NASA’s Astrophysics Division is gradually accepting the reality of CubeSats and smallsats

NASA’s Astrophysics Division smallsats lead programmer, Michel Garcia, revealed at the virtual American Geophysical Union conference that the agency would be choosing three Astrophysics Pioneers missions while supporting them with $20 million. Garcia explained that the agency developed the Astrophysics Pioneers initiative to conduct astrophysics science on a pilot-scale than going the traditional explorative way. Garcia articulated this at the NASA Astrophysics Committee nine months ago. Pioneers are ready to facilitate investigations capping $10 million for the Astrophysics Research and Analysis program, a Space Grant program’s Research and Opportunities subsidiary. 

The Pioneers missions can book rideshare opportunities on CubeSats larger than six portions, satellite constellations, small satellites, the International Space Station, or space vehicles that stay in the atmosphere for one month or more. The $20 million capital for Pioneers exclusive of the deployment costs. Lead engineers of the Pioneers missions suggested 24 missions to host the next-generation coronagraphs, versatile clocks, polarimeters, and radiofrequency meters. These missions will be heading for different orbits, including the cis-lunar space and the Lagrange Point 2. This year, NASA developed the Pioneers program to motivate researchers to utilize affordable satellite buses, developed balloon technology, and affordable space escorts to conduct their scientific research. 

Garcia outlined that the program is a great opportunity for the researchers to grow their bond with the commercial space services providers. The executive stated some of the commercial entities that were doing urging the cosmic scientists and researchers to take advantage of these opportunities while they are available. For instance, SpaceX intends to give rideshare opportunities to the 200-kilogram payloads heading to the sun-synchronous orbit for $1 million is an affordable alternative that any scientist with a CubeSat can utilize to conduct their experiment. Moreover, Garcia noted that York Space Systems would be offering a three-axis-stabilized satellite for astronomical studies. Such missions help scientists to conduct costly missions that would be costly when pursued independently. 

Garcia continued to outline the companies offering rideshare missions like Blue Canyon Technologies, undergoing acquisition by Raytheon Technologies, a versatile space bus. The advantage of this bus is that it can host a half-meter telescope. The NASA Astrophysics Division has been procuring CubeSat proposals for the last eight years to make the best of them while they are in space. Some of the CubeSats that the agency solicited include the Colorado Ultraviolet Transit Experiment (CUTE), which they will be deploying next year via the Landsat 9 Earth observation satellite. 


Isar Aerospace and Orbex generating capital to facilitate the development of small deployment vehicles

These two companies have garnered $115 million to enable them to resume the development of small launch vehicles that will launch in the next two years. Isar Aerospace, a German company, revealed that it had received $91 million in the Series B fundraiser. Europe’s Lakestar capital fund came first in this operation, with Vsquared Ventures and Earlybird following with their investments. Series A round witnessed Isar Aerospace receiving $17 million and is in the process of developing a deployment vehicle known as Spectrum that will deploy 1000 kilograms of payload in the low-Earth orbit. The company publicized the deal it had procured with the French space agency CNES to facilitate deployments from the spaceport in French Guiana. The CEO of Isar Aerospace, Daniel Metzler, stated that they have enough capital to meet the development and deployment of the small launch vehicles, with each test assuring the success of the missions. He boasted that this launch would be the first eventful deployment of a German spacecraft into the low-Earth orbit. 

Metzler explained that the spacecraft deployment would be happening in the next two years. The company has been adamant to reveal the customers who have applied for rideshare missions on the space vehicle. However, he outlined that the company has recorded contracts with customers looking for single payload deployment services while others require the launch of constellations of satellites. The company revealed that about all of its investors is European. Metzler articulated that they invited globally known investors before selecting the likes of Lakestar, who are known for developing multimillion-dollar companies like Spotify, which know the operations of the ecosystem in the international scenes. Metzler noted that the trend that investors are pursuing is the companies that have the expertise of venturing into deep technology. 

Stephen Nundy of Lakestar stated that Isar Aerospace would create a chance for Europe to remain in the lead when it comes to affordability and the procurement of launch activities for the satellite constellations undergoing development. He added that they intend to secure their position in the space ecosystem through investment to facilitate society’s advancement through technology. Moreover, Isar Aerospace has recieved support from the German government equivalent to 500000 euros through the European Space Agency. On the other hand, Orbex stated that new funding would facilitate the development of Prime vehicles in the next two years. The CEO of Orbex, Chris Larmour, said that they have raised about $70 million. The Prime vehicle is engineered to deploy 150 kilograms to the sun-synchronous orbit. 


New spacecraft fuel gauges could hold satellites operating for longer

As a spacecraft flies, it uses about 75-90% of the propellant to reach orbit. The residual fraction decides how long it will last up there, so it is no easy feat in zero gravity to calculate the amount of fuel that remains in the tank. Research teams at the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology now have a solution based on a sensor suite that measures the liquid’s capacitance within the fuel tank of a spacecraft and uses this data to recreate a three-dimensional map of the remaining fuel. The prototype model could allow satellites to work for longer, according to the team, while also helping to deter harmful end-of-life collisions.

Liquid propellants bind to the interior of fuel tank walls under zero-gravity environments due to surface friction as well as capillary effects. This volatile spatial distribution makes it impossible to determine fuel levels. Propellants are also free, none of which exists on Earth, to slosh around, float, and form bubbles. 

Several methods for calculating onboard spacecraft propellants have been developed. One of the most popular, known as the methodology of bookkeeping, includes calculating how much is consumed with each thrust as well as subtracting this from the amount of fuel remaining in the tank. At the outset of a task, but although this methodology is extremely precise, each calculation error carries over to another. It accrues with each thrust, explains team member Nick Dagalakis, a mechanical engineer. “The calculations become more like approximate guesses by the period a tank is close to zero and can miss the point by as much as 10 percent,” he says.

Satellite operators are in a dilemma, Dagalakis adds, without accurate fuel calculations. It is a waste of resources to delete a satellite while it still has a lot of fuel remaining, but leaving the tank to run empty could leave the satellite stuck, with no remaining fuel to avoid other craft or travel to a secure orbit. NASA technology transition chief Manohar Deshpande has developed a new fuel gauge based on a 3D imaging technology known as electrical capacitance volume tomography (ECVT). In general, tomography is a means of analyzing an object’s internal structure without destroying it; familiar examples comprise positron emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and routine hospital-based X-ray tomography.

ECVT is a more modern version that uses a variety of electromagnetic wave-emitting sensors. The other sensors in the array will sense these waves, and how far they are distributed relies on the capacitance of whatever lies between them. If there’s nothing, the transmission is going to be big. However, if an object is available, the transmission will decrease as some electromagnetic waves will be absorbed by the object. Therefore by positioning these sensors around a container and measuring the signal at several places, a 3D image of the container’s objects can be generated.


The Chang’e 5 spacecraft is ready to return the samples from the lunar orbit

The Chang’e-5 spacecraft is ready to deploy the samples collected from the lunar mission back to Earth for further analysis by scientists. The spacecraft coming from the Moon will be coming back to Earth with the samples gathered from this celestial body. The two spacecraft carrying these samples will make turns similar to those of the US missions in the 1960s and 1970s to prevent alteration of the samples during the spacecraft land on Earth. This mission will prove that China is ready to exploit the new technology that it has been working on in recent years., 

The technology will also be visible in the ZhengHe asteroid sample collection mission to retrieve samples from Mars. Nevertheless, the country is prepared to tackle any hitch in the test operations before they can deploy the spacecraft to the planet. The country has conducted several robotic and docking missions in the low-Earth orbit utilizing the Tiangong, Tianzhou, and Shenzhou, which was hosting passengers. This team’s challenge retrieving the samples from the Moon includes the distance between the Moon and Earth, over 400 kilograms that must be hosted by the spacecraft to Earth without succumbing to gravitational pull. 

Peng Jing, a senior designer of the Change-5 spacecraft at the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), explained that the mission must attain the highest accuracy in docking to secure the samples collected from the Moon with an error allowance of five centimeters. Experts articulated that they won’t have expectations for the country to air such a mission since they have proved time and again that they like their missions to remain confidential until they have confirmed its success or failure. 

Nevertheless, in other cases, the country has live-streamed its missions through its TV and YouTube channels to scare away the countries that pry on their operations. Dr. Lin Yangting of the Institute of Geology and Geophysics in Beijing explained that the docking area is apparent with the necessary facilities to keep the spacecraft coming in at the sweet landing spots. The official added that they would be observing the landing area to ensure the rocks can withstand the traction of gravity that will be pressing on the incoming cargo. 

A planetary geologist at the University of Lorraine, Jessica Flahaut, outlined that they have completed transferring the radar and spectrometer to the docking site for further flight landing tests and land observation. Finally, the engineers overseeing the docking have already tested the procedure through simulations and practically with a spacecraft prototype. China is hopeful that the scientists can pull through this mission successfully. 

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Eutelsat capacity leased to test electronically steered antenna

NXT Communications Corporation (NXTCOMM) made a public announcement on 28 October on the plans to initiate the demonstration of its antenna’s performance, which is steered electronically. To carry out the test successfully, NXTCOMM did lease capacity on a communication satellite belonging to Eutelsat.

  The company, which is based in Atlanta, initially presented its electronically steered antenna to the public in June this year. The company considers the antenna crucial for an array of satellite antennas for mobile connectivity. The company aims to use its technology for high-speed transmission of data for aviation, military, and mobility clients. In a contract that the company signed with Eutelsat Communication, the former will lease the Ku-band capacity starting this November on Eutelsat’s 117 West A satellite, preceding the detailed antenna testing low-rate production next year. 

 Tim Morton, NXTCOMM co-founder, gave a statement, and president, he labeled Eutelsat as the perfect partner to help the company to drive its products into the market and also be able to offer the pre-existing managed satellite services capacity to the clients as NXTCOMM looks to increase the production of their game-altering flat panel antennas. With various companies making considerable efforts to develop and produce electronically steered flat-panel antennas which can trail broadband satellites send into the low earth orbit by companies and government agencies, NXTCOMM opened a 929-square-meter production plant for the project in Cherokee County, Georgia. 

 In his statement, Mike Antonovich, Eutelsat Americas CEO, implied the delight the company has. It works with NXTCOMM to help it in the testing and implementation phase of its high-performance antennas. The CEO further indicated his company’s willingness to support NXTCOMM in their inventions for many years to come. There is a projected shipment of around 628,000 flat panel antennas pers year by the year 2029 with a compounded fiscal growth rate of 54.5 percent, according to Northern Sky Research (NSR), a consulting firm. 

 Despite the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, long production cycles and strong demand will assist in the gadgets market re-bounce in the mid-term when constellations are expected to come online. At the same time, some challenges in the production scale will have been overcome. 

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Ligado might endanger the future of a try-out space military navigation satellite

Executives managing a promising fresh satellite undertaking cautioned this week that Ligado Networks could endanger the future of the forthcoming-generation positioning, direction finding, as well as timing with the present global positioning system enterprise.

Arlen Biersgreen from the Air Force Research revealed to Air Force Magazine around September that as they interfaced with their workforce colleagues, the message they relayed was that there would be collateral damage if it went forward. The global positioning system was going to be damaged, as well as the work they were going to do.

The NTS-3 slate of the Space Force is a try-out attempt to give more dependable, correct location information through satellites that complement the global positioning system. It is among the three “Vanguard” study schemes to which the Air Force Department is throwing further concentration as well as resources due to the worth it could offer in America as a complete program. The foremost satellite shall dispatch in the late financial year of 2022 for a yearlong experimental run.

It was not transparent whether Ligado would attain permission to go further until after the NTS-3 operation, L3Harris representative Kristin Jones stated. Hence the abilities they showcased would be wedged down the way by the time they shall be a part of the functional set. Nonetheless, whether the NTS-3 try-out itself would be wedged would be any person’s guess during that stage.

NTS-3 would convey its signal by means of the L-band of the infrared spectrum, close to a portion of the spectrum whereby Ligado newly earned authorization of the 5G wireless network as well as the Internet-of-Things services. The pentagon robustly opposes to the Federal Communication Commission’s choice in Ligado’s favour, stating that the firm’s adjacent technology shall drown out global positioning system signals. That would affect ATMs, vehicle navigation systems, and everything that depends on global positioning system information to locate places and time on the universe, DOD contends.

Global positioning system satellites also hold sensors that perceive, locate, and publicize atomic explosions as a portion of the Nuclear Detonation Detection System. The work of Ligado would override NTS-3 in a similar way as the global positioning system satellites, Biersgreen stated.

The chair of PNT business advancement at L3Harris, Joe Rolli, stated that the firm is still working out on how a future NTS-3 set may evade the prospective signal intrusion that has flashed disputes at Capitol Hill and throughout federal firms. Rolli stated that they were all focusing on that for clarification purposes. Still, he assured that both the government and their technical teams were partnering to make sure the danger was being comprehended.

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Falcon 9 Research Continues as SpaceX Carry on With the Starlink Take-off

A SpaceX Falcon 9 set in motion a different kind of Starlink space station on the 18th of October as the survey into another Falcon 9 launch terminate more than 14 days ago remain. The Falcon 9 took off from launch center 39A at the Kennedy Space grounds at around 45 minutes to 9.00 am. The Spacecraft superior stage arrayed the shipment of 60 Starlink space stations 63 minutes after the Take-off. Moreover, the spacecraft did manage to descend in the Atlantic Ocean on a drone ship; this was its sixth launch. With the many launches, SpaceX has set 835 Starlink space stations in orbit. Though over 50 of the space stations have withdrawn, especially the 45 of the 60 Starlink space stations activated in the fifth month of 2019, the first two models started in February 2018.

Nevertheless, Starlink is now in the process of privately testing the internet structure; furthermore, the firm has stated that it is arranging to give a more intense public test before the year finishes. In the two launches webcast and current filings with the State Communications Commission, the organization has underlined the technology’s primary consumers. For example, the emergency management segment in the City of Washington, which utilized Starlink to offer connectivity in the past wildfires in the City, also the Hoh tribe in the town, which recently had limited broadband entrée due to its remote setting.

The launch is the subsequent Starlink Task in not more than 14 days as SpaceX aims to handle a rate of about twofold Starlink takes offs in a month. The launches have made progress while another Falcon9, having a GPS 3 map reading space station for the United States Space Army, fails to take off after a test result of a faulty engine in the rocket. The issue made the National Aeronautics and Space Administration call off a Falcon 9 take-off of the Team 1 commercial team mission, which had been programmed for the 31st of October. Furthermore, NASA mentioned on the 10th of October that it was pushing ahead the launch to mid-November as the examinations remain.

Subsequently, NASA has not given any news on the Crew 1 launch; nevertheless, a NASA website shows an upcoming launch of no dates before the 11th of November. Although, Tim Dunn of the NASA’s Launch Services Program said on the 16th of October that the launch examinations are still in progress. Furthermore, it was noted that there had been rigorous testing, which has involved a lot of Stakeholders coming on board.  

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Kratos launches OpenSpace for Easy Adaptation of Ground Systems

On October 20, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions unveiled a virtual product. It gave the software platform the name OpenSpace. Its purpose is to make it easy for the satellite ground system to adapt as soon as possible whenever the conditions change. The president of the Training and Cyber division, Phil Carrai, says that the software will make it easy for the satellite ground system to transition to the 5G infrastructure. He also said that it is the first ground system that is both dynamic and software-based.

As far as government and commercial satellites are concerned, software-defined payloads make communication easy and flexible. Nevertheless, that is not true about satellite ground systems. The period required for installing a ground station’s custom hardware or software is a couple of weeks. Consequently, it takes a relatively long time for successful communication with a new constellation or satellite.

Over the years, a lot has been done regarding the space side. Now, Carrai wants the same to happen on the ground side. Once that happens, it will be possible to have ground systems that are reliable and resilient.

Fortunately, OpenSpace can fix that. It makes it possible to carry out RF data transfers through internet-protocol networks. The RF data packaging becomes possible because of the digitization of the radiofrequency spectrum around the antennas. Kratos achieves that through the software platform.

According to its product management vice president Greg Quiggle, the ground system will soon resemble an Ethernet network. The software will benefit both satellite and ground station operators. It will promote its ground systems’ reliability, security, resiliency, and adaptability. Equally important, an exercise that took several weeks will be happening in real-time. Consequently, responding to changes in network resources, threats, and user demands improves. It also marks the end of the manual implementation of ground functions.

So far, Kratos has released three virtual network functions. The inaugural one was a wideband receiver released in August. Then, it released a pair on October 20, responsible for missions involving remote sensing and Earth observation.

In progress is a collaboration between Kratos and Microsoft to develop Azure Orbital fully. Upon its completion and launch, users will transfer data from satellites to the Azure cloud, then process and store it accordingly.

According to Microsoft’s principal product manager in charge of Azure Networking Yves Pitsch, OpenSpace is a savior. It allows the company to provide its customer with a functional, easy-to-use, and economical platform. He added that being a virtual operation makes it easy for Microsoft to achieve scalability and flexibility. As a result, serving various customers, satellites, and missions regardless of their needs using corresponding hardware, becomes achievable.

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United States Shipping Command to Learn the Work of SpaceX Space Crafts to Ship Goods Worldwide

The United States Army command that checks the transportation operations has signed a contract with SpaceX and XArc to examine space launch ships’ function to deliver goods in a crisis. It was stated by the chief leader of the United States Logistics command named Stephen Lyons on the 7th of October at the National Defense Transportation Association online meeting. Furthermore, he announced that the company should Ibrain the storm on transporting the correspondent of ta C-17 payloads anyplace in the world in less than 60 minutes. According to him, this was a good idea. He said that the C-17 is a very big army cargo rocket possible of shipping a 70-ton war tank. The logistic command has contracted a cooperative study and development contract called the CRADA, with SpaceX and XArc, to examine ideas for intense logistics in space.

However, Lyons stated that there is a great possibility in the idea; he identified that one of the problems of military transportation is the accessibility and time, not to forget the distance. Space logistics is limited by mass and heaviness more than airlift; it also has little choices for other tasks. The United States TRANSCOM assistant commander Vice Administrator, Dee Mewbourne. He said that as the sector developed to solve these problems and reduce the charges, space logistic ability to put an important cargo faster on target at normal distance enables it to be a good option. In CARDA, industry players utilize their free time to assist the government in examining technological ideas to make space a channel of passage. One plan would be to deploy a space logistic flow possibility, the same to the current Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) disaster readiness program.

Lyons mentioned and declared that he had no idea of how quick SpaceX was operating, but he got their new method and noticed that they were moving quickly. They noted the ability to utilize SpaceX cars to transfer army goods was started in 2018 by the Air Mobility Command’s past Chief leader, General Carlton Everhart. The Chairman of SpaceX and the Chief Operations Officer (COO) Gwynne Shotwell at a meeting the previous year mentioned the firm was communicating to the Military concerning utilizing the Starship Car for a place to place shipping all over the earth and deliver goods in lesser than hours halfway globally.