Earth Observant Inc. Successfully Tests Next-generation Propulsion Technology to Support Future Very Low Earth Orbit Missions

Earth Observant completed tests of a pioneering Hall-effect thruster at the US Air Force Research Lab’s vacuum chamber facility at Edwards Air Force Base over a period of two weeks. The HET-X Thruster uses traditional EP fuel sources and a new, undisclosed propellant solution that is low-cost, non-toxic, and widely available.

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 18, 2021 (Earth Observant PR) — Earth Observant Inc. (EOI) successfully completed a series of tests on its internally developed Hall-effect thruster that introduces new propellant types while maintaining thruster efficiency and minimizing erosion. This technology supports EOI’s core mission of operating a Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO) constellation of Earth Imaging satellites to deliver ultra-high resolution image data.

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Dragonfly and Pixxel Sign Agreement for High Resolution Imagers for Pixxel’s Satellite Constellation

STELLENBOSCH, South Africa, Feb. 16, 2021 (Dragonfly Aerospace PR) — Dragonfly Aerospace is pleased to announce that it has signed a contract for the development and delivery of high resolution electro-optical imagers for Pixxel’s planned satellite constellation. The constellation will follow the upcoming launch of Pixxel’s first satellite ‘Anand’, which also happens to be India’s first private earth imaging satellite. The planned constellation of satellites will provide global coverage every 24 hours enabling organisations around the globe to detect, monitor and predict global phenomena in near real time.

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Rocket Lab’s Next Mission to Launch 100th Satellite and Deploy Next-Generation Photon Spacecraft in Preparation for Moon Mission

Electron launches with 10 satellites on Oct. 29, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

The mission will deploy a range of satellites for commercial and government customers, as well as place a next-generation Photon spacecraft in orbit to build heritage for Rocket Lab’s upcoming mission to the Moon for NASA

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab, a leading launch provider and space systems company, has today announced its next mission will deploy a range of satellites for commercial and government satellite operators, and place a next-generation Photon spacecraft in orbit to build spacecraft heritage ahead of Rocket Lab’s mission to the Moon for NASA in Q3 this year.

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ESA and JAXA Meet Online to Agree on Future Cooperation

Martian Moons mission approaches Deimos. (Credit: JAXA/NHK)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA Director General Jan Wörner and President of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Dr Hiroshi Yamakawa took part in an online bilateral meeting on 4 February, confirming the status of cooperative activities between the two agencies.

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MDA Announces RADARSAT-2 Continuity Mission

BRAMPTON, Ont. (MDA PR) — MDA is excited to announce that the company has embarked on a major new initiative to build a commercial Earth observation satellite mission which will serve to extend MDA’s market-leading geospatial data, products and analytics services business well into the future.

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48 SuperDoves Join Planet’s Constellation To Deliver Global Daily Data

Falcon 9 launches Transporter-1 rideshare mission. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Planet PR) — 48 SuperDoves, our Flock 4s, were successfully delivered to orbit today on SpaceX’s Transporter-1 mission. This record-setting launch carried 143 satellites to orbit – the most spacecraft ever deployed on a single mission.

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SpaceX Launches Record 143 Satellites

Falcon 9 launches Transporter-1 rideshare mission. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX set a new world record on Sunday by launching 143 satellites into Earth orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.

The Sunday morning polar orbit launch included 133 commercial and government spacecraft along with 10 satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband communications constellation. The launch was conducted from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

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Satellogic and SpaceX Announce Multiple Launch Agreement

Falcon 9 launches the Turksat 5A satellite. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

First mission, scheduled for mid-2021, will further expand Satellogic’s industry-leading in-orbit capacity

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (Satellogic PR) – -Satellogic, the first company to develop a scalable Earth observation platform with the ability to remap the entire planet at both high-frequency and high-resolution, today announced a Multiple Launch Services Agreement (MLA) with SpaceX. Through the agreement, SpaceX becomes Satellogic’s preferred vendor for rideshare missions. The first launch, scheduled for June 2021, will deliver Satellogic satellites to Low Earth Orbit on a Falcon 9 rocket.

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The Good, the Bad and the Brexit: UK’s Participation in European Space Programs Curtailed by EU Departure

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Although the United Kingdom’s (UK) “Brexit” departure from the European Union (EU) on Jan. 1 will not affect its membership status in the European Space Agency (ESA), the nation’s participation in a number of European space programs is either ending or being curtailed.

On Christmas Eve, the UK and EU announced an agreement in principle that will govern trade, security and political relations after Brexit. Under the agreement, the UK’s participation in the:

  • Galileo satellite navigation and European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) program will end;
  • Copernicus Earth observation satellite program will continue, contingent upon a further agreement to be worked out next year; and
  • EU Space Surveillance and Tracking (EUSST) program will end, although the Britain will continue to receive data as a non-EU country.
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China Completes Record Launch Year With Successful Flight

Long March 4C lifts off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Dec. 27, 2020.

China completed a busy year that saw the nation tie its own record for launch attempts with the successful orbiting of a remote sensing satellite and a secondary nanosat on Sunday.

A Long March 4C rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 11:44 p.m.. local time carrying the Yaogan Weixing-33 (R) spacecraft. The spacecraft will be “mainly used for scientific experiment research, marine and land resource surveys and other tasks,” the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said.

Yaogan Weixing-33 (R) is the replacement for a similarly named remote sensing satellite that was lost due to the failure of a Long March 4C booster in May 2019.

A scientific research satellite named Weina Jishu Shiyan was also placed into orbit on Sunday as a secondary payload.

The successful flight was the last of 39 launch attempts for 2020 and the final one in the nation’s 13th Five-Year Plan, CNSA said. China finished the year with 35 successes and four failures.

The 39 launch attempts tied the national record China set in 2018. The nation finished that year with a record of 38 successes and one failure.

China finished second in launch attempts behind the United States in 2020, which completed the year with 40 successes and four failures.

Sunday’s mission was the 69th launch of the Long March 4C booster and the 357th launch of the Long March family of rockets.

NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic to Complete Successful 2020

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA made significant progress on America’s Moon to Mars exploration strategy, met mission objectives for the Artemis program, achieved significant scientific advancements to benefit humanity, and returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States, all while agency teams acted quickly to assist the national COVID-19 response.

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China’s Long March 8 Rocket Makes Successful Debut in Step Toward Reusability

Long March 8 launches for the first time on Dec. 22, 2020. (Credit: CNSA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China’s newest booster, Long March 8, successfully placed five satellites into sun-synchronous orbit on Tuesday from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in a step toward partial reusability.

The medium-lift booster blasted off at 12:37 p.m. local time from Hainan island carrying the classified XJY-7 remote sensing technology test satellite and four smaller payloads.

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Exolaunch Integrates 30 Small Satellites for SpaceX First Dedicated Rideshare Launch

A rendering of rideshare smallsat deployments from Falcon 9 into space. (Credit: Exolaunch)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Exolaunch PR)–Exolaunch, the leading rideshare launch and deployment services provider for the NewSpace industry, begins its launch campaign to integrate 30 small satellites from the U.S. and Europe aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rideshare mission scheduled for no earlier than January 2021. This is the first dedicated rideshare mission of SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program and the first of several rideshares Exolaunch is manifesting on Falcon 9 as part of a multi-launch agreement the company signed with SpaceX earlier this year.

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NASA, UN Sign Memorandum of Understanding on Peaceful Uses of Space

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) pledging cooperation in areas of science and technology to support the peaceful use of outer space.

The MOU, signed Thursday, Dec. 17, brings together NASA’s wealth of publicly available Earth observation data and dynamic exploration opportunities with UNOOSA’s unique position as the only U.N. entity dedicated to outer space affairs.

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