commercial space, space settlement

The new vision for commercial space in US slowly coming together

Fifteen months after President Trump reinstated the National Space Council, the White House’s new vision for American leadership in commercial space is slowly beginning to come together. The White House is hoping to lean on commercial space partners for future development of low Earth orbit, while NASA shifts its focus to deep space exploration. The refocus was codified in a policy directive from the White House that aims to establish

A smallsat bubble? The promises and pitfalls of the smallsat hype

Small satellite constellations, with improved radio chips and smaller electronics, have been touted as a cost-effective solution to meet the rising demand for connectivity around the globe. Small satellites have emerged as a major force in the past few years, driving change – and disruption – within a satellite industry dominated by large, custom spacecraft and expensive launches. But veterans of the commercial space sector will do well to remember the

LeoSat secures $1B worth of commercial contracts

NOTE: This story originally appeared in the Low Down, our free weekly ebrief. Subscribe to receive our take on the latest news, enabling tech and emerging markets in the commercial space sector. Low Earth orbit broadband operator LeoSat Enterprises has secured over $1 billion in pre-launch commercial contracts. In a news release, the company said the contracts are for services spanning data and mobility sectors, with customers in finance, telecommunications,

China’s big important commercial space milestone

i-Space launched its first commercial payloads into space on September 5, in what marks a new important milestone in China's space race. News about the launch in the US was sandwiched between two other China-based announcements – one from LandSpace and another from OneSpace. But the i-Space launch was different. i-Space is one of the few commercial space companies in China that have emerged over the past few years. The

Cubesat-sized AMODS robot will launch in December

This small dexterous spacecraft can crawl around a malfunctioning satellite and help determine what went wrong. The cubesat spacecraft, called AMODS (autonomous mobile on-orbit diagnostic system), was developed by a group of US Navy researchers, led by ensign Ned Hanlon. The RSat robot is scheduled to launch this December for a technology demonstration. AMODS is designed to help identify and diagnose unexpected issues that arise after an asset has reached

Scotland’s first commercial rocket launch a success

This story originally appeared in the Low Down, our free weekly ebrief, delivered Wednesday mornings. Subscribe to receive our take on the latest news, enabling tech and emerging markets in the commercial space sector. The piece of news barely made a blip here in the US, but Scotland-based Skyrora held its first successful suborbital rocket launch. The Skylark Nano, a 9 ft tall test launch vehicle, reached a peak altitude

New ‘compound’ synthetic tracking tech boosts prospects of asteroid mining

A new take on digital synthetic tracking could help space mining companies more quickly identify asteroids for mining. Asteroid mining firm TransAstra has been developing a suite of technologies that it says will enable future in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) missions. The company has received an award from NASA’s’ Tipping Point program and NIAC funding to develop some of the prospecting tech. “We’re developing new remote prospecting technologies based on something
on-orbit satellite servicing

A glimpse of the future of robotics-driven on-orbit services

A series of technological developments over the past few years is bringing the decade-long dream of refueling, salvaging and repairing satellites in orbit to fruition. A February 2018 report from Northern Sky Research predicts on-orbit satellite servicing will become a $3 billion market in the next decade – but no satellite operators have yet used such services for life extension or salvage operations. 2018 has proved to be a pivotal year

Smart investments in the new space economy

Morgan Stanley seems concerned about the future of space investment. In August, the Wall Street heavyweight released an investor’s note cautioning its followers to not sleep on smart space investment opportunities. “A number of events in recent weeks have the potential to accelerate the investment significance of the space economy from what is mostly in the private equity domain to the public equity domain,” Morgan Stanley analysts said in a

Launch U standard could help ease launch bottleneck for small sats

The Aerospace Corp’s proposed standards for satellites under 500 kg could help reduce the launch bottleneck for the rideshare market, if the industry can reach consensus on it. Aerospace Corp released its Launch Unit (Launch-U) small satellite form factor proposal earlier this month. The standard is the result of a year’s worth of work between Aerospace Corp, government officials, satellite manufacturers, launch brokers and launch vehicle providers, including SpaceX, ULA,