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Biz Briefs – India in Talks to Use Blue Origin’s Orbital Reef Station

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
July 3, 2023
Filed under , , , ,
Biz Briefs – India in Talks to Use Blue Origin’s Orbital Reef Station
Blue Origin’s commercial Orbital Reef space station
Image credit: Blue Origin.

Welcome to Biz Briefs! In today’s edition, India is in talks with Blue Origin to use the Orbital Reef space station, ArianeGroup fired a reusable rocket stage with a reusable engine, Spaceport Nova Scotia plans its first launch, Venturi Group reinvents the wheel for lunar rovers, 2022 was a record year for commercial satellites, and much more.

Space Stations

ISRO Chairman S Somanth said the Indian space agency is in talks with Blue Origin about launching astronauts to the planned Orbital Reef commercial space station using the LVM-3 rocket and Gagayaan space station.

NASA achieved its goal of recycling 98 percent of the water on the International Space Station with the help of a Brine Processor Assembly built by Paragon Space Development Corporation.

Reusable Prometheus engine hot fire on Themis rocket stage
Hot fire of Themis stage with Prometheus engine. Image credit: Arianespace.

Rockets & Launches

ArianeGroup conducted a hot fire of a reusable rocket stage for the first time on June 22. A reusable Prometheus engine installed in a reusable Themis rocket stage was fired for 12 seconds. The 100-ton class Prometheus engine uses new materials and manufacturing techniques designed to reduce its cost to just one-tenth that of Ariane 5’s Vulcain 2 engine.

Spaceport Nova Scotia will host its first rocket launch on July 5 between1:00 and 3:00 PM ADT (12:00 to15:00 EDT). A small sounding rocket built by York University will launch from a newly-constructed launch pad. If the launch needs to be delayed, the backup dates are during the same time on July 6 and July 7.

Arianespace’s new Ariane 6 launch vehicle is being prepared for a round of engine fire tests – with the removal of the mobile building that protects the rocket while it sits on the launch pad at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

Hot fire of SLS RS-25 engine
RS-25 engine hot fire. Image credit: NASA.

NASA completed certification of the redesigned RS-25 engines that power the first stage of the Space Launch System. The certification paves the way for Aerojet Rocketdyne to produce new RS-25 engines that are more powerful, efficient, and affordable.

VCs & Accelerators

Global private equity firm NewSpace Capital has joined the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Investor Network. The firm is the first member to invest exclusively in growth-stage companies. The move is part of ESA’s strategy to grow its investor network.

Swiss spacecraft component manufacturer Beyond Gravity and French technology accelerator SpaceFounders of France have signed a cooperation agreement to coordinate the start-up programs they run for start-up companies.

BMNT has received a contract to work with the U.S. Space Force’s SpaceWERX’s Orbital Prime initiative to accelerate technology development for on-orbit servicing, assembly, and manufacturing (OSAM), and stimulate industry investment to grow the space logistics market.

Starlink satellites being deployed.
Starlink satellites being deployed. Image credit: SpaceX.


The Satellite Industry Association said that a record 2,325 commercial satellites were deployed in 2022, an increase of 35 percent over the previous year.

Space Flight Laboratory has completed manufacturing and testing Telesat’s LEO 3 demonstration microsat, and shipped the spacecraft to New Zealand for integration with Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle. The launch is scheduled for July 14.

Momentus is partnering with Eutelsat and OneWeb to provide communications services for the oil and gas industry.

Astroscale has released a plan to safely deorbit its ELSA-d servicer satellite.

Wheel for use on the moon. Image credit: Venturi Group.


Venturi Group has reinvented the wheel for lunar exploration.

Space robotics company Astrobotic Technology and Westinghouse are joining forces to develop space nuclear power systems for NASA and the Department of Defense.

Researchers at Durham University are working with Viasat to better understand atmospheric turbulence in free space optical communications. Viasat has provided £200,000 (USD $254,130) to the researchers for the project.

NASA has selected four teams to move to the final round of the Watts on the Moon Challenge, which is focused on transmitting and storing energy on the moon. The four teams are:

  • Electric Moon (Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio),
  • High Efficiency Long-Range Power Solution (University of California, Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara, California),
  • Michigan Technological University Planetary Surface Technology Development Lab (Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan), and
  • Orbital Mining Corporation (Space technology startup in Golden, Colorado).
Lunar construction equipment
Rendering of technology for fabricating structures on the Moon, utilizing local materials for construction purposes. Image credit: Contour Crafting and University of Southern California,


Leonard David takes a look at how NASA is moving forward with public-private partnerships to develop new technologies needed to sustain astronauts as they live and work on the surface of the moon.

The European Space Agency and satellite manufacturers Airbus Defence and Space, OHB SE, and Thales Alenia Space have announced the Zero Debris Charter that aims to eliminate the creation of new space junk in Earth orbit.

Omkar Nikam analyzes the reasons why India signed the Artemis Accords.

Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) and the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology have signed a letter of intent with the government of Colombia to work together on space projects. SSC will offer its expertise in satellite communications and launch activities from the Esrange Space Center. Colombia aims to develop the country’s capabilities in rocket and satellite missions, satellite ground station development, earth observation, and space data analytics.

Awards & Honors

Northrop Grumman received the prestigious Collier Trophy for building the James Webb Space Telescope.

The World Economic Forum has listed on-orbit spacecraft refueling company Orbit Fab as one of its 100 most promising Technology Pioneers for 2023. The list includes innovative companies focused on sustainability, climate change, and healthcare.


Elizabeth Howell looks at what the United Arab Emirates’ Mission to the Asteroid Belt satellite will teach us about the early Solar System.

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