Orbital Insight Acquires FeatureX

PALO ALTO, Calif., Sept. 18, 2018 (Orbital Insight PR) — Orbital Insight, the leader in geospatial analytics, announced today that it has acquired FeatureX, a privately-held, Boston-based artificial intelligence company. The acquisition brings new talent to Orbital Insight’s expert team and expands the company’s geographic footprint into Boston.

FeatureX, founded by serial entrepreneur and machine learning expert Gil Syswerda, specializes in computer vision for satellite imagery—specifically, object detection, image enhancement, and deep learning techniques. The acquisition enhances Orbital Insight’s expertise in these areas and strengthens the company’s research initiatives into new, cutting-edge applications.

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Planet and Orbital Insight Expand Satellite Imagery Partnership

SAN FRANCISCO and PALO ALTO, Calif., Sept. 19, 2018 (Planet/Orbital Insight PR) — Planet, who operates the largest constellation of imaging satellites, and Orbital Insight, the leader in geospatial analytics, announced today a multi-year contract for Orbital Insight to source daily, global satellite imagery from Planet. The contract is an expansion of their previous imagery-sharing agreement.

“Orbital Insight has been a fantastic partner for Planet, and we are looking forward to continuing our relationship as they develop analytics that make our imagery more accessible and actionable for businesses,” said Will Marshall, CEO and co-founder of Planet. “The partnership signals the market’s confidence in the growing number of use cases for insights derived from daily global imagery with advanced analytics.”

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NorthStar Announces $13 Million in Financing from Government of Quebec

MONTREAL, Aug. 22, 2018 (NorthStar PR) — NorthStar, a Montreal-based information services company developing the world’s most advanced environmental and near-space monitoring system, is pleased to announce the closing of C$13 million [US$10 million] in financing from the Government of Quebec. As part of an overall $52 million [US$40.1 million] first round of financing, NorthStar will align with Quebec and other strategic partners to create a global environmental information platform that will empower humanity to preserve our planet.

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Sens. Cruz, Nelson & Markey Introduce Space Frontier Act

Sen. Ted Cruz

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Ted Cruz PR) – U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, on Wednesday introduced the Space Frontier Act (S. 3277).

This commercial space bill builds upon the 2015 Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act by streamlining and reforming the regulatory framework for commercial space launch and Earth observation operations, which is crucial to maintaining American leadership in space.

The bill also extends the operation and utilization of the International Space Station (ISS) through 2030 to ensure that the U.S. is getting the maximum return on American taxpayer investment to avoid creating a leadership vacuum in low Earth orbit.

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NASA Debuts Online Toolkit to Promote Commercial Use of Satellite Data

Through its constellation of Earth observation satellites, NASA collects petabytes of data each year, including this image of the Chukchi Sea acquired on June 18, 2018, by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite. (Credit: NASA/U. S. Geological Survey/Norman Kuring/Kathryn Hansen)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — While NASA’s policy of free and open remote-sensing data has long benefited the scientific community, other government agencies and nonprofit organizations, it has significant untapped potential for commercialization. NASA’s Technology Transfer program has created an online resource to promote commercial use of this data and the software tools needed to work with it.

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Planet Lays Off Dozens of Employees

In February 2014, Planet Labs Inc. launched its first flock of Dove nanosatellites into space. Shown are two shoebox-sized Doves being ejected into low-Earth orbit from the International Space Station. The company’s goal is for the flock to take a high-resolution snapshot of nearly the entire globe every 24 hours. (Credit: NASA)

Space News reports the remote-sensing company Planet has laid off up to 38 employees in what the company has called a “shift of focus” from creating the world’s largest constellation of satellites to “developing commercial products and building  successful business” to “more tightly align” with its current goals. Planet said it laid off less than 10 percent of its more than 500 employees.

Planet & Airbus Partner to Deliver New Geospatial Solutions

Two of the 28 Planet Labs Dove satellites that make up the Flock 1 constellation are seen launching into orbit from the International Space Station on Feb. 11. (Credit: NASA)

TOULOUSE, France (Planet PR) — Planet is expanding its engagement in Europe in a big way. Today, we’re excited to announce a partnership with Airbus, a leader in remote sensing, to enable access to each other’s data and joint cooperation on the development of new geospatial solutions.

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China Launches Remote Sensing Satellite, SpaceX Plans Early Monday Flight

SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off with a Dragon resupply ship on April 2, 2018. (Credit: NASA)

At least 10 launches are planned worldwide this month. The launches include crew and cargo missions to the International Space Station and the first commercial flight of Rocket Lab’s Electron booster. Orbital ATK’s Pegasus XL will launch NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) from the Marshall Islands on June 14.

China got June off to a successful start on Saturday with the launch of the Gaofen-6 remote sensing satellite aboard a Long March 2D rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

SpaceX is up next, with an early morning launch on Monday morning. A Falcon 9 is set to launch the SES 12 communications satellite from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The four-hour launch window opens at 12:29 a.m. EDT (0429 GMT). The company has no plans to recover the previously used first stage.

The current launch schedule is below. View updates here.

JUNE 2018

June 2

Launch Vehicle: Long March 2D
Payload: Gaofen 6 remote sensing satellite
Launch Site: Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, China
Outcome: Success

June 4

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: SES 12 communications satellite
Launch Window: 12:29-1:27 a.m. EDT (0429-0527 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
Webcast: www.spacex.com

June 6

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payload: ISS 55S Crew flight
Launch Time: 7:11 a.m. EDT (1111 GMT)
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Webcast: www.nasa.gov

June 11

Launch Vehicle: H-2A
Payload: IGS Radar 6 reconnaissance satellite
Launch Window: 12:00-2:00 a.m. EDT (0400-0600 GMT)
Launch Site: Tanegashima Space Center, Japan

June 14

Launch Vehicle: Pegasus XL
Payload: NASA Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: L-1011, Kwajalein, Marshall Islands
Webcast: www.nasa.gov

June 22/23

Launch Vehicle: Electron
Payloads: 2 Spire & 1 GeoOptics satellites
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand

First commercial flight of Electron.

June 28

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Dragon ISS resupply (CRS-15)
Launch Time: 6:03 a.m. EDT (1003 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, Florida
Webcast: www.spacex.com and www.nasa.gov

June TBD

Launch Vehicle: Long March 2C
Payload: PRSS 1 remote sensing satellite
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Taiyuan, China

Launch Vehicle: Long March 3A
Payload: Fengyun 2H geostationary weather satellite
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Xichang, China

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Telstar 19V communications satellite
Launch Window: TBD
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, Florida
Webcast: www.spacex.com

GAO: JPL’s SWOT Mission Planning to Launch Ahead of Schedule

SWOT satellite (Credit: NASA JPL)

A Franco-American mission that will conduct a global survey of the Earth’s surface water is moving toward launching a year earlier than planned despite encountering technical challenges and and workforce shortages, according to an assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite “will use its wide-swath radar altimetry technology to take repeated high-resolution measurements of the world’s oceans and freshwater bodies to develop a global survey,” the report stated.

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GAO: Landsat 9 Program in Good Shape

Landsat 8 (Credit: NASA)

NASA’s Landsat 9 program is in good shape and on track for a launch as early as December 2020, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessment.

The positive assessment makes the $885 million Earth observation satellite a rarity among the major NASA projects that GAO evaluated in its annual assessment. The government watchdog found that most of the programs are suffering cost overruns or schedule delays.

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NGA Signs CRADA with Planet

SPRINGFIELD, Va. (NGA PR) — The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency signed a cooperative research and development agreement, April 4, with Planet, a commercial imagery provider, to explore and potentially improve the speed at which the agency can extract vital information and analytics from the company’s imagery.

The CRADA is expected to yield time-saving services for the agency related to change detection, such as monitoring objects across entire countries, advanced broad area search, and the generation of baseline and foundation layers, said Manuela McCabe, NGA’s Planet CRADA program manager.

“The Planet CRADA will fully inform NGA on the quality and utility of the services that Planet is able to develop and provide using their high-frequency imagery stacks,” said McCabe.

NGA purchased a $14 million subscription for Planet imagery in July 2017, following an introductory contract signed in 2016.

Ursa to Extract Oil Demand Information from ICEYE’s Satellite Data

HELSINKI, FINLAND, April 25, 2018 (ICEYE PR) – ICEYE, an Earth observation company providing synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) data, and Ursa Space Systems (Ursa), a Space data analytics company, announced at GEOINT Symposium an agreement where ICEYE will provide satellite data to Ursa. The data from ICEYE’s SAR satellites, used to monitor oil wells and measure global oil storage, will enable Ursa to derive actionable oil demand insights for their customers.

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House Passes Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act

Lamar Smith

The House passed a measure on Tuesday designed to create a ‘one-stop shop’ for commercial space companies.

The American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act of 2017 invests oversight authority in the Department of Commerce’s Office of Space Commerce.

A key element of the bill is the reform and simplification of the regulatory process that covers remote sensing. The measure requires the office to approve or reject an application for a space object to launch.

“The bill establishes a favorable legal and policy environment for free enterprise with maximum certainty and minimum burden for stakeholders,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who introduced the legislation and chairs the House Science Committee. “With this innovative legislation, we position the American space industry as a leader.

“New space operators would now be incentivized to set up shop on American ground and allow the United States to maintain and adhere to our international obligations as well as improving our national security,” Smith added. “This enterprising bill provides an efficient, transparent, and streamlined structure for authorizing and supervising future space activities to create the path for future exploration of the final frontier.”

The bill creates a Private Space Activity Advisory Committee to analyze the effectiveness of the the office’s operations, identify problems, and provide recommendations to the Commerce Department and Congress on policies and practices.

Space companies and industry groups praised the act in a press release issued on Tuesday.

“The member companies and institutions of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation are in strong agreement with all of the goals and most of the key elements of your legislation: significant reform of the Commerce Department’s obsolete, burdensome, and dysfunctional regime for licensing commercial remote sensing satellites is especially welcome,” said federation president Eric Stallmer.

HyperScout Successfully Captures First Images From Space

This first-light image from the miniature HyperScout instrument aboard ESA’s newly launched GomX-4B CubeSat, shows the southern coast of Cuba. (Credit: ESA/cosine Research)

WARMOND, The Netherlands (cosine PR) — HyperScout, the first miniaturized hyperspectral camera in space, has captured its first images. Developed by an international consortium led by cosine, HyperScout was launched into space on 2 February 2018. The images are the first Earth observation images of their kind captured by an instrument onboard a nanosatellite.

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GomSpace Successfully Commissions GOMX-4 Nanosats

ESA’s biggest small satellite yet: the GomX-4B six-unit CubeSat will demonstrate miniaturised technologies, preparing the way for future operational nanosatellite constellations. (Credit: GomSpace)

STOCKHOLM (GomSpace PR) — As part of a mission to demonstrate interlink communication on nanosatellite tandem formation flights and data retrieval, including surveillance of the Arctic area, the Danish nanosatellite specialist GomSpace launched two nanosatellites in February.

Twelve weeks later, GomSpace for the first time showed the possibility of live data capture from the two nanosatellites in space at a press conference held in Aalborg, Denmark. At the same time, the press conference marked the official transition to the so-called demonstration phase, following the mission’s test phase. The latter has thus been successfully completed, and the mission is now ready to carry out its scheduled tasks.

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