Space challenges for President Biden: Four issues for the next four years

Artemis: NASA was expected to select a company this spring to proceed into full development of a crewed lunar lander but budget setbacks and a change in administration could alter those plans.

Space traffic management: While the incoming administration has offered no hints of its views on the subject, there is nothing that would stop it from moving civil space traffic management to the FAA or authorizing the Commerce.

U.S. Space Force In 2020, more than 2,200 former members of Air Force Space Command formally transferred to the Space Force. Another 3,600 are projected to transfer in 2021. The long-term goal is a Space Force of about 6,000 military members and 8,000 civilians.

National Security Space Launch program enters to a new phase where SpaceX will have a more prominent role flying military satellites to orbit and longtime incumbent United Launch Alliance will be tested to introduce a new launch vehicle, Vulcan, that the company promised will be ready in 2021.

Satellite News

European Commission awards launch contracts for next generation of Galileo satellites

This week the European Commission has awarded two contracts for 12 Satellites (6 satellites each) for a total of EUR euro 1.47 billion, to ThalesAleniaSpace (Italy) and Airbus Defence and Space shutting out incumbent manufacturer OHB. The first satellites of this second generation will be placed in orbit by the end of 2024. With their new capabilities relying on high innovative technologies (digitally configurable antennas, inter- satellites links, new atomic clocks technologies, use of full electric propulsion systems)

Google to shut down Loon

Google announced Jan. 21 it is shutting down Loon, a venture to provide wireless connectivity by balloon that has been seen as both complementary to and competitive with satellite networks.

Exploration News

Lockheed Martin-Built Orion spacecraft is ready for its Moon mission

NASA’s Orion spacecraft is ready for its mission to the Moon. Lockheed Martin has completed assembly and testing of the Orion Artemis I spacecraft and has transferred possession to NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) team. Assembled at Kennedy Space Center, the EGS team will then perform final preparations on the spacecraft for its mission to the Moon later this year. Orion is NASA’s new human-rated exploration-class spaceship that will take astronauts into deep space

Boeing Starliner completes software requalification

Boeing has completed a requalification of software on its commercial crew spacecraft as it prepares to launch the vehicle on a second test flight as soon as late March.

NASA ceases efforts to deploy Mars InSight heat flow probe

After nearly two years of struggles, NASA has abandoned efforts to deploy a heat flow probe on its InSight lander into the surface of Mars.

Launcher News

SpaceX sets new rocket reuse records with successful Starlink launch

SpaceX launched 60 more Starlink satellites Wednesday “SpaceX has now launched 1,015 Starlink internet satellites, while setting new records for the pace it is reusing Falcon 9 rocket boosters for the eighth time,”

SpaceX’s record-setting rideshare mission a challenge for space traffic control

U.S. Space Command crews at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, will attempt to track as many as 143 commercial and government satellites that Transporter-1 will deploy to a sun-synchronous orbit 500 kilometers above Earth. 

Northrop Grumman test fires solid motor for ULA’s Vulcan rocket

by Sandra Erwin — January 21, 2021

Northrop Grumman announced Jan. 21 it completed a static firing of the strap-on solid booster it developed for United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket. 

NewSpace  News

Global Nanosatellite and Microsatellite Market to Grow at a CAGR of 24.86% from 2020-2026

“Government and space organizations globally are continuously increasing their funding in the space industry to develop efficient and cost-effective satellite solutions. In the coming years, funding and space agencies’ budgets are anticipated to be driven by varied applications of nanosatellite and microsatellite constellations, such as communication, global Wi-Fi providing, surveillance, and navigation. The space industry is also expected to be driven by the demand for better connectivity for

French startup demonstrates iodine propulsion and space debris mitigation efforts

French startup ThrustMe has performed the first on-orbit tests of an innovative iodine-fueled electric propulsion system, proving its ability to change a CubeSat’s orbit.

Aurora Insight to launch cubesats for RF sensing

Aurora Insight, a Denver startup that gathers data on terrestrial and satellite communications, plans to launch the first of two cubesats on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare mission scheduled for liftoff Jan. 21.

Redwire acquires Oakman Aerospace

Redwire has acquired Oakman Aerospace, a Littleton, Colorado firm known for digital engineering and spacecraft. Redwire acquired Made In Space / Redwire acquired Roccor and signals intent to keep growing

Space Safety News

Arecibo replacement could support space situational awareness

A proposal to replace the giant radio telescope at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico with a new facility suggests it could be used for tracking space objects as well as for scientific research.

Science & Technology News

Six things to know about NASA’s Mars helicopter on its way to Mars

Ingenuity, a technology experiment, is preparing to attempt the first powered, controlled flight on the Red Planet.

Nanosatellite thruster emits pure ions

A 3D-printed thruster that emits a stream of pure ions could be a low-cost, extremely efficient propulsion source for miniature satellites. The nanosatellite thruster created by MIT researchers is the first of its kind to be entirely additively manufactured, using a combination of 3D printing and hydrothermal growth of zinc oxide nanowires

Green propellant successfully demonstrated on NASA mission

The purpose of GPIM was to perform an in-space demonstration of a green propellant developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) called AF-M315E. That propellant was designed to have performance similar to hydrazine, commonly used on spacecraft, but without the toxicity and handling issues associated with hydrazine.  It also has a new, easier-to-remember name: Advanced Spacecraft Energetic Non-Toxic, or ASCENT.

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