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Space

Gerstenmaier advises against the premature deorbiting of the International Space Station

Gerstenmaier, who is currently SpaceX’s consultant after retiring from his duties at NASA, stated that the ongoing commercial investment in the low-Earth orbit payloads is a great move but should not inform the deorbiting of the International Space Station.

In a webinar organized by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Bill Gerstenmaier advocated for keeping the ISS in its place by articulating the objectival advantages station. This public appearance by the official is the first since his departure from NASA last year.

Gerstenmaier explains that the ISS is vital from the aspect of advancing science and technology in the space industry to a facilitator in giving details that can help in the future deep space exploits. He further reported that the ISS had motivated the commercial operations in the space industry, including payload and astronaut’s deployment and facilitating expansion operations in the private sector.

NASA intends to remove the ISS and establish private space stations in the low-Earth orbit. This move may seem like saving for the agency, but Gerstenmaier says that it will be detrimental to the startups and firms depending on the ISS for details, considering it commands a huge fan base as a leader of space.

Gerstenmaier admits that private companies will take a long time to establish a strong foundation that can accelerate commercial stations’ development. ISS is facilitating the growth of the low-Earth orbit markets to catapult the future ventures by commercial firms.

Gerstenmaier retorted that it is better to explore the full potential of the existing concepts and programs like the ISS so that other sectors and stakeholders can build upon them rather than abandon a project as they did with Apollos and regret it.

He added that although the shift from the ISS to private stations will create independence, it is hard to determine the transition period before the space industry can agree that this move was beneficial. Even though this move might free up resources for further exploits, it does not guarantee that the other firms will thrive in the business depending on the ISS.

Previous experiences show that the ISS will be essential all through to 2028. Gerstenmaier reports that the industries depending on the ISS for their technological growth like tourism and pharmaceuticals, will have to start afresh on their experiments, taking them years to acclimatize fully. Therefore, it is essential to consider letting these firms explore their projects and obtain the desired results before making a move.

Additionally, there is still uncertainty on the navigation of the spacecraft from Earth to space since many firms are developing their technology. There is no standard rocket design that we can be sure every company can use yo develop their rockets and successfully launch them into space without malfunctions. Reaching the ISS is a measuring standard for space companies to redesign their vehicles for missions beyond Earth. To sum up, Gerstenmaier says he has learned a lot working at NASA, hoping that he can implement the knowledge at SpaceX to avoid costly errors that have been made in the past.

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Space

Intelsat acquires the Gogo commercial navigation company at $400 million

The satellite operator Intelsat which is working under the bankruptcy protection is preparing to procure the network provider Gogo for a disclosed fee of $400 million.  This procurement will go through in the coming six months transforming Intelsat into a company with an additional 50 percent of employees. The chief of operations at Intelsat, Samer Halawi, stated that this addition will scale the headcount of the company to 1700.

The US Bankruptcy Court permitted Intelsat to go through with this plan of acquiring Gogo which will rely on the $1 billion that the company holds as debtors’ monies. This procurement will render Intelsat a WiFi provider for over 2000 commercial airplanes.

Gogo Commercial aviation business resorted to selling itself after failing to obtain the funding it required to because of offering expensive rideshare satellite services and giving out fewer subsidies for its antenna erection services.

Ric Prentiss of the consultation firm called Raymond James stated that Intelsat was the most viable candidate in buying out the Gogo Commercial Aviation business since it has the two firms that have the commonality of customers. He added that if a firm operating in a different spectrum were to purchase Gogo then it would spend a hefty conversion fee into what the acquiring company offers.

Gogo was beginning to pick on its financial side before the pandemic gave it a blow from which it can never recuperate fully. Gogo outlined its $37.3 million loss in the first three months since the declaration of the coronavirus a pandemic. 

Halawi states that Intelsat projected the other factors that triggered the losses and advised on acquisition. He says that the rebound by Gogo to its solid position would be achievable in the next three years if Intelsat acquired it and focused on expanding its scope of service delivery. 

Halawi speculates that the firm can grow progressively by a factor of 10% making Intelsat enjoys the benefits of the acquisition and also save it the cost of renting rideshare capacities from other service providers.

Halawi says that Intelsat will open Gogo’s satellite broadband to serve its customers and allow customers to enjoy services from other operators where the firm is insufficient. Nevertheless, he was adamant to state the diverse technology from other networks from providers that are not aligned to Intelsat. To conclude, Intelsat convinced the bankruptcy court that the acquisition would help to indemnify it to the right broadcast levels. The firm expects to deliver a decade of reliable network for its customers in the US and in Canada.

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Space

Air Force launch wing at Cape Canaveral to become a space delta

Cape Canaveral, Air Force Base, intends to shift its space launch wing to delta space. This move by the base will help the facility become autonomous even as it changes the various units’ names in this base into deltas. Delta wing will now be the new trademark and logo for this wing marking its freedom from the Air Force.

The renaming of units to deltas began in July after the Space Force scrapping of the previous US Air Force wings and substituting them with nine deltas having two report stations. These deltas will be launching missions while the report stations will facilitate the installations in the deltas. 

The other wings that are anticipating a reshuffle to become deltas are the space wings in Patrick Air Force Base and at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Florida and California. The new changes also entail the Space Force split into three branches with each branch commanding deltas and garrisons. The leaders of the branches will be generals, while those of deltas and garrisons will be colonels.

The Commander of the Canaveral Air Force Base Brig. Gen. Doug Schiess stated that more information concerning these restitutions would be divulged once operations fully resume. Schiess added that the changes would suppress and help these launch sites favorably compete with the fast-growing space explorer companies.

The deltas will be subject to surveillance and review by the commands or the Space Force branches. Schiess stated that there would be an organizational and administrative reassignment of roles to ensure that each employee or leader understands their jurisdiction area. The airbases will never be the same after witnessing this reshuffle for good.

The Canaveral Air Force Base is one of the wings that will have the privilege of experiencing a general leadership. Although the other deltas operate under colonels’ leadership, Cape Canaveral is receiving this special treatment considering its vitality in linking activities with the Kennedy Space Center.

Scheiss articulated that each delta will have a general officer for the time being to oversee operations before the generals acclimatize with the new leadership roles. He explained that one of the deltas that must have a general officer is the Patrick Air Force Base since it is still under the development stage.

Finally, the substitution of wings with deltas under a command control will help to hasten the process of resource procurement. Companies that want to collaborate with governmental space institutions will have an easy time in formulating agreements. 

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Space

Trio of development and testing contracts introduces modern approach to military forecast data collection

WASHINGTON: The U.S Space Agency anticipates that its model low-earth orbit weather satellites will persuade commercial businesses and other supporters to team up on the operation of conveying vital weather information to the military. 

The U.S Air Force has attempted to restore the old Defense Meteorological Satellite Program for a more extended period. The two organizations have confirmed to accept the change of cloud characterization and stage weather imagery. 

However, the Space Force thinks it got all explanations. The agency has influenced the surging popularity of low-Earth orbit trajectory architecture, which was showcased by SpaceX Starlink constellation.  Also, Space Force thinks that it can change the reduction of satellite costs, increase system re-adaption, and attract other dealers. 

Col. Resell Teehan was in an interview with Space, Space News, and Missiles Center Portfolio Architect, and he stated the reasons behind the new strategy. Recently, Air Force strained to allure interest to its business partners, following a minimal cost of the systems. It is hard to get a buyer to share the load since the satellite used to cost $700 million. Such damages made Space Force change satellites’ design to extraordinary ones where a group of satellites functions in higher orbits. Pentagon has now comprehended with its remarkable structures since space-based military abilities rely on few undefendable satellites. 

An escalating low-earth constellation might solve those problems. Little LEO satellites can provide related capabilities at a lower rate of satellite cost. At the same time, the loss of small targets in the constellation means that losing a single satellite will not affect the whole process. The main goal here is to enhance the partnership between the typical commercial and allied sectors. The recent activities totaled to over $700 million single structures, forcing into architect-made satellites. The Space Force aims at having a $30-$50 satellite range. 

This summer, the trio received a model contract of manufacturing sensors based in space, whose function is to collect characterization and theater pictures from the low-earth orbit. Space Enterprise Consortium awarded contracts to Astra, General Atomics, and Raytheon Technologies. Space Force has asked to get the help of $131 million to facilitate the progress of its efforts till next year (2021). However, there is no satellite manufactured to operate forever, and there is no sign of DMSP satellite arrival. When the lifetime of those satellites depletes, they leave two valuable space of cloud characterization and theater weather pictures. 

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Space

OSIRIS-Rex, NASA’s spaceship set for an ultimate asteroid-sampling run through

OSIRIS-Rex, NASA’s spaceship, is set for its ultimate exercise before getting in touch with the Bennu asteroid. 

The OSIRIS-Rex spaceship has been making rounds since 2018, and it is the first sampling spaceship of NASA. The exploration is planned to exercise its contact series for a subsequent time on August 11 this year. 

During the exercise, the spaceship will run through the touch-and-go sample-collection occasion related to the April 14 checkpoint run through an operation where it exercised its two drills of the drop. However, this time, the spaceship will add a third drill by the name ‘matchpoint burn,’ and then fly closer to Nightingale, its sample location. 

The OSIRIS-Rex spaceship will fly in tandem together with Bennu’s rotation for its first time as part of the checkpoint burn. The run-through will pave the way for another opportunity for the group to exercise exploration of the spaceship through the fall flights. The group will also get the chance to test the imaging ability of the spaceship, its navigation, and its different systems.

During the August 11 run-through, the OSIRIS-Rex spaceship (which costs $800 million) operation will carry out several various exercises. Flying at an average velocity of 0.2 mph (0.3 kph), the space ship will fire its thrusters on three different occasions as it falls back to the facade of the asteroid. The first will pull the spaceship out of its 0.6-mile-high (1 kilometer) trajectory. 

Other objectives in the run through consist of; expansion of the robotic sampling arm of the spacecraft, collection of pictures meant for its autonomous navigation structure, and setting its solar panels in a position away from the asteroid facade.  

When the OSIRIS-Rex spaceship arrives at the height of 410 feet (125 meters), it will carry out the checkpoint burn and then run down faster as it heads towards the surface of Bennu asteroid for eight minutes. After the spaceship has attained a height of 50 meters above the asteroid, it will fire its thrusters for a third period to execute the matchpoint burn. As a result, the descending speed will reduce and line up with the Bennu asteroid rotation.

The OSIRS-Rex spaceship will reach a height of 40 meters above the test area before descending back for orbit with a back-away burn. If the run through exercise becomes successful, the OSIRIS-Rex will remain in its trajectory around the asteroid until it flies back to the surface of the asteroid on October 20 this year.  

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Space

General Atomics to develop Weather Satellite Prototype for Space Force

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems unveiled on August 4 pact to build a U.S. prototype. Space Force Infrared Electric-Optical Weather System, identified as EWS. Nick Bucci, Vice president of General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems Missile Defense and Space Systems, said that EWS would showcase technological advances and help propel to enhanced future capabilities for efficient weather forecasting. The combination of demonstrated expertise in the satellite design and production will contribute to introducing a cost-effective prospective high-performance forecast communications satellite.

Space and Missile Systems Center said that the $309 million awards of 3 Other Transaction Authority (OTA) pacts to General Atomics and Raytheon Technologies and Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates weather satellite prototypes on June 3. With the financial support, engineers approved to help design space vehicles and ordering sensor parts to describe clouds worldwide and analyze weather in military theaters, as per a June 3 news release from the Space and Missile Systems Center.

General Atomics bases its EWS layout on the Orbital Test Bed, a modular, customizable platform for various payloads. Scott Forney, Chairman of General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, said that with EWS would proceed to utilize our knowledge in designing configurations, packaging, and our increasing satellite capacity to create a satellite solution that meets the suggested 2022 EWS launch date.

Via the Space Enterprise Consortium, Space and Missile Systems Center picked rivals from the EWS. While under OTA negotiations, companies must focus solely on the task of non – conventional defense contractors in a significant way.

EWS team members for General Atomics are EOVista, LLC, which is an electro-optical sensor firm located in Acton, Massachusetts; the Atmospheric and Environmental Research Inc., a research and technology company located in Lexington, Massachusetts; and the Braxton Technologies, LLC, which is a software specialist based in Colorado Springs.

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, premised in San Diego, California was opened in April in Centennial, Colorado, new spacecraft advancement, integration, and testing factory that nearly doubled its satellite manufacturing capacity. First Orbital Test Bed of General Atomics, initiated on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy in 2019, housed five different satellites for commercial, governmental, and intellectual clients.

In conclusion, In 2018, NASA granted General Atomics a $38.5 million contract to transfer the Aerosol Multi-Angle Imager into spacecraft on the subsequent Orbital Test Bed. General Atomics managed to win a $37.9 million contract in the year 2018 to fly Argos Advanced Data Collection System on third Orbital Test Bed for the U.S. Environmental protection agency. 

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Space

NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover will be utilizing nuclear energy to run its operations

 

A spacecraft is most reliable when its source of power is massive and technically fit. NASA thought of this and decided to develop the Perseverance Mars rover in a way that it can run on radioactive plutonium.

The radioactive plutonium used in this case has a casing that encapsulates it preventing accidents in case of a malfunction during the launch. The plutonium has proven to be active before in NASA’s Curiosity rover.

The NASA nuclear energy expert June Zakrajsek reiterates that NASA loves experimenting on the effectiveness of a spacecraft to operate in a diverse ecology. This statement is especially true with the Perseverance mission for which the Glenn Research Center in Ohio is vital to simulate such operations. In some environments, the researchers say solar energy is in insufficient quantities than the needed for the spacecraft to maneuver through space.

Various NASA Mars missions depended on solar energy like the Insight lander, Spirit and Opportunity. The Opportunity mission is the known casualty, which, when celestial dust ravaged the red planet, led to its tragic end. If such a rover depended on light, we would be talking a different story, which NASA is keen to address.

NASA decided to use plutonium via the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) for the Perseverance rover. This system can run the spacecraft for over a decade. Bob Wham, a nuclear energy developer, based in Oak Ridge National Laboratory, states that since it is unfeasible to call for a maintenance specialist in space, it must sustain itself efficiently.

The MMRTG of the Perseverance Mars rover is similar to that of the Curiosity rover, though with slight modifications. This design is sure to meet the Perseverance rover’s needs since the same system in Curiosity rover has proven to be active and reliable for over eight years now.

The MMRTG of the Perseverance can produce enough energy to light a bulb, run the spacecraft’s instruments and heat to keep it warm in cold seasons on Mars. In this production process, plutonium will be decaying and releasing the required energy.

The casing that encapsulates the plutonium composes of iridium, making it essential for reuse even when it falls back to earth. NASA will be increasing the number of expert crew on the rover to ensure that the mission is a success. These experts will also be able to tackle any uprising challenges due to the use of the plutonium. Additionally, there have been simulations to explore possible hitches that might make the mission go sideways. These are operations designed to test the crew’s preparedness for handling the MMRTG system containing the plutonium.

Finally, the plutonium used in this process is slightly less lethal than the one designed for the weaponized armory. The Department of Energy is keen to get back into the production of plutonium so that NASA can successfully launch their missions.

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Space

Myanmar may soon be the newest to join the list of space nations

Myanmar will soon be a space nation after deciding to join hands with other space countries to ensure that millions of people are safe from environmental disasters. To do saw, it aims to launch a satellite which will be the first one for them. It will be among the satellite constellation comprising of microsatellites from up to nine Asian countries. The satellites will provide data on disease outbreaks, grounds of crops, and also land use. In addition to that, they will monitor water flows, seismic activity, and typhoons.

It is the last country in the list of participants based on how economically developed they are. Other parties of the consortium are from the likes of Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Their goal is to ensure that a day will come when they will be in control of 50 devices in orbit. To achieve that, they plan to be launching about five satellites annually. They will be micro with a weight of 100 Kg and longevity of five years. Since money is necessary, if one wants to achieve this, Myanmar will be contributing $16 million and won’t deal with astronomical needs. The country will also contribute more, and the total figure will not be less than $100 million for the satellites. However, it is willing to pay that much because it believes that it is worth it.

The launch will not take place in Myanmar, but the country is the main player to the extent that it has a ground control center with the help of Japan. According to Takahashi, the likes of Mongolia, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Malaysia also plans to join the team soon.

It shows that teamwork and new technologies are making it easy for any country to be a space nation. So, this venture is no longer for the mighty like China, Russia, and the US only.

For the last several months now, there are seven aerospace engineers from Myanmar who are more than ready to leave for Japan to carry out a pre-launch development. The worst part about it is the fact that the wait continues to be indefinite due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to the closure of most international boundaries. Only time will tell what they will do eventually since time is of the essence, given the fact that the launch is planned for early 2021.

Engineer Thu Thu Aung who is now 40, says that she started dreaming about this day a long time ago when she was still a girl. She also expresses her excitement because being part of this project that will see the dream of sending a satellite to space from Myanmar and more so one of its university come true.

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Space

NASA unveils inadequate water haze as 06E depression turns into a trough

NASA’s Aqua satellite gathered information about water haze on Tropical Depression 06E after passing over the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The spacecraft found out that the 06E Tropical Depression had turned into a trench. A trough is an extended region that has low pressure. 

Aqua satellite soared over the remains of Tropical depression 06E on July 14 at 4:50 p.p. EDT (2050 UTC). The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), an instrument onboard of Aqua satellite, gathered humidity data as well as temperature figures. According to findings collected by MODIS, few concentrations of humidity and the circulation made a way into the trench. 

Weather forecasters can formulate a potential storm from the data obtained from the study of water vapor. Humidity produces suppressed heat as it condenses slowly back into the liquid state. The liquid formed then becomes clouds and thunderstorms, which form the tropical cyclone. Temperature is a more vital factor here in an attempt to comprehend the strength of storms. If the clouds concentrate more on the top, the resulting winds will be colder and of high potency. 

When the Aqua satellite soared again at 5 p.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) stated that the movement of the tropical depression was not closed anymore with light and inconsistent winds on the southern part. For that reason, the coordination no longer agrees to the criteria of a tropical cyclone.  

On July 14, National Hurricane Center (NHC) announced their last advisory concerning Tropical Depression 06E. During that time (5 p.m. EDT), the remains of 06E were identified to be next to latitude 18.2 degrees north and longitude 118.0 degrees west, which is approximately 615 miles on the west-southwest of Baja, California, Mexico. The most significant limitation of persistent winds was about 30 mph (45 kph), and the approximated lowest amount of pressure was 1008 millibars. 

The remains created minimum shower activity. The National Hurricane Center stated that the linked convection might vary for another day until the trench goes over colder waters.

Aqua satellite of NASA is among the fleets of NASA satellites, which provide information concerning hurricane examinations.  

Hurricanes or tropical cyclones are the most durable weather occasions ever happened on Earth. Experts for space and scientific exploration, who work at NASA, have contributed at large to the most vital services. Their works are then forwarded to the citizens of America, and other federal organizations like hurricane weather forecasting organization. 

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Space

NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover has been affixed to its Atlas V rocket in preparation for the upcoming launch

NASA’s Mars rover is being planted on the rocket in preparation for the mission. The Perseverance Mars rover was hoisted to its United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on the 7th of July. This event took place at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, all on course to facilitate the scheduled launch to Mars on the 30th of this month. 

In a statement published on the 9th of July, the project manager for Perseverance’s mission, John McNamee, says that he has observed numerous spaceships being supplanted onto rockets. 

McNamee states that this mission is historic since there are many stakeholders whose contributions to the development of the rover have been instrumental. He assures all those involved that they have come this far, and the mission to Mars will be a success. The manager camps at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. 

A weighty tilt at the top of the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) carried the cushioning payload hosting the Perseverance and its 39 meters tall hardware this Tuesday, affixing them on the Atlas V rocket. This process was done at the Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 41. The engineers finalized the vital physical and electrical adjoining between the spaceship and the rocket. 

The complete supplanting of the rocket is the final stage of the Mars pre-launch tests. The engineers have completed the evaluation of the rover and the rocket separately and when they are a piece. According to NASA, the two vehicles will stay at the VIF until the 28th of July when they will be transferring them to the launch pad, which is 550 meters. 

The Perseverance has a grace period of 15 days if it intends to wait longer on the ground. If the rover does not take off on the 30th of July, the engineers will have enough time to reevaluate the whole system and modify where they deem necessary. 

The launch of the Perseverance this summer will land it on Mars’ Jezero Crater by the 18th of February next year. The 45 kilometers Jezero crater used to have a lake and a river delta. The space robot will look for evidence of long-dead life. 

Other Perseverance’s scheduled activities include searching for water ice to test the equipment that obtains oxygen from Mars’ carbon dioxide-infuriated atmosphere. The scientists and astronauts will also study the geological composition of the Jezero Crater. Several samples will be collected and returned to Earth by the NASA-European Space Agency campaign team by 2030 for further analysis and evaluation. 

In conclusion, aboard the Perseverance is the Ingenuity helicopter that will scout around the Martian skied to evaluate the possibility of aerial exploration on Mars by Martian rotorcraft.