Frontier Development Lab Continues High-stakes AI Research Despite COVID-19

LUXEMBOURG (Luxembourg Space Agency PR) —Frontier Development Lab (FDL) – an artificial intelligence research accelerator for space science – has kicked off its 2020 program on a virtual platform with researchers and faculty from across the globe.  

The Luxembourg Space Agency partners with FDL for the 4th consecutive year.

The teams, comprised of early-career PhDs in AI and interdisciplinary science domains, are supported by subject matter experts from NASA (including NASA Headquarters, NASA Ames Research Center and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center) and the SETI Institute together with FDL Partners: Google Cloud, Mayo Clinic, Lockheed Martin, MIT, USGS, IBM, Intel AI, Luxembourg Space Agency, NVIDIA, Planet and Augustus Intelligence. Along with expertise, FDL partner organisations support advanced AI research by providing funding, hardware, AI/ML algorithms, datasets, software and cloud-based super-compute resources.

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Unlucky 13: Rocket Lab Electron Launch Fails

Electron’s second stage fires. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Rocket Lab’s 13th launch of its Electron booster was unlucky today, with a failure of the second stage sending seven small satellites to burn up in the atmosphere instead of entering orbit after launch from Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.

“An issue was experienced today during Rocket Lab’s launch that caused the loss of the vehicle. We are deeply sorry to the customers on board Electron. The issue occurred late in the flight during the 2nd stage burn. More information will be provided as it becomes available,” the company tweeted.

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CarboNIX Separation Systems Deployed Planet SkySats into Orbit on Falcon 9

Planet SkySat deployed during SpaceX’s ninth Starlink mission using Exolaunch’s CarboNix deployer. (Credit: SpaceX website)

BERLIN (Exolaunch PR) – Exolaunch, a German rideshare launch and deployment solutions provider, confirmed that CarboNIX, its newly developed separation system, successfully deployed three Planet SkySats microsatellites into low Earth orbit on SpaceX’s ninth Starlink mission. Falcon 9 lifted on June 13th at 5:21am from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, carrying three SkySats as a rideshare payload.

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Next Electron Launch Set for July 3

Electron lifts off from the Mahia Peninsula on its 12th flight on June 13, 2020. (Credit; Rocket Lab webcast)

LONG BEACH, Calif., 15 June 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) –Satellite manufacturer and global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, Rocket Lab, has today announced its next Electron mission is scheduled to launch just three weeks after its most recent mission in a demonstration of the company’s rapid launch capability.

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SpaceX Launches 58 Starlink Satellites

Falcon 9 lifts off on June 13, 2020. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

SpaceX launched its ninth Starlink mission on Saturday, lofting 58 Starlink and three Planet SkySat Earth observation satellites into orbit.

Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the pre-dawn darkness.

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Schedule for Upcoming Launches

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

The week ahead features launches by Rocket Lab and SpaceX, Vega’s first rideshare mission, two Chinese launches, and a Japanese sounding rocket flight.

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NASA Adds Airbus to Commercial Satellite Data Program

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has decided to add Airbus Defence and Space GEO Inc. to its growing list of companies from which the space agency will purchase commercial optical and radar satellite imagery.

NASA published a public notice earlier this month that it plans to acquire Airbus imagery as part of its Commercial Smallsat Data Acquisition Program (CSDAP). The commercial imagery complements data collected by NASA’s satellites.

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Planet to Launch Six Satellites on SpaceX Falcon 9 Flights

Falcon 9 launch with fourth batch of Starlink satellites. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

SAN FRANCISCO (Planet PR) — Planet is set to launch six more SkySat satellites (SkySats 16-21) into Low Earth Orbit this summer, rounding out the fleet of 15 SkySats already in operation.

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Spaceflight Readies 28 Payloads for Inaugural Rideshare Launch on Arianespace’s Vega

Vega begins its ascent from the Spaceport in French Guiana, carrying Italy’s PRISMA Earth observation satellite on the third Arianespace mission of 2019. (Credit: Arianespace)

First dedicated rideshare mission on Vega to launch spacecraft for Spaceflight customers, including Satellogic, Planet, and Swarm Technologies.

SEATTLE, March 9, 2020 (Spaceflight PR) –– Spaceflight today announced it is providing mission management and rideshare integration services for four organizations on Arianespace’s first dedicated rideshare mission on its Vega launch vehicle. The proof of concept rideshare mission, VV16, will launch 53 microsatellites, nanosatellites and cubesats, including 28 payloads from Spaceflight customers Satellogic, Planet, Swarm Technologies, and an undisclosed organization. 

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NRO Awards Planet Contract as Part of Transition of Commercial Imagery Acquisition

CHANTILLY, Va.. October 15, 2019 (NRO PR) – The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) today announced the transition of the Planet commercial imagery subscription service from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to the NRO.

As part of the transition, the NRO awarded Planet an unclassified, multi-year subscription service contract for daily, large-area, 3-5 meter resolution commercial imagery collection.

Recognizing the importance of mission continuity, the scope of the new NRO contract is comparable to NGA’s previous contracts with Planet and includes access to new daily unclassified imagery over multiple areas of interest to military planners, warfighters, and the national security community.

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NRO Awards Fourth Commercial Imagery Study Contract

CHANTILLY, Va. (NRO PR) — The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) announced today the award of a commercial imagery study contract to HySpecIQ (www.hyspeciq.com). This award is the NRO’s first such award to a commercial hyperspectral imaging company and represents the latest milestone in the agency’s commercial imagery acquisition and integration strategy.

“HySpecIQ is developing interesting new hyperspectral imaging capabilities that have the potential to contribute to our current and future overhead architecture,”said Pete Muend, director of the NRO Commercial Systems Program Office.

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ESA Evaluating Remote Sensing Data from ICEYE, Planet and Spire

X2 satellite (Credit: ICEYE)

PARIS (ESA PR) — In the framework of the Earthnet programme, ESA and its Member States continue to stimulate global cooperation between space actors around activities aiming to acquire and share resources and knowledge on our planet for the benefit of all citizens.

Recently, it was decided to continue the data assessment of three constellations:

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ICEYE Constellation Announced as European Space Agency’s Third Party Mission Under Evaluation

European Space Agency’s data assessment of ICEYE’s SAR Satellite Constellation continues through the Earthnet Data Assessment Pilot (EDAP) framework.

HELSINKI, Aug. 1, 2019 – ICEYE, the global leader in small satellite synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) technology, today announced its SAR satellite constellation is now considered a Third Party Mission under evaluation for the European Space Agency (ESA). As a result, a continued analysis of ICEYE’s SAR data from its satellites will be performed under the framework of the Earthnet Data Assessment Pilot (EDAP).

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National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Extends Contract With Planet

SAN FRANCISCO (Planet PR) — We’re pleased to announce that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) has exercised their option to extend our 2018 contract and renew for an additional six months and $5.9 million.

Through this contract, Planet will continue to bring unique value to NGA by providing subscription access to daily imagery over select areas to support mission objectives at the agency.

This is Planet’s third contract with NGA since 2016 and is an important milestone as we bridge the leadership transition from Director Cardillo to Navy Vice Admiral Sharp, demonstrating our ongoing relationship with NGA. We’re excited to continue this collaborative partnership as Vice Admiral Sharp outlines his agency’s priorities for the coming years.

Additionally, Planet is pursuing NRO’s 2020 commercial imagery contract, and continued engagement with NGA helps us further align around the needs of USG.