Parabolic Arc Space Tourism ... and Much More Mon, 24 Apr 2017 00:31:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Cygnus Delivers NanoRacks’ Largest CubeSat Mission to ISS Mon, 24 Apr 2017 00:31:37 +0000 HOUSTON (NanoRacks PR) — Orbital ATK’s Cygnus (OA-7) spacecraft successfully berthed to the International Space Station (ISS) early this morning after launching Tuesday, April 18th from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This mission is NanoRacks’ largest CubeSat mission to date – carrying 38 CubeSats to be deployed from NanoRacks deployers on both the ISS and on the outside of Cygnus.

The largest portion of this mission includes 28 CubeSats from the QB50 Mission. The QB50 Mission consists of dozens of universities located around the world – including Israel, Canada, Australia, Korea, Spain, Germany, France and more. Coordinated by the von Karman Institute and sponsored by the European Commission, the QB50 CubeSats will take advantage of the space station orbit to study the lower thermosphere (200-380 kilometers) collecting scientific climate data, in what is considered by experts a relatively unexplored part of Earth’s atmosphere.

The ISS portion of the QB50 Mission involves over 300 students and 50 professionals which brings the program together.

See the full list of QB50 Mission CubeSats here.

OA-7 is also the third flagship mission where NanoRacks is providing opportunities for CubeSat deployment from Cygnus after the vehicle departs from the station. The NanoRacks External Deployer is installed on the exterior of the Cygnus service module with the capability to deploy satellites after Cygnus’ completion of its primary ISS resupply mission.

On this mission, NanoRacks integrated four of Spire’s Lemur-2 satellites in the External Deployer. Once deployed from the Cygnus vehicle itself, these satellites will build on Spire’s mission to provide close to real time information from anywhere on Earth via their small satellites. This mission will build on Spire’s offerings of maritime and weather data.

Additionally on this NanoRacks CubeSat mission are three satellites that were selected for flight by NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) as part of the seventeenth installment of the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) missions, and sponsored by the NASA Launch Services Program (LSP). These CubeSats are:

IceCube – NASA Wallops Flight Facility
CXBN-2 – Morehead State University
CSUNSat1 – California State University, Northridge

Learn more about the ELaNa XVII ISS CubeSat Deployment satellites here.

“We’re all extremely proud to have brought together such a wide variety of satellites on this mission. With so many innovative technology demonstrations, including a global constellation of research satellites, commercial payloads, and NASA sponsored missions, this is truly our most comprehensive and technologically diverse CubeSat mission to date,” says NanoRacks Senior Mission Manager, Conor Brown. “The collaboration behind this mission exemplifies the growing support for commercial utilization of the Space Station, and NanoRacks is proud to be at the forefront of this transition. Not to mention, it was remarkable to share this launch experience in Cape Canaveral with so many of our partners from all over the world.”

NanoRacks is excited to continue to expand the Company’s CubeSat and SmallSat services, and is now offering the “Doublewide Standard” which will allow for 6U CubeSats in the 2U x 3U form factor and 12U CubeSats in the 2U x 6U form factor.

Download the press release and for further media inquiries, please email Abby Dickes at

For continued updates, follow us on twitter: @NanoRacks

About NanoRacks, LLC

NanoRacks LLC was formed in 2009 to provide commercial hardware and services for the U.S. National Laboratory onboard the International Space Station via a Space Act Agreement with NASA. NanoRacks’ main office is in Houston, Texas, right alongside the NASA Johnson Space Center. The Business Development office is in Washington, DC. Additional offices are located in Silicon Valley, California and Leiden, Netherlands.

In July 2015, NanoRacks signed a teaming agreement with Blue Origin to offer integration services on their New Shepard space vehicle. NanoRacks, along with partners at ULA and Space Systems Loral was also recently selected by NASA to participate in the NextSTEPs Phase II program to develop commercial habitation systems in low-Earth orbit and beyond.

As of April 2017, over 530 payloads have been launched to the International Space Station via NanoRacks services, and our customer base includes the European Space Agency (ESA) the German Space Agency (DLR,) the American space agency (NASA,) US Government Agencies, Planet Labs, Urthecast, Space Florida, NCESSE, Virgin Galactic, pharmaceutical drug companies, and organizations in Vietnam, UK, Romania and Israel.


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Alaska Aerospace Corporation Eyes Asian Smallsat Launch Market Sun, 23 Apr 2017 19:38:03 +0000 ANCHORAGE, Ala. (AAC PR) — Following participation in the 2017 Japan Space Symposium, Alaska Aerospace Corporation (AAC) President and Chief Executive Officer Craig E. Campbell traveled to Hokkaido, Japan with a joint Japanese and American delegation to visit a proposed launch site in the coastal town of Taiki.

As part of the itinerary, the delegation toured the headquarters and manufacturing facility of Interstellar Technologies. Interstellar Technologies is a Japanese company developing a launch vehicle to support the nano and micro commercial satellite industry.

“The AAC Board of Directors has strongly advocated diversifying our Company’s business model to include international customers that could benefit from services provided by AAC, as well as to attract a global customer base for the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (PSCA).” stated Mr. Campbell.

This trip, and AAC participation in the 2017 Japan Space Symposium, is a continuation of past exchanges between AAC and Japan, which included last years visit to PSCA by the Honorable Hiroshi Imazu, member of the Japan House of Representatives and Chairman, Space Policy Research Council (LDP), along with a delegation of Japanese  officials.

The Hokkaido site visit provided AAC an opportunity to highlight how collaboration between Japan and Alaska could be mutually beneficial in capturing a significant market share of Asian small satellite industry future requirements.

“As AAC considers developing equatorial launch capability in the Pacific region to support the Asian demand, having a positive relationship with Japan would provide a distinct advantage for both Japan and Alaska.” stressed Campbell.

The United States delegation included Dr. Scott Pace, Professor at The George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs;  Mr. Peter Marquez, Vice President Global Engagement for Planetary Resources; and Mr. F. Mike Swiek, President of Mike International LLC.

Concluding the site visit, the delegation met with Hokkaido Prefecture Governor Harumi Takahasi.  Participants offered perspectives on ways a small launch facility in Hokkaido could provide the nucleus for aerospace development in the prefecture, as well as how collaboration with the United States and AAC could provide a distinct market advantage for the Asian small satellite launch industry.

With the goal of expanding small and ultra-small launch capabilities at PSCA, supporting new entrant launch vehicle companies and developing positive relationships with international agencies provides AAC with enhanced potential for additional revenues and increased economic benefits for Alaska.

AAC is a state-owned corporation headquartered in Anchorage, AK, with an office in Huntsville, AL.  AAC operates PSCA, located on Kodiak Island, offering all indoor, all weather processing, and providing optimal support for both orbital and sub-orbital space launches to low earth orbit, sun-synchronous orbit, polar orbit, and highly elliptical orbits.  AAC currently has contracts for government and commercial launches starting in 2017.

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Report: Apple Hires Google Satellite Execs, Eyes Boeing Broadband Constellation Sun, 23 Apr 2017 12:53:31 +0000
Credit: The Boeing Company

Bloomberg has an intriguing report about Apple, Boeing and te emerging battle to provide global broadband services via constellations of satellites.

The iPhone maker has recruited a pair of top Google satellite executives for a new hardware team, according to people familiar with the matter. John Fenwick, who led Google’s spacecraft operations, and Michael Trela, head of satellite engineering, left Alphabet Inc.’s Google for Apple in recent weeks, the people said. They report to Greg Duffy, co-founder of camera maker Dropcam, who joined Apple earlier this year, the people said. They asked not to be identified talking about Apple’s private plans. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment, as did Google. Fenwick, Trela and Duffy didn’t respond to requests for comment….

In a regulatory filing last year, Boeing Co. detailed a plan to provide broadband access through more than 1,000 satellites in low-earth orbit. The aerospace company has talked with Apple about the technology company being an investor-partner in the project, a person familiar with the situation said. It’s unclear if those talks will result in a deal….

Still, TMF’s Farrar said there’s no guarantee Apple will get involved in the Boeing project. The satellite industry is littered with bankruptcies and other failures. Satellite telephone company Iridium LLC filed for bankruptcy protection in 1999, and Teledesic abandoned its “internet from the sky” plan more than a decade ago.

Indeed, Apple may have hired the Google executives for something other than satellite work. It’s already trying to use drones to capture and update map information faster than its existing fleet of camera-and-sensor ladened minivans. And in 2015, it acquired Aether Industries LLC, which develops near-space technology such as high bandwidth radio transceivers and high-altitude balloons.

Read the full story.


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NIAC Phase I Award: Direct Dark Energy Probe Sun, 23 Apr 2017 10:02:51 +0000
Direct probe of dark energy interactions with a solar system laboratory. (Credit: Nan Yu)

A Direct Probe of Dark Energy Interactions with a Solar System Laboratory

Nan Yu
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, Calif.

Value: Approximately $125,000
Length of Study: 9 months


We propose a mission concept for direct detection of dark energy interactions with normal matter in a Solar System laboratory. Dark energy is the leading proposal to answer the question of the accelerated expansion of the Universe. This interaction must be highly suppressed to be consistent with the gravity measurements and observations we have so far, but can be probed with specifically designed experiments.

By flying unscreened atomic particles through special gravitational field regions in the Solar System and conducting double differential measurements to isolate possible dark energy interaction with the atoms, we will stand a chance to achieve a direction detection of dark energy, akin to direct detection of dark matter and gravitational waves. This could lead to a fundamental shift in our understanding of fundamental physics and our universe, stimulating a wide variety of foundational research in cosmology and particle physics.

Full List of 2017 NIAC Awards







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Canada to Announce Astronaut Finalists on Monday Sat, 22 Apr 2017 21:35:10 +0000 Toronto, Ontario, April 20, 2017 — On April 24, Minister Bains will introduce the final candidates to undergo the last rounds of assessments as part of the Canadian Space Agency’s astronaut recruitment campaign.

The media is invited to attend the event. Candidates will be available for interviews onsite.

Date: April 24, 2017

Time: 10:00 a.m. (EDT)

What: Introduction of the top astronaut candidates

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
Jeremy Hansen, Canadian Space Agency astronaut
Top astronaut candidates

Holiday Inn Toronto – Yorkdale
3450 Dufferin Street, Toronto, ON, M6A 2V1
York Halls

(Please note that parking is available at a fee)

Watch the livestream of the event here.

For more information on the astronaut recruitment campaign, consult our media kit.

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President, Ivanka to Call ISS on Monday to Congratulate Whitson Sat, 22 Apr 2017 20:51:24 +0000
Peggy Whitson aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

First Daughter Joins International Space Station Call Promoting Women in STEM

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — President Donald Trump, First Daughter Ivanka Trump, and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will make a special Earth-to-space call Monday, April 24, from the Oval Office to personally congratulate NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson for her record-breaking stay aboard the International Space Station.

The 20-minute call will air live on NASA Television and stream on the agency’s website and Facebook page at 10 a.m. EDT, and will be made available to schools, museums, and other organizations across the nation and globally.

The Department of Education and NASA are working together, on behalf of the White House, to encourage classrooms throughout America to tune-in to this historic event.  They also are making available for voluntary use STEM on Station educational materials that may be helpful to further engage students in the classroom. STEM on Station is comprised of education activities that follow astronauts as they demonstrate STEM concepts such as Newton’s Laws of Motion, surface tension and advances in technology.

Commander of the station’s Expedition 51 crew, Whitson will officially set the U.S. record Monday for most cumulative days in space, surpassing NASA astronaut Jeff Williams’ record of 534 days. Additionally, she is the first woman to command the space station twice, and holds the record for most spacewalks conducted by a female astronaut.

Whitson will be joined for President Trump’s call by NASA astronaut Jack Fischer, who is scheduled to arrive at the orbiting laboratory Thursday, April 20.

Whitson arrived at the space station Nov. 19, 2016, and is sharing her experiences in space on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. Fischer will share his first-time flyer experiences on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram and Twitter.

Check out the latest NASA TV schedule and video streaming information at:

Editor’s Note:  It’s difficult to square Ivanka’s support of STEM with her father’s planned deep cuts to federal science and education programs. Are the Trumps oblivious to these contradictions here? Or do they just not care?




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Tianzhou-1 Cargo Ship Docks with Chinese Space Station Sat, 22 Apr 2017 18:45:08 +0000

The Tianzhou-1 cargo ship successfully docked with the unoccupied Tiangong-2 space station on Saturday, Chinese media report.

Launched on Tuesday, the cargo vessel will dock twice more with the station to test different rendezvous and docking techniques. One will involve approaching Tiangong-2 from a different direction. Another will shrinking the docking time from two days to six hours.

Tianzhou-1 will later conduct China’s first refueling of a vehicle in orbit.

The success of the mission is a crucial step in China’s plan to launch a permanent space station. The core module is scheduled to launch next year, with additional modules to follow through the completion of construction in 2022.

Tianzhou-1 is carrying a number of scientific experiments during its five-month stay in orbit. The experiments include:

  • stem cell research to investigate human reproduction in space;
  • how bone cells are affected by microgravity;
  • germ cell differentiation research;
  • fluid evaporation and condensation; and,
  • high-precision electrostatic accelerometer research.
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Cygnus Berthed with ISS Sat, 22 Apr 2017 17:36:43 +0000
The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft approaches its 10 meter capture point where the Canadarm2 grapples resupply ship. (Credit: NASA TV)

The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 8:39 a.m. EDT. Crew will ingress the spacecraft later today. The spacecraft will spend about three months on station before it is released in July for a destructive re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, disposing of several thousand pounds of trash.

The spacecraft’s arrival brings more than 7,600 pounds of research and supplies to support Expedition 51 and 52. Some of the research on board includes:

  • In microgravity, cancer cells grow in 3-D, spheroid structures that closely resemble their form in the human body, enabling better tests for drug the efficacy. The ADCs in Microgravity investigation tests drugs designed as targeted cancer therapies called antibody-drug conjugates, developed by Oncolinx.
  • The Solidification Using a Baffle in Sealed Ampoules (SUBSA) investigation originally was operated successfully aboard the station in 2002. Updated software, data acquisition, high definition video and communication interfaces will help advance understanding of the processes involved in semiconductor crystal growth. Investigations such as the CLYC Crystal Growth experiment will be conducted in the SUBSA Furnace and inserts. High-quality crystals are essential to a variety of applications, and a microgravity environment can produce better quality crystals.
  • The Thermal Protection Material Flight Test and Reentry Data Collection (RED-Data2) investigation studies a new type of recording device that rides alongside a spacecraft as it reenters Earth’s atmosphere, recording data about the extreme conditions it encounters. Scientists, so far, have been unable to monitor those conditions on a large scale, and a better understanding could lead to more accurate spacecraft breakup predictions, better spacecraft designs, and materials capable of better resisting the extreme heat and pressure during the return to Earth.

Prior to re-entry in late July, the Cygnus spacecraft will also host the third Spacecraft Fire Experiment, or SAFFIRE, to study how fire burns in microgravity. Data from these experiments will help inform the development of future crew spacecraft.

Learn more about the Orbital ATK CRS-7 mission by going to the mission home page at: Join the conversation on Twitter by following @Space_Station. To subscribe or unsubscribe to this list, please email

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ESA Focuses on Addressing Orbital Debris Sat, 22 Apr 2017 12:02:13 +0000
As of April 2017, more than 290 break-ups in orbit have been recorded since 1961. Most were explosions of satellites and upper stages – fewer than 10 involved accidental and intentional collisions. (Credit: ESA/ID&Sense/ONiRiXEL)

DARMSTADT, Germany (ESA PR) — With more than 750 000 pieces of dangerous debris now orbiting Earth, the urgent need for coordinated international action to ensure the long-term sustainability of spaceflight is a major finding from Europe’s largest-ever conference on space debris.

“We require a coordinated global solution to what is, after all, a global problem that affects critical satellites delivering services to all of us,” said Brigitte Zypries, German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, at a press briefing on the conference’s closing day in Darmstadt, Germany.

ESA Director General Jan Woerner appealed to space stakeholders to keep Earth’s orbital environment as clean as possible. Developing and implementing the ESA Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme as decided during ESA’s last ministerial council in 2016 will be a key factor.

“In order to enable innovative services for citizens and future developments in space, we must cooperate now to guarantee economically vital spaceflight. We must sustain the dream of future exploration,” he said.

The call for international action came on the final day of the European Conference on Space Debris, a gathering of over 350 participants from science, academia, industry and space agencies worldwide held at ESA’s mission control centre, where the ESA Space Debris Office and the SSA effort are based.

Findings from the week-long meeting were presented to media in front of Minister Zypries, who is also the German national aerospace coordinator, and Director General Woerner by senior ESA managers and representatives from the national space agencies of Italy, France, Germany and the UK, as well as the Committee on Space Research and the International Academy of Astronautics.

Addressing the Space Debris Threat

The latest results of debris research were featured, especially the safe disposal of retired satellites and rocket stages and the still uncertain challenges posed by satellite megaconstellations being considered by commercial operators.

“Only about 60% of the satellites that should be disposed of at the end of their missions under current guidelines are, in fact, properly managed,” noted Holger Krag, head of ESA’s debris office.

Researchers also confirmed there is now a critical need to remove defunct satellites from orbit before they disintegrate and generate even more debris.

“This means urgently developing the means for actively removing debris, targeting about 10 large defunct satellites from orbit each year, beginning as soon as possible – starting later will not be nearly as effective,” said Dr Krag.

Inconvenient Truths

Since 1957, more than 5250 launches have led to a population today of more than 23 000 tracked debris objects in orbit. Only about 1200 are working satellites – the rest are debris and no longer serve any useful purpose.

Many derelict craft have exploded or broken up, generating an estimated 750 000 pieces larger than 1 cm and a staggering 166 million larger than 1 mm.

“In orbit, these objects have tremendous relative velocities, faster than a bullet, and can damage or destroy functioning space infrastructure, like economically vital telecom, weather, navigation, broadcast and climate-monitoring satellites,” said Dr Krag.

Working for the future

Launched in 2009, SSA is developing software, technologies and precursor systems to test a fully European surveillance network that will ensure independent data on space infrastructure.

Additionally, the Agency is developing new technologies under the Clean Space initiative that promise a significant reduction in the creation of space pollution at all stages of space activities.

“Space debris threaten all working satellites, including Europe’s Sentinels and the Galileo navigation constellation, and any loss of space infrastructure would severely affect modern society,” noted Dr Krag.

“The sustainable use of space has been persuasively shown to be at risk, and the status quo is obviously no longer acceptable. We must now start removing dead satellites.”


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NIAC Phase I Award: Continuous Electrode Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Fusion Sat, 22 Apr 2017 09:57:25 +0000
Continuous Electrode Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Fusion (Credit: Raymond Sedwick)

Continuous Electrode Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Fusion

Raymond Sedwick
University of Maryland, College Park
College Park, Md.

Value: Approximately $125,000
Length of Study: 9 months


NASA recognizes within its roadmaps (specifically TA 3.1.6) that development of aneutronic fusion (such as p-11B) reactors with direct energy conversion (>80%) would be an enabling technology to achieve low specific mass (kg/kW) through the elimination of shielding and potentially the need for dedicated radiators. In addition, material activation due to neutron capture could be avoided.

The challenge is of course to develop a plasma confinement system that is far less massive than the current leading (magnetic/inertial) approaches, but consumes less power than is generated by the fusion process – a feat that has yet to be achieved even terrestrially.

Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) techniques offer the possible advantage of considerably lower mass, however they suffer from limitations that have hampered their development, just as plasma instabilities have hampered the development of magnetic systems. The difference is that considerable time, effort and funding have gone into the engineering of solutions to the plasma instability problem, whereas the limitations of IEC have always been viewed as “too fundamental”.

The objectives of the proposed research are therefore two-fold: 1) To retire the broad fundamental criticisms of IEC devices by demonstrating feasible engineering solutions, and 2) To develop a comprehensive system-level performance model to support parametric scaling.

The impact of successfully achieving the target specific mass of 2 kg/kW can be seen in the context of the previously proposed JIMO spacecraft. The full dry mass was about 24 metric tons, with 12 metric tons of Xe propellant. The fission reactor module mass was estimated at just over 6 tons, not including roughly 2 tons of radiator mass.

At a power output of 200 kWe, the specific mass of the full power system (reactor+radiators) would have been about 40 kg/kW. At a target specific mass of ~2kg/kW, the same power system would have a mass of only 400 kg, saving 7.5 tons of dry mass and 3.5 tons of propellant. This is just over 30% reduction in total mass to orbit, at a savings of $220M. It is also worth noting that the fuel mass (assuming p-11B @ = 80%) for the entire 20 year mission design life, if operating continuously at 200 kWe, would amount to ~2.3 kg.

Phase I of the research will be primarily dedicated to the development of the performance model to help motivate the efficacy of the approach in advance of Phase II. However, some effort in Phase I will address the key criticism of IEC devices, namely that of thermalization, through numerical simulation.

In Phase II, more detailed modeling and numerical simulation of electron confinement within the device core, energy loss paths, and direct energy conversion of the fusion products will be done. The results of the Phase II effort would then be incorporated into a technology development plan.

Full List of 2017 NIAC Awards







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Launches to Resume from French Guiana Sat, 22 Apr 2017 01:38:07 +0000
Ariane 5 launch (Credit: Arianespace)

Launches will soon be resuming from French Guiana with the end of a general strike.

Thanks to the “Accord de Guyane” agreement signed April 21 by French and French Guianese officials, launch service provider Arianespace says it will be able to soon resume launch activity and can make up for delays by using previously scheduled downtime over the next two months.

“Now that an agreement has been reached, we are fully ready to resume our operations in [the Guiana Space Centre, or CSG],” an Arianespace official told SpaceNews via email April 21. “We aim to make up for the accumulated delays on the three campaigns that were under way, without impacting the rest of our manifest, by taking advantage of the CSG’s availability in May and most of June, since there were no launches scheduled those months.”


“We believe it will take about eight working days (after resumption of operations) to carry out the VA236 launch that was originally scheduled for March 21,” the Arianespace official added.

The company declined to say when exactly operations would resume.

Residents of the French overseas department have been striking over a lack of jobs, high crime and other problems.

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Arianespace, Intelsat and SKY Perfect JSAT Sign New Launch Services Agreement Fri, 21 Apr 2017 21:30:53 +0000 TOKYO, 20 April 2017  (Arianespace PR) – Arianespace announced today that it will launch Horizons 3e, a satellite belonging to the Horizons joint venture owned by Intelsat (NYSE: I) and SKY Perfect JSAT. Arianespace will orbit this Boeing-built payload in the launch period starting late 2018 on an Ariane 5 from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.

Horizons 3e will complete Intelsat’s global EpicNG network. The high-throughput satellite’s C-band and Ku-band transponders will provide 22 Gbps+ in growth capacity for aeronautical and maritime mobility applications spanning from Asia and the Pacific to North America. Horizons 3e is also expected to support further development of specialty networks for governments. The spacecraft will weigh 6,500 kg. at liftoff.

“Arianespace is extremely proud that Intelsat and SKY Perfect JSAT is entrusting us with yet another satellite. We are delighted to be working with these two great leaders, who have always placed their trust in Arianespace”, said Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël. “It is a special honor to be able to announce this contract during our annual Japan Week activities in Tokyo.”

“Horizons 3e will complete the Intelsat EpicNG network, creating a global footprint and enabling high throughput services for our cruise, aeronautical and broadband customers in the Asia-Pacific region. It is only natural that we would entrust this important launch to our reliable partner, Arianespace”, added Ken Lee, Senior Vice President Space Systems at Intelsat.

“Horizons 3e is a significant project for both Intelsat and SKY Perfect JSAT. It will lead to the expansion of our next-generation business in Asia and the Pacific,” said Koki Koyama, Director of the Board & Senior Managing Executive Officer of SKY Perfect JSAT. “We are grateful to work once again with our good partner Arianespace and thus ensure the launch period to start the services as soon as practicable.”

About Intelsat

Intelsat S.A. (NYSE: I) operates the world’s first Globalized Network, delivering high-quality, cost-effective video and broadband services anywhere in the world. Intelsat’s Globalized Network combines the world’s largest satellite backbone with terrestrial infrastructure, managed services and an open, interoperable architecture to enable customers to drive revenue and reach through a new generation of network services. Thousands of organizations serving billions of people worldwide rely on Intelsat to provide ubiquitous broadband connectivity, multi-format video broadcasting, secure satellite communications and seamless mobility services. The end result is an entirely new world, one that allows us to envision the impossible, connect without boundaries and transform the ways in which we live. For more information, visit

About SKY Perfect JSAT

SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation is a leader in the converging fields of broadcasting and communications. It is Asia’s largest satellite operator with a fleet of 18 satellites, and Japan’s only provider of both multi-channel pay TV broadcasting and satellite communications services. SKY Perfect JSAT delivers a broad range of entertainment through the SKY PerfecTV! platform, the most extensive in Japan with a total of 3.5 million subscribers. In addition, SKY Perfect JSAT’s satellite communications services, which cover Japan and the rest of Asia, as well as Oceania, Russia, Middle East, Hawaii and North America, play a vital role in supporting safety, security and convenience for society as a whole. For more information, please visit and

About Arianespace

Arianespace uses space to make life better on Earth by providing launch services for all types of satellites into all orbits. It has orbited more than 550 satellites since 1980, using its family of three launchers, Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, from launch sites in French Guiana (South America) and Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Arianespace is headquartered in Evry, near Paris, and has a technical facility at the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, plus local offices in Washington, D.C., Tokyo and Singapore. Arianespace is a subsidiary of Airbus Safran Launchers, which holds 74% of its share capital, with the balance held by 17 other shareholders from the European launcher industry.

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Made in Space Selected for 3 NASA Small Business Awards Fri, 21 Apr 2017 19:15:59 +0000
International Space Station Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore shows off a ratchet wrench made with a 3-D printer on the station. (Image Credit: NASA)

NASA has selected Made in Space for three small business awards aimed at manufacturing high precision metal components,  industrial crystals, and advanced sensors and actuators in space.

The selections include a pair of  Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I awards and a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase 1 award for a maximum of $125,000 apiece. The SBIR contracts will last for six months while the STTR contract will last for 12 months.

The proposals include:

  • The Vulcan Advanced Hybrid Manufacturing System (SBIR)
  • Industrial Crystallization Facility for Nonlinear Optical Materials (SBIR)
  • Structural-Health Aware Failure-Tolerant Engineered to Respond (SAFER) Additively Manufactured Systems (STTR with The Ohio State University).

The Vulcan Advanced Hybrid Manufacturing System (VULCAN) system would allow International Space Station (ISS) astronauts to 3D print high-strength, high-precision metallic and non-metallic replacement parts “with comparable quality to commercially-available, terrestrial machined parts….

“Made In Space has built industry alliances with such companies as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and Bigelow Aerospace to evaluate the optimal concept of operations for in-space manufacturing as an enabling technology for the NextSTEP Cislunar Habitat,” according to the proposal. “Made In Space is also working with UTC Aerospace Systems and Paragon to develop ECLSS design principles for repair and replenishment by in-space manufacturing.”

The Industrial Crystal Facility (ICF) would focus on microgravity development and producing of “nonlinear optical single crystals and other relatively large material formulations….

“The ISS National Lab serves as an ideal platform to explore whether industrial crystals can be grown in microgravity to larger sizes and/or improved quality as compared with terrestrial sources,” the application states. “Existing low temperature solution growth methods take days to weeks to complete, so parabolic flights and suborbital vehicles are not suitable for establishing process baselines and making effective comparisons.”

The company’s STTR proposal involves collaboration with The Ohio State University on a suite of sensors and actuators designed to monitor the long term health of space vehicles and habitats.

“The SAFER Additive Manufactured [AM} System will include a suite of AM solutions for the following applications: embedded strain-sensors for health monitoring and diagnosis; piezoelectric actuators and sensors for system prognosis; and embedded heaters and actuators for system self-healing and increased rigidity,” the proposal states.

“SAFER embedded systems empower designers to cut weight of structural monitoring and increase structural safety with the freedom of AM,” the proposal adds. “With the development of a novel piezoelectric AM material, SAFER will be a key component to safe long-duration manned space flight such as NASA’s Journey to Mars and beyond. SAFER gives NASA peace of mind by coupling health-monitoring and self-repairing materials.”

Summaries of the three selected proposals follow.

Proposal Title: The Vulcan Advanced Hybrid Manufacturing System
Subtopic Title: In-Space Manufacturing of Precision Parts

Small Business Concern
Made in Space, Inc.
Wilmington, DE

Principal Investigator/Project Manager
Michael Snyder

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 4

Technical Abstract

Made In Space is developing the The Vulcan Advanced Hybrid Manufacturing System (VULCAN) to address NASA’s requirement to produce high-strength, high-precision components on-orbit with comparable quality to commercially-available, terrestrial machined parts. Such capability enables the in-situ manufacturing of critical parts for human spaceflight and without dependence on terrestrial resupply.

Made In Space integrates flight-proven microgravity process controls and payload support systems, such as environmental and master controls, with a modular manufacturing & tool system that generates a near net shape for surface finishing or other industrial processing into the final product.

One of the key innovations of Made In Space’s VULCAN is the ability to produce finished metal parts with one device, eliminating the need for separate additive manufacturing and subtractive machining facilities. The wire feed architecture of both the thermoplastic extruder and metal manufacturing head allows the hardware to be interchangeable and supported on the same gantry without requiring modification of any of the components. The two manufacturing heads follow the SBM-Spec interface standards for “plug-and-play” operation. Thus, the manufacturing heads can be exchanged easily by crewmembers with no formal manufacturing training.

Using this capability, the VULCAN device produces both non-metallic and metallic replacement parts with a minimum of crew interaction. VULCAN is scalable and supports the open SBM-Spec architecture for the thermoplastic and metal manufacturing heads, resulting in a manufacturing methodology that uses multiple materials and can be upgraded over time.

Potential NASA Commercial Applications

The VULCAN technology is primarily intended for sustaining human spaceflight operations, first on the ISS and, later, on long-duration missions to the Moon, Mars, or other destinations in the Solar System.

Made In Space has built industry alliances with such companies as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and Bigelow Aerospace to evaluate the optimal concept of operations for in-space manufacturing as an enabling technology for the NextSTEP Cislunar Habitat. Made In Space is also working with UTC Aerospace Systems and Paragon to develop ECLSS design principles for repair and replenishment by in-space manufacturing.

Robotic expeditionary missions can also employ the VULCAN technology for autonomous repairs while building the infrastructure preceding human habitation. Local robots may retrieve and install VULCAN-generated parts automatically or via teleoperation. Such capability may be necessary to ensure continuity of operations without direct human intervention and enable human crews to focus on mission objectives.

Potential Non-NASA Commercial Applications

The Department of Defense has a demonstrated need for advanced manufacturing capabilities in locations and on forward-deployed platforms without regular logistical support or available resources for traditional fabrication and finishing technologies.

Perhaps the foremost example is the US Navy submarine fleet. While aircraft carriers are commonly referred to as “cities at sea” because of their size and on-board industrial capacity, the nation’s attack and ballistic missile submarines deploy for months at a time and must function as entirely self-contained units with no physical connection to the outside world. Submarines on patrol duty may only surface during departure from base and upon return.

A tactical version of the VULCAN device gives the DoD a modular, common manufacturing system deployable on mobile platforms, such as submarines, destroyers, transport aircraft, and trucks, and in fixed locations with limited external support, such as Forward Operating Bases and advance airfields.Incumbent 3D printing companies generate revenue from four primary sources: new device sales; feedstock sales; on demand printing; and maintenance services.

Made In Space plans to adopt a similar revenue model when developing VULCAN units for commercial use. VULCAN units will be developed and sold to the merchant vessel market. Due to its size and importance, Made In Space will initially target the oil tanker vertical.

Technology Taxonomy Mapping

  • Ceramics
  • Coatings/Surface Treatments
  • In Situ Manufacturing
  • Joining (Adhesion, Welding)
  • Metallics
  • Microfabrication (and smaller; see also Electronics; Mechanical Systems; Photonics)
  • Nonspecified
  • Polymers
  • Processing Methods

Proposal Title: Industrial Crystallization Facility for Nonlinear Optical Materials
Subtopic Title: ISS Utilization and Microgravity Research

Small Business Concern
Made in Space, Inc.
Wilmington, DE

Principal Investigator/Project Manager
Eric R Joyce
Moffett Field, CA

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 4

Technical Abstract

Made In Space, Inc. (MIS) proposes the development of an Industrial Crystal Facility (ICF) for microgravity product manufacturing and applied research. The ICF is focused on advanced materials engineering, rather than biomedical research, and serves a complimentary role to existing NASA-developed hardware, expanding utilization of ISS. Intended applications include nonlinear optical single crystals and other relatively large material formulations.

This is a critical next step in the development of Low Earth Orbit as an economic development zone, using the ISS National Lab as a proving ground and following the forthcoming Made In Space Fiber (MIS Fiber) demonstration of manufacturing a product in space with economically-significant intrinsic value on the ground.

The ISS National Lab serves as an ideal platform to explore whether industrial crystals can be grown in microgravity to larger sizes and/or improved quality as compared with terrestrial sources. Existing low temperature solution growth methods take days to weeks to complete, so parabolic flights and suborbital vehicles are not suitable for establishing process baselines and making effective comparisons.

Microgravity production holds the potential for room-temperature production of NLO materials for high-energy applications with size and quality undiminished by the effects of sedimentation and convection. A new facility is needed to explore the feasibility of microgravity-enabled industrial crystals as a new product market for Low Earth Orbit.

Potential NASA Commercial Applications

The proliferation of photonic sensors and optoelectronic devices for both military and civil applications has no end in sight. From the warfighter on deployment to the commanding officers in the Pentagon, the Department of Defense wants more eyes on the battlefield. Operational needs range from troop-level LIDAR devices to optical and infrared sensors that feed tactical battlefield management systems to early-warning and detection of missile threats from space. Defense researchers are increasingly studying optical computing and other integrated photonic devices to reduce the vulnerability of traditional military electronic devices to jamming and electronic attack.

In the civil sector, including NASA, photonic device applications include laser rangefinding, photonic gyroscopes, spectroscopy, and optical communications. For example, the upcoming Laser Communications Relay Demonstration on the ISS, called ILLUMA, relies on a first-of-its-kind integrated photonics circuit to transmit and encode data at orders of magnitude higher rates than traditional digital systems. Future integrated photonics circuits can be lithographically printed on large single optical crystals, much as integrated microelectronic circuits are lithographically printed on semiconductor crystals today.

Potential Non-NASA Commercial Applications

Demand for optical sensors, laser equipment, and optical switches for computing and communications continues to grow. Nonlinear optical materials alone represent a market of more than $1 billion in the optoelectronics sector. Semiorganic NLO materials are being investigated for fiber optic communications components, laser transmitters, computer memory devices, improved LIDAR, ultrafast optical switches, optical waveguides, and image sensors for automotive-safety systems, medical equipment, video security and surveillance networks, human-recognition user interfaces, and other embedded image collection devices.

Technical adviser Dr. Gregory Wurtz assesses that the benign production environment and flexibility in designing their nonlinear optical properties lends microgravity-enabled optical crystals towards applications in deep UV lasers for medical devices and the development of thin film materials for active nanoscale devices that are not currently easily fabricated.

Technology Taxonomy Mapping

  • In Situ Manufacturing
  • Nonspecified
  • Processing Methods

Proposal Title: Structural-Health Aware Failure-Tolerant Engineered to Respond (SAFER) Additively Manufactured Systems
Research Subtopic Title: Advanced Structural Health Monitoring

Small Business Concern
Made in Space
Wilmington, DE

Research Institution
The Ohio State University
Columbus, OH

Principal Investigator/Project Manager
Derek A Thomas
Moffett Field, CA

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 4

Technical Abstract

Structural degradation and failure can cause malfunctions and long-term problems aboard spacecraft, jeopardizing the crew, especially in deep space missions. On Off-world habitats, this can lead to extensive maintenance procedures and dangerous EVAs to fix malfunctions. Micrometeorite impact and shielding breaches can have lasting impacts that pose a significant hazard to the longevity of missions.

Made In Space, Inc. (MIS) has been developing novel additive manufacturing (AM) technologies for the production and application of embedded sensors and actuators. MIS’s Structural-Health Aware Failure-Tolerant Engineered to Respond (SAFER) Additively Manufactured System is a suite of integrated technologies and composite materials that are compatible with AM processing techniques ranging from Free-Form-Fabrication, Direct-Write, and injection molding.

Using the advanced AM technologies developed for microgravity manufacturing at MIS and piezoelectric thermoplastics provided by the Ohio State University (OSU), a major suite of structural monitoring and sensing technologies will be made available to designers for a variety of applications.

The SAFER Additive Manufactured System will include a suite of AM solutions for the following applications: embedded strain-sensors for health monitoring and diagnosis; piezoelectric actuators and sensors for system prognosis; and embedded heaters and actuators for system self-healing and increased rigidity.

SAFER embedded systems empower designers to cut weight of structural monitoring and increase structural safety with the freedom of AM. With the development of a novel piezoelectric AM material, SAFER will be a key component to safe long-duration manned space flight such as NASA’s Journey to Mars and beyond. SAFER gives NASA peace of mind by coupling health-monitoring and self-repairing materials.

Potential NASA Commercial Applications

There are a number of NASA applications for SAFER, including:

  • Active support structures for imaging telescopes – Piezoelectric solenoids enable active optical systems. As part of Phase I, 3D printable piezoelectrics are developed, thereby enabling optimized construction of active optical backplanes.
  • Resilient backbone structures for long duration human spaceflight missions.
  • Active monitoring and reinforcement of spacecraft deployed for long durations in extraterrestrial locations
  • Active monitoring and repair/reinforcement of space launch vehicle structure, enabling portions of the structure to be reinforced if weakened, thereby increasing mission resilience.

Potential Non-NASA Commercial Applications

There are a number of applications by other government agencies, including:

  • Vehicles having integrated structural health monitoring and repair/reinforcement, including planes, boats, small submarines such as the SEAL Delivery Vehicle.
  • Actively monitored and reinforced pressure vessels and containment vessels.

There are a number of potential commercial applications of SAF3R, including:

  • 3D printable piezoelectric material enables piezoelectric microphones, speakers, inkjet printer pumps, motors sensors, fuses, strain gauges, and the like.
  • SAFER cars – SAFER can be integrated into future vehicles to provide an even greater level of systems monitoring than currently exists in motor vehicles. The addition of SAFER’s repair/reinforcement abilities is functionality that currently does not exist in the market.

Technology Taxonomy Mapping

  • Condition Monitoring (see also Sensors)
  • Diagnostics/Prognostics
  • Manufacturing Methods
  • Materials (Insulator, Semiconductor, Substrate)
  • Metallics
  • Nanomaterials
  • Nonspecified
  • Polymers
  • Processing Methods
  • Recovery (see also Autonomous Systems)


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Luxembourg to Launch a Fund Offering Financial Support for Space Resources Industry Fri, 21 Apr 2017 17:57:27 +0000 LUXEMBOURG (Luxembourg Government PR – To promote Luxembourg as a European hub for the exploration and commercial use of space resources, the Ministry of the Economy conducted from April 9th to April 13th an economic mission headed by Luxembourg’s Crown Prince to the U.S. West Coast. The mission aimed to identify and develop new business opportunities and to promote the governmental initiative that offers an attractive overall framework for space resource utilization related activities, including but not limited to the legal regime to provide private companies and investors with a secure legal environment as of the ownership of resources gathered in space.

The four-day program included events presenting the Grand Duchy as a location for potential investors, as well as visits to U.S. companies (Planetary Resources, SSL) and scientific institutes (NASA Frontier Development Lab/SETI Institute) to learn about the latest trends and developments in the space industry. On April 12th, the Luxembourg delegation visited the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, one of ten NASA field centers and located in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. The companies Skycorp, Deep Space Industries, Audacy, and Made In Space presented their activities to the Luxembourg delegation that included high-level representatives from the national space sector.

This was followed up by a seminar at the NASA Ames Research Center where Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy, Etienne Schneider, announced the set-up of a Luxembourg space agency that will take into account the particular needs of New Space companies: “Within this agency, we will create a dedicated space fund in order to complement Luxembourg’s existing funding measures based mainly on a grant approach. We will either opt for a conventional venture capital fund with a lifecycle of 10 to 15 years, or for a kind of evergreen fund structure. Regardless of which option we choose in the upcoming months, we will continue to apply our longstanding proven public-private partnership approach through a mix of institutional and strategic private investors.”

The minimum financial commitment to get the fund started is in the range of 70 to 100 million euros. The fund is considering early stage investments in innovative start-ups as well as in more mature companies, with a focus both on Luxembourg-based enterprises in the space resources industry, and companies developing substantial space resources related technologies in the Grand Duchy.

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Report: Google Lunar XPrize Field Narrows Fri, 21 Apr 2017 16:04:36 +0000
SpaceIL lander (Credit: SpaceIL)

It looks as if Team SpaceIL is out of the $30 million Google Lunar XPrize.

Quartz reports the Israeli team will not be able to launch its lander/rover to the moon aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster until some time next year — too late to meet the end-of-2017 deadline required to win the prize.

The website cites delays in integrating SpaceIL’s spacecraft with other payloads aboard the Falcon 9 as a reason for the delay.

The competition has a $20 million grand prize for the first private team to land a rover or hopper on the moon that would travel 500 meters across the surface while returning high-definition video to Earth.

There is a $5 million prize for the second team to accomplish that goal. An addition $5 million in prize money is available to teams that achieving various tasks on the lunar surface.

SpaceIL’s withdrawal would leave four teams left in the competition: Moon Express, Team Indus, HAKUTO and Synergy Moon. All four teams face challenges as the deadline approaches.

Moon Express has said it is fully funded to conduct a moon mission. The American team’s entry is set to launch later this year aboard a Rocket Lab Electron booster. That booster is still awaiting its first flight test from a launch site in New Zealand. The test is scheduled in the upcoming months.

Team Indus’ rover is scheduled to fly aboard an Indian PSLV booster in late December. The flight of the Indian team’s entry is also set to carry a rover from Japan’s HAKUTO team.

Quartz reports that Team Indus is still trying to raise the full $70 million required to complete its rover and pay for the launch.

Synergy Moon’s entry is scheduled to fly aboard an Interorbital Systems rocket currently under development in Mojave, Calif.

The Google Lunar X Prize original 2012 deadline has been extended several times since the competition was launched in 2007. Prize officials have said this is the final year of the competition.

An issue for sponsor Google in extending the prize any further is the cost of paying the X Prize Foundation to continue to run it. A rough rule of thumb is that operating costs for the foundation’s various prizes usually equal the amount of prize money put up.

In 2015, the competition awarded milestone payments totaling $5.25 million to Moon Express, HAKUTO, Team Indus and two other teams that have since dropped out of the competition.  The milestone payments were not originally part of the competition.

At that time, the X Prize said Google had increased its maximum possible financial commitment in prizes from $30 million to $40 million.


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