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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

This Week in Satellite News! (Jun 12 – Jun 19 2017)

Iridium’s Test of First 10 NEXT Satellites Pass With Flying Colors Now SpaceX and the Second 10 NEXT Satellites are Ready to Go!

The January launch of Iridium's 10 NEXT satellites has gone smoothly from the launch until recently when they all passed their in-orbit tests 'with flying colors'.
These satellites are now interconnected, and are operating in full compatibility with the initial Block One constellation.
Having passed this milestone, the second batch of 10 satellites is now ready for launch on June 25th at 1:25 pm PDT (20:25 UTC). by SpaceX from the Vandenberg Air Force base in California.

Image result for Iridium next 2nd launch
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Inmarsat Expands Installation Support to Meet Fleet Xpress Demand

To meet unexpected levels of demand for its Fleet Xpress service, Inmarsat is boosting the number of ports where a complete service installation with a flat fee is available from six to 33. Fleet Xpress installation will now be available at 12 Asia Pacific ports, 11 in the Europe, Middle-East and Africa region, and 10 ports in the Americas. Inmarsat-certified engineers will undertake all the work, according to the company.
Inmarsat’s enhancement of its installation capabilities is part of the company’s strategy to support the global adoption of the Fleet Xpress service, which combines Inmarsat’s Global Xpress and L-band networks.

Rendition of Fleet Xpress. Photo: Inmarsat.
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NASA, NanoRacks Sign Contract for Commercial Habitat Study

NanoRacks and NASA have signed the contract for Ixion, a commercial habitat concept study first announced last summer that will focus on repurposing spent launch vehicle upper stages. NanoRacks is working with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to provide launch services as well as Space Systems Loral (SSL), which will provide robotic outfitting capabilities.
Funded by the NASA NextStep 2 award, the Ixion concept is the only NASA-funded program that focuses on repurposing spent launch vehicle upper stages.

Astronauts spacewalk outside the International Space Station. Photo: Wikimedia.
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Inmarsat, Cobham Evaluate Flight Deck Connectivity with United Airlines

Inmarsat and Cobham Satcom announced that United Airlines will participate in a technology evaluation of SwiftBroadband-Safety, Inmarsat’s next-generation flight deck communications platform.
Inmarsat will evaluate the platform on four United Airlines’ Boeing 767 aircraft, which will be installed with Cobham’s Aviator 300D satcom system. Enabling communications with real-time inflight information, the service enhances airline safety, asset utilization, security, and operations, Cobham stated.

Boeing 767-400ER flight deck. Photo: Wikimedia.
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Orbital ATK successfully tested a motor used for Orion spacecraft’s abort system

In the world of rocket science and space flight, good and bad things can happen in a split second. And what virtually any scientist will tell you is that planning for the worst is what prevents many bad things from occurring in the first place.
On a sunny, warm spring day in the vast openness of Box Elder County — at exactly 1 p.m. — an intense blast of superhot light flashed several stories into the air billowing thick plumes of smoke high into the blue sky above.

Orbital ATK successfully tested a motor used for the Orion spacecraft's abort system June 15, 2017. Credit: Orbital ATK
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NASA closing out Asteroid Redirect Mission

With administration plans to cancel it announced earlier this year, and a lack of congressional support, NASA is in an “orderly closeout” phase of its Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) while keeping alive some of its key technologies for other applications.
In a presentation at a June 13 meeting of the Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG) here, Michele Gates, program director for ARM at NASA Headquarters, said the mission received its “notice of defunding” from agency leadership in April, weeks after a budget blueprint document for fiscal year 2018 released by the White House called for cancelling the mission.

Close-up of the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle departing the asteroid after capturing a boulder from its surface. Credit: NASA artist's concept
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Rock Seven Releases New Dual-Mode Tracker for Light Aircraft

Iridium satcom specialist Rock Seven has unveiled RockAir, the latest addition to its global tracking technology portfolio. RockAir delivers regular Global Positioning System (GPS) location reports from anywhere in the world over the Iridium satellite network or Global System for Mobile communication (GSM), helping to improve flight safety by accurately tracking the location of a light aircraft at user defined intervals.
According to Rock Seven, RockAir is the only dashboard-mounted tracking system to offer dual-mode functionality over satcom and cellular networks. The solution provides lower-cost GSM based tracking when in cellular range, and failover to an Iridium satellite when outside of built-up area. GPS coordinates are automatically transmitted using whichever network is available and most cost effective.

RockAir mounted on a dashboard. Photo: Rock Seven.
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SpaceX Could Launch “Double Header” After BulgariaSat 1 Delay

After pushing back the launch of a Bulgarian communications satellite on Sunday, June 18, SpaceXannounced it could proceed with “double-header” launches this coming weekend.
Falcon 9 was set to launch BulgariaSat 1 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, but SpaceX stated on Twitter it would delay the launch to replace a valve on the rocket’s fairing.

Static test fire of Falcon 9 at Launch Pad 39A. Photo: SpaceX.
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