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Officials forecast than 50 launches from Florida’s Space Coast this year

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A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off Jan. 7 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station with the the Turksat 5A communications satellite, the first launch from Florida’s Space Coast in 2021. Credit: SpaceX

Military officials in charge of the Eastern Range at Cape Canaveral project more than 50 launches from Florida’s Space Coast this year, with SpaceX responsible for most of the launch activity, the vice commander of the 45th Space Wing said this week.

The Florida spaceport hosted 31 launches in 2020, including 30 space missions and a high-altitude atmospheric test flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon abort system.

“We closed the year with the highest number of launches conducted in the past 10 years, and look to break that record again in 2021,” said Col. Brande Walton, vice commander of the 45th Space Wing, which oversees launch operations at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and the neighboring Kennedy Space Center.

In fact, the 30 successful launches from Florida last year that sent payloads into orbit, and destinations beyond, set a record. Before 2020, the previous record for launches from the Space Coast that reached orbit was 29, a mark set in 1966.

But there were numerous suborbital launches, missile tests, and sounding rocket flights from Cape Canaveral not counted in the orbital mission tally in the early years of the Space Age. In 1963, there were 133 known suborbital and orbital launches from the Space Coast, according to Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who tracks global satellite and launch activity.

“Looking forward, we plan to hit the ground running in 2021,” Walton said during virtual presentation to the National Space Club Florida Committee. “We currently have 53 launches on our manifest for this year, with one in the books already.”

The first launch of 2021 from Cape Canaveral was the successful liftoff of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Jan. 7 with the Turksat 5A communications satellite for Turkey.

“It’s shaping to be another remarkable year for launches on the Space Coast, with three human spaceflight missions, two of them on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, and one on Boeing’s new Starliner spacecraft,” Walton said.

The historic first flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts was a highlight of last year’s busy pace of launch activity. NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken launched May 30 on the Crew Dragon demonstration flight aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.

Hurley and Behnken completed their two-month test flight to the International Space Station in early August, setting the stage for the first operational Crew Dragon mission, which took off Nov. 15 with four astronauts on-board.

File photo of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket lifting off from Cape Canaveral with the U.S. Space Force’s sixth AEHF communications satellite March 26, 2020. Credit: United Launch Alliance

Other landmark missions launched from Florida in 2020 included Solar Orbiter, a European-built spacecraft that will take the first pictures of the Sun’s poles, NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover, and the first launch into a polar orbit from Cape Canaveral since the 1960s, Walton said.

Launch operators and range officials accomplished most of the missions last year after the coronavirus pandemic forced many employees to remote work, and launch crews practiced physical distancing and wore masks to combat the spread of the disease.

Officials from the 45th Space Wing projected 48 launches in 2020 at the beginning of last year, an uptick in missions primarily driven by SpaceX’s Starlink internet network.

Launch delays, a fact of life in the space business, meant SpaceX and ULA fell short of their projected launch numbers last year. That could happen again in 2021.

Military officials have streamlined processes to more rapidly turn around the Eastern Range between launches.

In recent decades, the range could only accommodate launches separated by 48 hours. With the introduction of automated flight safety systems, which would destroy an errant rocket if it flew off course, and upgraded GPS-based tracking capabilities, there’s a reduced demand on ground infrastructure and range safety officers for each launch.

That has allowed the 45th Space Wing to reduce staffing levels to support missions equipped with an automated flight safety system. SpaceX’s Falcon rockets are currently flying with the automated safety system, and United Launch Alliance plans to use a similar system on its next-generation Vulcan Centaur rocket.

With the new technology, Space Force officials have said the Eastern Range can now support missions from different launch pads less than 24 hours apart.

Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and CEO, has said the company plans up to 48 Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy missions in 2021. Up to a half-dozen of those launches are expected to take off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, at SpaceX’s West Coast launch pad.

Eight of ULA’s up to 10 planned missions this year will launch from Cape Canaveral. A Delta 4-Heavy and an Atlas 5 mission are scheduled to launch from Vandenberg this year, with seven more Atlas 5s on the Florida launch schedule.

ULA says the new Vulcan rocket, designed to eventually replace the Delta 4 and Atlas 5 rocket families, could be ready to take off from Cape Canaveral on its first test flight in late 2021.

The projection of 53 launches includes the debut flights of the Vulcan rocket and NASA’s Space Launch System heavy-lifter, a huge launcher designed to send crews back to the Moon, Walton said. The first SLS demonstration flight, also scheduled for late 2021, will not carry any astronauts.

“The team is also prepped and very excited to take part in a few inaugural launches from ULA and NASA,” Walton said. “As you can see with 53 launches on the launch manifest, we plan to make this year another record-breaking year with no plans to slow down anywhere in the near future.”

Col. Brande Walton, vice commander of the 45th Space Wing. Credit: U.S. Air Force

Assuming the 53-launch forecast counts ULA’s eight planned missions from Cape Canaveral and the first SLS test launch, the 45th Space Wing presumably expects SpaceX to perform the remaining 44 flights from Florida’s Space Coast.

Given Musk’s goal of 48 launches in 2021, with a handful of of those missions originating from Vandenberg, SpaceX could be planning around that number of launches from Florida.

There are around 18 publicly-known SpaceX launches scheduled from the Space Coast this year for external customers, including two or three launches using SpaceX’s triple-body Falcon Heavy rocket, according to a count by Spaceflight Now.

At least two Falcon Heavy launches are firmly scheduled this year, each carrying payloads for the Space Force. Other SpaceX flights will loft crews and cargo to the space station, commercial communications satellites, and a GPS navigation spacecraft.

Aside from the Vulcan’s first flight, ULA’s Florida launch schedule includes two Atlas 5 launches with unpiloted and crewed test flights of Boeing’s Starliner capsule, an Atlas 5 flight with NASA’s Lucy asteroid exploration probe, and several Atlas 5s for the Space Force.

SpaceX officials have said missions for external customers take priority over the company’s internal Starlink missions. When there’s room in the Falcon 9 manifest, SpaceX says it builds enough Starlink satellites to launch batches of 60 as often as once every two weeks, or up to 26 missions in a year.

Fourteen launches from the Space Coast last year carried Starlink satellites into orbit, nearly half of all the launches from Florida in 2020.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2021/01/15/officials-forecast-than-50-launches-from-floridas-space-coast-this-year/

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Microchip makes PolarFire defence-grade FPGAs available in volume production

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Microchip makes PolarFire defence-grade FPGAs available in volume production

Aerospace, defence, automotive and industrial designers who need defence- and automotive-grade programmable logic solutions can now order PolarFire Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) in volume production quantities.

Microchip Technology has announced it is shipping PolarFire FPGAs qualified for both the military temperature grade (-40°C to 125°C TJ) and Automotive Electronics Council Q100 (AEC-Q100) specification Grade T2 (-40°C to 125°C TJ).

These offerings extend Microchip’s low-power leadership as a supplier of FPGAs for diverse high-reliability markets. With their thermal and space design constraints, automotive, industrial and military applications deployed in harsh environments require solutions that offer power and space efficiency as well as cryptographic security. PolarFire FPGAs offer on-chip security features that enable secure communication, an encrypted bitstream, and a cryptographically secured supply chain, ensuring tamper-proof solutions for these market segments.

Unlike SRAM-based FPGAs, Microchip devices can operate without fans and in some cases without heatsinks, simplifying the thermal design of the system and creating new opportunities for smaller, lighter designs. This is especially important in automotive applications such as blind spot detection, lane change warning systems and back up cameras. Additionally, the extended temperature range of our military grade devices coupled with our state-of-the-art security enables developers to trust and add more compute power within a thermally constrained environments such as those found in advanced strategic weapons systems.

“Removing heat from a system is not free,” said Bruce Weyer, vice-president of Microchip’s FPGA business unit. “The less heat you move, the lower your total system costs become. In some cases, complete removal of fans from systems, which often have a low mean time between failure, is possible. Automotive and aerospace design engineers can now develop mid-range FPGA solutions with the lowest total power, highest reliability, and best-in-class security technologies, all at a lower total system cost.”

www.microchip.com

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/microchip-makes-polarfire-defence-grade-fpgas-available-in-volume-production/

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Virgin Galactic Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya sells off remaining personal stake in the space company

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The man who arguably ushered in the current SPAC rush with the merger of Virgin Galactic with his Social Capital Hedosophia holding company has divested the remainder of his personal holdings in the space tourism company. Chamath Palihapitiya, who serves as the chairman of Virgin Galactic’s board, still holds 6.2% ownership in the company in partnership with investor Ian Osborne, but his solo holdings are now at zero.

Palihapitiya provided the following statement to TechCrunch via Virgin Galactic:

I sold 6M shares for $200M which I am planning to redirect into a large investment I am making towards fighting climate change. The details of this investment will be made public in the next few months. I remain as dedicated as ever to Virgin Galactic’s team, mission and prospects.

Palihapitiya sold 3.8 million shares in December 2020, noting that he was selling that equity “to help manage [his] liquidity” in order to provide funding for “several new projects starting in 2021.” At the time, Palihapitiya said he “remained committed and excited fore the future of SPCE [Virgin Galactic’s stock ticker on the NYSE].”

The sale this week comprised 6.2 million shares, netting Palihapitiya roughly $213 million in the process.

Virgin Galactic has had some setbacks in its testing program that pushed the projected date of its first paying commercial tourists flights out into 2022, from an earlier target of sometime this year. The company installed Disney Parks leader Michael Colglazier as its new CEO last July, replacing George Whitesides, who moved into a chief space officer role, before it was revealed Thursday that he’s departing the company. Whitesides’ decision is said to be due to a desire to pursue public service opportunities.

Space as a sector has been a hotbed of SPAC activity of late, with mergers from a number of companies including Astra, Spire, Rocket Lab, BlackSky and Momentus announced over the course of the past year. Virgin Galactic, as one of the earliest, will be closely watched by anyone looking for a yardstick by which to measure the tactic. The company’s share value is down just over 5% pre-market, and has been on a steady decline since reaching an all-time peak around mid-February.


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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/03/05/virgin-galactic-chairman-chamath-palihapitiya-sells-off-remaining-personal-stake-in-the-space-company/

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Diamond tooling for hard materials presented at Intec Connect

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Diamond tooling for hard materials presented at Intec Connect

Horn is presenting in the expo area at this year’s Intec Connect online machine tool and metalworking show an expanded range of CVD (chemical vapour deposition) diamond-tipped tooling.

The tools, used for cost-effective drilling and countersinking of sintered carbides and ceramics of hardness up to 3,000HV, enable short throughput times, high surface quality, low costs and more flexibility within the production process as well as long tool life.

The DDHM tool system allows rigorous machining processes to be carried out on conventional milling and turning centres, eliminating the need to invest in expensive new machinery or resort to costly, time-consuming grinding and eroding processes.

Due to their ability to machine carbide punches and dies efficiently, the cutters are particularly suitable for use in the tool and die making sector. However, they also offer production advantages in the medical, aerospace and automotive industries.

The CVD-D-tipped drills are ideal for producing holes in solid material to a maximum depth of ten times diameter. They are of two-edged design and are available in diameters ranging from 2mm to 10mm.

All versions feature internal channels for cooling with air. For chamfering and countersinking, Horn offers CVD-D end mills with diameters of 3mm and 6mm and with flank angles of 15, 30 and 45 degrees. The 3mm version has five teeth while the 6mm version has six.

www.phorn.co.uk

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/diamond-tooling-for-hard-materials-presented-at-intec-connect/

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ISRO is one of the Best Space Agency in Efficient Use of Funding for Satellite Launches, Says Experts 

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Under the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Framework, a proposal for ‘BRICS Virtual Constellation of Remote Sensing Satellites’ in order to establish a mechanism to share remote sensing satellite data is under consideration.

India & Brazil Space Cooperation

Recently, India Space Research Organisation (ISRO) along with 18 other satellites launched the Brazilian satellite Amazonia-1 which was the primary payload. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C-51 on February 28, 2021, launched a total of 19 satellites from the First Launch Pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, Sriharikota. They were part of the first dedicated commercial PSLV mission for its commercial company NewSpace India Limited (NSIL).

As per the report, Amazonia-1 the primary payload on Sunday’s launch is the first earth observation satellite, designed, developed, assembled and tested in Brazil.

As per the report, the Space sector has been identified as a major area of cooperation by the top leaders of both countries. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Space, India and the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) was inked in March 2002, and this was then followed by a Framework Agreement in 2004. A Joint Working Group on Space which was constituted under the Agreement, met last January to identify priority areas for cooperation.

India and the South American nation Brazil have been collaborating in Data sharing and satellite tracking of Indian satellites on a semi-commercial basis.

In 2007, an Implementing Arrangement for Cooperation in Augmentation of Brazilian Earth stations was signed – this allowed access to Brazilian ground stations to remote sensing data from the Indian satellites. This included from Resourcesat-2. Brazilian earth stations of Alcantara and Cuiaba, which are being used by ISRO to receive and process data of Indian Remote Sensing satellites.

They have also been provided tracking facilities to Chandrayaan – 1 & 2 and ASTROSAT. Also as reported earlier, two officials from the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) had participated in ISRO’S ‘UNNATI’ (UNispace Nanosatellite 4 Assembly & Training by ISRO). This was an 8-week long training programme related to Nano-satellite building.

Views of  An Astronaut & Space Scientist From The LAC Region

Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Dr Adolfo Chaves-Jiménez, Coordinator, Space Systems Engineering Laboratory, Costa Rica Institute of Technology, Spaceflight crewman candidate says, “The launch of the Brazilian satellite Amazonia-1 and several other secondary loads, including another Latin American satellite (Nanoconect-1 from National Autonomous University of Mexico, UNAM) are two examples in different kind of applications on how the cooperation between ISRO and Latin America is effective.”

“ISRO has shown to be one of the best, if not the best, public agency regarding the efficient use of funding for satellite launches, being considered by many as one true contender to companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin or Planet Labs. This means that ISRO, with common interests to developing nations in Latin America, and with no restrictions like ITAR, has the potential to become a prime partner for future missions, with mutual benefits, like installation of ground stations of India in Latin America in exchange for launch opportunities,” says Dr Chaves-Jiménez, who is also part of the Costa Rica Space Agency Law project.

According to him, “The capabilities of ISRO could be complementary to nations, like Costa Rica, were in order to become space nations we could focus to be world-class on an application, and be supported by nations with complementary capabilities, like India. These complementary capabilities would enable the capabilities of developing countries to be part of the space research and development sector.”

Launching capabilities are an example of a complementary capability of ISRO since no Latin American nation has this capability (even when the launches of ESA are done from South American soil, but they belong to French Guyana).

“But launches are far from being the only cooperation required by Latin American nations. Exchange in knowledge in areas like manufacturing, biological applications, environmental technologies, software development and in general areas related to Industry 4.0 are all areas where mutual development offers future opportunities for all our countries.

For this reason, I strongly believe in the potential of alliances between ISRO and in general the Indian Space Sector and our work in Latin America in the area,” he concludes.

Says Ronnie Nader, father of the first Ecuadorian Satellites, “I think that the launch of Brazil’s Amazonas satellite onboard the Indian PSLV rocket marks an advance of ISRO’s launch vehicle capabilities in terms of establishing a presence in the Latin American space sector, which is growing fast. And, also not to forget that a Cubesat from the National Autonomous University of Mexico was also launched on this mission as a secondary payload. The fact that Brazil had selected PSLV and ISRO for a mission of such importance as Amazonas, which is an earth observation satellite, and therefore a big one, says much about the milestones achieved and the maturity of the PSLV system.”

“For our region is important to have launch partner as India, which, as an emerging country, understands better the needs and character of our region, our struggles and our march towards progress, I think that together we can achieve wonders, if we are given to the endeavour of strengthening our bonds, work together more often and longer.

I think it will go a long way for our peoples to have an interplanetary or lunar mission together from the emerging countries to show the world we are ready to not only participate but to contribute to humanity biggest enterprise which is the colonization of the solar system, its wonders and riches, but most importantly, to show our peoples that if it is true that space is for mankind, we, the emerging countries, are mankind too,” the Ecuadorian Astronaut concludes.

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Source: https://www.eletimes.com/isro-is-one-of-the-best-space-agency-in-efficient-use-of-funding-for-satellite-launches-says-experts

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