Space

SAN FRANCISCO – Fleet operator Inmarsat and communications technology firm Addvalue Innovation announced success Nov. 23 relaying data between Capella Space’s operations center on the ground and Capella’s Sequoia synthetic aperture radar satellite in low Earth orbit. For years, London-based Inmarsat and Addvalue Innovation, a subsidiary of Singapore-based Addvalue Technologies Ltd., have worked together to
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HELSINKI — A Long March 5 rocket launched China’s Chang’e-5 spacecraft Monday to kick off a 23-day mission to deliver the first lunar samples to Earth since the 1970s. The heavy-lift Long March 5 lifted off from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center at 3:30 p.m. Eastern. The Chang’e-5 spacecraft was announced to have successfully entered
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WASHINGTON — As SpaceX prepares for the first high-altitude test flight of its Starship reusable launch vehicle, the Federal Aviation Administration is starting a new environmental review required for the company’s future launch vehicle plans. SpaceX performed a brief static-fire test of its Starship SN8 prototype Nov. 24 at its Boca Chica, Texas, test site.
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SAN FRANCISCO – Canadian satellite fleet operator Telesat and Loral Space & Communications announced plans Nov. 24 to combine to form Telesat Corp., a Canadian public company, in a deal expected to close next year. Under an agreement with Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments), Loral Space & Communications and Telesat Canada will
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WASHINGTON — Small launch vehicle startup Relativity Space has raised a $500 million funding round that the company says will enable it to accelerate its long-term vision of reshaping aerospace manufacturing. Relativity announced Nov. 23 that it raised the $500 million Series D round, led by hedge fund Tiger Global Management. Several new investors joined
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The Space and Missile Systems Center said Germany on Sept. 30 ordered an undisclosed quantity of Military Code (M-Code) capable GPS user equipment. WASHINGTON — Germany has ordered jam-resistant Global Positioning System receivers from the United States military, becoming the first buyer of the advanced GPS user equipment under the Foreign Military Sales program, the
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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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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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On Oct. 15, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released the much-anticipated update to its rules for rocket safety, which streamline launch and reentry licensing. These clarified rules provide a solid foundation for the commercial rocket launch industry — ensuring that launch companies can understand and follow the rules while keeping critical national infrastructure and American
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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