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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.

Image result for small satellites into Low Earth Orbit
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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.

Image result for Iridium NEXT constellation
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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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