Annual Fundraising Campaign: Please Help Parabolic Arc!

Hi everybody.

You have all been so supportive of Parabolic Arc over the years. I want to thank you for your readership and comments and for spreading the word about our work through Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

But, now I need your help. We’re once again seeking donations as part of Parabolic Arc’s annual fund-raising campaign. Your contribution will help us to continue delivering all the latest news and analysis of the rapidly growing space industry.

Follow the link and, in just a few clicks, you will be able to support the valuable work we do here. Any amount will help.

Thank you again for all of your support.

Doug

Starliner Cleared for Dec. 20 Flight to Space Station

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is guided into position above a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Nov. 21, 2019. Starliner will be secured atop the rocket for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The spacecraft rolled out from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center earlier in the day.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA and Boeing officials said on Thursday that Boeing’s Starliner crew spacecraft has been cleared for a Dec. 20 launch to the International Space Station (ISS).

The announcement came after Boeing and the space agency completed a flight readiness review for the eight-day orbital test of the vehicle. Starliner will not have a crew aboard for the flight.

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NASA Announces OSIRIS-REx Soil Sample Site on Asteroid Bennu

This image shows sample site Nightingale, OSIRIS-REx’s primary sample collection site on asteroid Bennu. The image is overlaid with a graphic of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to illustrate the scale of the site. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — After a year scoping out asteroid Bennu’s boulder-scattered surface, the team leading NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission has officially selected a sample collection site.

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-Rex) mission team concluded a site designated “Nightingale” – located in a crater high in Bennu’s northern hemisphere – is the best spot for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to snag its sample.

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Northrop Grumman Signs Customer for First Flight of OmegA Rocket

OmegA rocket (Credit: Orbital ATK)

DULLES, Va., Dec. 12, 2019 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced that Saturn Satellite Networks has selected the OmegA space launch vehicle to launch up to two satellites on the rocket’s inaugural flight scheduled for spring 2021. OmegA will launch from Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39B and insert the SSN satellites into a geosynchronous transfer orbit.

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Astrobotic Announces New Lunar Logistics HQ in Pittsburgh

The Astrobotic Mission Control will be the nerve center for the first U.S. mission to the lunar surface since Apollo. (Credit: Astrobotic)

Astrobotic to open new state-of-the-art, 47,000 square foot facility in May 2020 for the development of lunar landers and rovers

Pittsburgh, PA (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic proudly announces that it will open a new state-of-the-art headquarters for lunar logistics in May 2020. The 47,000 square foot facility in Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhood of Manchester will house the company’s spacecraft integration cleanrooms, test facilities, lab spaces, rover test labs, payload operations room, and dedicated mission control. Astrobotic’s new headquarters is poised to become the epicenter for America’s return to the Moon.

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Kepler Communications Selects SpaceX to Launch Two Batches of its Nanosatellite Constellation

TORONTO, December 12, 2019 (Kepler PR) — Kepler announced today that it has selected SpaceX as launch partner to deliver a portion of its first Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation into space onboard SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Kepler has procured 400 kg of launch capacity from SpaceX for the deployment of multiple satellites. These spacecraft incorporate both a high-capacity Ku-band communications system and a narrowband payload, for both high-speed data transfers and for low-power direct-to-satellite IoT connectivity.

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Astrobotic Relocating HQ in Pittsburgh, Adding New Jobs

PITTSBURGH (Gov. Wolf PR) — Governor Tom Wolf announced that Astrobotic Technology, Inc., a space robotics company whose mission is to make outer space accessible to the world, will relocate its headquarters in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, creating 95 jobs and maintaining 20 jobs.

“With products developed in Pittsburgh launching to the moon, companies like Astrobotic show the world the innovative work being done right here in the commonwealth,” said Gov. Wolf. “By investing in that innovation, we’re investing in the future of technology, the future of jobs, and the future of industry.”

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France Acquires Automatic 3D Geospatial Information Capability with AI4GEO

PARIS, December 10, 2019 (CNES PR) – The AI4GEO project to develop an automatic solution for producing 3D geospatial information, in which €30 million is to be invested over four years, is receiving €13.5 million in funding from the government’s PIA future investment programme led by the Secretariat General for Investment (SGPI) and operated by public investment bank Bpifrance. The signature of the contract marks France’s desire to acquire a 3D geospatial information capability at the cutting edge of innovation.

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Australian Space Agency Signs Cooperation Agreement with Thales

CANBERRA (Australian Government PR) — The Australian Space Agency has signed an agreement with space and defence giant, Thales, further strengthening Australia’s international space connections to create new local jobs.

Thales is a French company operating and investing in the Australian space and defence sectors, delivering satellite-based systems.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said this Statement of Strategic Intent and Cooperation is another important step in the Morrison Government’s plan to create opportunities for Australian industry and new local jobs.

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Private Equity Firm Purchased Stratolaunch

Stratolaunch flies (Credit: Stratolaunch)

Alan Boyle at Geek Wire reports that a private equity firm owned by a billionaire Donald Trump supporter that specializes n distressed companies is the new owners of Sttratolaunch.

Sounds about right. Stratolaunch has always been the indulgence of a billionaire. And it was certainly distressed.

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Blue Origin’s New Shepard Launches From West Texas

New Shepard launch (Credit: Blue Origin webcast)

Blue Origin launched its New Shepard rocket and capsule from its spaceport in West Texas on Thursday. The capsule reached an unofficial altitude of 43,061 ft (104.56 km/65.97 miles) and a speed of 2,227 mph (3,584 kph) during a flight that lasted 10 minutes 16 seconds. The booster touched down on a landing pad; the capsule came down under three parachutes nearby.

New Shepard Mission NS-12 Notable Payloads Manifested

Club for the Future
Thousands of postcards from students around the world from Blue Origin’s Club for the Future. The Club’s mission is to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and help visualize the future of life in space.

OK Go
Earlier this year we partnered with rock band OK Go on a contest called Art in Space, giving high school and middle school students a chance to send art experiments into space on our New Shepard vehicle. We are sending the two winning art projects on NS-12.  

Columbia University
One of our educational payloads from Columbia University, designed and built by undergraduate students and advised by Dr. Michael Massimino (an astronaut), will study the acute impacts of microgravity environments on cell biology. This is crucial for humans living and working in space.

OSCAR
OSCAR, which was led by principal investigator Dr. Annie Meier, is a recycling technology payload from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. It is designed to create a mixture of gasses that could be used for propulsion or life support from common waste on a deep space human exploration mission. This is Blue’s first full-stack payload, meaning there will be more room to do complex studies in flight.

Northrop Grumman, AFRL Partner to Provide Critical Advanced Technology in Space Solar Power

An artistic representation showcases the capture of solar energy in space that is precisely beamed it to where it is needed through the Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations and Research (SSPIDR) Project. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

Project directly supports the Space Solar Power Initiative converting solar power in space to radio frequency on Earth.

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (Northrop Grumman PR) — Northrop Grumman is working with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) on a project to rapidly infuse space technological innovations to incrementally develop component technologies needed for a prototype solar energy collection system.

The project is designed to provide constant, consistent and logistically agile power to expeditionary forces operating in unimproved areas such as forward operating bases. These forces require assured power that will be transmitted via radio frequency (RF) from spacecraft.

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Rocket Lab, OSIRIS-REx and Starliner Announcements Set for Thursday

Launch complexes on Wallops Island, Virginia

There are three major events that you can tune in for on Thursday.

Rocket Lab Wallops Launch Complex
11 a.m. EST
www.rocketlabusa.com

CEO Peter Beck will host a webcast from Wallops Island, Va., to open the company’s new launch complex and announce the first flight of the Electron booster from U.S. soil.

This artist’s concept shows the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft contacting the asteroid Bennu with the Touch-And-Go Sample Arm Mechanism or TAGSAM. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

NASA OSIRIS-REx Sampling Site
1 p.m. EST
http://nasa.gov/live

NASA will announced the site where OSIRIS-REx will collect a soil sample from asteroid Bennu.

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft rolls out from the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credits: Boeing)

NASA Boeing CST-100 Starliner Mission Preview
2 p.m. EST (approximate)
https://www.nasa.gov/live

NASA and Boeing officials will hold a news teleconference for the upcoming CST-100 Starliner orbital test flight to the International Space Station on Dec. 20.

The teleconference will begin no earlier than 2 p.m. EST, or approximately one hour after the flight readiness review ends. The start time will be adjusted as necessary. 

PSLV Launches 10 Satellites on 50th Flight

PSLV C-48 launch (Credit: ISRO)

SRIHARIKOTA, India (ISRO PR) — Today, India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its fiftieth flight (PSLV-C48), successfully launched RISAT-2BR1 along with nine commercial satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. 

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Russia Launches Glonass-M Navigation Satellite

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Today, December 11, 2019, at 11:54 Moscow time, the Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle with the Fregat upper stage successfully launched a Glonass-M navigation satellite from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

Separation of the satellite from the Fregat took place normally after three firings of the main engine of the upper stage. 

Glonass-M satellites form the basis of the orbital constellation of the GLONASS system. They provide navigation information and accurate time signals to land, sea, air and space consumers.