Additive manufacturing can produce satellites ‘twice as fast and at half the cost’

Lockheed Martin wants to cut its satellite costs and schedules by 50% using additive manufacturing. The company has been experimenting with 3D printing components for its satellite business to achieve that goal, and has met with some success. It recently revealed an important milestone: the company successfully printed a 1.6 meter satellite fuel tank dome, the largest structure to date that the company has built using additive manufacturing. “Our largest

Proposed spaceport gives Italy’s commercial space sector a boost

Italy’s proposed Grottaglie spaceport is attracting new deals with private space firms that could spur more activity in the country’s budding commercial space sector. Sitael, a small satellite manufacturer and Italy’s largest private space company, recently announced an agreement with Virgin Orbit for “extensive collaboration” on future launches and “investment into future launch system evolution.” “The demand for small satellites grows higher every day and the ability to launch on

LEO broadband gains telecom backers amid fears of disruption

Incumbent telecom satellite operators are warming to the idea of low Earth orbit (LEO) constellations delivering broadband to terrestrial customers. Two of the world’s largest satellite telecom operators have now backed LeoSat’s LEO satellite broadband initiative. On 10 July, LeoSat gained a key second investor in the midst of its Series A funding round for its proposed high throughput satellite constellation. Hispasat has joined Sky Perfect’s JSAT – representing two

The world’s first privately-funded lunar lander to launch by end of 2018

SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced the country’s first uncrewed lunar mission will launch from Cape Canaveral in December 2018. SpaceIL is an Israeli-based nonprofit start-up and alum of the Google Lunar XPRIZE. If successful, the start-up will become the first participant in the Google Lunar XPRIZE to reach the Moon. It will also be the world’s first privately-funded lunar mission to reach the Moon. SpaceIL, which was founded

Competing visions emerge as mission extension services come to fruition

Advancements in robotics has opened up new opportunities in satellite servicing and mission extension. Companies Orbital ATK and SSL have both developed mission extension vehicles and services in hopes of tapping into the market. Michael Gabor, SSL’s advanced programs director, describes mission extension services as “a game changer.” “It’s going to revolutionize how we treat the space domain, more than any of these other things do,” he said at the

DLR explores human-machine relations using AI on the ISS

The “floating brain” has arrived on the ISS. This new experiment is a mobile and autonomous assistance system using IBM’s Watson AI technology, and the first AI-powered robot crew member aboard the ISS. CIMON – which stands for Crew Interactive Mobile Companion – is a 3D-printed flying robot about the size of a medicine ball and weighing 5 kg. The hardware was developed by Airbus in partnership with German space

Phase Four simplifies electric propulsion for mass manufacturing

In-space propulsion systems are getting a reboot. Spacecraft propulsion company Phase Four has built an electric radio frequency (RF) propulsion thruster that is easy to mass manufacture and doesn’t erode over time. The company recently announced a deal with small sat manufacturer Astro Digital, which will be using Phase Four thrusters on its Landmapper and Corvus satellites. Astro Digital will also act as a reseller for Phase Four propulsion on some

Big rocket builders are skeptical small launchers will find customers

As the pool of small launch vehicles grows, larger launch providers continue to express skepticism about whether the new crop of small vehicle startups will have enough customers to sustain them and their business models. Small launch vehicles promise to further reduce barriers of entry to space for non-traditional customers by offering dedicated launches for lighter payloads at lower price points. But incumbent providers SpaceX, ULA and others – which

Stofiel Aerospace aims to unleash mobile, on-demand access to space

Stofiel Aerospace is a little company hoping to bring big innovations to the small launch market. The company, which was founded in 2015 by Air Force veteran and aerospace engineer Brian Stofiel, is building a small launch “rockoon” system, called the Boreas Launch System, which the company says will offer flexible, low-cost, and on-demand access to space. The system is still in the early phases of development, but the company

Asteroid Institute taps York Space for low-cost asteroid tracking

The B612 Foundation’s Asteroid Institute has partnered with York Space Systems for the possible development of a low-cost, space-based asteroid tracking system. The B612 Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to asteroid-impact risk mitigation. Last year, the foundation launched the Asteroid Institute, a scientific and technical body focused on collaboration with major universities and research centers around the globe in asteroid tracking. The Asteroid Institute is tasked with creating a “dynamic