NASA Awards Contract to Astra Space for 3 Launches

Astra’s Rocket 3.2 on the launch pad. (Credit: John Kraus)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Astra Space Inc. to provide a launch service for the agency’s Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a Constellation of SmallSats (TROPICS) mission. The TROPICS mission consists of a constellation of six CubeSats and will increase the scientific community’s understanding of storm processes.

The launch service contract for the TROPICS mission is a firm fixed-price contract valued at $7.95 million. NASA’s Launch Services Program at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will manage the launch service.

The CubeSats, each the size of a shoebox, will provide rapid-refresh microwave measurements that can be used to determine temperature, pressure, and humidity inside hurricanes as they form and evolve. The TROPICS mission’s high-revisit imaging and sounding observations are enabled by microwave technology developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory. These observations will profoundly improve scientists’ understanding of processes driving high-impact storms.

Astra Space will launch the CubeSats on the company’s Rocket 3 from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands with three separate launches over a 120-day period. The TROPICS mission is targeted for launch between Jan. 8 and July 31, 2022, under a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launch license.

For more information about NASA and other agency programs, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov

Nanoracks Launches Two CubeSats on NG-15 Cygnus

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va., February 22, 2021 (Nanoracks PR) – Earlier today, the NG-15 Cygnus spacecraft berthed with the International Space Station (ISS), carrying two CubeSats in the Nanoracks External Cygnus Deployer (E-NRCSD). The Cygnus arrived at the ISS after launching from Wallops Flight Facility Pad 0A on February 22, 2021 at 17:36 UTC. In celebration of Black History Month, the NG-15 Cygnus has been named in honor of Katherine Johnson, a NASA mathematician who had a vital role in early human space flight missions.

This launch is Nanoracks’ ninth mission providing opportunities for CubeSat deployment from the Cygnus. The CubeSats onboard today’s launch, IT-SPINS and MySat-2 (DhabiSat), were built by students and researchers at Montana State University and Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi.

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OQ Technology Signs 2 Million Euro Contract with ESA Under Luxembourg National Space Programme for Satellite IoT Mission

WASSERBILLIG, Luxembourg (OQ Technology PR) –OQ Technology, a front-runner in the satellite 5G Internet-of-Things (IoT) connectivity business, has signed a 2 million Euro contract with the European Space Agency as part of the Luxembourg National Space program (“LuxIMPULSE”) for the in-orbit pathfinder mission (MACSAT). The contract aims to foster Luxembourg and European space partnerships and involves the development of a 6U Nanosatellite, an advanced flight payload and user terminals, and their software stack.

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Space BD to Provide the Smallsat Deployment From ISS for ArkEdgeSpace

TOKYO (Space BD PR) — Space BD Inc., the leading Japanese space startup providing access to space, announced that it would provide satellite deployment service from the International Space Station to ArkEdge Space for their satellite “NSPO-01.” NSPO-01 is an earth observation satellite developed by ArkEdge Space, the National Space Organization (NSPO) of Taiwan, and the University of Tokyo. It is the first mission for Space BD to work with NSPO.

ArkEdge Space (former company name: Space Edge Lab) is founded in 2018 as a spinout of Nakasuka-Funase Laboratory at the University of Tokyo, the Department of Aerospace Engineering. This time, ArkEdge Space awarded the contract by NSPO as co-researcher with Nakasuka laboratory to develop, launch, insert in orbit, and lead the initial operations of a 6U smallsatellite (100.0×226.3×366.0mm).

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Northrop Grumman Set to Launch 15th Cargo Delivery Mission to ISS on Saturday

The NG-15 mission’s Cygnus spacecraft will launch aboard the company’s Antares rocket with nearly 8,000 pounds of scientific research, supplies and hardware for the crew aboard the station. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

“S.S. Katherine Johnson” ready for liftoff aboard Antares rocket carrying vital supplies and equipment for the crew aboard the station

WALLOPS, Va., February 19, 2021 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) is set to launch the company’s 15th resupply mission (NG-15) to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Service-2 contract. The NG-15 mission’s Cygnus spacecraft will launch aboard the company’s Antares rocket with nearly 8,000 pounds of scientific research, supplies and hardware for the crew aboard the station.

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An Overview of NASA’s Technology Educational Satellites

NASA’s Technology Educational Satellite 8, or TechEdSat-8, deploying from the International Space Station Jan. 31, 2019. (Credits: NASA)

NASA’s TechEdSat series of technology demonstrations aims to bring small payloads back to Earth or to the surface of Mars – while pushing the state of the art in a variety of CubeSat technologies and experiments.

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — TechEdSat is a series of collaborative projects and missions that pairs college and university students with NASA researchers to evaluate new technologies for use in small satellites, or CubeSats. Students do the hands-on work – designing, building, and testing CubeSat spacecraft systems and analyzing the results – for each flight mission, under mentorship of engineers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

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ISILAUNCH34 Successfully Launched on Board Falcon 9

ISILAUNCH34 hardware (Credit: ISISPACE)

DELFT, Netherlands (ISISPACE PR) — Setting a new world record, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully deployed dozens of small satellites into a Sun-Synchronous Orbit for commercial and government customers, from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Being part of “Transporter-1”, a SpaceX SmallSat Rideshare Program mission, we are proud that an impressive number of 53 satellites were accommodated in ISISPACE deployers by our ISILAUNCH team as part of the ISILAUNCH34 launch campaign.

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Pioneering Start: PIXL-1 Small Satellite with the World’s Smallest Laser Terminal in Orbit

CubeSat with laser terminal. (Credit: DLR CC-BY 3.0)
  • The PIXL-1 small satellite was successfully launched on January 24, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. CEST, with the OSIRIS4CubeSat / CubeLCT laser terminal on board
  • The aim of the mission is to test optical communication systems for small satellites, to develop them further until they are ready for the market and to provide a reference system for a new communication standard
  • Technology transfer: The development was carried out on behalf of the German industrial partner Tesat-Spacecom (TESAT), who will produce the laser terminal in series

OBERPFAFFENHOFEN, Germany (DLR PR) — The PIXL-1 small satellite was successfully launched into orbit on January 24, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. CEST from the US spaceport Cape Canaveral with a Falcon-9 launcher from the US company SpaceX. The smallest laser transmission terminal in the world is on board the satellite: “OSIRIS4CubeSat” enables data transmission up to a hundred times faster than conventional radio links and was developed by scientists from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in close cooperation with the German telecommunications company TESAT based in Backnang near Stuttgart. It provides an important platform for investigating scientific questions. The laser terminal is designed for series production and is sold by TESAT under the name “CubeLCT.” In this way, new value chains are being created in Germany as a business location.

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Spaceflight Inc. Successfully Deploys 16 Payloads on SpaceX Transporter-1 Mission

SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off on Transporter-1 mission. (Credit: Spaceflight Inc.)

Launch marks debut flight of its next generation OTV, Sherpa-FX

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla., January 25, 2021 (Spaceflight Inc. PR) — Spaceflight Inc., the global launch services provider, successfully launched and deployed 16 payloads, including 15 from its next-generation orbital transfer vehicle (OTV), Sherpa-FX1, aboard the SpaceX Transporter-1 mission. Dubbed SXRS-3 by Spaceflight, the mission launched January 24 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. It delivered Spaceflight’s Sherpa-FX1 to Sun Synchronous Low Earth Orbit (525 km alt), where it deployed payloads for more than 10 organizations.

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Hiber Four Satellite in Space With Green CubeSat Propulsion Launched on SpaceX Rocket

Evaluation of a test Hiber nanosatellite took place in ESA’s metal-walled Hybrid European Radio Frequency and Antenna Test Zone (Hertz) at the Agency’s technical centre in the Netherlands, shut off from all external influences for radio testing.  (Credit: ESA–G. Porter)

DELFT, The Netherlands, 25 January 2021 (Dawn Aerospace PR) — IoT solutions provider Hiber has successfully launched their 3U CubeSat, Hiber Four, onboard SpaceX’s dedicated rideshare mission: Transporter-1. The satellite was equipped with a new-to-market green propulsion system from Dawn Aerospace and Hyperion Technologies.

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Kepler Communications Announces Successful Launch of 8 New GEN1 Satellites

GEN1 satellite (Credit: Kepler Communications)

TORONTO, January 24th, 2021 (Kepler Communications PR) – Kepler Communications welcomed eight new satellites into their constellation today, further expanding the active constellation to 13 satellites in total. These eight satellites, KEPLER-8 through KEPLER-15, were successfully launched via SpaceX’s first dedicated SmallSat Rideshare Program mission at approximately 10:00 AM EDT this morning. Once fully operational within the constellation these will significantly increase the capacity of Kepler’s Global Data Services offering.

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SpaceX Launches Record 143 Satellites

Falcon 9 launches Transporter-1 rideshare mission. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX set a new world record on Sunday by launching 143 satellites into Earth orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.

The Sunday morning polar orbit launch included 133 commercial and government spacecraft along with 10 satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband communications constellation. The launch was conducted from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

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V-R3x CubeSats to Develop Communications, Navigation

Three small satellites, or CubeSats, used in the V-R3x technology demonstration. (Credit: NASA/Ames Research Center/Dominic Hart)

Swarming small satellites to develop the next generation of communication and navigation tech

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Learning how to communicate and navigate multiple spacecraft autonomously in space is a technology challenge that will become even more important to solve as NASA continues to operate in low-Earth orbit and beyond.

The V-R3x mission uses a swarm of three small satellites to demonstrate new technologies and techniques for radio networking and navigation. By developing and demonstrating these technologies on a small scale, they can be implemented for future multi-spacecraft missions, enabling NASA to pursue its future science, technology, and exploration goals.

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SpaceX Postpones Transporter-1 Launch With Record 143 Satellite On Board

Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX postponed the Transporter-1 SmallSat Rideshare Program launch with a world record 143 satellite planned for Saturday morning due to inclement weather in Florida.

SpaceX has a 22-minute launch window available on Sunday, Jan. 24, beginning at 10 a.m. EST (1500 UTC). SpaceX will begin a webcast 15 minutes prior to the scheduled launch from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at www.spacex.com.

On board this launch are 133 commercial and government spacecraft (including CubeSats, microsats, and orbital transfer vehicles) and 10 Starlink satellites – the most spacecraft ever deployed on a single mission. The Starlink satellites aboard this mission will be the first in the constellation to deploy to a polar orbit.

Falcon 9’s first stage booster previously supported launch of Crew Dragon’s second demonstration mission, the ANASIS-II mission, a Starlink mission, and launch of Dragon’s 21st cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

Iodine Thruster Could Slow Space Junk Accumulation

Iodine thruster (Credit: ThrustMe)

PARIS (ESA PR) — For the first time ever, a telecommunications satellite has used an iodine propellant to change its orbit around Earth.

The small but potentially disruptive innovation could help to clear the skies of space junk, by enabling tiny satellites to self-destruct cheaply and easily at the end of their missions, by steering themselves into the atmosphere where they would burn up.

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