Space

WASHINGTON — SpinLaunch expects to perform the first suborbital tests of a prototype of its centrifugal system for launching small satellites later this year from New Mexico. The company, based in Long Beach, California, has said little about its efforts to develop a mass accelerator that would, in effect, serve as the first stage of
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SAN FRANCISCO – Chinese startup Spacety released the first images from Hisea-1, a C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite, launched Dec. 22 on China’s new Long March 8 medium-lift rocket. Three days after launch, Spacety began receiving data from Hisea-1’s SAR payload built by the China Electronics Technology Group. On Dec. 27, Spacety acquired its
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The satellites will be operated by the U.S. Space Force and provide initial warning of a ballistic or tactical missile launch anywhere on the globe.  WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $4.9 billion contract for the production of three geosynchronous Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared satellites, the Pentagon announced Jan. 4. The satellites will
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WASHINGTON — A NASA small launch vehicle competition attracted bids from 10 companies, but half of them were effectively disqualified because of deficiencies or other problems. NASA announced Dec. 11 it was awarding contracts to Astra Space, Firefly Aerospace and Relativity Space for its Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) Demo 2 program. The contracts, with
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WASHINGTON — The governor of Puerto Rico says she backs rebuilding the Arecibo radio observatory, but a final decision on whether, and how, to reconstruct the giant telescope could take years. Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced signed an executive order Dec. 28 stating it was the formal policy of the commonwealth to rebuild the 305-meter radio
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WASHINGTON — The White House released a national strategy for planetary protection Dec. 30, outlining new assessments to prevent terrestrial contamination of other worlds and vice versa. The National Strategy for Planetary Protection, developed by an interagency working group led by the National Space Council and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), outlines work
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WASHINGTON — Viasat has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to perform an environmental review of SpaceX’s Starlink broadband constellation, arguing that the satellite system poses environmental hazards in space and on Earth. In a Dec. 22 filing, Viasat formally requested that the FCC conduct either an environmental assessment or more rigorous environmental impact statement of
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If the political, technical and budgetary stars align for NASA and its partners in coming years, the moon could be the go-to place as the century unfolds. Astronauts would again explore Earth’s celestial next-door neighbor, perhaps setting in motion future mining endeavors to extract ices likely lurking in sunlight-shy craters for processing into water, oxygen,
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There was no clearer set of contrasts between how SpaceX and NASA approach launch vehicle development than the dueling tests the two performed in early December of Starship and Space Launch System, respectively. It was hard to miss the Dec. 9 test flight of SpaceX’s Starship SN8 prototype, the first time the vehicle flew more
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The Pentagon’s overseers in Congress have been consistently critical of how the military acquires space hardware. Frustration with space procurements was in fact one of the catalysts for the creation of the U.S. Space Force. Satisfying congressional demands for a revamped space acquisition process will now fall on President-elect Joe Biden’s Pentagon team. Earlier this
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VALETTA, Malta —  Through a novel approach to testing, the European Space Agency’s Clean Space initiative is assisting in the development of satellite components that are designed for demise, an approach to satellite development that advocates for the safe disposal of spacecraft by destructive atmospheric reentry. The ESA Clean Space initiative was launched in 2012
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Space Development Agency spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said in a statement Dec. 22 that the agency is “expeditiously implementing its corrective action plan for the Tracking Tranche 0 solicitation.” WASHINGTON — Companies that competed earlier this year for Space Development Agency satellite contracts awarded to L3Harris and SpaceX were asked to resubmit their proposals following several
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WASHINGTON — An upgraded upper stage for the Space Launch System rocket has passed a major review, allowing its prime contractor, Boeing, to start producing hardware. Boeing announced Dec. 21 that the Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) of the SLS completed a critical design review with NASA. That review confirmed the design of the EUS, allowing
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HELSINKI — China successfully carried out a first launch of the new Long March 8 medium-lift rocket late Monday, marking a small step towards Chinese rocket reusability. The 50.3-meter-long, 356-ton Long March 8 lifted off at 11:37 p.m. Eastern Dec. 21 from the coastal Wenchang launch site carrying five satellites into Sun-synchronous orbits. Launch was delayed
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The acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne will be the first test case of how the Biden administration views defense and aerospace industry consolidation. WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin CEO Jim Taiclet said he expects the U.S. government to approve the company’s proposed $4.4 billion acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne despite concerns that it could reduce competition in the
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SAN FRANCISCO — Viasat Inc. announced an agreement Dec. 21 to acquire Houston-based communications firm RigNet Inc. in an all-stock transaction with a value of approximately $222 million based on Viasat’s current share price and RigNet’s debt. RigNet has particular expertise in the energy sector, a vertical market of interest to Viasat, which is preparing to
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James Taiclet, Lockheed Martin’s president and CEO, said the acquisition gives the company a larger footprint in space and hypersonic technology.  WASHINGTON — The largest U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin announced Dec. 20 it has inked a deal to acquire rocket engine and missile manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne for $4.4 billion.  James Taiclet, Lockheed Martin’s president
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WASHINGTON — OneWeb resumed deployment of its broadband satellite constellation with a Dec. 18 launch of 36 satellites, the first since the company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A Soyuz-2.1b rocket lifted off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia at 7:26 a.m. Eastern. The rocket’s Fregat upper stage released the 36 satellites in nine sets
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WASHINGTON — The Senate unanimously approved a NASA authorization bill Dec. 18, a largely symbolic move intended to set up work on a new version of the legislation next year. The Senate passed by unanimous consent S. 2800, the NASA Authorization Act of 2019. The bill had been awaiting action by the full Senate since
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The Space Force says Guardians is a “name with a long history in space operations.” WASHINGTON — The members of the U.S. Space Force finally have a name: Guardians.  Vice President Mike Pence revealed the name Dec. 18 at a ceremony at the White House for the Space Force’s one-year anniversary.  “Henceforth the men and
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WASHINGTON — NASA will not repair a faulty electronics unit on the Orion spacecraft recently completed for the Artemis 1 mission after concluding there was sufficient redundancy in the overall system. In a Dec. 17 statement, NASA said it had decided to “use as is” one of eight power and data units (PDU) on the
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SAN FRANCISCO – Shey Sabripour was first exposed to active phased array antennas while designing satellites at Lockheed Martin in the early 1990s. At the time, engineers spent three to five years building a geostationary communications satellite that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to perform a specific job. If that job was broadcasting television
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WASHINGTON — The Italian government has ordered two additional Cosmo-SkyMed radar imaging satellites from Thales Alenia Space and tapped Telespazio to upgrade the constellation’s ground segment under a contract announced Dec. 15. The Italian Defense Ministry and Italian Space Agency (ASI) are funding the project, which provides synthetic aperture radar imagery to miltiary and civilian
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WASHINGTON — Small launch vehicle developer Astra Space fell just short of reaching orbit on its second launch attempt Dec. 15, but the company is “beyond ecstatic” with the performance of the rocket. Astra’s Rocket 3.2 vehicle lifted off from Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska at 3:55 p.m. Eastern. The company did not provide a
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SpaceX’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase 1 award is big, but the impact on its overall Starlink broadband business will be modest. Picking up $885.5 million out of $9.2 billion in broadband subsidies over a 10-year period is no small feat, especially for a first-time participant in U.S. Federal Communications Commission auctions. SpaceX’s award
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The satellites Blue Canyon developed for DARPA — based on the company’s commercial X-STAR bus — passed a critical design review. WASHINGTON — Small satellite manufacturer Blue Canyon Technologies has been cleared to produce its first two satellites for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Blackjack program, the company announced Dec. 14. DARPA plans to
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