May 29, 2015

NASA Enthusiastic About Satellite Industry Relationship (Source: Via Satellite)
NASA sees its relationship with the satellite industry tightening as the agency pursues its objectives in each mission directorate. Earlier this month NASA released its draft 2015 technology roadmaps to industry and academia. David Miller, chief technologist at NASA, said the agency’s decision on the 14 different technology roadmaps — which range from launch propulsion systems to nanotechnology — will be heavily influenced by what the commercial sector can do. (5/27)

Orbital ATK's New Antares on Track for March 2016 Launch (Source: Space Policy Online)
Orbital ATK President David Thompson said today that the new version of its Antares rocket is on track for a first launch in March 2016.  The new version will use Russian RD-181 engines, two of which are undergoing acceptance testing right now.

An Orbital Sciences Antares rocket intended to deliver a Cygnus cargo spacecraft full of supplies for the International Space Station (ISS) exploded 15 seconds after liftoff on October 28, 2014. The explosion damaged the launch facilities at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facilit in Virginia.  It was the company’s third operational launch for NASA under the commercial cargo program. (5/28)

University of Alabama Wins KSC Robotic Mining Competition (Source: UA News)
Add another national title to the Crimson Tide trophy case. This past weekend, a team of students from the University of Alabama won a NASA contest against teams from across the country. Made up of students from The University of Alabama and Shelton State Community College, Alabama Astrobotics earned the most points in NASA’s Robotic Mining Competition, which challenged engineering and computer-science students to build a robot capable of navigating and excavating simulated Martian soil.

NASA invited 47 university teams to compete in the mining contest during the third week of May at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Editor's Note: The University of Florida fielded a team that won the competition's Team Spirit Award. (5/27)

The Life and Death of Ikonos, a Pioneering Commercial Satellite (Source: Mashable)
The commercial satellite industry is in something of a boom time right now, with everyone from Elon Musk to Google planning to launch spacecraft of varying sizes into Earth's orbit, and eventually, beyond. Today, people all over the planet can see photos and even HD video of Earth from above with the click of a button on a computer or phone. But this wasn't always the case.

Before Ikonos, a satellite from the Colorado-based company DigitalGlobe, flew to space in September 1999, only a small number of people around the world were able to see high-quality images of Earth taken by spacecraft, according to Walter Scott, DigitalGlobe's chief technology officer and founder.

Ikonos was retired from service earlier this year, but until its decommissioning, the satellite was part of a constellation of DigitalGlobe orbiters responsible for taking millions of pictures of Earth. The satellite is now orbiting the planet uncontrolled until it burns up when it enters Earth’s atmosphere sometime in the next 25 years. Click here. (5/28)

Chinese Astronaut Calls for ISS Cooperation (Source: CNN)
China wants greater cooperation with other nations in space, particularly the United States, the country's most experienced astronaut has told CNN in an exclusive interview. Fifteen nations including the United States, Russia and Japan cooperate on International Space Station missions, but China's involvement has always been a non-starter because of longstanding resistance from U.S. legislators.

"As an astronaut, I have a strong desire to fly with astronauts from other countries. I also look forward to going to the International Space Station," Commander Nie Haisheng told CNN. "...Space is a family affair, many countries are developing their space programs and China, as a big county, should make our own contributions in this field." (5/28)

Mars Mission Prep Includes UF Scientist (Source: Palm Beach Post)
A University of Florida geological sciences assistant professor is part of a team working on the next mission to Mars to discover how planets, including Earth, were formed. Mark Panning’s role during the planning for the NASA’s InSight lander is to demonstrate that analyzing data from a single seismic station can provide a good one-dimensional model of Mars. (5/28)

Satellite Sector Sees Modest Growth in 2014 (Source: Space News)
Mobile services, including data to aircraft, constitute the fastest-growing segment of the global satellite services industry, posting a 25 percent increase in sales for 2014, according to a new report from the Satellite Industry Association (SIA). However, mobile services, with revenue of $3.3 billion in 2014, still represent just a fraction of the overall satellite services industry’s $123 billion in sales for the year, the SIA’s “2015 State of the Satellite Industry Report” said. (5/28)

NewSat Bankruptcy is Costly for U.S. Ex-Im Bank (Source: Space News)
A U.S. bankruptcy court’s May 22 decision to allow Lockheed Martin to cancel a satellite construction contract with a near-penniless customer — startup satellite operator NewSat of Australia — has handed the U.S. and French export-credit agencies their first satellite industry failure. For the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the failure means the apparently unrecoverable loss of more than $100 million at a time when the Washington-based institution is fighting for its life in the U.S. Congress. (5/29)

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