Airbus Launches OPTIMA Photonics Payload Technology Project

STEVENAGE, England, March 15, 2018 (Airbus PR) – Airbus has launched the OPTIMA project, which will deliver a proof of concept demonstrator for the use of photonic payloads in telecommunications satellites.

The OPTIMA project, which is led by Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage and part of Horizon 2020 funded by the European Commission, comprises specialist partners from across Europe, including: DAS Photonics, CORDON Electronics, SODERN, IMEC and Polatis. Airbus Defence and Space will define, assemble and test a photonic payload demonstrator based on the components and equipment developed by the other members of the consortium.


ILS Secures Additional Orders for Proton Medium Vehicle

Proton launches EchoStar 21 satellite. (Credit: Roscosmos)

RESTON, Va. (ILS PR) — ILS, a leading provider of commercial launch services, announced multiple launch assignments for Proton Medium launches that will include the use of both the 4.35 meter and the new 5.2 meter payload fairing. The missions will take place beginning in late 2019 from Pad 24 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.


U.S. Air Force Awards Launch Contracts to SpaceX, ULA

SpaceX launched its 12th resupply mission to the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 12:31 p.m. EDT on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. (Credit: NASA Television)

The U.S. Air Force has announced the awarding of launch contracts to Elon Musk’s SpaceX and rival United Launch Alliance. SpaceX’s firm-fixed-price contract totals $290,594,130 while ULA was awarded a firm-fixed-price contract worth $354,811,947.

“This contract provides launch vehicle production, mission integration/launch operations/spaceflight worthiness and mission unique activities for a GPS III mission, with options for two additional GPS III launch services,” the Air Force said about the SpaceX contract.

“This award is the result of a competitive acquisition and two offers were received,” the press statement said. “Fiscal 2017 and 2018 space procurement funding in the amount of $96,937,905 will be obligated at the time of award.”

ULA’s contract is for the launch of the AFSPC-8 and AFSPC-12 satellites to geosynchronous orbit.

“This award is the result of a competitive acquisition and two offers were received,” the Air Force said. “Fiscal 2017 and 2018 space procurement; and fiscal 2018 research, development, test, and evaluation funding in the amount of $354,811,947 will be obligated at the time of award.”

Rocket Lab Plans for Electron Commercial Flight

Electron soars into orbit. (Credit: Screenshot from Rocket Lab webcast)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif., March 13, 2018 (Rocket Lab PR) — US orbital launch provider Rocket Lab has today confirmed its next launch will be the company’s first fully commercial flight. Two Lemur-2 cubesats for launch customer Spire Global will be on board the upcoming launch, with the full manifest to be confirmed in coming weeks.

The flight’s name was put to a vote on social media, with “It’s Business Time” coming out as a clear fan favourite and a continuation of company’s previous flight names, “It’s a Test” and “Still Testing”.


Orbital ATK Announces New Mission Extension Pods

Video Caption: During this year’s SATELLITE 2018 Conference and Exhibition, Orbital ATK, a leader in the emerging space logistics market, debuted the next generation of in-orbit satellite serving technology with the introduction of Mission Extension Pods (MEPs)™ and the Mission Robotic Vehicle (MRV)™. These two products join Orbital ATK’s Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV)™, creating a suite of in-orbit satellite servicing products focused on extending the life of existing satellites.

mu Space Confirms Satellite Mission Aboard New Glenn

Credit: mu Space

WASHINGTON, DC (mu Space PR) – mu Space Corp today confirmed at the Satellite 2018 that they will launch a geostationary satellite aboard Blue Origin’s New Glenn orbital rocket. The launch window starts in late 2020.

Commenting on the announcement, mu Space CEO James Yenbamroong says, “mu Space is opening a new era for satellite communications and space technology for Thailand and the Asia-Pacific region.”


Astrobotic Awarded NASA Contract to Develop CubeRover for Lunar Missions

CubeRover on the moon (Credit: Astrobotic)

Pittsburgh, PA (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, has been selected by NASA for a Phase II SBIR Award to develop CubeRover, a class of 2-kg rover platform capable of small-scale science and exploration on the Moon and other planetary surfaces. This new small rover platform complements Astrobotic’s lunar payload delivery service by providing a low-cost mobility capability to the lunar surface for customers around the world.


R.I.P. Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking (Credit: NASA)

Stephen Hawking died on Wednesday at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76 years old.

Hawking was a great scientist who contributed much to our understanding of the Universe and our place in it. More important, perhaps, was the heroic way he dealt with the cruel blow that fate dealt him. He made the best of a truly terrible situation, and for that each of us can take inspiration.

Rest in peace, Stephen.

Trump Calls for Space Force, Says We’re Going to Mars

Let me do a little fact checking in this 58 second clip.

Trump: “You see the rockets going up left and right. You haven’t seen that for a long time.”

— The U.S. has been number 1 or 2 in terms of launches for many years. And it has experienced far fewer failures than Russia over the past decade. Our launch rate is increasing thanks to SpaceX, but Trump’s claim that we were somehow lagging is ridiculous.

Trump: “Very soon, we’re going to Mars.”

— Umm…no, we’re not. The moon. Remember? We’re going back to the moon. You signed an executive order saying that like three months ago.

Trump: “You wouldn’t have been going to Mars if my opponent won. That I can tell you. You wouldn’t even be thinking about it.”

— To REPEAT: We’re NOT going to Mars with you in charge. At least not anytime soon.

Trump: “You know, I was saying the other day because we’re doing a tremendous amount of work in space, maybe we need a new force, we’ll call it the space force. And I was not really serious, and then I said, ‘What a great idea. Maybe we’ll have to do this.'”

— OK so, I seem to recall this proposal was debated for months and eventually rejected. So, it’s not a new idea Trump magically came up with just the other day. And the time to weigh in to support it was a couple of months ago. It’s kind of what presidents are supposed to do.

Thales Alenia Space, Telespazio & Spaceflight Industries Finalize Alliance to Manufacture Smallsats at Scale

Global-1 satellite (Credit: BlackSky)

Parties will deliver innovative geospatial services using the high revisit rate BlackSky constellation

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2018 (Spaceflight Industries PR)  At the Satellite 2018 conference, The Space Alliance formed by Thales Alenia Space (Thales 67%, Leonardo 33%) and Telespazio (Leonardo 67%, Thales 33%) announced today it has officially taken a minority stake in Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries, having received all government approvals for the transaction.


Scientists Share Ideas for Gateway Activities Near the Moon

The space station formerly known as the Deep Space Gateway (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA is looking at how the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway can create value for both robotic and human exploration in deep space.

In late 2017, the agency asked the global science community to submit ideas leveraging the gateway in lunar orbit to advance scientific discoveries in a wide range of fields. NASA received more than 190 abstracts covering topics human health and performance, Earth observation, astrophysics, heliophysics, and lunar and planetary sciences, as well as infrastructure suggestions to support breakthrough science.