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Archive for the ‘satellites’ category

Dec 5, 2019

The Future of GPS Is Taking Shape Inside These Locked Rooms

Posted by in categories: military, mobile phones, satellites

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO. — It’s not easy to get into the GPS room. A security cocoon typical of U.S. military installations protects Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado, but the windowless home of the 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS) lies within the base’s “restricted access area.” A gatehouse, extra vehicle barriers, armed guards, monitored communication channels, and a total ban on smartphones stand between the outside world and the place where the U.S. Air Force operates the GPS satellite constellation.

Inside you’ll find a hallway lined with keypad-controlled doors. Behind each is a room with 10-person teams who fly satellites. The rooms are staffed around the clock. The 2SOP squadron not only runs the constellation that provides global navigation and precise time data to civilian and military users.

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Dec 4, 2019

Mesmerizing graph shows uncomfortably close encounters between space junk

Posted by in category: satellites

As the number of satellites and space junk in orbit continues to increase, so do the chances of these human-made objects colliding with one another, potentially creating more debris that could threaten other healthy spacecraft. Now, a new tool shows just how crowded Earth orbit is by tracking space objects through their close calls every couple of seconds.

Called the “Conjunction Streaming Service Demo,” the graph tool illustrates in real time the sheer number of space objects — out of an assortment of 1,500 items in low Earth orbit — that get uncomfortably close to one another in a period of 20 minutes. While the X-axis keeps track of the time, the Y-axis shows the short distance between two approaching space objects, ranging from five kilometers to the dreaded zero kilometers. On the graph is a series of arcs demonstrating when two pieces of debris rapidly move toward one another, make their closest approach, and then speed away.

Nov 29, 2019

‘Dead satellites’ pose danger to humans, warns European Space Agency

Posted by in category: satellites

Thousands of ‘dead’ satellites are floating in space and pose a ‘very big danger’ to humanity, the head of the European Space Agency (Esa) has warned.

Speaking at the agency’s ministerial council in Seville, Jan Worner said that of almost 4,500 satellites in orbit, only 1,500 are active.

Space scientists are concerned that defunct satellites could hit other satellites or the International Space Station (ISS), which would then cause more debris, setting off a catastrophic chain reaction that could wipe out telecommunications systems — a phenomenon known as Kessler Syndrome.

Nov 25, 2019

Rocket Lab readies Electron for the first launch with rocket recovery systems on board

Posted by in categories: computing, particle physics, satellites

Rocket Lab is getting ready to fly its tenth mission, which the first official launch window during which it could happen set for this week on November 29. Aside from being a milestone 10th mission (dubbed ‘Running Out of Fingers,’ ha), this will be the first time that Rocket Lab includes technology designed to help it eventually recover and reuse elements of its launch vehicle.

After first designing its Electron launch platform as a fully expendable spacecraft, meaning it could only do one way trips to bring cargo to orbit, Rocket Lab announced that it would be moving towards rocket reusability at an event hosted by CEO and founder Peter Beck in August. To make this happen, the company will be developing and testing the tech necessary to recover Electron’s first-stage rocket booster over the course of multiple missions.

Toe be clear, this mission has the primary goal of delivering a number of small satellites on behalf of paying customers, including microsatellites from Alba Orbital and a Tokyo –based company called ALE that is using microsatellites to simulate particles from meteors. But Rocket Lab will also be testing recovery instrumentation loaddd on board the Electron vehicle, including guidance and navigation systems, as well as telemetry and flight computer hardware. This will be used to gather real-time data about the process of re-entry for Electron’s first stage, and Rocket Lab will also attempt to make use of a reaction control system to control the orientation of the booster as it re-enters.

Nov 23, 2019

Water propulsion technologies picking up steam

Posted by in categories: mapping, satellites

This article originally appeared in the Aug. 19, 2019 issue of SpaceNews magazine.

When the Aerospace Corp. launched the Optical Communications and Sensor Demonstration in 2017, one mission objective was to test water-fueled thrusters. At the time, the idea was fairly novel. Two years later, water-based propulsion is moving rapidly into the mainstream.

Capella Space’s first radar satellite and HawkEye 360’s first cluster of three radio-frequency mapping satellites move in orbit by firing Bradford Space’s water-based Comet electrothermal propulsion system. Momentus Space and Astro Digital are testing a water plasma thruster on their joint El Camino Real mission launched in July. And an updated version of the water-fueled cold gas thrusters the Aerospace Corp. first flew in 2017 launched in early August.

Nov 20, 2019

Nanoracks Books SpaceX Rocket to Launch Space Habitat Demo in 2020 (Cubesats, Too!)

Posted by in categories: habitats, satellites

Nanoracks wants to expand from hosting experiments on board the International Space Station to running their own mini stations built from used rockets, with a first launch scheduled for a SpaceX Falcon 9 next year.

Nov 20, 2019

Scientists detected the brightest light in the universe for the first time, following a mysterious explosion in space

Posted by in categories: particle physics, satellites

Gamma-ray bursts appear without warning and only last a few seconds, so astronomers had to move quickly. Just 50 seconds after satellites spotted the January explosion, telescopes on Earth swiveled to catch a flood of thousands of particles of light.

“These are by far the highest-energy photons ever discovered from a gamma-ray burst,” Elisa Bernardini, a gamma-ray scientist, said in a press release.

Over 300 scientists around the world studied the results; their work was published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Nov 18, 2019

NASA Picks SpaceX, Blue Origin and More to Join Private Moon Lander Project

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, satellites

NASA has recruited SpaceX’s Starship, Blue Origin’s Blue Moon and three other commercial lunar lander ideas to join its Artemis moon program.

Today (Nov. 18), NASA announced the selection of SpaceX, Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada Corp., Ceres Robotics and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, Inc. to join its Commercial Lunar Payload Services program (CLPS). The five companies can now vie to deliver robotic payloads to the lunar surface for NASA, helping to pave the way for the return of astronauts to the moon by 2024.

Nov 18, 2019

U.S. Space Command eager to hand over space traffic duties to Commerce Department

Posted by in categories: military, satellites

WASHINGTON — Military space operators at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, are working with the Department of Commerce to help ease the transfer of space traffic management responsibilities, Maj. Gen. Stephen Whiting said Nov. 15.

“We’re eager for that to happen,” Whiting said at a Mitchell Institute event on Capitol Hill.

Whiting is the commander of the 14th Air Force and the Combined Force Space Component Command under U.S. Space Command. He oversees the two major organizations — the Combined Space Operations Center and the 18th Space Control Squadron — that help to maintain a catalog of space objects and notify satellite operators around the world when other satellites or debris threaten to collide with spacecraft.

Nov 17, 2019

Broadband satellite to serve Pacific islands delivered to Florida launch base

Posted by in categories: internet, satellites

A powerful commercial communications satellite to broadcast Internet signals over the Asia-Pacific region has arrived at Cape Canaveral for final launch preparations ahead of a planned Dec. 15 liftoff on top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 communications satellite, based on Boeing’s 702MP satellite design, is a shared spacecraft between Sky Perfect JSAT Corp. of Japan and Kacific, a startup telecom company headquartered in Singapore.

Kacific announced the satellites’s arrival at Cape Canaveral on Thursday. Ground crews will complete final testing on the spacecraft and load it with maneuvering propellant ahead of its launch next month.

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