New Chairman Takes Charge as India Space Agency Struggles to Launch Satellites and Begin Human Spaceflight

New ISRO Chairman Shri. S. Somanath (left) takes over from K. Sivan. (Credit: ISRO)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A new chairman has taken over the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) at a crucial time as the space agency continues to struggles with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the challenge of becoming only the fourth nation capable of launching astronauts into orbit.

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DEWA Signs Agreement with NanoAvionics to Provide Nanosatellites to Support the digitalisation of Dubai’s Power and Water Networks

Deal is part of DEWA’s Space-D programme

COLUMBIA, Ill. (NanoAvionics PR) — Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has selected NanoAvionics, a leading smallsat manufacturer and mission integrator company, to design, build, test, and manage the launching of two nanosatellites 3U and 6U. The services supplied by NanoAvionics also include operation, knowledge transfer and training. This is part of DEWA’s space-D programme that seeks to enhance operational efficiency and reliability, and promote preventive maintenance for the planning, generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and water networks.

Through this programme, DEWA will lead the industry in improving the operations, maintenance and planning of its networks with the support of nanosatellite technology. Space-D supports DEWA’s grid digitalisation programme by using IoT and remote sensing technologies.

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AFRL Celebrates Launch of Smallsat Ascent to GEO Space

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launches on the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program 3 (STP-3) mission from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. The mission’s Space Test Program Satellite-6 (STPSat-6) spacecraft hosts NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and the NASA-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph (UVSC) Pathfinder. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFRL PR) — The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate small satellite named Ascent was launched Dec. 7 from Cape Canaveral, Florida as part of the U.S. Space Force’s Space Test Program-3 mission, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.

Ascent is a 12-unit Cubesat conceived and developed within the directorate’s Small Satellite Portfolio at Kirtland AFB, and in partnership with the Space Security and Defense Program.

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Fleet Space to Launch Constellation of World’s First Fully 3D Printed Satellites

Internet of Things satellite (Credit: Fleet Space Technologies)
  • Fleet Space reveals growth strategy following $26.4m (USD) investment 
  • Fleet to unlock high speed connectivity for everything with unlimited data services anywhere
  • Alpha satellites will be the world’s first constellation of fully 3D printed satellites
  • The first Alpha satellites are planned to launch in 2022, with high speed global continuous connectivity coverage planned by 2026
  • Alpha will enable Fleet to deliver services on new frequency bands serving more markets and use cases than ever before
  • Tech to accelerate radical efficiencies unlocked by Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Bold new strategy is endorsement of and commitment to Australia’s space industry
  • Fleet to unlock high speed connectivity for everything, unlimited data services anywhere

SYDNEY, Australia (Fleet Space PR) — “It is Fleet Space’s vision that everyone, everywhere, has access to unlimited connectivity, no matter where they are on the globe; in cities, remote regions, on land or navigating the oceans. Our recent Series B investment empowered us to realise this vision by embarking on a bold new strategy. This new chapter in our story is led by the development of a new constellation of satellites named Alpha, which will work in harmony with our existing Centauri constellation. Alpha represents a major step forward and the first time a satellite has been created entirely through 3D-printing.”

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NASA Awards Challenge Prizes to Startup Companies

NASA’s Entrepreneur’s Challenge awarded 10 startup companies awards for innovative technology concepts, including those that could improve onboard systems on small satellites. Such satellites are often no larger than a loaf of bread, such as the CubeSats shown here as they were deployed from the International Space Station on May 16, 2017. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded $90,000 each to seven entrepreneurial startup companies under its Entrepreneur’s Challenge program. The awards will advance new technology concepts ranging from novel materials with properties not found in nature to innovative technologies that will enable small satellite (SmallSat) science missions.  

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NASA Selects New Mission to Study Storms, Impacts on Climate Models

Towering cumulonimbus thunderstorm clouds are seen in this photo taken Aug. 15, 2014, looking east toward the Atlantic Ocean from the Space Launch Complex 37 area at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (now Cape Canaveral Space Force Station) in Florida. NASA has selected a new Earth science mission called Investigation of Convective Updrafts (INCUS) that will study the behavior of tropical storms and thunderstorms, including their impacts on weather and climate models. (Credits: NASA/Jim Grossmann)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected a new Earth science mission that will study the behavior of tropical storms and thunderstorms, including their impacts on weather and climate models. The mission will be a collection of three SmallSats, flying in tight coordination, called Investigation of Convective Updrafts (INCUS), and is expected to launch in 2027 as part of NASA’s Earth Venture Program.

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NASA Works to Give Satellite Swarms a Hive Mind

Two satellites on similar orbits collect valuable perspectives on the same part of the atmosphere. (Credit: NASA/Sabrina Thompson)

By Karl B. Hille
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — Swarms of small satellites could communicate amongst themselves to collect data on important weather patterns at different times of the day or year, and from multiple angles. Such swarms, using machine learning algorithms, could revolutionize scientists’ understanding of weather and climate changes.

Engineer Sabrina Thompson is working on software to enable small spacecraft, or SmallSats, to communicate with each other, identify high-value observation targets, and coordinate attitude and timing to get different views of the same target.

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Thinking Outside the Cube: Engineers Developing Disk Shaped Satellites

DiskSat is a plate-shaped satellite (1 meter in diameter, 2.5 centimeters thick) that could provide the required power and aperture needed for future missions. (Credit: Aerospace Corporation)

In response to growing interest in capable SmallSats, a team of engineers and scientists are thinking outside the (CubeSat) box with DiskSat, a new circular satellite design.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — A defining feature of a standard CubeSat is its containerization—the shape, volume and design—which makes it rideshare-friendly. This quality was historically important since these devices comprised a minor part of the total payload. Containerization ensured that CubeSats could not endanger the launch vehicle or primary payload.

Now, Aerospace engineers and scientists have reevaluated whether the standard CubeSat may be the best shape for a mission.

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D-Orbit Announces AWS Ground Station Integration with AURORA Mission Control Software

Uses AWS to help manage complex missions for D-Orbit ION satellite carriers, downlink and process data from multiple satellites, and enable bi-directional communication between D-Orbit’s satellites and Aurora

Lisbon, Portugal, July 22nd, 2021 – D-Orbit, a leader in the space logistics and transportation service industry and an Amazon Web Services (AWS) technology partner, today announced integration of AWS Ground Station with D-Orbit’s AURORA cloud-based mission control software. D-Orbit uses AWS Ground Station to power AURORA, manage increasingly complex missions for D-Orbit’s ION Satellite Carrier such as the ongoing PULSE mission, and strengthen the D-Orbit space transportation and logistics infrastructure. D-Orbit also plans to use AWS Ground Station with AURORA to communicate with its WILD RIDE mission, launched on June 30th, and with D-Orbit’s future fleet.

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Modularity Space and Orbital Transports Create Reusable Space Ecosystem

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., July 12, 2021 (Modularity Space PR) – Modularity Space and Orbital Transports announced a partnership to create a reusable ecosystem of suppliers, manufacturers, and rideshare opportunities for payloads. By combining mission planning and supply chain management services provided by Orbital Transports with reusable spacecraft engineering from Modularity Space, the companies can offer affordable opportunities for payloads to get to orbit with a full turn-key mission package. The combined service provides an easy on-ramp to space for payload types ranging from technology demonstration and qualification missions to full constellation-scale deployments.

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Launch 2020: U.S. Reclaimed Top Spot, Flew Astronauts Again from American Soil

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The United States reclaimed the top spot in launches from China last year as NASA astronauts flew into orbit from American soil for the first time in nearly nine years, SpaceX deployed the world’s first satellite mega-constellation with reused rockets, and two new launchers debuted with less than stellar results.

American companies conducted 44 launches in 2020, with 40 successes and four failures. Bryce Tech reports that U.S. companies accounted for 32 of the 41 commercial launches conducted last year. The majority of those flights were conducted by SpaceX, which launched 25 orbital missions.

China came in second with a record of 35 successful launches and four failures. The 39 launch attempts tied that nation’s previous record for flights during a calendar year.

Let’s take a closer look at what U.S. companies achieved last year.

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Launch 2020: A Busy Year Filled with Firsts in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

SpaceX dominated, China surged and Russia had another clean sheet as American astronauts flew from U.S. soil again in a year of firsts.

First in a series

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a very busy launch year with a number of firsts in both human and robotic exploration. A total of 114 orbital launches were attempted, with 104 successes and 10 failures. It was the same number of launches that were conducted in 2018, with that year seeing 111 successes, two failures and one partial failure.

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Launcher Unveils Orbiter, Its Universal Orbital Transfer Vehicle and Satellite Platform

Launcher Orbiter in modular CubeSat deployer configuration (90U available), deploying two 3U CubeSats. (Credit: Launcher)

Orbiter is contracted with SpaceX to Fly to Sun-Synchronous Orbit in October 2022

HAWTHORNE, Calif., June 16 2021 (Launcher PR) – Today, Launcher (launcherspace.com) announced Orbiter, its universal orbital transfer vehicle and satellite platform designed to be compatible with both Launcher Light and SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare flights. Orbiter is interoperable with either launch vehicle via a common 24-inch ESPA Grande adapter ring and is contracted to make its inaugural flight to sun-synchronous orbit via SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare mission in October 2022.

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Spaceflight Inc.’s Next-Gen Sherpa OTV Program Showcases Innovative Modular Design of its Flight-Proven Subsystems

Next-gen Sherpa OTV (Credit: Spaceflight Inc.)

SEATTLE, June 7, 2021 (Spaceflight Inc. PR) — Spaceflight Inc., the leading global launch services provider, will debut newly developed technical innovations utilized for its next-generation Sherpa program, enabling small satellite transportation throughout cislunar space in a way that has never been accomplished before. Intentionally architected with modular plug-and-play subsystems, Spaceflight’s next-gen Sherpa orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) program offers customers flexibility and customization, including multiple types of propulsion for last-mile delivery, flight-proven avionics and separation sequencers, rich deployment telemetry and imaging systems, direct space-to-ground networks, and more. Based on a standardized 24” ESPA port, the Sherpa OTVs offer a reconfigurable 300 kilogram payload capacity and are sized to launch on most rockets.

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NASA Science Budget Request Fact Sheet

Europa Clipper in orbit around Europa. (Credit: NASA)

NASA FACT SHEET
FY 2022 Budget Request
Science
($ Millions)

NASA’s Science budget, managed by the Science Mission Directorate, includes five major science areas as well as the James Webb Space Telescope which is funded separately from Astrophysics. These areas include:

  • Earth Science to enhance understanding of Earth systems and to observe the effects of climate change. The Budget invests heavily in climate and applications research, begins formulation of the first four Designated Observable missions, and initiates the Earth System Explorers program (consistent with Decadal Survey recommendations). The Budget also supports the ongoing development of the Earth System Observatory including PACE, CLARREO Pathfinder, NISAR, SWOT, and Landsat 9.
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