August 31, 2015

Iridium Aims to Save Airlines Money with New Traffic-Tracking Satellites (Source: Globe and Mail)
The dozens of Iridium satellites that orbit the Earth are notable for two things: the flashes of light they emit when the sun strikes them just so, and the $1.5-billion (U.S.) bankruptcy that followed their launch in the late 1990s.

The former Motorola-backed company, now known as Iridium Communications Inc., hopes the 66 satellites it will begin launching in December will have a greater legacy: allowing around-the-globe surveillance of the world’s airline traffic.

The satellites, which will orbit the Earth 780 kilometers high, will carry devices that broadcast aircraft speed and locations to air-traffic controllers on the ground, allowing planes to save fuel by flying closer together and on more precise routes. (8/30)

KitKat, Red Bull and the Brand Space Race (Source: Marketing)
The commercialization of space is inevitable, argues British astronomer Chris Impey, and it's big brand founders like Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos who will be taking the biggest leaps for mankind. Click here. (8/31)

Loral Studies Satellite Self-Assembly for DARPA (Source: Aviation Week)
A robotic arm that rides into space as part of a satellite to complete its assembly on orbit, then reconfigure and repair the spacecraft throughout its life, is the concept behind a new DARPA study awarded to Space Systems/Loral (SSL). The Dragonfly project is an outgrowth of DARPA’s Phoenix program to demonstrate robotic servicing and repurposing of spacecraft in geostationary orbit (GEO). (8/31)

Perth Mum Pushes for Better Space Education in Australia (Source: West Australian)
It may seem out of this world, but by 2020 Australian students could be attending space school. If your child dreams of becoming an astronaut or being involved with the likes of NASA or Virgin Galactic, Brenda van Rensburg may hold the key to making that dream a reality.

The Perth mum is working to convince Australia that ‘space’ is a subject that should be on the national school curriculum. Why? To prepare the children of our future for whatever technological advances that come our way. A former professional golfer, Brenda quit her sporting career to focus on something ‘more rewarding’. “I enjoy golf but I can’t say I love it,” she told Yahoo7. (8/31)

NASA Kicks Off Scientific Ballooning Campaign in New Mexico (Source: NASA)
Mars-bound microbes, student experiments, and cosmic ray measuring equipment and are just some of the items getting a lift to near-space courtesy NASA’s scientific ballooning program. Four NASA scientific balloon flights will carry multiple payloads containing science instruments and experiments to altitudes upward of 120,000 feet above 99.5 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere during NASA’s upcoming balloon campaign in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, which is scheduled to begin August 31. (8/31)

US-China Space Freeze May Thaw with Historic New Experiment (Source:
A Chinese experiment is being readied for launch toward the International Space Station (ISS) in what could be the forerunner of a larger space-cooperation agenda between the United States and China. NanoRacks has signed a historic agreement with the Beijing Institute of Technology to fly Chinese DNA research to the orbiting outpost next year. No commercial Chinese payload has ever flown to the orbiting lab before. Click here. (8/31)

Boeing-Built Satellite Will Create First Global High-Speed Broadband Network (Source: Boeing)
When the third Boeing-built Inmarsat-5 satellite, which is now in orbit, becomes fully operational later this year it will provide the technology and coverage necessary for worldwide high-speed broadband access. Inmarsat-5 F3 sent signals from space following its launch yesterday on an International Launch Services Proton Breeze M launch vehicle. After reaching final orbit, the spacecraft will undergo testing and checkout before becoming operational.

“The Inmarsat Global Xpress network will be the first high-speed Ka-band broadband network to span the world,” said Rupert Pearce, CEO, Inmarsat. “New technology and engineering design will allow us to steer capacity where it’s needed most and adjust to shifting subscriber usage patterns and evolving demographics over the minimum 15-year life span of the network. We can now look forward to the introduction of global GX commercial services by the end of this year.”

Each of the three Inmarsat-5 satellites use fixed narrow spot beams to deliver higher speeds through more compact terminals. Steerable beams direct additional capacity in real-time to where it’s needed to provide seamless, global broadband communications coverage to Inmarsat users worldwide on land, at sea, and in the air. The first two Inmarsat-5 Global Xpress satellites were launched December 2013 and February 2015, respectively. A fourth Boeing-built Inmarsat-5 (F4) is scheduled for delivery in mid-2016. (8/29)

Earth's Minerology Unique in the Cosmos (Source: Space Daily)
New research from a team led by Carnegie's Robert Hazen predicts that Earth has more than 1,500 undiscovered minerals and that the exact mineral diversity of our planet is unique and could not be duplicated anywhere in the cosmos.

Minerals form from novel combinations of elements. These combinations can be facilitated by both geological activity, including volcanoes, plate tectonics, and water-rock interactions, and biological activity, such as chemical reactions with oxygen and organic material. (8/31)

Astronaut to Try Sub-millimeter Precision Task on Earth from Space (Source: Space Daily)
Early September will see the very first force-feedback-based teleoperation of a rover-based robotic arm system on Earth from the International Space Station, orbiting 400 km above our heads. Danish ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen will take control of the Interact Centaur rover, which incorporates a pair of arms to perform precision operations.

In the process Andreas will make use of haptic control - providing him with force feedback to let him feel for himself as the robotic arms encounter resistance. In this way, he can perform dexterous mechanical assembly tasks in the sub-millimeter range, remote-controlled from space. (8/31)

Lifetime Achievement and Rising Star Awards at Space Club Meeting (Source: NSCFL)
The National Space Club Florida Committee (NSCFL) recently announced that Bob Lang, Conrad Nagel and Norm Perry are the 2015 annual Lifetime Achievement Award recipients. They will be recognized for their distinguished roles in the space community at the September 8, monthly luncheon meeting. 1st LT Michael McClelland will also be recognized as the 2015 Rising Star Honoree. The event will be held at the Radisson at the Port, Cape Canaveral, at 11:30 am. (8/31)

Carmack Laments Rocket Work "Left Undone" (Source: D Magazine)
The founder of Armadillo Aerospace hints he may some day return to the space industry. John Carmack said in a recent interview he spent 10 years and $8 million on the suborbital launch vehicle company, but acknowledged the company was not a success. Armadillo went into "hibernation" in 2013, and some former Armadillo employees are now working for another suborbital vehicle startup, Exos Aerospace. "There is that ache of something left undone there," said Carmack, now the CTO of Facebook-owned virtual reality company Oculus. "I miss the physicality of building things, and the raw rumbling power of rocket ships." (8/30)

Getting There is Still the Hardest Part (Source: Space Review)
While interest in smallsats continues to grow, one factor limiting their growth is launch access. Jeff Foust reports on developments in both dedicated and secondary launches of such satellites discussed at a recent conference. Visit to view the article. (8/31)

"The Martian" Message (Source: Space Review)
Many space advocates are hoping public interest in the upcoming movie "The Martian" can translate into interest in real space exploration. Eric Sterner offers a cautionary word, arguing that a good story about a fictional Mars mission doesn't mean people will start clamoring for the real thing. Visit to view the article. (8/31)

A Very British Coup: Lessons From the Draft UK Regulations for CubeSats (Source: Space Review)
The British government, seeking to play catch up in the global space industry, has drafted new regulations that would streamline the licensing of some smallsats. Christopher Newman and Michael Listner explain how those regulations would work and how they compare with existing smallsat regulations in the US. Visit to view the article. (8/31)

No comments: