Space Digest

January 19–25, 2015

Photo of the Week

Launch of Atlas V with MUOS-3. Credit: ULA

Video of the Week

MUOS-3 Mission Highlights. Credit: ULA

Quote of the Week

Good luck, Captain. Make sure to Instagram it. We’re proud of you.

Barack Obama about astronaut Scott Kelly’s upcoming full-year mission at the International Space Station

Our’s of the Week

We have published long-awaited 2014 Year in Spaceflight Review. 92 space launches conducted in 2014, 11 more than in 2013. There were two failures (Proton-M and Antares) and two debuts (GSLV Mk II and Angara A5). Rockets of Soyuz family were launched for 22 times. Baikonur hosted 21 launch. Russia conducted 33 launches, 18 of which — Federal Space Agency Roscosmos.

296 satellites were launched in 2014, comparing to 212 in 2013. A total of near 337 tons of payload was launched into space in 2014, approximately 10 tons more than in 2013 (both figures include those payload destroyed during rocket failures). More than 25 tons (25,550 kg) of cargo was delivered to the ISS in 2014 by 9 cargo spaceships. Also in 2014, Russian Soyuz TMAs manned spaceships delivered to the ISS 12 astronauts and cosmonauts. This information and far more you can find in our Review.

News of the Week

SpaceX, Google, Virgin Galactic and other all in a satellite Internet gold-rush

SpaceX has submitted to international regulators the necessary documentation for a global satellite constellation to provide Internet connectivity. The constellation will include near 4,000 satellites in low Earth orbit and planned for initial service within five years.

Announcing the satellite Internet project Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO, said his company would not be pursuing a stock market listing for many years given the volatility of the launch-services market. Instead, as it was announced few days later, he sold 10% of SpaceX to Google and Fidelity for approximately $1 billion. Thus, simply multiplying, we may come to a conclusion that Elon Musk estimats his rocket company in near $10 billion.

It is assumed that Google invested in SpaceX not because of its newfound attraction for launch vehicles, but rather in connection to the decision to develop a satellite Internet project. In a short note on its website, SpaceX said the funds “will be used to support continued innovation in the areas of space transport, reusability and satellite manufacturing.”

Sir Richard Branson (left) and Qualcomm Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs are teaming up for OneWeb

These news, in turn, came just few days after OneWeb LLC, formerly called WorldVu Satellites, announced that Virgin Galactic and Qualcomm Inc. agreed to invest in OneWeb’s 650-satellite system. Furthermore, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) of Geneva, a United Nations agency, reported it registered at least a half-dozen filings for massive constellations of satellites in the past eight weeks, a development that suggests a gold-rush mentality may be taking hold.

At the same time satellite fleet operator SES said it would jump into the market for offering global broadband communications from a low-orbiting constellation if the latest efforts announced by SpaceX, Google, Virgin Group and Qualcomm — with others to come — show signs of proving themselves. SES is 47 % owner of O3b Networks, company that operates 12 satellites, with more to come, orbiting at 8,000 kilometers in altitude and focused on a global belt of customers located between 40-plus degrees north and south of the equator.

O3b Networks CEO Steve Collar said the company is likely to reach $100 million in revenue in 2015 and would order more satellites, likely in groups of four or eight, by mid-year. With each new satellite tranche, O3b adds throughput, and the satellites to be ordered in 2015 will be higher-powered than the 12 now operating. Collar said O3b expects to be offering 1 terabit per second of throughput within three or four years.

Other News

Rockets

— ULA Successfully Launches US Navy’s Mobile User Objective System-3

— SpaceX Could Launch 17 Rockets in 2015, Including Falcon Heavy

— RSC Energia Contract with Orbital Sciences Corporation Signed

— ULA To Unveil Revamped Atlas 5 Details at Space Symposium

— Stratolaunch’s Carrier Aircraft Almost 40 Percent Complete

New Year’s wishes at the Spaceport in French Guiana

Spacecraft

— Accion Systems $2 Million Investment to Fuel In-Orbit Propulsion Tests

— Interview with Craig Clark, CEO of Clyde Space

NASA proposes flying eyes for rovers

Human in Space

GAO Releases Text of Its Denial of Sierra Nevada’s CCtCAP Protest

New Tech & Tests

Test of Dragon Crew Escape System not Happening Until Later This Year

— Private moon firm to sign deal for test flights at Cape

Space Launch System Booster Aimed and Ready to Fire

Dragon’s SuperDraco jetpacks demonstrated with hotfire test

Deep Space

NASA Not Ready To Update Mars Mission Architecture

ESA favours moon not Mars for next crewed mission

NASA Advisory Council Remains Skeptical of Asteroid Redirect Mission

Everybody Wins in Google Lunar X Prize Milestone Competition

Palazzo to push moon mission

Business

— Planet Labs Announces $95 Million Investment

— Boeing Wins High-Powered L-band Satellite Order from NYBB

— SES, ITC Global Team up To Serve Oil and Gas Industry

— NanoRacks: The Fastest Space Manifester in the West

— Arianespace to launch SES-12, the operator’s first all-electric satellite

— NASA Space Technology Chief Leaving for Ball Aerospace

Government

— China and Europe Will Team Up for Robotic Space Mission

— Putin Approves Roscosmos Merger with Conglomerate

— US, India to Deepen Cooperation in Space

Other

— 11 Space and Science things to do before you’re 11