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Skylo launches connected device services in India on Inmarsat network

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TAMPA, Fla. — Silicon Valley startup Skylo has started connecting machines and sensors in India to its Internet of Things (IoT) network, using British operator Inmarsat’s satellites.

Inmarsat’s L-band network in geostationary orbit (GEO) will provide the global capacity backbone for Skylo’s technology, the companies announced June 8.

Using a compact satellite terminal called Skylo Hub that operates like a wireless hot spot for nearby sensors, Skylo’s technology takes advantage of cellular narrowband IoT protocols to connect devices in remote areas.

Parth Trivedi, Skylo CEO and co-founder, said using existing satellites this way enables it to lower service costs with data plans that start at $1 a month.

He said this is opening up applications in remote areas ranging from tracking and managing the efficiency of vaccines to advancing precision farming.

Skylo said it had secured a total $116 million in early 2020, after its latest funding round led by Japanese internet company SoftBank raised $103 million.

On Aug. 18, Skylo announced a partnership with Sony Semiconductor Israel — owned by Japan’s Sony — to develop cellular chipsets that can connect over GEO networks.

Skylo’s services in India are provided through a partnership with state-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL).

Skylo also announced a partnership June 8 with Japanese wireless provider SoftBank Mobile to expand its services to the country.

Trivedi said Skylo will be “announcing further expansion later this year.”

He pointed to forecasts showing how 13.1 billion IoT devices will be connected in 2023, with 1.2 billion of them connected via satellites.

“One important item that we’re seeing is that every day, more use cases emerge,” he said in an email.

Inmarsat also has a strategic relationship with Orbcomm, the U.S. satellite operator specializing in connecting industrial monitoring devices that was recently sold to private equity for $1.1 billion.

In October 2020, Inmarsat and Orbcomm extended their partnership to develop IoT, telematics and other applications through at least 2035.

Taiwanese chipmaker MediaTek said it successfully tested narrowband IoT technology over Inmarsat’s Alphasat in GEO in August.

Luxembourg startup OQ Technology is also exploring GEO partnerships to accelerate its access to the market, as it plans to start connecting devices with its first satellite launched to low Earth orbit (LEO) this year. 


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Source: https://spacenews.com/skylo-launches-connected-device-services-in-india-on-inmarsat-network/

Aerospace

Live coverage: Minotaur 1 rocket set for launch from Virginia

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Live coverage of the countdown and launch of a Northrop Grumman Minotaur 1 rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia. The mission will launch three payloads for the National Reconnaissance Office. Follow us on Twitter.

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A live video stream of the Minotaur 1 launch will be available on this page beginning at 6:30 a.m. EDT (1030 GMT) on Tuesday, June 15.

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Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2021/06/15/minotaur-1-nrol-129-mission-status-center/

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Photos: Minotaur 1 rocket stands on launch pad in Virginia

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Clad in a yellow thermal blanket that will peel away at liftoff, a 69-foot-tall (21-meter) Minotaur 1 rocket is standing on a launch pad at Wallops Island, Virginia, ready to deliver three small National Reconnaissance Office spacecraft to orbit.

The four-stage, solid-fueled rocket is set for liftoff from pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport run by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority. The spaceport is co-located with NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, which runs the launch range.

Pad 0B is positioned about a quarter-mile (400 meters) south of pad 0A, the base for Antares rocket launches to resupply the International Space Station.

The Minotaur 1 rocket’s two lower stages are surplus motors taken from stockpiles of decommissioned Minuteman ballistic missiles. The yellow thermal blanket, sometimes called the “banana,” will rapidly peel off the rocket in sections when the first stage ignites to power the Minotaur 1 off the pad with more than 200,000 pounds of thrust.

The rocket is fitted with a 61-inch-diameter (1.55-meter) payload shroud, which will protect the three NRO spy satellite payloads during the first few minutes of flight through the atmosphere. The fairing will jettison after the Minotaur 1 reaches space.

See our Mission Status Center for more coverage of the NROL-111 mission.

These photos were taken June 10 during a mission dress rehearsal, when the mobile gantry at the launch pad was rolled back to reveal the Minotaur 1 rocket.

A Minotaur 1 rocket stands on pad 0B during a mission dress rehearsal June 10. Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
A Northrop Grumman Minotaur 1 rocket stands on pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia. The rocket is scheduled to launch on the NROL-111 mission Tuesday. Credit: National Reconnaissance Office
Credit: National Reconnaissance Office
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: National Reconnaissance Office
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2021/06/14/photos-minotaur-1-rocket-stands-on-launch-pad-in-virginia/

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Minotaur rocket set to launch top secret satellites from Virginia

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A Northrop Grumman Minotaur 1 rocket stands on pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia. The rocket is scheduled to launch on the NROL-111 mission Tuesday. Credit: National Reconnaissance Office

A Minotaur 1 rocket powered by a surplus Cold War-era missile stage more than 54 years old is poised to blast off from the Eastern Shore of Virginia Tuesday morning, heading to orbit with three top secret spacecraft for the U.S. government’s spy satellite agency.

The solid-fueled launcher, sized to haul small satellites into orbit, is awaiting liftoff from pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Liftoff is scheduled for 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT).

There is a 60% chance of favorable weather for launch Tuesday morning, according to the official launch forecast. The primary weather concerns are low cloud ceilings and cumulus clouds associated with a cold front moving through the area early Tuesday.

The Minotaur 1, assembled and operated by Northrop Grumman, is set to fly its first mission since 2013. The Minotaur rocket family is primarily geared to launch satellites for the military.

The 69-foot-tall (21-meter) rocket will is based on leftover solid-fueled motors from the U.S. Air Force’s Minuteman missile program. Designers added two Orion solid rocket motors on top of the lower two stages of a Minuteman missile to turn the bomb carriers into satellite launchers.

The Minotaur 1 rocket’s M55A1 first stage motor was cast with solid propellant in 1966 by Thiokol, now part of Northrop Grumman. The SR19 second stage motor, produced by Aerojet, was filled with its solid propellant in 1983, according to a Northrop Grumman spokesperson.

The age of the first stage likely means it is the oldest rocket motor ever used on a space launch.

After going on alert with nuclear warheads in silos during the Cold War, the Minuteman missile motors were stored at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and refurbished there before shipping out for launch preparations.

Military teams test-fired Minuteman motors with similar ages in 2019 and 2020, and engineers verified good performance in both stages.

“We are using these decommissioned assets, taxpayer-funded assets, and we’re taking them and we’re able to launch government-sponsored payloads, which to me is actually one of the coolest things about our Minotaur 1 rocket,” said Kelly Fitzpatrick, a Northrop Grumman senior guidance, navigation and control engineer.

The mission set for launch Tuesday is designated NROL-111. While the satellites on-board the Minotaur 1 rocket are classified, NRO officials held a pre-launch press conference last week to preview the mission.

“We certainly cannot get into any specifics for national security reasons, but I can tell you that there are three spacecraft that will be launched on this mission,” said Col. Chad Davis, director of the NRO’s office of space launch. “NRO payloads and capabilities, in general, are the nation’s eyes and ears in space, being able to deliver that exquisite intelligence information from space that our warfighters and national decision-makers need.”

NRO satellites collect high-resolution optical and radar imagery of sites around the world, eavesdrop on communications from U.S. adversaries, and help track worldwide military activity.

In 2016, the Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, then part of the Air Force, selected a Minotaur 1 rocket for the NROL-111 mission. The launch contract awarded to Orbital ATK, since acquired by Northrop Grumman, was valued at $29.2 million.

A Minotaur 1 rocket stands on pad 0B during a mission dress rehearsal June 10. Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now

Airspace warning notices indicate the Minotaur 1 rocket will head southeast from Wallops Flight Facility, likely targeting an orbit a few hundred miles in altitude at an inclination of around 50 degrees to the equator, according to Marco Langbroek, a Dutch archaeologist and expert tracker of military satellites.

The Minotaur 1’s first stage will ignite as the five-hour countdown strikes zero at Wallops. A hydraulic thrust vector system will steer the rocket on a trajectory over the Atlantic Ocean as the first stage burns through its pre-packed propellant to generate more than 200,000 pounds of thrust.

After exceeding the speed of sound in less than 30 seconds, the Minotaur will shed its spent first stage motor casing about a minute into the mission. The Minuteman second stage will ignite at the same time and burn for 72 seconds, accelerating the rocket to more than 6,000 mph (nearly 10,000 kilometers per hour).

Two commercially-produced solid rocket motors will finish the job of placing the three NRO payloads into orbit.

An Orion 50XL third stage will ignite nearly two-and-a-half minutes after liftoff. The rocket’s 61-inch-diameter (1.55-meter) titanium payload fairing will jettison during the third stage burn, once the Minotaur 1 flies above the dense, lower layers of the atmosphere.

After burnout of the third stage, the rocket will coast for several minutes until it reaches the proper altitude for ignition of the fourth stage Orion 38 motor, which will place the three NRO satellites into orbit. The payloads will separate from the rocket soon after the fourth stage completes its burn.

The launch Tuesday will mark the 28th flight of a Minotaur rocket since 2000, including suborbital missions. It will be the 18th orbital launch of a Minotaur rocket, and the 12th use of the Minotaur 1 configuration. Northrop Grumman also launches the Minotaur 4 rocket family using more powerful surplus Peacekeeper missile motors.

It will be the eighth Minotaur rocket to launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia. Minotaur missions have also launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska, and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

The NROL-111 mission patch shows a flying wild boar in traditional aviator gear. Boars are a good spirit guide to call on when you have ambitious goals, and inspire tenacity in the hunt to achieve them. The three stars represent the three payloads designed, built, and operated by NRO. Photo and caption credit: National Reconnaissance Office

The NROL-111 mission is the second launch in two days for Northrop Grumman’s rocket program.

The company’s air-launched Pegasus XL rocket fired into orbit Sunday off the coast of California with a small Space Force satellite named Odyssey. The spacecraft was developed in less than a year, and the Space Force conceived the mission as a demonstration for a “tactically responsive launch” capability.

Military officials informed Northrop Grumman of the target launch date and the mission’s orbital parameters just 21 days ahead of time. Northrop Grumman configured a Pegasus rocket already in its inventory to launch the Odyssey space surveillance satellite.

“It just shows the depth and breadth of Northrop Grumman’s capabilities that we have fairly independent teams to be able to get these two launches off in two days on opposite coasts,” said Kurt Eberly, head of the company’s launch vehicles division.

“These launches are both for the U.S. Space Force, so when they want to launch, and when the Space Force’s customer — the NRO — wants to launch, we try to be there on the day that they want,” Eberly said.

Northrop Grumman’s orbital-class rockets, which also include the Antares launcher used for space station resupply missions, have a relatively low flight rate. The launch Sunday was the first flight of a Pegasus rocket since 2019, and Antares rockets typically launch about twice per year.

But the company also launches suborbital rockets on tests of the U.S. military’s missile defense system. Eberly said Northrop Grumman plans to launch 28 rockets in 2021, and they all use the same common avionics package, from small target vehicles to the medium-class Antares rocket.

“Most of them you’re not really going to hear about,” he said. “They’re target launches for various parts of the military, but nonetheless each of those is a rocket in and of itself.”

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2021/06/14/minotaur-rocket-set-to-launch-top-secret-satellites-from-virginia/

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Hanwha, KAI and LIG Nex1 to lead South Korea’s private-sector-driven satellite development

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has taken yet another step toward having a domestic satellite industry that is driven by the private sector.

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), a state-funded university that has developed several satellites, has agreed to share its spacecraft-manufacturing technologies and know-how with three major South Korean aerospace companies.

Hanwha Aerospace, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and LIG Nex1 are the first private aerospace companies to benefit from a public-to-private space technology transfer initiative led by KAIST, which built South Korea’s first satellite KITSAT-1 that launched in August 1992.

The program follows the May 21 summit between South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden at the White House, where they agreed to strengthen their partnership in civil space exploration, science, aeronautics research and cooperate for effective joint response against security threats in space.

Each company will pay KAIST 5-10 billion won ($4.5-9 million) in return for acquiring the technological assets they need by around 2024, said Kwon Se-jin, a professor at the Department of Aerospace Engineering at KAIST and chief of the Satellite Technology Research Center, a KAIST-associated institute in charge of the transfer.

In March, KARI declared it would stop developing 500-kilogram-class satellites by 2025 at the latest, selecting KAI as its successor to lead the category.

According to Kwon, Hanwha Aerospace wants technologies needed to develop laser inter-satellite links (LISLs), a laser-based data relay technology enabling satellites to transfer communications from one spacecraft to another, either in the same orbital plane or an adjacent plane. 

He said 10 Starlink satellites launched to polar orbit Jan. 24 feature the technology.

Hanwha plans to apply LISLs to a constellation of 2,000 satellites it is building for low Earth orbit deployment by 2030, providing connectivity to urban cargo-delivery drones and passenger airplanes.

While KAI looks for technologies needed to develop power systems for small satellites and ground stations, LIG Nex1 wants technologies for nanosats, he said.

“The transfer [of technologies] will be done through joint research and development between KAIST and the companies, not just sharing documents, because it’s not something they can acquire only with documents,” Kwon said. 

“KAIST has accumulated technologies spending taxpayers’ money for over 30 years. It’s time for us to pay back.”

110 small public satellites

With the transferred technologies, Kwon said the three companies will “play a key role in fulfilling the government’s mission of launching 110 small public satellites by 2031.”

This mission was recently added to the government’s space development road map by the National Space Committee, a policymaking body.

“The launch [of 110 public satellites] is to nurture the domestic satellite market with demand on the public side,” Science and ICT Minister Lim Hye-sook told reporters June 9, announcing the revised road map. 

“An increased demand [for satellites] on the public side will set the stage for more private companies to join the market and ensure their stable growth.”

According to the science ministry’s news release, the planned 110 small satellites include 60 reconnaissance satellites for national security, 14 communications satellites to test 6G broadband internet and 22 observation satellites to monitor space weather. 

Five satellites aim to demonstrate technologies for space debris removal and other in-orbit services, which will be “fully commercialized in 10 years,” according to the document. It did not contain detailed information such as specific timelines, budgets and developers.

Kwon said KAIST is “ready to support” companies interested in the satellite business.

With expectations that more companies would seek KAIST’s help, the university’s Satellite Technology Research Center is planning to launch a 17-month intensive training program for 10 satellite engineers. 

Kwon said KAIST is refocusing on “long-term missions that private companies can’t afford” as the organization looks to unload satellites from its development portfolio.

“Among technologies we are going to explore include ones needed for space rendezvous, exploration of the Van Allen radiation belt and asteroids,” he said.

“Space rendezvous technology could be applied to making spacecraft for space debris removal.”

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Source: https://spacenews.com/hanwha-kai-and-lig-nex1-to-lead-south-koreas-private-led-satellite-development/

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