New Funding Call for UK Earth Observation Sector

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — More than £800,000 [$983,000] is available to the UK space sector as part of European Space Agency (ESA) support for innovative commercial projects related to Earth Observation.

The programme, InCubed, aims to support industry-led initiatives that will open new market opportunities. The call will bring innovative systems and products to market faster and help Earth Observation businesses compete in the global marketplace.

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Kleos Space to Launch Development Technology in Early July

Kleos Scouting Mission (Credit: Kleos Space)

LUXEMBOURG, 26 June 2020 (Kleos Space PR) — Kleos Space S.A. (ASX : KSS, Francfort : KS1), the Luxembourg RF Earth Observation Company, is launching new data collecting technology (software defined radio payload) integrated in an In-Space Missions (In-Space) Faraday-1 spacecraft to be launched into a sun-synchronous orbit from New Zealand by Rocket Lab in a weeks’ time as part of the Company’s R&D programme.

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Australia Provides $11 Million in Space Grants to Boost Businesses and Local Jobs

CANBERRA (Karen Andrews PR) — The Morrison Government is backing a series of projects designed to grow Australia’s space sector and create local jobs, including improving GPS technology and the design of innovative spacesuits that will make spacewalking easier.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the 10 projects sharing in $11 million [USD $7.6 million] would boost jobs and skills in the space sector, and contribute to the nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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LeoStella Delivers First BlackSky Satellites from its New Production Line

TUKWILA, Wa., June 22, 2020 – LeoStella, a specialized satellite constellation design and manufacturer, announced today the delivery of the first two satellites fully manufactured from its state-of-the-art production line. The satellites are the fifth and sixth of an ongoing Earth observation constellation program for the global monitoring company, BlackSky.

LeoStella’s intelligent manufacturing facility is the first of its kind and opened in 2019. The satellites were delivered to the launch facility on June 1, 2020 and have been prepared for an upcoming SpaceX launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

LeoStella’s ability to minimize costs and reduce development and manufacturing time helps meet the increasing demand for satellite constellations in a time sensitive ecosystem. 

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NASA, Partner Space Agencies to Release Global View of COVID-19 Impacts

A unique collection of data from Earth-observing spacecraft managed by NASA, the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will track the environmental and socioeconomic impacts caused by the global response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) will unveil a dashboard of satellite data showing impacts on the environment and socioeconomic activity caused by the global response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during a media teleconference at 9 a.m. EDT Thursday, June 25.

The COVID-19 Earth Observation Dashboard is a tri-agency collaboration that brings together current and historical satellite observations with analytical tools to create a user-friendly information resource for the public and researchers. The dashboard tracks key indicators of changes in air and water quality, climate, economic activity, and agriculture.

The teleconference participants are:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington
  • Josef Aschbacher, director of ESA Earth observation programmes, Frascati, Italy
  • Koji Terada, vice president and director general for the Space Technology Directorate at JAXA, Tsukuba, Japan
  • Shin-ichi Sobue, project manager for JAXA’s Advanced Land Observing Satellite-2, Tsukuba, Japan
  • Ken Jucks, upper atmosphere research program manager at NASA’s Earth Science Division, Washington
  • Marie-Helene Rio, ocean applications scientist at the ESA Centre for Earth Observation, Frascati, Italy

Members of the media and the public can also submit questions before and during the briefing via social media with the hashtag #AskNASA.

Audio of the teleconference with supporting graphics will stream live at:

http://www.nasa.gov/live

A link to the COVID-19 Earth Observation Dashboard along with supporting graphics for the briefing will become available at approximately 8 a.m. Thursday, June 25 at:

https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/13647

For more information about NASA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/coronavirus

For more information on NASA’s Earth Science programs, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/earth

Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator Announces Class of 2020

LOS ANGELES (Techstars PR) — Today Techstars announce the 10 companies joining the second class of the Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator, typically located in Los Angeles but running virtually this summer due to COVID-19.

Over the next three months these companies will rapidly accelerate their businesses by working closely with Techstars, Starburst, our network of expert mentors, and our formal sponsors from industry and government: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, Maxar Technologies, SAIC, Israel Aerospace Industries North America, and the U.S. Air Force, with support from The Aerospace Corporation. Our Demo Day is on September 9, 2020.

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Over Budget Restore-L Mission 3.5 Years From Launch

Artist’s conception of Restore-L servicing satellite with Landsat 7. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s $1 billion Restore-L mission to refuel the aging Landsat 7 satellite is running about $300 million over budget and almost three years behind schedule, according to a new assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The project’s woes have included a shortage of both funding and skilled personnel as well as the addition of a new instrument with immature technology to the satellite servicing spacecraft.

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China Launches 4 Satellites on 2 Boosters

While the United States was focused last week on its first domestic flight of astronauts to orbit in 9 years, China was busy with a pair of launches that placed four satellites into space.

A Long March 11 booster launched the Xinjishu Shiyan-G and Xinjishu Shiyan-H technology test satellites from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Friday, May 29.

The Xinjishu Shiyan-G satellite was developed by the Shanghai Institute of Microsatellite Innovation, which is part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The National University of Defence Technology developed the Xinjishu Shiyan-H satellite.

The satellites will test new Earth observation technology and inter-satellite communications.

On Sunday, a Long March 2D rocket launched the Gaofen-9 (02) remote sensing satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Inner Mongolia.

The microwave spacecraft is the latest in a series of high-definition Earth observation satellites. Gaofen-9 (02) will be used for a variety of civilian purposes ranging from land use and urban planning to crop estimation and disaster prevention.

The Long March 2D booster carried the HEAD-4 technology and communications satellite as a secondary payload. The spacecraft is owned by HEAD Aerospace Tech Co. Ltd. of Beijing.

Landsat 9 Remains on Schedule for Late 2021 Launch

Landsat 9 Operational Land Imager 2 (Credit: Ball Aerospace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

If all goes well, an Atlas V booster will lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in November 2021 with the newest satellite in the U.S. government’s almost half century old Landsat Earth observation program.

The Landsat 9 remains on schedule and within its $885 million budget despite prime contractor Northrop Grumman experiencing ongoing delays in spacecraft electronics fabrication, flight software and systems integration, according to a new assessment from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

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NASA-CNES Surface Water Mission Remains on Cost, Schedule

SWOT satellite (Credit: NASA JPL)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A Franco-American mission to measure global surface water levels from space continues to hold to its budget and an April 2022 launch date despite the late arrival of its main scientific instrument, according to a new assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The $754.9 million Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission had been working toward a September 2021 launch date, which would have been seven months ahead of schedule.

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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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The Federation Praises Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Reform

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The Commercial Spaceflight Federation today praised the Department of Commerce’s release this week of a rulemaking that dramatically reforms the U.S. government’s regulation of the U.S. commercial remote sensing industry.

“We wish to thank Secretary Wilbur Ross, the Office of Space Commerce and its Director Kevin O’Connell, and NOAA’s Office of Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs for publishing this forward-leaning, streamlined set of rules for this growing and important industry,”  declared Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. “And we again thank Vice President Pence, the National Space Council, and its Executive Secretary Scott Pace for issuing Space Policy Directive 2 two years ago, which focused agencies across the government to minimize regulatory burden and streamline oversight.”

Up until now, the U.S. remote sensing industry has been governed by legislation and regulations written in the early 1990’s.  While capabilities and technologies have progressed over the decades, companies dealt with these outdated regulations, often prohibiting new technologies and disincentivising the industry.  License applications regularly took too long to authorize with little to no transparency into the decision making process. With these revised regulations, comes a new era for the remote sensing industry and as new licenses are granted, we hope to see these principles put into practice.

“Thank you to the Commerce Department for developing these new rules that reduce bureaucratic restrictions on industry so they can innovate faster, compete effectively internationally, and enable new applications for satellite observations of the Earth,” said Stallmer.  “CSF has fought hard for several years to promote legislative and regulatory reforms that would streamline these rules.  We believe that these new rules from the Department of Commerce are an important step forward to enable U.S. companies to compete in a growing international marketplace while protecting America’s national security concerns.”

Commerce Department Releases New Streamlined Commercial Remote Sensing Regulations

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2020 (NASA PR) — Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce released new regulations to improve the licensing process for private U.S. satellite remote sensing operations, helping ensure continued U.S. leadership in a critical commercial space industry.

The new final rules increase openness and transparency in the licensing process, will eliminate most restrictions on how licensed remote sensing systems may be operated, such as limits on the resolution of imagery, and prohibit the government from imposing additional conditions after a license has been issued.

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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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Hanley Wood|Meyers Research Acquires Bird.i

COSTA MESA, Calif. April 6, 2020 (Hanley Wood  | Meyers Research PR) — Hanley Wood | Meyers Research, the housing industry’s foremost advisors and provider of rich data, today announced it acquired Bird.i, a Scotland-based company that combines the latest satellite imagery and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to provide valuable land and building insights.

Bird.i’s imagery processing technology shows how things are changing on the ground, allowing for more timely, better informed decision-making throughout the building process, providing a competitive advantage for users.

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