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Boeing and Costa Rica’s COOPESA to open two 737-800BCF conversion lines

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COOPESA is a US Federal Aviation Administration and European Union Aviation Safety Agency-certified airframe maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider serving airlines in the US and global leasing companies.

The partnership will help meet the increasing demand for Boeing Converted Freighters (BCF).

The first conversion line is likely to open in early next year, followed by the second line in the later part of the same year.

Boeing’s plans to create additional conversion capacity is based on its prediction of 1,500 freighter conversions requirement over the next two decades.

According to the aircraft manufacturer’s forecast, 1,080 of 1,500 will be standard-body conversions, nearly 30% of which comes from North America and Latin America.

Boeing freighter conversions director Jens Steinhagen said: “COOPESA has demonstrated the technical expertise and commitment to quality and execution necessary to help us meet the growing customer demand for the 737-800BCF, including in the Americas.

“Boeing is pleased to have COOPESA join our team of MRO partners as we deliver our market-leading converted freighters to customers around the world.”

Currently, 737-800 passenger aircraft conversion to freighters is carried out at three locations including Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services (BSAS) in Shanghai, Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Company (GAMECO), and Taikoo (Shandong) Aircraft Engineering Co (STAECO) in Jinan, China.

So far, 15 customers from four continents have placed more than 180 orders and commitments.

Earlier this year, Boeing redelivered the 50th 737-800BCF since entering service in 2018.

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Source: https://www.aerospace-technology.com/news/boeing-coopesa-conversion-lines/

Aerospace

FCS Finland launches aircraft engine cooling system

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FCS Finland launches aircraft engine cooling system

FCS Finland, a Finnish company that provides ground support solutions to minimize aircraft downtime, has launched a patented aircraft engine cooling system, the AFC-22.

This flagship product is a professional cooling system for aircraft engines, and a one-of-a-kind green product that connects to the aircraft engine’s exhaust nozzle using a special made vacuum adapter with a flexible hose. This configuration makes ambient air flow through the core engine. Custom fit adapters are available for any engine type.

This system greatly reduces aircraft downtime by cooling the engines in shorter time. This enables hot section maintenance and borescope inspections to be performed much sooner. It will also prevent the wear of the air starter motor because no cranking is required. FCS Finland reports that for example, by using the AFC-22, it only takes 45 minutes to reach the necessary  ≤45⁰C temperature for the hot section maintenance, while normal cooling time is upwards of 4-5 hours.

Decreased turnaround time provides both cost savings and a green initiative for the airlines. The AFC-22 limits the need for engine motoring and idling, helping to reduce the carbon footprint for each flight.

The AFC-22 currently custom adapts to four jet engines: Rolls-Royce Trent XWB, Rolls-Royce Trent 7000, CFM International CFM-56-5B and General Electric CF6-80E. Also, it will soon adapt to every turbo fan engine on the market. New engine adapters can be manufactured in as little as four weeks at FCS Finland’s facility in Turku, Finland.

“Since 2019 Finnair has been using a separate cooling tool AFC-22 manufactured by FCS Avionics. FCS developed the tool for Finnair’s specific need,” said Reijo Katiska, programme engineer, Trent XWB Finnair, technical operations. “Maintenance work gets to start much quicker after the flight. Also, especially on engine borescoping tasks, the tool is essential to keep heat at the desired level during the maintenance completion. Our experience with the AFC-22 is very positive and we consider it a necessary tool.  At Finnair, we plan to utilize the AFC-22 as much as possible in the future.”

“We are saving airlines time and money with the ability to cool engines up to six times faster, approximately 45 minutes versus four to five hours, and turning aircraft around much more quickly.  Every minute that an aircraft sits on the tarmac cooling, the engine is costing the airline money and making an environmental impact,” said Kimmo Hotanen, Sales and Customer Care, FCS Finland.  “There is no product like this in the marketplace and we have patents pending throughout the world.  We are getting a great deal of demand from airlines, cargo carriers and the military.  We are able to turn around orders within four to six weeks as we manufacture and assemble the equipment at our facility in Turku, Finland.”

The process of manufacturing and assembling the AFC-22 for an aircraft engine starts with contactless measurement using a 3D laser scanner, which traces every detail of the engine exhaust system. This process provides an accurate way to create adapters for all engine types.

The next step is the 3D design phase enabling complex and accurate shapes for any engine type, followed by a virtual fitting, allowing a shorter delivery time. The manufacturing process uses CNC machining and a computer guided process to cut seals.

https://fcsfinland.fi

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/fcs-finland-launches-aircraft-engine-cooling-system/

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Leaf Space expands ground station network ahead of busy SpaceX ride-share mission

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TAMPA, Fla. — Leaf Space has added three more ground stations to its managed network service, helping the Italian company support its largest number of satellite customers on a single launch in an upcoming mission.

Adding sites in Sri Lanka, the Azores and Scotland increases Leaf Space’s total ground station count to 12, which will support 14 satellites from six customers due to launch on SpaceX’s Transporter-2 ride-share mission. SpaceX recently said it plans to announce a new date for this launch, which had been slated for June 25, to take additional time for prelaunch checkouts.

Giovanni Pandolfi, Leaf Space’s co-founder and chief technology officer, said the company is on track to activate three more ground stations in the third quarter of this year amid the small satellite industry’s rapid expansion.

The company provides ground segment services for satellite and rocket launches, early spacecraft operations, ongoing mission needs and space asset decommissioning.

“Expanding our ground station network provides our customers with more coverage points, allowing more frequent and strategic communications with satellites on orbit providing them with more control, flexibility and the ability to scale quickly without additional operational or infrastructure costs,” Pandolfi told SpaceNews.

Having more ground stations is particularly useful during the launch and early operations phase of a ride-share mission, he added, because it reduces “the time between launch, satellite identification and commissioning, which ultimately allows customers to start using their spacecraft faster.”

The new ground station in Sri Lanka also gives Leaf Space capabilities in the equatorial orbit for the first time, distributing its medium-latitude network to mitigate the risk of interference, among other advantages that provide customers more capacity with fewer antennas. 

Pandolfi said the new station on the remote Shetland Islands in Northern Scotland boosts capacity for sun-synchronous and mid-inclination orbits. 

“It is also a very RF-clean environment, which of course is favorable for satellite operations,” he said.

Founded in 2014, Leaf Space announced plans March 24 for a U.S. office to serve government and commercial markets.

Its customers include Swiss startup Astrocast, which has five satellites on the Transporter-2 mission and recently unveiled plans to go public to expand the constellation.

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Source: https://spacenews.com/leaf-space-expands-ground-station-network-ahead-of-busy-spacex-ride-share-mission/

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Satellite propulsion supplier Orbion raises $20 million in Series B funding

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The company is looking to ramp up production to meet demand from commercial constellations and from the U.S. government

WASHINGTON — Orbion Space Technology, a Michigan-based supplier of electric propulsion for small satellites, announced June 24 it has raised $20 million in Series B funding.

The new funding is to scale up production of plasma thrusters for small satellites, the company said. Orbion’s Aurora propulsion system uses the satellite’s electrical power to generate thrust. 

The company is looking to ramp up production to hundreds of units per year to meet demand from commercial constellations and from the U.S. government, a spokesman said. Orbion is under contract to supply four Aurora propulsion systems to Blue Canyon Technologies for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Blackjack satellites. The company won a U.S. Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to study the application of plasma thrusters in military satellites. 

Satellites’ propulsion systems are used to raise the orbit altitude, avoid in-space collisions and de-orbit the spacecraft at end of life.

Orbion’s co-founder and CEO Brad King told SpaceNews the company is looking to become more vertically integrated and less reliant on contract manufacturing partners to build flight hardware.  

“We strongly believe that it is crucial that the thruster is built by thruster experts — not simply manufacturers who are following instructions to replicate devices that they don’t understand,” King said. 

“By building our own products we also avoid having a third-party in the cost structure and can be more responsive to our customers since contract manufacturers can induce delays in order schedules if they are busy building other things,” he added.

Orbion is now operating its own thruster factory, said King, “but the Series B capital allows us to enter the next phase of factory buildout.”

The new funding round was led by Inventus Capital Partners, Material Impact, Beringea and Wakestream Ventures.

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Source: https://spacenews.com/satellite-propulsion-supplier-orbion-raises-20-million-in-series-b-funding/

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SpaceX postpones second Transporter rideshare launch

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket rocket fires its engines for an on-pad test-firing Tuesday at Cape Canaveral. Credit: Stephen Clark / Spaceflight Now

SpaceX said Thursday it has postponed the next launch of a Falcon 9 rocket, previously scheduled for Friday at Cape Canaveral, due to unspecified technical concerns. The Falcon 9 will launch on a commercial rideshare mission with more than 80 small satellites.

In a tweet, SpaceX said its team would take “additional time for pre-launch check outs.” The company released no additional details, but added it will announce a new target launch date once it is confirmed.

Two customers with satellites on the mission said Monday was a tentative new target launch date for the mission, which SpaceX calls Transporter 2.

The Transporter 2 mission is SpaceX’s second dedicated small satellite rideshare mission, following the launch of the Transporter 1 mission in January. The Transporter 1 mission delivered 143 small satellites to a sun-synchronous polar orbit, while Transporter 2 is expected to carry around 88 spacecraft into a similar orbit.

The payloads include small satellites for the U.S. military, plus radar and optical Earth observation satellites for Satellogic and ICEYE, commercial remote sensing companies based in Argentina and Finland. There are also numerous CubeSats on-board the launch for U.S. and international operators.

The launch was scheduled for 2:56 p.m. EDT (1856 GMT) Friday from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.

SpaceX test-fired the Falcon 9 rocket’s reused first stage booster on pad 40 Tuesday. After the static fire test, SpaceX confirmed the mission was on track for launch Friday.

After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket will head south east from Cape Canaveral, then turn to a southerly course after arcing downrange over the Atlantic Ocean. The “dog-leg” maneuver will take the Falcon 9 rocket offshore on a trajectory roughly parallel to Florida’s east coast, then over the Florida Straits and Cuba before reaching orbit what the rideshare payloads.

This will be the third SpaceX launch to use the southerly polar launch trajectory since last August. Before August, the polar launch trajectory had not been used from Cape Canaveral since 1969.

SpaceX plans to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket back at Cape Canaveral around eight minutes after liftoff, while the rocket’s upper stage continues into orbit to deploy the dozens of small satellites on-board.

The Transporter 2 mission will mark SpaceX’s 20th Falcon 9 launch of the year.

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Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2021/06/24/spacex-postpones-second-transporter-rideshare-launch/

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