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Monday, May 28, 2018

This Week in Satellite News! (May 21 – May 28 2018)

Rocket Lab reschedules next Electron launch

Rocket Lab announced May 25 it has rescheduled the next launch of its Electron small rocket for late June after correcting a problem that delayed an April launch attempt.
That launch, dubbed “It’s Business Time” by the company because this is the first commercial Electron launch after two test flights, is now scheduled for no earlier than June 22 (U.S. time) from the company’s New Zealand launch site. Four-hour launch windows, opening at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time, are available daily through July 5.

Rocket Lab electron
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Gogo, Iridium Partner to Deliver Global L-band Service

Iridium Communications has announced Gogo as the newest value-added manufacturer for Iridium Certus aviation terminals. As an Iridium Certus service provider, Gogo is the first company to design and manufacture terminals, while also providing the new L-band broadband service for business aviation.
With Iridium Certus service delivered through the Iridium Next Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation, Gogo will continue creating small-form-factor, low-latency and cost-effective antennas able to provide broadband service from any airspace, including the poles. Service options will enable a variety of capabilities for cockpit safety and electronic flight bag services to cabin business applications.

Image result for Global L-band Service iridium
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Cobham Ships VSAT Antennas to Connect Workers in Remote Australia

The government of South Australia’s Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) has selected a solution that features the Cobham Satcom Explorer 8120 VSAT antennas, which will work to enable broadband data connectivity and high quality telephony for workers and communities in remote areas. The Explorer 8120 antennas feature 1.2 meter auto-acquire, drive-away antenna system and Dynamic Pointing Correction technology to improve link uptime, were delivered this month.

Cobham Satcom Explorer 8120 VSAT antenna
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Phase Four wins NASA and commercial deals for electric propulsion system

Phase Four, a company developing an advanced electric propulsion system for use on cubesats and larger spacecraft, announced sales of its thrusters to NASA and Astro Digital May 24.
The company, based in El Segundo, California, said that NASA has purchased one of the company’s electric radio frequency (RF) thrusters for testing. That thruster, to be delivered in 2019, will ultimately be used on a spacecraft mission to demonstrate its ability to support future operational small satellite missions.

Phase Four thruster
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Iridium Approved to Provide Global Maritime Distress Safety Services

The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) has recognized that the Iridium network meets all the criteria of the IMO needed to provide mobile satellite services in the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), and to adopt the “Statement of Recognition” proposed by the United States as a committee resolution.

Iridium achieves approval to provide GMDSS services
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Former Google Lunar X Prize teams focused on new commercial and government opportunities

Companies that one competed for the Google Lunar X Prize now expect to fly their first lunar landers in the next two years to serve the needs of commercial and government customers, including NASA.
In presentations at the Space Tech Expo here May 24, four companies that, at one time, were vying for a $20 million grand prize for landing a commercial spacecraft on the moon now say they’re motivated by what they see is a growing interest in lunar exploration and commercialization.

Astrobotic Peregrine
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SpaceX launches five Iridium satellites and twin science spacecraft

A SpaceX Falcon 9 still sporting soot from its last mission successfully launched May 22 with five Iridium Next satellites and two science satellites for NASA and the German Research Center for Geosciences.
The rocket, reusing a first stage booster that successfully launched Northrop Grumman’s failed Zuma mission in January, took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, at 3:48 p.m. Eastern.

IRDM GRACE-FO Launch Falcon 9
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Air Force aims for reliable launch services in spite of dramatic changes in commercial, military space

Sending national security satellites into orbit is about to become more complicated.
In the past, launches largely fell into two categories: big, expensive satellites requiring extremely reliable rides and smaller satellites on slightly riskier rockets. In the future, the U.S. Air Force will launch satellites of all different sizes for customers with varying degrees of risk tolerance.
“The space vehicles we are going to be required to lift are going to be across this entire spectrum,” said Col. Jon Strizzi, chief engineer for the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Directorate. “We’ll have to adapt.”

Launch of Atlas 5 SBIRS GEO-2 from Cape Canaveral AFS. Credit: United Launch Alliance
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SpaceX achievements generate growing interest in reusable launchers

As SpaceX launched another Falcon 9 with a previously-flown first stage May 22, both the company and its competitors are seeing a growing acceptance of reusable vehicles in the overall market.
The Falcon 9 that launched five Iridium Next satellites and two GRACE-FO Earth science satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base used a first stage that first flew in January, carrying the classified Zuma payload. That booster was the 12th first stage to be reflown, counting the two used as side boosters in the inaugural Falcon Heavy launch in February.

Falcon 9 GRACE-FO launch
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Air Force focus on resilience means big changes for spacecraft manufacturing and testing

The U.S. Air Force’s goal of responding to emerging threats with resilient satellite constellations it can build, launch and refresh quickly has important implications for spacecraft manufacturing and testing.
“The technical practices we employ today will continue to drive high costs,” David Davis, chief systems engineer for the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, said at the Space Tech Expo here. “That will be inconsistent with the resiliency and the proliferation. We need technical practices that are balanced with this overall program.”

David Davis, chief systems engineer for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles, is exploring the implications the military's focus on resilience will have on satellite building and testing. Credit: Space Tech Expo
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Monday, May 21, 2018

This Week in Satellite News! (May 14 – May 21 2018)

Iridium breaks Inmarsat monopoly on maritime safety communications

The UN certified Iridium Communications to provide Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS) services, ending Inmarsat’s monopoly on the internationally required service for ships, Iridium said May 21.
The certification, granted by the UN’s International Maritime Organization, marks the culmination of a five-year effort that occasionally turned nasty between fleet operators Iridium and Inmarsat.

Iridium OpenPort Maritime
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Orbital ATK Takes Ohio State First CubeSat to Space

Orbital ATK successfully launched the company’s Antares rocket carrying its Cygnus spacecraft from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A on Wallops Island, Virginia, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. The launch marks Orbital ATK’s ninth cargo mission for NASA.
According to Orbital ATK, the Antares medium-class rocket matched its record for the heaviest cargo load carried to date, with approximately 3,350kg of vital supplies and scientific equipment aboard Cygnus that will be delivered to the crew aboard the International Space Station. The Cygnus spacecraft will be grappled on May 24.

A rendering of Ohio State's CubeRRT
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Antares launches Cygnus cargo spacecraft to ISS

An Orbital ATK Antares rocket successfully launched a Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station May 21 on a mission that may be the swan song for the company as an independent entity.
The Antares lifted off from Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia, at 4:44 a.m. Eastern, at the end of its five-minute launch window. Controllers moved the launch from the beginning to the end of the window because of weather constraints, which eased as the countdown progressed.

Antares Cygnus OA-9
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Jeff Bezos: Day One in the Space Industry

Jeff Bezos talks to Via Satellite about his plans for Blue Origin as well as his vision for the space industry and his personal passion for space.
It is not every day you get to interview one of the world’s most celebrated entrepreneurs and businessmen but I got the opportunity last March during the SATELLITE 2018 Conference & Exhibition in Washington, D.C. Even though I have done many interviews with CEOs all over the world, I still feel the buzz going to interview someone like Jeff Bezos.

Image result for Day One in the Space Industry
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Safety panel considers SpaceX “load-and-go” fueling approach viable

Members of a NASA safety panel said May 17 they believed that a SpaceX approach for fueling its Falcon 9 rockets known as “load-and-go” could be used for future commercial crew missions.
At the meeting of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) at the Kennedy Space Center, panel member Brent Jett said he expected NASA’s commercial crew program would soon make a decision on the sequence of loading propellants and crew for SpaceX commercial crew missions.

Falcon 9 Bangabandhu 1 launch
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Orbit To Showcase Its 12-inch Multi-Purpose Airborne Satcom Terminal

Orbit Communications Systems, a provider of precision tracking-based communications solutions and airborne communications management systems, has announced that it intends to unveil its new 12-inch Multi-Purpose Terminal (MPT 30) for airborne SatCom at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa, Florida on May 21-24.
The MPT was designed to address the regional and global coverage needs of the military mobile market. With its Radio Frequency (RF) performance and dynamic response under the harshest environmental conditions, it meets the broadband requirements of mission aircraft, unmanned aerial systems and helicopters.

Orbit̢۪s MPT 30
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Satcom companies commit free capacity, equipment to UN for emergency responses

Nine satellite companies agreed May 17 to donate satellite capacity and equipment to the United Nations, seeking to coordinate their responses to natural disasters.
The agreement is the culmination of a three-year effort to band together and avoid being overshadowed by the collective emergency response efforts of the cellular industry, which announced its own “Humanitarian Connectivity Charter” at Mobile World Congress in 2015.

UN WFP Emergency Telecommunications Cluster ETC
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Microsoft, Kymeta Demo On-the-Move Defense Solutions

Microsoft and Kymeta have announced simultaneous land mobile, maritime defense and first responder demonstrations during the 2018 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) and Connectivity Expo (Connect X) from May 21-24. The companies are jointly demonstrating end-to-end communications and network on the edge with Microsoft’s patrol and tactical vehicles featuring hardware, software, Windows Apportals, Azure Cloud integration, and connectivity to the Internet of Things (IOT), all connected using a flat-panel, satellite Kymeta KyWay Terminal.

Kymeta and Microsoft provide always-connected mobility
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Monday, May 14, 2018

This Week in Satellite News! (May 7 – May 14 2018)

Iridium to complete next-generation satellite deployment by this fall

Iridium expects to have its next-generation satellite constellation deployed and in service by this fall as it looks to win approvals for new maritime and aviation applications.
In a conference call with reporters May 14, Iridium Chief Executive Matt Desch said the remaining three launches of Iridium Next satellites should be completed by the third quarter of this year, with the satellites in the final positions shortly thereafter.

Artist view of an IRIDIUM NEXT satellite. The IRIDIUM NEXT operation is a modernisation programme of Iridium satellites. Iridium is a provider of mobile satellite communications services.
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SpaceX launches Bangladeshi satellite on debut Block 5 Falcon 9 mission

SpaceX on May 11 successfully launched its most modern Falcon 9 rocket, delivering Bangabandhu-1, the first Bangladeshi telecom satellite, into geostationary transfer orbit.
The Falcon 9 rocket, known as the Block 5 version, lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base at 4:14 p.m. Eastern. The 3,500-kilogram Bangabandhu-1 satellite separated from the rocket’s upper stage about 34 minutes later.

Falcon 9 Bangabandhu 1 launch
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NASA agrees to fly helicopter demo on Mars 2020

NASA announced May 11 that it will fly a small helicopter as a technology demonstration on its next Mars rover, despite concerns from some on the project that it could be a distraction.
In a statement issued late May 11, the space agency said it will include the Mars Helicopter on the Mars 2020 rover mission, where it will perform a series of test flights over the course of a month.

JPL has been touting its Mars Helicopter since January but has not before linked it to any particular mission. The drone would be solar powered and capable of flying for two to three minutes a day, according to a video JPL uploaded to youtube earlier this year. Credit: NASA artist's concept.
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Spirit Airlines to Offer In-Flight Wi-Fi with Thales

Guests on Spirit Airlines will soon be able to watch, stream, surf and text from 30,000 feet, as the carrier has signed an agreement to install Wi-Fi on all of its planes by summer 2019. Spirit Airlines Wi-Fi technology partner, Thales Group, a global technology provider for aerospace, defense and security, and transportation markets, is bringing the Ka-band High Throughput Satellite (HTS) system onboard the aircraft to provide high-speed web browsing and streaming experiences similar to what passengers would find at home.
Spirit Wi-Fi is projected to provide service coverage immediately for 97 percent of its routes upon entry into service, starting with an average price of $6.50, and a cost range expected to be lower or higher based on the route and demand.

Image result for In-Flight Wi-Fi thales
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How the Fourth Industrial Revolution is Shaping the Satellite Industry

We are now in the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution — or “Industry 4.0.” From mechanization of production in the first industrial revolution to mass production in the second, and automation of production in the third, the concept of digitizing everything forms the basis of how the Fourth Industrial Revolution is influencing and impacting the world. Machine learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IOT), and other advanced technologies are rapidly revolutionizing and reshaping infrastructure, global-local economies and possibilities for future generations.

Image result for Satellite Industry revolution
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NASA Makes History with West Coast Launch of InSight

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 rocket carrying NASA‘s InSight Mars lander lifted off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex 3 on Saturday. InSight is the first mission launched to another planet from the West Coast, which requires more energy than an East Coast launch that takes advantage of the Earth’s rotation.
The West Coast Mars launch was made possible by the performance of the Atlas 5, an optimized trajectory design to achieve the very exact hyperbolic injection required to deliver the spacecraft to Mars, and Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion systems.

InSight is a robotic lander designed to study the interior of the planet Mars
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Musk details Block 5 improvements to Falcon 9

SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk on May 10 went into detail on modifications made to the latest version of the Falcon 9, including redesigning a pressure vessel implicated in the rocket’s 2016 pre-launch explosion.
In a briefing with reporters hours before the scrubbed launch of the first Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket, Musk said the Block 5 is designed to be “the most reliable rocket ever built.”

Falcon 9 Block 5
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Astronomers resist NASA push to delay astrophysics decadal survey

With uncertainty about the future of two large space telescopes, NASA is continuing to suggest that the next decadal survey for astrophysics be postponed, a move opposed by many astronomers.
Recently, the Cosmic Origins Program Analysis Group, one of three advisory groups chartered by NASA to support the agency’s astrophysics program, sent out a questionnaire to astronomers asking for their thoughts about delaying the next survey, currently scheduled for release in late 2020.

After much tinkering, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems has at last finished the cryogenic cooler that will keep JWST's Mid-Infrared Instrument at its frosty-cool operating temperature of minus 270 Celsius. Credit: NASA artist's concept
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