All NASA centers shift to mandatory telework

NASA announced late March 17 that it was instituting mandatory telework for all agency employees except mission-essential personnel in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Arianespace suspends French Guiana launches amid coronavirus response

Arianespace paused launch activity from Europe’s South American spaceport March 16 following the French government’s announcement that non-essential activities should be limited in response to the growing coronavirus pandemic. 

Satellite News

Space Industry Sees Growing Effects of Coronavirus Outbreak

As the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak grows worldwide, executives believe the space industry will not be immune from its effects but also may not be hurt as badly as other sectors.

NASA selects finalists for next small astrophysics mission

NASA has selected four finalists for the agency’s next small astrophysics mission, including both spacecraft and International Space Station experiments to study a wide range of astronomical phenomena.

Exploration News

“Overstressed” NASA Mars exploration budget threatens missions

Cost overruns on a major rover mission and proposals for both sample return missions and a new orbiter are straining NASA’s Mars exploration program and threatening the future of two ongoing missions.

NASA targets May for Crew Dragon test flight

NASA announced March 18 it plans to perform a crewed flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, with two NASA astronauts on board, as soon as the latter half of May.

Orion Spacecraft for Artemis I Mission Successfully Completes Major Testing

Plum Brook Station, Sandusky, Ohio, 16 March 2019 –The tests were conducted in two phases; a 47 day thermal vacuum test and a 14 day electromagnetic compatibility and interference test in ambient conditions which both simulate the conditions the spacecraft will encounter

Launcher News

SpaceX launches Starlink satellites, misses booster landing for second time

SpaceX successfully launched 60 satellites for its Starlink broadband constellation March 18, but failed to recover the rocket’s first stage, marking the company’s second consecutive booster miss on a Starlink mission.

Launch of China’s new Long March 7A ends in failure

China’s attempt to launch the first Long March 7A rocket ended in failure Monday, resulting in a classified satellite failing to enter geosynchronous transfer orbit.

NewSpace  News

Small launch startup Leo Aerospace suspends operations

A startup developing a balloon-borne small launch vehicle has gone into “hibernation” after struggling to raise money, a fate that may be facing many other companies in the sector.

Rocket Lab to acquire smallsat component manufacturer

Rocket Lab announced March 16 that it is acquiring a Canadian smallsat component company as it seeks to build up its satellite division.

Space Safety News

SpaceX claims some success in darkening Starlink satellites

SpaceX says it will take more steps to reduce the impact of its Starlink satellite constellation on astronomy, although astronomers disagree with statements by Elon Musk that the system will have “zero” effect on their work.

Technology News

L3Harris redesigns reflector antenna for small satellite market

L3Harris Technologies has redesigned its patented unfurlable mesh reflector antenna to meet growing demand from firms building satellites weighing roughly 180 to 1,000 kilograms.  

Smallsat propulsion startup Phase Four received a Phase 1 Small Business Innovative Research contract

 from the U.S. Air Force tech accelerator AFWERX. Phase Four will begin adapting its Maxwell in-space propulsion system for military customers. The company’s Maxwell thrusters can carry up to 1 kilogram of xenon fuel, enough to provide 10,000 newton seconds of impulse. [Phase Four]

The European Space Agency has patented a family of signal compression standards 

developed using its Proba-2 microsatellite. The standards help compress satellite telemetry data, reducing bandwidth needs when linking with ground stations. Satellite operators can use the freed up bandwidth to beam down more valuable data, such as scientific measurements or imagery, depending on the type of satellite.

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