Space

SAN FRANCISCO – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded its first contracts Nov. 20 to purchase radio occultation data from commercial satellite operators GeoOptics and Spire Global. The Nov. 20 awards are the culmination of years of work by both companies to develop, manufacture and operate satellites to gather atmospheric temperature, pressure and water
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WASHINGTON — Despite a lull in orbital launch activity at Vandenberg Air Force Base, officials with the U.S. Space Force foresee a “very promising future” for both commercial and government launches there. The Falcon 9 launch of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich ocean science satellite Nov. 21 was the first orbital launch from Vandenberg since another
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AN FRANCISCO – Hyperspectral satellite startup Orbital Sidekick (OSK) announced a contract Nov. 19 to work with an industry-led consortium to develop tools for daily monitoring of oil and gas pipelines. “This is an important validation of our commercial application and viability,” Dan Katz, OSK CEO and co-founder, told SpaceNews. “We are not merely a
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SAN FRANCISCO – AAC Clyde Space announced a 19 million euro ($22.5 million) contract backed by the U.K. Space Agency to develop a 10-cubesat communications and Earth-observation constellation. As part of the three-year project called xSPANCION, AAC Clyde Space will develop and manufacture satellites to provide space-based services to companies eager to harness satellites to
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WASHINGTON — OneWeb announced Nov. 20 that its sale to an ownership group led by Bharti Global and the British government has closed, allowing the company to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy with a new chief executive. OneWeb said it had completed “all relevant regulatory approvals,” allowing the sale of the company to exit Chapter
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WASHINGTON — Rocket Lab launched its Electron rocket Nov. 19, placing nearly 30 smallsats in orbit while making its first attempt to recover the rocket’s first stage. The Electron lifted off from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 on Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand, at 9:20 p.m. Eastern on a mission called “Return to Sender” by the
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WASHINGTON — Small launch vehicle developer Astra will make its second orbital launch attempt in December, three months after an initial launch attempt failed shortly after liftoff. The company announced Nov. 19 that it has completed testing of the vehicle, known as Rocket 3.2, and will soon ship it from its California headquarters to Pacific
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WASHINGTON — The National Science Foundation announced Nov. 19 it will perform a “controlled decommissioning” of the giant radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, citing recent damage that made it unsafe to operate or even repair. In a call with reporters, NSF officials said two broken cables used to support a 900-ton
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SAN FRANCISCO – U.S. and U.K. military space officials at the Defence Space 2020 conference expressed enthusiasm for joint pitch competitions as a way to tap into commercial space sector innovation. During the conference, 10 companies participating in the first International Space Pitch Day (ISPD) won awards of 53,000 British pounds apiece ($70,167) plus the
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SAN FRANCISCO – Astroscale plans to launch the first commercial active debris removal mission, End-of-Life Services by Astroscale-demonstration, in March 2021 on a Soyuz rocket operated by GK Launch Services from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. Through the mission, Tokyo-based Astroscale plans to demonstrate core technologies necessary for space debris capture and removal, a first step in
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WASHINGTON — Arianespace executives said Nov. 17 that the failure of a Vega launch the previous day was caused when the rocket’s upper stage tumbled out of control due to incorrectly installed cables in a control system. In a call with reporters, Roland Lagier, chief technical officer of Arianespace, said the first three stages of
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WASHINGTON — A SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft with four astronauts on board successfully docked with the International Space Station Nov. 16, a day after launch on the first operational commercial crew mission. The spacecraft, named “Resilience,” docked with the station’s Node 2, or Harmony, module at 11:01 p.m. Eastern. Hatches separating the station and spacecraft
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On Nov. 15, the world watched with admiration as SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s historic Kennedy Space Center carrying a four-person crew. The occasion marked an important milestone — the first orbital FAA-licensed human spaceflight launch. This achievement demonstrates America’s leadership in a new era of space exploration
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VALLETTA, Malta — The European Space Agency (ESA) signed contracts for three pairs of satellites for the agency’s Earth-observing Copernicus program on Nov. 13 with a total award value of more than 1.3 billion euros ($1.54 billion).  The three Copernicus satellite pairs are part of six High-Priority Candidate Missions approved during ESA’s Council at Ministerial
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WASHINGTON — The first launch of Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from a site in the United States won’t take place until 2021 because of problems with the flight termination system NASA requires the rocket to use. Rocket Lab had planned to conduct the first launch from its Launch Complex (LC) 2 at Wallops Island, Virginia,
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Maj. Gen. Matthew Glavy will be dual-hatted as the commander of Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command and Marine Corps Forces Space Command. WASHINGTON — The United States Marine Corps activated a new unit called Marine Corps Forces Space Command as a subordinate organization to U.S. Space Command, the service announced Nov. 13. The new organization
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Updated 7 p.m. Eastern with briefing comments. WASHINGTON — NASA has postponed the launch of its first operational commercial crew mission by a day, citing weather conditions that delayed the arrival of the droneship used for the recovery of the Falcon 9 first stage. NASA said Nov. 13 that it was pushing back the Crew-1
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WASHINGTON — A longtime Virgin Galactic executive will return to Australia to take over the country’s young space agency, the Australian government announced Nov. 13. In a statement, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that Enrico Palermo, chief operating officer of Virgin Galactic, will take over as head of the Australian Space Agency in January.
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WASHINGTON — The Senate Appropriations Committee questioned why it will take the U.S. Space Force 12 years to acquire new jam-resistant communications satellites to replace the existing Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) spacecraft made by Lockheed Martin. The program in question is the Evolved Strategic Satellite Communications system known as ESS. The Space and Missile
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WASHINGTON — Rideshare launch service provider Spaceflight Inc. announced a new version of its Sherpa tug Nov. 12 equipped with electric propulsion that can send smallsats to high orbits or cislunar space. Spaceflight announced the first flight of its Sherpa-LTE orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) will take place in mid-2021. The vehicle is based on the
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SAN FRANCISCO – Luxembourg-based Kleos Space raised $13.8 million following the Nov. 7 launch of its first cluster of radio frequency mapping satellites. “Kleos is now well financed to execute the launch of the second cluster of satellites, Polar Vigilance Mission in mid-2021, and to develop its third cluster of satellites, targeted to be in
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HELSINKI — A draft policy on opening up India’s space sector is expected to bring transformational change, the chairman of the commercial arm of the Indian space agency said Nov. 10. Speaking during an interview at Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week Virtual Edition conference, chairman and managing director of Antrix Corp. Rakesh Sasibhushan said the Spacecom
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Appropriators questioned “recent moves by some agencies to procure launches outside of the space launch enterprise through direct commercial contracts or delivery on orbit contracts.” WASHINGTON — The Senate Appropriations Committee in a report Nov. 10 criticized the practice by some agencies of procuring launch services directly from commercial providers, bypassing the National Security Space
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SAN FRANCISCO – Radar satellite operators continue to see the long-term promise of commercial markets and near-term demand from government customers, according to panelists speaking Nov. 10 at the virtual World Satellite Business Week conference. “We do still believe in the commercial market but it’s not as mature as we would have hoped,” said Payam
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SAN FRANCISCO – L3Harris Technologies will help the U.S. Defense Defense extract information and insight from satellite and airborne imagery under a three-year U.S. Army Research Laboratory contract. L3Harris will develop and demonstrate an artificial intelligence-machine learning interface for Defense Department applications under the multimillion-dollar contract announced Oct. 26. “L3Harris will assist the Department of
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Airbus U.S. Space and Defense filed its protest Oct. 28. Raytheon’s protest was filed Nov. 3. WASHINGTON — Airbus and Raytheon have filed protests with the Government Accountability Office challenging Space Development Agency contracts awarded to L3Harris and SpaceX last month for eight missile-tracking satellites, putting the projects on hold until the dispute is resolved.
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HELSINKI — Chinese rocket firm Galactic Energy successfully sent a small satellite into orbit Saturday with the first launch of its Ceres-1 launch vehicle. The Ceres-1 four-stage solid rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center near the Gobi Desert at 2:12 a.m. Eastern Saturday. First indications of launch came from spectators posting footage
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HELSINKI — The Indian Space Research Organisation successfully carried out its first launch since the COVID-19 outbreak Saturday sending the EOS-1 Earth observation satellite and nine smaller payloads into orbit. Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C49 (PSLV-C49) lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center on the Indian island of Sriharikota at 4:42 a.m. Eastern Nov. 7
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