as providing this technology to other Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) providers and Fixed-Satellite Service (FSS) operators. Yippy’s compression technology platform serves to significantly decrease load times for internet data sessions and document retrieval services from corporate intranets.
The technology allows web page content to load in seconds as opposed to minutes with many satellite devices. Using the Yippy Ease 360 platform, the service enables faster download and upload speeds while maintaining a secure connection and reducing critical overhead on satellite networks.

GlobalStar's second-generation satellite Image Credit: Globalstar
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Blue Origin still planning commercial suborbital flights in 2018

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said April 5 that his company was still hoping to start flying people on suborbital space tourism flights by the end of next year, while suggesting crewed test flights will not start this year as previously planned.
Bezos, speaking in front of the company’s exhibit at the 33rd Space Symposium here that features the New Shepard propulsion module that flew five suborbital spaceflights in 2015 and 2016, backed away from earlier statements that called for flying people on test flights later this year.
“We’re going to go through the test program, and we’ll put humans on it when we’re happy,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to be 2017 at this point. It could be.”

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos discusses the status of the company's New Shepard suborbital vehicle April 5 at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. Behind Bezos are a model of the New Shepard crew capsule and the propulsion module that flew five suborbital flights. Credit: SpaceNews/Jeff Foust
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Honeywell Introduces Satellite Personal Tracker for Remote Locations

Honeywell announced a new satellite-based connected solution to help governments, companies and other organizations monitor the location and safety of workers in remote locations. The Personal Tracker uses Iridium’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite network to allow companies to communicate with their workers or track assets anywhere in the world — across oceans, airways and even polar regions.
Emergency services, maritime, military, and oil and gas workers can share their location with Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates and send text messages using the device, which is certified to function in hazardous environments where explosions or a fire may occur due to flammable liquids or vapors. It can be used as a stand-alone, two-way communications device or can be clipped to a backpack to serve as a tracking beacon. Users can also pair the device with an iPhone to access the Honeywell mobile app that offers features such as interactive SOS, messaging, push notifications, trip information and situational awareness.

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Gwynne Shotwell on the Future of Women, and SpaceX, in the Space Industry

Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, hopes to see a future where more women are engaged in the space industry. During her speech on the 33rd Space Symposium stage, Shotwell shared a quote from former U.S. representative Bella Abzug, which stated, “Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemiel.” For Shotwell, Abzug’s words still ring true decades later.

Gwynne Shotwell at the 33rd Space Symposium.
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Space agency heads see the moon on the path to Mars

With NASA’s long-term strategy for human missions to Mars in flux, heads of several space agencies said they supported initial missions to the moon as a key step before going to Mars.
During an April 4 panel session during the 33rd Space Symposium that featured representatives from 15 agencies, many expressed support for going to Mars only after building up experience at the moon first.
“We think that the moon is also a very important step. Mars is not the ultimate goal,” said Jan Woerner, director general of the European Space Agency. “The moon is an intermediate step to go to Mars, but the moon can also offer some special opportunities.”

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

This Week in Satellite News! (Mar 27 – Apr 03 2017)

Rocket Reusability, Earth Observation and Big Data Hot Topics at Space Symposium

Rocket reusability, Earth observation and big data promise to be hot topics at the 33rd Space Symposium, taking place in Colorado Springs, Colorado this week. Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) President Eric Stallmer told Via Satellite’s sister publication Defense Daily Monday the aspects of Reusability — feasibility, practicality and how it will happen — will be the big talking point at the conference this year. Stallmer said the success of SpaceX successfully launching a used first stage booster last week and Blue Origin’s mammoth used New Shepard rocket on display outside the exhibit hall here demonstrate the prominence of reusability among top industry officials.

33rd Space Symposium Opening Ceremony. Space Foundation
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Rock Seven launches world’s smallest two-way satellite communications platform with integrated antenna

New miniaturised RockBLOCK system delivers global data connectivity for any application, with a design footprint approximately half the size of the current RockBLOCK product.
Iridium satcom specialist Rock Seven is introducing the worlds’ smallest plug & play two-way satellite communications system with integrated antenna.
RockBLOCK 9603 is an even smaller variant of the sophisticated RockBLOCK MK II Internet of Things (IoT) satellite communication technology platform, which already provides Machine-to-Machine (M2M) data communication over Iridium’s global satellite network for thousands of professional users at sea and on land.

Rock Seven launches world's smallest two-way satellite communications platform with integrated antenna
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Launchspace pitches debris sweeper that doubles as satellite tracker

Launchspace Technologies Corp. proposes sending platforms as large as football fields into low Earth orbit to sweep up space debris. The platforms also would be equipped with sensors to help U.S. government agencies detect and track orbiting satellites and debris.
Launchspace Technologies’ patented plan to clean up debris calls for sending Debris Collection Units into equatorial orbit to capture debris ranging in size from 1 millimeter to five centimeters. That debris poses a serious problem for government and commercial satellite operators because it remains largely untracked and unavoidable, said Marshall Kaplan, chief technology officer for Launchspace Technologies of Bethesda, Maryland.

Launchspace Technologies proposes sending Debris Collection Units with replaceable, mesh Debris Impact Pads into orbits shaped and synchronized to clean up debris as it crosses the equator, while stearing clear of satellites and debris large enough to track. Credit: a.i. solutions artist’s concept.
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Aerojet Rocketdyne Successfully Tests 3-D Printed, Full-Scale RL10 Thrust Chamber Assembly

Aerojet Rocketdyne has successfully hot-fire tested a full-scale, additively manufactured thrust chamber assembly for the RL10 rocket engine that was built from a copper alloy using Selective Laser Melting (SLM) technology, often referred to as 3-D printing. The Defense Production Act Title III program management office located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, enabled this recent testing.
Aeroject Rocketdyne has been working over the last decade to incorporate SLM technology into the RL10 and other propulsion systems to make them more affordable while taking advantage of the inherent design and performance capabilities made possible by 3-D printing.

Hot-fire testing of a full-scale, additively manufactured thrust chamber assembly for the RL10 rocket engine at Aerojet Rocketdybe West Palm Beach, Florida facility.
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Inmarsat unit chosen to provide satellite communications for US FirstNet emergency network

Satellites operator Inmarsat Plc (LON:ISAT) said its Inmarsat Government subsidiary has been selected by US telecoms giant AT&T Inc (NYSE: T) as a core team member for the US FirstNet emergency services network.
The FTSE 250-listed firm said Inmarsat Government will work with AT&T to deliver satellite communication solutions as part of the network.
FirstNet, the shortened name for the First Responder Network Authority is an independent agency under the US Department of Commerce.

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Europa lander work continues despite budget uncertainty

The NASA team studying a lander mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa says their work is continuing even though the White House is requesting no funding for the mission in its latest budget.
In a presentation at a meeting of the Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science at the National Academies here March 29, Barry Goldstein of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said that ongoing studies of the proposed lander are continuing, including a mission concept review scheduled for June.

Europa lander
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SpaceX demonstrates rocket reusability with SES-10 launch and booster landing

SpaceX has completed the first reusable orbital launch since the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle, delivering the SES-10 telecommunications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit with a rocket that first flew last April for NASA.
SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 at 6:27 p.m. Eastern from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center, achieving a historic milestone for the company that hung its cape on the claim that rockets can be re-flown, and that reusability is necessary to take humanity to Mars.

Falcon 9 first stage landing
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Lockheed Martin Introduces iSpace Software to Protect Space Assets

Lockheed Martin has introduced iSpace — intelligent Space — to provide defense, civil, commercial, and international customers with sensor data processing, space domain awareness, command and control, and battle management capabilities to protect their assets and missions in space.
The iSpace software tasks, processes, and correlates data from a worldwide network of government, commercial, and scientific community sensors and command centers. After gleaning information from optical, radar, infrared, and radio sensors, iSpace automatically provides information to users about what is happening in real-time and recommends the best course of action.

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This Week in Satellite News! (Mar 20 – Mar 27 2017)

Orbcomm, Pole Star and Weatherdock Launch Vessel Tracking Solution

Orbcomm announced that it has collaborated with Pole Star and Weatherdock to develop Hali, a Class B tri-mode vessel tracking solution that ensures complete vessel visibility. Hali combines terrestrial and satellite Automatic Identification System (AIS) data capability with two-way satellite machine-to-machine (M2M) technology to deliver vessel location data to small craft and fleet owners and operators, maritime authorities and enforcement agencies, providing the actionable intelligence required to maximize maritime safety, security and environmental compliance.

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A short history of lunar space tourism

When Elon Musk announced plans last month that SpaceX wants to send two people on a commercial mission around the moon as soon as late 2018, it was a surprise, but also hardly unique.
Musk, in a conference call with reporters Feb. 27, said that SpaceX had been approached by two individuals interested flying around the moon. SpaceX has proposed flying them on a version of its Dragon 2 spacecraft under development, launched on a Falcon Heavy. The mission would launch in the fourth quarter of 2018, pending the development schedules of both the rocket and the spacecraft.

SpaceX announced plans to send two people on a commercial mission around the moon as soon as 2018, aboard a version of its Dragon 2 spacecraft. Credit: SpaceX
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SES Unveils Government RRV for Humanitarian Efforts

During a Mountain View, California, forum this week organized by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), SES showcased some of its solutions geared toward humanitarian and disaster relief efforts. The company’s solutions are designed to help restore essential communication links, ensuring immediate coverage via capacity reserved for relief efforts and support for multiple end-to-end humanitarian services.

Government+ RRV and aerostat balloon.
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Future of asteroid intercept mission depends on Congress

Plans to continue a NASA mission to intercept a small asteroid will depend on a decision due by the end of April on NASA’s 2017 budget, an agency official said March 20.
In an interview after a town hall meeting at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference here, Jim Green, director of NASA’s planetary science division, said a decision about whether to proceed with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission will depend on funding by and direction from Congress.

AIM watches impact
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PacSci EMC Announces New SmallSat Propulsion System

PacSci EMC announced the release of its new Modular Architecture Propulsion System (MAPS) for the small satellite market. According to the company, the compact design of MAPS reduces cost of integrating the propulsion system with the satellite and launch vehicle, and shortens the time from fabrication and testing to integration on the launch vehicle by up to 78 percent.

One possible MAPS configuration. Photo: PacSci EMC.
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Long-delayed Russian module for ISS facing more problems

The Multi-Purpose Laboratory Module, also known as Nauka, was originally set to be added to the ISS in 2007, but has been grounded by a variety of issues, including contamination of its propulsion system.
Technicians have found more contamination in its main propellant tanks recently, which were built in the early 1990s and cannot be easily replaced.

International Space Station. Credit: NASA
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Europe’s Jupiter explorer mission moves to prototype production

The European Space Agency completed the preliminary design review for the Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer, giving a go-ahead to prime contractor Airbus and its partners to start building a prototype spacecraft to test systems for the challenging mission known simply as Juice.
The 1.5 billion-euro ($1.62 billion) mission — expected to launch on its seven-year journey in 2022 — is Europe’s first shot at exploring the solar system’s largest planet and its moons at close quarters. Giuseppe Sarri, ESA’s Juice project manager, said the 22-member space agency has never attempted a mission of this difficulty and complexity.

Juice's trajectory to Jupiter will include gravity-assist flybys of the Callisto and Ganymede moons, and two close-in flybys of the Europa moon. At the end of the mission, Juice is expected to spend eight months dedicated to the study of Ganymede. Credit: ESA
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Rocket Lab Raises $75 Million for Production of Electron Rocket

Rocket Lab announced closing a Series D financing round of $75 million. Data Collective led the round, with additional investment from Promus Ventures and an undisclosed investor, and with renewed participation from Bessemer Venture Partners, Khosla Ventures and K1W1. The closure of the round brings the total funding Rocket Lab has received to date to $148 million, with the company now valued in excess of $1 billion.
“The funding will enable us to scale up production of Electron to meet the continued high demand we’re seeing from the growing small satellite industry,” said Rocket Lab Chief Executive Officer and Founder Peter Beck.

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