NRO Awards Five Contracts for Commercial Radar Capabilities on a Rapid Procurement Timeline

WASHINGTON (NRO PR) — The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) announced the award of five contracts for commercial radar capabilities under the agency’s new Strategic Commercial Enhancements Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) Framework. Companies receiving contracts are Airbus, U.S.; Capella Space; ICEYE, U.S.; PredaSAR; and Umbra.

“We are very pleased with the response to the first focus area under our new BAA,” said Dr. Chris Scolese, NRO director, who announced the release of the BAA acquisition just three months ago. “We know that users across the National System for Geospatial Intelligence are eager to explore commercial radar, and these contracts will allow us to rapidly validate capabilities and the benefits to the national mission.”

The Strategic Commercial Enhancements BAA Framework is designed to reach across disciplines and the global commercial remote sensing market to drive innovation, explore new phenomenologies, and ultimately, to ensure that the U.S. government has access to the best available commercial remote sensing capabilities.

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NanoAvionics Launched 3 Satellites, Including One of the largest CubeSats Ever Built, Aboard SpaceX Transporter-3 Mission

  • Satellites for Sen (16U), Dubai Electricity & Water Authority and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology are all operational
  • Company plans launch of 14 satellites in 2022, including the industry’s first commercially available modular microsat bus (MP42)

VILNIUS, Lithuania, 20 January 2022 (NanoAvionics PR) – NanoAvionics, a leading smallsat manufacturer and mission integrator, confirmed the reception of signals and healthy telemetry data from all of the three satellites launched into low Earth orbit via the successful SpaceX Transporter-3 mission. The rideshare mission that went into orbit on 13 January 2022 included one of the largest and heaviest CubeSats ever built and launched. The 16U small satellite, is the first of five satellites, contracted to NanoAvionics by British company Sen, to establish video streaming media to provide real-time Ultra-High Definition (UHD) videos of Earth.

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OneWeb and Hughes Announce Agreement to bring Low Earth Orbit Satellite Broadband Service to India

NEW DELHI/LONDON/GERMANTOWN, Md., 20 January 2022 (OneWeb PR) — OneWeb, the low Earth orbit satellite communications company, and Hughes Network Systems LLC (“Hughes”), an innovator in satellite and multi-transport technologies and networks for 50 years, today announced a strategic six-year Distribution Partner agreement to provide low Earth orbit (LEO) connectivity services across India. The arrangement between OneWeb and Hughes Communications India Private Ltd. (HCIPL), a joint venture between Hughes and Bharti Airtel Limited (“Airtel”),  follows the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the companies in September 2021.

As the leading satellite broadband provider in India , HCIPL is well positioned to deliver services to enterprise and government with OneWeb capacity, especially in areas outside the reach of fibre connectivity. OneWeb will connect towns, villages, and local and regional municipalities in those hardest-to-reach areas, playing a critical role in bridging the digital divide.

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OSIRIS-REx Mission Team Wins 2022 Swigert Award for Space Exploration

TUCSON, Ariz. (University of Arizona PR) — The NASA and University of Arizona OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission team has been selected to receive the 2022 John L. “Jack” Swigert Jr. Award for Space Exploration by the Space Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates for space exploration and space-inspired industries.

The award will be presented April 4 during the opening ceremony of the 37th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

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Pierre-Yves Tissier Appointed Chief Technical Officer at Arianespace

  • Arianespace announces the appointment of Pierre-Yves Tissier as Chief Technical Officer, effective January 19, 2022.
  • Pierre-Yves Tissier will succeed Roland Lagier after his retirement. He will report to Stéphane Israël, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace, and will join the company’s Executive Committee.

ÉVRY-COURCOURONNES, France (Arianespace PR) — Pierre-Yves Tissier began his career in 1985 at Bertin Technologies, in the turbo-machinery and thermodynamics department before joining the SNPE (today, ArianeGroup) research center, five years later, as Head of the Internal Ballistics Laboratory, a position in which he led numerous projects in civil and military launcher propulsion, in collaboration with the French space agency, CNES, and the French defense procurement agency, DGA.

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Rosalind Franklin Mars Rover Passes Latest Tests Ahead of September Launch

An artist’s impression of the ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover on the surface of Mars. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The UK-built ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover is set for launch in September after a series of successful tests, including driving off its landing platform.

The European Space Agency (ESA) rover starts the year with months of successful maintenance and functional tests behind it. All its instruments are go for flight, with some minor tuning left to complete this month.

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Being in Space Destroys More Red Blood Cells

Astronaut Tim Peake’s first blood draw completed in space. The sample was taken as part of the MARROW experiment. (Credit: NASA)

OTTAWA, Ont. (The Ottawa Hospital PR) — A world-first study has revealed how space travel can cause lower red blood cell counts, known as space anemia. Analysis of 14 astronauts showed their bodies destroyed 54 percent more red blood cells in space than they normally would on Earth, according to a study published in Nature Medicine.

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Kaboom! Smallsat Launch Company Destroys Second Stage in Test at Mojave

ABL Space Systems lost a second stage during a test in Mojave on Jan. 19, 2022. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

MOJAVE, Calif. — The sound of an explosion echoed across California’s Mojave Desert on Wednesday afternoon. I would normally pay little attention to it given how common such things are in Mojave. But, this one was different: instead of nearly daily boom-boom of jet fighters from nearby Edwards Air Force Base going supersonic, this one was a single large BOOM!

And oh, there was a giant cloud of black smoke rising from the rocket test area at the Mojave Air and Space Port. Someone’s engine test had clearly gone awry.

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SpaceX Launches 49 Starlink Satellites into Orbit in Third Falcon 9 Flight of 2022

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — On Tuesday, January 18 at 9:02 p.m. EST, Falcon 9 launched 49 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This was the tenth launch and landing of this Falcon 9 first stage booster, which has launched GPS III-3, Turksat 5A, Transporter-2, and now seven Starlink missions.

Chamath Palihapitiya Comments on Chinese Human Rights Abuses Embarrasses Virgin Galactic

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Well, this isn’t good for Virgin Galactic or the Virgin brand it represents. Gizmodo reports:

Chamath Palihapitiya, the chairman of Virgin Galactic and CEO of Social Capital, doesn’t care about the plight of Uyghurs—a Muslim-majority ethnic group that’s faced persecution by the Chinese government. Numerous reports out of China have documented how the Uyghurs have been subject to forced abortionssystematic rapetorture, and internment in concentration camps. But Palihapitiya says “nobody” cares about the Uyghurs, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Palihapitiya, who’s reportedly worth roughly $1.2 billion and is a co-owner of the [Golden State] Warriors basketball team, made the comments Saturday on his podcast, titled All In, which he co-hosts with tech industry veteran Jason Calacanis.

“Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs,” Palihapitiya said. “You bring it up because you really care, and I think it’s nice that you care. The rest of us don’t care.”

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Good News, Everyone! SSTO is Back!

An artist’s rendering of Radian Aerospace’s fully reusable horizontal takeoff and landing, single-stage to orbit spaceplane flying over Earth. (Credit: Radian Aerospace)
  • Radian Aerospace emerges from stealth, announces seed funding led by Fine Structure Ventures
  • Development of the world’s first fully reusable horizontal takeoff and landing, single-stage to orbit spaceplane takes critical step forward with investment

RENTON, Wash., Jan. 19, 2022 (Radian Aerospace PR) — Radian Aerospace (Radian), the developers of the world’s first fully reusable horizontal takeoff and landing, single-stage to orbit spaceplane, announced today that the company recently closed $27.5 million in seed funding. The recent round was led by Fine Structure Ventures, a venture capital fund affiliated with FMR LLC, the parent company of Fidelity Investments, with additional investment from EXORThe Venture CollectiveHelios CapitalSpaceFundGaingelsThe Private Shares FundExplorer 1 FundType One Ventures as well as others.

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Wyvern Brings Business Intelligence to New Markets Using Compact Satellites

Wyvern raises USD $4.5M and enters Y Combinator, paving the way for access to affordable hyperspectral imagery from space

EDMONTON, Alberta, January 17, 2022 (Wyvern PR) — Wyvern, a space data company making hyperspectral imagery accessible and affordable, announced today its acceptance into the Y Combinator accelerator after closing an oversubscribed USD $2.25M seed round led by MaC Venture Capital, with an additional USD $2.25M raised through earlier pre-seed funding and support from the Government of Canada. Soma Capital, Liquid 2 Ventures, Gaingels, Unpopular Ventures, and Matt Mickiewicz invested alongside lead MaC Venture Capital.

The world has been waiting for hyperspectral imaging to become commercially accessible. An advanced spectral imaging technique that collects hundreds of images at different wavelengths to form 3D data blocks, hyperspectral imaging has the power to detect incredible details invisible to conventional imaging standards.

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Atomos Space Finalizes $5M Investment to Advance In-space Transportation Services

DENVER (Atomos Space PR) — Atomos Space announces an investment from Cantos Ventures bringing the total capital raised in 2021 to $5M. Cantos, an experienced deep tech investor, joined this round with another undisclosed aerospace investor to realize the future of space mobility and logistics. Atomos Space, based in Denver, Colorado, is building orbital transfer vehicles (OTVs) to help satellite operators get to their place in space. Founded by Vanessa Clark and William Kowalski in late 2017, Atomos has won and executed over $2M in contracts with NASA, the US Air Force, and US Space Force, and currently has over $200M of customer interest for in-space mobility.

While the barrier to entry for satellites to get to space has decreased significantly, many applications require orbits unavailable to satellites ridesharing with a larger payload. Enter Atomos’ OTVs. By capturing client satellites and transporting them to their target operational orbit, Atomos solves the last-mile problem in space at a fraction of the cost of dedicated launch. “Some customers need to procure multiple dedicated launches to deploy their constellation,” said Atomos co-founder and COO, William Kowalski. “Our services halve their launch costs.”

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HawkEye 360 Announces Kate Zimmerman as Chief Data Scientist

HERNDON, Va., Jan. 18, 2022 (HawkEye 360 PR) — HawkEye 360 Inc., the world’s leading commercial provider of space-based Radio Frequency (RF) data and analytics, has hired Kate Zimmerman as its first-ever Chief Data Scientist.

In this new role, Zimmerman will develop HawkEye 360’s analytics strategy, identifying and pursuing focus areas for analytics enhancement to further differentiate the company from its competitors. Harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Zimmerman will develop leap-ahead capabilities to provide customers with more value from the company’s RF data.

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