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Spacecraft, Launch Vehicles & Satellites
 
TESS ARRIVES AT LAUNCH CENTER
Friday, February 16, 2018
Click image for a larger picture

Artist's rendition of TESS in orbit

Source: MIT TESS Team


Artist's rendition of TESS in orbit

Source: MIT TESS Team


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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's next planet-hunting mission has arrived in Florida to begin preparations for launch. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station nearby NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida no earlier than April 16, pending range approval. TESS was delivered Feb. 12 aboard a truck from Orbital ATK in Dulles, Virginia, where it spent 2017 being assembled and tested. Over the next month, the spacecraft will be prepped for launch at Kennedy’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF).

TESS is the next step in NASA’s search for planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets. The mission will scan nearly the entire sky to monitor more than 200,000 of the nearest and brightest stars in search of transit events - periodic dips in a star’s brightness caused by planets passing in front of their stars. TESS is expected to find thousands of exoplanets.

TESS is part of NASA's Explorer program. NASA continues to fund missions under the Explorer program. Although the agency recently canceled the GEMS program, NASA officials say this was due to cost overruns rather than problems with the program's budget. In November 2014, NASA officially confirmed the selection of the TESS and ICON programs. In July 2015, the agency selected three candidates for a Small Explorer mission to launch later this decade. NASA is now making progress on the next Heliophysics mission as well as its next Mission of Opportunity.

Source:  NASA
Associated URL: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2018/nasa-s-transiting-exoplanet-survey-satellite-arrives-at-kennedy-space-center-for-launch
Source Date: February 16, 2018
Author: B. Ostrove, Analyst 
Posted: 02/16/2018

 
 
AJIT PAI PROPOSES FCC APPROVE SPACEX SATELLITE BROADBAND APPLICATIONS
Friday, February 16, 2018
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SpaceX is best known as a rocket company

Source: Flickr / SpaceX


SpaceX is best known as a rocket company

Source: Flickr / SpaceX


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WASHINGTON -- On February 14, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed that the agency approve an application by SpaceX to provide broadband services using satellite technologies in the United States and on a global basis.

SpaceX, best known as a space launch company, has proposed building a massive network of over 4,000 small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) to provide broadband data connections directly to consumers around the globe.

If the FCC follows Pai's advice, SpaceX would be the fourth recent company to receive approval for a satellite broadband network. Others to receive approvals for access to the U.S. market include OneWeb, Space Norway, and Telesat.

According to Pai, approval of the satellite plans are vital to bridging the digital divide in the U.S. In a statement, he said, "SpaceX's application-along with those of other satellite companies seeking licenses or access to the U.S. market for non-geostationary satellite orbit systems-involves one such innovation [required to bridge the divide]. Satellite technology can help reach Americans who live in rural or hard-to-serve places where fiber optic cables and cell towers do not reach. And it can offer more competition where terrestrial Internet access is already available."

Despite plans to launch experimental satellites for the system in its upcoming launch, SpaceX has made few announcements about progress on its communications network since it was announced in 2015. Elon Musk's company has been focused on developing the Falcon Heavy rocket and the human-rated Dragon capsule, leaving little time left to develop communications satellites as well.

Source:  FCC
Associated URL: https://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2018/db0214/DOC-349224A1.pdf
Source Date: February 16, 2018
Author: B. Ostrove, Analyst 
Posted: 02/16/2018

 
 
PROGRESS DELIVERS SUPPLIES TO ISS ALONG WITH DRAGON, CYGNUS, AND HTV
Thursday, February 15, 2018
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A Progress spacecraft

Source: NASA


A Progress spacecraft

Source: NASA


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NEWTOWN, Conn. -- Even as new U.S. commercial resupply vehicles enter service, the Progress cargo transfer vehicle fills an important resupply role for the International Space Station (ISS) and its crews. All essentials for life, as well as scientific experiments, must be delivered to the crew aboard the space station. The Progress joins SpaceX's Dragon, Orbital ATK's Cygnus, and MHI's HTV in delivering that important cargo to the ISS. The Progress also serves as an important backup to other cargo vehicles, as demonstrated in 2015 when both the Dragon and Cygnus suffered launch failures.

However, the Progress itself suffered a launch failure in December 2016. Russia's space industry has had difficulty in recent years with reliability and the Progress, which rides into space aboard the Soyuz launch vehicle, has had problems as well.

Still, the Progress will continue to fulfill Russia's obligations to resupply the space station. Russia continues to upgrade the spacecraft, with the latest variant launching in late 2015.

At one point, Russian officials suggested they would replace the Progress with a new cargo transfer vehicle. However, it now appears that Moscow will continue to update the Progress in an incremental fashion.

These updates ensure that Progress production will continue through the life of the ISS. Once ISS operations end in 2024, Russia will likely find another role for its venerable Progress cargo vehicle. Production will continue at about three per year during the life of the ISS and will drop down to about two per year after.

Source:  Forecast International
Associated URL: www.forecastinternational.com
Source Date: February 15, 2018
Author: B. Ostrove, Analyst 
Posted: 02/15/2018

 

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