Menu

Timesdelhi.com

June 16, 2019
Category archive

spaceflight

Rocket Lab adds satellite manufacturing to its offerings

in california/Delhi/Electron/India/outer space/Politics/Rocket Lab/satellite/spacecraft/spaceflight/spaceflight industries/TC by

Rocket Lab, one of the biggest startups in the NewSpace category of companies providing launch and satellite services, has added satellite manufacturing to the array of services it offers to customers.

The company, which already had developed launch capabilities and has begun sending payloads into space, can now deliver fully built satellites to its customers, according to a statement.

The “Photon” satellite platform was developed so that customers would not have to build their own satellite hardware.

“Small satellite operators want to focus on providing data or services from space, but building satellite hardware is a significant barrier to achieving this,” said Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck, in a statement.
“The time, resources and expertise required to build hardware can draw small satellite operators away from their core purpose, delaying their path to orbit and revenue. As the turn-key solution for complete small satellite missions, Rocket Lab brings space within easy reach. We enable our customers to focus on their payload and mission – we look after the rest.”

The satellites are designed for a range of Low Earth Orbit missions including technology demonstrations, risk reduction pathfinders, constellations, and hosted payloads, the company said in a statement.

The satellites will stay in orbit for five years and include an S-band communication system, high-performance attitude controls, and a set of avionics tools for in-space propulsion and movement.

The new satellites will be manufactured at Rocket Labs’ Huntington Beach, Calif. headquarters and can be launched on the company’s Electron launch platform. The first such launch is scheduled for later in the first quarter of the year, and the company said it would have its first paying customer missions in 2020.

Amazon joins SpaceX, OneWeb, and Facebook in the race to create space-based internet services

in Astronomer/Blue Origin/broadband/coca-cola/Delhi/Facebook/Google/high speed internet/India/internet connectivity/OneWeb/Politics/satellite/Satellites/spacecraft/spaceflight/SpaceX/starlink/TC/U.S. government/United States by

Amazon is officially joining the race to create a network of satellites in low earth orbit that will provide high-speed terrestrial internet services.

The company has filed its first papers with the U.S. government for approval to launch a network of 3,236 satellites through a subsidiary called Kuiper Systems LLC, according to a report in GeekWire. 

“Project Kuiper is a new initiative to launch a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites that will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved communities around the world,” Amazon confirmed in a statement. “This is a long-term project that envisions serving tens of millions of people who lack basic access to broadband internet. We look forward to partnering on this initiative with companies that share this common vision.”

Space satellite orbiting the earth. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

Named for an astronomer who’s considered “the father of modern planetary science“, Gerard Kuiper; Kuiper Systems is the latest foray into space-based internet networking by a U.S. tech giant.

As private companies look to commercialize space, high speed internet is among the prospects that offer the highest profits in the short term, while providing necessary services to get the remaining 3.8 billion people who don’t have access to the internet online.

In February, OneWeb, another company that’s expecting to create a network of satellites to provide high-speed internet access successfully launched its first satellites. The company has raised at least $3 billion, according to CrunchBase, from investors including Virgin, Coca Cola, and the Bharti Group — and they’re not the only company to raise several billion dollars to develop these services.

SpaceX also has designs on creating a global satellite network — in addition to its leading position as a launch services provider for companies looking to access outer space.

In December, the company set out to raise another $500 million to support its Starlink program, which would create a network of 11,000 satellites to cover the globe with internet connectivity. To date, the company has launched just two prototype satellites, even though earlier reports stated SpaceX, at one time, projected it would have 400 satellites in orbit by the end of 2018.

Finally, the social networking giant, Facebook has been working on satellite capabilities of its own. In a May report, the IEEE Spectrum laid out how Facebook had set up a small subsidiary called PointView Tech, which was developing a new satellite called “Athena” that could deliver data ten times faster than SpaceX’s Starlink satellites.

Amazon’s journey Kuiper satellite service compliments the work that another Jeff Bezos company, Blue Origin, is conducting on the design, development and production of launch vehicles to take payloads into orbit.

Blue Origin has already signed contracts for a multi-launch agreement with Telesat — another company that’s . developing a low earth orbit constellation of satellites that will deliver fiber-like broadband services across the globe.

 

Elon Musk finally hosted meme review with the co-creator of Rick and Morty

in Automotive/ceo/Delhi/Elon Musk/hyperloop/India/Meme/Politics/Rick And Morty/spaceflight/SpaceX/Tesla/Transportation by

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has been teasing — and his fanbase has been making pleas — to host a meme review. And after tweeted hints, meme review has arrived via YouTube star PewDiePie.

Musk tweeted last month a photo and a question “Host meme review?”

On Friday, Musk and Justin Roiland, one of the creators of Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty, appeared on YouTuber PewDiePie’s show for a meme review.

During the segment, Musk and Roiland rate various memes, like the one pictured below, The pair provide commentary and funny quips.

It looks like Musk and Roiland’s appearance has helped push PewDiePie above T-Series, an Indian music company on YouTube that has had the most subscribers.  PewDiePie now has about a 20,000 subscriber lead.

The final meme, which pictures what appears to be a dead deer at the bottom of a pool, is what pushes Musk over the edge when he asks, “Jeez is that true? What, that actually happened? Oh my god,” as he bursts into fits of uncomfortable laughter.

You can watch the whole episode that PewDiePie uploaded on February 22 or skip to about minute 13 for Musk and Roiland.

 

Watch the historic first private mission to the Moon launch Thursday night

in beresheet/Delhi/Gadgets/google lunar x prize/Hardware/India/Israel/lunar landing/Moon/Politics/robotics/Science/Space/spaceflight/TC by

For the first time later this week, a privately developed moon lander will launch aboard a privately built rocket, organized by a private launch coordinator. It’s an historic moment in space and the Israeli mission stands to make history again if it touches down on the Moon’s surface as planned on April 11.

The Beresheet (“Genesis”) program was originally conceived as an entry into the ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful Google Lunar Xprize in 2010, which challenged people to accomplish a lunar landing, with $30 million in prizes as the incentive. The prize closed last year with no winner, but as these Xprize competitions aim to do, it had already spurred great interest and investment in a private moon mission.

SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries worked together on the mission, which will bring cameras, a magnetometer and a capsule filled with items from the country to, hopefully, a safe rest on the lunar surface.

The Beresheet lander ahead of packaging for launch

The launch plan as of now (these things do change with weather, technical delays and so on) is for takeoff at 5:45 Pacific time on Thursday — 8:45 PM in Cape Canaveral — aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. A live stream should be available shortly before, which I’ll add here later or in a new post.

Thirty minutes after takeoff the payload will detach and make contact with mission control, then begin the process of closing the distance to the Moon, during which time it will circle the Earth six times.

Russia, China and of course the U.S. are the only ones ever to successfully land on the Moon; China’s Chang’e 4 lander was the first to soft-land (as opposed to impact) the “dark” (though really only far — it’s often light) side and is currently functional.

But although there has been one successful private lunar flyby mission (the Manfred Memorial probe) no one but a major country has ever touched down. If Beresheet is a success it would be both the first Israeli moon mission and the first private mission to do so. It would also be the first lunar landing to be accomplished with a privately built rocket, and the lightest spacecraft on the Moon and, at around $100 million in costs, the cheapest as well.

Landing on the Moon is, of course, terribly difficult. Just as geosynchronous orbit is far more difficult than low Earth orbit, a lunar insertion orbit is even harder, a stable such orbit even harder and accomplishing a controlled landing on target even harder than that. The only thing more difficult would be to take off again and return to Earth, as Apollo 11 did in 1969 and other missions several times after. Kind of amazing when you think about it.

Seattle’s Spaceflight coordinated the launch, and technically Beresheet is the secondary payload; the primary is the Air Force Research Labs’ S5 experimental satellite, which the launch vehicle will take to geosynchronous orbit after the lunar module detaches.

Although Beresheet may very well be the first, it will likely be the first of many: other contenders in the Lunar Xprize, as well as companies funded or partnering with NASA and other space agencies, will soon be making their own attempts at making tracks in the regolith.

Dreaming of Mars, the startup Relativity Space gets its first launch site on Earth

in 3d printing/Air Force/Amazon/Blue Origin/california/Delhi/Elon Musk/Florida/hyperloop/India/jeff bezos/Los Angeles/Louisiana/Mississippi/Politics/Relativity Space/Seattle/Space/spaceflight/spaceport/SpaceX/Startups/TC/transport/U.S. Air Force/United Launch Alliance/United States/WeWork by

3D-printing the first rocket on Mars.

That’s the goal Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone set for themselves when they founded Los Angeles-based Relativity Space in 2015.

At the time they were working from a WeWork in Seattle, during the darkest winter in Seattle history, where Ellis was wrapping up a stint at Blue Origin . The two had met in college at USC in their jet propulsion lab. Noone had gone on to take a job at SpaceX and Ellis at Blue Origin, but the two remained in touch and had an idea for building rockets quickly and cheaply — with the vision that they wanted to eventually build these rockets on Mars.

Now, more than $35 million dollars later, the company has been awarded a multi-year contract to build and operate its own rocket launch facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

That contract, awarded by The 45th Space Wing of the Air Force, is the first direct agreement the U.S. Air Force has completed with a venture-backed orbital launch company that wasn’t also being subsidized by billionaire owner-operators.

By comparison, Relativity’s neighbors at Cape Canaveral are Blue Origin (which Jeff Bezos has been financing by reportedly selling $1 billion in shares of Amazon stock since 2017); SpaceX (which has raised roughly $2.5 billion since its founding and initial capitalization by Elon Musk); and United Launch Alliance, the joint venture between the defense contracting giants Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing Defense.

Like the other launch sites at Cape Canaveral, Launch Complex 16, where Relativity expects to be launching its first rockets by 2020, has a storied history in the U.S. space and missile defense program. It was used for Titan missile launches, the Apollo and Gemini programs and Pershing missile launches.

From the site, Relativity will be able to launch its first designed rocket, the Terran 1, which is the only fully 3D-printed rocket in the world.

That rocket can carry a maximum payload of 1,250 kilograms to a low earth orbit of 185 kilometers above the Earth. Its nominal payload is 900 kilograms of a Sun-synchronous orbit 500 kilometers out, and it has a 700 kilogram high-altitude payload capacity to 1,200 kilometers in Sun-synchronous orbit. Relativity prices its dedicated missions at $10 million, and $11,000 per kilogram to achieve Sun-synchronous orbit.

If the company’s two founders are right, then all of this launch work Relativity is doing is just a prelude to what the company considers to be its real mission — the advancement of manufacturing rockets quickly and at scale as a test run for building out manufacturing capacity on Mars.

“Rockets are the business model now,” Ellis told me last year at the company’s offices at the time, a few hundred feet from SpaceX. “That’s why we created the printing tech. Rockets are the largest, lightest-weight, highest-cost item that you can make.”

It’s also a way for the company to prove out its technology. “It benefits the long-term mission,” Ellis continued. “Our vision is to create the intelligent automated factory on Mars… We want to help them to iterate and scale the society there.”

Ellis and Noone make some pretty remarkable claims about the proprietary 3D printer they’ve built and housed in their Inglewood offices. Called “Stargate,” the printer is the largest of its kind in the world and aims to go from raw materials to a flight-ready vehicle in just 60 days. The company claims that the speed with which it can manufacture new rockets should pare down launch timelines by somewhere between two and four years.

Another factor accelerating Relativity’s race to market is a long-term contract the company signed last year with NASA for access to testing facilities at the agency’s Stennis Space Center on the Mississippi-Louisiana border. It’s there, deep in the Mississippi delta swampland, that Relativity plans to develop and quality control as many as 36 complete rockets per year on its 25-acre space.

All of this activity helps the company in another segment of its business: licensing and selling the manufacturing technology it has developed.

“The 3D factory and automation is the other product, but really that’s a change in emphasis,” says Ellis. “It’s always been the case that we’re developing our own metal 3D printing technology. Not only can we make rockets. If the long-term mission is 3D printing on Mars, we should think of the factory as its own product tool.”

Not everyone agrees. At least one investor I talked to said that in many cases, the cost of 3D printing certain basic parts outweighs the benefits that printing provides.

Still, Relativity is undaunted.

But first, the company — and its competitors at Blue Origin, SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and the hundreds of other companies working on launching rockets into space again — need to get there. For Relativity, the Canaveral deal is one giant step for the company, and one great leap toward its ultimate goal.

“This is a giant step toward being a launch company,” says Ellis. “And it’s aligned with the long-term vision of one day printing on Mars.”

1 2 3
Go to Top