PLD Space Completes 17 Million Euro Funding Round

ARION1 booster (Credit: PLD Space)

ELCHE, Spain (PLD Space PR) — PLD Space, the European Microlauncher company, has closed a new funding round of 9 million euros [$10.6 million] completing its Series A round of 17 million euros [$20 million]. Among the new investors are the Spanish aeronautical company Aciturri, founded by Ginés Clemente, and the Spanish investment fund JME Venture Capital, led by José Manuel Entrecanales, CEO of Acciona, one of the largest infrastructure and renewable energy companies in Spain.

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Masten Space Systems Selected for NASA SBIR Phase 1 Award

Masten Space Systems of Mojave will pursue a project designed to better use additive manufacturing (AM) in the production of rocket engines with the help of NASA funding.

The space agency selected the company’s PermiAM project for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 program. The contract is worth as much as $125,000 over 13 months.

“Part of the work performed in this SBIR will help in determine the potential savings for future engine development programs, currently projected at 10x for injector build cost savings which require face cooling,” the project summary stated.

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Surrey Satellite Awards Launch Services Agreement to Firefly Aerospace

CEDAR PARK, Texas, June 4, 2018 (Firefly Aerospace PR) — Firefly Aerospace, Inc. (Firefly), a developer of orbital launch vehicles for the small to medium satellite market, announced today the execution of a Launch Services Agreement (LSA) with Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) for use of the Firefly Alpha launch vehicle.

“Firefly is pleased to enter into an LSA with SSTL to provide up to six Alpha launches from 2020 through 2022,” said Firefly CEO Dr. Tom Markusic. “The Alpha launch vehicle allows for deployment of SSTL satellites as a primary payload to their preferred orbit, rather than flying as a secondary payload on a larger launch vehicle.”

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Tyvak Selected for NASA SBIR Phase 1 Award

Tyvak Nano-Satellite System plans to develop a low-cost, high-performing avionics system for use in small launch vehicles and maneuvering upper stage carriers with the help of NASA funding.

The space agency selected the Tyvak Extended Mission PlatfOrm (TEMPO) for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 program. The contract is worth up to $125,000  over 13 months.

“The system provides autonomous guidance and control and stage/deployment sequencing,” the proposal summary stated. “It also uses customizable subsystem packages to enable carrier vehicles to provide services currently unavailable to small satellites, such as delivery of multiple satellites to multiple orbital planes, long-duration carrier vehicle operations, delayed deployment of spare satellites until they are needed to replenish a constellation, hub-and-spoke rendezvous and proximity, and communication relay.”

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Construction of Canadian Launch Complex Delayed

Cyclone 4M booster

Construction of a spaceport in Nova Scotia where Ukrainian Cyclone 4M boosters would be launched has been delayed.

Stephen Matier, president of Maritime Launch Services, had hoped to break ground this month on the $200-million project on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore.

But Matier now says the rocket launch site in Canso likely won’t start being developed until later this year — although he was hesitant to impose any new timeline….​

Matier said his company will submit an environment assessment to the province within the next month. That assessment will also go to Nova Scotia’s Natural Resources Department as part of the land lease application….

Matier said the company is still aiming for the first round of satellite launches to begin in 2021.

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Low-cost Operations Help Drive Smallsat Launch Market Toward $62 Billion by 2030

Electron lifts off on maiden flight from Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Dedicated, flexible, on-demand launch vehicles crucial to meet huge demand, finds Frost & Sullivan

LONDON, May 14, 2018 (Frost & Sullivan PR) — The evolution of small satellites from technology demonstrators to providers of low-cost operational services across distributed industry segments is attracting launch demand from organisations all over the world. By 2030, there will be an estimated 11,631 launch demands for new constellation installations and replacement missions, which could take the market past the $62 billion mark. As the lifespan of these satellites is between two years and five years, there will be constant launch demand and participants will look to enhance their systems and infrastructure.

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Firefly Aerospace Receives USAF Statement of Support for Use of Vandenberg Launch Complex

Space Launch Complex 2 West with Delta II booster. (Credit: NASA)

CEDAR PARK, Texas, May 1, 2018 (Firefly Aerospace PR) — Firefly Aerospace, Inc. (Firefly), a developer of orbital launch vehicles for the small to medium satellite market, announced today that the United States Air Force (USAF) has issued a “Statement of Support for the Firefly Aerospace Program, Alpha and Beta Launch Vehicles” to utilize Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) Space Launch Complex 2 West (SLC-2W) for future launches of the Firefly Alpha and Beta launch vehicles.

“Firefly Aerospace is greatly appreciative that NASA and the USAF support the transition of SLC-2W to a commercial launch site dedicated to the launch of Firefly vehicles,” said Firefly CEO Dr. Tom Markusic. “SLC-2W has been an incredible asset for US space missions for over 50 years. We are humbled and honored that Firefly Alpha and Beta launch vehicles will be adding many successful missions to the already storied history of SLC-2W.”

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China Aims for Reusable Rocket Test in 2021

Falcon 9 first stage comes in for a landing after launching the Zuma payload. (Credit: SpaceX)

This whole reusable booster thing seems to be catching on.

China aims to recover the first stage of the Long March-8 carrier rocket, which is still under development and is expected to make its maiden flight around 2021, according to a Chinese rocket expert.

It was part of China’s endeavors to develop reusable space vehicles, Long Lehao, chief designer of carrier rockets at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, told a space conference in Harbin, capital of northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province.

The Long March-8 rocket will have two stages and two boosters: the first stage and boosters are expected to be retrieved through vertical landing, said Long, who is also an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

If successful, the new rocket would provide commercial launch services to customers around the globe, Long said.

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New DARPA Challenge Seeks Flexible and Responsive Launch Solutions

Credit: DARPA

More than $10 million in prize money for the first place team that successfully launches to low Earth orbit within days’ notice; completes a second launch from a different site days later

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (DARPA PR) — Today, DARPA announced the DARPA Launch Challenge, designed to promote rapid access to space within days, not years. Our nation’s space architecture is currently built around a limited number of exquisite systems with development times of up to 10 years. With the launch challenge, DARPA plans to accelerate capabilities and further incentivize industry to deliver launch solutions that are both flexible and responsive.

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Rocket Lab & York Space Systems Team to Develop Rapid Response Launch Capability

First Electron rocket on launch pad. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. and AUKLAND, NZ, April 18, 2018 (NanoRacks/York Space Systems PR) — US orbital launch provider Rocket Lab and spacecraft platform developer York Space Systems have entered into an MOU to develop a universal Interface Control Document (ICD) and supporting Concepts of Operations (CONOPS) that will streamline the manifesting process for small satellite launch customers.

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First Quarter Commercial Space Investment Reached Nearly $1 Billion

SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off with a Dragon resupply ship on April 2, 2018. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX received $500 million of the nearly $1 billion in investment raised by commercial space companies during the first quarter of 2018, according to the Space Investment Quarterly report from Space Angels.

“SpaceX shows no signs of slowing down—after the inaugural flight of the Falcon Heavy, the company secured $500 million from Fidelity Investments to drive development of their satellite communications network, Starlink,” the report added.

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EXOS Aerospace Plans Launch From Spaceport America for May

SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM and CADDO Mills, Texas (EXOS Aerospace/NMSA PR) — Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport and EXOS Aerospace Systems & Technologies, Inc., a leading developer of reusable space launch vehicles based in Caddo Mills, Texas, announce significant progress towards launch of their newest vehicle SARGE. The date and time target was selected in honor of Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr’s Suborbital Mercury Redstone 3 launch on May 5, 1961 @ 09:34AM.

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Vector Names New VP of Manufacturing

Vector rocket (Credit: Vector)

TUCSON, Ariz., April 12, 2018 (Vector PR) — Vector, a microsatellite launch company comprised of new-space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced plans to reshape the aerospace industry by incorporating best practices from the automotive industry to mass manufacture its Vector-R and Vector-H launch vehicles.

Spearheading the revolutionary endeavor will be Brian Barron, Vector’s new vice president of manufacturing. Barron brings to Vector more than two decades of global automobile manufacturing experience, most recently at BMW Manufacturing and Lucid Motors, an automotive electric vehicle startup.

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A Closer Look at Astra Space

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

At some point in the next few weeks, the Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska will host its first commercial rocket launch. Officials at the Alaska Aerospace Corporation, which runs the spaceport, are hoping the suborbital test flight is the first of many commercial flights from the underused facility.

While officials have not identified the California company conducting the launch, a perusal of the corporation’s board minutes indicate it is almost certainly a small Bay Area startup named Astra Space.

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