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Monday, August 21, 2017

This Week in Satellite News! (Aug 14 – Aug 21 2017)



Check Out The Solar Eclipse Through the Eyes of NASA

On Monday, Aug. 21, North America was treated to an eclipse of the Sun. The eclipse's path stretched from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. NASA covered it live from coast to coast from unique vantage points on the ground and from aircraft and spacecraft, including the International Space Station. Check out some of the amazing video and images captured during the event:

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TDRS launch marks end of an era

The successful launch of a NASA communications satellite Aug. 18 is the final flight of the current generation of data relay spacecraft as well as for a venerable satellite bus.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 401 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 8:29 a.m. Eastern. The launch was delayed by 26 minutes because of an issue with the temperature on the Centaur upper stage detected during the standard T-4 minute hold.

Atlas 5 TDRS-M launch
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Google Lunar X Prize teams get extra time to win competition

After months of stating that it would offer no further extensions of the Google Lunar X Prize competition, the X Prize Foundation announced Aug. 16 it was effectively giving the five remaining teams a little extra time.
In a statement, the foundation, which administers the lunar landing competition, said that teams now had until March 31, 2018, to complete all the requirements of the prize, which include landing on the lunar surface, traveling at least 500 meters, and returning video and other data.

MX-1E Moon Express
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Options grow for smallsats seeking secondary payload opportunities

As the number of small satellites seeking launch continues to grow, new opportunities are emerging fly those satellites as secondary payloads on other launches as well as tools to identify those opportunities.
The latest entrant in the field is Precious Payload, a company that seeks to provide a global reservation service for smallsat secondary payloads analogous to booking airline tickets or hotel rooms.

An ISRO Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle lifts off Feb. 14 carrying 104 satellites on a single rocket. Credit: ISRO
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Smallsat developers propose self-regulation to address orbital debris concerns

As the number of cubesats and other small satellites grows, experts advise that some degree of industry self-regulation will be needed to avoid collisions that could lead to more restrictive government regulations.
During a panel session at the 31st Annual Conference on Small Satellites here Aug. 6, representatives from across the smallsat community said that while the odds of a collision involving a smallsat remained low, such an event could trigger an overreaction of government regulations if the community isn’t prepared.

NASA CubeSats Heading into Orbit (Artist's Concept) Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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NSR Projects Satellite Ground Segment to Reach $158 Billion by 2026

Analysts at Northern Sky Research (NSR) have forecast 2016 to 2026 revenues for commercial satellite ground equipment to surpass $158 billion, according to the second edition of its Commercial Satellite Ground Segment report.
In the report, NSR states satellite TV continues to be the largest segment by shipments and revenues, with Set-Top Boxes (STBs) and antennas generating the largest shares. However, in terms of growth, Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) platforms driven by verticals such as consumer broadband and mobility represent the highest opportunity.

L-band antenna at Redu ground station. Photo: ESA.
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Beyond HAL: How artificial intelligence is changing space systems

Mars 2020 is an ambitious mission. NASA plans to gather 20 rock cores and soil samples within 1.25 Mars years, or about 28 Earth months — a task that would be impossible without artificial intelligence because the rover would waste too much time waiting for instructions.
It currently takes the Mars Science Laboratory team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory eight hours to plan daily activities for the Curiosity rover before sending instructions through NASA’s over-subscribed Deep Space Network. Program managers tell the rover when to wake up, how long to warm up its instruments and how to steer clear of rocks that damage its already beat-up wheels.

This computer-generated view depicts part of Mars at the boundary between darkness and daylight, with an area including Gale Crater beginning to catch morning light. Curiosity was delivered in 2012 to Gale crater, a 155-kilometer-wide crater that contains a record of environmental changes in its sedimentary rock. Credit: NASA JPL-CALTECH
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North Korea puts spotlight on U.S. space-based missile defense

North Korea’s threat to strike Guam with a salvo of ballistic missiles has raised the stakes for a U.S. missile shield some see as compromised by potentially exploitable seams in its all-important space layer.
Years of program changes, delays and cancellations have created gaps in parts of the space-based layer of the missile defense shield meant to protect the United States and some allies from ballistic missile attacks, say military space analysts, although U.S. missile defense officials dispute such claims.

North Korea launches the Hwasong-14 in July on a lofted trajectory that demonstrated sufficient range to hit the continental United States. Credit: Korean Central News Agency
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