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Space

Satellogic’s 11th satellite lift-off to Earth’s lower orbit

Great news as Satellogic confirms reports of another spacecraft launch from Guiana Space Center via a Spaceflight Inc. procured inauguration. The NewSat Mark IV satellite reached the Sun-synchronous low-Earth path aboard the Vega rocket launched from Arianespace.

The spacecraft received the name Hypatia, a well-renowned astronomer, ideologist, and mathematician in Alexandria. A little bit of history, she was famous for her life as a renowned teacher, wise advisor, and iconic women’s rights activist, the precursor to our modern-day feminist movement.

Satellogic remains the pioneer company to create a scalable platform for Earth Observation with the capability of remapping the world at both high frequency and resolution.
Hypatia incorporates a sub-meter multi-spectral camera and a 30-meter hyper-spectral camera after the successful launch of NewSat Mark IV into the orbital path. Satellogic integrated new systems into the NewSat Mark IV satellite to serve the needs of the company’s advancements in Earth Observation capacities. Once successfully commissioned, Satellogic plans to make available the new abilities to current clients.

The iconic inauguration of NewSat is a clear demonstration of Satellogic’s adaptability to different deployment systems and launch rockets. The space mission offers the company chance to experiment with the sub-meter mapping technology. Currently, Satellogic’s butch of satellites continues to remap the Earth with high resolution, in addition to the company’s low-cost offering, unlocking more potential applications for many industries. Upon fine-tuning sub-meter imaging, the company seeks to push down the cost incurred in performing high-frequency geospatial data analytics. 

Gerardo Richarte, Satellogic Founder and CTO, said that the company is fully responsible for every satellite’s design and manufacture; this offers a chance for the teams in Research and Development to validate upcoming technologies in each launch. The company incorporates new products into every generation of satellites, advancing the goal to achieve new space.

Satellogic and China Great Wall Industry Corporation worked together to launch two spacecraft back in January. Satellogic owns 11 satellites, drawing the company nearer to its vision of using a satellite constellation that seeks to provide weekly, high-quality planet remaps at a different standard for market accessibility and affordability. 


Stephane Israël, director of Arianespace, said that rapid and aggressive research and progressive efforts are vital to achieving the space industry’s advancement and general development of humanity. Satellogic’s satellite is anticipated to provide data to help attain increasing demand for the company’s data analytics services and other solutions to serve Dedicated Satellite Constellation clients in 2020. In conclusion, Satellogic’s demonstration of resilience, persistence, and adaptability is a remarkable drive to deliver high-frequency and high-resolution remap imagery.

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Space

The Pentagon studies reveal that China is developing anti-satellite weaponry

At the beginning of this month, Pentagon gave a press statement outlining how China is designing missiles and electronic arsenal that can blast satellites in low and high-Earth orbits into pieces. The Defense Department of the United States submitted a report detailing the capability of China to wage space war through its military weapons. The report states that China has a ground facility where it develops missiles that can pursue and knock out space apparatus like satellites no matter their position above the Earth’s globe. 

DoD had the task of filing this report as early as two decades ago but was adamant about doing so since it lacked adequate evidence to support these allegations. The Pentagon views the idea of China’s military troops utilizing their capabilities in space and the denial of the same privilege to their enemies as the new space war. The report details China’s incessant efforts to widen its military space prowess while sternly vouching against the militarization of space. 

Nevertheless, China is yet to make a public acknowledgment of the allegations leveled by the US concerning its space weaponization, saying that it is only responsible for pulling the trigger to scatter its weather satellite thirteen years ago. However, the DoD report exclaims at the steadily expanding militarization of China’s space facilities and programs. Some of the so-called threatening programs include space surveillance systems, navigator space robots, kinetic-retard missiles, and the Earthbound lasers.

Key electronic weapons that the DoD is talking about include focused energy weapons, cybersecurity systems, and satellite signal compacters. These weapons are what the Pentagon has received submissions about detailing that they are countermeasures in case China’s space resources come into conflict with those of another country. The report articulates that these Chinese resources would observe an approaching enemy satellite or spacecraft and send alert signals to its weaponry servers to send out a blinding and deafening reply before they strike their enemy.

The report adds that China’s growing space industry is the likely propeller of its advancing anti-satellite weapons technology. The report notes that the satellites, space vehicles, detectors, and moon systems that China is developing are a worry to the international community since they are preparing to be the leading nation or superpower in space activities.

Finally, the report seems to focus on China’s developing space capabilities. There is a likelihood that the other countries are feeling threatened by China’s prowess in advancing their space industry. For this reason, the developed nations are trying to chicken out China so that it can slow down on the expansion of its space resources. 

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Space

Air Force Research Laboratory intends to widen the scope of its scientific space experiments

The Air Force Research Laboratory plans on expanding its scientific knowledge base by conducting two more space experiments. One of the experiments will evaluate the performance of the equipment and instruments hosted by satellites within the low-Earth orbit. The other investigation is a technical upscale of the ongoing detection technology that oversees the orbital path aligning towards the moon. 

These experiments will be under the Space Vehicles Directorate’s supervision based at the New Mexico Air Force facility. The chief of Space Vehicles Directorate, Col. Eric Felt, admitted that over 20 teams applied to conduct these experiments with only two winnings since their proposals focus on vital space details concerning national security. 

The low-Earth orbit experiment will be within an altitude ranging between 85 and 600 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. The agency offering the contract for this experiment states that the investigation will investigate how this zone’s atmospheric conditions affect communication and exploration. The experiment intends to evaluate the ionosphere’s alterations due to the composite gases utilizing detector satellite instruments. 

Felt stated in a virtual meeting that they would be investigating the cause of the high repulsive force that presses the spacecraft, making it invoke a high propulsion power to maintain the motion. The other experiment crowned CHPS will be working on the operations beyond the low-Earth orbit towards the other planets. 

The CHPS experiment seeks to understand objects’ behavior in this realm and track their movement to other systems. The team going for this expedition will be collecting samples in space from the moon and analyze their details before further exploration. The program engineer for AFRL, Capt David Buehler, states the experiment will be evaluating the possibility of clearing the path for the upcoming US space flights heading for the moon. 

The CHPS expedition will evaluate a mechanism for tracking the suspended pieces in space and a plausible way to avoid knocking them if the debris is rigid. The principal facilitator of this mission, Jaime Stearns, stated that the task would help NASA experts to understand how to draw realistic trajectories for their spacecraft that head out into the deep space. 

To conclude, the project developers will be submitting their budgets to facilitate quick negotiations with the financiers on the way forward. Felt stated that this mission is a revolutionary move that the other stakeholders must implement to focus on new tasks. 

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Space

India’s space exploration firm Pixxel announces that it has raised $5 million for its space activities

An Indian space exploration startup Pixxel revealed that it has been able to raised funds that will help it deploy a group of satellites, which are crucial in its study of the Earth operations from space. Various Indian firms came in full force to support this firm and raise funds needed for it to start operations. Some of the firms that came to its aid include Inventus Capital, Lightspeed India Partners, growX Ventures, and Blume Ventures. Key notables whom their contribution is worth mentioning include Stanford Angels and Ryan Johnson, who played a role in the development and acquisition of Blackbridge by Planet. Pixxel revealed that Johnson would become one of its directors.

After garnering this stupendous funding, Pixxel will be widening its quantity of engineers and technicians in its facilities and also expand its operations to meet the deadline it set for the launch of its satellites. The chief executive of Pixxel, Awais Ahmed, explained to SpaceNews that they must widen their operations in their facilities in Los Angeles since moat of their customers who require earth-imaging services live in this region.

Ahmed stated the primary objective of Pixxel is to create the desire for various firms to consider monitoring their daily activities from space. Additionally, Pixxel is developing a mechanism which will enable its customers and potential consumers to understand the images that will be sent to them with just one click of the mouse. 

Pixxel has prepared its cubesat and will be ready for deployment via the famous Russian Soyuz rocket in the coming two months. The other satellite it will be deploying will be next year as a rideshare mission via SpaceX’s Falcon 9 spacecraft.

Pixxel is adamant about divulging any details concerning the quality of images it will be transferred to its customers after gathering them through its constellation of satellites. The founders will oversee the success of the firm since they have been working on this project for a long time. The two co-founders have vast knowledge concerning space exploration and operations, especially after their space science projects in the science fairs, they attended winning awards. To conclude, Pixxel is among the shortlisted firms which receive support from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Maxar Technologies, and Lockheed Martin, among other firms. The firm is happy to learn from these notables and use their experiences to make educated judgment calls.

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Space

SATCON1 report enumerates space strategies to oversee a reduction in constellation interference with astronomy

New research reveals some strategies that the astronomers and satellite operators can implement to counteract the effect of impeded astronomy due to satellites’ growing constellations in the low-Earth orbit. However, the study recommends selecting a single strategy to fulfill a huge portion of this task, alarming that no integration of the strategies can completely eradicate the problem. 

The research by the American Astronomical Society and the National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab), came out on August 25 after a two months study into the restructuring strategies in the SATCON1 conference. The conference lured in over 200 astronomers and satellite developers to deal with the challenge of the growing satellite constellations that impede astronomical research. 

Close to two years, astronomers have complained over interference of the shiny constellation of satellites hindering their astronomical observations. The satellites interfere with the astronomical view of space since some either reflect the sunrays to the telescope or cause oblique specks in the observations. 

Connie Walker of NOIRLab stated that the conference outlined various strategies to solve the uprising astronomical conflicts with satellite operators. She reiterated that no integrative measures could absolve this challenge advising the two stakeholders to select the most appropriate strategy and implement it. 

The analysis stipulates various recommendations to counteract the sun rays reflected by the satellites. One of the strategies is launching the satellites within the 600 kilometers mark, covering the satellites with opaque materials to reduce their brightness and maintaining the altitude. 

SpaceX and the astronomers were working on a conclusive mechanism to solve this challenge before the SATCON1 workshop taking over this mission. The firm’s Starlink constellation technicians implemented this mechanism by operating the satellites within 600 kilometers and covering them with dark visors to minimize the reflection of the sun rays. 

SpaceX deployed the first satellite with these features in June and at the beginning of August to evaluate the effectiveness of this strategy. The observers are still analyzing this mechanism’s effectiveness before trying other strategies or reinforcing this one fully. 

Although Starlink shows some dedication to resolve this problem, the other satellite constellation operators like OneWeb and Amazon seem to decapitate these efforts. For example, Amazon’s Kuiper project is filing for authorization to launch its constellation above 600 kilometers orbits. 

Vera Rubin Observatory’s lead scientist Tony Tyson says that SpaceX’s efforts to solve this problem are laudable, hoping that other constellation developers can follow this example. He adds that the SATCON1 report details other technological aspects that the technicians can employ in their operations to fulfill this mission. 

In conclusion, astronomers are keen to point out some of the legal policies that the federal government can stipulate to shield the astronomical field from unwarranted observation denial. The advantage of constellations is that there is no marginalization. 

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Space

Maxar evades the Telesat LEO constellation contract competition

Maxar Technologies is adamant about competing for Telesat’s upcoming multi-billion broadband 300 satellite spectrum project contracts. 

Maxar’s CEO Dan Jablonsky stated via a call that the acquisition decision for the Telesat LEO constellation is still uncertain. Initially, this decision was due in June 2019, but the current pandemic problem has made Maxar opt for other lucrative business opportunities. Jablonsky stated that Telesat has been postponing this decision resulting in them opting out of this conquest. 

Maxar was awarded the research contract by Telesat in 2018 to create a design for the broadband spectrum with Thales Alenia Space. However, the contract between Telesat and Thales Alenia Space, who later on partnered with Airbus Defence and Space for this contract, severed the Maxar Technologies – Telesat relationship. 

Jablonsky revealed Maxar’s determination to manufacture broadband communications satellites but will be keen on which contracts are favorable. He further connotes that Telesat has been Maxar’s customer, with the firm developing the GEO satellites for Telesat. Maxar will be ready to build more constellations for Telesat in the future, provided they offer certainty and make concise decisions. 

Telesat’s CEO Dan Goldberg stated that Telesat would be working with satellite manufacturers even as it prepares its ground sites for launch services. Goldberg said that they would make punitive decisions soon concerning their procurement and financing operations to enhance the resumption of activities in their facilities. 

Goldberg reveals some of their upcoming projects like onboard processing, antenna restructuring, and satellite interconnections to facilitate service delivery for ships, governments, and commercial businesses. Telesat anticipates its LEO constellation to be operational in the coming two years. The CEO was adamant about stating the number of contracts they will be awarding for completing this project, resulting in a consequent delay in the rollout of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Blackjack program. 

DARPA anticipates using Telesat’s 20 LEO satellites as Blackjack buses. DARPA’s deputy program manager for Blackjack, Stephen Forbes, stated in a SpaceNews virtual interview that the decision to choose Telesat for this program is rather financial-based instead of urgency. Stephen Forbes hopes that this decision would have been made last year to stimulate urgency. 

Telesat and Airbus Defence and Space won study contracts for the Blackjack spacecraft buses. Forbes is confident that the US Defense Department can use the Telesat LEO satellite bus for the Blackjack program despite the firm’s tentativeness. Forbes is confident that they can work around satellite-related problems hoping that the firm can make quick decisions. 

In conclusion, Jablonsky revealed the possibility of Maxar using the satellite bus is designed for the Telesat LEO Blackjack program in other constellations. Maxar is finally expanding its operations towards defense programs to obtain more revenue. This move will ensure the firm thrives in the space industry. 

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Space

The strategic approach to space exploration and development is integration says White House

There is a report that has recently been released by the National Space Council. In the report, it states that there is need for collaboration among NASA, government agencies and partners whether international or commercial when it comes to space development and exploration. Its release date was July 23 and was done by White House. The A New Era for Deep Space Exploration and Development report’s focus was outlining the roles that various government would play to make things such as human missions to Mars and human return to the moon possible. Each agency could help in different ways in the implementation of the national space policies.

Nevertheless, the report also states that NASA will be the ring leader of all the civil space explorations as far as the United States Government. However, that does not mean that other agencies don’t have roles that they can play in the same. As a matter of fact, they are trying to enhance the old policy and more so the Space Policy Directive 1 which focuses so much on a successful return to the moon. There is also the book which focuses on the peace across the space domain, the 2018 National Space Strategy.

In summary, the report focuses on taking people to Mars, the possibility of humans returning to the moon and commercialization of low orbit activities. The government has five major roles if this is to be a success. They include promotion of a space that is secure and predictable including coming up with regulatory reforms and managing space traffic. Secondly, it needs to support space’s commercial activities and fund not only researches but also developments of major technologies. In addition to that, they ought to invest in private space infrastructure and promote scientific activities related to space.

It is not about changing the existing policies but rather reinforcing them so that space exploration can go to a whole new level.

The request of Mike Pence has clearly been granted. The chairman of the National Space Council who also serves as the Vice President made the request back in August 2019. That was during a public meeting held by the council. Within 6 months of the report, the space council staff had already finished it. However, there was a need to involve other parties including NASA for an even better report. As far as the officials are concerned, that was a great move and they love the results that followed.

According to the report, they hope that a time will come when humans will develop space and settle there. However, for that to happen, there is need to advance.

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Space

SpaceX deploys another set of Starlink Satellites and two BlackSky payloads

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launches another batch of its Starlink payloads together with two BlackSky observation satellites. This move comes after uneventful scheduled launches due to delays.

The Falcon 9 rocket took off from the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. One hour later, the upper core detached from the space vehicle to allow the Global-7 satellite to escape. Five minutes after this, Global-8 satellite disconnected to enter its orbit in space. The 57 Starlink satellites were the last in this detachment process 93 minutes after takeoff.

The mission is the first to take a long time before releasing the Starlink satellites. The company justified itself, saying that the launch took long since the vehicle had to burn up twice for the ejection of BlackSky satellites into their geostationary orbits.

The space vehicle’s first stage docked in the Atlantic Ocean in about eight minutes after the launch. This stage has been notable on other vital missions, including the uncrewed Demo-1 Crew Dragon trial, the trio Radarsat Constellation Mission satellites, and finally, the previous Starlink launches.

SpaceX launched two tug boats to seize the halves of the payloads from this launch. However, this move was uneventful, according to the company’s webcast statement.

This launch has been going through postponements due to the lousy weather and technical challenges. The company is yet to reveal the technical difficulties that hampered the previous scheduled launches. Tweets by the company acknowledge that the company was checking in to monitor the pre-launch tests and the time needed for the deployment.

One of the chief engineers at SpaceX, John Insprucker, revealed that the postponements are not associated with the rocket. He quotes that the delays are because of weather conditions and payload technicalities. However, he was adamant about divulging if the payload with challenges was either of the Starlink or the BlackSky satellites.

This launch is part of the SpaceX Starlink mission topping up the Starlink satellites in the geostationary orbit to 595. SpaceX is working on setting up a constellation of thousands of satellites to avail internet connection for telephone users worldwide. This move comes as a developing plan of the US is transitioning to a 5G network in all the states.

Astronomers are the concerned lot who think that the rising number of satellites will impede their astronomical exploits. SpaceX responded to this argument by deploying a satellite with visors that oblique the reflection of sun rays. SpaceX added that all the payloads they are launching, including the current launch, would have screens to avoid interfering with the astronomical studies.

In conclusion, BlackSky has successfully deployed four satellites. SpaceX has been instrumental in these launches. The firm hopes that they can keep up the zeal to reach its target of 16 satellites roaming the space with a high resolution before mid next year.

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Space

United States Space Command again opposes Russia for developing and testing anti-satellite weapons

American Space Command on the 23rd of July publication revealed that it has evidence that Russia on the 15th of July performed a non-damaging try out of a space-related anti-orbiter armament.

American Space Command highlighted that Russia blasted off a recent substance towards the orbit from Cosmos-2543.

Cosmos-2543 is the similar orbiter that at the onset of this year moved around an American satelitte, per an American Space Command. 

General John Raymond, commandant of American Space Command as well as head of space missions of the American Space military, in February summoned out Russia for dispatching an assessor orbiter termed as Cosmos-2543 that expelled a sub-orbiter, Cosmos-2543. The latter was allegedly pursuing USA 245, an off the record imaging orbiter managed by National Reconnaissance Office,

John, sometime back in April, raised concern concerning Russia test dismissal of a direct-ascension anti-orbiter projectile that he cautioned could endanger U.S.A orbiters in the Lower Earth Orbit.

In a publication, John stated on the 15th of July test was further proof of Russia’s persistence attempts to advance and test space-related mechanisms, and constant with the Kremlin’s in print armed forces policy to employ armaments that contain American as well as associated space properties in danger.

The American federal division has condemned Russian orbiters manners as unpredictable with their specified operation, and these orbiters showcased features of a space-allied armament, American Space Command stated.

Christopher Ford, American vice-secretary of federal government executing the roles of the undersecretary regarding arms management as well as global security, highlighted in a publication that the recent test outlines Russia’s deceitful activism of outer space arms management, with which Moscow targets to restrain the competencies as well as what would seem to be real in-orbit anti-orbiter military hardware.

The maturing cat-and-dog game in orbit is worrying because it could amount to growth, cautioned space doctrine specialist and advisor Laura Seward

Laura remarked that the difficulty was not only that Russia was persisting to test anti-orbiter mechanisms, even non-destructively. She further added that it was bothersome because it sets pressure on the American regime as well as other space powers to contemplate trying out ASAT mechanisms. It was a risky response cycle.

The leader of Britain’s Space Directorate as well voiced concern regarding what he defined as Russia experimenting on one of its orbiters through dispatching a missile with the features of armaments.

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Astronauts from NASA tie spacewalk to EVA to prepare ISS upgrades

On 21 July 2020, two astronauts of NASA coupled a spacewalk record while preparing International Space Station for potential updates.

Bob Behnken, who disembarked at space station on SpaceX Crew Dragon DM-2 spaceship in May and Expedition 63 leader Chris Cassidy, carried out their fourth spacewalk jointly on Tuesday. The five hours and thirty minutes expedition manifested the tenth extravehicular movement, or EVA, by two crewmates coupling the record for the majority of spacewalks that gets to be performed by an American, as two additional astronauts also accomplished it. 

Swiftly realizing their first undertakings, the installation of an instrument kit at the foot of the station’s Canadarm2 automatic arm and photographing their workstation from the last spacewalk to improve the batteries for the power system of the station. Both Behnken and Cassidy then operated on eliminating two gadgets called “H-Fixtures” that helped in holding the solar arrays of the station before the launching of the panels. 

Behnken had tried to get rid of one of the meetings on a previous spacewalk, however, failed to pry it loose. For EVA, astronauts were organized with a mixture of tools, comprising a long-handled wrench, a power drill and a tape-wrapped plier, and also a 3D printed wedge on board space station for the duty.

With the job done two hours into spacewalk, the astronauts packed their instruments, relocated a moveable foot restraint, and rearranged their tethers before moving in the station’s Tranquility Node3 to commence arranging the module for the outpost first commercial airlock installation.

Bishop airlock of Nanoracks that gets its name from diagonally-moving chess bits will boost the capacity of the place to position commercial CubeSats among other tiny satellites. The module shaped like a bell jar is scheduled for a send-off on the SpaceX Dragon cargo spaceship later in the current year.

Both Cassidy and Behnken operated at Tranquility’s end cone, constituting it for extra Bishop Airlock. Both astronauts initially removed the pressurized mating adapter envelop that had been mounted to replace a misplaced thermal guard. 

Both Cassidy and Behnken also coupled back three thermal envelopes and removed a little patch of debris. Proceeding on to their last assignments, Behnken and Cassidy re-routed wires for the new wireless data method and got rid of a filter from the camera lens.