Microlaunchers to Grow Europe’s Economy

Five feasibility studies on launch services using microlaunchers in Europe, contracted within ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Programme in 2018, proposed solutions for economically viable and commercially self-sustaining microlaunch services. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A flourishing small satellites market is driving demand for new ways to access space. Recent industry feasibility studies backed by ESA for new microlauncher services, are creating new business opportunities.

ESA intends to strengthen European industry by fostering a globally competitive European space sector with increased industry participation in launcher development.

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LeoStella Names Aerospace Veteran as CEO

Mike Hettich

Mike Hettich brings three decades of aerospace leadership to the emerging small-satellite manufacturer

TUKWILA, Wash., March 7, 2019 (LeoStella PR) – LeoStella, a joint venture created by Thales Alenia Space and Spaceflight Industries to meet the growing demand for efficient and cost-effective small-satellite production, today announced Mike Hettich has been named as the company’s CEO and has transitioned into the leadership position previously held by Chris Chautard.

Hettich brings more than 30 years of aerospace system design, development and production experience to LeoStella. He will lead the company as it enters the next phase of growth, designing and manufacturing small satellites at scale at its state-of-the-art production facility. The company’s first major undertaking is constructing 20 satellites for BlackSky’s Earth-observation constellation.

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NASA Receives Significant Funding Increase with $21.5 Billion Budget

The Lunar Gateway (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has received a $21.5 billion budget for fiscal year 2019, which is $736.86 million above FY 2018 and $1.6 billion above the total requested by the Trump Administration.

The funding, which came more than four months into the fiscal year,  was included in an appropriations bill signed by President Donald Trump on Friday. NASA’s budget has been on an upward trajectory over the last few years. In FY 2018, the space agency received an $1.64 billion increase over the previous year.

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LeoStella Inaugurates State-of-the-Art Smallsat Production Facility

Satellite production facility (Credit: LeoStella)

Thales Alenia Space and Spaceflight Industries joint venture plans to disrupt the smallsat industry by producing cost-effective satellites at scale

TUKWILA, Wash., Feb. 15, 2019 (LeoStella PR) – LeoStella, a smallsat design and manufacturing company, today announced the official inauguration of its production facilities in Tukwila, Wash. The company is a joint venture between Thales Alenia Space, joint venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %), and Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries. Formed in March 2018, LeoStella has been developing a state-of-the-art production facility to construct smallsats cost-effectively and at scale.

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Suborbital Flights Stopped Being So Humdrum in 2018

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo’s first flight above 50 miles on Dec. 13, 2018. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Part 1 of 2

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Throughout the Space Age, suborbital flight has been the least exciting segment of the launch market. Operating in the shadow of their much larger orbital cousins, sounding rockets carrying scientific instruments, microgravity experiments and technology demonstrations have flown to the fringes of space with little fanfare or media attention.

The suborbital sector has become much more dynamic in recent years now that billionaires have started spending money in it. Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic both made significant progress last year in testing New Shepard and SpaceShipTwo, respectively. Their achievements have raised the real possibility of suborbital space tourism flights in 2019. (I know. Promises, promises…. But, this year they might finally really do it. I think.)

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ODYSSEUS SPACE Teams With National Cheng Kung University on ARGO Pulse Plasma Thruster Propulsion System

TAINAN, Taiwan, December 26th 2018 (ODYSSEUS SPACE PR) – ODYSSEUS SPACE, a Taiwanese company developing innovative space technologies for small satellites, today announced a collaboration with NCKU, one of the leading engineering university in Taiwan and located in Tainan.

This joint R&D project for a total amount of 4.5M NTD [$146,711], funded by both ODYSSEUS Space and the Taiwanese Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) through the New SBIR program, is following a pre-study phase successfully delivered in 2018 and now aims at developing and testing a first prototype of an electrical propulsion system for small satellites.

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Rocket Lab Prepares to Launch CubeSat Mission for NASA

Electron It’s Business Time lift-off (Credits: Kieran Fanning & Sam Toms)

Huntington Beach, California (Rocket Lab PR) – US small satellite launch company Rocket Lab is gearing up for the company’s third orbital launch of the year, the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa)-19 mission for NASA. The launch is a significant moment for the small satellite industry, as it’s the first time NASA CubeSats will enjoy a dedicated ride to orbit on a commercial launch vehicle, thanks to NASA’s forward-leaning Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) initiative.  VCLS is managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program headquartered at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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Liftoff for Pioneering Nanosats

Pioneer Spire nanosatellite in RF test chamber. (Credit: Spire)

SRIHARIKOTA, India (ESA PR) — The first ‘Pioneer’ mission lifted off last week from Sriharikota, India, with the two inventive little nanosatellites now circling the Earth, ready for action.

The shoebox-sized satellites were launched at 04:27 GMT into low Earth orbit by the Indian Space Research Organisation’s PLSV launcher, and opened their first communication windows with their owner, Spire Global, less than an hour after they separated from the rocket.

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DLR Developing Reusable Rocket Engine for Small Satellite Launcher

Rocket motor during hot fire test (Credit: DLR)
  • DLR researchers have developed a reusable rocket engine specifically for the launch of small satellites.
  • The rocket engine consists of two central components: a metal injector head manufactured by means of metal 3D printing and a ceramic combustion chamber.
  • Small satellites have the potential to fundamentally change the space industry.
  • Focus: space, small satellites, new manufacturing technologies, fibre ceramics

STUTTGART, Germany (DLR PR) — Whether alone or in a constellation, small satellites weighing from just a few kilograms (nanosatellites) up to several hundred kilograms (micro- and minisatellites) are becoming increasingly technologically sophisticated and have the potential to fundamentally change the space industry. In the coming years, hundreds of such small satellites will be carried into Earth orbit.

As part of the EU project SMILE (Small Innovative Launcher for Europe), researchers from the Institute of Structures and Design at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have developed a reusable rocket engine especially for launching such satellites, and have performed an initial series of successful trials on a test rig.
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Video: CNBC Interviews Rocket Lab Founder Peter Beck

Video Caption: Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket comes at a price tag that’s only a fraction of the $50 million or more it costs to launch a larger rocket. How will that revolutionize the industry and expand who will be able to send satellites into space? Rocket Lab put seven spacecraft in orbit on Saturday with its first commercial launch, as the company grew its lead in the burgeoning small rocket industry.

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Landspace Identifies Reaction Control System Leak as Cause of Launch Failure

Landspace has concluded a damaged third stage reaction control system that developed a fuel leak caused the failure of the private Chinese launch company’s ZhuQue-1 rocket during its maiden flight on Oct. 27, GB Times reports.

The anomaly, which occurred 6 minutes 42 seconds after liftoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, made the rocket go out of control and sent the Weila-1 (Future-1) micro-satellite plunging into the Indian Ocean.

The conclusion is a preliminary one. The company is conducting additional analysis to confirm the finding.

It was the first orbital launch attempt by a private Chinese space company. A number of Chinese commercial startups are competing for business in the orbital and suborbital markets.

Landspace said the three-stage rocket reached an altitude of 337 km (209.4 miles), which means it entered space without achieving orbit.  The booster reached a top speed of 6.3 km/second (14,093 mph), which is below orbital velocity.

SSL Selected to Compete for Contract to Provide SmallSat Solutions to Department of Defense

PALO ALTO, CA, Oct. 8, 2018 (SSL PR) – SSL, a Maxar Technologies company (formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.) (NYSE: MAXR) (TSX: MAXR), and a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, has been selected as one of three companies qualified to compete for Department of Defense business under a contract called Small Spacecraft Prototyping Engineering Development and Integration – Space Solutions (SSPEDI).

NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the contract under an interagency agreement with the Department of Defense’s Space Rapid Capabilities Office. The new contract is one of a number of innovative and promising programs in SSL’s growing U.S. government portfolio.

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PLD Space, Airborne Systems North America sign to Develop Llauncher Recovery Systems

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

PLD Space is developing a family of recoverable launch vehicles
Airborne Systems has almost 100 years of experience in the EDLS systems

ELCHE, Spain — October 3, 2018 (PLD Space PR) — Airborne Systems has developed a parachute recovery system for PLD Space to advance the development of their recoverable launch vehicle family (ARION 1 and ARION 2). Drawing on almost 100 years of experience with the design and development of Entry, Descent and Landing Systems (EDLS), Airborne Systems provide a solution consisting of a Drogue parachute Subsystem and a Main parachute subsystem.

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