ESA Signs First Ariane 6 Contract for Galileo Launches

Ariane 6 variants (Credit: ESA–David Ducros,)

PARIS, 15 September 2017 (ESA PR) — Four of the latest set of Galileo navigation satellites will be launched on Ariane 6 rockets – ESA’s first contract to use Europe’s new vehicle.

The launches are scheduled between the end of 2020 and mid-2021, using two Ariane 62 rockets – the configuration of Europe’s next-generation launch vehicle that is best suited to haul the two 750 kg navigation satellites into their orbits at 23 222 km altitude.

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Spaceflight Industries Forges Strategic Partnership to Fully Fund BlackSky Constellation

Paris, September 15, 2017 – The Space Alliance, formed by Thales Alenia Space (Thales 67%, Leonardo 33%) and Telespazio (Leonardo 67%, Thales 33%), today signed a partnership with the U.S.-based company Spaceflight Industries which includes the following elements:

  • A minority investment in Spaceflight Industries, which through its BlackSky business, has developed a geospatial platform and plans to build and operate a constellation of 60 small high-resolution observation satellites featuring very short revisit times;
  • The creation of an industrial Joint Venture in the United States between Thales Alenia Space and Spaceflight Industries specialized in the production of small satellites;
  • The implementation of a Joint Cooperation and Marketing Agreement between Telespazio and BlackSky enhancing their respective product and analytics portfolios on the market.

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft Ends Its Historic Exploration of Saturn

Saturn’s active, ocean-bearing moon Enceladus sinks behind the giant planet in a farewell portrait from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A thrilling epoch in the exploration of our solar system came to a close today, as NASA’s Cassini spacecraft made a fateful plunge into the atmosphere of Saturn, ending its 13-year tour of the ringed planet.

“This is the final chapter of an amazing mission, but it’s also a new beginning,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Cassini’s discovery of ocean worlds at Titan and Enceladus changed everything, shaking our views to the core about surprising places to search for potential life beyond Earth.”

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NASA’s Robotic ‘Sniffer’ Confirms Space Station Leak, Repair

The Robotic External Leak Locator on the end of the Dextre robot in February 2017. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — In recent operations on the International Space Station, robotic operators were twice able to test and confirm the ability of the Robotic External Leak Locator (RELL) to “smell” in space.

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NASA Awards Research, Engineering, Mission Integration Services Contract

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 16 companies to provide a diverse range of competitive task-order contracts for serving the research and engineering products and services needs of the International Space Station.

Research, Engineering, and Mission Integration Services (REMIS) is a multi-award contract with indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed price and cost-plus-fixed-fee line item numbers. The contract begins Sept. 6 with a five-year base period, followed by a two-year option that may be exercised at NASA’s discretion. The maximum potential value of the contract, including the option, is $500 million.

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How to Watch Cassini’s Plunge into Saturn

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is on final approach to Saturn, following confirmation by mission navigators that it is on course to dive into the planet’s atmosphere on Friday, Sept. 15.

Live mission commentary and video from JPL Mission Control will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website from 7 to 8:30 a.m. EDT (4 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. PDT) on Sept. 15. A post-mission news briefing from JPL is currently scheduled for 9:30 a.m. EDT (6:30 a.m. PDT), also on NASA TV.

A new NASA e-book, The Saturn System Through the Eyes of Cassini, showcasing compelling images and key science discoveries from the mission, is available for free download in multiple formats at:

https://www.nasa.gov/ebooks

An online toolkit of information and resources about Cassini’s Grand Finale and final plunge into Saturn is available at:

https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/grandfinale

Follow the Cassini spacecraft’s plunge on social media using #GrandFinale, or visit:

https://twitter.com/CassiniSaturn

https://www.facebook.com/NASACassini

Cassini Ends 13-Year Mission at Saturn on Friday Morning

Milestones in Cassini’s final dive toward Saturn. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is on final approach to Saturn, following confirmation by mission navigators that it is on course to dive into the planet’s atmosphere on Friday, Sept. 15.

Cassini is ending its 13-year tour of the Saturn system with an intentional plunge into the planet to ensure Saturn’s moons – in particular Enceladus, with its subsurface ocean and signs of hydrothermal activity – remain pristine for future exploration. The spacecraft’s fateful dive is the final beat in the mission’s Grand Finale, 22 weekly dives, which began in late April, through the gap between Saturn and its rings. No spacecraft has ever ventured so close to the planet before.

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USC Research Provides Evidence of Ground Ice on Asteroids

Large, smooth areas on exoplanet Vesta correlated with higher concentrations of hydrogen. (Credit: Elizabeth Palmer, Essam Heggy)

LOS ANGELES (USC PR) — Research at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering has revealed new evidence for the occurrence of ground ice on the protoplanet Vesta.

The work, under the sponsorship of NASA’s Planetary Geology and Geophysics program, is part of ongoing efforts at USC Viterbi to improve water detectability techniques in terrestrial and planetary subsurfaces using radar and microwave imaging techniques.

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What Might Happen to NASA’s Earth Science Programs Under Bridenstine?

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Imagine the following scenario: NASA’s Earth Science division gets its budget cut with key missions focused on climate change canceled.

The new NASA administrator then announces the division will be dismantled, with various programs divided among other federal departments, in order to better focus the space agency on exploration. The bulk of the programs end up at NOAA, which the NASA administrator says is a much more appropriate home for them.

NOAA, however, is already reeling from spending cuts. Struggling to perform its own forecasting duties on a reduced budget, the agency has little bandwidth to take on any additional responsibilities. And the funding allocated for the NASA programs that were just transferred over is woefully inadequate for the tasks at hand.

The result is a bureaucratic train wreck in which America’s Earth science and climate research programs gradually wither away due to mismanagement, neglect and lack of funding. The ability of the nation — and the world — to understand and address the changes the planet experiencing is greatly reduced. At some future date, another administration will have to rebuild a program in shambles that was once the envy of the world.

Sound far fetched? Think again. It could very well happen if the Trump Administration and the man it has nominated to lead NASA get what they want out of Congress.

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Infostellar Closes $7.3 Million Series A Round for Satellite Antenna Sharing Platform

Infostellar Management Team with Investor Representatives from 500 Startups Japan, Airbus Ventures, D4V, WERU Investment, FreakOut Holdings. Not pictured: Sony Innovation Fund. (Credit: Infostellar)

TOKYO, Sept. 13, 2017 (Infostellar PR) — Infostellar, developer of a cloud-based satellite antenna sharing platform, announced today a $7.3 million Series A investment, led by Airbus Ventures, with additional funds from WERU Investment, D4V, Sony Innovation Fund, and existing investors, FreakOut Holdings, and 500 Startups Japan. This financing will be used to fund the launch of Infostellar’s flagship platform, StellarStation, expand its network of partner antennas, and hire additional talented team members.

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SES Selects Arianespace for Launch of SES-17

An Ariane 5 rocket soars into orbit on Dec. 29, 2010. Credits: ESA / CNES / Arianespace / Photo Optique vidéo du CSG

PARIS (Arianespace PR) — SES has selected Arianespace to launch its high-power, high-throughput satellite SES-17 on an Ariane 5 in 2021 from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. This was announced by SES and Arianespace in Paris today.

SES-17 is a powerful satellite delivering high-speed inflight connectivity and high-powered data services over the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean. SES-17 is the 53rd satellite entrusted to Arianespace for launch by SES (Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Stock Exchange: SESG).

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SES Selects Arianespace to Launch O3b Satellites

Arianespace’s Soyuz lifts off from the Spaceport’s ELS launch facility during the daytime launch with four more connectivity satellites for O3b Networks. (Credit: Arianespace)

PARIS (Arianespac PR) — SES has selected Arianespace for its fifth launch of four O3b satellites joining the O3b Medium Earth Orbit fleet. The mission on a Soyuz rocket will be conducted from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, in 2019.

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Virgin Orbit Signs Launch Contract with SpaceBelt

PARIS (Virgin Orbit PR) — Virgin Orbit announced today that commercial satellite developer Cloud Constellation Corporation has selected the LauncherOne service for deployment of the SpaceBelt™ constellation of space-based cloud storage data centers.

In an agreement signed by executives from the two firms at the World Satellite Business Week event in Paris, Cloud Constellation selected Virgin Orbit as its launch partner for a dozen satellites that will become the communications backbone of the SpaceBelt system.

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