ispace to Announce Major Series A Investment Round

TOKYO — ispace, a Japanese start-up responsible for Team HAKUTO’s entry in the Google Lunar X Prize, is planning to announce “the largest fund raised in Series A in the global space industry” next week to support its efforts to mine the moon.

“It involves a round of significant financing and details around the next missions of ispace, planned after the currently run HAKUTO project,” according to an invitation sent to journalists.

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Satellites Lost in the Soyuz Launch Failure

Soyuz rocket blasts off from Vostochny on Nov. 28, 2017. (Credit: Roscosmos)

The failed launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket on Tuesday resulted in the loss of a Russian weather satellite and 18 CubeSats that were aboard as secondary payloads. The table below provides details about the lost spacecraft.

SATELLITES LOST IN SOYUZ LAUNCH FAILURE
SATELLITE NO.
OWNER
FUNCTIONS
 Meteor M2-1 1Russian GovernmentFourth generation weather satellite; insured for insured for 2.5 billion rubles ($42.6 million)
Lemur-2 10Spire GlobalCommercial weather monitoring and ship tracking
Vantage 2 1 Telesat (Canada)Ka band prototype for 117 satellite constellation that will provide low-latency broadband links for planes, ships and remote locations. Twin Vantage 1 prototype scheduled for launch aboard an Indian PSLV in late December or early January.
Landmapper-BC 2Astro DigitalEarth imaging
 SEAM 1KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden)Ionospheric measurements magnetic and electric fields
 D-Star One 1German Orbital Systems & iSky Technology (Czech Republic)Amateur radio
Baumanets 2 1 Bauman Moscow State Technical UniversityEducational satellite with optical camera and communications experiment
AISSat 31
 Norwegian Space CenterShip tracking
IDEA OSG 1 1ASTROSCALESpace debris using sensors developed by JAXA. Mission sponsored by OSG Corporation, a Japanese tool maker.

And Soyuz Makes Six….

PSLV C38 mission launches (Credit: ISRO)

The failure of a Russian Soyuz booster to orbit a weather satellite and 18 CubeSats on Tuesday was the sixth launch mishap of the year. That total includes five total failures and one partial failure out of 79 orbital launches.

On Jan. 14, the maiden launch of Japan’s SS-520 microsat booster failed after takeoff from the Uchinoura Space Centre. JAXA said controllers aborted second-stage ignition after losing telemetry from the rocket. The booster was carrying the TRICOM-1 nanosat.

A second launch has been scheduled for Dec. 25. The SS-520 is an upgraded version of a Japanese sounding rocket.

The maiden flight of Rocket Lab’s Electron booster failed after launch from New Zealand on May 25. Company officials said controllers terminated the flight after faulty ground equipment lost telemetry from the booster, which was functionally nominally. Rocket Lab is gearing up for a second launch attempt that could occur in December.

China’s Long March 3B suffered a partial failure on June 19 after launch from Xichang. An under performing third stage left the ChinaSat 9A communications satellite in a lower-than-planned orbit. The spacecraft reached its proper orbit using on board propulsion, with a reduction of its orbital lifetime.

On July 2, a Chinese Long March 5 booster failed after liftoff from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center.  The rocket was carrying an experimental geostationary satellite named Shijian 18. It was the second launch and first failure for China’s largest booster. Officials have no announced the cause of the failure.

India’s PSLV rocket suffered a rare failure when the payload shroud failed to separate during a launch on Aug. 31. The IRNSS-1H regional navigation satellite was lost. The booster is set to return to service on Dec. 30.

Support for Deep Space Gateway Grows in Japan

Boeing’s proposed Deep Space Gateway (Credit: Boeing)

Although the U.S. Congress has not given approval for NASA’s proposed Deep Space Gateway, support for the project appears to be building in Japan as a follow-on to the nation’s partnership in the  International Space Station.

Japan hopes to join the U.S. project to construct a spaceport in lunar orbit in the latter half of the 2020s, in an effort to realize a lunar surface exploration mission by a Japanese astronaut. The government plans to submit a draft report on the project to a meeting of a governmental panel of space policy experts.

By joining an international space probe, the nation is expected to obtain scientific results, and also boost its competitiveness in the space industry and assert Japan’s leadership in the field of space utilization, the sources said….

Tokyo has decided it is a realistic goal to send astronauts for the first time to the lunar surface for exploration activities, by joining the U.S. project and contributing its expertise in such areas as the docking of the space station and supply ship. Japan will draw on its experience of close cooperation with the United States regarding ISS operations.

Any serious movement toward the Deep Space Gateway in the United States will probably have to wait until after the Senate approves an administrator to lead NASA. The Trump’s Administration’s choice, Rep. Jim Bridenstine, had a contentious confirmation hearing earlier this month before the Senate Commerce Committee.

The fate of Bridenstine’s nomination is uncertain in the full Senate with many Democrats and at least one Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), opposing his confirmation. Republicans hold a narrow 52-48 advantage in the upper chamber.

Any funding proposal for the Deep Space Gateway would be included in the fiscal year 2019 budget, which the administration would likely release in February.

Japan Sets Date for Second SS-520 Microsatellite Launcher

JAXA SS520 sounding rocket. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will conduct a demonstration experiment of a microsatellite launch by SS-520 No. 5 as follows.

Experiment Period: December 25 (Mon.), 2017 thru January 31 (Wed.), 2018
Experiment Site: Uchinoura Space Center (Kimotsuki-cho, Kimotsuki-gun, Kagoshima Pref. Japan)
Scheduled Launch Date and Time: Between 10:00 to 14:15 on December 25 (Mon.) , 2017 (Japan Standard Time)
Description of Experiment: In response to the failure of SS-520 No. 4 experiment in January this year, a retry demonstration will be held for the development of rockets and satellites using civil engineering technology. The experiment has been approved by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, as part of its SERVIS project (Space Environment Reliability Verification Integrated System).

The SS-520 No. 5 is a three-stage rocket that is a modification of the SS-520 two-stage sounding rocket.

TRICOM-1R satellite (Credit: JAXA)

TRICOM-1R is a new generation satellite, that is produced based on the nanosatellites Hodoyoshi No. 3 and 4., which are approved by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry as part of its SERVIS project (Space Environment Reliability Verification Integrated System). The Experiment Team is planning to operate the TRICOM-1R for the following missions.

  • Store and Forward mission, where TRICOM-1R stores data transmitted from the ground and forwards data to the ground as the satellite positions above the ground control.
  • Take photographs of the Earth with its onboard camera.
  • Immediate observation mission which autonomously carries out observations of the Earth immediately after the launch and the insertation into the orbit, and sends the observation data to the ground upon the first communication with the ground station.

JAXA Spacecraft Data Indicate Massive Lava Tube on Moon

The SELENE (Kagiya) orbiter studied the moon using radar. (Credit: JAXA/SELENE/ Crescent/Akihiro Ikeshita)

Some very cool news out of Japan today where researchers say they have found an enormous lava tube stretching about 50 km (31 miles) under the lunar surface

The cavern, found in the Marius Hills area on the near side of the moon, is about 100 meters wide and extends for about 50 km, according to data taken by JAXA’s Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE), also called the Kaguya moon probe.

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Launch Crews 3-for-3 Today

Falcon 9 launch

Launch crews in the United States, China and Japan are celebrating successful flights to start a busy launch week.

China got things started by launching the Venezuelan Remote Sensing Satellite aboard a Long March 2D rocket from Jiuquan.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 followed up with an early morning launch of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The flight included the 17th successful landing of a Falcon 9 first stage.

The Japanese successfully launched the Michibiki 4 navigation satellite from the Tanegashima Space Center.

Below is the launch schedule for the rest of the month. It is possible that an Atlas V that had been scheduled to launch a national reconnaissance satellite last week will be added to the schedule for later this month. The launch was delayed twice due to weather and the third time because of a faulty telemetry transmitter. ULA has not set a new launch date.

October 11

Falcon 9
Payload: SES 11/EchoStar 105 communications satellite
Launch window: 6:53-8:53 p.m. EDT (2253-0053 GMT)
Launch site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

October 12

Soyuz
Payload: Progress 68P resupply ship
Launch time: 5:32 a.m. EDT (0932 GMT)
Launch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

October 13

Rockot
Payload: Sentinel 5p Earth observation satellite
Launch time: 5:27 a.m. EDT (0927 GMT)
Launch site: Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia

October 17

Minotaur-C
Payload: 6 SkySat Earth observation satellites
Launch time: 5:37 p.m. EDT; 2:37 p.m. PDT (2137 GMT)
Launch site: SLC-576E, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

October 30

Falcon 9
Payload: Koreasat 5A communications satellite
Launch window: 3:34-5:58 p.m. EDT (1934-2158 GMT)
Launch site: Cape Canaveral, Florida

SpaceX to Launch Comsats From Vandenberg on Busy Monday

Falcon 9 lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: SpaceX)

Early risers in Southern California will be able to see a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch 10 Iridium Next communication satellites on Monday morning. The flight from Vandenberg is set to take off at 5:37 a.m. PDT (8:37 a.m. EDT/1237 GMT).

The SpaceX mission will be the second of three launches planned for Monday and Tuesday. China is scheduled to launch a remote sensing satellite for Venezuela and Japan is planning to orbit a navigation satellite.

SpaceX is also scheduled to launch two communications satellites from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday evening.

October 9

Long March 2D
Payload: Venezuelan Remote Sensing Satellite
Launch time: Approximately 12:10 a.m. EDT (0410 GMT)
Launch site: Jiuquan, China

Falcon 9
Payload: Iridium Next 21-30 communication satellites
Launch time: 8:37 a.m. EDT; 5:37 a.m. PDT (1237 GMT )
Launch site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

H-2A
Payload: Michibiki 4 navigation satellite
Launch time: Approx. 6:01 p.m. EDT (2201 GMT)
Launch site: Tanegashima Space Center, Japan

October 11

Falcon 9
Payload: SES 11/EchoStar 105 communications satellite
Launch window: 6:53-8:53 p.m. EDT (2253-0053 GMT)
Launch site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

UNOOSA, JAXA Open Third Round of KiboCUBE

VIENNA/TOKYO, 26 September (UN Information Service) – The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have announced the opening of the third round of the KiboCUBE initiative.

KiboCUBE was launched in September 2015 as a capacity-building initiative between UNOOSA and JAXA to offer developing and emerging countries the opportunity to deploy cube satellites (CubeSats) from the Japanese Kibo module of the International Space Station (ISS).

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Astroscale, JAXA Sign Research Agreement on Orbital Debris

TOKYO (Jaxa PR) — ASTROSCALE Japan Inc. (hereinafter referred to as “ASTROSCALE”) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency signed a joint research agreement (“the agreement”) regarding the removal of space debris.

Under the terms of the agreement, ASTROSCALE will have access to JAXA’s technologies that examine the methods to approach and capture space debris. The technologies will facilitate ASTROSCALE’s development of ELSA-d, a technology demonstration satellite scheduled to be launched in the first half of 2019. ASTROSCALE and JAXA will also work together to validate the imagery of simulated debris obtained through the ELSA-d on-orbit mission. JAXA will not take direct part in the development, launch, or operation of ELSA-d, but will be involved in the research and development of relevant component technologies.

It is estimated that more than 750,000 pieces of space debris over a centimeter in size are currently in orbit, some of which are the result of breakups and collisions of spacecraft. As the continuously rising debris population poses an immediate threat to the orbital environment, taking countermeasures is urgently needed.

JAXA, in cooperation with universities and the private sector, will further establish the technology to eliminate space debris. Through this endeavor, JAXA hopes to protect the space environment and realize sustainable utilization of space.

Video: The Continuing Adventures of Japan’s Adorkable Space Station Drone

Video Caption: JAXA has disclosed “Int-Ball Letter” Vol. 5 in which the latest video of the Kibo’s internal drone on the International Space Station (ISS) is presented.

This time, we will introduce how Int-Ball has grown as a buddy of ISS crew members. After its launch in June 2017, Int-Ball underwent the initial checkout on the ISS by NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson and Astronaut Jack Fischer.

They returned to Earth on September 3, 2017 (JST). Let’s get a glimpse of the 3-month challenge and interaction that Int-Ball and they had on the ISS.

See here for further information on Int-Ball and the first disclosures of images: http://iss.jaxa.jp/en/kiboexp/news/17…

See here for further information on the Miniaturized Attitude Control Sensors and Actuators in an All-in-one Module installed in the Int-Ball:

https://youtu.be/58AjaW00_TI

http://www.kenkai.jaxa.jp/eng/researc…

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What a Ride to Space Costs These Days

A Minotaur V rocket carrying NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) lifts off from at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. (Credit: NASA/Chris Perry)

Just in time for your late summer beach reading needs, the Government Accountability Office has released a new report, “Surplus Missile Motors: Sale Price Drives Potential Effects on DOD and Commercial Launch Providers.”

The report looks at the costs associated with using surplus rocket motors in Orbital ATK’s Minotaur launchers, which cannot be used for commercial missions.

Yes, it’s about as exciting as it sounds.

Anyway, the report does contain a couple of interesting tables showing what a ride into space costs these days.

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Adorkable Japanese Drone Charms ISS Crew

JEM Internal Ball Camera taking a video. (Credit:JAXA/NASA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has for the first time disclosed images and movies taken by the JEM Internal Ball Camera called “Int-Ball”-its first camera drone that can record video while moving in space under remote control from the ground.

Int-Ball was delivered to Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” on the International Space Station by the US Dragon spacecraft launched on June 4, 2017, and is currently undergoing initial verification.
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Test Firings Begin on Japanese LE-5B-3 Engine

Test firing of LE-5B-3 engine. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — JAXA tested LE-5B-3, the liquid rocket engine designed to propel the second stage of H3 Launch Vehicle now under development. LE-5B-3 enhances the LE-5B-2 engine that likewise boosts the second stage of H-IIA and H-IIB. LE-5B-2 has earned the time-tested record of reliability after scores of successful H-II launches. Improvements are being made to lower the cost of LE-5B-3, without compensating the dynamics to blast off H3, a larger rocket and to sustain its flight.

Following the design improvements for affordability and performance which reached the desired level in August 2016, JAXA successfully conducted the test of the liquid hydrogen turbopump in December 2016 through January 2017. The liquid hydrogen turbopump — equivalent of the heart of a human body — draws in the propellants into the engine thrust chamber.

Since March 2017, the first engine with the hydrogen turbopump, assembled for certification was completed, kicking off its preliminary firing testing. The test is proceeding on schedule. By September 2017, test results will expectedly prove the soundness of the basic design improvements.

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Video Highlights JAXA-PeptiDream Research on ISS

The video highlights the protein crystallization experiment conducted by JAXA astronaut Takuya Onishi in the Kibo module on his last long-term International Space Station expedition.

JAXA’s strategic partnership with Japanese biopharma, PeptiDream Inc., has been crystallized into this innovative experiment under near zero gravity.