NASA Announces New Tipping Point Partnerships for Moon and Mars Technologies

Astrobotic is one of 14 companies selected for NASA’s Tipping Point solicitation. This illustration depicts CubeRover, an ultra-light, modular and scalable commercial rover.(Credit: Astrobotic/Carnegie Mellon University)

Astrobotic, Blue Origin, ExoTerra, Paragon and SpaceX among contract awardees for advanced technologies

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 14 American companies as partners whose technologies will help enable the agency’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.

The selections are based on NASA’s fourth competitive Tipping Point solicitation and have a combined total award value of about $43.2 million. This investment in the U.S. space industry, including small businesses across the country, will help bring the technologies to market and ready them for use by NASA.

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Skykraft, Equatorial Launch Australia Sign Letter of Intent for Strategic Partnership

Letter of Strategic Intent

Skykraft Pty Ltd and Equatorial Launch Australia Pty Ltd (ELA) agree to develop a strategic relationship that leverages the strengths of both companies. Those being, Skykraft as a designer and manufacturer of small satellite (SmallSAT) constellations for a broad range of space-based services, and ELA as the operator of Australia’s first commercial spaceport, located near Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory.

The combination of Skykraft’s rapid constellation design and manufacture capability, plus ELA’s ability to tailor the launch options through their established spaceport and access to a wide selection of launch vehicles, provides Australia and the broader space community with an end-to-end solution for rapid, flexible and responsive space access.

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Kuaizhou-1A Lofts Two Satellites into Orbit, 8-9 More Launches Planned for 2019

China’s Kuaizhou-1A light launcher orbited two small satellites from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Friday in a successful commercial mission.

The solid-fuel booster launched DFH Satellite Company’s KX-09 microgravity experimental satellite and SpaceTY’s Xiaoxiang 1-07 CubeSat.

The Kuaizhou-1A booster is manufactured and launches are managed by Expace, which is a subsidiary of the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC).

CASIS said it is planning to launch Kuaizhou-1A eight or nine more times before the end of the year. This was the booster’s first launch of 2019.

It was the fifth successful flight in five attempts for the solid-fuel Kuaizhou family of boosters, and the third success for the upgraded Kuaizhou-1A variant. The booster can place payloads weighing up to 200 kg (441 lbs) in 700 km (435 mile) high sun synchronous orbits.

Momentus to Provide In-Space Transportation Service to Customers on SpaceX Smallsat Rideshare Launch

Vigoride (Credit: Momentus)

SANTA CLARA, Calif., August 22, 2019 (Momentus PR) — Momentus (http://www.momentus.space), provider of in-space shuttle services that move satellites between orbits, today announced plans to provide orbital shuttle service to its customers on SpaceX’s first dedicated SmallSat Rideshare mission.

Momentus’ Vigoride orbital shuttle will carry multiple customer satellites, with a total mass up to 250 kg, each to its own custom orbit on a mission scheduled to launch no earlier than late 2020. As part of this launch, Momentus will offer its customers the ability to access multiple destination orbits through its in-space last-mile transportation services.

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New Chinese Booster Launches 3 Satellites

Xinhua reports that a new Smart Dragon-1 booster launched three satellites into orbit from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on its maiden flight.

The rocket, developed by the China Rocket Co. Ltd. affiliated to the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALVT), blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China at 12:11 p.m. (Beijing Time).

The three satellites, respectively developed by three Beijing-based companies, will be used for remote sensing services, communication and Internet of Things.

Different from the carrier rockets of the Long March family, the new Dragon series is developed in a commercial mode to meet the market demand of launching small commercial satellites, said Wang Xiaojun, head of CALVT.

The SD-1, with a total length of 19.5 meters, a diameter of 1.2 meters, and a takeoff weight of about 23.1 tonnes, is a small-scale solid-propellant carrier rocket capable of sending 200 kg payloads to the solar synchronous orbit at an altitude of 500 km.

NASA Selects Smallsat Proposals for Satellites to Study Space Weather

In this image, taken by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory on Feb. 27, 2000, a coronal mass ejection is seen erupting from the Sun, which is hidden by the disk in the middle, so the fainter material around it can be seen. (Credits: ESA/NASA/SOHO)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected two proposals to demonstrate small satellite technologies to improve science observations in deep space, which could help NASA develop better models to predict space weather events that can affect astronauts and spacecraft.

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JPL’s MarCO Wins the ‘Oscar’ for Tiny Spacecraft

Mars as seen from the MarCO-B satellite. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — The first briefcase-size CubeSats to journey to another planet have been honored for their role in NASA InSight’s successful Mars landing. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) bestowed their Small Satellite Mission of the Year award to Mars Cube One, or MarCO, Aug. 8, 2019, at the annual Small Satellite Conference in Logan, Utah.

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Propelling the Field of Small Sats Forward

Brandie Rhodes checks the electrical connections of HyPer in a vacuum chamber. (Credit: Jeff Berting/Aerospace)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation) — Small satellites are becoming more and more capable, taking over missions that used to require larger spacecraft. However, adding propulsion systems to these smaller platforms remains a challenge, which means many small sats are limited to applications that do not require active orbit maintenance, increases in altitude, or changes in inclination.

Working in conjunction with the University of Southern California, Aerospace is developing a monopropellant vapor propulsion system that could help solve this problem.

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ICEYE Releases World-First Under 1-Meter Resolution Radar Imagery from SAR Microsatellites

ICEYE radar satellite imagery that has been acquired and processed at 0.5-meter ground sample distance, featuring a port container terminal near Port Harcourt, Nigeria. (Credit: ICEYE)

HELSINKI, August 9, 2019 (ICEYE PR) – ICEYE, the global leader in small satellite synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) technology, is the first in the world to achieve better-than 1 meter resolution imagery from under-100kg (220 pounds) SAR satellites.

The new Spotlight imaging capability builds on ICEYE’s legacy of leading the way on small satellite SAR since its history-making first small SAR satellite launch in January 2018. Since then the company has continued to launch more satellites, latest in July 2019 with two new units. With new satellites being launched still during 2019, ICEYE continues to develop and optimize its imaging capabilities further for customers in both commercial and government segments.

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Orbex, Innovative Space Logistics Sign European Space Launch Agreement

Prime rocket launch from Sutherland spaceport. (Credit: Orbex/Anders Bøggild)

Agreement to provide all-European solutions for smallsat launches including purchase of launches from Scottish spaceport on Orbex Prime launcher

LOGAN, Utah, August 7, 2019 (ISL PR) – Innovative Space Logistics B.V. (ISL) and UK-based orbital launch services provider Orbex today signed a wide-ranging Cooperation Agreement at the 33rd Annual Conference on Small Satellites in Logan, Utah. The co-operation will include technical launch services including launch manifest coordination and payload integration. As part of the agreement, ISL will also procure orbital space launches from Orbex for a number of its smallsat customer missions.

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Euroconsult Research Projects Smallsat Market to Nearly Quadruple Over Next Decade

Credit: Euroconsult

Paris, Washington D.C., Montreal, Yokohama, August 5, 2019 – According to Euroconsult’s newly released research, Prospects for the Small Satellite Market, the market for small satellite (smallsat) manufacturing and launch will grow from $12.6 billion in 2009-2018 to $42.8 billion in the coming decade from 2019-2028, nearly quadrupling in size.

While the growth is led by large constellations such as OneWeb, SpaceX’s Starlink and Amazon’s Project Kuiper, the findings show that the smallsat industry is highly diverse, with demand from a variety of operators, start-ups, universities, and countries.

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Spaceflight Purchases First Commercial Launch on India’s New Small Satellite Launcher

SEATTLE, August 6, 2019 (Spaceflight PR) Spaceflight, the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, today announced it has purchased the first commercial launch of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) from NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) scheduled for launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India later this year.

Spaceflight has already sold-out the entire manifest for this secured SSLV-D2 launch with spacecraft from an undisclosed U.S.-based satellite constellation customer. Spaceflight will aggregate the mission, delivering a single point of contact for the customer, handling all aspects of integration and mission management for the launch. 

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SpaceX Offers Dedicated Ride Program for Small Satellites

SpaceX announced today that it will be offering dedicated rideshare launches for small satellites.

Pricing to sun-synchronous orbit. (Credit: SpaceX)

“SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program will provide small satellite operators with regularly scheduled, dedicated Falcon 9 rideshare missions to SSO for ESPA class payloads for as low as $2.25M per mission, which includes up to 150 kg of payload mass,” the company said on its website.

Pricing to sun-synchronous orbit. (Credit: SpaceX)

“Unlike traditional rideshare opportunities, these missions will not be dependent on a primary,” the company added. “These missions will be pre-scheduled and will not be held up by delays with co-passengers.”

Rideshare launch schedule (Credit: SpaceX)

More information is available here.

FCC Streamlines Application Process for Small Satellites

WASHINGTON, August 1, 2019 (FCC PR) — The Federal Communications Commission today significantly streamlined the application process for a category of satellites known as small satellites. Its action provides an alternative, cheaper, and more flexible authorization process for this fast-growing segment of the commercial satellite communications market.

Small satellite systems have myriad uses, including scientific and research missions as well as communications and remote sensing, and are now increasingly used for commercial endeavors. Many small satellites are launched not as large constellations, but as part of small-scale operations consisting of a single satellite or only a few satellites.

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iSpace Launches Payloads into Space

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

iSpace, aka, Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology Ltd., has become the first private Chinese company to launch payloads into orbit.

The company launched its four-stage Hypobola-1 rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert on Thursday afternoon local time.

iSpace reported the rocket deployed the CAS-7B amateur radio satellite and a technology verification satellite for China Central Television. Three additional payloads remained attached to the upper stage as planned.

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