Space 

Cambodia to buy Chinese satellite as relations tighten on Belt and Road Initiative

WASHINGTON —  China Great Wall Industry Corp. landed a new satellite order Jan. 11 on the back of a bilateral meeting between Chinese and Cambodian officials that included an agreement to increase trade between the two countries. The Chinese satellite manufacturer inked a “framework agreement” with the Royal Group of Cambodia, an investment firm with companies in transportation, telecommunications and other fields, to build and launch a communications satellite called Techo-1. CGWIC will also provide the launch, ground systems, arrange insurance and facilitate technology transfer for its Cambodian customer. The…

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Space 

France, Germany studying reusability with a subscale flyback booster

WASHINGTON — Reusable rocketry in Europe took a step forward last year with a funding boost for Prometheus, a program meant to develop a reusable engine manufacturable at one-tenth the cost of the Ariane 5’s first-stage liquid engine. A parallel effort dubbed Callisto could test a European ability to launch, return and refly a rocket from the Guiana Space Centre in South America. The French and German space agencies (CNES and DLR, respectively) have for the past two years collaborated on a scaled-down rocket that would allow Europe to practice different…

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Space 

What happened to the 2007 Earth science decadal survey missions?

SAN FRANCISCO — Ten years after the National Academies published the first Earth science decadal survey, NASA has flown one of the 15 recommended missions with two more scheduled to launch in 2018. The first decadal survey mission to reach orbit was Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), a campaign to measure water in topsoil that has been in orbit since 2015. SMAP’s L-band radiometer continues to function, but its onboard radar quit after less than six months due to a faulty amplifier. Next up are the twin satellites of the U.S.-German…

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Space 

ArianeGroup stands up GEOTracker service to watch geostationary arc

WASHINGTON — An internal research and development program using widely available telescopes has evolved into a space situational awareness business for ArianeGroup. France’s Joint Space Command on Dec. 14 became ArianeGroup’s first customer for GEOTracker, a network of ground-based telescopes monitoring the geostationary arc some 36,000 kilometers above the Earth, the orbit where most large satellites reside. December’s deal validated what ArianeGroup CEO Alain Charmeau described as an effort to simulate an entrepreneurial atmosphere inside the European space giant to create new products and services. “To speak with startup language,…

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Space 

Fleet details 100 nanosat constellation for Internet of Things connectivity

WASHINGTON — The space industry has at least 10 startups all wanting to use cubesats or other small satellites to help keep all manner of interoperable devices connected to a rapidly expanding Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem. Among them is Fleet, an Adelaide, Australia-based company formed in 2015 that counts the French space agency CNES as one of its partners. Fleet raised roughly $3.8 million in a Series A funding round at the beginning of this year, providing capital to build two of a desired 100 nanosatellites for connecting industrial…

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