UAE, 10 Other Arab Nations Form New Space Coordination Group

The UAE Space Agency today announced the creation of the Arab Space Coordination Group to facilitate cooperation among its 11 member nations.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the group’s formation and attended a signing ceremony during the Global Space Congress in Abu Dhabi.

In addition to UAE, charter members of the new group include Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

The coordination group’s first project will be the development of the UAE-funded spacecraft 813, an observation satellite that will monitor the Earth’s environment and climate. The satellite will be built over the next three years by engineers from member countries at United Arab Emirates University’s National Space Science and Technology Center in Al Ain.

The satellite’s name is a homage to the year in which the House of Wisdom was founded in Baghdad under the reign of Al-Ma’mun. The house embraced scientists from throughout the region, who translated notable texts and advanced science.

“The Satellite 813 is a message the UAE is sending to the Arab communities on the ambitions to regain Arabs glories as pioneers in the space domains,” said Dr. Ahmad bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi, Cabinet Member and Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency.

Lockheed Martin’s First Smart Satellites are Tiny with Big Missions

Lockheed Martin’s nanosatellite bus, the LM 50, will host the first SmartSat-enabled missions set for delivery this year. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

DENVER, March 20, 2019 (Lockheed Martin PR) — Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) announced a new generation of space technology launching this year that will allow satellites to change their missions in orbit. Satellites that launched one, ten or even fifteen years ago largely have the same capability they had when they lifted off. That’s changing with new architecture that will let users add capability and assign new missions with a software push, just like adding an app on a smartphone. This new tech, called SmartSat, is a software-defined satellite architecture that will boost capability for payloads on several pioneering nanosats ready for launch this year.

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Mynaric Raises EUR 11M in Post-IPO Financing at EUR 55 per share

MUNICH, March 18, 2019 – Mynaric (Frankfurt Stock Exchange: M0Y, Scale 50, ISIN: DE000A0JCY11) can today announce it will receive additional post-IPO funding of EUR 11M from the lead investor of a satellite constellation it is working with. The shares are subscribed to at EUR 55 per share.

In October 2018, Mynaric announced an MoU with the builder of a satellite constellation that is expected to require upwards of 1,000 of Mynaric’s laser communication terminals, after an initial demonstration mission, and today’s funding comes from the lead investor of that satellite constellation.
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Will Alcântara Finally Stop Being the Spaceport of the Future?

Cyclone 4 launch pad under construction. (Credit: Alcantara Space)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Brazil’s decades-long effort to launch satellites from its underused Alcântara Launch Center could finally be bearing fruit.

On Monday, Brazil and the United States signed a Technology Safeguards Agreement that will allow American companies to launch orbital rockets from Alcântara.
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Firefly, Airbus Sign MOU to Partner on Launch Solutions for Constellations

CEDAR PARK, Texas, March 19, 2019 (Firefly Aerospace PR) – Firefly Aerospace, Inc. (Firefly), a provider of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft and in-space services, announced today the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus) to develop new space launch solutions for Airbus customers.

“Firefly is pleased to enter into an MOU with Airbus to formulate an integrated market offering that will provide Airbus customers rapid deployment of Airbus manufactured satellites,” said Firefly CEO Dr. Tom Markusic. “We are very impressed by the versatility and low cost of the Airbus ARROW platform and Airbus’s investment in leading edge satellite mass production capabilities. We look forward to working closely with Airbus to bring economical launch solutions to their customers. This initial MOU covering several launches is the first step of a long-term relationship which will provide Airbus customers the highest level of flexibility for their small satellite launches.”

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NASA Television to Air Three Upcoming Spacewalks, Preview Briefing

Spacewalker Kate Rubins works outside the International Space Station with the SpaceX Dragon space freighter just below her. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Four astronauts are preparing for their first spacewalks outside the International Space Station, scheduled for March 22, March 29 and April 8. Experts will preview the work of the first two spacewalks during a news conference Tuesday, March 19, at 2 p.m. EDT, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Live coverage of the briefing and spacewalks will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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Starship Hopper Testing Set for Wednesday at Earliest

The Monitor reports on SpaceX’s plans to test its Starship Hopper this week at Boca Chica near Brownsville, Texas:

Cameron County has posted public notice that it will close Highway 4 to Boca Chica Beach for space flight activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday.

In the alternative, the public notice said Highway 4 to Boca Chica Beach will be closed for the same time duration on either Thursday or Friday.

OSIRIS-REx Discovers Particle Plumes Erupting from Bennu’s Surface

This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on January 19 was created by combining two images taken on board NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Other image processing techniques were also applied, such as cropping and adjusting the brightness and contrast of each image. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid’s surface. Bennu also revealed itself to be more rugged than expected, challenging the mission team to alter its flight and sample collection plans, due to the rough terrain.

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Video: Jim Bridenstine Talks With SpaceX Founder Elon Musk

Video Caption: On the latest Watch this Space, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine chats with SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk during a tour of Launch Complex 39A just before the Demo-1 launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The historic Demo-1 mission launched at 2:49 a.m. EDT on Saturday, March 2 and was the first launch of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft and space system designed for humans as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Learn more about the Commercial Crew program: https://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew/.

GAO: DOD Needs to Collect & Maintain Better Data on Space Acquisition Workforce

The Department of Defense (DOD) does not routinely monitor the size, mix, and allocation of the 8,000 personnel who are involved in space acquisition activities, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

[Full Report — PDF]

The audit found the DOD’s workforce data systems are not configured to identify personnel working on space acquisition activities across the department’s sprawling bureaucracy.

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Acucela Signs Agreement to Develop a Compact OCT for NASA’s Deep Space Missions

SEATTLE (Acucela PR) — Acucela Inc. (“Acucela”), a clinical-stage ophthalmology company and wholly-owned subsidiary of Kubota Pharmaceutical Holdings Co., Ltd. (Tokyo 4596), announced today that the company signed the agreement with the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) to develop a compact optical coherence tomography (OCT) device for NASA’s Deep Space missions.

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