The NFL Inspires New Satellite Docking Tool

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — How do you teach a satellite to park? As spacecraft transition from standalone vehicles to swarms of “self-driving” robots that interact and dock on their own in space, engineers need a way to test those maneuvers here on Earth. An Aerospace team found a possible solution on Sunday Night Football ™.

For this team, the action was not on the field, but in the sky, where a camera sailed through the air on a system of cables and pulleys, capturing the game from above. Such cable systems allow cameras to move between any two locations in a three-dimensional space – exactly the kind of maneuvers needed to test and train the next generation of satellites.

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A Roller Coaster Approach to Satellite Re-positioning

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — When a natural disaster strikes or a national security emergency breaks out, every minute counts.

But it can take a satellite in low earth orbit 100 minutes to make one of the many passes needed to provide global coverage. Larger satellites can provide continuous coverage of greater areas but require higher altitudes and still only cover roughly one-third of the Earth.

In critical, fast-moving situations, space operators can find themselves challenged by the stubborn inflexibility of satellite positioning, which, despite numerous technological advances, still requires satellites to rotate or orbit into viewing range to image a target.

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Aerospace CubeSats Blaze a Faster Trail to Space

Aerospace CubeSat (Credit: Aerospace Corporation)

The challenge: Build and launch a pair of cube satellites on a tight budget and even tighter timeline. 

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — In mid-2018, The Aerospace Corporation engineers and scientists received a unique mission from the United States Air Force. Their challenge: Build and launch a pair of cube satellites on a tight budget and even tighter timeline of just 18 months.

In a world where the threats facing orbiting satellites proliferate with each passing year, the ability to field an agile response and quickly restore lost functionality is a critical, but still developing, capability.

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AeroCube-14 Takes Nanotech Experiments to Space

The AeroCube-14 CubeSats in the lab prior to launch integration. Once deployed, they’ll carry a number of nanotechnology experiments in low-Earth orbit. (Credit: Aerospace Corporation)

AeroCube 14’s experiments include nanotechnology payloads that will test new and emerging materials, including structural materials and thermal straps

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — The Aerospace Corporation’s AeroCube-14 CubeSats launched on Nov. 2 loaded with nanotechnology payloads to conduct modular experiments and other research.

AeroCube-14 consists of two identical 3-unit CubeSats that launched as part of the Northrop Grumman-12 Cygnus cargo mission to the International Space Station. 

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USAF Space and Missile Systems Center Payloads Arrive at Space Station

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (SMSC PR) — The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center and its mission partners successfully delivered the Aerospace Rogue Alpha/Beta CubeSats and Space Test Program Satellite-4 (STPSat-4) to the International Space Station.

The mission, designated NG-12, started with the on-time launch of an upgraded Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems Antares 230+ rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A Nov. 2 at 9:59 a.m. EDT from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

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Testing Solar Cells at the Edge of Space

Colin Mann (front) and Don Walker operate the solar simulator in the laboratory. (Credit: Jeff Berting/Aerospace Corporation)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — As the power source for spacecraft, solar cells perform an important function and need to work as expected on orbit.

An Aerospace team patented a minuscule device that helps them accurately assess the performance of various solar cells before sending them into space.

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Aerospace Corporation Receives $1.1 Billion Contract From U.S. Air Force

WASHINGTON (DOD PR) — The U.S. Air Force has awarded The Aerospace Corporation of El Segundo, Calif., a $1,084,529,525 modification to a previously awarded contract for systems engineering and integration support for the national space community.

This contract modification provides for the exercise of option year one for fiscal 2020 services being procured under the multiple year contract. Work will be performed at El Segundo, and it is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2020.

The total cumulative face value of the contract is $2,158,348,065. Fiscal 2020 research and development funds are being used and no funds are being obligated at the time of the award. The Space and Missile Systems Center, El Segundo, California, is the contracting activity.

New Report Asks: Could Your Phone Compromise National Security?

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., August 8, 2019 (Aerospace Corporation PR) – Imagine a world in which realtime Earth observations from satellites and related analytics are available globally on the handheld device of an average citizen.

This scenario is called the GEOINT Singularity, and, thanks to artificial intelligence analysis and large satellite constellations with a range of imaging capabilities, it is a possible future. A new report by The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Space Policy and Strategy (CSPS), The Future of Ubiquitous, Realtime Intelligence: A GEOINT Singularity, examines the ramifications of the GEOINT Singularity for the U.S. military. What would the availability of ubiquitous, realtime intelligence mean for the military operator and warfighter? 

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New Report on the Future of National Security Space

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) – The United States is changing how it uses space for national security. From a raw awareness of threats from malign actors, to an increased reliance on private sector players, many dynamics are driving this change.

So how are the ways people are thinking about these dynamics — the schools of thought — influencing the way we discuss, debate, and ultimately formulate U.S. initiatives and policy in space? A new report by The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Space Policy and Strategy (CSPS), What Place For Space: Competing Schools of Operational Thought in Space, identifies six different major schools of thought and explores the priorities each would elevate for U.S. policy makers in the Space Force debate.

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Propelling the Field of Small Sats Forward

Brandie Rhodes checks the electrical connections of HyPer in a vacuum chamber. (Credit: Jeff Berting/Aerospace)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation) — Small satellites are becoming more and more capable, taking over missions that used to require larger spacecraft. However, adding propulsion systems to these smaller platforms remains a challenge, which means many small sats are limited to applications that do not require active orbit maintenance, increases in altitude, or changes in inclination.

Working in conjunction with the University of Southern California, Aerospace is developing a monopropellant vapor propulsion system that could help solve this problem.

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Innovative AeroCube-10 CubeSats Deployed From Cygnus

AeroCube-10 being tested in the large area solar simulator in El Segundo, Calif. (Credit: Aerospace Corporation)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — The AeroCube-10 dual CubeSat mission, packed with space experiments and technology demonstrations, was launched into orbit from the Cygnus automated cargo spacecraft after its recent departure from the International Space Station.

Possibly the most intriguing experiment aboard the Aerospace-funded spacecrafts was designed in-house at Aerospace and consists of hardware for a never-before-done mission. The hardware is a dispenser with a set of 28 atmospheric probes, releasable one at a time on command.

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Coast Guard’s Polar Scout CubeSats Aid in Arctic Rescues

Polar Scout satellite (Credit: USCG)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — For decades, the dense sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean has been shrinking and, in some regions, disappearing altogether. This environmental change is dramatically altering areas that were once blocked by ice and creating open water that is being turned into shipping lanes for an increasing number of vessels looking for a faster route between Asia, eastern North America and Europe.

According to data from the U.S. Committee On The Marine Transportation System, the number of vessels operating in the Arctic region has increased from 52 in 2008 to 144 in 2013. The committee predicts that the Arctic Ocean will see 2,111 vessels by 2025. This rapid increase in traffic through a dynamic environment like the Arctic has made U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) missions especially challenging while underscoring the need for prompt and reliable emergency distress signal response.

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MEI Technologies-supported Payloads Arrive at International Space Station

STP-H6 on the ISS. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (MEI Technologies PR) — Officials at MEI Technologies, Inc. (MEIT) have announced the successful arrival of two MEIT-supported payloads—the Space Test Program-Houston 6 (STP-H6) and the RED-EYE—brought to the International Space Station onboard the SpaceX-17 resupply vehicle. These two payloads represent the culmination of the efforts of the Space Test Program, Aerospace Corporation- and MEIT-integrated teams to fly new technologies.

The STP-H6 payload, which is designed, built and integrated by MEIT includes multiple experiments from the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy.
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NASA Demos CubeSat Laser Communications Capability

Optical Communications and Sensor Demonstration (OCSD) Spacecraft Configuration. OCSD differs from other space-based laser communication systems because the laser is hard-mounted to the spacecraft body, and the orientation of the CubeSat controls the direction of the beam. This makes the laser system more compact than anything previously flown in space. (Credit: NASA/Ames)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (NASA PR) — Two NASA CubeSats teamed up on an impromptu optical, or laser, communications pointing experiment. The laser beam is seen as a brief flash of light close to the center of the focal plane, to the left of Earth’s horizon.

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Cumberland Island Homes Association Opposes Spaceport Camden Plan

Spaceport Camden launch trajectories (Credit: Camden County)

LITTLE CUMBERLAND ISLAND, Ga. ( Little Cumberland Island Homes Association PR) – Cumberland and Little Cumberland Islands have just become the first communities in America to be directly downrange from a vertical launch spaceport awaiting license approval from the FAA. More than sixty private homes lie in the path of rockets that Camden County commissioners hope someday to launch.

In the history of U.S. space flight, neither NASA nor the FAA have permitted a vertical launch over private homes or people directly downrange. The risk to people and property from an exploding rocket is too great.

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