Happy Thanksgiving!

Wild turkey in the Marin Headlands of California. (Photo: Douglas Messier)

It’s Thanksgiving.

I’m taking the day off. Unless something particularly newsworthy happens, Parabolic Arc will resume on Friday.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

World-first Real-time Link Between Satellites Promises Quicker Worldwide Delivery of Data, Imagery

LONDON, 23 November, 2020 (Inmarsat PR) — The world’s first ever publicly-available, real-time link between satellites in high and low earth orbits is now available, it was announced today.

After a five-year collaboration, Inmarsat and Addvalue Innovation are pleased to announce the Commercial Service Introduction (CSI) of their Inter-satellite Data Relay System (IDRS) service, following the successful demonstration of the first live data connectivity between customer Capella Space’s Control Center and its recently launched Sequoia satellite at low earth orbit.

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EUMETSAT takes control of Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich

Falcon 9 lifts off with Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Copyright 2020 Kenneth Brown)

DARMSTADT, Germany (EUMETSAT PR) — Three days after the launch of Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich from California, ESOC, ESA’s space Operations Centre, handed over flight operations of the Copernicus ocean-monitoring satellite to EUMETSAT.

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MOXIE Could Help Future Rockets Launch Off Mars

Engineers lower MOXIE into the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Perseverance rover carries a device to convert Martian air into oxygen that, if produced on a larger scale, could be used not just for breathing, but also for fuel.


PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — One of the hardest things about sending astronauts to Mars will be getting them home. Launching a rocket off the surface of the Red Planet will require industrial quantities of oxygen, a crucial part of propellant: A crew of four would need about 55,000 pounds (25 metric tons) of it to produce thrust from 15,000 pounds (7 metric tons) of rocket fuel.

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NOAA Awards Radio Occultation Contracts to Spire Global, GeoOptics

NOAA has awarded Spire Global and GeoOptics contracts worth a combined $23 million to provide radio occultation data from satellites the agency will use to improve its weather forecasting.

Under the two-year Commercial Weather Data Operational Buy contracts, the companies’ satellites will measure how Global Navigation Satellite System radio signals bend as they travel through the atmosphere.

NOAA will use data collected on temperatures, pressure and water vapor to better model and forecast the weather.

San Francisco-based Spire Global and GeoOptics of Pasadena, Calif., will share the $23 million award in accordance with the data the companies provide.

The contracts are a follow-on to the Commercial Weather Data Pilot program under which Spire Global and GeoOptics provided radio occultation data to NOAA for evaluation.

NOAA concluded earlier this year that the provided data were of sufficient quality to warrant purchasing.

NASA TV Coverage Set for Next Space Station Resupply Mission with SpaceX

Falcon 9 lifts off with the the cargo Dragon CRS-20 mission. (Credit: NASA webcast)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA commercial cargo provider SpaceX is targeting 11:39 a.m. EST Saturday, Dec. 5, for the launch of its 21st commercial resupply services (CRS-21) mission to the International Space Station from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. CRS-21 will deliver science investigations, supplies, and equipment for NASA and is the first mission under the company’s second Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. Live coverage will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website, with prelaunch events Friday, Dec. 4, and Saturday, Dec. 5.

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Keeping Spacecraft on Course with Propellant Management Technologies

Carthage students Taylor Peterson (left) and Celestine Ananda are shown here observing the gauging of unsettled liquids during a period of microgravity on a flight with ZERO-G in November 2018. (Credits: Carthage College)

by Nicole Quenelle
NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center

Rocket off course? It could be a slosh problem.

Propellant slosh, to be exact. The motion of propellant inside a rocket-based launch vehicle or spacecraft tank is an ever-present, vexing problem for spaceflight. Not only can it make gauging the amount of available propellant difficult, but the volatile waves of liquid can literally throw a rocket off its trajectory.

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Lunar Gateway Instruments to Improve Weather Forecasting for Artemis Astronauts

Artist’s concept of the Gateway Power and Propulsion Element, or PPE, and Habitation and Logistics Outpost, or HALO, in orbit around the Moon. The gold box on the right side of the image depicts the HERMES payload. The ERSA payload is the silver box just below it. (Credits: NASA)

by Miles Hatfield
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — One of the first things people want to know before taking a trip is what the weather will be like wherever they are headed. For Artemis astronauts traveling on missions to the Moon, two space weather instrument suites, NASA’s HERMES and ESA’s ERSA, will provide an early forecast. Weather in this case means energized, subatomic particles and electromagnetic fields hurtling through the solar system.

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SpaceX Launches 16th Starlink Mission

Credit: SpaceX

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — On Tuesday, November 24 at 9:13 p.m. EST, SpaceX launched its sixteenth Starlink mission from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The Falcon 9 first stage rocket booster that supported this mission previously flew on six other missions: the Telstar 18 VANTAGE mission in September 2018, the Iridium-8 mission in January 2019, and four Starlink missions in May 2019, January 2020, June 2020, and August 2020.

ollowing stage separation, SpaceX landed Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which was located in the Atlantic Ocean. One half of Falcon 9’s fairing previously supported a mission, and the other half previously supported two.

Last month, SpaceX launched its “Better Than Nothing Beta” test program. Service invites were sent to a portion of those who requested availability updates on Starlink.com and who live in serviceable areas.

A couple weeks ago, Canada granted Starlink regulatory approval and SpaceX has now rolled out the service to parts of southern Canada.

If you would like to learn more about the service, please visit the Reddit AMA SpaceX engineers recently participated in.

Northrop Grumman, Gilmour Space Technologies Work to Grow Sovereign Capabilities in Australia

CANBERRA, Australia (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Queensland-based rocket company, Gilmour Space Technologies, to support the development of Australian sovereign space capabilities.

Northrop Grumman aims to lead industry support in developing Australian sovereign space capabilities to help meet the needs of defence and realise the Australian Space Agency vision,” said Chris Deeble, chief executive, Northrop Grumman Australia. “Our approach is consistent with the Australian government’s recently announced Modern Manufacturing Strategy, to make space hardware in Australia while securing sovereign capabilities in priority areas that includes defence and space.”

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Winners Announced for US/UK Partnered International Space Pitch Day

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USSF SMC PR) –  U.S Space Force’s Space And Missile Systems Center,  (SMC) along with its partners have announced the winners of International Space Pitch Day (ISPD). Small tech companies and start-ups from multiple countries had the opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of several U.S., U.K. and N.A.T.O. allied defense leaders on Nov. 16, 2020.

During the event, ten start-ups successfully secured same-day contracts and a slice of the $1M pot, to fast-track the development of their innovations. This marks the first time two nations have come together to award defense contracts based around a pitch-style event and the first time two nations have awarded joint defense innovation contracts to foreign companies.

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Telesat to Become Public Company through Agreement with Loral Space & Communications and PSP Investments

Telesat to remain Canadian controlled, will become a publicly listed company on Nasdaq, and is considering listing on a Canadian stock exchange.

OTTAWA, CANADA, November 24, 2020 (Telesat Canada PR) – Telesat Canada announced today that it has entered into an agreement with Loral Space & Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: LORL) (Loral) and Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments) pursuant to which Telesat Canada and Loral will become subsidiaries of Telesat Corporation (Telesat), a new publicly traded Canadian incorporated and controlled company.  

The shares of Telesat will be listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market at the closing of the transaction, the market on which Loral is currently listed, and Telesat is also considering a listing on a Canadian stock exchange in connection with the closing of the transaction in 2021. Telesat Corporation will be headquartered in Ottawa and led by Telesat Canada’s Chief Executive Officer Daniel S. Goldberg. Telesat’s voting and governance provisions will ensure that the company is and remains Canadian-controlled.

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NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program Partners with EPSCoR, Launches Community Learning Initiative

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — Flight Opportunities has partnered with NASA’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program to provide access to suborbital flight tests for the EPSCoR community.

Through an amendment to the existing 2021 EPSCoR International Space Station (ISS) Flight Opportunity solicitation, EPSCoR jurisdictions will be able to propose using suborbital flights to further their EPSCoR-funded research.

Proposals are due by January 7, 2021. Visit NSPIRES for more details.

Flight Opportunities Community Learning Initiative

The new Flight Opportunities Community Learning initiative is an effort to capture, organize, and communicate the lessons and experiences of suborbital researchers.

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Research Investigations on CRS-21 Sponsored by the ISS U.S. National Laboratory

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (CASIS PR) — SpaceX’s 21st commercial resupply mission (CRS-21) to the International Space Station (ISS) is slated for launch on December 5 at 11:39 a.m. EST from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The ISS U.S. National Laboratory is sponsoring more than 15 payloads on this mission that will bring value to our nation and further enable a sustainable market in low Earth orbit.

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