Spire Closes $40 Million Series B Funding Round

Satellite bus (Credit: Spire)
Satellite bus (Credit: Spire)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Jun 30, 2015 (Spire PR) — Spire, a satellite-powered data company, today announced it closed a $40 million Series B round of funding led by Promus Ventures with participation from new investors Bessemer Venture Partners and Jump Capital, as well as existing investors RRE Ventures and Lemnos Labs, among others. To date, Spire has secured just over $80 million through three rounds of funding. With the new funds, the company will support further growth and expand its constellation from 20 satellites in 2015 to more than 100 by the end of 2017.

The latest round of financing comes at a time when the need for advancements in weather and maritime data is at an all-time high. With the potentially catastrophic 2016 Weather Gap right around the corner, Spire offers a solution to the $2.4 trillion dollar global problem. Emerging as a leader in the ‘Space Race 2.0,’ Spire is the only commercial weather data provider with scheduled launches in 2015. The company will begin deploying its satellites on a near monthly basis beginning September 2015.

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Ellington Airport Becomes 10th FAA Licensed Spaceport

Artist's rendition of Ellington Spaceport includes two Virgin Galactic WhiteKnightTwo/SpaceShipTwo combinations, Orbital ATK's Stargazer air-launch plane, and a futuristic looking point-to-point aircraft. (Credit: Houston Airport System)
Artist’s rendition of Ellington Spaceport includes two Virgin Galactic WhiteKnightTwo/SpaceShipTwo combinations, Orbital ATK’s Stargazer air-launch plane, and a futuristic looking point-to-point aircraft. (Credit: Houston Airport System)

HOUSTON, June 30, 2015 (HAS PR) — The Houston Airport System (HAS) has been granted a Launch Site License from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that enables Ellington Airport (EFD) to establish itself as a launch site for Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLV), making it the 10th commercial spaceport in the United States.

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Satellite Applications Catapult Signs MOU for Houston Spaceport

EllingtonAirportHoustonHARWELL, England (Satellite Applications Catapult PR) — The Satellite Applications Catapult signed a Memorandum of Understanding today with the City of Houston Airport System and the Houston Spaceport to become the first international partner for the city’s commercial spaceport. The MOU states a partnership between the two organisations and the intention to work together in the future.

The announcement was made today as part of a public event where Houston Mayor Annise Parker also announced the creation of a new commercial spaceport in Houston. Representatives from the UK Satellite Applications Catapult, the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA Johnson Space Center, and the Rice Space Institute were all present during the event.

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“The Martian” Author Andy Wier Wins SFF Award

the_martian_movie_posterSILICON VALLEY, CA, June 30, 2015 (SFF PR) — The Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) will host its 10th annual NewSpace conference in San Jose, CA, this July, where author Andy Weir will accept the “Best Presentation of Space” award for his bestselling book, “The Martian”, published by Broadway Books.

The movie adaption of Weir’s book, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig and Jeff Daniels, is scheduled to debut on October 2, 2015. Weir will be presented with the award at the NewSpace Awards Gala taking place on the evening of July 18th.

“It truly is the best thing a writer could hope for,” said Andy Weir, “The Martian” author. “And it’s especially great to be able to bring excitement around space exploration to the general public. This is a defining decade in the U.S. Space Program’s history, where commercialization is being nurtured and great strides are being made to get humans back into space. Mars is hard, space is hard, but we can make it work with the unwavering determination to explore that humanity is known for.”

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Video: Spaceport America Visitors Center Opens Amid Applause, Protests

Last week, officials opened the new Spaceport America Visitors Center in Truth or Consequences, NM, to both applause and protests.

The issue is the city of Truth or Consequences leased the Lee Belle Johnson Senior Recreation Center to Sun Tours as a location to run bus tours out to Spaceport America. Seniors who used the building have been displaced to what they believe is a less attractive site.

Residents have forced a special election in September to vote on whether the Spaceport America Visitors Center should be moved to another location in the city.

This Week on The Space Show

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This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston:

1. Monday, June 29, 2015: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT; 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome back BRENT SHERWOOD from JPL to discuss human spaceflight, Discovery Proposals, and much more.

2. Tuesday, June 30, 2015:,7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CDT): DRL CLARK LINDSEY now with New Space Global is back with us.

3. Friday, July 3, 2015; 9:30 -11 AM PDT (12:30-2 PM EDT; 11:30-1 PM CDT):No show today as this is part of the July 4th holiday weekend.

4. Sunday, July 5, 2015: 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): No show today as part of July 4th holiday weekend.

A Look at the ISS Flight Manifest

Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

There was a lot of discussion on Sunday about the impact of the loss of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft on the International Space Station. NASA officials said the ISS crew was in no danger from a supply standpoint, and they said they would stick to the existing schedule for crew rotation but might change the cargo manifest.

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Falcon 9 Launch Failure Scrambles Schedule

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

With the failure of the Falcon 9 on Sunday, SpaceX’s only launch vehicle will be grounded for an unknown number of months while engineers identify the cause of the crash and make necessary changes to ensure that failure won’t happen again.

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NASA Says ISS Supply Situation Good, Crew in No Danger

Some notes from the NASA press conference covering the loss of Falcon 9 and the Dragon resupply ship on Sunday morning.

Cause of the Accident & Investigation

The cause is as yet undetermined. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who was not at the press conference, Tweeted that there was an overpressure event in the second stage liquid oxygen (LOX) tank prior to the launch vehicle breaking up. “Data suggests counterintuitive cause,” he wrote. Video of the accident appears to show the breakup of the vehicle beginning there.

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ESA, CSF Weigh in on Failed Falcon 9 launch

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain

Hearing the news of today’s loss of SpaceX CRS-7 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain stated: “We at the European Space Agency deeply regret this failure that shows that sending launchers into space is a very hard job. However a failure does not undermine all the previous successes. We wish our colleagues on the other side of the ocean all our best in fixing the problem and getting back into flight again soon”.

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Bolden Weighs in on Falcon 9 Failure

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the loss Sunday of the SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services 7 (CRS-7) mission.

“We are disappointed in the loss of the latest SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. However, the astronauts are safe aboard the station and have sufficient supplies for the next several months. We will work closely with SpaceX to understand what happened, fix the problem and return to flight. The commercial cargo program was designed to accommodate loss of cargo vehicles. We will continue operation of the station in a safe and effective way as we continue to use it as our test bed for preparing for longer duration missions farther into the solar system.

“A Progress vehicle is ready to launch July 3, followed in August by a Japanese HTV flight. Orbital ATK, our other commercial cargo partner, is moving ahead with plans for its next launch later this year.

“SpaceX has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in its first six cargo resupply missions to the station, and we know they can replicate that success. We will work with and support SpaceX to assess what happened, understand the specifics of the failure and correct it to move forward. This is a reminder that spaceflight is an incredible challenge, but we learn from each success and each setback. Today’s launch attempt will not deter us from our ambitious human spaceflight program.”

Falcon 9 Failure in Slow Motion Video

This slow motion video appears to show the failure beginning in the second stage. Elon Musk as Tweeted that there was a overpressure event in the second stage liquid oxygen tank.