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Friday, July 28, 2017

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


Big Bend Telephone Company Adopts New Comms-On-the-Move Solution

Big Bend Telephone Company in Texas has become the first commercial user of the Explorer MSAT-G3 system for the next generation Mobile Satellite (MSAT) service, which combines Cobham Satcom’s Push-to-Talk technology, Ligado Networks’ SkyTerra 1 satellite and ViaSat’s low-latency, IP-based L-band mobile satellite services network. According to Cobham, MSAT-G3 is the only system in its class to provide AES-256 encrypted push-to-talk voice and associated data over satellite.

An emergency services worker holds the Explorer MSAT-G3 radio. Photo: Cobham Satcom.
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DLR to fly experiments on Blue Origin’s New Shepard

The German Aerospace Center, Germany’s space agency, will fly two experiments on a suborbital flight by Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle later this year as part of an effort to diversify its microgravity research efforts.
Thomas Driebe, head of the physical and material sciences program at the center, known by the German acronym DLR, said in a presentation July 18 at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference here that the center planned to fly the physical sciences experiments under a commercial deal with Blue Origin.

Space for Humanity is considering purchasing rides for participants on Blue Origin's New Shepard reusable, suborbital rocket, which has undergone multiple test flights, and may take tourists into space as early as 2018. Credit: Blue Origin
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Atlas 5 to Launch Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser

Sierra Nevada Corporation has selected United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) commercially developed Atlas 5 rocket to launch the first two missions of its Dream Chaser cargo system in support of NASA’s Cargo Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract. The two Atlas 5 missions will carry pressurized and unpressurized cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).
The first mission is set to lift off in 2020 from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, in Florida. The second contracted mission is scheduled to lift off in 2021. Dream Chaser will launch atop an Atlas 5 552, with a dual engine Centaur upper stage, according to ULA.

Frontal view of Dream Chaser vehicle. Photo: Sierra Nevada Corporation.
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JPL moves ahead with Mars and Europa missions despite funding uncertainty

The director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said his center is pressing ahead with work on current and proposed missions to Mars and Europa despite ongoing debates on Capitol Hill about funding some of those missions and the impact they could have on the lab’s capabilities and workforce.
In a July 13 presentation at a Space Transportation Association luncheon here, Michael Watkins said that work is going well on two flagship-class planetary science missions under development at JPL, the Mars 2020 rover and the Europa Clipper multiple-flyby mission.

Mars 2020 rover
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SpaceX drops plans for powered Dragon landings

SpaceX no longer plans to have the next version of its Dragon spacecraft be capable of powered landings, a move that has implications for the company’s long-term Mars plans.
SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk, speaking at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference here July 19, confirmed recent rumors that the version of the Dragon spacecraft under development for NASA’s commercial crew program will not have the ability to land on land using SuperDraco thrusters that will be incorporated into the spacecraft primarily as a launch abort system.

Red Dragon landing
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Star Navigation Announces First Purchase Order for Star V-trk

Star Navigation Systems has confirmed the first order for Star V-trk units, the company’s newest tracking and monitoring equipment for airborne applications. Tianjin Zhonglian Tiantong Space Technology (ZLT), Star’s distributor in China for Star V-trk, will deploy these first two units before the end of October. ZLT will also use Star ground segment technology for tracking and data display.
The Star V-trk is the latest part of Star’s patented family of systems, able to track and monitor aircraft, in real time, worldwide. According to Star Navigation, it is the smallest piece of equipment in its portfolio, able to perform tracking and positioning through satcom, as well as provide on-board data collection, processing and downloading.

Star V-trk. Photo: Star Navigation Systems Group.
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NASA seeks information on developing Deep Space Gateway module

NASA is taking the next small step in the development of a proposed Deep Space Gateway in cislunar space by requesting information about one of its core modules.
A request for information (RFI), released by NASA July 17, seeks information from industry regarding their capabilities to build a Power and Propulsion Element (PPE), a module that will produce electrical power and provide chemical and electrical propulsion for the gateway.

An illustration of NASA's proposed "deep-space gateway" in orbit around the moon. Japan plans to make use of gateway as a jumping-off point for future lunar expeditions.  Credit: NASA
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Rock Seven Now Offers Tracking for Land-Based Applications

Launched in June for general aviation customers, Rock Seven has now made its RockAIR tracking system available for land-based applications. According to the company, the move is a result of high demand for dual mode communication received from land vehicle fleet owners and operators in government, charity and commercial organizations.
With RockAIR, Rock Seven initially delivered a carry-on, cockpit-mounted tracking system for helicopters and light aircraft that not only provided precise location reporting globally, but also introduced new Internet of Things (IoT) functionality that allowed pilots to send and receive messages and data over the internet.

RockAir mounted on a dashboard. Photo: Rock Seven.
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Are Satellites the Key to Cybersecurity in the Cloud?

Cloud Constellation has partnered with Turkish satcom company Teknomobil to resell its Space Belt data services to customer markets in Turkey and the Middle East. Cloud Constellation is a startup that is currently developing a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation of secure data centers for cloud service providers. According to Cloud Constellation President Cliff Beek, the partnership is a step toward the company’s broader market strategy of aggregating global resellers in regions and verticals where data security is paramount.

Cloud Constellation SpaceBelt
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Intelsat joins group urging U.S. regulator to delay approval of SpaceX constellation

Intelsat has joined a group of current and prospective satellite fleet operators in asking U.S. regulators to withhold approval of SpaceX’s mega-constellation of low-orbiting satellites until it can be analyzed for interference risk.
Intelsat’s comment to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not oppose SpaceX’s 4,425-satellite Internet delivery constellation as such. Instead, the company is protesting that SpaceX only filed a detailed analysis of its plans to avoid signal inference on July 12.

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