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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First Quarter Commercial Space Investment Reached Nearly $1 Billion

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

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX received $500 million of the nearly $1 billion in investment raised by commercial space companies during the first quarter of 2018, according to the Space Investment Quarterly report from Space Angels.

“SpaceX shows no signs of slowing down—after the inaugural flight of the Falcon Heavy, the company secured $500 million from Fidelity Investments to drive development of their satellite communications network, Starlink,” the report added.

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Earth-i Releases Full-color Video of Earth Taken From Space

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Earth-i PR) — ‘New Space’ pioneer Earth-i today released the first video taken by VividX2, the technology prototype for its Vivid-i Constellation.

Launched on 12 January 2018, VividX2 is the world’s first commercial satellite able to provide full-colour video of life on Earth.

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NIAC Phase I Awards Focused on Advanced Remote Sensing & Orbital Debris


The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at two Phase I awards focused on advanced remote sensing and orbital debris.

Rotary Motion Extended Array Synthesis (R-MXAS)
John Kendra
Leidos, Inc.

On-Orbit, Collision-Free Mapping of Small Orbital Debris
Christine Hartzell
University of Maryland, College Park

Each award is worth up to $125,000 for a nine-month study. Descriptions of the awards are below.

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ESA Testing the Detection of Plastic Litter From Orbit

Testing detection of ocean plastic from space. (Credit: ESA–J. Veiga)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The millions of tonnes of plastic ending up in the oceans every year are a global challenge. ESA is responding by looking at the detection of marine plastic litter from space, potentially charting its highest concentrations and understanding the gigantic scale of the problem.

We dump around 10 million tonnes of plastic in the oceans annually. Though most conspicuous along coastlines, plastic litter is also found out in the open ocean and from the equator to the pole – even frozen in polar ice.

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Plastics, Pollution & Pirates: Satellite Vu Prepares to Tackle Humanity’s Global Challenges

Credit: Satellite Vu

LONDON and WASHINGTON, DC (Satellite Vu PR) — Pioneering NewSpace company, Satellite Vu, is preparing to provide a disruptive service to those who tackle critical global issues. Earth observation has become a key part of environmental monitoring, delivering a wealth of information using combinations of sensor data and high resolution imagery. Satellite Vu is poised to transform this market through the launch of unique and ground-breaking satellites that will deliver infrared imaging and hourly re-visit times, both day and night.

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