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

Is there a business model for orbital debris?

Orbital debris capture and removal systems will prove crucial to the future of commercial LEO development, but the question remains as to whether there’s money to be made from it. The problem is growing to epic proportions, as launch increases has placed thousands of new satellites into LEO over the past few years. The increasing amounts of space debris “is going to be an ongoing issue that drives a lot

SpacePharma’s mini-labs enable microgravity research on nanosatellites

SpacePharma is expanding access to microgravity for research and development with its mGnify platform, which offers remotely-controlled, end-to-end mini labs. The labs can be used to conduct research on the ISS, in parabolic or suborbital flights, and can even attach to small satellites. The company, headquartered in Courgenay, Switzerland, is working with a number of academic and commercial partners in microgravity research on the ISS and other platforms. [caption id="attachment_1489"

LEO satellite broadband will be disruptive, if successful

A new crop of non-geostationary satellites could see the emergence of a new broadband market in low Earth orbit. SpaceX, Boeing, OneWeb, LeoSat and Telesat are five would-be satellite broadband service providers that have received FCC authorization for deploying satellite broadband in the US. If successful, these providers are poised to disrupt the current satellite broadband market, and perhaps even terrestrial fixed services in some areas. Satellite broadband is by

Big rockets will take us the Moon

After a successful test flight last week, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy has reinvigorated the public’s interest spaceflight development. But what does the rocket’s development mean for commercial space? With its lower price points -- the Falcon Heavy flies for $90 million, while its competitors fly about three times that -- SpaceX has once again injected a burst of competition into an industry that has, for too long, lacked motives for innovation.

With smallsat boom, NASA launches pilot Earth science data program

NASA will begin a pilot program this spring to determine whether the agency wants to purchase Earth observation data from the leagues of private small satellites that are orbiting the planet. Twin trends of decreased costs to access space and advancements made in satellite technology has spurred considerable growth in the private smallsat sector. Meanwhile, funding for NASA's own Earth observation operations is increasingly under threat by the Trump administration,

Advances in suborbital flight will open up new global markets

Experts are predicting a new age of space research as US-based space companies inch closer to offering frequent suborbital flights for commercial, research and academic uses. Amidst a brewing battle between private space firms in the US, Jeff Bezos-backed Blue Origin and Richard Branson-backed Virgin Galactic are both making strides in their respective -- and yet unrealized -- suborbital vehicle launch businesses. Last year, Blue Origin concluded a successful suborbital

With Moon in mind, ESA looks to private sector for developing ISRU

The European Space Agency is calling for proposals for sending humans to the Moon, as well as for technology that will sustain crews while there. The agency is looking for proposals to leverage in-situ resources utilization technologies to help create a sustainable off-Earth colony, like the “Moon Village” concept ESA’s director general Johann-Dietrich Woerner has proposed. “We are looking to invest in the development and pay for the use of

Off Earth Mining Forum: Space mining could arrive in next decade

Space mining transactions could appear within the next decade, according to experts at the third annual Off Earth Mining Forum, held in Sydney, Australia, this week. Andrew Dempster, director of the Australian Center for Space Engineering Research, made the bold prediction this week to Xinhua media at the forum. The near-term opportunity for space mining will center on extracting water from sources like the Moon or Mars in order to

BlackSky deal underscores growing importance of small sats & big data in space

The Space Alliance has entered into a new partnership with Spaceflight Industries to accelerate the development of BlackSky, the geospatial imagery and multi-media intelligence platform. The announcement, which Spaceflight Industries CEO has dubbed a “major breakthrough,” is the latest development in the burgeoning analytics-driven Earth observation sector that’s increasingly relying on small satellites, higher resolution imagery, short revisit rates and data analytics to power the emergence of the so-called “insights