Slingshot Aerospace Raises $8 Million in Series A Funds Led by ATX Ventures

AUSTIN, Texas/EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Slingshot Aerospace, Inc., a leader in situational awareness technology, announced that it has raised $8 million in Series A funds for a total raised of $17.1 million to date.

The round is led by ATX Venture Partners, and includes additional investments from Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Techstars Ventures, and Okapi Venture Capital. Angel investors that participated in the round include former CEO of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation and current Principal Consultant for Plum Run, LLC Keith Masback; Gregory Mead and Marie-Alicia Chang, co-founders of Semetric; and Glenn Degenaars who was recognized as a Top Wealth Advisor for 2020 by Forbes.

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Russian Space Facilities Director Fired in Continued Shakeup Related to Vostochny

Ruslan Mukhamedzhanov (Credit: Roscomsos)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The previously reprimanded head of the Russian company that oversees Russia’s ground-based space infrastructure has been fired in a continuing shakeup related to schedule delays and alleged corruption at the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

The Board of Directors of the Center for Operation of Ground-Based Space Infrastructure Facilities (TsENKI) voted to relieve General Director Andrei Okhlopkov from his post beginning on Nov. 27. A month earlier, Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin had reprimanded him during a visit to Vostochmy.

Okhlopkov had been the head of TsENKI since June 2018. The board replaced him with Ruslan Mukhamedzhanov, a 20-year TsENKI employee who most recently headed up the company’s Barmin Research Institute of Launch Complexes.

TsENKI is responsible for the creation of ground space infrastructure and manages Russian cosmodromes. The company, which is part of Roscosmos, employs more than 12,000 people.

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Japan Launches Optical Data Relay Satellite

A H-2A rocket launched Japan’s first Optical Data Relay Satellite with laser communications capabilities on Sunday from the Tanegashima Space Center.

The civilian-military spacecraft will relay data from Japan’s optical and radar-imaging Information Gathering Satellites as well as JAXA’s scientific spacecraft.

JAXA’s Laser Utilsing Communication System (LUCAS) will use infrared technology to transmit data between the spacecraft and the ground.

The H-2A rocket lifted off at 4:25 p.m. local time from the southern Japanese island. The spacecraft separated at an altitude of 300 km and is using on-board propulsion to reach geosynchronous orbit.

British Engineers Work to Turn Moon Dust into Oxygen

ESA research fellow Alexandre Meurisse and Beth Lomax of the University of Glasgow producing oxygen and metal out of simulated moondust inside ESA’s Materials and Electrical Components Laboratory. (Credit: ESA–A. Conigili)

GLASGOW (ESA PR) — British engineers are fine-tuning a process that will be used to extract oxygen from lunar dust, leaving behind metal powders that could be 3D printed into construction materials for a Moon base.

It could be an early step to establishing an extra-terrestrial oxygen extraction plant. This would help to enable exploration and sustain life on the Moon while avoiding the enormous cost of sending materials from Earth.

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Arianespace to Launch Soyuz from Guiana Space Center

Soyuz 2 launches 34 OneWeb satellites. (Credit: Arianespace webcast)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — On November 29, Arianespace will carry out from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in French Guiana, its eighth launch of the year.

This mission will be the third realized this year with the Soyuz medium-lift launch vehicle, the two previous ones were conducted from Russia.

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China’s Chang’e-5 Spacecraft Enters Lunar Orbit

BEIJING (CNSA PR) — At 20:58 on November 28, Beijing time, the Chang’e-5 probe flew to the moon for about 112 hours and successfully ignited a 3000 N engine at a distance of about 400 kilometers from the lunar surface. About 17 minutes later, the engine shut down normally. According to real-time telemetry data monitoring and judgment, the Chang’e-5 probe braked normally in the recent month and entered the orbit around the moon smoothly.

Near-moon braking is one of the key orbital controls during the flight of the lunar probe. When the high-speed probe approaches the moon, it will apply “brake” braking, in order to make its relative speed lower than the moon’s escape speed, and thus be captured by the moon’s gravity.

The Chang’e-5 probe underwent two orbit corrections during the Earth-Moon transfer process and achieved the expected goal. In the future, the Chang’e-5 probe will adjust the height and inclination of the orbit around the moon, the lander and ascender assembly will be separated from the orbiter and returner assembly, implement the lunar frontal soft landing, and carry out the lunar surface automatic sampling as planned. .

Thales Alenia Space Reaches Milestone in Development of Space Inspire Satellite Line

Artistic view of Space Inspire satellite. (Copyright: Thales Alenia Space /Briot)

CANNES, France (Thales Alenia Space PR)  – Thales Alenia Space, Joint Venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %)  announces that a major milestone for Space Inspire (INstant SPace In-orbit REconfiguration) development has been achieved by the accomplishment of the Preliminary Design Review (PDR).

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ABB and Nüvü to Deliver Exo-planet Cameras for NASA’s Roman Space Telescope

High-resolution illustration of the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope against a starry background. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

\MONTREAL (ABB PR) — A two-year contract awarded to ABB from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will see key ABB/Nüvü Camēras technology fly onboard the space telescope in 2025, on course to capture the first spaceborne images of planets outside our solar system.

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CSA Awards 6 Lunar Science Instruments Study Contracts

The Moon as viewed by NASA’s Mariner 10 in 1973, well before research would find signs of rust on the airless surface. (Credits: NASA/JPL/Northwestern University)

LONGUEIUL, Quebec (CSA PR) — The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is preparing Canada’s space community and collaborating sectors – including Canadian companies, universities, research institutions, and other organizations – for potential roles in the long-term exploration of the Moon. The Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP) was created to provide a wide range of opportunities for Canadian science and technology activities in lunar orbit, on the Moon’s surface, and beyond.

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Virgin Galactic: Pop Goes the Stock Price

The curvature of the Earth from SpaceShipTwo. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

All around the Wall Street
Investors rolled the big dice
Investors thought ’twas a big feat
Pop! Goes the stock price….

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Earlier this week, Rich Smith over at the Motley Fool noted that Virgin Galactic’s stock had popped big time:

Volatile space stock Virgin Galactic Holdings (NYSE:SPCE) is rewarding investors once again on Wednesday, rising 8.7% through 12:15 p.m. EST on no obvious news — or at least, no obviously new news.

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Starship Flight Test Set for Next Week

SpaceX will attempt a high-altitude flight test of its Starship prototype sometime next week. Teslerati reports:

CEO Elon Musk says that SpaceX’s first fully-assembled Starship prototype is on track for its 15-kilometer (~50,000 ft) launch debut after completing a second three-engine static fire test on Tuesday.

Starship serial number 8’s (SN8) three Raptor engines ignited for a few seconds around 5:30 pm CST (UTC-6) on Tuesday, November 24th, less than four hours before a record-breaking Falcon 9 rocket  launched another batch of Starlink satellites roughly a thousand miles to the east. Perhaps briefly producing upwards of 600 metric tons (6000 kN/~1.3M lbf) of thrust, Starship SN8’s second triple-engine static fire was actually the first with that particular trio of engines.

Cameron County has posted the following schedule for closing Highway 4 and Boca Chica Beach to allow SpaceX to conduct the test.

TEMP. CLOSURE DATETIME OF CLOSURE
(CST)
CURRENT BEACH STATUS
Primary DateNov 30, 20207:00 am to 6:00 pmClosure Scheduled
Secondary DateDec 1, 20208:00 am to 5:00 pmClosure Scheduled
Secondary DateDec 2, 20208:00 am to 5:00 pmClosure Scheduled

Musk has estimated there is a one-in-three chance of Starship landing successfully. There are two more Starships in production.

Vega Launcher: Full Support for the Return to Flight Activities From Italian and French Institutions

Vega takes off on its 17th flight on Nov. 16, 2020. (Credit: Arianespace webcast)

ROME (Avio PR) — After the yesterday meeting in Rome, the Undersecretary of State with responsibility for Space Riccardo Fraccaro and the French Minister of Finance with responsibility for Space Bruno Le Maire, issued a joint statement highlighting the full institutional support to the Ariane and Vega programmes, with particular regard to the return-to-flight of the Italian launcher designed and produced by Avio S.p.A. with the ESA (European Space Agency) mandate.

The support was also reiterated by the Italian Interministerial Committee for Space and Aerospace Policies.

The full statement is below

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Rocket Lab to Launch Dedicated Mission for Japanese Earth Imaging Company Synspective

Electron launches with 10 satellites on Oct. 29, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, a space technology company and global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has today announced Japanese Earth-imaging company Synspective as the customer for Rocket Lab’s 17th Electron launch, and its seventh mission of the year.

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Space Capital Launches Second Institutional Fund, Space Talent Careers Site

Space Capital has launched its latest institution fund, Space Capital II, to invest in three areas. The company has also launched a careers site called Space Talent.

Managing Partner Chad Anderson writes in Medium:

Building upon insights from The GPS Playbook, we plan to deploy Space Capital II in the following thematic areas:

Geospatial Intelligence
Applications:
– AgTech
– InsurTech
– ClimateTech
Distribution:
– Synthetic Data

GPS (precise/micro positioning)
Applications:
– Sensor fusion
– AR
– AdTech
– Mobility
– Autonomous Systems
Distribution:
– Next-generation mapping infrastructure
– Precision navigation

Communications
Applications:
– IoT
– Logistics
Distribution:
– 5G
– Cybersecurity

To further stimulate growth in these areas we’ve launched Space Talent, a free career platform and central resources hub built for the global ecosystem of companies at the intersection of space and tech. With over 9,000 jobs and 550 companies across 50 countries, Space Talent matches credible employers with top talent while providing insights into an ever-expanding range of opportunities. The platform also helps founders experiment, build, and finance new businesses by providing resources and the opportunity to receive up to $1.5M in funding from Space Capital and our affiliates.