Space

HONOLULU — The first core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System finally rolled out of its factory Jan. 8, ready to be shipped to a NASA center for a key series of tests in the coming months. The core stage of the SLS rolled out of the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, accompanied by
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To receive FIRST UP Satcom, a weekly SpaceNews newsletter for satellite and telecom professionals, sign up here. TOP STORIES Thales Alenia Space and its majority shareholder Thales Group have signed a study contract with the French defense procurement agency DGA to evaluate the use of a Stratobus-type airship for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance applications. The study contract
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HONOLULU — As one astronomy cubesat reaches the end of its mission, scientists and NASA officials argue that such spacecraft have demonstrated they can perform useful science often not feasible with larger missions. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced Jan. 3 that it had lost contact with the Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research in Astrophysics, or
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WASHINGTON — SpaceX launched 60 of its own Starlink broadband satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket Jan. 6, becoming the operator of the world’s largest commercial satellite constellation.  The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 9:19 p.m. Eastern from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on SpaceX’s first launch of the year. The company’s 60 Starlink satellites, built
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WASHINGTON — MethaneSAT, a subsidiary of the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund, has selected Blue Canyon Technologies to supply the platform for its donor-funded satellite.  MethaneSAT said Jan. 6 it will use X-SAT, Blue Canyon’s largest offered spacecraft bus, to carry a methane-detection payload from Ball Aerospace. The nonprofit hopes to launch the 350-kilogram satellite in
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HONOLULU — A NASA Earth science hosted payload mission to study the planet’s carbon cycle has been confirmed for development, although exactly when and how it will fly have yet to be determined. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced in a Dec. 28 tweet that the GeoCarb mission had passed its confirmation review. “The innovative GeoCarb
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WASHINGTON — Israel Aerospace Industries said Jan. 2 it will develop a national communications satellite for Israel called Dror-1.  The Dror-1 satellite will have a design life of 15 years and will rely primarily on domestic technologies from IAI and other Israeli firms, the company said.  IAI’s announcement about the satellite, shared on social media,
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WASHINGTON — Canadian startup SkyWatch Space Applications has raised $7.5 million to continue developing software that makes satellite imagery more accessible.  SkyWatch is building up a distribution platform for satellite imagery, and software optimized for ground systems of remote-sensing satellites. The Waterloo company has raised $10.9 million to date, counting this Series A and a
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HELSINKI — China’s main space contractor is aiming to carry out more than 40 launches in 2020, including lunar, interplanetary and space infrastructure missions. The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), stated Jan. 2 (Chinese) that its major goals include completing the Beidou navigation satellite system, launching missions to Mars and a lunar sample
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WASHINGTON — SpaceX enters 2020 with ambitious launch, spacecraft and other plans, but those expectations are modulated by what that company achieved, and didn’t achieve, in 2019. SpaceX is scheduled to perform its first launch of 2020 Jan. 6, when a Falcon 9 launches a third set of 60 Starlink satellites. That launch will be
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SAN FRANCISCO – Silicon Valley startup Audacy failed to attract the funding necessary to build an inter-satellite communications relay network and closed up shop in 2019. Prior to the firm’s demise, customers signed memoranda of understanding to spend more than $100 million annually on Audacy’s network and the firm obtained a Federal Communications Commission license to
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WASHINGTON — The head of India’s space agency confirmed Jan. 1 that it will attempt a second lunar landing, making that mission one of the top priorities of India’s space program. At a New Year’s Day press briefing, Kailasavadivoo Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), said that the Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander mission,
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WASHINGTON — After falling short of plans to begin launches in 2019, Virgin Orbit now expects to perform its first orbital launch attempt in early 2020, a key year for the burgeoning small launch vehicle industry. In a Dec. 19 statement, Virgin Orbit says it is now in position to perform an “imminent orbital demo
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