First Quarter Commercial Space Investment Reached Nearly $1 Billion

SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off with a Dragon resupply ship on April 2, 2018. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX received $500 million of the nearly $1 billion in investment raised by commercial space companies during the first quarter of 2018, according to the Space Investment Quarterly report from Space Angels.

“SpaceX shows no signs of slowing down—after the inaugural flight of the Falcon Heavy, the company secured $500 million from Fidelity Investments to drive development of their satellite communications network, Starlink,” the report added.

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Earth-i Releases Full-color Video of Earth Taken From Space

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Earth-i PR) — ‘New Space’ pioneer Earth-i today released the first video taken by VividX2, the technology prototype for its Vivid-i Constellation.

Launched on 12 January 2018, VividX2 is the world’s first commercial satellite able to provide full-colour video of life on Earth.

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NIAC Phase I Awards Focused on Advanced Remote Sensing & Orbital Debris


The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at two Phase I awards focused on advanced remote sensing and orbital debris.

Rotary Motion Extended Array Synthesis (R-MXAS)
John Kendra
Leidos, Inc.

On-Orbit, Collision-Free Mapping of Small Orbital Debris
Christine Hartzell
University of Maryland, College Park

Each award is worth up to $125,000 for a nine-month study. Descriptions of the awards are below.

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ESA Testing the Detection of Plastic Litter From Orbit

Testing detection of ocean plastic from space. (Credit: ESA–J. Veiga)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The millions of tonnes of plastic ending up in the oceans every year are a global challenge. ESA is responding by looking at the detection of marine plastic litter from space, potentially charting its highest concentrations and understanding the gigantic scale of the problem.

We dump around 10 million tonnes of plastic in the oceans annually. Though most conspicuous along coastlines, plastic litter is also found out in the open ocean and from the equator to the pole – even frozen in polar ice.

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Plastics, Pollution & Pirates: Satellite Vu Prepares to Tackle Humanity’s Global Challenges

Credit: Satellite Vu

LONDON and WASHINGTON, DC (Satellite Vu PR) — Pioneering NewSpace company, Satellite Vu, is preparing to provide a disruptive service to those who tackle critical global issues. Earth observation has become a key part of environmental monitoring, delivering a wealth of information using combinations of sensor data and high resolution imagery. Satellite Vu is poised to transform this market through the launch of unique and ground-breaking satellites that will deliver infrared imaging and hourly re-visit times, both day and night.

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Kleos Space Signs ATP with GomSpace for 1st Satellite System

LUXEMBOURG, 5 March 2018 (Kleos Space PR) — Luxembourg-based Kleos Space, state-of-the-art space technology operator which will launch and operate its earth observation satellite constellation in early 2019, signed an Authorisation To Proceed (ATP) with GomSpace A/S, part of GomSpace Group AB on a contract to deliver the 1st of a total of a 20 system constellation. By signing the ATP, Kleos Space authorizes GomSpace to launch the initial part of the project. The delivery of the satellite and the launch are scheduled in Q1 2019.

The first satellite system, being called ‘Scouting’ mission, is valued at over €2.2 million [$2.7 million]. It is planned that the satellite operations for the mission will be carried in Luxembourg.

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China Launches Satellites, ULA & Rocket Lab Flights Set

Atlas V on launch pad. (Credit: ULA)

China launched a Long March 11 rocket with six satellites aboard on Friday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The booster orbited a pair of Jilin-1 Earth imaging satellites for the Chang Guang Satellite company as well as four secondary payloads.

ULA is set to launch an Atlas V rocket with an U.S. Air Force Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO early warning satellite later today. The flight is scheduled to lift off at 7:48 p.m. from Cape Canaveral in Florida.  ULA scrubbed the launch on Thursday do to a problem with ground equipment.

The webcast is available at www.ulalaunch.com and www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance

The delay has postponed an attempt by SpaceX to conduct a static fire of the Falcon Heavy’s first-stage engines on a nearby launch pad. The test had been planned for Friday, but the next earliest opportunity is Saturday providing the Atlas V launches tonight.

On Saturday, Rocket Lab will open a launch window for the second flight of its Electron rocket. The first four-hour window opens on January 20 at 2:30 p.m. NZDT (0130 a.m. GMT/8:30 p.m. EST on Friday).

Rocket Lab has reserved nine days with identical four-hour windows for this launch attempt. The booster is carrying CubeSats for Planet and Spire.

Check Rocket Lab’s website for information about the webcast.

ICEYE Launches World’s First Successful SAR Microsat

Helsinki, FINLAND  (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 the successful launch of its proof-of-concept satellite mission, ICEYE-X1, on ISRO’s PSLV-C40 rocket.

The success of the launch, from Satish Dhawan Space Center in India, distinguishes ICEYE-X1 as the world’s first microsatellite equipped with synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) to ever be deployed in space and as Finland’s very first commercial satellite. Making further history, ICEYE has also successfully established communications with the 70 kg satellite at 05:20, GMT (07:20 Finland time) now in orbit, signaling the next step in the mission’s success.

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India’s PSLV Booster Launches Remote Sensing Satellite

PSLV-C40 booster lifts off (Credit: ISRO)

SRIHARIKOTA, India (ISRO PR) — India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its forty second flight (PSLV-C40), successfully launched the 710 kg Cartosat-2 Series Satellite for earth observation and 30 co-passenger satellites together weighing about 613 kg at lift-off. PSLV-C40 was launched from the First Launch Pad (FLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.

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China Launches Imaging Satellites to Kick off Busy Year

China conducted its first launch of 2018 on Tuesday when a Long March 2D booster lofted a pair of SuperView imaging satellites into polar orbit for Beijing Space View Technology. The rocket lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.

“Success! We’re thrilled to announce the successful launch of SuperView-1 03&04 satellites at 11:26 this morning in Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center!” the company tweeted.

The launch doubled the number of high-resolution SuperView satellites the company has on orbit. It plans to sell imagery on the global market.

GBTimes reports China could launch more than 40 times in 2018, which would be a substantial increase over the 18 launches the nation conducted last year.

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), announced at a conference on January 2 that its 2018 work model includes 35 launches, underlining the return to flight of the heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket, the Chang’e-4 lunar far side mission and launches of Beidou navigation satellites as the major activities.

In addition CASIC, a defence contractor, missile maker and sister company of CASC, will carry out a number of missions through its subsidiary EXPACE, including launching four Kuaizhou-1A rockets within one week and the maiden flight of the larger Kuaizhou-11.

Landspace Technology, a Beijing-based private aerospace company, is also expected to debut its LandSpace-1 solid propellant rocket this year.

Read the full story.

Decadal Survey Recommends “Robust, Resilient, and Balanced” Earth Science Program


WASHINGTON (National Academies PR) — NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) should implement a coordinated approach for their space-based environmental observations to further advance Earth science and applications for the next decade, says a new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

This approach should be based on key scientific questions in areas such as reducing climate uncertainty, improving weather and air quality forecasts, predicting geological hazards, and understanding sea-level rise. The report also recommends building a robust, resilient, and balanced U.S. program of Earth observations from space that will enable the agencies to strategically advance the science and applications with constrained resources.

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ESA Looks Ahead to Busy Year in Space

Video Caption: After a fruitful 2017 with many exciting launches and the end of some historic missions, ESA is ready for the year to come.

2018 will see the 10th anniversary of the International Space Station’s Columbus module and an ESA astronaut taking the helm of the ISS as commander.

There will be more launches of new Earth observation and exploration satellites and ESA will venture to the innermost planet in our Solar System.

2018 will also mark the completion of the first part of the Copernicus constellation observing the Earth and of the full Galileo constellation, Europe’s own satellite navigation system.

UrtheCast Close to Securing Funding for Earth Observation Constellation

UrtheCast says it is close to securing financing to launch a constellation of satellites capable of acquiring daily high-quality, multispectral imagery of locations taken at the same time from the same altitude.

Further to the update provided during its third quarter earnings release on November 14, 2017, the Company has evaluated multiple opportunities and selected an institutional investor with which it has entered into an exclusivity agreement on December 15, 2017 for the previously announced US$175 million financing for the development of the UrtheDaily™ Constellation.

The Company is currently working closely with the investor to finalize closing documentation as soon as practicable, with a target completion date for the financing extended to the end of January 2018. Completion is subject to final definitive documentation being completed and agreed, the lender’s completion of confirmatory due diligence and receiving approval of our Board of Directors.

Following funding, UrtheCast will have a path to the launch and commercialization of the UrtheDaily™ Constellation. With signed binding agreements for both data subscriptions totaling in excess of C$100 million, and a contract to build the UrtheDaily™ Constellation, the Company continues to target the commencement of the UrtheDaily™ operations in the 2020 growing season notwithstanding the extension of the financing closing date.

The company describes the constellation as follows:

UrtheDaily™ is a planned global coverage constellation aiming to acquire high-quality, multispectral imagery, at 5-m GSD, taken at the same time, from the same altitude every day. With its exceptional capabilities, it presents a disruptive and problem-solving technology that will transform the way we observe our planet.

The spacecraft, constellation and operations approach is expected to enable ultra-high sensor spectral calibration targeted specifically at geoanalytics applications to optimize the ability to reliably extract information from the imagery and to detect even subtle changes on the planet.

The spectral bands of the UrtheDaily™ constellation have been specifically selected to match Landsat-8/Sentinel-2/RapidEye/Deimos- 1 bands to ease the constant and automatic in-flight cross-calibration with trusted references, minimize the effects due to atmospheric variations, and to provide improved accuracy of key information products.

World View Obtains High Resolution Imagery From Stratollite

Example of fleet management (Credit: World View)

TUCSON, Ariz. (World View PR) – World View, the stratospheric exploration company, released today the first-ever remote sensing imagery captured from their high-altitude Stratollite™ vehicle. The images were captured from altitudes ranging between 65,000 and 75,000 ft. with an off-the-shelf imaging sensor and show sub-meter resolution capability from the Stratollite.

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