Rocket Lab Prepares to Launch CubeSat Mission for NASA

Electron It’s Business Time lift-off (Credits: Kieran Fanning & Sam Toms)

Huntington Beach, California (Rocket Lab PR) – US small satellite launch company Rocket Lab is gearing up for the company’s third orbital launch of the year, the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa)-19 mission for NASA. The launch is a significant moment for the small satellite industry, as it’s the first time NASA CubeSats will enjoy a dedicated ride to orbit on a commercial launch vehicle, thanks to NASA’s forward-leaning Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) initiative.  VCLS is managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program headquartered at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

(more…)

Liftoff for Pioneering Nanosats

Pioneer Spire nanosatellite in RF test chamber. (Credit: Spire)

SRIHARIKOTA, India (ESA PR) — The first ‘Pioneer’ mission lifted off last week from Sriharikota, India, with the two inventive little nanosatellites now circling the Earth, ready for action.

The shoebox-sized satellites were launched at 04:27 GMT into low Earth orbit by the Indian Space Research Organisation’s PLSV launcher, and opened their first communication windows with their owner, Spire Global, less than an hour after they separated from the rocket.

(more…)

DLR Developing Reusable Rocket Engine for Small Satellite Launcher

Rocket motor during hot fire test (Credit: DLR)
  • DLR researchers have developed a reusable rocket engine specifically for the launch of small satellites.
  • The rocket engine consists of two central components: a metal injector head manufactured by means of metal 3D printing and a ceramic combustion chamber.
  • Small satellites have the potential to fundamentally change the space industry.
  • Focus: space, small satellites, new manufacturing technologies, fibre ceramics

STUTTGART, Germany (DLR PR) — Whether alone or in a constellation, small satellites weighing from just a few kilograms (nanosatellites) up to several hundred kilograms (micro- and minisatellites) are becoming increasingly technologically sophisticated and have the potential to fundamentally change the space industry. In the coming years, hundreds of such small satellites will be carried into Earth orbit.

As part of the EU project SMILE (Small Innovative Launcher for Europe), researchers from the Institute of Structures and Design at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have developed a reusable rocket engine especially for launching such satellites, and have performed an initial series of successful trials on a test rig.
(more…)

Video: CNBC Interviews Rocket Lab Founder Peter Beck

Video Caption: Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket comes at a price tag that’s only a fraction of the $50 million or more it costs to launch a larger rocket. How will that revolutionize the industry and expand who will be able to send satellites into space? Rocket Lab put seven spacecraft in orbit on Saturday with its first commercial launch, as the company grew its lead in the burgeoning small rocket industry.

(more…)

Landspace Identifies Reaction Control System Leak as Cause of Launch Failure

Landspace has concluded a damaged third stage reaction control system that developed a fuel leak caused the failure of the private Chinese launch company’s ZhuQue-1 rocket during its maiden flight on Oct. 27, GB Times reports.

The anomaly, which occurred 6 minutes 42 seconds after liftoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, made the rocket go out of control and sent the Weila-1 (Future-1) micro-satellite plunging into the Indian Ocean.

The conclusion is a preliminary one. The company is conducting additional analysis to confirm the finding.

It was the first orbital launch attempt by a private Chinese space company. A number of Chinese commercial startups are competing for business in the orbital and suborbital markets.

Landspace said the three-stage rocket reached an altitude of 337 km (209.4 miles), which means it entered space without achieving orbit.  The booster reached a top speed of 6.3 km/second (14,093 mph), which is below orbital velocity.

SSL Selected to Compete for Contract to Provide SmallSat Solutions to Department of Defense

PALO ALTO, CA, Oct. 8, 2018 (SSL PR) – SSL, a Maxar Technologies company (formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.) (NYSE: MAXR) (TSX: MAXR), and a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, has been selected as one of three companies qualified to compete for Department of Defense business under a contract called Small Spacecraft Prototyping Engineering Development and Integration – Space Solutions (SSPEDI).

NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the contract under an interagency agreement with the Department of Defense’s Space Rapid Capabilities Office. The new contract is one of a number of innovative and promising programs in SSL’s growing U.S. government portfolio.

(more…)

PLD Space, Airborne Systems North America sign to Develop Llauncher Recovery Systems

ARION 1 & 2 technology demonstration. (Credit: PLD Space)

PLD Space is developing a family of recoverable launch vehicles
Airborne Systems has almost 100 years of experience in the EDLS systems

ELCHE, Spain — October 3, 2018 (PLD Space PR) — Airborne Systems has developed a parachute recovery system for PLD Space to advance the development of their recoverable launch vehicle family (ARION 1 and ARION 2). Drawing on almost 100 years of experience with the design and development of Entry, Descent and Landing Systems (EDLS), Airborne Systems provide a solution consisting of a Drogue parachute Subsystem and a Main parachute subsystem.

(more…)

Phasor and Kepler Usher in New Era of Satellite Communications

WASHINGTON, D.C./TORONTO, September 10, 2018 (Phasor/Kepler Communications PR) – Phasor, the developer of leading, enterprise-grade electronically-steerable antenna systems, and Kepler, a low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite operator and telecommunication services provider today announce successful tests between Kepler’s first in-orbit LEO nanosatellite and Phasor’s wideband electronically-steered antenna.

Kepler’s satellite, KIPP, launched in January, represents the first example of a wideband LEO satellite to have been auto-acquired, auto-tracked, and communicated with, by a commercial flat panel, electronically-steerable antenna.

(more…)

India Developing Small Satellite Launcher

India is moving to compete in the growing small satellite launch market.

ISRO is working on building smaller launch vehicles that will carry satellites weighing 500 to 700-kg to up to 500 kilometres from the Earth’s surface, the Indian space agency’s chief K. Sivan said….

“The demand for small satellites is growing. Small satellites are going to be used for communication purposes in an enormous way. To catch up with the small satellites market, ISRO is in the process of developing a small satellite launcher,” he said….

“We are working on small satellite launch vehicles. These will be able to launch a satellite of 500 to 700-kilograms in a range of 500 kilometre from Sriharikota (the Satish Dhawan Space Centre),” he said. ISRO will need 50-60 such vehicles every year, Sivan said, noting that the industry should come forward in this endeavour as over the next 3-4 years as the prime focus of the space research agency would be on the Gaganyan.

Japan’s Space Walker Aims for Space Tourism Flights & Small Satellite Launches

Credit: Space Walker

TOKYO — A Japanese startup named is developing a new launch vehicle that will orbit small satellites and carry tourists on suborbital flights beginning in 2027.

Credit: Space Walker

Space Walker plans a series of suborbital flight tests with a prototype vehicle. The system will then be outfitted with a second stage capable of launching small satellites into orbit.

Credit: Space Walker

The final version of the Space Walker system would carry six passengers and two pilots beginning in 2027.

The program includes IHI Corporation and JAXA as partners.

The company was founded by Koichi Yonemoto, a professor at Kyushu Institute of Technology who formerly worked at Kawasaki Heavy Industries. Partners in the venture include IHI Corporation and the Japanese space agency JAXA.

Disruptive New Entrants Lead Small-satellite Launch Race

CubeSats deployed from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

On-demand launch services and global ground station service expansion drive multiple growth opportunities that could take demand launch services revenues past $70 billion by 2030, finds Frost & Sullivan

LONDON, Aug. 7, 2018 (Frost & Sullivan PR) — Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis, Small-satellite Launch Services Market Quarterly Update Q2 2018, reveals that the market is abuzz with major service providers such as PSLV, CASC, Rocket Lab, JAXA, SpaceX, Roscosmos, and others launching a total of 62 small-satellites in the first quarter of 2018.

Frost & Sullivan now expects launch demand to increase to 11,740 small-satellites by 2030 with revenues reaching $70.10 billion. Commercial players will offer and enable real-time imagery, digital transformation, and seamless global connectivity.

(more…)

NASA Announces Initiative to Boost Small Science Satellite Efforts

Artist illustration of events on the sun changing the conditions in Near-Earth space. A new study finds daily U.S. economic cost from solar storm-induced electricity blackouts could be in the tens of billions of dollars. (Credit: NASA)

LOGAN, Utah — The head of NASA’s science programs unveiled an $100 million per year initiative on Monday focused on the use of small scuebce satellites that includes data buys from three spacecraft constellation operators.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said the funding would go to targeted space science, technology and educational projects. He made the announcement during a keynote address at the annual Small Satellite Conference in Logan, Utah.

A key element of the initiative is the purchase of Earth science data from companies with satellite constellations in Earth orbit. Zurbuchen announced that the first purchases will be made from DigitalGlobe, Planet and Spire. He did not disclose the amounts of the awards.

Zurbuchen said NASA’s goal is to work with the growing small-satellite industry, not to compete with it. The space agency will invest in early-stage research and development to advance and test new technologies.

Zurbuchen also announced a new opportunity for small-satellite technology demonstrations focused on heliophysics that will be funded at up to $65 million.

“This opportunity will ultimately help deploy #SmallSat technologies to better understand @NASASun science and protect Americans by protecting US technological infrastructure on Earth and in space from the perils of space weather,” he tweeted.

Zurbuchen said NASA plans to provide more launch and rideshare opportunities for small satellites built by government, commercial and international partners.

Vector Space Moves Forward on Manufacturing, Testing