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Space

EchoStar reveals Nanosatellite mistakes and the Jupiter-3 postponement

During a February 23 quarterly results call, EchoStar Corporation announced another setback in the deployment of the Jupiter-3 communications satellite, as well as the malfunction of two nanosatellites to enter their expected orbits. EchoStar executives shared enthusiasm about the launch of Maxar Technologies’ Jupiter-3 satellite, which will improve Ka-band capability in North as well as South America.

The deployment of Jupiter-3 has been pushed back to the second half of the year 2022, ” primarily attributed to COVID-19 constraints that every firm is facing and also in part due to manufacturing problems with some modules,” according to Pradman Kaul, who serves as the president of Hughes Network Systems. “We are working very closely with Maxar to both alleviate these problems and find ways to reclaim the schedule without placing the satellite at risk.”

The launch vehicle for the Jupiter-3 has been chosen by EchoStar, but it has yet to be announced. The large rocket was chosen, according to Kaul, “should restrict the period of time linked to satellite orbit increasing, assisting our in-service plan.” EchoStar also suffered a drawback when the propulsion mechanisms on two nanosatellites it launched into low Earth orbit to utilize spectrum obtained from the internet-of-things company Helios Wire in 2019 malfunctioned.

The two nanosatellites wanted to adjust their altitude as well as inclination after arriving in orbit on different rideshare flights. “The propulsion onboard the spaceship malfunctioned in both cases,” stated Anders Johnson, president of EchoStar Satellite Services. Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems sold EchoStar the two S-band cubesats.

“I can verify that owing to the third-party propulsion platform not working nominally, the vehicles did not exceed the maximum operational altitude,” Marco Villa, president and chief operating officer of Tyvak said via email. In the second or even third quarter of the year, EchoStar aims to deploy another nanosatellite with a unique propulsion system.

In the fourth quarter of the year 2020, EchoStar’s overall financial results, as calculated by Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA), improved by 7% over the fourth quarter of the year 2019.  As a result of the higher operating profits, lower interest costs, increased foreign currency sales, and investment gains, EchoStar posted a $2.6 million net loss from the fourth-quarter continuing operations, relative to a $53.7 million net loss one year ago. Hughes had 1.56 million broadband consumers as of December 31.

Via its Hughes Network Systems as well as EchoStar Satellite Services business divisions, EchoStar Corporation is a multinational provider of the satellite communication as well as Internet services. Just before 2008, it was the parent company of DISH Network, which was spun off as DISH effective from January 1, 2008.

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Space

Virgin Orbit looking to expand its services into adjacent markets

Virgin Orbit, a subsidiary of Richard Branson and Nik Powell’s Virgin Group of companies, is looking to expand its services to adjacent markets, such as backing small startups developing satellite systems.

The company’s president and CEO, Dan Hart, gave a detailed presentation during this year’s SmallSat Symposium outlining what Virgin Orbit has been developing. After a successful Launch Demo 2 mission back in January, many potential partners have contacted the British company to inquire about investment opportunities.

Launch Demo 2 placed ten CubeSats in orbit, a project that was funded by the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). “It went better than anybody could have ever dreamed. Every part of the system came together,” said Hart. “We have a pretty expansive evolution of the company planned. We are evaluating right now, with success, lots of possibilities and, frankly, we’re getting lots of queries,” said Hart.

In 2020, Virgin Orbit came to the rescue of an Australian startup stuck in the development stage due to bankruptcy. The company, Sky and Space Global, develops communication satellites. Virgin Orbit acquired a part of the company, and in return, it would offer launch services and consultations.

“Launch is a cornerstone of space access and the whole space ecosystem. Virgin Orbit is looking to flex into adjacencies like the Sky and Space Global or the SAS deal. There is a plethora of space adjacencies in other aspects of national security or commercial turnkey systems like SAS is going after,” added Hart. Richard Branson echoed Hart’s sentiments. “There will be a lot of people who do approach the company with wonderful ideas to put satellites into space but just can’t afford it,” he said.

Virgin Orbit will help startup smallsat companies to get their projects off the ground. They might acquire some shares in these companies while assisting them to launch their satellites into orbit. “That’s the kind of entrepreneurial thing Virgin Orbit should be doing,” added Branson. Virgin is not another regular Cubesat company. What sets it apart from the rest is its capacity to launch space vehicles from the airport at any inclination. “We want to be able to launch from any part of the world. That includes a launch from Cornwall Airport Newquay, in England in 2022,” noted Branson. The company’s LauncherOne has attracted clients such as the US Air Force to solve their military problems.

“What makes this particularly unique is our capability for the US Air Force, British Air Force, Canadian Air Force, or the French Air Force, all of whom have been encouraging and working with us over the last two or three years,” said Branson. Virgin Orbit ‘could give its clients a powerful deterrent capability in case they were to lose their satellites anywhere globally. The company could ‘replace them incredibly quickly,’ argued Branson. The next launch will occur in a few months and carry payloads for the Dutch air force, United States Air Force and SatRevolution, a satellite manufacturer based in Poland.

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Space

A Pioneering NASA Mini weather Satellite completes its mission

CubeSat has become a trending topic in the latest market trends. This detail follows after a pioneering NASA mini weather satellite completed its mission. RainCube’s design specifies the study of storms in space. It has a unique mark in history since it is the first science instrument to lift off on a CubeSat.

The satellite communicated with its Earth’s management team for the last time on 2020, December 24th, after almost two years in the Earth’s orbit. After the communication, the shoebox-size satellite plunged into the Earth’s atmosphere before burning up. RainCube, in other words, Radar in a CubeSat, was a technology designed to prove that minimizing the size of a weather satellite into a low-cost and small satellite would deliver a high-quality result. Its launch and work demonstrated that CubeSat is legit, and their work is equally good to that of a giant satellite.

RainCube lifts off to the Earth’s orbit in 2018, July 13th, from the International Space Station. From the project plan, the primary mission had a time limit of three months. How did the CubeSat instrument work? The weather satellite saw rain and different precipitation by sending radar signals off snowflakes, ice, and raindrops. Later, it would work out the time taken for a signal to bounce back and its strength on arrival. The scientist on the ground was able to monitor storms globally.

Since it has been in space for almost two and a half years, it has taken up all the storm measurements. RainCube’s principal scientist from NASA Jet Propulsion talked about the significant role behind the launch. He spoke of the weather satellite as an eye-opener to various scientists that a small satellite can do the trick instead of a complete satellite that is ten times bigger. Besides, the two satellites resulted in the same results.

After the initial three months target, the satellite remained in space under its recent destruction. In 2020, it worked alongside another CubeSat, TEMPEST-D, to study storms. The two satellites worked adequately. And although the instruments the CubeSats used were various, the methods were complementary. With that, the monitoring team was able to make better reports on the storms happening globally.

In a statement from RainCube Project manager Shannon Statham, the second phase was a discovery. The team learned that you could use two CubeSats to get better results when studying more about the planet.

In general, a CubeSat is a small instrument with a big mission. The current weather satellites can only view activities in space for a while before recovering. However, with the grand discovery, experts can use multiple CubeSats to work on the same mission. With that, studying the planet is easier and more convenient. Besides, it’s almost impossible to miss something when monitoring is 24-hours.

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Space

A Documentation of the natural disaster resulting from the Uttarakhand Avalanche from New Satellite Images

One would obviously wonder how a disaster that saw 30 people die and left more than 170 missing may have come about. Thanks to a satellite, there are high-resolution images that tell the whole story. They clearly show how it was before the glacier burst and even more interesting events before the actual ordeal. Therefore, one can tell the strength of this particular avalanche clearly. Going by a picture taken on Feb 6, there is a clear ridgeline. It is covered with snow and ice, which is a part of the Trishala glacier. Interestingly, a huge portion of the ice was no more after the avalanche in reference to a photo taken on Feb 8.

Another affected area, besides where the avalanche occurred, is several kilometers from the spot of focus. Just like the other area, it was also covered by snow before the avalanche. However, that changed on the D-day, and again, a huge chunk of snow and ice also went missing. Another area that registered change was the river not far from the Tapovan hydel plant since it was washed away following the avalanche. Before the incident, on Feb 6, it was a stream quite narrow with green water flowing downstream. However, that was different on Feb 8 since it was broader than the day before and instead of green water flows brown mud. The bottom line is that the whole area fell victim to destruction following the avalanche.

Additionally, the Tapovan hydel plant that existed on Feb 6 is no more. That’s all because the avalanche happened the following day when the landslide’s path and dust were hard to go unnoticed. The day after the disaster, Feb 8, dust was no more, but the field of debris left behind was evident.

From experts, there are high chances that it was ice and a block of rock initially. Upon hitting the valley floor but not before rolling for about two kilometers, the end product was an ice avalanche and a huge rock. They rolled down the glacier at a relatively high speed. In the process, a lot of dust was seen and is evident on the valley side as per the satellite images. Then, the unfortunate Uttarakhand disaster happened. It is important to note that the landslide turned out to be a flow of debris, eventually. According to experts, there are high chances the ice was crushed and melted due to the huge amount of heat that the avalanche generated. As a result, the heat triggered fragmentation, and the ice also melted.

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Space

Sending of Haggis to the Space Edge by a Scottish Butcher

Last Friday, there was a video revealed by the Scottish butcher company. The footage showed a bag of Haggis, which is traditional Scottish food, having a ride to the space edge using a weather balloon. The purpose for this was to boost science and celebrating Scotland’s annual “Burns Night.”  The video was released by butcher Howie Simon and presented the weather balloon launched in Dunning, the company’s headquarters, located 16km Perth southwest. The balloon was seen going up 32.1km into the sky with the haggis bag front and center in a clear sky.

After going up in the sky, the Haggis then landed back on Earth safely using a parachute that was deployed hundreds of meters from the ground. The company wrote on its website that this was planned to boost science and make the general public happy after having a challenging year. Scottish Butcher collaborated with Stratonauts, which is a company specializing in launching educational and promotional projects.

Howie said that after the Covid-19 restrictions are over, the two companies will hold workshops in Scottish primary schools. The workshop’s main objective would be to inspire students and motivate them to study science and technology.

2020 was a year like no other. The pandemic led to the closure of many businesses, and life was never the same again. People were restricted to travel as lockdowns we put in place. Students stayed at home as schools were closed. Some of the companies and learning institutions allowed workers to work from home, and students adopted online learning.

Increasing women’s spending in Scotland crisis program

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, said that coronavirus-mandated isolation could expose women at a higher risk of been sexually harassed. For this reason, Nicola announced a $1.8 million appropriation for women’s support against rape and other domestic crisis. On Tuesday, when she was addressing the reporters in the capital, Edinburgh, Nicola said that funds would help cater to support services for women and children who are vulnerable and isolated during this period of crisis.

Nicola noted that it is unfortunate to see women and children suffering during this difficult time, saying this is not good at all. She also warned those who engage in raping women that their days are numbered, and they will face the full force of the law. Nicola promised that the government would provide any kind of support during this challenging time of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Space

Scientists are patching up to 125 years of data to understand the Triple-star system

Scientists are utilizing the advanced spacecraft they developed to observe a 125-year antics triple-star system called HS Hydra and project what will become of it in the future. The first scientists to observe the HS Hydra system did this noble course in 1893. The system looked like a star in space, and the experts think it might offer more details concerning the solar system. Astronomers will discover these intricacies after NASA developing the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). This satellite could unravel more alien features of the cosmos, a feature for which the satellite is renowned. Researchers who met in the recent American Astronomical Society meeting held through a webinar think that the satellite could reveal more binary star systems once it resumes its missions.

James Davenport, one of the astronomers involved in this mission, stated that they were anticipating hearing a report about TESS’s potential when it comes to exploratory missions. He added that the past generation enjoyed studying and collecting details about the binary systems, and it is time to explore further than this into the triple star systems. Initially, TESS recognized exoplanets by identifying small regular indents in the stars they were monitoring. The exoplanet is visible when the strange cosmic world impedes the star’s visibility from the spacecraft’s observatory point. In other cases, these may be two stars rotating each other, and their point of overlap has created a binary star system.

Davenport and his team undertook the objective of studying the binary stars that the amateur astronomers labelled in the past. Davenport explained that TESS was instrumental in differentiating binary star systems and the opposite phenomena. The astronomer has been researching deeply about these stars before they can decide where the previous astronomers were right and those systems that they just speculated. This search for information revealed that the HS Hydra is actually a three-star system following a study conducted in 2012. The third star is a smaller one tagging itself close to the double. The triple system was repositioning, a phenomenon that would have made it difficult to identify them as a trio and not a binary system. Scientists anticipate the ongoing eclipse of these three to fade away next year. Data retrieved by Davenport and his team from TESS explains that the eclipse might not end next year, but any day in the first quarter of this year, allowing the scientists to analyze them intensively.

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Space

Japan might postpone Hayabusa2 asteroid operation to visit second space rock

The Hayabusa2 mission of Japan is heading home from an asteroid named Ryugu, ferrying a unique delivery of space rock; however, Earth might not be the rocket’s last destination. 

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) that manages the operation is assessing a second stop for its investigation on space-rock, according to the latest statements. Such an operation extension that would last more than ten years could witness Hayabusa2 orbit a second asteroid.  

The extension opportunity emerges from a blend of two aspects: the rocket’s engine still clutches about half of its energy. It does not require descending on Earth to finish the sample-return piece of its plan. Instead, the operation’s critical spaceship will position a small capsule bundled with large asteroid pieces that will plummet through Earth’s atmosphere and descend on December 6 in the Australian Outback.

Following the running of numbers by the JAXA engineers, they comprehended that Haybusa2’s critical spaceship might send the capsule on its direction and still be capable of more adventures. According to a statement released by JAXA, the spacecraft would require to hang about in the inner solar system to get sufficient solar energy; however, the group calculated that the spaceship would have adequate power to get to one of 354 diverse destinations, counting Mars, Venus, close by comets and a congregation of asteroids. 

Mission workers have already slimmed down the spaceship’s possible second target to only two applicants, both little space rocks with designations somewhat than appropriate names. The objects are close-Earth asteroids, such as Ryugu itself; however, each one is about one-tenth as broad as the first destination of Hayabusa2. 

Regardless of their minute sizes, the two candidates are systematically intriguing, according to Hayabusa2 and JAXA would be capable of slipping into orbit around each one, instead of justifying by making the tiny asteroids even more fascinating targets.

Of course, orbital mapping missions presume that the spaceship stays in good health long enough to meet with the objects, and that is huge if. Hayabusa2 was purposely made to endure its first six-year operation, not an additional ten years in the unsympathetic space. However, there is a modest risk in trying past the price of continuing to control the spacecraft for JAXA. 

In the case of either possible target, Hayabusa2 would require making a lengthy and winding expedition, saving on fuel and instead of depending on gravitational enhancements from hovering by Earth, Venus.

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Space

Report on the Boeing Starliner quality control review by the Independent Review Team

There have been concerns regarding the quality issues of a commercial crew spacecraft owned by Boeing, Starliner. That was reiterated during the meeting attended by the members of NASA’s independent safety panel. The main agenda of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel that was teleconferenced was the discussion of the CST-100 uncrewed flight held by Boeing back in December 2019. Since the Orbital Flight Test mission was not a success, there was a need to review the same.

There was an announcement of the completion of the review on July 7. As far as that flight was concerned, NASA had up to 80 recommendations. That was a combination of 61 recommendations raised by NASA and 19 more that were raised by an independent review team selected by both NASA and Boeing jointly.

All the recommendations to the Boeing Starliner among them those that revolved around software have to be not only completed but also approved in case there will be a second Orbit Flight Test mission. That’s what Don McErlean, who is a member of that panel, had to say about the meeting. He also added that NASA’s commercial crew software team would be part of the Starliner’s software development for additional insight as well as oversight. Additionally, adhering to the recommendations would see risks associated with Orbit Flight Test (OFT), Crew Flight Test as well as future actual commercial crew flights.

Once they do as per the recommendations, the Crew Flight Test (CFT) will take place, and the occupants will be three astronauts. One will be from Boeing and the other two from NASA. The panel also brought to the table the concerns that they have as far as the Starliner program is concerned. They acknowledged that the Boeing commercial control program has some quality problems. However, they also commended them for significant progress. They promised to keep track of it even during the next OFT as well as CFT.

A date for the second OFT mission had not been set. However, NASA speculated that there was a possibility of the same happening towards the end of the year. If that was to happen, the CFT was to take place next year during spring. However, the chair of the board, Patricia Sanders, didn’t buy that since she felt that Starliner had a long way to go before becoming a fully functioning and operational spacecraft.

According to Susan Helms, NASA’s exploration system development programs (ESD) had a lot to learn from the software development recommendations. She is also a member of the panel and was once an astronaut. Details regarding the way forward on specific efforts will be discussed in another panel meeting scheduled for a later date.

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Space

Hisdesat buys Xtar’s satellite then shifts to a contract deal

Xtar, a satellite communication provider based in the US, sold the firm’s only satellite to Hisdesat. However, Xtar signed a pact that enabled it to retain an equal amount of capacity on the sold satellite, according to Jay Icard, The firm’s chief executive.

The companies mentioned the remodelling of the organizational structure due to the anticipated changes in future business models. The decision comes before Hisdesat’s plan to launch two satellites in 2023 and 2024.

Icard further mentioned that the company would advance in offering services regardless of the sale of the satellite. The Xtar-Eur contract, together with the current lease with Hisdesat, provides the firm with a substantial ability to further its operations until it gets stalled by the multibillion-dollar SpainSat NG System. Xtar currently utilizes Airbus’ satellites built for SpainSat NG system through its Memorandum of Agreement with Hisdesat. 

Additionally, Icard compared the similarity of Xtar to other satellite communications provider companies where ownership dwells on a single firm. However, the respective company depends on the expertise and information from the companies with which it has a lease contract. The companies then focus on the state government and the Department of Defense.

Conversely, the deal would not entail a change in orbital slot possession. It is due to the variation in slots of the two companies. Hisdesat uses a slot issued by the Spain government, which exhibits massive differences with Xtar, a US-based firm.

According to Hisdesat’s CEO, Garcia Primo, the company’s possession of Xtar-Eur will allow it to rationalize decisions regarding its fleet’s longevity. He further stated the need to offer efficient services to clients and integrate operations of Xtar-Eur and SpainSat satellites. Besides, Hisdesat plans on commencing the extension plan with the recently acquired satellite from Xtar. The programs are under discussions with Northrop Grumman Company since it is an established firm.

Loral Company’s hesitation in providing further funding for Xtar propagated Hisedat’s need to salvage the company and work multilaterally to secure a much better satellite communication domain. 

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Hisdesat announced its regular schedule in launching its first satellite in 2023. However, he projected the possibility of a delay on the subsequent satellite launch if the initial launch takes a considerable amount of time.

In conclusion, Xtar’s decision to sell its satellite conveys the firm’s possibility to grow more due to financial stability. The company’s ability to provide services to its clients indicates a retained level of dominance in its operations. 

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Space

The original native-owned commercial satellite locations of Australia are building technology centers in the outback

Two states of the art business satellite in Alice Springs will convert the capacity of Australia in earth viewing and grant economic benefits for the local people.

The foremost of its kind on native land, the transportation has the probability of decreasing the latency for high declaration earth observation pictures down from days or hours to minutes. 

It will improve the capability of Australia in disaster management, border protection, environmental monitoring, and seek as well as rescue.

Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) gave the finance for the project that was constructed and project-managed by native companies, comprising of the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT) and its supplementary CfAT Satellite Enterprise and Ekistica Limited as well as Ingerreke Commercial. They helped in laying the concrete foundations back in the last December. 

Peter Renehan, the CfAT Enterprises Chief Executive Officer (CEO), confirmed that the amenity would place indigenous people at the front position of the growing space sector of Australia. He added that presently, there is an inadequate supply of appropriate earth observation ground locations in Australia. Peter continued to state that in Alice Springs, they are advantageously situated to take benefits of the fast-growing market place. The site is so flawlessly located that it will be in a position to downlink pictures across entire Australia’s waters and land.

Peter Renehan confirmed that the place would generate continuing employment and training benefits for the home native community. He added that they are much energized about the technology’s future that they believe can benefit most of their communities, such as their native rangers who watch over the land and sea and uses images of high resolution from space to undertake their jobs. 

The chairperson of IBA, Eddie Fry stated that the million-dollar venture was a benefit for both the native community and the space program of Australia. He added that technology has loads of commercial applications, like remote asset management, carbon reduction, and agriculture, finance, insurance as well as mining. He continued to state that it is just the start, and they could see a bright future ahead for CFAT that is well situated to develop into one of the leading participants of Australia in space and satellite industry. 

Eddie Fry stated that the facility would create commercial comebacks for native Australians, as well as advantages for the broader Northern Territory.