HawkEye 360 Awards Satellite Constellation Contract to UTIAS SFL

Herndon, Virginia, September 18, 2019 (HawkEye 360 PR) — HawkEye 360 Inc., the first commercial company to use formation flying satellites to create a new class of radio frequency (RF) analytics, today announced it has awarded the manufacturing contract for its next generation of satellites.

Enabled by the company’s $70 million Series B financing in August, this contract will substantially boost on-orbit capacity to serve the company’s rapidly growing customer base. The contract will expand the constellation to 18 satellites, achieving routine revisits of less than an hour for increased global persistence.

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Intelsat Sues OneWeb, SoftBank for Alleged Fraud

Intelsat has sued OneWeb and SoftBank in a New York court for allegedly conspiring to commit fraud and to steal trade secrets, Advanced Television reports.

SoftBank has financially backed OneWeb’s plan to deliver broadband Internet services from a constellation of small satellites. OneWeb launched its first six satellites in February.

SoftBank backed a planned merger of Intelsat and OneWeb that was announced in February 2017. The merger was called off less than four months later.

Galileo Passes 1 Billion Users Mark

PRAGUE (CNES PR) — On Tuesday, 10 September, Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES and Chair of the Administrative Board of the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA), celebrated the agency’s 15th anniversary in Prague with Europe’s space leaders in attendance.

The gathering took the opportunity to hail the growing uptake of the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) revolutionizing European air navigation and the planet-wide success of Galileo, which has now reached the milestone of one billion users. EGNOS and Galileo have thus become the standard-bearers for Europe’s space programme and the effective solutions that space is providing for society.

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Concrete Produced on International Space Station

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst works on the MICS experiment aboard the International Space Station. Observations of how cement reacts in space during the hardening process may help engineers better understand its microstructure and material properties, which could improve cement processing techniques on Earth and lead to the design of safe, lightweight space habitats. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — When humans go to the Moon or Mars to stay, they will need to construct safe places in which to live and work. The most widely used building material on Earth, concrete, may be the answer. It is strong and durable enough to provide protection from cosmic radiation and meteorites and it may be possible to make it using materials available on these celestial bodies.

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Secure World Foundation Joins Space Safety Coalition

BROOMFIELD, Colo. (SSC PR) — Secure World Foundation has joined the Space Safety Coalition (SSC), a first-of-its-kind global ad hoc coalition dedicated to developing and maintaining a set of “living” space safety best practices.  The new coalition comprises space operators, space industry associations and space industry stakeholders that want to lead by example, actively promoting responsible space safety through the voluntary adoption of relevant international standards, guidelines, and practices, and the development of more effective space safety guidelines and best practices.

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Orion to Face Simulated Rigors of Space in Last Major Testing Before Artemis I

SANDUSKY, Ohio (NASA PR) — The recently completed Orion spacecraft for Artemis I will head to Ohio for the final stretch of major testing before integration with the Space Launch System rocket for launch.

Slated to begin this fall, a team of engineers and technicians stand ready to test the spacecraft, consisting of the crew and service modules, under simulated extreme in-space conditions in the world’s premier space environments test facility at NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio.

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Stratolaunch is Back

Birdzilla’s back, baby! But, is there a plan for a rocket to launch from it? Drones? Will they use it to transport large equipment?

Pegasus XL can only be a stop gap measure as a rocket. It’s far too small. And it already has a launch vehicle a mile down the taxiway, the Stargazer L-1011 that took off this morning.

Rockets have always been the weakest part of every space project Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites have pursued. Magnificent flying machines but rocket propulsion…not so much.

House Science Committee Launches Investigation into Commerce Department’s Involvement in NOAA Actions Regarding Hurricane Dorian

Wilbur Ross

Washington, DC (House Science Committee PR) – Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairwoman Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross requesting information related to the Department’s involvement in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) actions surrounding claims that Hurricane Dorian would impact Alabama, as well as requesting a briefing with Department of Commerce employees who may have been involved in any directives to NOAA related to the September 6 statement. The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee has full legislative and oversight jurisdiction over the National Weather Service, in addition to other portions of NOAA.  

 “As the operational face of weather forecasting in the United States, the NWS protects countless lives and property every year through its accurate and timely forecasts, watches, and warnings,” said the Committee Chairwomen Johnson and Sherrill. “We are committed to supporting the activities of the NWS and its dedicated staff. During your Senate confirmation hearing, you committed to allowing federal scientists to ‘be free to communicate data clearly and concisely’ and that you would ‘not interfere with the release of factual scientific data.’ However, actions by you that were described in the New York Times article would, if accurate, be inconsistent with the values of scientific integrity.”

Additionally, Chairwoman Johnson sent a letter yesterday to the Department of Commerce’s Inspector General Peggy Gustafson requesting a copy of the notification sent to NOAA staff of an investigation into the statement issued by the Agency on September 6, 2019. The Office of the Inspector General promptly provided a response to the Chairwoman’s inquiry.

A copy of the full letter to Secretary Ross can be found here.

A copy of the full letter to Inspector General Gustafson can be found here.

House Science Chairwoman Slams Trump Administration’s Artemis Lunar Plans

Astronauts on a future lunar walk. (Credit: NASA)

Opening Statement (Excerpt)

Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)

Subcommittee on Space & Aeronautics Hearing:
Developing Core Capabilities for Deep Space Exploration: An Update on NASA’s SLS, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

….I also want to echo Chairwoman Horn’s comment about the lateness of NASA’s testimony. NASA was provided ample advance notice of this hearing and more than sufficient time to prepare testimony and have it reviewed by OMB and whomever else looks over NASA’s testimony these days. The fact that this testimony is overdue is not only frustrating, it leaves Members little opportunity to consider NASA’s testimony in advance of the hearing. If NASA and the Administration can’t meet simple hearing deadlines, it doesn’t inspire great confidence in their ability to meet the much harder deadline of landing astronauts on the Moon by 2024.

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CBS News Video: Living Next to SpaceX’s Boca Chica Test Site

What happens when SpaceX moves in next door

A hover test by a Starhopper rocket at SpaceX’s launch site is the latest move by founder Elon Musk to eventually take humans to Mars. The launch site is next to a tiny neighborhood east of Brownsville, Texas, called Boca Chica, where the rocket company has transformed life. Neighbors differ on whether the company’s presence is a good thing. Mark Strassman reports.

Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Approves Spaceport Expenditures

Spaceport Cornwall got a boost on Wednesday as the Cornwall Council’s Cabinet narrowly approved the expenditure of £12 million ($14.79 million) to support Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit launch company.

The 6-4 vote sends the proposal to the full Cornwall Council for a vote at its next meeting on Nov. 26. The contribution is part of a £22.5 million ($28.1 million) program for upgrades to the Cornwall Airport Newquay that also includes:

  • UK Space Agency: £7.5m ($9.68 million)
  • Virgin Orbit: £2.5m ($3.1 million)
  • Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership: £500,000 ($616,295)

Virgin Orbit will use a Boeing 747 to air launch satellites using its LauncherOne booster. The company is planning to conduct its first test launch within the next two months.

According to a staff report prepared for the Cabinet, the funds would allow the airport to acquire a spaceport license, make improvements that will allow it to accommodate wide-body aircraft, accelerate progress on its Aerohub Enterprise Zone, and add value to its business park.

“Spaceport Cornwall is an opportunity for Cornwall to create high value jobs in a fast-growing sector that is worth £14.8bn in the UK,” the report stated. “The initial Spaceport project will create 150 direct jobs by 2025, which are 2.6 times more productive than the national average. This will add £200m [$249.5 million] Gross Value Added (GVA) to the economy and will act as a catalyst for wider growth in associated sectors which use space derived data and applications.

“Specifically, Spaceport Cornwall will provide sovereign launch capability for small scale satellites and see a ‘pathfinder’ launch delivered by 2021,” the document added. “There are no plans to develop human space flight as part of the Spaceport Cornwall.”

Virgin Galactic Reaches Milestone Building SpaceShipTwo No. 3

SpaceShipTwo no. 3 (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

MOJAVE, Calif. (Virgin Galactic PR) — Virgin Galactic announced today that it has mated the fuselage and cabin of its next spaceship to the completed wing assembly. In addition, the two tail booms have been mated to the spaceship’s rear feather flap assembly. The completion of these two milestones brings assembly of the next SpaceShipTwo, planned to enter service after VSS Unity, a major step forward. 

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Space Safety Coalition Forms

MAUI, Hawaii, Sept. 18, 2019 (Space Safety Coalition PR) — A first-of-its-kind global ad hoc coalition dedicated to developing and maintaining a set of “living” space-safety best practices was announced today at the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference – AMOS.

The new coalition, the Space Safety Coalition (SSC), is comprised of space operators, space industry associations and space industry stakeholders.  SSC aims to lead by example, actively promote responsible space safety through the voluntary adoption of relevant international standards, guidelines, and practices, and the development of more effective space safety guidelines and best practices.

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