SNC, Solar Junction Launch New Cost-Saving Solar Array Technology

SNC’s low-cost solar array Surface Mount Technology. (Credit: SNC)
SNC’s low-cost solar array Surface Mount Technology. (Credit: SNC)

SPARKS, Nev., September 20, 2016 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and Solar Junction Corporation (Solar Junction) are launching a revolutionary new technology that will increase the efficiency of spacecraft solar array production and operation and lower the overall cost, providing a direct savings to customers. These advanced solar arrays are manufactured utilizing a patent-pending Surface Mount Technology (SMT) assembly method. This method allows each cell to be installed faster, closer together and more accurately than ever before. This advancement significantly increases the amount of power generated per area, while decreasing cost and delivery time. SNC has teamed with Solar Junction, an innovative semiconductor technology company based in San Jose, California, to develop this industry-first spacecraft solar array technology. Solar Junction’s high-efficiency, multi-junction Surface Mount Cell with Coverglass (SMCC) enables automated, high-speed pick-and-place assembly of SNC-designed and manufactured solar arrays.

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SpaceX: Giant Leaps, Deep Troughs But No Plateaus

Credit: USLaunchReport.com
Credit: USLaunchReport.com

Out of the blue and into the black
They give you this, but you pay for that
And once you’re gone, you can never come back
When you’re out of the blue and into the black.

My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)
Neil Young

In his book, “Mastery,” George Leonard provides a fascinating explanation of how people master new skills.

The mastery curve (Credit: George Leonard)
The mastery curve (Credit: George Leonard)

“There’s really no way around it. Learning any new skill involves relatively brief spurts of progress, each of which is followed by a slight decline to a plateau somewhat higher in most cases than that which preceded it,” Leonard writes. “The curve above is not necessarily idealized. In the actual learning experience, progress is less regular; the upward spurts vary; the plateaus have their own dips and rises along the way. But the general progression is almost always the same.”

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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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FAA Releases Annual Compendium of Commercial Space Transportation

faa_compendium_2016The Annual Compendium of Commercial Space Transportation: 2016

Executive Summary

The size of the global space industry, which combines satellite services and ground equipment, government space budgets, and global navigation satellite services (GNSS) equipment, is estimated to be about $324 billion. At $95 billion in revenues, or about 29 percent, satellite television represents the largest segment of activity. Following this is government space budgets at $76 billion, or 24 percent, and services enabled by GNSS represent, about $76 billion in revenues. Commercial satellite remote sensing companies generated on $1.6 billion in revenues, but the value added services enabled by these companies is believed to be magnitudes larger. Because remote sensing value added services includes imagery and data analytics from other sources beyond space-based platforms, only the satellite remote sensing component is included in the global space industry total.

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Customers Edgy as SpaceX’s Schedule Slips; Falcon Heavy Flight Delayed Again

Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)
Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX’s customers are again experiencing the effects of Elon Musk’s focus on continuous upgrades to its Falcon 9 rocket as launch dates slide to the right. Meanwhile, the long-delayed debut of the company’s 28-engine Falcon Heavy vehicle has been postponed by at least five more months.

SpaceX’s silence on the schedule delays of its Falcon 9 Upgrade rocket, whose inaugural flight on Dec. 21 was a success, is causing ripples of concern among commercial customers, which like NASA are counting on a high launch cadence in 2016 to meet these companies’ schedule milestones, industry officials said.
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SpaceX Falcon 9 ORBCOMM-2 Mission Overview

orbcomm-2_flight_patchORBCOMM-2 Mission
From SpaceX & ORBCOMM

Mission Overview

With this mission, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will deliver 11 satellites to low-Earth orbit for ORBCOMM, a leading global provider of Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions.

The ORBCOMM launch is targeted for an evening launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. If all goes as planned, the 11 satellites will be deployed approximately 20 minutes after liftoff, completing a 17-satellite, low Earth orbit constellation for ORBCOMM.

This mission also marks SpaceX’s return-to-flight as well as its first attempt to land a first stage on land. The landing of the first stage is a secondary test objective.
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SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch Set for Sunday

Falcon 9 static fire. (Credit: SpaceX)
Falcon 9 static fire. (Credit: SpaceX)

UPDATE: The launch has been postponed 24 hours. Now reset for Monday at 8:33 p.m.

HAWTHORNE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is currently aiming for a December 20th launch of the Falcon 9 rocket, carrying 11 satellites for ORBCOMM. The launch is part of ORBCOMM’s second and final OG2 Mission and will lift off from SpaceX’s launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. This mission also marks the first time SpaceX will attempt to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket on land. The landing of the first stage is a secondary test objective.

The launch webcast is targeted to begin at 8:05 pm EST with liftoff at 8:29 pm EST. The launch webcast can be viewed at spacex.com/webcast. For updates, visit www.spacex.com and www.orbcomm.com.

SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch Schedule Uncertain — Updated

An update from Musk.

SpaceX is still trying to accomplish a static fire on an upgraded Falcon 9 on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. The company had originally planned a test on Wednesday with a launch on Saturday.

The launch vehicle includes a series of upgrades, including liquid oxygen chilled to a much colder temperature than on previous flights. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted yesterday that engineers were having issues with this improvement.

Next SpaceX Launch Set for Around December 19

The rocket will carry 11 Orbcomm satellites. SpaceX has been trying to get two launches off this month, but that might be difficult given the timing of the first one. SpaceX is reportedly going to attempt to bring the first stage back for a landing at Cape Canaveral.

Sierra Nevada Completes Shipment of 11 Satellites for ORBCOMM’s OG2 Mission 2 Launch

Stowed OG2 Satellites at SNC
Eleven OG2 Mission 2 Satellites at SNC’s facility in Colorado Prior to Shipment to Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Credit: SNC)

SPARKS, Nev. (Nov. 30, 2015) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has delivered 11 ORBCOMM Generation 2 (OG2) satellites to the launch site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, for ORBCOMM’s upcoming OG2 Mission 2 launch aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which is targeted for mid-December 2015.  As the prime contractor for ORBCOMM’s OG2 satellites, SNC is responsible for the design, manufacture and integration of the OG2 satellites in the constellation.

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SpaceX to Fly Orbcomm, not SES, on First Test of Upgraded Booster

falcon9_debris
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 will loft 11 Orbcomm OG2 satellites into orbit instead of a SES spacecraft in a December launch that will be the rocket’s first flight since a catastrophic failure in June destroyed a Dragon cargo ship bound for the International Space Station. The launch will be the first test of upgrades to the Falcon 9 that will allow the rocket to lift heavier payloads.

In a statement, SpaceX said that unlike the geosynchronous SES 9 communication satellites, the OG2 spacecraft do not require a relight of the Falcon 9’s second stage following orbital insertion. Changing the order of the launches will allow SpaceX to test the second stage after the OG2 satellites have been deployed.

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SpaceX’s Philosophy: Reliability Through Continual Upgrades

falcon9_debris
Remains of a Falcon 9 rocket fall to Earth.

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

To succeed in the launch business, you need to be very, very good and more than a little bit lucky. Eventually, there comes a day when you are neither.

That is what happened to SpaceX on June 28. A string of 18 successful Falcon 9 launches was snapped as the company’s latest rocket broke up in the clear blues skies over the Atlantic Ocean. A Dragon supply ship headed for the International Space Station was lost, SpaceX’s crowded manifest was thrown into confusion, and the company’s reputation for reliability was shattered.

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Falcon 9 Launch Failure Scrambles Schedule

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

With the failure of the Falcon 9 on Sunday, SpaceX’s only launch vehicle will be grounded for an unknown number of months while engineers identify the cause of the crash and make necessary changes to ensure that failure won’t happen again.

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Years of Failures Haunt Russian Space Program

Holy shi'ski! The rocket...it go KABOOMSKI! (Credit: Tsenki TV)
Proton rocket falls to Earth at Baikonur in July 2013. (Credit: Tsenki TV)

Sixteen botched launches in six years.

That’s the Russian space program’s sad record since May 2009. The failure of a Proton rocket earlier today with the loss of a Mexican communications satellite was yet another sign of the prolonged crisis affecting Russia’s once powerful space program.

The crash came less than three weeks after a botched launch left a Progress supply freighter spinning end over end like an extra point before it burned up in Earth atmosphere. There was also news today that another Progress cargo ship attached to the International Space Station failed to fire its engine as planned to boost the station’s orbit.

The list of Russian launch accidents over the last six years includes:

  • 13 complete failures resulting in the loss of all payloads;
  • 3 partial failures that left spacecraft in the wrong orbits;
  • complete loss of 20 spacecraft;
  • 6 Russian GLONASS navigation satellites destroyed; and,
  • an ambitious Mars mission left stranded in Earth orbit.

The table below shows the full extent of the damage.

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Falcon 9 Launches ORBCOMM Satellites

Falcon 9 second stage engine burn.
Falcon 9 second stage engine burn.

UPDATE 2: Elon Musk Tweeted: Rocket booster reentry, landing burn & leg deploy were good, but lost hull integrity right after splashdown (aka kaboom)

UPDATE: ORBCOMM has confirmed that all six satellites have been successfully deployed. The orbit was exactly what was planned.

SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket into orbit from Cape Canaveral this morning. The rocket carries six ORBCOMM communications satellites, which at the moment are still attached to the second stage. Deployment will follow.

Also awaiting word on the success of soft-landing the first stage on the ocean. Updates as we get them.