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Friday, June 2, 2017

This Week in Satellite News! (May 22 – May 29 2017)

SpaceX’s next Iridium launch moved up four days

SpaceX moved the launch date for the second Iridium Next mission ahead by four days thanks to new range availability at Vandenberg Air Force Base, mobile satellite service provider Iridium announced today.
The launch, previously scheduled for June 29, is now slated for June 25 at 1:24:59 p.m. local time (4:24:59 p.m. EDT).
SpaceX is launching the entire Iridium Next constellation over the course of eight missions, seven with 10 satellites, and one split between five Iridium Next satellites and a NASA-Germany science spacecraft. This second mission has an “instantaneous launch window,” meaning it must occur precisely at the scheduled time.

SpaceX Falcon 9 Iridium Next
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Inflight connectivity providers more concerned about cyber threats than laptop ban

Travel bans barring passengers from bringing laptops and tablet computers onboard airplanes aren’t much cause for concern for satellite operators who provide airlines with internet connectivity, executives said May 25, but protecting those devices from hackers and cyber criminals is.
Inmarsat and ViaSat, two satellite operators reporting fast growth from connecting passenger devices on commercial aircraft, dismissed fears that recently introduced bans, intended to reduce the risk of terrorist attacks, would stunt an otherwise lucrative business opportunity.

Inmarsat JetWave Hardware for GX Aviation Installation on Honeywell B757 Test Aircraft 1
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Rocket Lab’s Electron Rocket Reaches Space

Rocket Lab announced that its Electron rocket reached space after lifting off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand on May 25. According to Rocket Lab, the Electron is the first orbital-class rocket launched from a private launch site in the world.
“We had a great first stage burn, stage separation, second stage ignition and fairing separation. We didn’t quite reach orbit and we’ll be investigating why, however reaching space in our first test puts us in an incredibly strong position to accelerate the commercial phase of our program, deliver our customers to orbit and make space open for business,” said Peter Beck, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Rocket Lab.

The Electron lifts off from Mahia peninsula. Photo: Rocket Lab.
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Lockheed wins $46 million contract addition for missile warning satellites

The Air Force announced May 26 it is adding $45.99 million to an existing Lockheed Martin contract for construction of two missile warning satellites.
The announcement adds to the $1.86 billion Lockheed won in 2014 to build the fifth and sixth geostationary satellites for the Air Force’s Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS), the service’s primary missile warning, launch detection, and tracking constellation.
The additional money will “provide integration of an additional subsystem and propulsion modifications,” the Defense Department said in a press release. Work will be performed at the company’s Sunnyvale, California, location and is expected to finish by July 31, 2022.

The U.S. Air Force's  upcoming fifth and sixth satellites in its missile warning constellation will have a new satellite bus, Lockheed Martin's A2100. Credit: Lockheed Martin.
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Alaska Communications Signs MoU to Become OneWeb’s First Reseller

Alaska Communications announced that it has signed a non-exclusive Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to become the first reseller of OneWeb enabled broadband access in Alaska. Starting in 2019, this new broadband service will be available to every Alaska home, school, business, and community center, according to the company.
OneWeb’s system includes 900 high-throughput Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites capable of providing more than 7 Tbps of new global capacity. OneWeb will align the constellation in a polar orbit to ensure coverage of 100 percent of the United States, including Alaska, which historically has had poor coverage from the satellite industry due to its high latitude.

Juneau, Alaska. Photo: Pixabay.
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Launch of space-debris-removal experiment delayed amid safety reviews

RemoveDebris, a space-junk-wrangling spacecraft  once slated to hitch a ride to the International Space Station with SpaceX in June, won’t launch until the end of 2017 or early 2018 to allow additional NASA safety reviews, according to the European project’s manager.
The 100-kilogram spacecraft, developed by a consortium of 10 European companies including Airbus Defense and Space and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd., would be the largest and heaviest satellite deployed from the ISS.
“Nothing of this size has ever been launched from the ISS before,” said Jason Forshaw, RemoveDebris project manager at the University of Surrey’s Surrey Space Centre, which leads the consortium.

The RemoveDebris mother ship deploys a target satellite in this animation from an SSTL video. Credit: SSTL
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Raytheon to Improve GPS Accuracy for Safer Air Travel

With the launch of SES’ SES 15 satellite, Raytheon’s GEO 6 payload has reached orbit for its 12-year mission. It is the latest payload to support the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), which enhances the reliability and accuracy of Global Positioning System (GPS) signals for directing air travel.
According to Raytheon, the payload is a key element of WAAS, which offers commercial, business, and general aviation pilots more direct flight paths, greater runway capability, and precision approaches to airports and remote landing sites without dependence on local ground-based landing systems.

SES 15 payload fairing. Photo: Arianespace.
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Companies, lawyers argue against changing Outer Space Treaty

Commercial space companies and space law experts recommended against any changes in the Outer Space Treaty at a recent hearing, arguing regulatory issues can be better addressed through laws and regulations.
The May 23 hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee’s space subcommittee examined whether the 50-year-old treaty, widely considered the foundation of international space law, should be updated to reflect growing commercial space activities, and the potential for conflicts they may generate.

Moon Express's MX-1 lander. Credit: Moon Express artist's concept
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