SAN ANTONIO, Texas (SwRI PR) — NASA has selected Southwest Research Institute’s 100 kg-class small satellite (SmallSat) platform to be listed in the Rapid Spacecraft Development Office (RSDO) IV catalog used by the U.S. government to rapidly contract for flight-proven spacecraft. The Southwest Space Platform-100 (SwSP-100) is now available through the $6 billion, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) Rapid Spacecraft Acquisition IV contract.
PARIS, WASHINGTON DC, MONTREAL, YOKOHAMA (Euroconsult PR) — The latest update of “Prospects for the Small Satellite Market” was released this week by Euroconsult, forecasting further growth in the global supply and demand of government, commercial and academic satellites weighing up to 500 kg.
The market intelligence report, now in its 7th edition, builds upon Euroconsult’s previous iteration that accurately predicted more than 1,000 satellites would be launched during 2020, a record year despite COVID-19. The new release further reinforces the sentiment that the 2020s will be the decade of small satellites, anticipating the launch of close to 14,000 smallsats before 2030.
NASA has selected the research arm of Firefly Aerospace for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award to develop a solar electric transfer stage capable of taking payloads from the Earth to the moon.
“Firefly Research, LLC (FFR) is pleased to propose to NASA the development of a Space Utility Vehicle (SUV) to a CDR [critical design review] level of fidelity,” the technical abstract said. “This vehicle serves as a solar electric transfer stage, offering enough Delta-V to transfer more than 500 kg of payload from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to Low Lunar Orbit (LLO) after launch on a small lift launch vehicle.
By Elizabeth DiVito NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center
A spacecraft is the sum of many parts – propulsion systems, radiation protection, communications systems, to name a few – and every mission has different technological needs and challenges. Before a technology innovation makes its way into deep space, however, its effectiveness can be tested a little closer to Earth through suborbital and orbital flights. These flight tests expose a technology to the challenging characteristics of spaceflight that ground testing cannot simulate, such as powerful forces of acceleration and the absence of gravity. While it offers critical benefits, this journey through several iterations of collecting flight data and fine-tuning a technology can sometimes take years and often stretches a research team’s bottom line.
Note: Story updated with information about ABL Space Systems’ RS1 booster.
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
Rocket Lab’s announcement that it is developing the medium-lift Neutron rocket focused on launching satellite constellations was an inevitable consequence of SpaceX getting into the rideshare business.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Astra Space Inc. to provide a launch service for the agency’s Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a Constellation of SmallSats (TROPICS) mission. The TROPICS mission consists of a constellation of six CubeSats and will increase the scientific community’s understanding of storm processes.
The launch service contract for the TROPICS mission is a firm fixed-price contract valued at $7.95 million. NASA’s Launch Services Program at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will manage the launch service.
The CubeSats, each the size of a shoebox, will provide rapid-refresh microwave measurements that can be used to determine temperature, pressure, and humidity inside hurricanes as they form and evolve. The TROPICS mission’s high-revisit imaging and sounding observations are enabled by microwave technology developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory. These observations will profoundly improve scientists’ understanding of processes driving high-impact storms.
Astra Space will launch the CubeSats on the company’s Rocket 3 from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands with three separate launches over a 120-day period. The TROPICS mission is targeted for launch between Jan. 8 and July 31, 2022, under a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launch license.
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The technology demonstration mission will expand agile sailcraft technology and scientific discovery
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., January 26, 2021 (Redwire PR) – Redwire, a new leader in mission critical space solutions and high reliability components for the next generation space economy, announced today that its subsidiary Roccor has been awarded a subcontract to support NASA’s Solar Cruiser technology demonstration mission funded through NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Roccor was selected by NASA to develop the deployable structure for a nearly 18,000 square foot (1,600 m2) solar sail that will allow solar scientists to view the sun from different perspectives—and stay in orbit longer—than before.
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — A NASA CubeSat will launch into low-Earth orbit to demonstrate a new type of propulsion system. Carrying a pint of liquid water as fuel, the system will split the water into hydrogen and oxygen in space and burn them in a tiny rocket engine for thrust.
New small satellites to improve weather imaging day or night
ARLINGTON, Va. (Raytheon PR) — Today’s weather forecasts can help people decide whether to grab an umbrella on the way out or get ready for a big storm. A new class of small satellites in development at Raytheon Intelligence & Space could provide even better data to inform those decisions.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has chosen four small-scale astrophysics missions for further concept development in a new program called Pioneers. Through small satellites and scientific balloons, these selections enable new platforms for exploring cosmic phenomena such as galaxy evolution, exoplanets, high-energy neutrinos, and neutron star mergers.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Dozens of experiments are going on at any given time aboard the International Space Station. Research conducted in 2020 is advancing our understanding in areas of study from Parkinson’s disease to combustion.
Space station research results published this year came from experiments performed and data collected during the past 20 years of continuous human habitation aboard the orbiting laboratory. Between October 1, 2019, and October 1, 2020, the station’s Program Research Office identified more than 300 scientific publications based on space station research.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Exolaunch PR)–Exolaunch, the leading rideshare launch and deployment services provider for the NewSpace industry, begins its launch campaign to integrate 30 small satellites from the U.S. and Europe aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rideshare mission scheduled for no earlier than January 2021. This is the first dedicated rideshare mission of SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program and the first of several rideshares Exolaunch is manifesting on Falcon 9 as part of a multi-launch agreement the company signed with SpaceX earlier this year.
U.S.-based smallsat technology delivers unprecedented 50 x 50cm SAR “Spot” imagery to power critical applications for Government, Defense & Intelligence, and Commercial Customers
SAN FRANCISCO, December 16, 2020 — Today Capella Space released 50cm x 50cm ‘Spot’ imagery, delivering the highest resolution commercial synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery on the market. Prior to Capella, the best resolution on the market was 1m x 25 cm with non-square pixels which created its own challenges.
These previous images were collected with limited bandwidth of 300 MHz where Capella imagery is collected with up to 600 MHz of bandwidth. In the midst of increasing global change, Capella Space is setting the standard for how large organizations extract key insights and make better decisions through Earth observation data. Capella Space’s spot imagery delivers the highest resolution, most usable all-American made SAR imagery data on the market.
21 UK organisations have been awarded a share of over £7 million of funding to put the UK at the forefront of the latest advances in space innovation
SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The cash injection is going to high-risk, high-reward projects that support companies and universities with radical ideas for how we tackle climate change through Earth Observation or address satellite communications challenges, from providing greater connectivity to remote places to increasing the efficiency of our homes.
Projects set for the cash boost include The Open University who will use the money to create the UK’s first Precision Forestry tool, TreeView, which will support efforts to tackle the climate emergency through detailed measurement of tree-planting initiatives aimed at increasing carbon dioxide removal.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) has awarded multiple Venture Class Launch Services Demonstration 2 (VCLS Demo 2) contracts to launch small satellites (SmallSats) to space, including CubeSats, microsats or nanosatellites. The three companies selected to provide these commercial launch capabilities, and the value of their firm fixed-price contracts, are:
Astra Space Inc. of Alameda, California: $3.9 million
Relativity Space Inc. of Long Beach, California: $3.0 million
Firefly Black LLC of Cedar Park, Texas: $9.8 million