Three Launches & a Hot Fire in Three Days

Fully loading the propellant and detecting no leaks is a major milestone for the Green Run test series. A total of 114 tanker trucks delivered propellant to six propellant barges next to the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Credits: NASA)

The upcoming holiday weekend (Martin Luther King Day on Monday) will see NASA conduct the long awaited Green Run hot fire of its Space Launch System rocket core and orbital launches by Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit and SpaceX involving 71 satellites.

Saturday, January 16

Launch Vehicle: Rocket Lab Electron
Mission Name: “Another One Leaves the Crust”
Payload: OHB Group micro communications satellites
Launch Time: 2:41 EST (0741 UTC)
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com (begins 15 minutes prior to launch)

UPDATE: Launch scrubbed as engineers examine sensor data. They have a 10-day launch window.

Hot Fire: Space Launch System Core
Test Window: 5-7 p.m. EST (2200–0000 UTC)
Test Site: Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss.
Webcast: www.nasa.gov (begins at 4:20 p.m. EST/2120 UTC)
Post-test Briefing: Approximately two hours after test completion on NASA website

Sunday, January 17

Launch Vehicle: Virgin Orbit LauncherOne/Cosmic Girl
Mission Name: NASA ELaNa-20 mission
Payloads: 10 CubeSats
Launch Window: 1:00-5:00 p.m. EST (1800-2200 UMT)
Launch Sites: Mojave Air and Space Port, California (Cosmic Girl Boeing 747), Pacific Ocean (LauncherOne)

Monday, January 18

Launch Vehicle: SpaceX Falcon 9
Mission Name: Starlink V1.0-L16
Payloads: 60 Starlink broadband satellites
Launch Time: 8:45 a.m. EST (1345 UTC)
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com (begins 15 minutes before launch)

OneWeb Secures $400 Million Investment from SoftBank, Hughes Network Systems

LONDON, 15 January, 2021 – OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications company jointly owned by the UK Government and Bharti Global, announced today that it has secured additional funding from SoftBank Group Corp. (“SoftBank”) and Hughes Network Systems LLC (“Hughes”), bringing OneWeb’s total funding to $1.4 billion. The capital raised to date positions the Company to be fully funded for its first-generation satellite fleet, totaling 648 satellites, by the end of 2022.

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EU Eyes Satellite Broadband Network

Concerned about being left behind, the European Union (EU) is looking to develop a satellite broadband constellation to keep up with systems being built by OneWeb and SpaceX’s Starlink.

BBC News reports that EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton believes there’s not a moment to lose.

“My objective is to go fast. And therefore it would be appropriate that the Commission puts forward this year a proposal to the European Parliament and the Council so we can move concretely,” he told the 13th European Space Conference on Tuesday.

“To be ready, we launched a few weeks ago a study on a secure space-based connectivity system. The selected consortium consisting of European satellite manufacturers, operators and service providers, telco operators and launch service providers will study the possible design and development of this project.”

“This will provide insights on the technical dimension, but also the governance structure, the financing, the missions, the exact scope. I expect their first feedback in April this year.”

[….]

[EU officials] talk about a mix of low, medium and geostationary satellites that use advanced quantum encryption, are interlinked with optical connectors, and which piggyback sensors that might also be used to monitor aviation and shipping – just as examples. But, they argue, fast, secure, low-latency, space-borne connectivity will be the must-have capability to enable a raft of coming technologies, such as self-driving cars.

EU officials are hoping to have some initial capability as early as 2024.

Russia Achieves Clean Launch Record for Second Year in Row

Soyuz-2 rocket lifts off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome with 36 OneWeb satellites. (Credit: Arianespace)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The outgoing year 2020 has become a difficult test for the entire world marked by the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Many world economic players have encountered objective difficulties in the implementation of previously outlined plans.

Unfortunately, Roscosmos also had to correct a number of plans, including those related to launch activities. Nevertheless, Roscosmos management put the quality of production and the safety of personnel working at the Russian rocket and space industry enterprises and cosmodromes at the forefront.

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Video: In Conversation with OneWeb’s Executive Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal

Sunil Bharti Mittal is the Founder and Chairman of Bharti Enterprises and also Executive Chairman of OneWeb. He says: “These are exciting times and the world now has a LEO alternative to work with. We look forward to partnering with those equally determined to enter this new Space Age. There is unmet demand around the globe for broadband connectivity and we intend to continue OneWeb’s social mission. We will use our joint venture facility to drive down cost of service, opening new use cases for low latency broadband provision.”

OneWeb Selects Hughes for Ground System Development and Production Under New $250 Million Contract

Hughes to Produce Gateways and User Terminal Modules to Power Services on the Low Earth Orbit Satellite Network

GERMANTOWN, Md. (Hughes Network Systems PR) — Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES), the global leader in broadband satellite networks and services, has been chosen by OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) broadband satellite communications company, to develop and manufacture essential ground system technology for the new LEO constellation. In a three-year contract valued at approximately $250 million, Hughes will produce the gateway electronics for the OneWeb system as well as the core module that will be used in every user terminal.

“Today’s announcement of a continued technology partnership with OneWeb reflects our position as the trusted innovator in the industry,” said Pradman Kaul, president, Hughes. “The ground system we develop will enable reliable, low latency broadband data, ideal for a wide range of customer applications.”

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Amazon Makes Breakthrough in Project Kuiper Development

Installation of a Project Kuiper antenna. (Credit: Amazon)

https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/innovation-at-amazon/amazon-marks-breakthrough-in-project-kuiper-development

Custom-built antenna architecture will allow Amazon to deliver a small, affordable customer terminal to connect unserved and underserved communities around the world.

SEATTLE (Amazon PR) — Months after receiving approval from the Federal Communications Commission, Project Kuiper has hit another key milestone on its path to delivering fast, affordable broadband through a constellation of 3,236 low Earth orbit satellites.

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Soyuz Rocket Deploys 36 OneWeb Satellites on Arianespace’s First Mission from Vostochny Cosmodrome

Soyuz-2 rocket lifts off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome with 36 OneWeb satellites. (Credit: Arianespace)

VOSTOCHNY COSMODROME, Russia (Arianespace PR) — OneWeb’s fourth launch overall -the third for 2020- is the first to be conducted with Soyuz by Arianespace from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia.

By successfully placing 36 new OneWeb constellation satellites into orbit, Arianespace resumed the deployment of this client’s satellite network, which now is composed of 110 satellites in low Earth orbit.

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Vodafone and AST SpaceMobile Unveil Launch Plans for Space-Based Mobile Network Initially Reaching 1.6 Billion People

  • AST & Science LLC (“AST SpaceMobile”) secures necessary funding for first phase commercial launch of space-based mobile network.
  • Project aims to transform mobile network coverage for the 49 largest countries in the equatorial regions – including Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya, and Tanzania – from 2023.
  • SpaceMobile will be the first space-based mobile network to connect directly to 4G and 5G smartphones without any need for specialized hardware.

TEXAS, LONDON, JOHANNESBURG – December 16, 2020 – AST SpaceMobile, in partnership with Vodafone Group, today unveiled plans to launch the first phase of its space-based commercial mobile communications service in 2023. The company has secured the necessary funding to take the venture to this next stage, which will cover the 49 largest countries in the equatorial regions.

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Fourth Flight for OneWeb will be First Arianespace Mission from Vostochny Cosmodrome

OneWeb satellites being prepared for launch aboard a Soyuz-2.1b booster from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. (Credit: Roscosmos)

VOSTOCHNY COSMODROME, Russia (Arianespace PR) — OneWeb – the global satellite communications company based in the UK – resumes flights.

This 53rd Soyuz mission conducted by Arianespace and its Starsem affiliate will be operated from Vostochny Cosmodrome and represents OneWeb’s fourth launch overall and the third for this year.

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Russia Prepares to Launch OneWeb Satellites From its Spaceport of the Future

OneWeb satellites being prepared for launch aboard a Soyuz-2.1b booster from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Russia is preparing for launch number six from the troubled and little used Vostochny Cosmodrome in the nation’s Far East.

A Soyuz-2.1b rocket is set to launch 36 OneWeb satellites on Dec. 18. The new batch of satellites will add to the 74 OneWeb spacecraft previously launched.

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SpaceX Launches 16th Starlink Mission

Credit: SpaceX

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — On Tuesday, November 24 at 9:13 p.m. EST, SpaceX launched its sixteenth Starlink mission from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The Falcon 9 first stage rocket booster that supported this mission previously flew on six other missions: the Telstar 18 VANTAGE mission in September 2018, the Iridium-8 mission in January 2019, and four Starlink missions in May 2019, January 2020, June 2020, and August 2020.

ollowing stage separation, SpaceX landed Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which was located in the Atlantic Ocean. One half of Falcon 9’s fairing previously supported a mission, and the other half previously supported two.

Last month, SpaceX launched its “Better Than Nothing Beta” test program. Service invites were sent to a portion of those who requested availability updates on Starlink.com and who live in serviceable areas.

A couple weeks ago, Canada granted Starlink regulatory approval and SpaceX has now rolled out the service to parts of southern Canada.

If you would like to learn more about the service, please visit the Reddit AMA SpaceX engineers recently participated in.

Sunday SpaceX Starlink Satellite Launch

Falcon 9 payload shroud. (Credit: SpaceX)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Sunday, November 22 for launch of its sixteenth Starlink mission, which will launch 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The instantaneous launch window is at 9:56 p.m. EST, 02:56 UTC on Monday, November 23.

You can watch a live webcast of this mission, which will begin about 15 minutes prior to liftoff.

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SpaceX Gets Final Approval to Offer Starlink Service in Canada

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada grated the approval last week for Starlink’s satellite broadband service.

The approval followed last month’s decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to grant SpaceX a Basic International Telecommunications Services license to offer the Starlink service.

Starlink recently opened the service for public beta testing in the United States. According to an invitation email posted on Reddit, U.S. beta testers the satellite Internet service can look forward to:

  • Data speeds of 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s
  • Latency from 20ms to 40ms for the next several months
  • Brief periods of no connectivity at all
  • Spending $499 for the phased-array user terminal, mounting tripod and router
  • Paying a monthly subscription of $99.

SpaceX has launched 895 Starlink satellites as part of a constellation that will eventually total nearly 12,000 spacecraft. A number of the launched satellites are no longer functioning or have been deorbited.

“As we launch more satellites, install more ground stations and improve our networking software, data speed, latency and uptime will improve dramatically. For latency, we expect to achiev 16ms to 19ms by summer 2021,” SpaceX said in the email.