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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Bridenstine’s ASRA Bill Proposed Radical Changes in NASA’s Goals, Structure

NASA LOGORepublished from April 25, 2016

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA would be given a mandate to pioneer the development and settlement of space and a commission dominated by Congressional appointees to oversee those efforts under a bill proposed by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK).

The measure’s basic premise is that NASA’s problems stem from unstable presidential commitments to space exploration as opposed to Congress’ tendency to support expensive programs that bring funding into particular states and districts.

“Over the past twenty years, 27 NASA programs have been cancelled at a cost of over $20 billion to the taxpayer,” according to a statement on a website devoted to the measure. “Many of these have come as a result of changes in presidential administrations.

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RSC Energia Begins Work on New Soyuz-5 Booster

MOSCOW (RSC Energia PR) — Work is performed in compliance with the Order of the Government of the Russian Federation where RSC Energia is identified as the prime contractor of space rocket complex (SRC).

The following enterprises of State Corporation ROSCOSMOS: RSC Progress, FSUE TsENKI, etc. are the work co-executors.

Flight tests of new Russian launch vehicle (LV) Soyuz-5 are planned to be conducted for 2022 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

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CloudIX Looks to Serve CubeSat Market

Credit: CloudIX

There’s a new startup looking to serve the growing small satellite market. CloudIX (Cloud Nine) is developing a system that dispenses with a ground-based first stage in favor of launching a rocket from a balloon.

“The benefit of being launched at high altitude (135,000ft/41km) is dramatically reduced air resistance, allowing higher rocket altitudes that weren’t previously possible at this scale,” the company says on its website.

CloudIX says it can deploy 16 1U CubeSats or a 50-lb payload to an altitude of 220 miles (355 km).  Mobile deployment will allow for the deployment of satellites into a variety of orbital planes, the company said.

CloudIX is headquartered in Hayward, Calif.

Relativity Seeks to Disrupt Smallsat Launch Industry

A startup named Relativity has conducted more than six dozen test firings of a new liquid oxygen/liquid methane rocket engine at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, CEO Tim Ellis told a Senate subcommittee last week.

“Relativity is a stealth-mode startup re-imagining the way orbital rockets are built and flown,” said Ellis, who co-founded the company. “We are creating a new launch service for orbital payloads enabled by never-seen-before technologies, allowing for a high degree of launch schedule certainty at significantly reduced cost.”

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Orbex Wins EC Horizon 2020 Grant

LONDON, 11 July 2017 (Orbex PR) — Orbex, the UK-based developer of launch vehicles and services for small satellites, has won a prestigious European Commission Horizon 2020 SME Instrument award.

The grant was awarded to assist in the development of an innovative space launch vehicle fuel tank architecture developed by Orbex, which reduces the dry mass of launch vehicles by as much as 30% compared to traditional technologies.

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Video of Virgin Orbit NewtonFour Hot Fire

Video Caption: LauncherOne is powered by two rocket engines—a single NewtonThree on the main stage and a single NewtonFour on the upper stage. Both engines are turbopump-fed, gas generator cycle, LOX/RP-1 engines developed in-house here at Virgin Orbit. Here’s a typical test of the NewtonFour on our test stand up in Mojave, CA, in which the engine runs for a full six minutes—the same duration it would run during a full orbital launch. By popular demand, we’re posting this in real time–all six minutes of rockety goodness!

UK Space Industry Bill Introduced

SWINDON, UK (UKSA PR) — The Space Industry Bill has been introduced into the House of Lords, marking the first step in the process to create new laws and a regulatory framework to enable exciting new technologies to operate safely from the UK.

The Bill, which was outlined in the Queen’s Speech, is a clear signal of the UK’s commitment to enabling commercial spaceflight from UK spaceports, and a key part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy to ensure the UK businesses capture a share of this emerging global market.

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Vector Raises $21 Million Series A Funding Round

Flight test of P-19H engineering model of the Vector-R launch vehicle from Friends of Amateur Rocketry site in California. (Credit: Vector Space Systems)

TUCSON, Ariz., June 29, 2017 (Vector PR)– Vector, the micro satellite launch company that’s decreasing barriers to entry and increasing speed to orbit, today announced $21M Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from Shasta Ventures and Lightspeed. This round brings Vector’s total funding to $31M and follows a landmark first half of 2017 for the company.

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High-Tech Gründerfonds Invests in Orbex

LONDON (Orbex PR) — Germany’s High-Tech Gründerfonds has made its first investment in the space sector with UK-based Orbex. Founded in 2015, Orbex is building an orbital micro-launch vehicle to insert small satellites into low Earth orbit from Europe.

The Orbex launcher exploits a novel, sustainable fuel strategy to create one of the lowest inert mass fractions of any space launch vehicle ever built. All vehicle subsystems are being developed in-house, including rocket engines, avionics, guidance, software and patent-pending structures technologies.

“Our goal is not just to build a space launch vehicle. It’s to build a complete service offering to help businesses, governments and academic projects get their small satellites to orbit – on time, at a reasonable fixed price, from within Europe,” said Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex.

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S7 Sea Launch Orders 12 Zenit Boosters

Zenit lifts off with communications satellite. (Credit: Sea Launch)

DNIPROPETROVSK, Ukraine (Yuzhmash PR) — On April 28 this year, the contract was signed between Yuzhmash and S7 Sea Launch Limited on the production and supply of Zenit-series launch vehicles.

In general, the contract provides for the production of 12 launch vehicles for use in the Sea Launch and Land Launch programs for the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes in the framework of international space projects.

Now in production there are 2 rockets of modifications of Zenit-3SL and Zenit-3SLB.

The signing of this contract made a big step in overcoming the deep crisis in which Yuzhmash stayed since 2013 and which resulted from a massive decline in production volumes.

Persistent three-year work of the company’s specialists brought results. Today Yuzhmash portfolio of orders for the next few years more than 350 mln. US dollars.

Yuzhmash expresses its deep gratitude to the legislative and executive branches of power for providing the unprecedented, as for our enterprise, regulatory and financial support. Without this support, it was impossible to resume production and overcome the crisis.

Yuzhmash’s withdrawal into stable operation regime will create the appropriate conditions for the corporatization of the enterprise and the search for a strategic investor. The implementation of these measures, in turn, is a prerequisite for achieving the main medium-term goal of Yuzhmash, which is to ensure the full involvement of the enterprise in international cooperation in the production of rocket and space technology.

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Rocket Lab Reaches Space But Not Orbit on First Flight

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

Rocket Lab conducted the maiden flight of its new Electron small-satellite launcher on Thursday from New Zealand. The company reports the booster reached space, but it did not orbit its inert payload as planned.

It was the first of three flight tests of the launch vehicle for the New Zealand-American company from Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula. Despite failing to reach orbit, Rocket Lab officials were happy with the results.

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