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(28 September 2020 – Exolaunch) Exolaunch announced a successful launch of 15 commercial, governmental and scientific satellites for its customers from Europe, Canada, the UAE and the U.S.

The Mission dubbed “Wanderlust,” Desire to Travel, lifted off on September 28 at 11:20 UTC on a Soyuz-2 rocket, marking over 100 satellites deployed by the company.

Exolaunch’s Wanderlust Soyuz Mission (courtesy: Exolaunch)

On this mission, Exolaunch provided comprehensive launch, deployment, mission management and integration services to Kepler Communications, Spire Global, the UAE Space Agency, Technische Universität Berlin, Würzburg Center for Telematics and two unnamed commercial customers.

The company confirmed successful separation of three microsatellites weighing within 100 kg and 12 nanosatellites into a sun-synchronous orbit of 575 km. These smallsats have various missions, including IoT, Earth observation, airplane and ship tracking, radio occultation measurements, greenhouse gas monitoring, scientific experiments and new technology demonstration.

Wanderlust is Exolaunch’s eleventh rideshare mission in total and seventh mission with Soyuz. Exolaunch successfully utilized its proprietary flight-proven separation systems – CarboNIX the next generation shock-free separation system for microsatellites, upgraded modifications of EXOpod cubesat deployers, as well as its EXObox sequencers to flawlessly deploy its customers’ satellites into the target orbit. With this launch, Exolaunch has flown 110 smallsats on multiple launch vehicles.

“This was an ambitious mission and it has been a privilege launching satellites for so many talented teams. With this launch, we have deployed over 100 satellites into orbit, hitting a major milestone in the launch industry,” says Exolaunch’s VP of Launch Services, Jeanne Medvedeva. “As a self-funded and profitable New Space company – still quite an anomaly for this industry – Exolaunch is proud to be playing a key role in advancing Germany’s position in the New Space field and providing end-to-end launch and deployment solutions for the industry’s leaders.”

Exolaunch continues to make space more accessible through regular and cost-efficient rideshare missions for small satellites. Its flight heritage includes successful satellite deployments from SpaceX’s Falcon 9, Arianespace’s Soyuz-ST, RocketLab’s Electron, Roscosmos’ Soyuz-2 and a scheduled mission with ISRO’s PSLV next year. The next major milestone for the company will be a launch campaign for 30 small satellites on a Falcon 9 launch vehicle, the first smallsat-dedicated rideshare mission of SpaceX targeted for launch as soon as December 2020.

Exolaunch’s manifest on the Wanderlust mission includes the following satellites:

  • 2 x 6U XL next generation nanosatellites from Kepler Communications: Kepler, a developer of next-generation satellite communications technologies. These satellites, both of which carry a high-capacity Ku-band communications system and a prototype IoT payload, are important instalments of Kepler’s development and demonstration platforms. The satellites will deliver additional capacity for Kepler’s Global Data Service and also be a technology demonstration platform for Kepler’s narrowband connectivity solution for IoT devices.
  • 4 x Lemur-class 3U nanosatellites from Spire Global: Spire Global runs the world’s largest private 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 that operate across a broad range of orbits. Exolaunch has helped deploy approximately one-third of Spire’s satellite constellation, which now also includes four of its Lemur-class 3U satellites on today’s mission.
  • MeznSat 3U nanosatellite from the UAE Space Agency: The UAE Space Agency is pushing technological developments in the local New Space industry through MeznSat. The purpose of the satellite is to study and monitor greenhouse gases, specifically CO2 and Methane, over the UAE. MeznSat is a nanosatellite for climate observation, manufactured by Khalifa University of Science and Technology (KUST) in partnership with the American University of Ras Al-Khaimah (AURAK) and funded by the UAE Space Agency. The satellite’s primary payload will be a shortwave infrared (SWIR) spectrometer that makes observations in the 1000-1650 nm wavelength range to derive atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. This is a prominent project for the UAE Space Agency, launching immediately after its recent HOPE mission to Mars.
  • SALSAT microsatellite from the Technische Universität Berlin: With SALSAT, the Technische Universität Berlin aims to analyze the global spectrum use of S-band and VHF, UHF amateur radio bands. This analysis is required due to the increasing number of users and the intensification of radio communication, which is leading to an escalating probability of interference between radio signals. It will analyze the global spectrum usage with SALSA, a spectrum analyzer payload based on a Software Defined Radio and also features a variety of unique secondary payloads.
  • 4 x 3U NetSat nanosatellites from the Würzburg Center for Telematics: NetSat is composed of four 3U satellites that will pioneer research in formation control. It is set to demonstrate the self-organization of several satellites in three-dimensional space to jointly optimize the configuration for given tasks. This will then open innovative perspectives for future sensor networks in space, including systems for three-dimensional imaging of the Earth’s surface and computer tomography methods for looking inside clouds.
  • 2 microsatellites within 100 kg for Earth Observation and one 3U nanosatellite for IoT applications for Exolaunch’s unnamed European-based commercial customers.

About Exolaunch

Exolaunch is the leader in rideshare launch and deployment services for New Space companies. Its flight heritage includes the successful deployment of 110 small satellites into orbit through its global network of launch vehicle providers. Exolaunch enables the visions of the New Space leaders, the world’s innovative startups, research institutions, government organizations, and space agencies. The company also manufactures in-house flight-proven separation systems to deliver the best-in-class integration services and deployment for small satellites.

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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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