The first spacecraft in the nation's next generation of polar-orbiting satellites is set for launch in the pre-dawn hours Tuesday, and the mission has strong Boulder ties.

The Joint Polar Satellite System-1, or JPPS-1, was designed and built by Boulder's Ball Aerospace, and once it enters polar orbit, it will be known as NOAA-20, feeding National Weather Service models for Boulder's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The first in a series of four planned satellites in the nation's newest generation of polar-orbiting operational environmental satellite system, JPSS-1 had originally been slated for launch on Friday, but was rescheduled to take off on Tuesday to address a battery issue on the lift rocket's flight termination system.

Its launch, aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II from Space Launch Complex-2W at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., is set for 2:47 a.m. MST Tuesday. The mission is a joint effort between NOAA and NASA.

Ball also built one of the five instruments on the spacecraft, the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite. 

Scott Asbury, program director at Ball Aerospace and formerly the JPSS-1 program manager, is among the roughly 10 Ball personnel who will be at the launch site, while about another 10 from Ball plan to be at the NASA satellite operations facility in Suitland, Md.

"It's always exciting to launch a satellite," Asbury said Friday. "This program started seven years ago. It's a complicated system that took a long time to design, build and test.

"A lot of people worked on it. In excess of 300 people touched this hardware."

As described on the NOAA website,  the JPSS initiative provides global observations that become the backbone of short- and long-term forecasts, helping weather watchers predict severe weather events, such as the series of damaging hurricanes that left Houston, Puerto Rico and other regions reeling in recent months.

Improved speed and accuracy in forecasting is seen as critical to better preparing emergency managers to make the decisions that boost the chances of protecting lives and property, such as ordering evacuations as many as five to seven days in advance.

The satellite program is also viewed by NASA as a means to gain critical insights into the dynamics of the entire Earth system, including its clouds, oceans, vegetation, ice and atmosphere.

According to NOAA, JPSS satellites will also play a central role in both detecting and monitoring environmental hazards including droughts, poor air quality, harmful coastal waters and forest fires, and will be able to do so on a continuous basis through 2038.

Ball has also touted the fact that data from the JPSS spacecraft can provide advantages to an array of end users, ranging from businesses needing to know safe routes for shipping, to farmers requiring moisture data for agriculture, to even giving military troops in the battlefield a competitive advantage.

JPSS polar satellites are designed to orbit the Earth from pole-to-pole, crossing the equator about 14 times daily, and provide full global coverage twice a day.

"The JPSS-1 bus is based on our Ball Configurable Platform 200, a proven, agile spacecraft, which has 50 years of on-orbit operations and is designed for cost effective, remote sensing applications," Ball Aerospace JPSS-1 Program Manager Alex Chernushin stated in a news release.

He said the JPSS-1 is the 12th spacecraft built on the same core architecture, including the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership spacecraft. Known as  Suomi NPP, that satellite launched in October 2011.

NASA paid Ball about $400 million for building both the "bus" that supports the payload and its ozone mapping instrument.

According to NOAA, deployment of the JPSS-1 will give the United States the benefit of two sophisticated polar satellites in the same orbit, circling the globe only about 50 minutes apart.

Asbury said that because the goal is to "tuck" the new Ball satellite in right behind the already-orbiting Suomi-NPP, Tuesday's launch window is only about 1 minute. If a factor such as high-altitude winds forces a delay, then Wednesday morning at about the same time will be the fallback time to attempt a launch.

"The forecast looks pretty good," he said. "I'm pretty confident it will get off."

Quelle: DailyCamera


Delta II to Launch JPSS-1


  • Rocket: Delta II
  • Mission: Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)-1
  • Launch Date: Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017
  • Launch Time: 1:47 a.m. PST
  • Live Broadcast: Stay tuned for how you can watch live
  • Launch Location: Space Launch Complex 2, Vandenberg AFB, California

Mission Description: The Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) is the nation's advanced series of polar-orbiting environmental satellites. JPSS represents significant technological and scientific advancements in observations used for severe weather prediction and environmental monitoring. These data are critical to the timeliness and accuracy of forecasts three to seven days in advance of a severe weather event. JPSS is a collaborative effort between NOAA and NASA. 

JPSS satellites circle the Earth from pole-to-pole and cross the equator 14 times daily in the afternoon orbit--providing full global coverage twice a day. 

Launch Notes: This launch will be ULA’s 123rd overall. This mission will mark the 53rd Delta II mission for NASA and 154th launch since the rocket’s first launch in 1989. Previous Delta II missions for NASA include the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers as well as Suomi NPP, the first next-generation polar-orbiting satellite in the JPSS series.

Quelle: ULA


Update: 14.11.2017 / 8.00 MEZ


Second-to-Last Delta II Stands Ready to Launch JPSS-1 Environmental Monitoring Satellite

Almost three years since its last mission, the thunderous roar of a Delta II booster will rattle Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Tuesday, 14 November, carrying the first Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS-1) into orbit for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The two-stage rocket—which is flying under the auspices of Centennial, Colo.-based United Launch Alliance (ULA)—will rise from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex (SLC)-2W during a short “window”, which opens at 1:47 a.m. PST (4:47 a.m. EST). After insertion into polar orbit, at an altitude of 512 miles (824 km), JPSS-1 will form the initial thrust of the United States’ next-generation environmental monitoring network, increasing the timeliness and accuracy of climatic and weather-related forecasts and minimizing risks to human life and property. Upon entering service, JPSS-1 will be renamed NOAA-20, joining a long line of environmental monitoring satellites, with a heritage stretching back to 1970.


+++11.00 MEZ






Start-Verschiebung um 24 Stunden






Quelle: NASA-TV

+++17.30 MEZ

Rocket Issue Delays Launch of Advanced New JPSS-1 Weather Satellite

A first-of-its-kind weather satellite will have to wait at least 24 hours to begin its mission for NOAA and NASA after a rocket issue prevented an attempted liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California today (Nov. 14). 

The Joint Polar Satellite System-1 satellite, or JPSS-1, was set to launch into a polar orbit around Earth at 4:47 a.m. EST (0947 GMT) to begin measuring atmospheric temperature, moisture, ozone levels, vegetation and rainfall across the globe with five advanced instruments. But a bad reading on the first stage of satellite's United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, as well as boats in the safety zone, forced NASA to call off the launch just minutes before liftoff. The next launch attempt will be on Wednesday (Nov. 15) at 4:47 a.m. EST.

"Just at the time we were expected to come out of hold at T-4 minutes, there were a couple of positions that reported that they were no-go, and with the very short launch window that we have this morning, there was not enough time to completely work the issues and clear them," NASA spokesperson Mike Curie said at about 4:43 a.m. EDT (0943 GMT) during live commentary. "The rocket is in a safe condition, the spacecraft, JPSS-1, is in a safe condition."

he Delta II rocket's window to launch JPSS-1 into the correct orbit was just over a minute long.

NASA launch manager Omar Baez confirmed that up until 4 minutes before liftoff, the only issue launch controllers were tracking were a few boats in the boat exclusion area off the coast near Vandenberg Air Force Base, but then one parameter on the first stage also went out of limits.

"There was some discussion, short, brief discussions, but with our short window there wasn't enough time to outbrief that issue and come to resolution," he said. "We're setting up for a 24-hour recycle; tomorrow's window will start one second later, at 9:43:03, versus :02, which was today's start, and the same window. That's where we stand today."

In addtion to the JPSS-1 satellite, the Delta II rocket is also slated to heft five small cubesats into orbit, including one that would use a microwave imager to monitor Earth's weather like its much larger satellite cousin.

NASA will webcast the JPSS-1 satellite launch on Wednesday, beginning at 4:15 a.m. EST (0915 GMT). You can watch the launch live here, courtesy of NASA TV. 

Quelle: SC


Update: 15.11.2017 / 9.30 MEZ



Weitere Startverschiebung wegen Windstärke auf 16.11.2017:


Quelle: NASA


Update: 16.11.2017


JPSS-1 Launch Confirmed for Saturday


The Delta II rocket set to launch NOAA’s JPSS-1 spacecraft stands at Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in this photo taken Nov. 13. Photo credit: NASA/Glenn Benson

The launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket carrying the Joint Polar Satellite System-1 mission for NASA and NOAA is confirmed on the Western Range for Saturday, Nov. 18. The launch time is 1:47 a.m. PST (4:47 a.m. EST).

Join us for updates from the countdown beginning at 1:15 a.m. PST (4:15 a.m. EST) here on the blog and on NASA TV.

Quelle: NASA


Update: 18.11.2017 / 10.30 MEZ


Rocket launch at Vandenberg AFB rescheduled for Saturday


VANDENBERG AFB, Calif. - A rocket launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base had to be canceled at the last minute early Tuesday morning


According to NASA's blog, the launch of the United Launch Alliance Delta II Rocket was scrubbed due to a late launch vehicle alarm. Officials say due to the short window, there was insufficient time to fully coordinate a resolution. 


The launch was initially rescheduled for Wednesday, however, base officials rescheduled the launch a second time for Saturday at 1:47 a.m.

The rocket will be carrying a satellite gathering data about the earth's atmosphere, land and oceans for NASA and the NOAA.

Quelle: KCOY










































Quelle: NASA-TV


Update: 19.11.2017


NASA Launches NOAA Weather Satellite Aboard United Launch Alliance Rocket to Improve Forecasts


At Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex 2, the Delta II rocket engines roar to life. The 1:47 a.m. PST (4:47 a.m. EST), liftoff begins the Joint Polar Satellite System-1, or JPSS-1, mission. JPSS is the first in a series four next-generation environmental satellites in a collaborative program between NOAA and NASA.
Credits: NASA

NASA has successfully launched for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the first in a series of four highly advanced polar-orbiting satellites, equipped with next-generation technology and designed to improve the accuracy of U.S. weather forecasts out to seven days.


The Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) lifted off on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, at 1:47 a.m. PST Saturday.


Approximately 63 minutes after launch the solar arrays on JPSS-1 deployed and the spacecraft was operating on its own power. JPSS-1 will be renamed NOAA-20 when it reaches its final orbit. Following a three-month checkout and validation of its five advanced instruments, the satellite will become operational.


“Launching JPSS-1 underscores NOAA’s commitment to putting the best possible satellites into orbit, giving our forecasters -- and the public -- greater confidence in weather forecasts up to seven days in advance, including the potential for severe, or impactful weather,” said Stephen Volz, director of NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service.


JPSS-1 will join the joint NOAA/NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite in the same orbit and provide meteorologists with observations of atmospheric temperature and moisture, clouds, sea-surface temperature, ocean color, sea ice cover, volcanic ash, and fire detection. The data will improve weather forecasting, such as predicting a hurricane’s track, and will help agencies involved with post-storm recovery by visualizing storm damage and the geographic extent of power outages.


“Emergency managers increasingly rely on our forecasts to make critical decisions and take appropriate action before a storm hits,” said Louis W. Uccellini, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Polar satellite observations not only help us monitor and collect information about current weather systems, but they provide data to feed into our weather forecast models.”


JPSS-1 has five instruments, each of which is significantly upgraded from the instruments on NOAA’s previous polar-orbiting satellites. The more-detailed observations from JPSS will allow forecasters to make more accurate predictions. JPSS-1 data will also improve recognition of climate patterns that influence the weather, such as El Nino and La Nina.


The JPSS program is a partnership between NOAA and NASA through which they will oversee the development, launch, testing and operation all the satellites in the series. NOAA funds and manages the program, operations and data products. NASA develops and builds the instruments, spacecraft and ground system and launches the satellites for NOAA. JPSS-1 launch management was provided by NASA’s Launch Services Program based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“Today’s launch is the latest example of the strong relationship between NASA and NOAA, contributing to the advancement of scientific discovery and the improvement of the U.S. weather forecasting capability by leveraging the unique vantage point of space to benefit and protect humankind,” said Sandra Smalley, director of NASA’s Joint Agency Satellite Division.


Ball Aerospace designed and built the JPSS-1 satellite bus and Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite instrument, integrated all five of the spacecraft’s instruments and performed satellite-level testing and launch support. Raytheon Corporation built the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite and the Common Ground System. Harris Corporation built the Cross-track Infrared Sounder. Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems built the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder and the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System instrument.


ELaNa XIV CubeSats Launch on JPSS-1 Mission

NASA has launched four small research satellites, or CubeSats, developed by four universities as part of a broader mission launching the next generation polar-orbiting satellite to space. These CubeSat missions were selected through the CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) as

Tags: Launch Delta 2 Rakete mit JPSS 1 Satelliten Raumfahrt - Erfolgreicher Start von Delta 2 Rakete mit JPSS 1 Satelliten Raumfahrt - Startvorbereitung für Delta 2 Rakete mit JPSS 1 Satelliten 


Sonntag, 19. November 2017 - 09:00 Uhr

Astronomie - Please stop annoying this NASA scientist with your ridiculous Planet X doomsday theories



NASA scientist debunks Nibiru

NASA senior scientist David Morrison explains why there is no such thing as a planet called Nibiru.


David Morrison is a real NASA scientist who studies real planets and makes real discoveries about the real universe.

Unfortunately for him, Morrison’s duties also include debunking perennial Internet theories that a fake planet is about to destroy the Earth, which was supposed to happen in 2003, then 2012, then Sept. 23, then October — and now the world is supposed to end again some time Sunday.

And the astronomer sounds like he’s just about had it.

“You’re asking me for a logical explanation of a totally illogical idea,” Morrison said on this week’s SETI Institute podcast, after the hosts asked for his take on third scheduled apocalypse in three months. “There is no such planet, there never has been, and presumably there never will be — but it keeps popping up over and over.”

We can understand his frustration. Based on just enough pseudoscience to capture the popular imagination, the theory claims that a planet (or “black star”) called Nibiru (or Planet X) is orbiting the outer fringes of our solar system. It’s just far enough out there that no one can prove it exists, of course, but also happens to be on a path that will soon send it careening toward Earth — either to smash into us or get close enough to cause a gravitational doomsday.

“I assumed that Nibiru was the sort of Internet rumor that would quickly pass,” Morrison wrote in 2008, after his “Ask an Astrobiologist” website had become inundated with predictions that Nibiru was going to cross paths with Earth in 2012.

“I now receive at least one question per day, ranging from anguished (‘I can’t sleep; I am really scared; I don’t want to die’) to the abusive (‘Why are you lying; you are putting my family at risk; if NASA denies it then it must be true.’)” he wrote.

Morrison laid out a detailed explanation, which he would repeat in years to come: There is no evidence that Nibiru exists; if it did exist, it would have screwed up the outer planets’ orbits long ago; and people have predicted its arrival before and been wrong.

Of course, logic didn’t work. Thousands of panicky emails poured in to NASA as the 2012 supposed dooms date approached, Morrison said on the podcast. The agency was internally split over whether to respond, lest it legitimize nonsense, and eventually the director of NASA decided something had to be done.

Thus was Morrison — whose has worked on NASA’s Voyager, Galileo and Kepler missions in his decades long career — forced to make YouTube videos for frightened children.

“I got a note from a 12-year-old girl. She said she and her classmates were scared,” he said in a 2011 video. “The simplest thing to say is there is no evidence whatsoever for the existence of Nibiru.”

Sure enough, no phantom star disrupted Earth’s orbit in 2012.

Sure enough, the fear of it continued to disrupt Morrison’s work up to the present day.

As Kristine Phillips wrote for The Washington Post, a conspiracy theorist put a biblical spin on the Nibiru theory this year, claiming to have deduced from the Book of Revelation that it would set off a spasm of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tidal waves beginning on Sept. 23.

September passed. The theorist’s revised date, Oct. 15, also came and went uneventfully.

But tabloids and YouTube cranks simply moved on to other theorists with other soon-ish dooms dates. The most recent was a blogger who predicted that Nibiru, the sun and the Earth will all line up and cause a cataclysmic series earthquakes on Sunday.

That’s why you can now read a Newsweek article, — “HOW TO PREPARE IF CONSPIRACY THEORISTS ARE RIGHT” — and any number of tabloids warnings about armageddon, yet again.

And that’s just the headlines. Nibiru theories have by now become so abundant that if you spend long enough on YouTube or you can find an apocalypse scheduled for just about any given day of the week.

And that’s why Morrison was on the SETI podcast this week, distracted from his science once again to talk about a world that never stops failing to end.

“I got a phone call the other day,” Morrison said. “The world was supposed to end Saturday. The man asked, ‘Should I ought to work on Saturday, or stay home with my family?’ ”

He didn’t say how he answered. At this point, does it even matter?

Quelle: The Washington Post

Tags: Astronomie - Please stop annoying this NASA scientist with your ridiculous Planet X doomsday theories 


Samstag, 18. November 2017 - 23:15 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Mars City der VAE soll in 30 Monaten fertig sein


UAE's Mars City to be ready in 30 months

The Mars City is the largest space simulation city ever built in the world and a realistic model to simulate living on the surface of the Mars.


image used for illustrative purposes. An artist's concept of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft approaching Mars. The Curiosity rover is safely tucked inside the spacecraft's aeroshell. 


The UAE's Mars project, Hope, is on track and the work on the Dh500-million Mars City in Dubai will be completed in 30 months, said a senior official with the UAE Space Agency.

Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, director-general, UAE Space Agency, said budget and area have been allocated for the project and it will be completed in two-and-a-half years.

The Mars City is the largest space simulation city ever built in the world and a realistic model to simulate living on the surface of the Mars. It will consist of several domes, with innovative construction techniques providing support for the structures. The project encompasses laboratories for food, energy and water, as well as agricultural testing and studies about food security in the future.

It will also contain a Mars museum and a specialised science laboratory.

Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow, Al Ahbabi revealed that the UAE will start selection process of astronauts for the space flight from next year and priority will be given to Emiratis.

The Hope probe is slated to be launched in 2020, but will reach Mars and begin to orbit it by 2021, to coincide with the UAE's 50th anniversary.

"The UAE's space sector will contribute towards knowledge-based economy and also will position us as a leader in advanced technologies and industries," he said, adding that currently, three UAE universities are providing degrees in the field of space.

With a total size of $6 billion (Dh22 billion), the UAE's space sector is the largest in the region in terms of investment, capabilities, maturity, knowledge and experience, he added.

He said the UAE is drafting a space law that covers aims and objectives of national space exploration projects, including peaceful exploration of space and peaceful application of space technologies. It will also address advanced concepts that are emerging within the field, such as ownership of natural resources found in space.

Quelle: Khaleej Times


Tags: Raumfahrt - Mars City der VAE soll in 30 Monaten fertig sein 


Samstag, 18. November 2017 - 09:15 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Shenzhou-12: China preparing upgrades for first human spaceflight mission to space station



A team belonging to the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) is preparing upgrades for China's next human spaceflight mission, Shenzhou-12, which will be the first to the Chinese Space Station.

The Beijing Institute of Control Engineering (BICE), a CAST subsidiary, is working on an upgraded Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) system for the spacecraft.

GNC technology controls areas including spacecraft attitude and trajectory and orientation of solar panels, much as a brain controls an animal's limbs. 

Specifically, according to Li Mingming of BICE, the challenge will be migrating the GNC used for China's automated Tianzhou cargo vessel to the crewed Shenzhou-12 spacecraft. 

The BICE-developed GNC for Tianzhou-1 allowed the craft to perform the country's first fast rendezvous and docking procedure, reducing the time needed from two days to 6.5 hours. 

The third docking between Tianzhou-1 and Tiangong-2 on September 12, 2017.


The third docking between Tianzhou-1 and Tiangong-2 on September 12, 2017. CCTV/Youtube

This much shorter duration would make crewed Shenzhou flights, launching from Jiuquan in the Gobi Desert, to the planned Chinese Space Station (CSS) much easier to endure, to the benefit of their mission.

Li also told state media that achieving this will involve a long, complex iterative process, in which issues will be found constantly, requiring redesigns and retesting.


The crew of Shenzhou-10 in preparation for launch in June 2013. CNS

CAST, which researches, designs and constructs spacecraft, is one of many subsidiaries of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the main contractor for the Chinese space programme.

Space station outline

Following successful several crewed and robotic missions to the 8-5 tonne Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 testbed space labs, launched in 2011 and 2016 respectively, China has developed and constructed the core module for the planned Chinese Space Station, named Tianhe-1.

The Tianhe module, which in appearance resembles the International Space Station's Russian Zvezda Service Module, will be launched around 2019 by a new, Long March 5B launch vehicle, an as-yet-untested variant of the heavy-lift Long March 5 specially designed for lofting the 20 metric tonne space station modules to low Earth orbit.


A rendering of the Tianhe-1 Chinese Space Station core module with a multi docking hub on the left. CMSE

Following the Tianzhou-2 cargo and fuelling mission to Tianhe-1, Shenzhou-12 would then take the first crew to the new core modules.

In accordance with the long-term human spaceflight project plans approved in 1992, Tianhe will then be joined by two experiment modules, referred to as Wentian and Mengtian, with in-orbit construction of the three-module station to be completed around or 2022, with crewed and cargo missions throughout.

A free-flying space telescope, Xuntian, featuring a two-metre mirror, will also be launched to co-orbit with the CSS, and would be able to dock with the station for repairs and maintenance.


A rendering of the completed Chinese Space Station, including docked Shenzhou and Tianzhou spacecraft. CMSA

Space station crews

Stays on the CSS will typically last 3-6 months for three person crews. China has so far sent 11 astronauts into orbit, most recently on the Shenzhou-11mission last October, which was the country's longest by far at 33 days.

The astronauts were selected in two rounds, drawing from People's Liberation Army Air Force pilots. 

In addition, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) is expected this year to select 10-12 persons, including two women, in the country's third selection round of astronauts. The selection criteria has been expanded to allow non-military personnel to apply, meaning it is likely mission specialists will be selected to best fit the science goals of the CSS project.


Chinese astronaut Wang Yaping during a live science lecture to school classrooms from orbit aboard Tiangong-1 in July 2013. CNS

Such are the levels of secrecy surrounding China's astronauts that the final decisions may have already taken place but their identities remain shrouded in mystery.

In August, China's astronauts trained for survival in the event of the Shenzhou capsule landing at sea. European Space Agency astronauts Samantha Cristoforetti and Matthias Maurer joined the training as a step towards potential joint missions to the CSS sometime after it becomes fully operational.


ESA astronaut Sam Cristoforetti with Chinese counterparts Chen Dong and Liu Wang in sea survival training in August. CNS

Quelle: gbtimes




Tags: Raumfahrt - Shenzhou-12: China preparing upgrades for first human spaceflight mission to space station 


Samstag, 18. November 2017 - 08:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - On-orbit satellite servicing: The next big thing in space?



Safety standards and other norms need to be in place to fuel investments and research in space applications.

WASHINGTON — A team of researchers and Pentagon contractors was recently selected to organize a space industry consortium that will consider new “rules of the road” for commercial on-orbit activities like repairing and refueling satellites.

The effort, led by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is being touted as a major step in the transition of on-orbit services from experiment to reality, and ultimate commercial success.

The project is significant, analysts said, because safety standards and other norms need to be in place to fuel investments and research in space applications, and open up new markets in robotic and human exploration.

The federal government regulates space activities but there is no rule-making body for the new and mostly unknown activity of in-orbit services. The Federal Aviation Administration runs launch, the Federal Communications Commission oversees satellite communications, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration regulates Earth imaging.

The Secure World Foundation, along with the University of Southern California’s Space Engineering Research Center and the Space Infrastructure Foundation were selected to coordinate the “consortium for execution of rendezvous and servicing operations,” known as Confers. DARPA last month awarded Advanced Technology International a contract to manage the operation.

“Satellite servicing and related technologies are the foundation of the future economic development of space and delivering increased benefits from space to the world,” said Brian Weeden, director of program planning of the Secure World Foundation.

Technology has been developed to “approach, grasp, manipulate, modify, repair, refuel, integrate, and build completely new platforms and spacecraft on orbit,” he said. But the lack of clear, widely accepted technical and safety standards for on-orbit activities involving commercial satellites remains a major obstacle to the expansion of the industry.

The space activities known as “on-orbit rendezvous and proximity operations” are being explored by commercial firms, civilian governments and militaries, said Weeden. “Yet today there is no common set of standards or norms associated with safe and secure on-orbit activities in space.”

Over the first 12 months of the project, the contractors and researchers will start bringing together experts from industry, academia, government, and the international community. Weeden said a broad range of expertise will be needed to come up with standards for technical interfaces and designs, data exchange and sharing, operational practices, and transparency and confidence building measures to spur future activities.

Once the consortium members agree on a set of standards, the next step is to work with existing bodies such as the International Organization for Standardization and the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems.

The success of the consortium obviously depends on broad participation from the space industry and government agencies. Weeden said an outreach program soon will begin to recruit satellite manufacturers, satellite operators, service providers, insurers and underwriters, and other stakeholders.

DARPA’s support for on-orbit satellite services began years ago. The agency pioneered the concept of using robots in space and more recently invested hundreds of millions of dollars in a public-private partnership with Maxar Technologies’ Space Systems Loral to build an autonomous vehicle for servicing satellites 22,000 miles above Earth.

Maxar in June announced the launch of Space Infrastructure Services, a new U.S. company that will commercialize sophisticated satellite servicing, including refueling. SIS awarded SSL a $228 million contract to design and build a satellite servicing spacecraft that meets DARPA’s specifications. The company announced that SES, which operates more than 50 geosynchronous satellites and 12 mid-Earth orbit satellites, has signed an agreement to be the first commercial customer to use the SIS satellite refueling services.

Quelle: SN


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