Loss of Weather Satellite Adds to Russia’s Near Decade of Launch Failures

Another fine day for Russia’s space program. A Proton crashes with three GLONASS satellites in July 2013. (Credit: Tsenki TV)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For the second year in a row, Russia came tantalizingly close to breaking a string of launch failures extending back nearly a decade.

In three days, the nation’s space program would have gone 12 months without botching a launch. Thirty days after that, an entire calendar year would have passed without a full or partial launch failure. Last year, Russia came within four days and 30 days of those marks, respectively.

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ESA Narrows Finalists for Lunar CubeSat Mission

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

PARIS (ESA PR) — If you could fly a CubeSat to the Moon, what could such a tiny satellite do there? ESA posed this question – and now four proposals will be studied in more detail for possible flight over the coming decade.
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ESA’s First Technology CubeSat Launched from Space Station

ESA’s GomX-3 CubeSat plus the smaller student-built AAUSat-5 after being deployed from the NanoRacks dispenser on Japan's Kibo module of the International Space Station on 5 October 2015. They entered space together but a spring system pushed them away from each other. By the end of the week they were orbiting upwards of 100 km apart. (Credit: ESA/NASA)
ESA’s GomX-3 CubeSat plus the smaller student-built AAUSat-5 after being deployed from the NanoRacks dispenser on Japan’s Kibo module of the International Space Station on 5 October 2015. They entered space together but a spring system pushed them away from each other. By the end of the week they were orbiting upwards of 100 km apart. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s first technology-testing CubeSat, released last week from the International Space Station, is in good health and is set to start work on its six-month mission.

“This tiny satellite was developed in only a year and now we are very pleased with the rapid progress made during the first few days in orbit to check its readiness for its mission,” notes Roger Walker, overseeing ESA’s technology CubeSat effort.

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Firefly Awarded NASA Venture Class Launch Services Contract

firefly_space_systems_logoCEDAR PARK, Texas, October 14, 2015 (Firefly PR) — Firefly Space Systems, Inc., a New Space leader in the development of dedicated small satellite launch vehicles has been selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to conduct a demonstration CubeSat launch by March 2018. The Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) contract to Firefly is valued at $5.5M.

Mark Wiese, chief of the Flight Projects Office for NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP), based at Kennedy Space Center, described VCLS contracts as representing “NASA’s investment in the future of the commercial launch industry for SmallSats.”

Since there hasn’t been a dedicated launcher available, CubeSats have flown into orbit as auxiliary payloads that are released after the booster has achieved the primary mission. They have also been sprung into the orbital void from canisters aboard the International Space Station to conduct research missions. In both cases though, the CubeSats are at the mercy of the primary payload and the orbit it must fly in.

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Andrews Space to Manufacture Dutch CubeSat Dispenser

SEATTLE, WA, 11 October 2012 (Andrews Space PR) — Andrews Space (Andrews) today announced it signed an agreement with ISIS of the Netherlands to begin manufacturing a US version of the ISIPOD, branded the EZPOD, in the United States.  Under the terms of the agreement, Andrews will manufacture and integrate the EZPODs domestically with initial units available as early as January 2013.

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UKSA Seeks Indian Cooperation on TechDemoSat, Launches CubeSat Payload Competition

Following up on a visit to India by Prime Minister David Cameron, British Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts visited the ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) this week to explore deeper space collaboration between the two nations. The Deccan Herald reports:

As a first concrete example of this strengthened partnership, Willetts invited India to partner with the UK in its TechDemoSat programme.

TechDemoSat is an industry-led technology demonstration satellite which aims to provide a low-Earth-orbit test bed to help demonstrate the technical maturity and commercial viability of innovative new space technology.

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