SEAKR Engineering Demonstrates Optical Communications on DARPA’s Mandrake 2 Satellites

Mandrake 2 satellites (Credit: DARPA)

Integrated technology allows for on-orbit networked systems

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (SEAKR Engineering PR) – SEAKR Engineering, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, announced a successful demonstration of optical inter-satellite links between two Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Mandrake 2 satellites. During the first test, more than 280 gigabits of data were transferred at a range of 114 kilometers during a period of more than 40 minutes. 

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NASA Funds R&D Projects to Improve Small Satellite Performance

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Small satellites are increasingly being used for missions in Earth orbit and deep space. Although they are easy to launch, their size limits their capabilities and usefulness to scientists. NASA has selected a pair of research and development (R&D) projects designed to address some of these limitations for continued funding under the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

The space agency selected Flight Works for a Phase II award to continue developing a high-performance, pump-fed transfer stage for Venture Class cislunar and deep space missions. The space agency also selected Nanohmics of Austin, Texas, for a SBIR Phase II award to continue working on adaptive optics for low-cost CubeSat optical systems. Each award is worth up to $750,000 over 24 months. Both companies received smaller SBIR Phase I awards.

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Former NASA Administrator Dan Goldin Joins Accion Systems’ Board of Directors

Anthony Vinci, Former NGA Associate Director and CTO, Joins as Board Observer

BOSTON, Mass. – September 22, 2021 — Accion  Systems (“Accion”), a leading manufacturer of the world’s most advanced ion electrospray in-space propulsion systems, today announced that  former National Aeronautics and Space Administration (“NASA”) Administrator Dan Goldin has joined its Board of Directors. 

Dan was the longest-tenured Administrator of NASA, from April 1992 to November 2001. His deep experience with the space industry and direct experience in development and operation of electric propulsion systems will help Accion position its flagship ion thruster, TILE, for wider adoption in the market. Dan will also be invaluable in the development of future products and scaling the TILE technology to serve a wider spectrum of satellites and spacecraft.

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Blackjack Program Successfully Deploys Two Mandrake 2 Satellites

Mandrake 2 satellites (Credit: DARPA)

Achievement is key step toward realization of global high-speed space network

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — DARPA successfully deployed two satellites on June 30 as part of the SpaceX Transporter 2 launch. Both Mandrake 2 spacecraft, Able and Baker, are functioning well and progressing through checkout and commissioning. Conceived as an early risk-reduction flight for DARPA’s Blackjack  program, the Mandrake 2 mission will prove out advanced laser communications technologies for a broad government stakeholder team that includes DARPA, Space Development Agency (SDA), Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV), and Office of the Secretary of Defense’s (OSD) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) office.

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Spaceflight Inc. Signs Multiple Launch Agreements to Start 2021, Leveraging Its Success Managing Both “Bus and Taxi” Smallsat Launches

SHERPA (Spaceflight Inc.)

Company reveals more dedicated launches, propulsive OTVs, and GTO/lunar missions to satisfy growing demand for flexible and comprehensive launch services

SEATTLE, March 3, 2021 (Spaceflight Inc.) — Spaceflight Inc., the global launch services provider, announced it has started the year by signing several significant launch agreements with a wide range of organizations, including growing constellations needing routine and reliable launch schedules, smaller payloads requiring affordable bus-like options to popular orbits, firms needing regulatory and logistical guidance, as well as those seeking a personalized taxi service from loading dock to final orbital destination.

Organizations that recently signed launch deals with Spaceflight include Lynk, Astro Digital, Kleos, BlackSky, Umbra, Orbit Fab and several undisclosed U.S. government payloads.

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Rocket Lab Delays Electron Launch Due to Stormy Weather

“As the Crow Flies”

Booster: Electron
Payload: Palisade 16U CubeSat for Astro Digital
Location: Launch Complex 1, Mahia Peninsula, NZ
Launch Period: 15 October – 28 October 2019 NZDT (14 October – 28 October 2019 UTC)
Launch Window: Daily from 12:00 – 16:00 NZDT (23:00 – 03:00 UTC/7 – 11 pm EDT)
Live launch webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com/live-stream (begins 15 – 20 minutes prior to launch)
Launch Day Updates: www.rocketlabusa.com/missions/next-mission/ and follow Rocket Lab on Twitter @RocketLab

An Overview of Rocket Lab’s Next Launch

Electron lifts off with U.S. Air Force satellites. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

“As the Crow Flies”

Booster: Electron
Payload: Palisade 16U CubeSat for Astro Digital
Location: Launch Complex 1, Mahia Peninsula, NZ
Launch Period: 15 October – 28 October 2019 NZDT (14 October – 28 October 2019 UTC)
Launch Window: Daily from 12:00 – 16:00 NZDT (23:00 – 03:00 UTC/7 – 11 pm EDT)
Live launch webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com/live-stream (begins 15 – 20 minutes prior to launch)
Launch Day Updates: www.rocketlabusa.com/missions/next-mission/ and follow Rocket Lab on Twitter @RocketLab

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Upcoming Launches Include Mission Extension Vehicle, ICON and Starlink Satellites

Mission Extension Vehicle refuels satellite. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

Four upcoming launches in the United States, Russia and New Zealand feature payloads to refuel a communications satellite, study space weather, expand SpaceX’s Starlink network, and test out new technology.

October 9

Proton
Payloads: Eutelsat 5 West B communications satellite, Mission Extension Vehicle 1 (MEV 1)
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Launch Time: 6:17 a.m. EDT (1017 GMT )

This is the first flight of the MEV, which will refuel the Intelsat 901 communications satellite. Both satellites on this launch were built by Northrop Grumman.

October 9/10

Pegasus XL
Payload: Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite
Launch Platform: Stargazer L-1011 aircraft
Departure Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Window: 9:25-10:55 p.m. EDT on Oct. 9 (0125-0255 GMT on Oct. 10)

NASA’s ICON mission will study disturbances in the ionosphere caused by terrestrial weather and solar storms that disrupt radio transmissions and GPS navigation. ICON has suffered repeated delays due to technical problems. The original launch date was in June 2017. The launch is being conducted by Northrop Grumman.

October 14/15

Electron
Payloads: Palisade CubeSat
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Launch Window: 7:00-11:00 p.m. EDT on Oct. 14 (2300-0300 GMT on Oct. 14/15)

Rocket Lab’s “As The Crow Flies” mission is the ninth launch of the Electron rocket Astro Digital’s Palisade technology demonstration satellite is a 16U CubeSat with a next-generation communications system and an an on-board propulsion system.

NET October 17

Falcon 9
Payloads: ~ 60 Starlink 1 communications satellites
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Time: TBD

SpaceX will launch the second group of Starlink 1 broadband satellites no earlier than Oct. 17.

Vector to Launch Astro Digital Satellite

Flight test of P-19H engineering model of the Vector-R launch vehicle from Friends of Amateur Rocketry site in California. (Credit: Vector Space Systems)

TUCSON, Ariz., Dec. 14, 2017 (Vector PR) — Vector, a nanosatellite launch company comprised of new-space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced that it will join forces with Astro Digital, a leader in real-time satellite imagery data, to conduct a dedicated launch in 2018 featuring one of Astro Digital’s satellites for remote sensing applications. Astro Digital plans to engage Vector to launch at least twelve such satellites as part of a larger constellation, with an option to then continue operations at a pace of two to four dedicated satellite launches per year.

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Soyuz Rocket Launches 73 Satellites in One Flight

Soyuz-2 launch (Credit: Roskosmos)

A Russian Soyuz-2 rocket deployed 48 Planet Dove and eight Spire Lemur CubeSats on Friday during a flight that deployed a total of 73 satellites.

The Dove and Lemur satellites were secondary payloads on the launch, whose main mission was to deploy the Kanopus-V-IK remote sensing satellite.

Planet co-founder Will Marshall tweeted that all 48 satellites were deployed as planned and were in contact with ground controllers.

The Soyuz also launched three Cicero radio occultation satellites for GeoOptics and two Corvus-BC imaging CubeSats for Astro Digital.  Both companies are based in the United States.

In addition to Russia and the United States, the 72 secondary satellites came from Canada, Germany Japan, and Norway.