Author: Doug Messier

Blue Origin Update From Jeff Bezos

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Commissioned pre-burner facility (Credit: Blue Origin)

Commissioned pre-burner facility (Credit: Blue Origin)

Back in March, we shared with you our efforts on building two new test cells to further support risk reduction testing on the BE-4.  We began the construction of these additional facilities in October last year and we’ve just commissioned the first of these cells last week.  This test cell is pressure fed and supports the development of the preburner start and ignition sequence timing that will be used on the upcoming full scale powerpack test campaign.

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Deep Space Industries, SFL to Provide Satellites for HawkEye 360’s Pathfinder Mission

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dsi_logoMOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (DSI PR) — Deep Space Industries, Inc. has been selected by HawkEye 360 as the satellite provider for its Pathfinder small satellite mini-constellation. This is the first step towards the launch of the full commercial constellation of HawkEye 360’s space-based radio frequency mapping and analytics system.

Deep Space Industries (DSI) is the prime contractor for the development and manufacturing of the satellites that will host HawkEye 360’s proprietary data processing technology. The system will use space-based detection of radio signals to locate and characterize wireless spectrum information from Earth.

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Planetary Resources Announces $21.1 Million Funding Round For Sat Constellation

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Ceres constellation (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Ceres constellation (Credit: Planetary Resources)

REDMOND, Wash.,  May 26, 2016 (Planetary Resources PR) – Planetary Resources, Inc., the asteroid mining company, announced today that it has secured US$21.1 million in Series A funding. The capital will be used to deploy and operate Ceres, an advanced Earth observation business that features the first commercial infrared and hyperspectral sensor platform to better understand and manage humanity’s natural resources.

The funding was led by Bryan Johnson and the OS FUND; and joined by Idea Bulb Ventures; Tencent; Vast Ventures; Grishin Robotics; Conversion Capital; The Seraph Group; Space Angels Network, a syndication of investors from Angel.co; and Larry Page. Earth observation will be another aspect of Planetary Resources’ operations in addition to prospecting and mining asteroids.

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Planetary Resources Shelves Arkyd Space Selfies Due to Lack of Funding

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Arkyd-3 satellite (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Arkyd-3 satellite (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Asteroid mining company Planetary Resources sent out the following cancellation and refund message today has been sent to supporters of its ARKYD Kickstarter. The campaign raised money so people could send pictures of themselves into space that would be displayed with Earth in the background.

According to the message, Planetary Resources was only going to launch the satellite if it got other people to give them even more money to fly the mission. That funding was which was not forthcoming from the multiple billionaires that back Planetary Resources (Larry Page, Eric Schmidt and Richard Branson among them) or anyone else the company targeted for funding.

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BEAM Inflation Halted

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BEAM attached to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

BEAM attached to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA is working closely with Bigelow Aerospace to understand why its module did not fully expand today as planned. Engineers are meeting at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to discuss a path forward for the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM). They are evaluating data from the expansion that has occurred thus far. If the data supports a resumption of operations, another attempt to complete the module’s expansion could come as early tomorrow.

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NovaWurks’ HISats Set to Fly on DARPA Phoenix eXCITe Spacecraft

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novawurks_logoSecond Mission for HISats Is Designed to Explore Experimentation of Cellular Integration Technology

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif., NovaWurks — NovaWurks™ Inc., a provider of high-technology space products and services, announced today that the company’s flagship technology, the Hyper-Integrated Satlet (HISat™), is scheduled for launch into space through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s Phoenix program. As part of Phoenix’s goal to develop new satellite architectures, DARPA plans to launch its eXperiment for Cellular Integration Technology (eXCITe) spacecraft to validate the concept of an aggregated satlet system cluster in low Earth orbit (LEO).

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miniPCR Announces First DNA Amplification in Space

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Thermal cycler (Credit: miniPCR)

Thermal cycler (Credit: miniPCR)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 25, 2016 (miniPCR PR) — miniPCR™ announced the first successful DNA amplification on the International Space Station (ISS). Using a miniPCR thermal cycler, astronauts performed Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) on DNA samples on April 19th. Analysis performed today on Earth confirms that DNA amplification done in microgravity was successful, ushering in a new era in space exploration.

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SpaceX Running More Than One Year Behind Schedule on Commercial Crew

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Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX’s commercial crew program is running more than a year behind schedule on the Commercial Crew program it is performing for NASA.

Garrett Reisman, SpaceX’s Director of Crew Operations, said on Tuesday that an automated flight test of the Crew Dragon vehicle to the International Space Station (ISS) has slipped into the second quarter of 2017.  (Spaceflight Now has the mission listed for May 2017.) It was scheduled to occur in March 2016 under the contract NASA awarded to SpaceX in September 2014.

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ThumbSat to Set Up Operations in Tijuana

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thumbsat_logoTIJUANA, Mexico (Tijuana EDC PR) – Wade VanLandingham, President of ThumbSat Inc., made the official announcement that the company has started production in the research park complex of the Technology University of Tijuana. They partnered with MXSpace, Simple Complexity, and local and federal government agencies in Mexico to bring a modern electronics manufacturing and testing facility to one of Mexico’s most exciting cities, Tijuana.

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Arianespace to Supply OneWeb Payload Dispensers

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OneWeb satellite. (Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)

OneWeb satellite. (Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)

EVRY, France (Arianespace PR) – Arianespace announced today that it has signed a contract with the global satellite internet company OneWeb to design, qualify and supply 21 payload dispensers for the deployment of the OneWeb constellation, along with five more on option.

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DARPA Releases XS-1 Phase II/III Solicitation

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Credit: DARPA

Credit: DARPA

DARPA released a solicitation for bids for its XS-1 Phase II/III program on Monday. The private-public partnership includes $140 million in DARPA funding for the reusable booster. According to the solicitation:

“The overall objective of the XS 1 Phase II/III program is to design, build, and flight test a reusable booster system prototype to support an upper stage capable of inserting a minimum of 3,000 pounds to orbit, with a design goal of less than $5M cost per launch for an operational system. The program will demonstrate on-demand and routine flight operations by flying the booster ten times in ten days and launch a demonstration payload greater than 900 pounds to orbit.

“This program solicitation solicits proposals that either, 1) propose a system at a preliminary design review level of rigor tailored for a demonstration rather than an acquisition program, or 2) propose a preliminary design derived from vehicle hardware the proposer has developed and tested. Phase II includes the final design, fabrication, integration, assembly, and ground test of the XS-1 reusable booster system prototype. Phase III is the flight test campaign.”

The solicitation is open to all U.S. companies. Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Masten Space Systems received contracts under Phase I.

The deadline is July 22.

House Appropriations Committee Sets NASA Spending at $19.5 Billion

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 NASA astronaut Suni Williams exits a test version of the Orion spacecraft in the agency’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston. The testing is helping NASA identify the best ways to efficiently get astronauts out of the spacecraft after deep space missions. (Credit: NASA)

NASA astronaut Suni Williams exits a test version of the Orion spacecraft in the agency’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston. The testing is helping NASA identify the best ways to efficiently get astronauts out of the spacecraft after deep space missions. (Credit: NASA)

The House Appropriations Committee is marking up a FY 2017 spending bill today that would boost NASA’s spending by $215 million to $19.5 billion dollars. The amount is roughly $500 million more than the $19 billion requested by the Obama Administration.

Appropriators have zeroed out money for NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), instead instructing the space agency to focus on lumar missions applicable to sending astronauts to Mars.

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A Closer Look at Satellite Applications Catapult

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Video Caption: The UK space sector is worth £11.8bn and aims to create a £40bn industry by 2030. The Catapult is tasked with helping generate £5bn of this total. Discover how we’re doing so.

New Iridium Service Replaces and/or Augments GPS

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Iridium_logo

MCLEAN, Va., May 23, 2016 (Iridium PR) — Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM) announced today the official launch of Satellite Time and Location (STL), an alternative or companion to traditional location-based technologies, and declared it ready for use.

For the first time, end users now have access to accurate and resilient position, navigation and timing (PNT) technology that works anywhere on the planet, even indoors. Due to the unique architecture of its 66 cross-linked, low-earth orbit satellite constellation, Iridium® is the only network that has the global coverage and reliability needed to deliver this highly unique, robust and cost-effective solution to the market.

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India Launches RLV Technology Demonstrator

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RLV-TD lifts off (Credit: ISRO0

RLV-TD lifts off (Credit: ISRO0

BANGALORE (ISRO PR) — Today, May 23, 2016 ISRO successfully flight tested India’s first winged body aerospace vehicle operating in hypersonic flight regime.

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