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(24 September 2020 – Exolaunch) Exolaunch today announced that it will arrange the launch and provide technical mission management for four of Spire Global’s Lemur-class 3U cubesats aboard a Soyuz rocket mission scheduled for September, 28th.

Spire Global runs the world’s largest commercial constellation of nanosatellites making radio occultation measurements, alongside other whole-earth observations that serve the maritime, weather and aviation industries.

To date, Spire has launched more than 100 satellites which operate across a broad range of orbits. Exolaunch has helped deploy approximately one-third of Spire’s satellite constellation since 2016 when the launch service partnership between the companies began. The ongoing cooperation between Exolaunch and Spire has become a cornerstone for pioneering the latest advancements in small satellite launch systems and services.

(courtesy: Exolaunch)

“Our long-time partnership with Spire has been extraordinarily valuable not only in driving Exolaunch to continually refine its solutions, but also in helping to propel the smallsat and space industry to new heights,” said Jeanne Medvedeva, Exolaunch VP of Launch Services. “We look forward to supporting Spire on this latest rideshare launch and stand ready to facilitate the ongoing expansion of their satellite constellation.”

As it has done on previous rideshares, Exolaunch will arrange launch services and mission technical support for Spire using its advanced cubesat deployment system, the 12U EXOpod. It will also utilize the EXObox deployment sequencer to control the safe and precise separation of Spire’s satellites.

“The experience and comfort we have working with the Exolaunch team has enabled Spire to continue with this launch campaign despite the challenges of a global pandemic. The combination of Exolaunch’s trusted deployment hardware, launch expertise, and customer focus has made them one of our more trusted launch partners,” said Robert Sproles, Senior Director, Constellation Planning and Operations at Spire. “Exolaunch has been instrumental in enabling Spire to set the industry-standard in the commercial aerospace sector as we work with our customers to tackle ever more frequent and extreme weather events in this era of Climate Change.”

The Spire satellite launch is part of a September Soyuz rideshare mission that is manifested by Exolaunch to realize the launch plans of its international small satellite customers. The mission is named Wanderlust, Desire to Travel, which symbolizes both the ever-increasing importance of sustainable access to space for small satellites and longing for travelling which was recently restricted.

Exolaunch has excellent heritage flying international customers on Soyuz, having launched more than 85 smallsats on Soyuz missions to date. This mission marks Exolaunch’s 7th with Soyuz. On this mission, Exolaunch will deploy a cluster of 15 smallsats into a sun-synchronous orbit for its customers Kepler Communications, the UAE Space Agency, the Würzburg Center for Telematics, the Technische Universität Berlin and several European commercial companies. The company is set to provide its market-leading separation systems – EXOpod for cubesats and CarboNIX for microsats – as well as its EXObox sequencers, to ensure timely deployment of small satellites into their target orbit.

About Exolaunch

Exolaunch is a rideshare launch and deployment solution provider for small satellites. Its flight heritage includes the successful deployment of nearly 100 small satellites into orbit in cooperation with launch vehicle providers worldwide. Exolaunch enables the visions of the New Space leaders, the world’s most innovative startups, research institutions, government organizations, and space agencies. The company also designs and manufactures in-house flight-proven advanced separation systems to deliver the best-in-class integration services and deployment for small satellites.

About Spire Global

Spire Global Inc. is a space to cloud analytics company that utilizes proprietary satellite data and algorithms to provide the most advanced maritime, aviation, and weather tracking in the world. Spire’s data analytics is backed by a wholly owned and developed constellation of nanosatellites, global ground station network, and 24/7 operations that provide near real-time global coverage of every point on Earth.

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Bishop Airlock cycles pre-purchased by NASA and European Space Agency

Bishop Airlock cycles pre purchased by NASA and European Space Agency

(20 October 2020 – Nanoracks) Nanoracks has announced that both NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have pre-purchased Bishop Airlock Cycles for agency and third-party use.

The Nanoracks Bishop Airlock, launching this Fall to the International Space Station (ISS), is the first-ever commercially built, owned, and operated airlock on the ISS and provides five times the existing payload volume currently available on station.

ESA has pre-purchased five airlock cycles, and NASA six, with an option for four additional cycles at a discounted rate.

The Nanoracks Team prepares the Bishop Airlock for final inspections at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF) in October, 2020. (courtesy: Nanoracks)

“The signature of this contract is a concrete sign of the European stake in the expanding low-Earth orbit economy,” says Sylvie Espinasse, Head of the European Space Agency’s Washington DC office. “Following ESA member States’ investment in International Space Station research and development, European industry is now stepping in and forging innovative ties with US companies, which bodes very well for the future!”

“We’re thrilled to see both NASA and ESA leveraging commercially available opportunities on the Space Station,” says Nanoracks CEO Jeffrey Manber. “This is how public-private partnerships are supposed to work. Through our Space Act Agreement with NASA, we have been provided access to Node 3 where the Bishop Airlock will live. We then privately funded the Bishop Airlock, using no taxpayer funds for the hardware, and are in turn providing a service at a competitive rate to both the US and European governments, allowing the ISS to function at optimal levels of productivity.”

Some Bishop use-cases include CubeSat and MicroSat deployment, hosted payloads, microgravity and robotics experiments, Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) support, and more.

Nanoracks is continuing to expand use-case opportunities to the US government and is in discussions with NASA on multiple utilization efforts. The Bishop Airlock is allowing NASA to follow the agency goal of serving as one of many customers for commercial services in space, allowing the low-Earth orbit market to expand from beyond just government-provided products and services.

“We designed Bishop with the future in mind. We knew at the beginning that the first ideas of how to leverage this platform were just that – the first,” says Brock Howe, Bishop Airlock program manager. “But as Bishop has come to life, the ways researchers and engineers are looking at this platform are evolving and we’re excited to build out custom missions for our customers, beyond the scope in which we first imagined Bishop would be used.”

About Nanoracks

Nanoracks LLC, an XO Markets company, is the world’s leading provider of commercial space services. Nanoracks believes commercial space utilization will enable innovation through in-space manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, fiber optics – and more, allow for revolutionary Earth observation, and make space a key player in finding the solution to Earth’s problems.

Today, the company offers low-cost, high-quality solutions to the most pressing needs for satellite deployment, basic and educational research, and more – in over 30 nations worldwide. Nanoracks’ future goals are focused on the re-purposing of the upper stages of launch vehicles in-space and converting these structures into commercial habitats, both humanly and robotically tended, throughout the solar system.

XO Markets, the world’s first commercial space holding company, includes Nanoracks LLC, Nanoracks UAE, and wholly owned subsidiaries DreamUp and Nanoracks Space Outpost Europe (Nanoracks-Europe).

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Paradigm’s SWARM950 type approved for use on Inmarsat with ST Engineering iDirect 950mp

Paradigms SWARM950 type approved for use on Inmarsat with ST

(20 October 2020- Paradigm) Paradigm’s rugged carry-on SWARM950 terminal is now Type Approved on Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network, providing extreme flexibility for high throughput, secure data services around the world.

The SWARM950 is powered by the PIM providing the user with higher throughputs as a result of its enhanced power offering. With its ST Engineering iDirect 950mp modem, it also offers military grade security over both the commercial and military satellite frequencies.

(courtesy: Paradigm)

Jon Godfrey, Paradigm’s General Manager stated: “Our SWARM terminal has always outperformed other hand carry satcom terminals, now with the highly capable 950mp modem and type approval on GX it will be impossible to beat for high throughput and flexibility in every location around the world”.

The PIM in the SWARM950 is the brains behind the terminal. It provides network flexibility and intelligent operation to the user and enables the terminal to achieve the highest possible throughput in any location, as well as having the ability to operate in TRANSEC mode and being FIPS 140-2 encryption compliant, as required.

Already recognised as a low SWaP terminal, the SWARM950 provides full Mil-Ka and Ka-Band operation and can also operate in either Ku or X-band as operational requirements demand. The PIM950 is lightweight, power-efficient and industrialised to MIL-STD in order to meet the most rigorous military and government demands for mobile, tactical terminals providing security and always-on broadband capabilities.

“Adding the 950mp modem alongside a Mil-Ka capable, higher power BUC creates a highly flexible hand carry system which enables end users to use G2X Land services over Global Xpress anywhere in the world, whilst also accessing their own national MILSATCOM systems on the same device. With options to switch to other bands on the same easy to use system, this is an extremely versatile, low SWAP government user terminal” said James Marley, Sales Director, Land Sector, Inmarsat Global Government.

This flexibility of the SWARM950 is enhanced even further by the PIM terminal controller offering a simple to use interface for the modem, baseband switching, pointing and setup functions. The PIM has a built-in visual crosshair and audio pointing device so that any non-skilled user can easily operate the terminal reducing both training and operational costs. With only three parts to assemble, the SWARM950 can also be setup in under 90 secs. The PIM also supports Power over Ethernet devices and provides a multitude of services to the end user – from VLAN setup and management to smart auto-selecting of AC and DC power interfaces.

The SWARM950 will give Military and Government users operating at multiple locations all over the world the capability to achieve data, voice and video connectivity at the level they require.

“It’s essential that troops operating in harsh, challenging environments have the communications equipment that can withstand the conditions,” commented Koen Willem, Head of International Government Satcom, ST Engineering iDirect. “SWaP, security and efficiency are built into both the 950mp board and the SWARM terminal so that users can be assured of maximum uptime and throughput wherever and whenever it’s needed.”

About Paradigm

Paradigm provides state-of-the-art satcom solutions, making satellite communication simple for everyone. Military & Government, NGOs and Commercial & Enterprise customers are all supported with easy-to-use, cost-effective and state-of-the-art global satellite communication solutions.

Paradigm has extensive engineering experience designing, manufacturing and delivering customised satellite terminals and earth stations for a wide range of industries and sectors, developing close relationships with customers, and giving valuable insight into their key requirements.

Paradigm is a UK-based, independent and privately owned company with Europe’s largest satcom warehouse. Incorporating an extensive logistics capability, Paradigm is able to deliver extremely efficient and cost-effective global services and unique solutions, from the provision of satcom equipment and terminals to the design and installation of complete turnkey systems.

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Thales Alenia Space selected by Airbus as partner to the Mars Sample Return Mission

Thales Alenia Space selected by Airbus as partner to the

(14 October 2020 – Thales) Thales Alenia Space has signed an Authorization To Proceed (ATP) with Airbus Defence and Space, prime contractor of the program, to contribute to the Earth Return Orbiter (ERO), the key element of the Mars Sample Return (MSR) Mission, which will be carried out through an international cooperation led by NASA.

A first tranche, worth around €11 million, will be related to the B2 phase for a global contract value of around €130 million.

(courtesy: ESA)

Thales Alenia Space will be responsible for:

  • supplying the Communication System, consisting of the elements allowing the data transmission between Earth and ERO and Mars
  • designing the crucial Orbit Insertion Module (OIM) and related thermo-mechanical, propulsion and electrical architectures
  • the Assembly Integration and Test (AIT) phase for the Proto-Flight model of the ERO Spacecraft composing elements in its test facilities of Turin and Toulouse.

The Earth Return Orbiter spacecraft is composed by the Return Module and the Orbit Insertion Module. The Return Module (RM) hosts the NASA payload devoted to the capture of the Martian samples orbiting around Mars, of their containment and delivery to Earth. The Orbit Insertion Module (OIM) is an additional chemical propulsive stage, for inserting the spacecraft into Mars orbit. This module is crucial as he will allow to reduce the spacecraft velocity enabling the Martian gravity to capture ERO in a stable orbit. After the maneuver successfully completed, IOM will be separated from RM in order to save mass prior to the return to Earth.

Hervé Derrey, CEO of Thales Alenia Space stated: “We are enthusiastic to be part of the core team on this revolutionary mission of bringing Mars to Earth, that will open a new frontier in Mars exploration missions. Mars Sample Return has an immense scientific importance, that could lead to new findings regarding Martian geology, climate and life itself. Our involvement in this new mission is not only reflecting our Space for Life aspiration but will take advantage of all we already have developed in term of technologies including the planetary protection duty.”

Massimo Claudio Comparini, Senior Executive Vice President Observation, Exploration and Navigation at Thales Alenia Space, added: “Thales Alenia Space will bring its expertise in the Mars exploration domain, leading the ExoMars 2016 and 2022 missions to search for life on the Red Planet. The Trace Gas Orbiter launched in 2016 in orbit around Mars is analyzing the Martian atmosphere before becoming the communication relay for all the upcoming missions landing on Mars”.

Leonardo is also widely involved in Mars exploration missions, from the ExoMars 2016 and 2022 missions to the Mars Sample Return program. On this latter program, Leonardo is studying and designing the two robotic arms that will collect and transfer the Martian samples on the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV).

About the Mars Sample Return mission

By 2031, the Mars Sample Return mission will collect in situ Mars surface samples and bring them back for study in terrestrial laboratories. Firstly, the MSR Sample Retrieval Lander will descend to the planet’s surface carrying the Sample Fetch Rover (SFR) and the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV). SFR will collect the samples from the Martian surface that have been cached by the NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance rover and the SFR will transfer these samples into Mars Ascent Vehicle, a mini-rocket developed by NASA, which will launch them into Mars orbit. In that moment, the ERO spacecraft, that will be launched in 2026, will be ready to locate and capture the samples released by the MAV. After the capture, the samples will then be sealed in a biological containment system and placed inside an Earth Entry Vehicle. ERO will then leave Martian orbit and head back to Earth. When it arrives back in Earth orbit, it will release the Earth Entry vehicle that will be recovered on ground and the sample analyzed.

About Thales Alenia Space

Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of approximately 2.15 billion euros in 2019 and has around 7,700 employees in nine countries.

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