Propelling the Field of Small Sats Forward

Brandie Rhodes checks the electrical connections of HyPer in a vacuum chamber. (Credit: Jeff Berting/Aerospace)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation) — Small satellites are becoming more and more capable, taking over missions that used to require larger spacecraft. However, adding propulsion systems to these smaller platforms remains a challenge, which means many small sats are limited to applications that do not require active orbit maintenance, increases in altitude, or changes in inclination.

Working in conjunction with the University of Southern California, Aerospace is developing a monopropellant vapor propulsion system that could help solve this problem.

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ICEYE Releases World-First Under 1-Meter Resolution Radar Imagery from SAR Microsatellites

ICEYE radar satellite imagery that has been acquired and processed at 0.5-meter ground sample distance, featuring a port container terminal near Port Harcourt, Nigeria. (Credit: ICEYE)

HELSINKI, August 9, 2019 (ICEYE PR) – ICEYE, the global leader in small satellite synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) technology, is the first in the world to achieve better-than 1 meter resolution imagery from under-100kg (220 pounds) SAR satellites.

The new Spotlight imaging capability builds on ICEYE’s legacy of leading the way on small satellite SAR since its history-making first small SAR satellite launch in January 2018. Since then the company has continued to launch more satellites, latest in July 2019 with two new units. With new satellites being launched still during 2019, ICEYE continues to develop and optimize its imaging capabilities further for customers in both commercial and government segments.

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Orbex, Innovative Space Logistics Sign European Space Launch Agreement

Prime rocket launch from Sutherland spaceport. (Credit: Orbex/Anders Bøggild)

Agreement to provide all-European solutions for smallsat launches including purchase of launches from Scottish spaceport on Orbex Prime launcher

LOGAN, Utah, August 7, 2019 (ISL PR) – Innovative Space Logistics B.V. (ISL) and UK-based orbital launch services provider Orbex today signed a wide-ranging Cooperation Agreement at the 33rd Annual Conference on Small Satellites in Logan, Utah. The co-operation will include technical launch services including launch manifest coordination and payload integration. As part of the agreement, ISL will also procure orbital space launches from Orbex for a number of its smallsat customer missions.

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Euroconsult Research Projects Smallsat Market to Nearly Quadruple Over Next Decade

Credit: Euroconsult

Paris, Washington D.C., Montreal, Yokohama, August 5, 2019 – According to Euroconsult’s newly released research, Prospects for the Small Satellite Market, the market for small satellite (smallsat) manufacturing and launch will grow from $12.6 billion in 2009-2018 to $42.8 billion in the coming decade from 2019-2028, nearly quadrupling in size.

While the growth is led by large constellations such as OneWeb, SpaceX’s Starlink and Amazon’s Project Kuiper, the findings show that the smallsat industry is highly diverse, with demand from a variety of operators, start-ups, universities, and countries.

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Spaceflight Purchases First Commercial Launch on India’s New Small Satellite Launcher

SEATTLE, August 6, 2019 (Spaceflight PR) Spaceflight, the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, today announced it has purchased the first commercial launch of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) from NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) scheduled for launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India later this year.

Spaceflight has already sold-out the entire manifest for this secured SSLV-D2 launch with spacecraft from an undisclosed U.S.-based satellite constellation customer. Spaceflight will aggregate the mission, delivering a single point of contact for the customer, handling all aspects of integration and mission management for the launch. 

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SpaceX Offers Dedicated Ride Program for Small Satellites

SpaceX announced today that it will be offering dedicated rideshare launches for small satellites.

Pricing to sun-synchronous orbit. (Credit: SpaceX)

“SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program will provide small satellite operators with regularly scheduled, dedicated Falcon 9 rideshare missions to SSO for ESPA class payloads for as low as $2.25M per mission, which includes up to 150 kg of payload mass,” the company said on its website.

Pricing to sun-synchronous orbit. (Credit: SpaceX)

“Unlike traditional rideshare opportunities, these missions will not be dependent on a primary.,” the company added. “These missions will be pre-scheduled and will not be held up by delays with co-passengers.”

Rideshare launch schedule (Credit: SpaceX)

More infornmation is available here.

FCC Streamlines Application Process for Small Satellites

WASHINGTON, August 1, 2019 (FCC PR) — The Federal Communications Commission today significantly streamlined the application process for a category of satellites known as small satellites. Its action provides an alternative, cheaper, and more flexible authorization process for this fast-growing segment of the commercial satellite communications market.

Small satellite systems have myriad uses, including scientific and research missions as well as communications and remote sensing, and are now increasingly used for commercial endeavors. Many small satellites are launched not as large constellations, but as part of small-scale operations consisting of a single satellite or only a few satellites.

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iSpace Launches Payloads into Space

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

iSpace, aka, Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology Ltd., has become the first private Chinese company to launch payloads into orbit.

The company launched its four-stage Hypobola-1 rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert on Thursday afternoon local time.

iSpace reported the rocket deployed the CAS-7B amateur radio satellite and a technology verification satellite for China Central Television. Three additional payloads remained attached to the upper stage as planned.

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FCC Chairman Pai Calls for Streamlined Smallsat Regulations

Ajit Pai

Remarks of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Policy Roundtable on Small Satellite Integration

Washington, DC
July 9, 2019

Thank you for that warm welcome and thank you to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for inviting me to join you this morning. I’m excited to have the opportunity to speak with you today about the U.S. satellite industry—and specifically how the FCC is promoting American innovation and investment in orbit.

The commercial space sector is growing rapidly. Today, we see reusable rockets, satellites and launch vehicles being miniaturized, and startups popping up all over the country. I would argue that for the first time in a generation, America is witnessing a revolution in spaceflight. Yes, this may just be a feeling, but as an astronomical pioneer once said, “Sometimes a feeling is all we humans have to go on.” (That was Captain James T. Kirk in Season 1, Episode 23 of Star Trek: “A Taste of Armageddon.”)

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Virgin Orbit to Launch Satellites from Cornwall in England

Cosmic Girl performs first captive carry with LauncherOne. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

CORNWALL, United Kingdom (Virgin Orbit PR) — For a while now, we’ve been working with our friends in Cornwall on the prospect of using LauncherOne to bring launch back to Britain. Today, that project took a massive step forward, as the U.K. Space Agency announced it aims to invest £7.8m (~$10 million) into the development of Spaceport Cornwall as a key operating hub for horizontal launch system, working towards a first launch from British soil in the early 2020’s.

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NASA Selects Small Spacecraft Technologies for Funding

New high-impulse thrusters and communications technologies that will facilitate missions by groups of spacecraft beyond Earth orbit are among the small satellite technologies that NASA is funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

The space agency selected six research and development projects for SBIR Phase II funding. The awards are for up to $750,000 over two years.

Three of the proposals focus on small satellite thrusters. Alameda Applied Sciences Corporation (AASC) of Oakland, California will continue to develop its high-impulse metal plasma thrusters for use on CubeSat missions.

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Satellites, Built to Order in 2 Days

Guy Norris has an interested blog post over at Aviation Week about how quickly small satellites can be built these days:

As you read this a satellite is being built to my order in New Mexico  – well, partly. Along with a couple of hundred people attending the AIAA-organized Responsive Space 7 conference in Los Angeles, I got to vote in a show of hands as to what sort of quick reaction satellite should be built in the USAF’s Rapid Reaction Spaceworks (or Chili Works) at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico. The goal is to demonstrate true responsive space and build a deployable satellite by the end of the conference tomorrow evening (Apr 30).

That is pretty amazing. Now, if you could only get them into space as quickly.











Smallsats Could Change Face of U.S. Satellite Industry

Smallsats Could Get Boost in Global Financial Crisis
Aviation Week

Small satellites have been widely regarded as second-rate by Pentagon and intelligence community officials, who opt for massive, high-technology spacecraft lasting a decade or more in orbit. But the time may finally be at hand for skeptics to begin accepting smaller.

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