Planned Comsat Constellations Now Exceed 94,000 Satellites

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A wave of new applications submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week for approval for communications satellites operating in the V band has sent the number of spacecraft in large constellations soaring to nearly 100,000.

A list compiled by Parabolic Arc shows that 94,255 satellites are included in the constellations. That number includes 29,439 satellites approved by the FCC or in development in China. The FCC has applicants pending before it for another 64,816 satellites.

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Astra Space Applies to Launch More than 13,000 Satellites; Proposed Broadband Constellations Exceed 79,000 Spacecraft

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Astra Space has applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the launch more than 13,000 communications satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO), joining SpaceX, OneWeb, Amazon and other companies seeking to provide broadband services across the globe. The application brings the number of proposed satellites in these constellations to more than 79,000.

“The Astra Constellation as proposed would ultimately consist of as many as 13,620 operational LEO satellites, supported by a global network of gateway earth stations utilizing the identified V-band frequency bands for feeder links for space-to-earth transmit and receive,” the company’s application said.

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FCC Authorizes Boeing’s 132 Satellite Broadband Constellation

WASHINGTON, November 3, 2021 (FCC PR) — The Federal Communications Commission today approved an application from The Boeing Company for a license to construct, deploy, and operate a satellite constellation. As detailed in its FCC application, Boeing plans to provide broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, governmental, and professional users in the United States and globally.

“Advanced satellite broadband services have an important role to play in connecting hard-to-serve communities,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “We are committed to a careful and detailed review of all such applications and I thank the International Bureau team for their work completing this first round of NGSO applications.”

Today’s Order approves Boeing’s application for non-geostationary orbit fixed-satellite service system using frequencies in portions of the V-band (the 37.5-40, 40-42, 47.2-50.2 and 50.4-51.4 GHz bands), and to operate inter-satellite links (ISLs) using frequencies in portions of the V-band (65-71 GHz band). It also dismisses Boeing’s request to operate ISLs in certain frequency bands that are not allocated internationally for operations of the FSS in the space-to-space direction in the ITU Radio Regulations.

Two Startups Awarded Projects Leveraging the ISS National Lab Through MassChallenge

Selected projects to receive funding from CASIS and Boeing through the Technology in Space Prize

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla, November 2, 2021 (CASIS PR) – The Center for the Advancement of Science and Space, Inc. (CASIS) and Boeing [NYSE: BA] are awarding up to $500,000 in grants to two startup companies through the Technology in Space Prize. The startups, krtkl inc. and Oculogenex, Inc., were identified through the MassChallenge (Boston) startup accelerator program. The companies will leverage the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory, managed by CASIS, to further their research and technology development in low Earth orbit.

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Cost to Boeing of Starliner Delays Now Total Nearly $600 Million

Boeing engineers continue work at the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility on the Starliner propulsion system valves. (Credit: Boeing)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Boeing said on Wednesday that it was taking an additional $185 million charge against earnings due to additional delays to its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, which it is developing to take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

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Orbital Reef Commercial Space Station Promotional Video

Video Caption: Blue Origin and Sierra Space have announced plans for Orbital Reef, a commercially developed, owned, and operated space station to be built in low Earth orbit. The station will open the next chapter of human space exploration and development by facilitating the growth of a vibrant ecosystem and business model for the future. Orbital Reef is backed by space industry leaders and teammates including Boeing, Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering Solutions, and Arizona State University.

Designed to open multiple new markets in space, Orbital Reef will provide anyone with the opportunity to establish their own address on orbit. This unique destination will offer research, industrial, international, and commercial customers the cost competitive end-to-end services they need including space transportation and logistics, space habitation, equipment accommodation, and operations including onboard crew. The station will start operating in the second half of this decade.

Learn more at OrbitalReef.com

Blue Origin, Sierra Space and Partners Unveil Plans for Orbital Reef Commercial Space Station

Orbital Reef commercial space station (Credit: Orbital Reef)

New Orbital Destination Opens Up Space For Business And Travel, Creating New
Ecosystem

KENT, Wash., October 25, 2021 (Blue Origin/Sierra Space PR) – Blue Origin and Sierra Space today announced plans for Orbital Reef, a commercially developed, owned, and operated space station to be built in low Earth orbit. The station will open the next chapter of human space exploration and development by facilitating the growth of a vibrant ecosystem and business model for the future. Orbital Reef is backed by space industry leaders and teammates including Boeing, Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering Solutions, and Arizona State University.

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NASA Requests Information for American Crew Transportation to Space Station

This image shows the planned configuration of six iROSA solar arrays intended to augment power on the International Space Station. The roll-up arrays arrive on the SpaceX-22 resupply mission. (Credits: NASA/Johnson Space Center/Boeing)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA released a request for information from American industry capable of providing safe, reliable, and cost-effective human space transportation services to and from the International Space Station to ensure a continuous human presence aboard the microgravity laboratory.

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Slow Speed Ahead: Boeing Struggles with Starliner Valve Issues as Second Flight Test Delayed to Next Year

Boeing engineers continue work at the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility on the Starliner propulsion system valves. (Credit: Boeing)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Boeing said on Tuesday that it will delay the second uncrewed flight test of its Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) until sometime in the first half of next year due to ongoing problems with stuck oxidizer valves on the vehicle. A crewed flight test would follow about six months later, with the first commercial mission carrying NASA astronauts in 2023.

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JAXA Teams with NASA & Boeing to Validate Design of X-59 Low-boom Supersonic Demonstrator

Illustration of the completed X-59 QueSST landing on a runway. (Credits: Lockheed Martin)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has teamed up with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Boeing Company (Boeing) on joint research to validate the low sonic-boom design of X-59, NASA’s low boom flight demonstrator.

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Boeing Starliner Update: Valves Continue to be a Problem, No Launch Date in Sight

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft returned Aug. 19, 2021, from the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where teams will work to diagnose and resolve a valve issue detected during the Aug. 3 launch attempt of NASA Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2. (Credit: Boeing)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (Boeing PR) — The NASA, Boeing team continues to make progress on the investigation of the oxidizer isolation valve issue on the Starliner service module propulsion system that was discovered ahead of the planned uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station in August.

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NASA Announces Astronaut Changes for Upcoming Commercial Crew Missions

NASA crew members of the SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station. Pictured from left are NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has reassigned astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada to the agency’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Crew Program.

Mann and Cassada will serve as spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively, for the Crew-5 mission. Additional crew members will be announced later.

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SpaceX CRS-23 Successfully Completes Mission, Returning Critical Science Back to Earth

Cargo Dragon CRS-23 atop a Falcon 9 booster. (Credit: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), October 1, 2021 (CASIS PR)  – On September 30, SpaceX completed its 23rd Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission to the International Space Station (ISS) when its Dragon spacecraft safely splashed into the water off the coast of Florida. SpaceX CRS-23, contracted by NASA, brought back more than 25 payloads representing science and technology demonstrations sponsored by the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. These investigations aim to leverage the unique space-based environment of the orbiting platform to bring value to our nation and drive a robust market in low Earth orbit.

Below highlights some of the ISS National Lab-sponsored investigations that returned on SpaceX CRS-23.

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Millennium Space Systems Demonstrates Deployable Tape Technology to Deorbit Satellite

Credit: Millennium Space Systems

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Millennium Space Systems PR) — Millennium Space Systems, a Boeing (NYSE: BA) company, successfully demonstrated the ability of deployable tether technology to significantly reduce the time a satellite remains on orbit after service life completion.

“Thousands of satellites will launch over the next decade, creating serious congestion in low Earth orbit,” said Patrick Kelly, Ph.D., Dragracer program manager at Millennium Space Systems. “What we’ve proven is a way to safely and deliberately deorbit retired satellites.”

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Boeing’s Starliner Returns to Factory, Preparations Underway to Resolve Valve Issue

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft returned Aug. 19, 2021, from the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where teams will work to diagnose and resolve a valve issue detected during the Aug. 3 launch attempt of NASA Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2. (Credit: Boeing)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Teams from Boeing and United Launch Alliance (ULA) safely returned the CST-100 Starliner to its production facility in Florida on Aug. 19 for continued work on the spacecraft’s service module propulsion system.

The Starliner Orbital Flight Test-2 spacecraft was removed from its Atlas V rocket inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and returned to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The team now will perform propulsion system checkouts inside the factory’s hazardous processing area and determine the appropriate vehicle configuration for accessing and analyzing the system further. NASA and Boeing will recommend forward work as part of a formal process designed to aid in determining root cause and remediation steps.

In the weeks ahead, engineering teams from NASA and Boeing will work to diagnose and ultimately resolve a valve issue detected during the Aug. 3 countdown for NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2, and resulted in the decision to postpone the launch destined for the International Space Station.

NASA, Boeing, and ULA will establish a new launch date once the issue is resolved.