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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NASA to Launch New Technologies on Next Falcon Heavy Flight

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy begins its first flight. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — A new kind of atomic clock, non-toxic propellant system and missions to characterize how space weather interferes with satellites and communication transmissions are one step closer to liftoff. With the second-ever SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch complete, these NASA technologies await the powerful rocket’s next flight.

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Apparently, They CAN Take the Sky From Me

UPDATE: Pepsi says it will not pursue this plan.

This is a truly terrible idea:

A Russian company called StartRocket says it’s going to launch a cluster of cubesats into space that will act as an “orbital billboard,” projecting enormous advertisements into the night sky like artificial constellations. And its first client, it says, will be PepsiCo — which will use the system to promote a “campaign against stereotypes and unjustified prejudices against gamers” on behalf of an energy drink called Adrenaline Rush.

Yeah, the project sounds like an elaborate prank. But Russian PepsiCo spokesperson Olga Mangova confirmed to Futurism that the collaboration is real.

“We believe in StartRocket potential,” she wrote in an email. “Orbital billboards are the revolution on the market of communications. That’s why on behalf of Adrenaline Rush — PepsiCo Russia energy non-alcoholic drink, which is brand innovator, and supports everything new, and non-standard — we agreed on this partnership.”

Futurism has the full story.

ESA Sets Up CubeSat Central for Smaller Space Missions

Qarman CubeSat in Hertz chamber (Credit: ESA)

NOORDWIJK, Netherlands, 2 April 2019 (ESA PR) — ESA has set up a dedicated unit to work on the standardised nanosatellites called ‘CubeSats’, teaming up with European companies to develop low-cost technology-testing missions. Missions in preparation include a double CubeSat to test rendezvous and docking techniques, and one to explore near-Earth asteroids.

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JAXA, UNOSA Open Fifth Round of KiboCUBE

Successful deployment of 1KUNS-PF (Kenyan Satellite, selected as first round of KiboCUBE) from Kibo in May, 2018. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) is pleased to announce the opening of the fifth round of KiboCUBE.

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ÅAC Microtec Wins Upgrade Order from UK’s Satellite Applications Catapult

UPSALA, Sweden (ÅAC Microtec PR) — ÅAC Microtec AB’s subsidiary, Clyde Space, has signed a contract with the UK’s Satellite Applications Catapult to upgrade an existing order for the IOD Program from an 3U CubeSat to an enhanced 6U CubeSat. The contract value is 0.2 MGBP (approx. 2.5 MSEK) [$270,513].

The satellite is part of the In-Orbit Demonstration (IOD) Program, funded by Innovate UK, the UK Government’s innovation agency, and led by the Satellite Applications Catapult. The spacecraft will be delivered as the IOD-3 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) through launch providers Nanoracks in the second half of 2020.

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Space BD, Satlantis Sign Agreement to Install Optical Instrument Outside Kibo Module

Japanese KIBO module

TOKYO (Space BD PR) — Space BD Inc. received a contract from a Spanish start-up company Satlantis, for an integrated in-orbit demonstration service of the “Integrated Standard Imager for Microsatellites (hereafter iSIM)”, a satellite optical instrument that the company has developed.

The demonstration mission will utilise the “IVA-replaceable Small Exposed Experiment Platform (i-SEEP)”, the exposed facility of the Japanese Experimental Module “Kibo” on the International Space Station (ISS). This is the first time that a non-Japanese technology is demonstrated on i-SEEP.

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NASA Announces Tenth Round of Candidates for CubeSat Space Missions

EagleSat-1 CubeSat (Credits: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — An inflatable space antenna and a solar sail material test are among 16 small research satellites from 10 states NASA has selected to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard space missions planned to launch in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

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ESA Helps Business Fly in Space

On 29 April 2016, ESA astronaut Tim Peake controlled, from the International Space Station, a rover nicknamed Bridget at Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, UK, as part of an international experiment to prepare for human–robotic missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. In this image, the rover experiment control team located at ESA’s ESOC mission control centre, Darmstadt, Germany, watch closely as Tim commands Bridget. (Credit: ESA)

DARMSTADT, Germany (ESA PR) — New ‘cubesat’ technology and falling launch costs mean that businesses, universities and other organisations are increasingly able to launch their own small satellites. Now ESA is offering facilities and know-how to help them fly.

In an innovative offering for Europe’s emerging space ecosystem, ESA is providing access to ground facilities – control rooms and ground stations – as well as know-how for those aiming to get their own small satellites into space.

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Homeland Security Launched Polar Scout Satellites Using SpaceX Falcon 9 Vehicle

WASHINGTON (DHS PR) — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) launched two miniature cube-shaped satellites (CubeSats) into space on December 3, 2018, via the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Named Yukon and Kodiak, the CubeSats, which are approximately the size of a shoebox, neatly squeezed into a 20-ft. payload stack with 62 other small satellites (SmallSats), and began orbiting our planet.

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Nanosat to Serve the Internet of Things Tested for Space

Evaluation of a test Hiber nanosatellite took place in ESA’s metal-walled Hybrid European Radio Frequency and Antenna Test Zone (Hertz) at the Agency’s technical centre in the Netherlands, shut off from all external influences for radio testing.  (Credit: ESA–G. Porter)

NOORDWIJK, the Netherlands (ESA PR) — The Netherlands’ latest space firm brought its newest design for testing in ESA’s largest antenna test facility. The Hiber company has already launched its first two nanosatellites into orbit, and is busily preparing its next generation.

Dutch space company Hiber is building an orbital constellation of CubeSats – small modular satellites based around 10 cm units – to provide global low-cost connectivity for the ‘Internet of Things’, tracking and harnessing data from modem-linked objects such as haulage vehicles, power cables, pipelines or sensors for precision agriculture.

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NanoRacks Completes Sixth CubeSat Deployment from Cygnus Spacecraft

DULLES, Virg., February 14, 2019 (NanoRacks PR) — Last night, NanoRacks successfully completed the Company’s sixth CubeSat deployment mission from Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft. Cygnus (S.S. John Young) departed the International Space Station on February 8th, 2019 and performed a number of on-orbit activities, including yet another historic NanoRacks deployment.

Cygnus maneuvered to a higher-than-Space Station altitude (445 kilometers) where the NanoRacks External Cygnus Deployment mission released two of the three CubeSats on board into orbit, MySat-1 and the second CHEFSat satellite. The spacecraft then lowered to an altitude of 300 kilometers to deploy KickSat-2.

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Beyond Mars, the Mini MarCO Spacecraft Fall Silent

Mars as seen from the MarCO-B satellite. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — Before the pair of briefcase-sized spacecraft known collectively as MarCO launched last year, their success was measured by survival: If they were able to operate in deep space at all, they would be pushing the limits of experimental technology.

Now well past Mars, the daring twins seem to have reached their limit. It’s been over a month since engineers have heard from MarCO, which followed NASA’s InSight to the Red Planet. At this time, the mission team considers it unlikely they’ll be heard from again.

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NanoRacks Completes 15th CubeSat Mission on International Space Station

HOUSTON, January 31, 2019 (NanoRacks PR) — NanoRacks successfully completed the 15th CubeSat Deployment mission from the Company’s commercially developed platform on the International Space Station. Having released five CubeSats into low-Earth orbit, this mission marks NanoRacks’ 190th CubeSat released from the Space Station, and the 228th small satellite deployed by NanoRacks overall.

The CubeSats deployed were launched to the Space Station on the 16th contracted resupply mission for SpaceX from the Kennedy Space Center in December 2018.

NanoRacks offered an affordable launch opportunity, payload manifesting, full safety reviews with NASA, and managed on-orbit operations in order to provide an end-to-end solution that met all customer needs.

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ISS Crew Works CubeSats, Life Science and Configures Physics Hardware

The International Space Station as it appears in 2018. Zarya is visible at the center of the complex, identifiable by its partially retracted solar arrays. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON, January 30, 2019 (NASA PR) — The International Space Station is set to deploy a new series of CubeSats as the Expedition 58 crew configures research hardware to enable a variety of space experiments.

Japan’s Kibo laboratory module airlock has been set up with a small satellite deployer loaded with several CubeSats. Astronaut Anne McClain finished the installation work Wednesday, depressurized the airlock and maneuvered the deployer outside Kibo.

She and fellow astronaut David Saint-Jacques will monitor and photograph the CubeSat deployments planned for Thursday around noon EST. The CubeSats will study Earth’s ionosphere and satellite communication techniques.

McClain next inventoried Rodent Research gear trashing some hardware to make extra space aboard the lab. She later swapped a hard drive on a laptop computer dedicated to meteor observations then attached sensors to her head and chest for the Circadian Rhythms study.

Saint-Jacques installed new electronics on the Kubik incubator upgrading the device that houses biology experiments on seeds, cells and small animals. He later swapped parts in the Combustion Integrated Rack that permits safe research into fuel and flames aboard the orbital lab.

Commander Oleg Kononenko started Wednesday researching microgravity’s effect on heart rate and breathing. He later explored advanced photography tools and techniques to better detect targets of interest on Earth.