SpaceX Orbits 53 Starlink Satellites in 21st Falcon 9 Launch of 2022

Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX launched 53 Starlink broadband satellites to low-Earth orbit aboard a Falcon 9 booster on Wednesday, May 18, from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The first stage booster supporting the mission on Wednesday previously launched Arabsat-6A, STP-2, COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation FM2, and one Starlink mission. Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage returned to Earth and landed on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

It was SpaceX’s 14th launch of Starlink satellites this year, and the company’s 21st launch overall of 2022. SpaceX has launched 709 of the broadband satellites this year, and 2,653 Starlink spacecraft in all. Wikipedia reports that 2,354 satellites are currently functioning in orbit.

SpaceX has launched 860 payloads into orbit in its 21 launches. The total includes two rideshare missions with 145 small payloads, two Crew Dragon flights carrying eight astronauts to the International Space Station, two missions for the National Reconnaissance Office, and the launch of Italy’s military/civilian COSMO-SkyMed second generation Earth observation satellite.

SpaceX has said it is planning to launch more than 50 times this year. The company’s next flight is the May 25 launch of the Transporter-5 rideshare mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Calvelli Swears in as U.S. Air Force Space Acquisition and Integration Lead

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Frank Calvelli was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration during a Pentagon ceremony this morning, following his confirmation to the role by the U.S. Senate, April 28.
 
Prior to his confirmation, Calvelli worked at the National Reconnaissance Office and within industry. In this new role, he becomes the first service acquisition executive for space and serves as the senior acquisition executive for space programs within the Department of the Air Force.
 
“Congratulations to Frank on his long-awaited Senate confirmation and we are fortunate to welcome him to the Department of the Air Force team,” said Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall. “Frank’s in-depth experience, knowledge and leadership will be invaluable to acquiring the transformational space-based systems we need to stay ahead of our pacing challenges, and in ensuring the U.S. Space Force meets its obligations as the great enabler and protector of the Joint Force.”
 
Calvelli’s priorities in his new role will revolve around enhancing the Department’s speed and collaboration in developing systems for the U.S. Space Force, while also synchronizing efforts across the Department of Defense and with broader government and international partners, to get new capabilities into the hands of warfighters.

Dutton Launches Australian Defence Space Command

Peter Dutton

During an address to the 2022 Royal Australian Air Force Air and Space Power Conference on Tuesday, Australian Minister of Defense Peter Dutton announced the creation of the new Defence Space Command.

An excerpt from the speech concerning the new command follows.

Peter Dutton
Minister of Defense

For any nation, losing access to space would have significant civil and military consequences.

Thus all nations have an interest in assuring their access to space.

It is a domain which must be used to deter aggression, rather than become a new realm for conflict.

So friends, to that end, it is my great pleasure today to officially announce the stand-up of Australia’s Defence Space Command.

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NRO Celebrates First Launch of 2022 and First SpaceX Falcon 9 National Security Launch with NROL-87

Falcon 9 launches the NROL-87 mission. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

CHANTILLY, Va., February 2, 2022 (NRO PR) — The National Reconnaissance Office successfully launched the NROL-87 mission aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex-4E located at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 12:27 p.m. PST. NROL-87 is the 60th launch since NRO began publicly disclosing launches in December 1996.

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SpaceX Plans Launch Double Header on Wednesday

Falcon 9 launches the COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation satellite. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX is planning launches from opposite coasts within two hours of each other on Wednesday.

A Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch the NROL-87 satellite from Vandenberg Space Force in California at 3:18 p.m. EST (12:18 p.m. PST/2018 GMT). The launch is for the National Reconnaissance Office.

A Falcon 9 will launch another batch of Starlink broadband satellites from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 4:51 p.m. EST (2151 GMT).

It will be the second and third SpaceX launches in two days. A Falcon 9 launched the COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation satellite from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Monday evening. SpaceX is aiming to launch a record 52 times this year.

SpaceX will webcast both launches beginning 15 minutes before takeoff at www.spacex.com.

NRO Selects Umbra for Strategic Commercial SAR Enhancements Program

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (Umbra PR) – The NRO has selected Umbra for the first Focus Area—Commercial Radar—under the agency’s new Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Strategic Commercial Enhancements effort. Focused on commercial imagery and data, this initiative is specifically designed for the NRO to evaluate, leverage, and integrate new and emerging commercial phenomenologies like radar and radio frequency remote sensing.

“Supporting U.S. national security has always been core to Umbra’s mission and we are thrilled to be included in the NRO’s continued pivot towards a hybrid overhead architecture. We deeply believe that American companies in the commercial ISR space will make a very meaningful contribution to the U.S.’ ability to thrive.” said Jason Mallare, Vice President of Government Programs.

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PredaSAR, a Terran Orbital Corporation, Selected for NRO Geospatial Intelligence Contract

BOCA RATON, Fla. (PredaSAR PR) — PredaSAR, a Terran Orbital Corporation, has been selected for contract award under the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) Systems Acquisition Directorate’s Closed Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Strategic Collection Enhancements (SCE) in the Commercial Radar focus area.

PredaSAR is fielding one of the most technologically advanced commercial Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems available in the satellite imaging industry. The PredaSAR constellation will offer robust capabilities to commercial and national security customers, including a flexible and responsive remote sensing platform, low latency, frequent revisit times, and the ability to host secondary payloads.

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Airbus U.S. Space & Defense, Inc. Wins NRO SAR Study Contract

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Airbus U.S. Space & Defense PR) – The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Commercial Systems Program Office (CSPO) has partnered with Airbus U.S. Space & Defense, Inc to evaluate Airbus’ market leading Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data and its potential to support U.S national security and defense missions.

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ICEYE US Wins Contract To Participate in National Reconnaissance Office’s Broad Agency Announcement For Commercial Radar

IRVINE, Calif., January 20, 2022 (ICEYE PR) – ICEYE US, a subsidiary of ICEYE, the global leader in persistent Earth monitoring with radar satellite imaging, announced today that it has received a contract from the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). This contract enables ICEYE US to participate in the NRO’s evaluation of commercial remote sensing companies operating synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites.

With a focus on modeling and simulation, ICEYE US will support NRO’s detailed assessment of imaging modes, image quality, geolocation accuracy and coverage among other important technical parameters. The contract represents a critical step in NRO’s plan to leverage next generation commercial radar providers to deliver innovative, resilient, and responsive satellite imagery for intelligence, defense, and humanitarian efforts.

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Capella Space Awarded Commercial Radar Contract By National Reconnaissance Office

Capella will demonstrate high-resolution SAR imagery capabilities as part of the National Reconnaissance Office’s Broad Agency Announcement Framework for Strategic Commercial Enhancements

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 20, 2022 (Capella Space PR) — Capella Space, an information services company providing high-quality, high-speed Earth observation data on demand, today announced a new contract with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to demonstrate the company’s synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery capabilities. Through this contract, Capella will work with the NRO to provide SAR data modeling and simulation, end-to-end regional imagery responsiveness demonstrations, theater downlink demonstrations and sample imagery delivery.

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Planet Federal Signs Contract Extension With National Reconnaissance Office

SAN FRANCISCO (Planet Labs PR) — Today, we are excited to share that our wholly owned subsidiary, Planet Federal, expanded our contract with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to provide the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community with continued access to Planet’s daily, unclassified satellite data. This contract modification expands NRO’s current access to now include monitoring over new areas of interest. 

The extension also includes continued integration efforts to make Planet’s deep archive – dating back to 2009 – and daily satellite data, available to NRO users through their Commercial GEOINT Integration (CGI) architecture. While Planet’s high-resolution SkySat data is already available through the CGI architecture, incorporating our medium-resolution PlanetScope data into the same system enables faster decision-making by providing users with data in a more user-friendly fashion. 

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BlackSky Reports Net Loss of $46.9 Million

3rd Quarter Revenue Up Over 49% YoY
On a Year to Date Basis, Total Revenue up over 53%

HERNDON, Va., November 12, 2021 (BlackSky PR) — BlackSky Technology Inc. (“BlackSky” or the “Company”) (NYSE: BKSY), a leading technology platform providing real-time geospatial intelligence and global monitoring, today announced its results for the third quarter of 2021.

Key points from the third quarter include:

  • Revenue of $7.9 million, up 49% from 3Q 2020
  • Net loss of $46.9 million or a loss of $0.67 per diluted share
  • Adjusted EBITDA loss of $16.2 million
  • Cash balance at the end of 3Q 2021 was $198 million
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Capella Space To Become First Commercial SAR Company to Demonstrate Compatibility with the U.S. Space Development Agency’s National Defense Space Architecture

Capella satellites will use laser communications from Mynaric to  rapidly send and receive data

SAN FRANCISCO, November 9, 2021 (Capella Space PR) — Capella Space today announced the company will become the first commercial synthetic aperture radar (SAR) supplier to demonstrate Optical Inter-Satellite Link (OISL) compatibility with the U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA)’s new NDSA. SAR data is a highly valuable asset for the SDA and the U.S. Department of Defense. The next generation of Capella’s persistent SAR monitoring capabilities will leverage new technology that enables high delivery speeds and direct access to its 24/7 all-weather data for U.S. Government customers.

Capella Space will install optical communications terminals (OCTs) on its commercial SAR satellites, starting in late 2022. This will enable the company to utilize highly efficient laser communications technology to send and receive data to and from its satellites in low Earth orbit, relaying data to compatibly equipped government satellites and military operations on the ground. The integration of OCTs onto Capella’s SAR constellation will drastically reduce latency from image collect to download and ensure spaceborne data is quickly available to inform critical decision-making for terrestrial missions.

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NRO Expands BlackSky Commercial Imagery for Security, Defense and Intelligence

HERNDON, Va. (BlackSky PR) – BlackSky Holdings, Inc. (“BlackSky”), a leading technology platform providing real-time geospatial intelligence and global monitoring, today announced that it has been awarded a contract modification from the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to provide on-demand satellite imagery through a monthly subscription. The requirements and funding for this effort will be transferred to NRO’s Electro-Optical Commercial Layer program.

BlackSky’s high-resolution satellite constellation will generate imagery for defense and intelligence communities to support homeland defense, national security, disaster and emergency response missions. BlackSky’s real-time imagery offers timely and relevant information on pattern-of-life anomalies that meet critical mission requirements and enable warfighters to make informed decisions.

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Launch 2020: U.S. Reclaimed Top Spot, Flew Astronauts Again from American Soil

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The United States reclaimed the top spot in launches from China last year as NASA astronauts flew into orbit from American soil for the first time in nearly nine years, SpaceX deployed the world’s first satellite mega-constellation with reused rockets, and two new launchers debuted with less than stellar results.

American companies conducted 44 launches in 2020, with 40 successes and four failures. Bryce Tech reports that U.S. companies accounted for 32 of the 41 commercial launches conducted last year. The majority of those flights were conducted by SpaceX, which launched 25 orbital missions.

China came in second with a record of 35 successful launches and four failures. The 39 launch attempts tied that nation’s previous record for flights during a calendar year.

Let’s take a closer look at what U.S. companies achieved last year.

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