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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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Energy

Three Oil Majors that put money on massive renewables

Frequently, Big Oil has been reprimanded for attempting to buff its renewable recommendation, and it has done slightly to influence us that it is progressing to the green world. Pledges that are made by Big Oil to pursue net-zero agendas will remain weakest at its best, despite the big urge of the huge renowned trend (about the global electrification) to shift to renewable energy. An examination done on near-term spending strategies by the biggest oil and gas entities shows that actual investments in renewable energy will continue to pale concerning capex strategies of making fossil fuel projects green. 

In the last two years, Big Oil used less than 1 percent of its total budget on green energy schemes. According to Rystad Energy, Big Oil will get $166B into new oil and gas endeavors by 2025. As a result, it shortens the presently specified expenditure of about $18B for solar and wind energy schemes. Much of Big Oil’s reductions in greenhouse (GHG) emissions fall on the ‘natural gas bridge.’ 

The good thing is that recently, the Italian multinational oil and gas giant Eni SpA (BIT: ENI) unleashed a pledge full of ambitions by an oil supermajor. Eni announced its strategies for reducing its greenhouse emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Eni’s natural gas production will entail 85 percent of its total production by the end of the estimated year. A significant Oil entity has the probability of earning its bands as real renewables energy outfit by 2030, and such bets can turn out to be fruitful. Remarkably, the U. S oil and gas supermajors became prominent after their names were absent.

The Equinor

Such alone oil entity has the most useful green plan compared to all the other entities. Out of the $18B that supermajors want to invest in clean energy by 2015, about a half and more will come from Norwegian state-possessed multinational energy firm, Equinor ASA’s (NYSE: EQNR) coffers. If you take out Equinor from the calculation, investments from the Equinor will reduce by 2023, having minded the deep capex reductions caused by Coronavirus outbreak. The Equinor stated that it wants to invest $10B into renewable energy in the next five years, basing mainly on its offshore wind portfolio. The firm’s primary goals are aiming at growing the capacity of renewable energy from 4GW to 6GW in the next six years.  

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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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Energy

Big oil businesses of Europe are switching to electric

It might result to be the year that big oil companies, particularly ones in Europe, began looking just like electric companies. In the previous month, Royal Dutch Shell received a contract to construct a vast wind farm off the Netherlands coast. Earlier in the same year, the Total of France that runs a battery producer consented to make various significant investments in solar energy in Spain and a wind farm in Scotland. Total also purchased an electric and natural gas amenity in Spain and is linking with Shell and BP in widening its charging business of electric vehicle. 

Simultaneously, the companies are rejecting plans for additional borer wells as they cut back capital budgets. Shell lately confirmed that it would postpone new fields in the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, while BP has assured not to hunt for oil in any modern state. 

Prodded by investors and governments to address the change of climate concerns about their products, Europe’s oil companies are increasing their cleaner energy production. Regular electricity, and sometimes hydrogen and supporting natural gas, which they dispute, could be a cleaner changeover fuel from oil and coal to renewables. For several executives, the unexpected drop in oil demand caused by the Coronavirus pandemic is another caution that unless they adjust their companies’ composition, they jeopardize being extinct just like the dinosaurs. 

The evolving vision is more walloping since most long-term oil business veterans share it. Claudio Descalzi, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Eni and has been working with the Italian company for nearly four decades, stated that they had tremendous volatility in the commodities of oil throughout the six years. He added that he wanted to construct a company gradually more based on green power rather than fat. He said that they want to move away from the uncertainty and volatility. 

BP veteran Bernard Looney, who also became the CEO in February, later confirmed to journalists that what the world needs from energy is shifting. So, they should change, quite honestly, what they present the world.

The gamble is that electricity will be the principal means of offering cleaner power in the forthcoming days and, therefore, will rapidly breed across the nation. American big companies such as Chevron and Exxon Mobil have been slower than their European equivalents to entrust to climate-related targets that are far-reaching.

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Energy

Xcel Energy plans on putting 1.5 million electric vehicles on the road by the next decade

Xcel provides electricity to about 3.3 million consumers in eight nations, including South Dakota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas, and North Dakota. In the announcement, Xcel stated that with plans on placing 1.5 million electric vehicles on roads of the eight States by next decade. The project will succeed through the promotion of electric cars, provision of rebates to electric vehicles customers, help in setting up electric cars charging ports, and enlarging the charging grid. Xcel will develop a period of use programs whereby electric vehicle owners will secure the expenses they use during the low-rate time of charging electric vehicles. The best part of the strategy will aim at low-income electric vehicle drivers from marginalized regions. 

Enhancing the adoption of electric vehicles will help in reducing carbon emissions, and at the same time, distributing customer income in investment projects of electric cars. 

Carbon levels have already been cut off by 44% from 2005 levels. By the next decade, electric vehicles will be charging using the Xcel Energy system with carbon emissions of about 80% as opposed to cars powered by gas. 

Since most people have started embracing the use of electric vehicles, transportation energy expenses, and gas expenses can now be used in the utility system. 

Colorado is among the nations that have implemented its strategies, and it is the nation with the most competent energy strategies. Also, Colorado signed the auto emission program led by the California Air Resource Board. 

Xcel’s plan entails reducing carbon emissions by 80% in the coming decade and arriving at a carbon-free economy by 2050. The original part appears to be a bit challenging; however, cutting off the other 20% may require new mechanisms. 

Ben Fowke, Chief Executive Officer of Xcel Energy, stated that he has a vision of business opportunity in which electric cars will provide utility entities, gasoline, and diesel in the future. He wants his existence to take that chance before it flips out. Maybe his perception will change the way executives of other firms from burying their views in the past rather than the future. 

Powering 1.5 million electric vehicles by the next decade will help cut off carbon emissions by about 5 million tons per year by the next decade or by 3 tons of carbon cutoff per each electric vehicle. 

The firm has the aim of cutting off carbon emissions by 2030, resulting in the development of electrification and transportation. 

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Energy

Bump up the goal to raise renewables

Japan drastically expanded its dependence on the thermal power plants, which does include coal, to be able to compensate for the loss of the nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear calamity. 

Japan stays a long way behind many other advanced economies in the utilization of sustainable power sources, such as wind and solar power. The legislature is currently gauging another arrangement of measures to advance sustainable power sources, including growing seaward wind power and checking on the principles on access to the force transmission framework.

The government’s essential energy strategy calls for transforming renewables into a chief power supply source. Nonetheless, the target share for a sustainable power source in the 2030 power supply mix, which does range between 22-24% of the total, is much lower than the 26 percent that had been envisioned for the coal-fired power plants, which numerous other industrialized countries intend to eliminate. 

When the vast majority of the country’s atomic power plants were closed down as a result of the 2011 meltdowns, which took place at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holding‘s, power industry started up more thermal power plants to compensate for the nuclear power loss. The portion of coal power arrived at 32 percent in 2018, second just to the 38 percent of the natural gas-fired plants. 

As of late, Japan has been criticized for its dependence on coal despite enhanced international efforts to be able to minimize the carbon dioxide emissions. Because of such analysis, the government a month ago fleshed out its previous promise to eliminate “wasteful” coal-terminated power plants. 

Japan has placed its trust in the nuclear energy for decreasing its ozone-depleting substance outflows. The atomic power share of the electricity supply in 2018 was a minor 6 percent. Because of waiting wellbeing concerns and the expanded post-Fukushima cost of running atomic plants, possibilities are thin that the restart of the lingered plants will get a move on soon. 

With the so-not clear future of nuclear power as well as the country’s continued huge reliance on fossil fuel-based energy, the nation’s government has not been able to upgrade its promise to be able to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. Importantly, increasing use of the renewable energy does hold the success to Japan being able to speed up the decarbonization efforts. The government has to remain focused by mainly enhancing its targets for the share of the green energy supply. 

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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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Energy

Autobahn solar panels could improve German energy transition

European researchers are preparing to develop a pilot of a photovoltaic umbrella impression, which could produce about 10% of the nation’s electricity demand. 

German Autobahn is a network for high-speed highways and an interest for speed-freaked petrolheads who can drive fast. However, increasing the speed results in increased carbon dioxide emissions, exposing the country’s roads to the climate threat. 

German and Australian researchers are currently carrying out their research to determine how massive the Autobahn system (that covers about 2.6% of the whole of Germany) can be switched to help conserve the environment. 

The project that will go for three years has commenced, and it aims to determine whether those ceilings could be equipped with solar power structures that will, in turn, help in the evolution of energy in Germany. 

Theoretically, the probability is incredible. To consider all the 13,000 kilometers of Autobahn system, makers can use a 24-meter four-stand highway and photovoltaic panels of 180 watts per square meter. As a result, those PVs could produce a 56GW energy capacity, registering a considerable amount of power in Blacktop compared to that Germany had fitted last year. 

The photovoltaic ceiling can generate 47TWh of power in each year.

It is crystal clear that not all extensions if the Autobahn can be insulated. Some of its sections run through subways located below bridges or dark parts that might not be suitable for the generation of solar energy. All that needs to be done first is to examine the potential of the specified technology. 

Apart from the generation of power, the investigators are also collaborating with Foster Industrietechnik, a traffic engineering entity, to determine if the Photovoltaic ceilings can produce extraordinary quality for maintenance of roads, primarily to protect of tarmac roads. 

Too much ice, snow, or moisture may not favor the streets. So, covering the roads by placing the photovoltaic ceilings directly on top protects the power generated. 

Currently, researchers plan on developing a presentation of the ceiling on a 20-40metre extension on Autobahn, more so on the southern part of Germany. The demonstration will go for a year as it studies the production of energy, stability, wind and snow loads, and maintenance options. 

The costs of developing those PV ceilings on the Autobahn will be released later. However, sources assert that those prices could be the same or much higher than those used to install PVs in homes, whereby they used close to €330 per square meter.