PLD Space Adds GMV as Partner, Receives 6.7 Million Euro Investment

 ARION 1 & 2 technology demonstration. (Credit; PLD Space)
ARION 1 & 2 technology demonstration. (Credit; PLD Space)

ELCHE, Spain, January 9, 2017 (PLD Space PR) — The International Tech Company GMV, with an important presence in the global space sector, has decided to trust in the PLD Space project and will take part in the ownership of the young space company as shareholder. GMV will also develop key technology and will work together with PLD Space in the development of the ARION 1 and ARION 2 launchers, an activity that will enable both companies to grow and position themselves strategically in the small space-launchers market.

The corporative endorsement of GMV enables PLD Space to raise a total investment of 6.7 million euros; between private investment through 2 Spanish investment vehicles and institutional funding coming from the contribution of Spanish government (CDTI and ENISA), public administrations (SUMA Teruel, IVF) and the European Commission (SME Phase1).

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White House Announces $110 Million in New Smallsat Investments

Spacecraft specialists prepare spacecraft to perform the Edison Demonstration of Smallsat Networks (EDSN) mission. (Credit: NASA Ames Research Center)
Spacecraft specialists prepare spacecraft to perform the Edison Demonstration of Smallsat Networks (EDSN) mission. (Credit: NASA Ames Research Center)

Federal Agencies announce more than $100 million in new investments to develop small satellite systems and technology.

by Thomas Kalil
Deputy Director for Policy
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

This past October, the White House announced the “Harnessing the Small Satellite Revolution” initiative. As part of the initiative, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and other Federal agencies identified multiple opportunities to encourage both government and private sector use of small spacecraft for a variety of applications, some of which were showcased at The White House Frontiers Conference in Pittsburgh.

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Generation Orbit Names A.J. Piplica as CEO

Anthony J. Piplica (Credit: Generation Orbit)
Anthony J. Piplica (Credit: Generation Orbit)

ATLANTA, December 13, 2016 (GO PR) – Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO) today announced that Mr. Anthony J. Piplica will assume the role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective January 1, 2017.

Mr. Piplica has served as the company’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) since 2013. Mr. Piplica joined the Generation Orbit team in 2012, quickly rising to the position of COO. Within that capacity, he has been instrumental in managing the company’s growth and technical activities. Piplica has served as GO’s primary interface for its network of partners and suppliers, as well as key Air Force, NASA, and commercial customers.

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Rocket Lab Releases Video of Electron Engine Tests

Video Caption: Rocket Lab has completed qualification and acceptance testing of Electron’s first stage booster. Completion of the tests marks the final major technical milestone ahead of first test launch of the Electron vehicle.

Rocket Lab Completes First Stage Flight Qualification & Acceptance

Electron first stage test. (Credit: Rocket Lab)
Electron first stage test. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

LOS ANGELES, December 13, 2016 (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab today announced the flight qualification and acceptance of the first stage booster of the Electron launch vehicle.

All primary components of the stage – including engines, vehicle structures, avionics and software systems – were designed, developed and tested in-house at Rocket Lab.

“Rocket Lab has had a hugely successful year with qualification of all major vehicle systems, completion of Launch Complex 1 and considerable growth of our team and customer base,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab CEO.

“We will continue to test the vehicle extensively in the lead-up to commercial operations and are looking forward to beginning the test flight program. Our focus with the Electron has been to develop a reliable launch vehicle that can be manufactured in high volumes – our ultimate goal is to make space accessible by providing an unprecedented frequency of launch opportunities.”

Rocket Lab plans to begin full vehicle testing in early 2017 once international launch licensing is complete. The tests will occur from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1, located on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand.

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RUAG Space to Build Spacecraft Structures for OneWeb

ruag_logoBERN, Switzerland (RUAG Space PR) — RUAG Space will supply the structures for the OneWeb satellite constellation. A contract between OneWeb Satellites, the company responsible for constructing the OneWeb satellites, and RUAG Space has been signed that anticipates delivery of structures for 900 satellites by the end of 2020.

OneWeb is revolutionizing global connectivity and by far the largest satellite constellation ever. In just a few years’ time, about 900 satellites will be manufactured to be launched into low Earth orbit at an altitude of around 1,200 kilometres. These will offer broadband internet with up to 50 Mbps around the globe.

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Vector Space Systems Receives $1.25 Million From Space Angels Network

P20 sub-scale test vehicle launch (Credit: Vector Space Systems)
P20 sub-scale test vehicle launch (Credit: Vector Space Systems)

TUCSON, Ariz., Nov. 18, 2016  (Vector Space Systems PR) — Vector Space Systems, a micro satellite space launch company comprised of new-space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced that it has received an additional $1.25M in angel funding led by Space Angels Network, a New York City-based investor in early-stage space companies. As one of the largest communities of space investors and entrepreneurs in the world, Space Angels Network will be contributing to the rise and success of the micro satellite industry through its investment in Vector.

With this additional seed financing, Vector will accelerate development efforts towards the goal of being one of the first commercial dedicated micro satellite launch vehicles to achieve low earth orbit. Vector continues to strive to connect space startups and innovators with affordable and reliable access to space. Its mission to reshape the multi-billion-dollar launch market has never been more critical. This need for dedicated low-cost micro satellite launches and software defined satellites to democratize space access and the speed to orbit has increased significantly since the company’s founding earlier this year.

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Movement on Firefly-Virgin Galactic Legal Dispute?

This is an interesting Tweet from Firefly Space Systems’ co-founder Michael A. Blum on Wednesday to Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides with a cc: to Whitesides’ boss, Richard Branson. Claude appears to be Claude M. Stern, one of Virgin Galactic’s lawyers.

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Construction of Prototype Lunar Base Proposed for Hawaii

moon_base
HILO, Hawaii (PISCES PR) — During the Hawai’i Aerospace Summit in Honolulu last October, PISCES Board Chairperson and entrepreneur Henk Rogers called for the construction of a prototype lunar base on the Big Island that could catapult the State of Hawai’i into the frontlines of the global aerospace industry.

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NASA Smallsats to Take Fresh Look at Earth

TROPICS, a new NASA Earth-observing mission announced this year, will study the insides of hurricanes with a constellation of 12 CubeSats. (Credit: MIT Lincoln Laboratory)
TROPICS, a new NASA Earth-observing mission announced this year, will study the insides of hurricanes with a constellation of 12 CubeSats. (Credit: MIT Lincoln Laboratory)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Beginning this month, NASA is launching a suite of six next-generation, Earth-observing small satellite missions to demonstrate innovative new approaches for studying our changing planet.

These small satellites range in size from a loaf of bread to a small washing machine and weigh from a few to 400 pounds. Their small size keeps development and launch costs down as they often hitch a ride to space as a “secondary payload” on another mission’s rocket – providing an economical avenue for testing new technologies and conducting science.

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Vector Space Systems Signs Partnership With ATLAS Space Operations

Credit: Vector Space Systems
Credit: Vector Space Systems

TUCSON, Ariz., Nov. 3, 2016 (Vector Space Systems PR) — Vector Space Systems, a micro satellite space launch company comprised of new-space industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas and Sea Launch, today finalized a strategic partnership agreement with ATLAS Space Operations to seamlessly integrate ATLAS’ network of capabilities into Vector Space Systems’ existing product offerings, diversifying the company’s launch tracking capabilities.

As early as 2018, Vector Space Systems will be able to provide a space-to-ground communication network from the Galactic Sky division to its customers through ATLAS LINKS™ – the world’s first mobile, rapidly deployable, and electronically steered array RF ground system that is revolutionizing the space industry.

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China on a Tear With New Launch Vehicles

Long March 5 on the launch pad. (Credit: China National Space Administration)
Long March 5 on the launch pad. (Credit: China National Space Administration)

With the successful maiden flight of its heavy-lift Long March 5 booster on Thursday, China has debuted four new launch vehicles in just under 14 months.

The list includes two new boosters — Long March 6 and Long March 11 — that are designed to serve the growing small-satellite launch market. The Long March 7 launcher is a medium-lift booster designed to replace several existing boosters.

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Generation Orbit Gets USAF Funding for Wind Tunnel, Hot Fire Tests

Credit: Generation Orbit
Credit: Generation Orbit

ATLANTA, October 27, 2016 (GO PR) – Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO) is pleased to announce the award of a SBIR Phase II Extension from the Air Force Research Laboratory, Aerospace Systems Directorate, High Speed Systems Division (AFRL/RQHV) to enable wind tunnel and integrated hot fire testing of the GO1 hypersonic testbed.

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Virgin Galactic Sues Firefly, Officers for Alleged Misappropriation of Trade Secrets

firefly_space_systems_logoEarlier this month, Virgin Galactic filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Firefly Systems and two of its officers, Michael Blum and P.J. King, alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and unfair competition.

The lawsuit is related to arbitration between Virgin Galactic and the company’s former vice president of propulsion, Thomas Markusic. Virgin alleges Markusic took trade secrets and confidential information with him when he left his position at the end of 2013 to co-found Firefly with Blum and King.

The lawsuit alleges that Firefly, Blum and King benefited from knowledge that Markusic took with him from Virgin Galactic. Markusic and the defendants have denied the claims.

Firefly laid off all of its employees at the end of September, saying the company had run out of money after an investor pulled out.

Firefly was developing a small satellite launcher, Firefly Alpha, that would have competed for business with the LauncherOne booster that Virgin Galactic is developing.

A Closer Look at LauncherOne

launcherone_sample_missions
Virgin Galactic’s service guide for LauncherOne has some interesting details about the air-launch service. The service’s main base will be Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The 747 Cosmic Girl aircraft will fly over the Pacific Ocean and launch satellites into sun-synchronous orbits.

Other operating locations include the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at the NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida and the NASA Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) in Virginia. The aircraft also can fly from additional locations at customer request.

launcherone_payload_dynamic

LauncherOne’s payload capabilities include:

  • Up to 300 kg / 661 lbm to 500 km/270 nmi SSO
  • Up to 500 kg / 1100 lbm to 200 km/108 nmi circular 28.5 degree inclination Low Earth Orbit

launcherone_graphics

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The booster’s launch altitudes and inclinations include:

  • Up to 1000 km and greater depending upon payload and inclination
  • Mojave Air and Space Port: 60 to 102 degrees inclination
  • Shuttle Landing Facility: 28.5 to 55 degrees inclination
  • NASA Wallops Flight Facility: 37 to 60 degrees inclination

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