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12 Jan 23. HKATG Creates a Breakthrough In Commercial Satellite Market: Joins Hand with the Republic of Djibouti in Spaceport Development.
Following the signing of a cooperation agreement with the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) in November, Hong Kong Aerospace Technology Group Limited (HKATG; 01725. HK) delivered another good news on January 9. The Group announced after the market closed, revealing that it had entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Government of the Republic of Djibouti and Touchroad International Holdings Group (“Touchroad”). The three parties will jointly develop and operate the Djibouti spaceport. In addition to the land, the Republic of Djibouti will also fully cooperate with related projects.
The Republic of Djibouti is an African country that has actively participated in the joint construction of the “Belt and Road” in recent years. The country is located at the southern entrance of the Red Sea, it is also on the waterway leading to the Suez Canal and connects the three continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe, which means it has an important strategic position. The signing of MOU not only has caught media attention, Ismail Omar Guelleh, President of the Republic of Djibouti, and Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed, Prime Minister (Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed) also met with representatives of HKATG in person and make an announcement on Twitter, showing the local government attaches great importance to this collaboration.
According to the data, Touchroad International Holdings Group is an enterprise that has been doing business in Africa for more than 20 years and has been involved in various industries and projects such as the development and construction of the Djibouti Special Economic Zone, mineral mining, international trade, and cultural tourism exchanges.
The MOU signed this time not only involves the construction of 7 satellite launch pads and 3 rocket testing pads, but also covers supporting projects such as power stations, water plants, aerospace ports, roads, and ports. The level is quite extensive.
The construction of the spaceport in the Republic of Djibouti is expected to take at least five years, that said, from a commercial point of view, the project is still of great benefit to the business of HKATG.
At present, most commercial satellites are launched in the new mode of “carpooling” of shared rockets, that is, “one rocket with multiple satellites” at the Wenchang Space Launch Site and China’s Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center. Facing the high demand for commercial satellite launches in China in recent years, the demand for launch pads has been far outstripping supply, the development of Djibouti’s Spaceport will break the restrictions of the existing business model and have a positive impact on HKATG’s business development.
The President of the Republic of Djibouti believes that the signing of the MOU will enhance Djibouti’s technological capabilities and status. The local government expects that the spaceport project will stimulate the local economy and bring job opportunities to the local people. It is worth mentioning that in addition to focusing on infrastructure construction, all parties will also work together to set up research centers, and universities, and provide aerospace technology, products, services, and projects. This will further promote regional international cooperation and enhance HKATG’s position in the international commercial satellite market.
According to the latest research report issued by Future Market Insights, Inc, the global satellite market is expected to flourish at a strong CAGR of 15.3%. By 2033, the market size will exceed US$55.9 billion, with emerging economies such as India and China experiencing the fastest growth. Many countries have been actively building different types of vehicles and launch pads in recent years and using reusable and biodegradable materials to minimize space waste.
HKATG is committed to building a commercial aerospace industry ecological chain. As early as May 2021, the company launched the overall construction plan for the HK Satellite Manufacturing Center, Satellite Telemetry, Tracking, and Control Center, Hong Kong Satellite Application, and Data Center. Last July, the Company also settled in AMC in Hong Kong and plans to build the first satellite manufacturing center in Hong Kong with an area of 180,000 square feet. Once Djibouti’s Spaceport is completed, HKATG will become the one-stop commercial satellite manufacturing and launch services provider, the company is on the way to flourishing. (Source: PR Newswire)
12 Jan 23. New space pact means America will defend Japan if satellites attacked. Extension of defence agreement between two countries seen as a direct response to growing threat from China space programs. America and Japan have announced a new space pact that will mean the two countries will come to each other’s defence if their satellites are attacked.
The extension of their defence agreement is designed to reflect “the increasingly severe security environment”, officials said in a statement – adding that an attack on either party would prompt the other to “act to meet the common danger”.
The move is seen as a direct response to the growing capability of Chinese space programs.
“We agree that attacks to, from or within space present a clear challenge,” said Antony Blinken, US secretary of state.
“We affirm that, depending on the nature of those attacks, this could lead to the invocation of Article Five of our Japan-US security treaty,” he added, pointing to the mutual defence agreement.
Fumio Kishida, the Japanese prime minister, will meet Joe Biden, the US president, in Washington on Friday as he continues to tour G7 countries.
Mr Kishida’s government said last month that Japan would increase defence spending by 2027 to two per cent of GDP. That is in line with a separate goal by Nato nations, whose security concerns have also heightened due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The US praised the spending boost, as well as Japan’s decision to build a “counter-strike capacity” – being able to hit launch sites that threaten the country.
Japan has officially been pacifist since its defeat in the Second World War, but has recently become more forthright about Chinese aggression towards Taiwan.
“Japan is stepping up big time and doing so in lockstep with the United States, partners in the Indo-Pacific, and in Europe,” said Jake Sullivan, US national security adviser, in a statement.
The talks with Japan come ahead of a rare visit to Beijing by Mr Blinken, who said Mr Biden was committed to “guardrails” on tensions.
“We’re not looking for conflict. We’ll manage the competition responsibly,” said Mr Blinken.
12 Jan 23. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit said on Thursday it had begun “active discussions” about returning to the UK later this year for another attempt at launching satellites into orbit, despite Monday’s failed mission from Britain’s first spaceport in Cornwall. The US-based company said the next launch of its mobile launching system would be from its home base at the Mojave air and space port in California, when it had identified and corrected the causes of Monday night’s failure. But it “also anticipates returning to Spaceport Cornwall for additional launches”, Virgin Orbit said in a statement. Discussions about launch opportunities “as soon as later this year” were under way with government and customers. “We are all disappointed that we were not able to achieve full mission success and provide the launch service that our customers deserve,” said Dan Hart, Virgin Orbit chief executive. “I am confident that root cause and corrective actions will be determined in an efficient and timely manner.” Virgin Orbit — in which Branson’s Virgin group holds a 75 per cent stake — was counting on Monday’s mission to prove that its mobile launch system could be taken to any suitable runway, offering rapid access to space for nations that previously have had to rely on other countries. The system uses a converted 747 jumbo jet to carry a rocket to 35,000 feet altitude where it is released to continue its journey to space. Shares in Virgin Orbit, which was listed just over a year ago through a merger with a special purpose acquisition vehicle, tumbled sharply on news of the failed mission. The shares are down 84 per cent over the past year. The mission was also key to the UK’s ambition to take a share of the rapidly growing market for commercial satellite services from low earth orbit. Increasingly, services such as high speed broadband, and climate monitoring will be delivered from this region of space. The UK, which has six other spaceports under development, had hoped to be the first country to launch a satellite from western Europe. Virgin said Monday’s mission initially went as planned, with the first stage and fairing — the nose cone protecting the satellites — both separating as expected. Recommended News in-depthSpace industry Virgin Orbit scrambles to establish why first UK satellite launch failed The rocket reached an altitude of about 180 kms above Earth, but the engine propelling the second stage carrying the satellites appeared to have cut out prematurely. “This event ended the mission, with the rocket components and payload falling back to Earth within the approved safety corridor without ever achieving orbit,” the company said. An investigation is now under way into the causes of the failure. Virgin has appointed Jim Sponnick, a veteran launch engineer who has supported missions for the US air force, Nasa and commercial customers, as co-investigator, along with its own head of technology development, Chad Foerster, to lead the inquiry. “An extensive fault analysis and investigation and completion of all required corrective actions identified during the investigation will be completed prior to the next flight,” Virgin said. (Source: FT.com)
11 Jan 23. NorthStar Earth & Space signs partnership with Axelspace to provide world’s first combined Ground & Space SSA services.
NorthStar Earth & Space Inc. (“NorthStar”), the first commercial enterprise to offer complete SSA services to monitor all near-Earth orbits from space is pleased to announce an agreement with Axelspace, the Japan-based frontrunner in the Japanese microsatellite market. Starting in January ’23, this collaboration will allow NorthStar to leverage Axelspace’s operational AxelGlobe constellation of 5 Earth Observation LEO satellites to provide complementary data for Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and deliver a more comprehensive coverage of the space domain.
“Sustainability of the space environment is in everyone’s interest. Making use of existing sensor data from AxelGlobe with NorthStar’s proprietary algorithms is an extremely efficient means to improve the quality of commercial SSA services available to operators” said Stewart Bain, Founder & CEO of NorthStar. “NorthStar’s ability to work with leading-edge companies such as Axelspace highlights our unique capabilities to combine data from ground and space sensors and emphasizes our commitment to work collaboratively to solve the most urgent environmental challenges in Space.”
NorthStar is the first commercial enterprise to monitor all near-Earth orbits from space and combine data from a variety of ground-based sensors to provide more extensive coverage. The company’s high precision, next generation navigation and tracking services enable all satellite operators to manage their fleets more effectively, enhance spaceflight safety, avoid collisions, and promote space sustainability.
“The AxelGlobe constellation is composed of Axelspace’s GRUS microsatellites. These are equipped with strong attitude control functionality to respond flexibly to diverse imaging needs. We were consequently able to meet NorthStar’s request to capture near-Earth space data by updating the onboard software of the satellites,” said Yuya Nakamura, the president and CEO of Axelspace. “I am very proud that the advanced capabilities of GRUS are utilized to monitor the orbital environment, a rapidly emerging need in today’s space sector, through close collaboration with NorthStar. Axelspace will continue to contribute actively to expanding the use of microsatellites through partnerships with innovative companies and organizations.” (Source: PR Newswire)
11 Jan 23. Alaska low-cost rocket launch ends in failure over ‘anomaly.’ The private launch of a low-cost rocket able to carry satellites into orbit ended in failure after it experienced an “anomaly”, the startup venture behind the spacecraft said on Tuesday.
“After liftoff, RS1 experienced an anomaly and shut down prematurely,” ABL Space Systems wrote on Twitter, describing how the rocket failed soon after its launch from the Pacific Spaceport Center on Alaska’s Kodiak Island.
The company said it would investigate the failure alongside the spaceport and the Federal Aviation Administration. “This is not the outcome we were hoping for today, but one that we prepared for,” ABL added.
The company said the launch facility had been damaged in the failed flight. “All personnel are safe, and fires have subsided. We’ll plan our return to flight after investigations are complete,” ABL said, adding: “We are chomping at the bit for Flight 2.”
ABL had described its rocket as “a simple way to get a ride to orbit”, adding it was designed to be mass-produced. In November, ABL cancelled a RS1 launch after a valve in the fuel pressurisation system failed.
In 2o21, Lockheed Martin signed a deal with ABL to buy 58 launches of the RS1 until 2029. The RS1 is capable of delivering payloads of up to 1,350kg to low Earth orbit.
The failure comes just hours after the Virgin Orbit LauncherOne rocket suffered an “anomaly” that prevented it from reaching orbit after it had launched from a site in Newquay, Cornwall. Seven customers had satellites on the rocket. (Source: FT.com)
11 Jan 23. Rocket Factory Augsburg’s first launch to take place from SaxaVord Spaceport. Launch service provider Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA) and SaxaVord Spaceport have today announced their launch operations partnership. RFA will have exclusive access to Launch Pad Fredo for orbital launches, meaning the company’s first launch of its RFA ONE launch system – currently planned for the end of 2023 – will take place from the northernmost point in the UK.
The commercial Spaceport in Shetland is ideally located for RFA to launch payloads at high cadence into polar and sun-synchronous orbits. Existing logistics and infrastructure, launch readiness, as well as rapid implementation and matching mentality were key factors why RFA chose to partner with SaxaVord. With the multi-year partnership, which includes investments in the double-digit m pound range, RFA is securing its first-flight launch site in order to be able to provide its services individually and flexibly to customer requirements.
The launch pad and launch stool were fully completed by the end of 2022. The RFA launch pad is therefore the first for vertical orbital rocket launches in the UK and mainland Europe. In the future, the launch pad will not only be used for orbital launches, but for testing and qualification of the RFA ONE core stages. These tests are expected to begin in mid-2023. The first launch will then be into a 500 km high sun-synchronous orbit.
“We are super excited to launch our first flight from SaxaVord. This partnership of privately financed companies enables the spirit and speed that we need, to be on top of the commercial small launch competition,” said Jörn Spurmann, Chief Commercial Officer at RFA. “The SaxaVord team was incredibly determined to build our launch pad and get the operations up and running. We are proud to be part of this historic event for the UK having built the first launch pad in mainland Europe. We firmly believe in the UK’s strategic space vision and are absolutely convinced that the double-digit m investment in the site is well placed on our part.”
SaxaVord Spaceport CEO Frank Strang said: “We’re delighted to kick off the New Year by announcing our partnership with RFA. We will support RFA across the entire lifecycle of a launch, from facilitating testing, inspections, fueling and safety, to supplying MET weather data and access to our ground station network for data capture and distribution. The entire team cannot wait to welcome RFA and work closely as we edge closer to the UK’s first vertical space launch in Unst.”
The partnership will allow RFA to launch satellites, the majority of which are active in two major areas: Earth observation and communications. The data collected by these satellites can benefit any industry. Examples of applications include: Optimization of logistics routes, early detection of forest fires, Internet of Things, analysis of ground conditions, maintenance of infrastructure, collection of health data, self-driving cars, climate and environmental protection. In this way, RFA acts as an enabler to better connect, understand, and protect our Earth.
SaxaVord Spaceport (SaxaVord) is the UK’s first vertical satellite launch facility and ground station located at Lamba Ness in Unst, Shetland. Given Unst is the UK’s highest point of latitude, SaxaVord offers customers a geographic competitive advantage enabling unrivalled payloads per satellite, launch site operations, a network of ground stations, as well as in-orbit data collection and analysis. SaxaVord has received endorsement from the UK Space Agency’s (UKSA) Sceptre Report and formed industry-leading partnerships. It has also been chosen to host the UKSA’s UK Pathfinder launch, which will be delivered by Lockheed Martin and ABL Systems, in 2022.
10 Jan 23. Spaceflight and Maritime Launch Agree to Future Sherpa OTV Missions.
• The launch services provider will launch its OTVs from Spaceport Nova Scotia
Spaceflight Inc., a premier launch and in-space transportation services provider, announced today it signed an agreement with Maritime Launch Services Inc. (NEO: MAXQ, OTCQB: MAXQF) to launch up to five of its Sherpa™ Orbital Transfer Vehicles (OTVs). The launches will be from Spaceport Nova Scotia aboard the Cyclone-4M beginning in 2025.
Spaceflight has successfully delivered more than 550 spacecraft across 55 launches, including both rideshare and dedicated launches, on a wide variety of launch vehicles. This includes launching five Sherpa OTVs which carried more than 50 payloads to space.
“We’re eager to expand our portfolio of launch vehicle partners to carry our Sherpa OTVs to space. Maritime Launch represents an exciting new option as the first vehicle partner to launch from a commercial spaceport in North America,” said Curt Blake, CEO and president of Spaceflight Inc. “Not only does the Cyclone-4M deliver a wide variety of desirable inclinations for our customers, but the pricing is very attractive. The agreements to transport our Sherpa OTVs are foundational in our continuing efforts to expand our OTV capabilities from last-mile delivery to in-orbit servicing.”
Maritime Launch is developing North America’s first commercial spaceport, Spaceport Nova Scotia, near Canso, Nova Scotia. The company will launch the Cyclone-4M, a medium class launch vehicle with a payload capability of five tons to low Earth orbit. Satellite companies can rely on the vehicle components’ flight heritage, demonstrated by several operators globally, boasting approximately 878 successful launches.
“We are thrilled to have Spaceflight aboard our Cyclone-4M launches starting in 2025,” says Stephen Matier, president and CEO of Maritime Launch. “Spaceflight is a global leader with unmatched experience in mission management and payload integration. Our partnership will increase our launch offerings and provide our clients with innovative, last-mile delivery of their payload to orbit.”
Launch of the Sherpa OTVs for rideshare customers on Cyclone-4M will accommodate CubeSats, smallsats, and large form-factor customer vehicles. In 2022, Spaceflight successfully launched both its experimental OTVs – Sherpa-AC for hosted payloads, and Sherpa-LTC, which features chemical propulsion. The company is also underway preparing for the launch of the next variation in its Sherpa OTV program – Sherpa-ES, a higher energy variant with a bipropellant, high delta-V OTV that enables smallsat delivery anywhere in cislunar space. (Source: ASD Network)
10 Jan 23. Blue Canyon Technologies Provides Small Satellite Critical Technologies on Transporter-6 Launch.
Small satellite manufacturer and mission services provider Blue Canyon Technologies, LLC (“BCT” or “Blue Canyon”), a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, today announced its contributions to the first orbital launch of 2023. The Transporter-6 launch pitched 114 small payloads into polar orbit on January 3, with Blue Canyon providing critical hardware components for several of the SmallSat missions aboard.
“At Blue Canyon, enabling our customers to achieve optimal results for diverse space and aerospace missions is a top priority. By offering a comprehensive suite of spacecraft services and technology products, BCT can meet various mission objectives with our flight-proven and flexible designs,” said Jeff Schrader, President of Blue Canyon Technologies.
Blue Canyon products aboard the launch include five high-performance FleXcore attitude control systems and six flight sets of reaction wheels. BCT’s FleXcore is a superior attitude control system that is developed with stellar-based attitude solutions. Equipped with a powerful processing core and coupled with BCT’s reaction wheel assemblies, these systems provide dependable performance that safeguard mission success.
Blue Canyon’s reaction wheels are uniquely built to provide spacecraft with the precise combination of torque and momentum storage required to navigate a successful mission. They are equipped with brushless DC motors that have higher efficiency and performance, as well as higher torque to weight ratio. The payloads on the Transporter-6 launch had various missions, including technology demonstration, Earth observation (“EO”), communications, and signals intelligence. Blue Canyon’s work was performed in Boulder, Colorado. (Source: ASD Network)
10 Jan 23. OneWeb today confirmed the successful deployment of 40 satellites launched by SpaceX from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on January 9. This launch is OneWeb’s 16th to-date, with only two more launches remaining to complete its first-generation constellation enabling global connectivity in 2023.
Lift-off took place on Monday, 9 January 2023 at 11:50 p.m. ET. OneWeb’s satellites separated successfully from the rocket and were dispensed in 3 phases over a period of 1 hour and 35 minutes, with signal acquisition on all 40 satellites confirmed.
With 542 satellites now in orbit, OneWeb has more than 80% of its first-generation constellation launched. With this launch, OneWeb kicks-off its ‘Countdown to Global Connectivity’ campaign marking the final launches remaining to complete its first-generation LEO satellite constellation that will offer high-speed, low latency connectivity solutions.
OneWeb has connectivity solutions active today with its distribution partners in Alaska, Canada, the UK, Greenland and wider Arctic area, with expanded services coming online soon across the U.S, Southern Europe, Australia, Middle East and more. With each new area covered, OneWeb and its partners can provide internet connectivity to a greater number of unserved and underserved rural and remote communities and businesses.
Neil Masterson, Chief Executive Officer of OneWeb, commented: “Yesterday’s launch is a thrilling way to start 2023 and at OneWeb, this launch brings us even closer to completing our constellation and launching connectivity services around the world. OneWeb believes that connection everywhere changes everything and each of these launches provides us with more capacity to help our partners connect communities, businesses, and governments around the world. I want to thank SpaceX for their continued support, which has now brought about two successful launches. Every launch is a team effort, and we are grateful to everyone who makes these incredible moments possible.”
09 Jan 23. Space Force looking to extend laser communications to satellites in higher orbits. The U.S. Space Force is requesting information on laser communications systems to connect satellites in medium and high orbits. Optical communications terminals that use lasers to beam data across space are being acquired by the Space Force’s Space Development Agency and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for low Earth orbit constellations. The new request for information (RFI) issued Jan. 4 describes possible plans to expand the military’s information highway in space to much higher orbits.
“The U.S. Space Systems Command is pursuing an enterprise laser communications solution for spacecraft crosslinks in the beyond low Earth orbit (bLEO) regimes for a wide variety of future space platforms,” says the RFI. These optical links would connect satellites in orbits ranging from 10,000 to more than 35,000 kilometers above Earth.
The Space Force is researching options for a “future backbone of a resilient mesh network” to support military users of satellites in medium and geostationary Earth orbits.
The RFI notes that “significant investment in lasercom crosslinks has already been applied by the LEO commercial users, the Space Development Agency, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, and the Air Force Research Laboratory among others.” The Space Systems Command does not want to “initiate another technology development program for lasercom crosslinks but rather capitalize on work previously accomplished or in progress.”
Optical terminals have become key components of commercial and DoD’s low Earth orbit constellations which rely on satellite-to-satellite crosslinks so data collected in space can be securely transported and downlinked to data centers on the ground.
A likely application for MEO laser terminals are missile-detection satellites the Space Force and the Missile Defense Agency are currently developing as an additional layer to the U.S. missile-defense architecture. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Space News)
09 Jan 23. UK’s bid to launch satellites fails after rocket ‘anomaly.’ Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne prevented from gaining orbit in major blow to British space ambitions. Britain’s historic attempt to launch the first commercial satellites from western Europe failed on Monday night when Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket suffered an “anomaly” that prevented it from reaching orbit. The failed mission is a severe blow not just for the UK, which had hoped to beat rival spaceports in Norway and Sweden to claim the crown as Europe’s leading provider of launch services, but also to Virgin Orbit, which was aiming to prove that its horizontal launch system could fly satellites from anywhere in the world with a suitable runway. It is also a significant setback for the seven customers that had satellites on the Virgin Orbit rocket, launched from Newquay airport, Cornwall, just after 10pm. They included a joint UK-US military research mission, Oman’s first orbital spacecraft designed for earth observation, a demonstrator satellite from UK start-up Space Forge and a payload designed to track maritime activity from the UK’s Satellite Applications Catapult. Virgin Orbit announced the “anomaly” 10 minutes before midnight, less than an hour after the rocket was launched from Cosmic Girl, a Boeing 747 jumbo jet converted to release LauncherOne at 35,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. The mission appeared to be going so smoothly that Virgin Orbit prematurely posted on Twitter that its rocket had reached orbit. Cosmic Girl had released the rocket without a problem, and it had jettisoned its first stage. But at 11.46pm, just as the jumbo jet was returning to land safely in Newquay, Virgin Orbit suddenly posted on Twitter: “We appear to have an anomaly that has prevented us from reaching orbit. We are evaluating the information.” Image from a livestream of booster rockets firing on Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne © PA The company soon halted the livestream that had attracted close to 50,000 viewers, thanking customers and Spaceport Cornwall for their efforts. Alice Bunn, president of the trade body UKspace, said the failure was a disappointment, but she expected the UK to make a second attempt. “Space is hard,” she said. “If you look back at the history of space, there have been quite a few failures. You work out what happened and then you get up and try again.” The UK had taken a very commercial approach to developing space capability, she said, which would allow for swifter decisions on a renewed attempt than some European competitors. It was unclear, however, how soon Virgin Orbit would be able to try again. Matt Archer, commercial space director at the UK Space Agency, told journalists at the site that Virgin Orbit and the UK government would investigate the failure, according to Reuters. “The second-stage engine had a technical anomaly and didn’t reach the required orbit,” he said. An investigation could take some time, depending on the cause and gravity of the problem. Last month, Europe’s Vega-C midsized rocket failed and is expected to be grounded for several months while an inquiry is carried out. Melissa Thorpe, head of Spaceport Cornwall, was also quoted by the BBC, saying the failure was “absolutely gutting”. (Source: FT.com)
09 Jan 23. European Space Agency Joins Forces with Euroconsult to Support Budding Space Entrepreneurs. ESA has announced a partnership with Euroconsult to empower entrepreneurship and the development of innovative space solutions. Focusing on European space start-ups incubated in the ESA BIC network, the collaboration will provide incubated companies and alumni with an exclusive rate for market intelligence and insights, as well as valuable networking opportunities, leveraging Euroconsult’s extensive experience across the entire space sector.
The European Space Agency has signed a letter of intent on behalf of its network of business incubation centres to boost its offering for space start-ups with high growth potential, through the provision of market analysis and networking opportunities. Leading global strategy consulting and market intelligence firm Euroconsult, who specialise in the space sector and satellite-enabled verticals, has signed this letter of intent to supply dedicated insight and connection opportunities that aim to enhance knowledge and access to business opportunities for the incubated companies.
ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs), an initiative launched in 2003 by the European Space Agency’s Technology Transfer Programme Office, have grown to become the largest network of space incubators in Europe. More than 25 Centres have been established to date in some 80 locations across all the ESA Member States, each hosting a selection of young, local companies working within the space sector value chain. Incubated companies can remain on the programme for up to two years before graduating and benefit from funding, coaching, technical advice and a global network of industry and research contacts, with more than 1200 companies making up the prestigious list of alumni/ incubated companies to date.
Euroconsult are set to augment the ESA BIC benefits for both incubated companies and alumni, through a new collaboration that will offer access to industry leading market intelligence reports at a preferred rate. Furthermore, Euroconsult will also deliver a series of webinars, offering valuable insight into multiple segments across the global space value chain, beginning with a dedicated showcase of their much anticipated 2022 Space Economy report.
In addition, the collaboration will provide prominent space sector entrepreneurs with networking opportunities at all of Euroconsult’s events, including the chance to rub shoulders with top level executives from major established space companies at Euroconsult’s flagship annual conference, World Satellite Business Week in Paris.
ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher stated, “this partnership between Euroconsult and our Business Incubation Centres emphasizes the priority we give to space commercialisation and to the development of high-potential space startups. Through this partnership, we will complement the technical and market intelligence support we already provide to our BIC startups with additional intelligence and networking opportunities, further supporting them in their journey to scaling-up. This partnership is to be seen in the frame of our ScaleUp programme proposed to European Ministers for subscription in ESA’s next Ministerial Council this November.”
The main objective of the ESA BIC programme is to support entrepreneurs with space-based business ideas, catalysing regional clusters of space related start-ups across Europe. Each ESA BIC is managed locally by organisations that connect the ESA BICs to private industry, academia, research bodies and investment communities within the homegrown space ecosystem, whilst ensuring links to the wider national and international business landscape.
Pacôme Révillon, Chief Executive Officer of Euroconsult, said “We are delighted to announce this exciting partnership and look forward to supporting the European Space Agency and leading space entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Euroconsult’s specialist brand of market intelligence, analysis and insight into the latest trends and opportunities will help to empower entrepreneurship and contribute to the development of innovative commercial space solutions for an industry that continues to go from strength to strength.”
The collaboration between ESA BIC and Euroconsult is set to commence with immediate effect, with the first webinar and the exclusive preview of the 2022 Space Economy report on 19th January.
03 Jan 23. Stanford’s Sapling Sempervirens smallsat to launch on the SpaceX Transporter-6 mission. Stanford Student Space Initiative (SSI), an undergraduate student group at Stanford University, will launch the Sapling Sempervirens (Sapling-1) satellite on the SpaceX Transporter-6 mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
The launch is planned for Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023. Sapling-1 will be deployed from Launcher Space’s Launcher Orbiter vehicle approximately one week after the launch. SpaceX will host a livestream of the launch at this direct link.
The successful launch and operation of Sapling will mark the start of open source, scientific satellite missions designed and built by undergraduate students at Stanford. Such missions will seek to advance humanity’s understanding of Earth and our place in the universe while expanding space’s accessibility for those without significant experience and financial resources.
The Sapling spacecraft’s specific mission is to demonstrate autonomous cloud filtering and smart downlinking of images using a Google Coral payload camera and Google Coral Edge TPU coprocessor. The satellite, which uses silicon solar cells, employs this highly efficient computing platform for performance without relying on higher priced GaAS cells.
The Sapling project leverages the novel opportunities available in space today. Recent rapid growth in the private space sector has generated accessible launch pricing and reliable launch opportunities, including the SpaceX rideshare mission series. SSI students have developed satellite manufacturing processes achievable in a collegiate lab setting.
Sapling makes use of the novel PyCubed SmallSat framework; as a result, the satellite is completely programmable in CircuitPython. All project files are open-source and published through GitHub. With these resources, mission-driven students can develop space-based capabilities, handle flight hardware, and take engineering skills from the classroom into orbit.
Sapling Sempervirens takes its name from sequoia sempervirens, or the coast redwood, a nod to Stanford’s mascot, the Tree. SSI’s next satellite is named for sequoiadendron giganteum, the giant sequoia, and will launch on the SpaceX Transporter 7 mission no earlier than April of 2023.
06 Jan 23. Launched: SpaceX’s 2Gen Starlink satellites + ImageSat International’s EROS C-3 satellite. SpaceX Starlink satellites en route to their orbits aboard a Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
On Wednesday, December 28th at 4:34 a.m., ET, SpaceX launched 54 Starlink satellites to LEO from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
This was the 11th launch and landing for this Falcon 9 first stage booster, which previously launched GPS III Space Vehicle 04, GPS III Space Vehicle 05, Inspiration4, Ax-1, Nilesat 301, and now six Starlink missions.
This launch marked the first of Starlink’s upgraded network. Under the company’s new license, SpaceX is now able to deploy satellites to new orbits that will add even more capacity to the network. Ultimately, this enables SpaceX to add more customers and provide faster service — particularly in areas that are currently over-subscribed.
Then, on Thursday, December 29th at 11:38 p.m. PT, a Falcon 9 launched the ImageSat International (ISI) EROS C-3 (Earth Resources Observation Systems C) mission to a LEO from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
This was the 11th launch of this booster, which previously supported the launch of Crew-1, Crew-2, SXM-8, CRS-23, IXPE, Transporter-4, Transporter-5, Globalstar FM15, and two Starlink missions.
According to the company, Starlink now has more than 1,000,000 active subscribers across the globe. (Source: Satnews)
01 Jan 23. Eight companies join Catalyst Accelerator’s Int’l SDA cohort.
Eight small businesses will come together from across the globe for the Catalyst Accelerator’s cohort focused on International Space Domain Awareness (SDA). The Catalyst Accelerator, powered by the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV), was developed to promote technology advancement for the warfighter and guide technology transfer for the government to industry and vice versa. With private sectors around the world accelerating new capabilities for Space Domain Awareness (SDA), the U.S. and its partners are interested in increasing the ability to support and enhance the awareness of the space environment with commercial data and tools for shared security and prosperity — both U.S. and international solutions, with commercial market viability, were sought out across a wide array of relevant technologies to participate in the Catalyst Accelerator’s International SDA cohort.
The International Space Domain Awareness cohort met in-person for two weeks at a time over a three month period that started on August 9th of last year. Each company collaborated with subject matter experts, worked with government liaisons and commercial Sherpas, and completed an intensive customer discovery process. Each of the eight companies will receive grant funding, thanks to the Catalyst Accelerator’s corporate sponsor, ONE Dev. The cohort concluded with a Demo Day on November 3rd where the companies pitched their technology to government and industry partners.
KiMar Gartman, Program Director for The Catalyst Accelerator, said, “The Catalyst Accelerator had applications from around the world for this Accelerator. It was exciting to read through the capabilities being developed on a global scale. We have selected eight companies that we feel will fit well together and offer capabilities that will assist the international effort to detect, track, and characterize space objects. We are looking forward to an amazing Accelerator session!” Capt Jake Singleton, SSC SDA Acquisition Delta, expressed, “As the acquisition arm of the US Space Force, Space Systems Command prioritizes global partnerships to deliver space capability for shared security. We recognize that space technology development today is accelerating in a global marketplace, and we are excited to bring together a cohort of companies from around the world to accelerate innovative dual-use SDA capabilities in that market.“
The Catalyst Accelerator team, with technical advisement from both government and industry experts, selected the following small businesses to participate in the upcoming International Space Domain Awareness cohort:
• Astrosite (Sydney, NSW, Australia) uses advanced high speed optical sensors and AI to rapidly deliver new insights into the space domain. Their neuromorphic sensors coupled with advanced AI techniques create unique data and insights for SDA and EO applications. The system is low power and produces only relevant data which enables their proprietary algorithms to rapidly produce unique insights from the ground or in space. Astrosite solutions enable the design of an agile global sensor network that can be redeployed in 24 hours. The system provides synchronized microsecond resolution across a network and creates digital fingerprints of resident space objects, these advanced characterization.
• Clutch Space Systems Limited (Guildford, United Kingdom) is leading the revolution for the next generation of spacecraft operations on low earth orbit, with persistent connectivity, and real-time situational awareness for tangible improvements in mission efficiency and utility. They are providing global coverage through their network of micro-ground stations, each with a simultaneous capacity of twenty satellites, for telemetry, tracking and control, and for real-time spacecraft situational awareness position and attitude.
• HEO Robotics (Sydney, Australia) has a mission to image anything within the Solar System on demand. They provide resolved images and analytics of space objects to governments and commercial satellite operators that provide critical insights, such as object identification, satellite damage assessment and more. They do this through using their flyby inspection technique, where they use Earth Observation (EO) satellites during their downtime to image other space objects as they fly past. They have 33 satellites that they have access to today and are building toward 2,500 cameras to provide ubiquitous and on-demand coverage of all Earth orbits.
• Katalyst Space Technologies (Flagstaff, Arizona) develops modular spacecraft designs and mission architectures that interact with on-orbit robotics to increase responsiveness, and mission flexibility. Katalyst’s mission is to advance innovations with in-space servicing and assembly while solving existing problems like space congestion and space traffic management. Katalyst’s retrofittable SDA module is designed to non-invasively attach to spacecraft without prepared interfaces to provide local awareness. The project is planned to launch a demonstration mission in May 2024. Katalyst also develops automated software for use with existing SDA infrastructure like ground and space-based sensors to characterize resident space objects for space, size, and attitude.
• Lumi Space (Yateley, United Kingdom) is enabling sustainable space activity for future generations with precise space surveillance data. They are deploying a global network of ground-based systems for satellite tracking, including Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR). By measuring the position of satellites in orbit precisely, they can predict their paths more accurately than existing methods. In doing this, they are critical to minimizing uncertainty in collision warnings and enabling exciting new space applications. They see data uncertainty as the biggest risk to global space activity, and a significant limiting factor for many novel space companies (active debris removal, in-space manufacturing, rendezvous, and proximity operations to name a few).
• Meta Mission Data (Lincoln, United Kingdom; Washington, DC) looks beyond sensors, terminals, and platforms to put data first in C4ISR mission effects. They combine deep operational ISR experience with mission-focused engineering across Tactical Data Links, complex Data Analytics, and Information Assurance to create adaptive solutions for multi-domain customers. Their unique Low Earth Orbit Airborne Space Surveillance Operations (LASSO) software optimizes traditional lookdown EO/IR camera systems for the detection, tracking, imaging, and classification of Resident Space Objects. LASSO delivers an innovative solution for Space Domain Awareness that can be rapidly re-tasked and networked into a game-changing global system for the Space sector.
• Silentium Defence (Adelaide, Australia) is a global leader in the design and deployment of passive radar systems for tactical and strategic surveillance scenarios. A disruptive technology, designed and developed in Australia, their unique situational awareness solutions enable customers to detect without compromise and act with confidence across sea, air, land, and space domains. Their MAVERICK S-series sensors provide the ability to persistently track objects across a wide arc of space, providing accurate, independent data for space traffic management. In an increasingly congested domain, MAVERICK S-series provides globally unique, cost-effective space surveillance data. Silentium Defence is on a mission to change the way the world does surveillance and help keep people, places, and critical assets safe.
About Catalyst Accelerator
The Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate and United States Space Force’s Catalyst Accelerator is a NewSpace-focused defense and national security industry accelerator, headquartered on the Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation (CCTI, a Colorado 501(c)3) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. CCTI is a collaborative ecosystem where industry, small business, entrepreneurs, startups, government, academia, and investors intersect with Colorado’s aerospace and defense industry to create community, spark innovation, and stimulate business growth. (Source: Satnews)
01 Jan 23. Kleos Vigilance Mission intelligence released to customers.
Kleos Space S.A. has successfully processed RF data collected by the company’s Vigilance Mission (KSF1) satellites through its signal processing technology platform to create its geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) product, LOCATE, which has been released to initial customers alongside other intelligence collected by the Vigilance Mission.
The Kleos proprietary technology platform uses signal processing techniques to convert the raw data collected from sensors onboard Kleos’ RF data collection satellite constellation that is designed to collect and downlink RF data accurately and with redundancy, or potentially from other sources, into actionable intelligence.
The technology platform performs signal analysis and processing operations to detect and locate targets, cooperative or not. The geospatial intelligence product output from the technology platform (LOCATE) provides the frequency of the detected transmitter, the reception time, the transmitter coordinates, and the confidence ellipse parameters. LOCATE provides a valuable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability to governments and commercial entities. It complements other intelligence sources to improve the detection of illegal and/or hidden activity such as piracy, drug, and people smuggling, illegal fishing, pollution, and border challenges.
Recent advancements in Kleos’ ground signal processing technology now allow the company to deliver the LOCATE geospatial intelligence product with as few as two satellites in a formation, a reduction from the previous minimum of three. The algorithm advancements will also facilitate the ability for Kleos’ processing platform to ingest raw data from other sensors in addition to those owned by Kleos, potentially accelerating the volume of intelligence available to customers with the possibility of lower CAPEX spending.
The next mission, the Patrol Mission (KSF3), is launching on SpaceX Transporter 6 and is now expected to launch in January of 2023.
Kleos CEO, Andy Bowyer, said, “Our geospatial intelligence is now available to initial customers, with additional data volumes being made available as we bring more of our satellite constellation online. Our technology delivers actionable intelligence from sensor collections, helping solve some of the world’s greatest societal, economic, and environmental challenges.” (Source: Satnews)
02 Jan 23. Synspective’s 3rd SAR satellite, StriX-1’s, first image captured Venice’s lagoon in Italy. Synspective Inc., a SAR satellite data and analytics solution provider, has successfully acquired the image from its third SAR satellite, “StriX-1”.
“StriX-1” was launched by Rocket Lab’s Electron from New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula launch site on September 16, 2022 (JST) and put into target orbit at an altitude of 561km in a sun-synchronous orbit (SSO). Since then, it has been operating effectively and has successfully observed several places around the world including Venice and its lagoon in Italy.
Dr. Motoyuki Arai, Founder/CEO of Synspective Inc. commented, First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Syspective members and everyone who contributed to the successful acquisition of data by our “StriX-1.” Following the demonstration satellites “StriX-α” and “StriX-β”, our commercial prototype “StriX-1” successfully entered into orbit and acquired data. We are making great strides toward business expansion as well as the construction of a satellite constellation.
In 2023, we concluded many business partnerships both in Japan and overseas and realized again the growing need for SAR satellite data in various fields. With the recent success of image acquisition, we will continue to provide high-frequency and high-quality SAR satellite data in line with the needs of society and customers, as well as enhance our solutions using satellite data in the areas of infrastructure development and disaster mitigation.“
Toshihiro Obata, Board Director/General Manager of Satellite System Development Dept. Synspective Inc. said, It has been about three months since the successful launch and orbit insertion on September 16. I would like to express my gratitude to all the Synspective development, manufacturing, and operation members, as well as our external partners for their hard work that led to the stable operation of StriX-1 and its image acquisition.
Following the successful acquisition of images by the commercial prototype, whose mission is to expand our business, subsequent satellites are required to stably supply even higher quality data, and we need to focus on building systems and processes aimed at producing a large number of satellites. We will continue to work together with in-house members and cooperating companies to make steady progress.“ (Source: Satnews)
06 Jan 23. Gilmour Space releases the mission patch for its maiden launch. Gilmour Space has revealed the mission patch for the Test Flight 1 mission, the maiden launch of its Australian-made Eris rocket.
The company is at the last stages of its preparation for its maiden launch of the Eris rocket, which is currently scheduled for April 2023 at the earliest.
The launch will be a watershed moment for the Australian space industry, as the rocket is the first completely Australian orbital launch system to go into space.
Gilmour’s Eris rocket is special for several reasons aside from its label of being Australian made. The propulsion system that will launch Eris to orbit is a hybrid propulsion system developed entirely by Gilmour Space.
The engines use a combination of both liquid oxidiser and a proprietary solid fuel to produce a record 115 kilonewtons of efficient combustion.
The hybrid Sirius engines that will power Eris to space have been tested extensively, with Gilmour completing its final set of qualification tests of the Sirius engine in November last year.
Adam Gilmour, chief executive officer of Gilmour Space, spoke about the engines his company had developed.
“This is the most powerful rocket engine ever developed in Australia; and it achieved its mission duration requirement before failure,” he said.
Eris still has a few finishing touches to go before it is ready to go to the launch pad. The company is aiming to have the rocket entirely complete by March this year and will then move towards a test flight from Bowen in North Queensland.
“We’re confident it will take off the pad, but no first launch vehicle from a new company has ever successfully gone to space on the first try,” said Gilmour.
“What generally happens is the second one works, so we’re building two of them so we can learn from the first and succeed with the second.”
Following the test flights, the Eris rocket will be equipped with a range of payloads when it starts its “Block 1″missions late this year.
With a payload capacity of up to 215 kilograms there is room for multiple different small spacecraft on the Eris rocket.
Among those that will hitch a ride to space on Eris is a specially designed thermal constructed by Macquarie University’s Australian Astronomical Optics department. The camera will be integrated into a Gilmour Space satellite which will launch on Eris, and will be used for monitoring weather, water quality and detecting bushfires.(Source: Space Connect)
09 Jan 23. Skykraft launches Australian ATM payload into space. Canberra-based Skykraft has launched the first five of what it plans will be a 200-strong constellation of Air Traffic Management (ATM) satellites. The launch, in early January 2023, sent the largest Australian-made payload into space: at approximately 300kg, this locally manufactured satellite stack weighs more than the total mass of all Australian-built space objects ever launched.
The 5 satellites lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on 4 January 2023 on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Another 195 satellites will go into to orbit around the Earth over the next 2 years to make global air travel smoother and more efficient.
They will form a constellation to deliver Skykraft’s global, space-based ATM service which will track aircraft and address gaps in surveillance and communications over remote areas.
“This first launch is just the start,” said Dr Michael Frater, CEO of Skykraft. “Over the next 2 years, Skykraft is building and launching a satellite constellation that will accurately track and monitor aircraft movements globally, allowing aircraft to follow more efficient flight routes.”
Airservices Australia is supporting the proof-of-concept of the technology of the ATM service through a collaboration agreement with Slykraft. This is part of Airservices’ strategy to transition to space-based services. Skykraft is also working closely with partners in the Pacific where the ability to provide ATM services is particularly relevant with vast amounts of the ocean and little land mass for infrastructure.
ATM relies on communications, surveillance and navigation services. Currently, ground-based infrastructure is limited to approximately 400km from land which makes it difficult to accurately track aircraft and ensure their safety over oceanic and remote areas.
To address the limitations of ground-based infrastructure, Skykraft’s space-based ATM uses the ADS-B signal to track aircraft movements globally. Skykraft’s satellite constellation will also provide VHF voice and data communications between air traffic controllers and aircraft. This particularly benefits air travel across remote and oceanic regions, enabling seamless communication globally and reducing the separation between aircraft.
“This proof of concept launch will see Skykraft testing the operational capability over the next 3 months. We expect commercial operations to commence in 2025 when air navigation service providers around the world take up the service,” said AVM (Retd) Mark Skidmore, Chairman of Skykraft
“We are taking giant leaps forward into a whole new era in space and creating a global industry from our nation’s capital. We are creating a capable and robust space economy, starting with the design and manufacture of satellites, giving young aerospace engineers the opportunity to run space missions, making a career in the space industry a reality in Australia.”
“We rely on air traffic control to avoid mid-air collisions, even in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. With Skykraft’s service, air traffic controllers will be able to see the aircraft at all times and talk directly with the pilot anywhere in the world,” said Dr Michael Frater, CEO of Skykraft.
“So if you’re flying from Sydney to LA and your aircraft hits turbulence, the pilot will now be able to get a clearance to change altitude much more quickly. For passengers, this means they won’t need to be seated for long periods of time, and for airlines savings on fuel and a reduction in the environmental impact. (Source: Rumour Control)
08 Jan 23. Historic UK satellite launch may spur military appetite.
A mobile air-launched rocket system to be used in Britain’s first domestic satellite launch could sow the seeds for a globally dispersed rapid-response capability to put extra eyes in space in times of war, executives and analysts said.
Virgin Orbit (VORB.O), part-owned by billionaire Richard Branson, plans to launch nine satellites from a LauncherOne rocket attached under the wing of a modified Boeing 747, to be flown from a new spaceport in Cornwall on Monday.
Barring delays, it will be the first time a satellite has departed from western European soil.
For now the focus is on commercial payloads from companies such as Space Forge, which is developing in-orbit manufacturing.
But the launch is also seen by many as a blueprint for quicker launches of limited satellite capacity for tactical military purposes, in what planners call “Responsive Launch”.
“Ukraine woke up the world in a lot of ways,” Virgin Orbit Chief Executive Dan Hart told a news conference in southwest England on Sunday.
“Clearly there is a hope of a pan-European, as well as a U.S. collaboration … and that we have responsiveness so that if something happens in the world, we can get assets there right away,” he told the pre-launch briefing, monitored online.
Virgin Orbit said last year Britain’s Royal Air Force was doing exercises to demonstrate the value of “Responsive Launch”.
Britain had a brief foray into space launch activities in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when its Black Arrow rocket was cancelled after just one successful mission.
The rocket’s four launches took place in Australia in an era when commercial satellites barely existed.
Now, constellations of miniaturised satellites are heading an explosion of commercial activity in low Earth orbit.
‘FLEXIBLE AND AGILE’
Lobbing small satellites into low orbit at short notice would do little more than fill temporary gaps in coverage from large spy satellites, but experts say the technology has some dual civil and military potential and could spread costs.
“It gives you greater resilience or redundancy or duality of systems, whether that’s for position, navigation and timing or quicker access … as we’ve seen in Ukraine,” Ian Annett, deputy chief executive of the UK Space Agency, told Sunday’s briefing.
“It’s a natural transition that helps us develop security capabilities, but also, for government, keeps costs down whilst providing commercial opportunities as well.”
Elon Musk’s SpaceX activated its Starlink constellation over Ukraine after Russia’s invasion last February. Its communication links have been used by civilians and by Ukraine’s military.
Luxembourg said in October it had signed a letter of intent with Virgin Orbit to develop a “rapid and flexible response to different threats”, for NATO and other allies.
Its defence ministry has called for “new, more flexible and agile satellite launch procedures and techniques from Europe”.
Britain’s own 2022-25 space roadmap calls for dual-use capabilities in Earth Observation and Space Domain Awareness.
Virgin Orbit is also talking to Japan and Australia.
Questions remain, however, over how quickly the mobile launch concept could work its way into actual budgets, which are dwarfed by U.S. spending on space.
“Everyone is playing up military space as the next big thing,” said UK-based defence analyst Francis Tusa. “But ministries of defence have eyes larger than their stomachs.”
The system’s liquid propellant and final rocket assembly also require some local infrastructure, and Europe’s crowded airspace has thrown up significant regulatory obstacles.
“At the moment, it’s a bit bigger on the commercial side, but we see the defence and national security side growing so I think in this steady state, it’ll probably end up being 50/50,” Hart told Reuters.
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