SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — The Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (COSMIC-2) is a network of six small satellites, each about the size of a standard kitchen oven, designed to improve weather prediction and model accuracy as well as space weather monitoring capabilities.
SAN FRANCISCO, October 14, 2021 (Orbit Fab PR) — Orbit Fab, the Gas Stations in Space™ company, has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Space Vehicle Directorate, and the Spacecraft Technology Division to advance on-orbit refueling technology.
Orbit Fab will offer a ubiquitous supply of propellant in Earth orbit. Providing satellites the right fuel, in the right location, when they need it, will enable next generation capabilities for in-space refueling, servicing, assembly and manufacturing. Under the collaboration, Orbit Fab will share technical details and make available its hardware products, such as the RAFTI (The Rapidly Attachable Fluid Transfer Interface) and a cooperative docking guidance solution. The Air Force, in return, will review Orbit Fab’s refueling technologies, advise on requirements and designs, and make available its facilities for advancing performance and qualification. The knowledge exchange will allow Orbit Fab to bring to market its products for both defense users and commercial companies.
ALAMEDA, Calif., October 12, 2021 (Astra Space PR) – Astra Space, Inc. (“Astra”) (Nasdaq: ASTR) today announced a commercial orbital launch on behalf of the United States Space Force. The launch vehicle, LV0007, will carry a test payload for the Space Test Program’s second mission STP-27AD2. The launch window is divided into two segments: the first segment is open from October 27, 2021 through October 31, 2021, and the second is open from November 5, 2021 through November 12, 2021. LV0007 will launch from the Astra Spaceport in Kodiak, Alaska.
Agreement Positions Tomorrow.io to Deliver Data to the Air Force, Other Government Organizations and Commercial Entities.
Boston, September 30, 2021 (Tomorrow.io PR) – Tomorrow.io, the world’s leading weather intelligence and climate security company, today announced that it was awarded a $19.3 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to support deployment of its proprietary radar-equipped weather satellites. The contract paves the way for a first-of-its-kind, commercially-owned constellation of approximately 32 small satellites to provide global coverage of 3-D precipitation and other critical weather and ocean observations, with much faster revisit times than currently available.
Tomorrow.io will offer data-as-a-service from its spaceborne radars to the U.S. Air Force and other governmental agencies worldwide, while the main use will be direct ingestion into its proprietary modeling suite, which includes numerical weather models, AI-enabled nowcasting and flood forecasting. These cutting-edge models power Tomorrow.io’s Weather Intelligence Platform™, used by hundreds of businesses and organizations to plan for and respond to increasingly extreme weather and climate conditions.
The eight-member Colorado Congressional delegation has asked U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall to suspend all activities related to the move of the U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) from Colorado Springs to the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala. pending the completion of two on-going reviews.
“This move undermines our ability to respond to the threats in space and is disruptive to the current mission. Additionally, significant evidence exists that the former president’s political considerations influenced the final decision to relocate USSPACECOM to Redstone Arsenal. As such, we urge you to formally suspend any actions to relocate the USSPACECOM headquarters until the Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD IG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have completed their respective investigations into the basing decision and you complete your review,” the delegation said in a Sept. 30 letter to Kendall.
WASHINGTON (Dianne Feinstein PR)—Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla and Representative Salud Carbajal (all D-Calif.) today expressed support for making Vandenberg Space Force Base the permanent location for the Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) amid reports that the previous U.S. Space Command basing decision was based on politics, not merit.
“As you know, Vandenberg Space Force Base already plays an important role in space training and operations. Vandenberg trains space operators at the Air Education and Training Command’s 381st Training Group; manages missile testing; and launches satellites into polar orbit,” the members wrote in a letter to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall. “Further, Vandenberg’s proximity to California’s world-renowned aerospace industry, universities, and research institutions makes it well-suited to support the permanent establishment of STARCOM.”
Full text of the letter is available here and below:
September 10, 2021
Mr. Frank Kendall Secretary of the Air Force 1670 Air Force Washington, D.C. 20330-1670
Dear Secretary Kendall:
We write to express support for Vandenberg Space Force Base as the permanent location of the Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) and to ask that you ensure the selection process is based on a rigorous and objective evaluation of each proposed site. We are concerned about reports that the previous Administration’s decision to establish U.S. Space Command at Redstone Arsenal was based on politics instead of the merits, and ask you to ensure this does not happen in future basing decisions.
We are also concerned about the decision to temporarily base STARCOM at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As you know, Vandenberg Space Force Base already plays an important role in space training and operations. Vandenberg trains space operators at the Air Education and Training Command’s 381st Training Group; manages missile testing; and launches satellites into polar orbit. Further, Vandenberg’s proximity to California’s world-renowned aerospace industry, universities, and research institutions makes it well-suited to support the permanent establishment of STARCOM.
We trust that under your leadership, future basing decisions will be carried out in an impartial manner and will follow established processes. We look forward to working with you and your staff on behalf of Airmen, Guardians, and their families. Thank you for your consideration, and please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Phase Four PR) — Phase Four, the creator of the radio-frequency thruster for satellite propulsion, announced today that it has secured a contract with the U.S. Space Force at the SpaceWERX Pitch Day held on August 18th, 2021 for the company’s propellant-agnostic Maxwell engine. Under the contract, Maxwell will utilize ASCENT, a green propellant developed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, to enable multi-mode propulsion capability, which combines the high thrust capabilities of chemical propulsion and the high efficiency capabilities of electric propulsion.
“Space is rapidly becoming congested and contested,” said Phase Four CEO, Beau Jarvis. “The U.S. Space Force and commercial satellite operators must increase the maneuverability of their spacecraft to operate safely and minimize on orbit risks.”
COLORADO SPRINGS, Co (AFNS) — Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall offered unambiguous support Aug. 24 for the still evolving U.S. Space Force, noting the critical role space plays in the nation’s security, the essential functions space enables in everyday life, and why access must be assured as space becomes more congested and contested.
“It is impossible to overstate the importance of space-based systems to national security,” Kendall said during his keynote address at the 36th Space Symposium, an influential, weeklong gathering of military, commercial, and academic space experts from around the world. The speech was Kendall’s first major address since becoming the 26th Secretary of the Air Force on July 28.
“Strategic stability depends on space-based reliable early warning and communications systems,” Kendall said. “… I can assure you that this Administration will continue the work of establishing, equipping, training, and sustaining the newly formed Space Force and of increasing the resiliency of our essential space systems.”
LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFRL PR) – SpaceWERX officially lifted off Aug. 19 during the virtual Space Force Pitch Day. The event closed with 19 small businesses securing Phase II Small Business Innovation Research contracts to advance their cutting-edge space technologies.
The newly launched SpaceWERX will play a vital role in pursuing innovative technologies for the U.S. Space Force. It will operate as part of AFWERX, the Department of the Air Force’s innovation arm.
“What better way of introducing the new organization than bringing in new partners, locking in new investments and going after great space technology,” said Lt. Col. Walter “Rock” McMillan, SpaceWERX Director. “We’re excited to be partnering with these great companies and the great technology they bring to the table.”
REDMOND, Wash. (Xplore PR) — Xplore Inc., an innovative commercial space company providing Space as a Service® has announced a follow on contract with the U.S. Air Force, (USAF) to continue developing their positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) solution as a commercial service for cislunar space. Xplore’s current Phase II effort culminates in a hardware in the loop testbed that will demonstrate the required performance to enable precision cislunar missions while laying the foundation for a subsequent on-orbit test of the PNT system. This Phase II SBIR, awarded for commercial and technical innovations between the Earth and the Moon, provides the Air Force with the necessary capabilities to extend precision operations to the Moon and across cislunar space.
The PNT system Xplore is developing enables exploration, operations and commercial activities in cislunar space — a vast region that extends past the Moon to the edge of interplanetary space and is over ten thousand times the volume than nearly all space operations around the Earth. An equivalent GPS-like navigation and timing solution for this expanse does not currently exist, and Xplore’s revolutionary solution leverages its internal platform development to provide critical infrastructure services beyond geosynchronous orbit.
Controversial decision announced one week before Trump left office
Colorado’s leaders says comments confirm that political factors, not merit, led to decision
Two separate government investigations continue into move
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
Former president Donald Trump claimed on Friday to have “single-handedly” moved the U.S. Space Command from Colorado to Alabama, adding fuel to the political firestorm that erupted over the controversial decision earlier this year.
“Space Force — I sent to Alabama,” Trump said. “I hope you know that. (They) said they were looking for a home and I single-handedly said, ‘Let’s go to Alabama.’ They wanted it. I said, ‘Let’s go to Alabama. I love Alabama,” Trump told the Alabama-based Rick & Bubba radio program.
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (USAF PR) – On August 19, SpaceWERX will officially launch. The kickoff will include a virtual Space Force Pitch Day highlighting the key partnership between the Department of the Air Force and small businesses by awarding up to $34 million to innovative startups competing for Small Business Innovation Research Phase II contracts. At the launch, SpaceWERX will also announce key initiatives to jumpstart the fall campaign.To join the SpaceWERX ecosystem click here
As a part of AFWERX, SpaceWERX will play a vital role in pursuing innovative technologies for the United States Space Force. The Department’s newest innovation arm will create platforms for space operators, lab engineers, and acquisition professionals to collaborate with the brightest minds in academia and industry pursuing novel solutions. Moreover, SpaceWERX will continue to leverage proven AFWERX tools such as the SBIR Open Topic, Challenge platform, STRATFI initiative, and Prime program.
Satellites Will Track Earth’s Atmosphere, Water, Surface, and Interior
PASADENA, Calif. (GeoOptics PR) – A leader in Earth remote sensing, GeoOptics Inc., today announceda major upgrade to its CICERO constellation of satellites to measure our evolving planet. With launches beginning next year, CICERO-2 will form a unified Earth observatory allowing governments, industry, and individual stakeholders to monitor and prepare for the many impacts of climate change.
“In today’s environment, in which precision Earth sensing is becoming ever more critical, GeoOptics is deploying a flexible observatory made up of dozens of small satellites. The real time services will satisfy a broad range of needs for government and civil users around the world,” said Alex Saltman, Chief Executive Officer of GeoOptics.
RSA Investigates a Novel High-Thrust, High-Efficiency Propulsion System
WASHINGTON, July 19, 2021 (Rhea Space Activity PR) — As U.S. operations in space steadily move further away from Earth orbit, the rapidly growing ‘New Space’ company Rhea Space Activity (RSA) is pleased to announce that it has been selected by the United States Air Force (USAF) for a Phase I, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) 2021 Space Force Pitch Day award to investigate a bi-modal, solar-thermal propulsion system that would provide rapid repositioning capabilities for a future United State Space Force (USSF) deep space communications spacecraft.
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.