ISRO Looks to Double Launch Rate, Turn Over Work to Private Sector

PSLV C38 mission launches (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO is looking to double its launch rate and turn over more responsibility to the private sector in the coming years.

Currently, the space agency launches 9 to 10 spacecraft built by it every year. Dr K Sivan, director of Thiruvananthapuram-based Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, said, “Isro is targeting to double the number of launches from 9-10 to 18-19 launches per year.”

On outsourcing of jobs to the private industry, Isro chairman A S Kiran Kumar said the space agency does as much activity as possible with the industry. “Wherever it’s possible to get things done through the industry, we are doing and it will only increase in the coming days because we need to do more frequent activities,” he told a news agency.

Dr Sivan said, “Currently, 80-90 per cent of work relating to launch vehicles are being done by the industry, including private and public sector companies. Only, critical components are manufactured by Isro. After we purchase 90 per cent of vehicle components, propellant casting and vehicle integration are done at the Sriharikota launch centre.” He said, “The space agency currently focuses on vehicle integration, vehicle engineering, mission design (marking trajectory), launch and quality assurance.”

“But gradually Isro wants vehicle parts vendors to become part of the system through joint ventures. Therefore in this direction, Isro is preparing the ground work to involve such companies directly into launch projects,” Dr Sivan said.

The Isro chairman, too, said the space agency is looking at the possibility of building a PSLV in a joint venture with a set of industry partners by 2020-21. The role of industry in the making of satellites, however, is restricted to 30-35 per cent as the spacecraft is the key part of any space mission.

Meanwhile, ISRO is looking to return to flight in December following the failure of a PSLV booster on Aug. 30.  The IRNSS-1 navigation satellite was lost after the rocket’s payload shroud failed to separate.

The Cartosat-2 remote sensing satellite is the primary payload for the PSLV flight next month. Along for the ride will be 25 nanosats, three microsats and possibility a university-built spacecraft.

NanoRacks Deploys its Largest Satellite From ISS Yet

HOUSTON, October 24, 2017 (NanoRacks PR)– Early this morning, NanoRacks successfully deployed the Kestrel Eye IIM (KE2M) microsatellite via the Company’s Kaber Microsatellite Deployer (Kaber) from the International Space Station. This is the largest satellite that NanoRacks has deployed to date, and the first deployed from the Kaber deployer.

“Customer demand pushed for larger satellite deployment in low-Earth orbit, so NanoRacks was there to accommodate,” says NanoRacks CEO Jeffrey Manber. “We’re thrilled to bring yet another commercial opportunity to the International Space Station, increasing utilization and bringing a new group of customers into our Space Station services.”

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ICEYE Raises Additional $13 Million for SAR Microsat Constellation

Credit: ICEYE

HELSINKI, August 23, 2017 (ICEYE PR)– ICEYE, the leader in synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) technology for microsatellites providing expanded access to reliable and timely Earth observation data, today announced $13M in new funding, including an $8.5M financing round led by Draper Nexus. ICEYE will use the latest funding to scale up operations, including manufacturing of the company’s SAR technology built from off-the-shelf components, and launch additional satellites. ICEYE plans to launch the first three microsatellites equipped with SAR sensors over the next 12 months, delivering Earth observation data to select customers shortly thereafter.

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Vector Raises $21 Million Series A Funding Round

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., June 29, 2017 (Vector PR)– Vector, the micro satellite launch company that’s decreasing barriers to entry and increasing speed to orbit, today announced $21M Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from Shasta Ventures and Lightspeed. This round brings Vector’s total funding to $31M and follows a landmark first half of 2017 for the company.

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Vector Declares Rocket Launch Successful

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)

CANTIL, Calif. (Vector PR) — Vector, a micro satellite space launch company comprised of new-space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced the successful test launch of the P-19H engineering model of the Vector-R launch vehicle.

This flight test is the first of several upcoming launches which will enable Vector to evaluate critical technologies and functions of the operational family of Vector launch vehicles.

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Japan to Try Again With Microsat Launcher

JAXA SS520 sounding rocket. (Credit: JAXA)

Undaunted by a launch failure last month, JAXA has decided to try another flight of its new SS-520-4 micro-satellite booster later this year.

January’s rocket was a three-stage version of the existing two-stage SS-520, modified to carry a miniature satellite. Off-the-shelf consumer product technology was incorporated to keep costs down. The rocket blasted off successfully. But during the first stage of the launch sequence, transmission of such critical data as its temperature and position ceased. The agency aborted the second stage, letting the vehicle fall into the ocean.

After the failed launch, JAXA scrutinized data from minirocket’s communications equipment and other components, and conducted new vibration tests. It eliminated parts that could have been responsible for the failure and put in place measures to prevent a recurrence of the problems. It will report in detail on the findings of its inspections at a section meeting of the technology ministry starting Monday.

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SpaceWorks Releases Nano- & Microsat Market Forecast

ATLANTA, February 1, 2017 (SpasceWorks PR) – SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. (SEI) announced today the annual update to its nanosatellite and microsatellite market forecast. The report details the latest observations and trends in the nano/microsatellite market.

Projections indicate more than 450 nano/micro satellites will need launches annually in the year 2023 and beyond. The summary is available in presentation form as a free download on the website, http://www.spaceworksforecast.com.

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Canon, JAXA Team for Microsat Launcher

JAXA SS520 sounding rocket. (Credit: JAXA)
JAXA SS520 sounding rocket. (Credit: JAXA)

Canon, best known for its high-quality cameras, is getting into the space business. It is working with the Japanese space agency JAXA to upgrade a sounding rocket to launch microsats into orbit.

The company’s experience designing and manufacturing devices such as digital cameras will help the team choose the best rocket parts as well as make key control instruments smaller and lighter.

Systems for changing the rocket’s orientation or separating stages once in space have already been developed. IHI unit IHI Aerospace is handling development of key engine parts such as fuel injectors.

The three-stage rocket is an upgrade to JAXA’s two-stage SS-520, which carries instruments for research observations. Measuring 52cm in diameter and less than 10 meters in length, the new version will cost less than one-tenth as much to launch as leading rockets and is expected to be used to lift microsatellites in orbit.

An initial launch is slated for early next year from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture.

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Smallsat Market Projected to Grow Nearly 21 Percent

Spacecraft specialists prepare spacecraft to perform the Edison Demonstration of Smallsat Networks (EDSN) mission. (Credit: NASA Ames Research Center)
Spacecraft specialists prepare spacecraft to perform the Edison Demonstration of Smallsat Networks (EDSN) mission. (Credit: NASA Ames Research Center)

PUNE, India  (ReportsnReports.com PR) — According to research report, “Global Small Satellite Market (By Type, By Application, By End-Use): Trends, Opportunities and Forecasts (2016-2021)” the industry is projected to exhibit a CAGR of over ~19.54% during 2016 – 2021, driven by the increasing number of launches and, design and development of low cost satellites. On the basis of market segment, the market has been segmented on basis of type (Nano Satellite, Micro Satellite and Mini Satellite).

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Links to Parabolic Arc’s Coverage of Small Satellite 2016 Conference

SkyFire’s new infrared technology will help NASA enhance its knowledge of the lunar surface. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)
SkyFire’s new infrared technology will help NASA enhance its knowledge of the lunar surface. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

The Small Satellite 2016 Conference is now over. Below are links to Parabolic Arc’s coverage of the conference and the CubeSat Workshop that preceded it last weekend. There are also links to announcements made during the conference and in recent weeks.

Small Satellite Conference Coverage

Recent Smallsat News & Announcements

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Vector Space Systems Successfully Completes First Sub-Orbital Launch

P20 sub-scale test vehicle launch (Credit: Vector Space Systems)
P-20 sub-scale test vehicle launch (Credit: Vector Space Systems)

MOJAVE, Calif., Aug. 2, 2016 (Vector Space Systems PR) — Vector Space Systems, a micro satellite space launch company comprised of new-space industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas and Sea Launch, today announced the successful launch of its P-20 rocket, a sub-scale test vehicle for the Vector 1, in advance of orbital launches in 2018.

The test, conducted July 30 in Mojave, CA, also carried Vector’s first customer payload through a partnership with Finnish-based Iceye. Iceye launched a prototype of its micro satellite’s core computing and communications systems to test its electrical and mechanical resilience in a launch environment.

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Vector Space Systems Announces Agreement with Iceye for 21 Launches

Credit: Vector Space Systems
Credit: Vector Space Systems

Partnership will launch Iceye’s radar satellite constellation on the Vector Micro Satellite Launch Vehicle beginning in 2018

TUCSON, Ariz., Aug. 2, 2016 (Vector Space Systems PR) — Vector Space Systems, a micro satellite space launch company comprised of new-space industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas and Sea Launch, today finalized an agreement with Finnish-based Iceye to conduct 21 launches for Iceye’s commercial SAR (synthetic aperture radar) satellite constellation. The payload flights, Vector’s first customer flights since it started operations in early 2016, will be conducted over a four-year span as part of a larger partnership with Iceye.

The first test launch as part of this agreement was successfully completed July 30 in Mojave, which included hosting a prototype of Iceye’s microsatellite’s core computing and communications systems to test its electrical and mechanical resilience in a launch environment on Vector’s P-20 sub-orbital launch vehicle. Iceye and Vector continue to explore future elements of their partnership related to space flight hardware development and data resale agreements.

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A Closer Look at Which Space Companies U.S. VC’s are Investing in

Falcon 9 launches the Dragon CRS-9 mission to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
Falcon 9 launches the Dragon CRS-9 mission to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

NASA’s new publication, “Economic Development of Low Earth Orbit,” consists of a series of papers that examines a number of important policy questions that will be of rising importance as NASA transitions human spaceflight in LEO to the private sector.

One of the papers, “Venture Capital Activity in the Low-Earth Orbit Sector,”
has detailed information on what U.S. venture capitalists have invested in. Key excerpts from the paper follow.
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Vector Space Systems Tests Second Stage Engine

Credit: Vector Space Systems
Credit: Vector Space Systems

TUCSON, Ariz., May 19, 2016 (Vector Space Systems PR) — Vector Space Systems, a Micro Satellite space platform enterprise comprised of new-space industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas and Sea Launch, today announced the successful test of its second stage engine, a major milestone in advance of the company’s first sub-orbital test flight as Vector Space Systems this summer.

The test, which took place in Mojave, California on May 14, featured the company’s second stage high-performance engine for its launch vehicle. Employing 3D printed components, the engine produces 500 pounds of thrust with a high specific impulse for maximum fuel efficiency. This development test was one in a series of second-stage engine tests leading to flight qualification in 2017.

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