ICEYE Launches World’s First Successful SAR Microsat

Helsinki, FINLAND  (ICEYE PR) – ICEYE, the leader in synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) technology for microsatellites providing expanded access to reliable and timely earth observation data, today announced the successful launch of its proof-of-concept satellite mission, ICEYE-X1, on ISRO’s PSLV-C40 rocket.

The success of the launch, from Satish Dhawan Space Center in India, distinguishes ICEYE-X1 as the world’s first microsatellite equipped with synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) to ever be deployed in space and as Finland’s very first commercial satellite. Making further history, ICEYE has also successfully established communications with the 70 kg satellite at 05:20, GMT (07:20 Finland time) now in orbit, signaling the next step in the mission’s success.

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India’s PSLV Booster Launches Remote Sensing Satellite

PSLV-C40 booster lifts off (Credit: ISRO)

SRIHARIKOTA, India (ISRO PR) — India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its forty second flight (PSLV-C40), successfully launched the 710 kg Cartosat-2 Series Satellite for earth observation and 30 co-passenger satellites together weighing about 613 kg at lift-off. PSLV-C40 was launched from the First Launch Pad (FLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.

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China Launches Imaging Satellites to Kick off Busy Year

China conducted its first launch of 2018 on Tuesday when a Long March 2D booster lofted a pair of SuperView imaging satellites into polar orbit for Beijing Space View Technology. The rocket lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.

“Success! We’re thrilled to announce the successful launch of SuperView-1 03&04 satellites at 11:26 this morning in Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center!” the company tweeted.

The launch doubled the number of high-resolution SuperView satellites the company has on orbit. It plans to sell imagery on the global market.

GBTimes reports China could launch more than 40 times in 2018, which would be a substantial increase over the 18 launches the nation conducted last year.

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), announced at a conference on January 2 that its 2018 work model includes 35 launches, underlining the return to flight of the heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket, the Chang’e-4 lunar far side mission and launches of Beidou navigation satellites as the major activities.

In addition CASIC, a defence contractor, missile maker and sister company of CASC, will carry out a number of missions through its subsidiary EXPACE, including launching four Kuaizhou-1A rockets within one week and the maiden flight of the larger Kuaizhou-11.

Landspace Technology, a Beijing-based private aerospace company, is also expected to debut its LandSpace-1 solid propellant rocket this year.

Read the full story.

Decadal Survey Recommends “Robust, Resilient, and Balanced” Earth Science Program


WASHINGTON (National Academies PR) — NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) should implement a coordinated approach for their space-based environmental observations to further advance Earth science and applications for the next decade, says a new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

This approach should be based on key scientific questions in areas such as reducing climate uncertainty, improving weather and air quality forecasts, predicting geological hazards, and understanding sea-level rise. The report also recommends building a robust, resilient, and balanced U.S. program of Earth observations from space that will enable the agencies to strategically advance the science and applications with constrained resources.

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ESA Looks Ahead to Busy Year in Space

Video Caption: After a fruitful 2017 with many exciting launches and the end of some historic missions, ESA is ready for the year to come.

2018 will see the 10th anniversary of the International Space Station’s Columbus module and an ESA astronaut taking the helm of the ISS as commander.

There will be more launches of new Earth observation and exploration satellites and ESA will venture to the innermost planet in our Solar System.

2018 will also mark the completion of the first part of the Copernicus constellation observing the Earth and of the full Galileo constellation, Europe’s own satellite navigation system.

UrtheCast Close to Securing Funding for Earth Observation Constellation

UrtheCast says it is close to securing financing to launch a constellation of satellites capable of acquiring daily high-quality, multispectral imagery of locations taken at the same time from the same altitude.

Further to the update provided during its third quarter earnings release on November 14, 2017, the Company has evaluated multiple opportunities and selected an institutional investor with which it has entered into an exclusivity agreement on December 15, 2017 for the previously announced US$175 million financing for the development of the UrtheDaily™ Constellation.

The Company is currently working closely with the investor to finalize closing documentation as soon as practicable, with a target completion date for the financing extended to the end of January 2018. Completion is subject to final definitive documentation being completed and agreed, the lender’s completion of confirmatory due diligence and receiving approval of our Board of Directors.

Following funding, UrtheCast will have a path to the launch and commercialization of the UrtheDaily™ Constellation. With signed binding agreements for both data subscriptions totaling in excess of C$100 million, and a contract to build the UrtheDaily™ Constellation, the Company continues to target the commencement of the UrtheDaily™ operations in the 2020 growing season notwithstanding the extension of the financing closing date.

The company describes the constellation as follows:

UrtheDaily™ is a planned global coverage constellation aiming to acquire high-quality, multispectral imagery, at 5-m GSD, taken at the same time, from the same altitude every day. With its exceptional capabilities, it presents a disruptive and problem-solving technology that will transform the way we observe our planet.

The spacecraft, constellation and operations approach is expected to enable ultra-high sensor spectral calibration targeted specifically at geoanalytics applications to optimize the ability to reliably extract information from the imagery and to detect even subtle changes on the planet.

The spectral bands of the UrtheDaily™ constellation have been specifically selected to match Landsat-8/Sentinel-2/RapidEye/Deimos- 1 bands to ease the constant and automatic in-flight cross-calibration with trusted references, minimize the effects due to atmospheric variations, and to provide improved accuracy of key information products.

World View Obtains High Resolution Imagery From Stratollite

Example of fleet management (Credit: World View)

TUCSON, Ariz. (World View PR) – World View, the stratospheric exploration company, released today the first-ever remote sensing imagery captured from their high-altitude Stratollite™ vehicle. The images were captured from altitudes ranging between 65,000 and 75,000 ft. with an off-the-shelf imaging sensor and show sub-meter resolution capability from the Stratollite.

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Update on World View Progress

World View Stratollite module. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

The Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference is being held in Colorado through Wednesday. I wasn’t able to attend this year, but the following folks are there tweeting away:

  • Jeff Foust‏ @jeff_foust
  • Rand Simberg‏ @Rand_Simberg
  • Colorado Space News‏ @CO_Space_News

Below is an update on the progress of World View based on their tweets.

Jane Poynter
CEO
World View

  • 2017 has been a seminal year for World View in which the company has flown many times
  • Helium-filled balloons can carry Stratollite platforms with 50-kg payloads to altitudes of 16-30 km
  • Stratollites can provide payloads with 250 watts of power
  • Plan to double mass and power capacity within the next year
  • Balloons can remain stationary over specific areas and maneuvered to a location of the client’s choosing
  • Expect to increase flight rate to 1 or 2 per month quite quickly
  • balloons can only descend to ground at night, but plan to change that in the future
  • The stratosphere (aka, “ignorosphere”) is a good destination destination for science investigation
  • Stratollites can be used to test experiments and technology for Mars because the atmospheric pressure at the altitudes they reach are similar to that on the Red Planet
  • “very close” to substituting hydrogen for helium in balloons
  • Spaceport Tucson is focused on stratospheric flights
  • Other balloon operators are welcome at Spaceport Tucson where World View operates

Andrew Antonio
Director of Marketing
World View

  • Can provide imaging coverage for longer periods of time and at lower costs than UAVs
  • Goal is to provide best of satellites and UAVs using balloons
  • Using off-the-shelf cameras got a resolution of about 50 cm
  • Believes company can reduce imaging system to 10- to 15-cm resolution next year and communications rate to 100- to 500 Mbps
  • Ultimate goal is have constellations floating over regions providing continuous imaging

UrtheCast, Twenty First Aerospace Tech Sign Strategic Partnership

VANCOUVER, BC (UrtheCast PR) – UrtheCast Corp. (TSX:UR) (“UrtheCast” or the “Company”), and Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology Co. Ltd (“21AT”), China’s largest independent commercial satellite operator and non-governmental investor in remote sensing satellite systems, today announced a long-term strategic partnership to acquire geospatial data from the UrtheDailyTM Constellation, UrtheCast’s planned constellation of Earth observation satellites which will deliver daily, medium resolution imagery of the entire planet’s landmass, excluding Antarctica.

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Earth-i Constellation to Provide Full-Color Video From Space

Prototype imaging satellite (Credit: Earth-i)

SURREY, England (Earth-i PR) — British ‘New Space’ pioneer Earth-i today provided another update about its progress in building the first constellation in the world to provide full-colour video – and the first European-owned commercial constellation able to provide both video and still images.

Last week Earth-i announced that it had ordered the first five satellites of its constellation from SSTL (Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd).

Today the company has confirmed that its prototype satellite is now enroute to launch provider Antrix in India with the launch planned for late-December on a PSLV rocket. This satellite will be used to test performance and confirm capabilities for the future constellation including tasking, data downlinks to ground stations, and image and full-colour video capture from space.

In addition, Earth-i has chosen Norway’s KSAT (Kongsberg Satellite Services) to provide ground network services for its new Earth Observation (EO) constellation.

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UrtheCast, Beijing Space View Technology Sign Strategic Partnership

MADRID, Spain (UrtheCast PR) – UrtheCast Corp. and its subsidiary, the Earth Observation company Deimos Imaging, today announced the signing of a strategic cooperation agreement with Beijing Space View Technology Co. Ltd. (“Space View”), a leading provider of remote sensing satellite data and geospatial information services based in China, for the mutual global distribution of their respective product portfolios.

The space assets of Deimos Imaging and Space View include Deimos-1, Deimos-2 and the satellite SuperView constellation, of which currently 2 satellites have been launched, with the next two to be launched at the end of 2017, resulting in a wide portfolio of medium, high and very high-resolution satellites. These assets are complementary and are expected to provide customers with an exceptional level of decision making data, and to create unique and valuable benefits across a diverse group of sectors while strengthening the positions of both companies in their respective markets.

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ICEYE Announces Award with DIUx for Earth Observation Data Support Services

ESPOO, Finland, November 20, 2017 (ICEYE PR) – ICEYE, the leader in synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) technology, today announced an agreement with the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) to purchase airborne earth observation (EO) data support services from ICEYE U.S.

“Having just opened our U.S. subsidiary, ICEYE U.S. is on a fast-track in providing services that will help the public sector,” said Mike Lyons, CEO of ICEYE U.S. “DIUx is tackling some of the nation’s most challenging problems, and we’re eager to provide them with data support services that will help in solving those problems.”

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) launched DIUx in 2015 to build a bridge between commercial technological innovation and national security endeavors. Headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices in Boston, Austin, and the Pentagon, DIUx facilitates DoD’s efforts to identify and work with commercial companies, including ICEYE U.S., to help solve national defense problems.

Earlier this year, ICEYE announced its expansion into the U.S. with an entity focused on delivering EO data in long-form to its current and prospective clients. ICEYE U.S. is also developing data analytics capabilities to support more varied industry specific services.

About ICEYE

ICEYE aims to provide democratized access to reliable Earth Observation data through developing efficient SAR sensors and microsatellites, enabling everyone to make better decisions. Through an imaging service available anywhere around the globe, anytime, and with response times measured in just few hours, ICEYE helps clients resolve challenges in segments such as maritime, disaster management and security and intelligence. ICEYE is on track to be the first organization in the world to launch SAR microsatellites and expects to commence its commercial data operations in the first half of 2018. For more information, please visit: www.iceye.com 

Luxembourg Invests in Spire’s $70 million Series C Round

Luxembourg, November 15, 2017 (Luxembourg PR) – The Luxembourg Government and Spire Global signed a cooperation agreement to develop, through the opening of a European HQ by the US-based company, several key activities in the Grand Duchy focused on space platform engineering, data analytics, infrastructure engineering and business development. The office in Luxembourg will serve as Spire’s full-service European headquarters. Spire is a satellite powered data company with offices in the US, Europe and Asia offering products for global ship tracking and high frequency weather data.

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SSTL to build UrtheCast’s UrtheDaily Constellation

SURREY, England (SSTL PR) — A signed contract for the Earth Observation satellites for the UrtheDailyTM Constellation was announced today by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) and UrtheCast of Canada.  The UrtheDailyTM Constellation, planned for launch in 2020, will be capable of scientific-grade quality, multispectral imagery, high-resolution, targeted specifically at geoanalytics applications.

The UrtheDailyTM spacecraft are based on the SSTL-250 platform and will be built by SSTL at its facilities in Guildford UK.  The spacecraft will deliver high-resolution imagery using spectral bands, which have been specifically selected to match Landsat-8, Sentinel-2, RapidEye and Deimos-1 bands to ease cross-calibration with trusted references and to minimise the effects of atmospheric variations.

Wade Larson, President and CEO of UrtheCast commented “I am delighted to be announcing the UrtheDailyTM Constellation contract has been placed today with SSTL, the world leader in the design and manufacture of small satellites.  Our two companies have developed a close synergy, and our combined experience and expertise has resulted in a space systems architecture for the UrtheDailyTM Constellation that will deliver exceptional data quality for a range of geoanalytics products.”

Andrew Cawthorne, Director of Earth Observation at SSTL said “We have worked closely with UrtheCast to develop an imaging system capable of detecting subtle changes on the planet, and we are very much looking forward to supplying the satellites for this landmark Earth Observation constellation.”

SSTL is a leading supplier of LEO missions to commercial owner operators: previous missions include Beijing-1, platforms for the 5 satellite RapidEye constellation, Deimos-1, exactView-1, KazEOSAT-2, and the 3-satellite TripleSat constellation.

China Working on Reusable Space Plane, Low-Cost Launches & Satellite Constellation

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) announced last week that it plans to launch a reusable space plane capable of taking off and landing on a runway around the year 2020.

Unlike traditional one-off spacecraft, the new spacecraft will fly into the sky like an aircraft, said Chen Hongbo, a researcher from the corporation. The spacecraft can transport people or payload into the orbit and return to Earth.

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