Virgin Orbit has Raised $1 Billion, Needs $200 Million More

LauncherOne operated in powered flight for only seconds before an anomaly shut it down after being dropped from the Cosmic Girl Boeing 747. (Credit; Virgin Orbit)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit satellite launch company needs another $200 million in investment after having already raised $1 billion.

So said the British billionaire during The Wall Street Journal’s recent Tech Live conference. The amount raised is considerably larger than a previous estimate of $700 million.

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Parsons to Acquire Braxton Science & Technology Group

Acquisition enhances space and cyber portfolios; Accretive to revenue growth and adjusted EBITDA margin

CENTREVILLE, Va., Oct. 29, 2020 (Parsons Corporation PR) — Parsons Corporation (NYSE:PSN) announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Braxton Science & Technology Group, LLC (BSTG) and its subsidiaries in a deal valued at $300 million ($258 million less the tax asset). The acquisition increases Parsons’ solutions, products, and capabilities in the space, cyber, and intelligence markets.

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Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo Conducts Flight Test on Eve of Earnings Call

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

One week before Virgin Galactic is expected to report another large quarterly loss, the company’s WhiteKnightTwo VMS Eve took to the skies on Thursday over Spaceport America for the first time since June 25.

The flight was the first of four tests designed to pave the way for Virgin Galactic to begin commercial SpaceShipTwo suborbital tourism flights with VSS Unity during the first quarter of next year.

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Launchspace Technologies To Test Orbital Debris Collection & Spacecraft Shielding Experiment on ISS

Launchspace will utilize a slot on the new ISS-external Bartolomeo platform for the in-orbit demonstration of an Orbital Debris Collection and Spacecraft Shielding payload

TOULOUSE, France (Airbus PR) — Airbus and Launchspace Technologies Corporation (LTC) have signed a contract for a mission on the International Space Station (ISS): Airbus’ Bartolomeo platform will host the Launchspace Orbital Debris Collection and Spacecraft Shielding Demonstration Payload for a 12-month period starting in 2022.

The payload consists of orbital ‘Debris Impact Pads’, which house a series of sensors that record the impact, force and orbital location of debris on the ISS.

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General Atomics Acquires the Business of Guidestar Optical Systems

SAN DIEGO, October 28, 2020 (General Atomics PR) — General Atomics announced today that it has completed the acquisition of the business of Guidestar Optical Systems, Inc., a leader in adaptive optics technologies for commercial and defense uses in Longmont, CO.

The business will be integrated into the General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) group. Guidestar Optical Systems’ cutting-edge innovations in adaptive optics align with GA-EMS’ focus on delivering groundbreaking technologies for the defense and space markets.

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SwRI Study Offers More Complete View of Massive Asteroid Psyche

Artist rendition of the asteroid Psyche. (Credit: Peter Rubin/ASU)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (SwRI PR) — A new study authored by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) planetary scientist Dr. Tracy Becker discusses several new views of the asteroid 16 Psyche, including the first ultraviolet observations. The study, which was published today in The Planetary Science Journal and presented at the virtual meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences, paints a clearer view of the asteroid than was previously available.

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For New Virgin Galactic CEO, the Ultimate Perk: An All-Expenses Paid Trip to Space

Michael Colglazier (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For 26 years, Michael Colglazier worked for a company whose theme parks feature a popular attraction named Space Mountain. They aren’t really mountains and they don’t go anywhere near space, but as rollercoasters they are pretty good.

When the former Walt Disney Company executive signed on to become Virgin Galactic’s CEO in July, his contract included a free ride to space for himself and three friends aboard his new employer’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle.

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Successfully Stows Sample of Asteroid Bennu

The left image shows the OSIRIS-REx collector head hovering over the Sample Return Capsule (SRC) after the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism arm moved it into the proper position for capture. The right image shows the collector head secured onto the capture ring in the SRC. Both images were captured by the StowCam camera. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has successfully stowed the spacecraft’s Sample Return Capsule (SRC) and its abundant sample of asteroid Bennu. On Wednesday, Oct. 28, the mission team sent commands to the spacecraft, instructing it to close the capsule – marking the end of one of the most challenging phases of the mission.

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Ariane 6 Launch Delayed to Second Quarter of 2022

Artist’s impression of Vega-C launcher in flight. (Credit: ESA-Jacky Huart)

Vega-C and Ariane 6 are being developed by ESA to assure Europe’s independent access to space. The maiden flight for Vega-C is planned to take place in June 2021, that for Ariane 6 for the second quarter of 2022.

PARIS (ESA PR) — Solid progress is being made on both Vega-C and Ariane 6 development programmes. Since March, some technical events and the COVID-19 pandemic have both impacted the progress of activities. Uncertainty from COVID-19 still persists globally to date.

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Redwire Acquires Roccor, a Manufacturer of Critical Systems for Satellite Industry

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., October 29, 2020 (Redwire PR) – Redwire, a new leader in mission critical space solutions and high reliability components for the next generation space economy, announced today that it has acquired Roccor, a disruptive military and commercial hardware supplier in the rapidly growing small satellite market and a premier manufacturer of deployable booms, structures, antennas, thermal products, and solar arrays for the space industry. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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ICEYE US Hires New CEO, Ramps Up American Manufacturing and Operations

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 29, 2020 (ICEYE PR) – ICEYE, the global leader in small satellite synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) technology, today announced that Jerry Welsh, who joined ICEYE in 2017 as COO/CFO, will take on the CEO role for ICEYE US.

Welsh, an operations and technology expert who specializes in scale-up strategy recently oversaw the completion of ICEYE’s $87 million Series C financing. He will lead a team focused on deploying capital to scale operations and serve the needs of US customers.

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Space BD Selected as Sole Official Service Provider for Nanosatellite Deployment on First HTV-X Mission

HTV-X cargo ship. (Credit; JAXA)

TOKYO (Space BD PR) — Space BD Inc., the leading space startup in Japan that provides access to space using the International Space Station (ISS) Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” and rideshares on Japan’s flagship launch vehicle “H3”, announced that they were selected by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) as an exclusive service provider for nanosatellite deployment from the first HTV-X, which is Japanese next-generation ISS resupply vehicle.

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Finalists for International Space Pitch Day Revealed

15 tech firms selected to pitch to military leaders for share of £800,000 to develop space innovation

LONDON (UK Ministry of Defence PR) — The finalists of the first International Space Pitch Day innovation competition were today announced.

Fifteen tech start-ups and innovative companies from across the world have won the opportunity to pitch their novel solutions to a panel of top military figures with the aim of winning a share of £800,000 ($1M).

They will now pitch their ideas to the panel and a global audience with International Space Pitch Day taking place during Day 1 of the virtual Defence Space Conference 2020 hosted from London on 17 November.

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NASA Scientists Discover ‘Weird’ Molecule in Titan’s Atmosphere

The moon Titan in infrared. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Stéphane Le Mouélic, University of Nantes, Virginia Pasek, University of Arizona)

by Lonnie Shekhtman
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Greenbelt, Md. — NASA scientists identified a molecule in Titan’s atmosphere that has never been detected in any other atmosphere. In fact, many chemists have probably barely heard of it or know how to pronounce it: cyclopropenylidene, or C3H2. Scientists say that this simple carbon-based molecule may be a precursor to more complex compounds that could form or feed possible life on Titan.

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NOAA, Google to Apply AI to Environmental Monitoring, Weather Prediction

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service (NESDIS) has signed an agreement with Google to explore the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) for enhancing NOAA’s use of satellite and environmental data.

Under this three-year Other Transaction Authority (OTA) agreement, NESDIS and Google will pilot specific AI- and ML-related projects to amplify NOAA’s environmental monitoring, weather forecasting, climate research, and technical innovation. 

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