April Industry News

Latest news on launchers, satellites, science and military sectors.


Launcher to Test Rocket Engine at NASA Stennis – 15th April, 2020

Launcher’s full-scale test fire facility will be built at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, as part of Launcher’s U.S. Air Force SBIR Phase II contract to test-fire Launcher E-2, its 22,000-lbf thrust, 3D printed liquid rocket engine Source

Space Pioneer raises $14 million to develop green liquid rocket engines
– 14th April, 2020

Chinese space propulsion startup Space Pioneer has raised $14 million in funding for completing a series of next-generation liquid engines. The company, established in 2015, will use the funds to develop a 30-ton-thrust HCP liquid engine named Tianhuo-3. It aims to fully develop the engine and take it to the test stand this year. Igniter hot fire tests were performed late last year. Tianhuo series engines use a ‘next-generation’ green, ambient temperature propellant.Landspace Technology Corporation in March succeeded with a 1500-second test of its Tianque-11 10-ton-thrust engines. Landspace claims full-system hot tests of 10 seconds, 100 seconds, 750 seconds, and 1500 seconds were all completely successful. Source 


Russia suspends Soyuz rocket production amid coronavirus – 10th April, 2020

The manufacturer of Russia’s workhorse Soyuz-2 rocket said it has paused production to keep factory workers safe during the coronavirus pandemic. There was no mention of any impact from the bankruptcy of megaconstellation startup OneWeb, for which Arianespace had completed three of a planned 21 Soyuz launches under a $1.1 billion contract.Arianespace had stressed for the past two years that it had Soyuz rockets ready for OneWeb whenever the startup had satellites available to launch, and had anticipated conducting 10 Soyuz launches for OneWeb this year. Source


Rocket Lab executive says company is well positioned to weather crisis – 1st April, 2020

Rocket Lab’s primary launch site in New Zealand is temporarily shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak. But the small launch provider expects to get back on track later this year and is optimistic about both its launch and small satellite business.The pause in launch operations is giving Rocket Lab time to focus on its satellite business, said Richard French, director of global government launch services at Rocket Lab. “We’re doing detailed design work that was not getting as much attention when we were just focused on operations.”A year ago Rocket Lab unveiled a new line of Photon smallsats based on the kick stage the company uses on its Electron rocket. Source


Spire and VesselBot focus on vessel tracking and monitoring – 15th April, 2020

Spire Global announced plans to work with VesselBot, a Greek technology company focused on the international maritime industry, to develop products based on Spire’s automatic identification system (AIS) data.

San Francisco-based Spire formed Spire Maritime in 2018 to develop vessel tracking and monitoring services. Spire Maritime is forging partnerships with industry experts like VesselBot and harnessing technologies like machine learning to expand its product line. Source


Exolaunch Signs Agreement with SpaceX for Falcon 9 Small Satellite Rideshare Mission – 14th April, 2020

Exolaunch, a German rideshare launch and deployment solutions provider, signed a Launch Services Agreement with SpaceX to launch small satellites on a Falcon 9 as part of SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program. Source 

Intelsat Seeking Bankruptcy Loan
– 14th April, 2020

Intelsat SA is seeking backers for a bankruptcy loan that would keep the satellite service in business under Chapter 11 court protection while it’s waiting for billions of dollars in proceeds from a government spectrum auction. Its bonds led decliners in the high-yield market.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is shopping the debtor-in-possession loan to institutional investors, many of whom specialize in financial restructuring. Source


OneWeb files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy – 27th March, 2020

UK based satellite internet startup OneWeb filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. Friday after its largest investor, Softbank, rejected a request for additional funding. The company said it laid off about 85% of its 531 employees prior to filing for bankruptcy.

“It is with a very heavy heart that we have been forced to reduce our workforce and enter the Chapter 11 process while the Company’s remaining employees are focused on responsibly managing our nascent constellation and working with the Court and investors,” OneWeb CEO Adrien Steckel said.

OneWeb’s filing shows $2.1 billion in total liabilities, including $1.7 billion in senior secured financing plus money owed to between 1,000 and 5,000 creditors. The U.K.-based company has raised $3.4 billion, but outside analysts estimated the satellite system would require as much as $7.5 billion to complete. Source 


NASA’s Curiosity Keeps Rolling As Team Operates Rover From Home – 15th April, 2020

For the first time, NASA’s Curiosity rover’s operations were planned while the team was completely remote. The rover is usually commanded from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, where the mission is based. Source 


NOAA Announces First Series of Awards for Future Observation Technology – 14th April, 2020

NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service (NESDIS) announced the first in a series of contract awards to develop mission, spacecraft and instrument concepts for future Earth observation capabilities.

The new concepts NESDIS is considering in this initial round are atmospheric temperature and pressure sounding observations in low earth orbit (LEO) and broader mission approaches for geostationary earth orbits (GEO) and extended orbits (GEO-XO). Source 


Russia Tests Direct-ascent Anti-satellite Missile – 15th April, 2020

U.S. Space Command is aware and tracking Russia’s direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile test April 15. Russia’s missile system is capable of destroying satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) and comes on the heels of Russia’s on-orbit testing the U.S. highlighted in February, namely COSMOS 2542 and COSMOS 2543. These satellites, which behaved similar to previous Russian satellites that exhibited characteristics of a space weapon, conducted maneuvers near a U.S. Government satellite that would be interpreted as irresponsible and potentially threatening in any other domain.  Source 


National Security Space Association Seeks Aid During Pandemic – 14th April, 2020

The National Security Space Association (NSSA) is requesting billions of dollars in aid and a raft of policy changes to help its member companies survive the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The recommendations include: more than $2.5 billion in supplemental appropriations to fund programs; government guarantee loans for selected companies to prevent bankruptcies like OneWeb; acceleration of existing satellite programs; and application of “Buy American” domestic content regulations to national security acquisitions. Source

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