SpaceX, ULA Split Pair of NASA Launch Contracts

Falcon 9 on the launch pad with Intelsat 35e satellite. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the Sentinel-6A mission. Launch is currently targeted for November 2020, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

NASA also has selected United Launch Services LLC (ULS) of Centennial, Colorado, to provide launch services for the Landsat 9 mission. The mission is currently targeted for a contract launch date of June 2021, while protecting for the ability to launch as early as December 2020, on an Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 3E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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SpaceFab Plans Public Use Commercial Space Telescope

Computer rendering of SpaceFab.US’s dual purpose Waypoint Space Telescope cubesat for astronomy and Earth observation, with telescope optics and solar panels extended. (Credit: SpaceFab)

ORANGE COUNTY, California (SpaceFab PR) — SpaceFab.US is a new space startup company working on space telescope satellites, asteroid mining, and space manufacturing. The company, also known as SpaceFab, is designing and building its first space telescope, scheduled for launch in late 2019. The satellite, called the Waypoint space telescope, will be available to the general public to take astronomical or Earth observation pictures, making it the world’s first dual purpose commercial space telescope. It can be used for astronomy when orbiting over the night side of Earth, and used for Earth observation when orbiting over the daylight side, about 40 to 50 minutes on each side.

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DigitalGlobe Selects Raytheon as Satellite Imaging Payload Provider for WorldView Constellation

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Raytheon PR) — Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) was recently selected by DigitalGlobe, Inc. as the next-generation WorldView Legion satellite imaging constellation payload provider. Under the contract, Raytheon will deliver the telescopes, detectors and combined electronics to Space Systems Loral, the WorldView Legion space vehicle integrator.

Raytheon’s new payload doubles DigitalGlobe’s capacity to capture multispectral and 30 cm imagery, while tripling to quadrupling the company’s capacity to image high-demand areas. Once the WorldView Legion constellation is on orbit, DigitalGlobe’s combined constellation will be able to image the most rapidly changing areas on Earth every 20 to 30 minutes, from sunup to sundown. WorldView Legion will begin launching in 2020.

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MDA Completes Acquisition of DigitalGlobe, Changes Name & Lists on NYSE

SAN FRANCISCO and VANCOUVER, BC (MDA PR)MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (“MDA” or the “Company”) (TSX: MDA), a global communications and information company providing technology solutions to commercial and government organizations worldwide, today announced it has completed its acquisition of DigitalGlobe, Inc. (“DigitalGlobe”), the global leader in high resolution Earth imagery and information about our changing planet. The merger creates the leading integrated commercial provider of satellites, imagery and geospatial solutions to commercial and government customers worldwide. The newly combined company will offer a broader set of space-based solutions, increased scale and a more diversified revenue base.

“Today is a very exciting day for our customers, partners, employees and shareholders,” said Howard L. Lance, president and chief executive officer of MDA. “Together, in partnership with the outstanding team at DigitalGlobe, our combined company will offer an unmatched suite of solutions, benefit from increased scale and a more diversified revenue base, and drive increased value by leveraging the sales channels of both companies. The combination of our strong, diversified core businesses will create expanded opportunities for team members and customers alike. I am very excited to get to work with the new leadership team to drive top and bottom line growth and future success.”
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What Might Happen to NASA’s Earth Science Programs Under Bridenstine?

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Imagine the following scenario: NASA’s Earth Science division gets its budget cut with key missions focused on climate change canceled.

The new NASA administrator then announces the division will be dismantled, with various programs divided among other federal departments, in order to better focus the space agency on exploration. The bulk of the programs end up at NOAA, which the NASA administrator says is a much more appropriate home for them.

NOAA, however, is already reeling from spending cuts. Struggling to perform its own forecasting duties on a reduced budget, the agency has little bandwidth to take on any additional responsibilities. And the funding allocated for the NASA programs that were just transferred over is woefully inadequate for the tasks at hand.

The result is a bureaucratic train wreck in which America’s Earth science and climate research programs gradually wither away due to mismanagement, neglect and lack of funding. The ability of the nation — and the world — to understand and address the changes the planet experiencing is greatly reduced. At some future date, another administration will have to rebuild a program in shambles that was once the envy of the world.

Sound far fetched? Think again. It could very well happen if the Trump Administration and the man it has nominated to lead NASA get what they want out of Congress.

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BlackSky Awarded $16.4 Million Contract by Air Force Research Lab

SEATTLE, August 29, 2017 (Spaceflight Industries PR) – Spaceflight Industries today announced that BlackSky has been awarded a two-year $16.4 million cost-plus-prime contract with the Air Force Research Lab to develop and deliver a cloud-based geospatial intelligence broker platform. The brokering platform will provide on-demand analytics, collection, and information services from global data sources.

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Descartes Labs Raises $30 Million Series B Round

Descartes Labs has raised a Series B round of funding to develop its “data refinery” that pulls together satellite data into usable products.

Today, we’re excited to announce Descartes Labs $30M Series B round of financing led by March Capital, an LA-based venture capital fund. Our seed round was led by Crosslink Capital and our Series A was led by Cultivian Sandbox. Both Crosslink and Cultivian participated in the Series B along with a few other investors, including one of our customers, Cargill.

Less than three years ago, Descartes Labs was born as a spin-out from Los Alamos National Laboratory with the goal of using satellite imagery to model complex, global systems. In the course of tackling this audacious goal, we built what we believe to be the critical and missing component that unlocks the value of satellite imagery: a data refinery….

A data refinery is a system that pulls in raw data, cleans it up, fuses data from disparate sources, and adds tools on top of it for easier analysis.

One of the hallmarks of a data refinery is data cleanup. The team at Descartes Labs spends an inordinate amount of time on the remote sensing science that enables complex models to be accurate. We’ve been working on coregistration of pixels (making sure every pixel is in the proper place), global surface reflectance (correcting for the effects of the atmosphere) and advanced cloud detection (ensure models only incorporate the best pixels).

But, even more important than data cleanup is data fusion. Every data set has unique qualities: finer spatial resolution, pictures with greater frequency, seeing through clouds, and even listening to radio frequency signals or measuring heat. In working on customer problems, one of the things we’ve uncovered is that it’s rarely a single satellite or dataset alone that will solve the problem. Only by turning different datasets into a fused sensor, a super-sensor, are we able to solve the problem.

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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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UrtheCast Signs $100 Million CAD Contract for SAR Satellite

VANCOUVER, Aug. 14, 2017 (UrtheCast PR) — UrtheCast Corp. (TSX:UR) (the “Company”) announced today that it has entered into a contract with a confidential customer for the development and delivery of a dual-frequency stand-alone Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) operational-class satellite as an “accelerator” for the OptiSARTM Constellation.

The exact amount of the contract is not being disclosed at this time for confidentiality and competitive reasons, but the Company can confirm that it is a substantial contract worth in excess of one hundred million Canadian dollars.

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Orbital ATK Conducts PDR on Landsat 9

DULLES, Va., 8 August 2017 (Orbital ATK PR) – Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, is making excellent progress on the NASA/U.S. Geological Survey Landsat 9 spacecraft less than a year after winning the contract award in October 2016. Landsat 9, an advanced land surface mapping satellite, will collect space-based images and data that serve as valuable resources for researchers in areas that include agriculture, land use mapping, emergency response and disaster relief. Orbital ATK is designing and manufacturing the satellite, integrating two government-furnished instruments, and supporting launch, early orbit operations and on-orbit check-out of the observatory.

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Russia & China to Increase Space Cooperation

Tass reports that Russia and China plan to sign a cooperative agreement in the fall outlining increased cooperation across a range of space areas. Russia and China are also working to deepen cooperation with the BRICS nations, which include Brazil, India and South Africa.

As Glavkosmos explained, cooperation with Chinese partners envisages the following areas: the exploration of the Moon and outer space, space vehicles and ground infrastructure, hardware components and materials, the Earth’s remote sensing data.

Glavkosmos is also working with Chinese commercial partners on the issue of holding experiments aboard the International Space Station and providing the data of the Earth’s remote sensing from Russian satellites, the company said….

Specifically, Glavkosmos is holding preparations in Brazil for a tender for the delivery of space images to that country.

It was reported earlier that China was interested in buying the world’s most powerful Russian-made RD rocket engines produced by Energomash while Russian Space Systems showed interest in Chinese electronic components.

Russia and China are also working on making their GLONASS and BeiDou navigation satellite systems mutually complement each other and on installing adjusting ground-based stations on the territory of each other.

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Vega Orbits OPTSAT-3000 and Venµs Satellites

Veta lifts off with OPTSAT-3000 and Venµs aboard. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — For the second time this year – and the 10th overall since entering service in 2012 – Vega has successfully launched a payload from the Spaceport, with this lightweight vehicle’s latest mission delivering the OPTSAT-3000 and Venµs Earth observation satellites to Sun-synchronous orbits.

Lifting off from the Spaceport’s SLV launch complex at precisely 10:58:33 p.m. French Guiana time on August 1, Vega lofted its multi-passenger payload during a flight sequence lasting 1 hour, 37 minutes.
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DigitalGlobe Shareholders Approve Merger with MDA

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (DigitalGlobe PR) — DigitalGlobe, Inc. (“DigitalGlobe”) (NYSE: DGI), the global leader in Earth imagery and information about our changing planet, today announced its preliminary results that its shareowners overwhelmingly voted to approve the Company’s proposed merger with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (“MDA”) (TSX: MDA) at a special meeting of DigitalGlobe shareowners held today.

Approximately 93 percent of the shares represented and voting at the meeting voted in favor of the merger. More than 53 million, 81 percent, of DigitalGlobe’s outstanding shares were voted at the meeting. Final results of the vote will be reported in a Form 8-K as required by applicable SEC rules.

“We are pleased with the strong support we received from shareowners for the merger of DigitalGlobe and MDA,” said Jeffrey R. Tarr, DigitalGlobe CEO. “This marks an important milestone in bringing together our two companies. Upon completion, this combination will expand our capabilities, increase our scale and diversify our revenue, creating powerful solutions for customers, greater value for shareowners and new opportunities for team members.”

MDA separately announced today that its shareowners also overwhelmingly voted to approve the issuance of MDA common shares to the holders of DigitalGlobe stock and certain equity awards in connection with the merger at a special meeting of MDA shareholders.

As previously announced, the transaction is expected to close in or shortly after the third quarter of 2017, subject to approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) and other customary approvals and closing conditions.

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NGA Awards Contract to Planet for Imagery

SPRINGFIELD, Va.(NGA PR) — The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency announced today a $14 million, one-year subscription to Planet, a commercial imagery provider.

The purchase takes advantage of the new NGA and General Services Administration (GSA) partnership for Earth Observation Solutions that can be acquired via GSA schedules. The subscription, made through Planet’s GSA Information Technology Schedule Contract (GS-35F-309GA), enables the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community to access Planet’s imagery of over 25 select regions of interest, ranging from portions of the Middle-East, Asia, and Africa to Central and South America.

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Space Systems Loral to Provide Satellite Constellation for DigitalGlobe

PALO ALTO, Calif. (SSL PR) MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (“MDA” or the “Company”) (TSX:MDA), a global communications and information company, today announced that its subsidiary Space Systems Loral (SSL) was selected to provide a next-generation satellite constellation for high-resolution Earth imaging to DigitalGlobe, the global leader in Earth imagery and information about our changing planet. Called WorldView Legion, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites will more than double DigitalGlobe’s high-resolution capacity in important regions. The contract is valued at several hundred million U.S. dollars..

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