NewsFix in Space: Space X, Mars and Jupiter's clouds

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OUTER SPACE – And now, it’s time once again for NewsFix in Space!

Today’s adventure takes us into orbit around the Earth where Space X has a lot to celebrate after two very successful launches over the weekend.

Space X sent up a satellite for Bulgaria at Cape Canaveral and another launch from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The company says its rockets now can have an indefinite number of launches with no service.

The next stop for Space X may be Mars, now that CEO Elon Musk has just published his plans for a Martian colony.

Musk says it’s a bit cold on Mars, but we can warm it up. He also seems to think there will be plenty of jobs on the Red Planet.

For musk, the plan is just like a business model for building a new resort, except instead of Vegas, he’s putting it on Mars.

So, how soon could we see humans moving to the Red Planet?

“Maybe 40 to 100 years to achieve a fully self-sustaining civilization on Mars,” Musk told a symposium on space exploration last year.

Those interested in the move to Mars would have one heck of a view.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft took some incredible pictures of Jupiter’s colorful clouds during its orbital flight.

The storm clouds come in lots of creamy colors, but put off a horrible gassy smell.

Until next time, keep watching the skies and keep watching NewsFix in Space!

Inmarsat satellite launches for European Aviation Network

The Ariane 5 lifts off carrying the satellite for European Aviation Network from Kourou, French Guiana. Image: Arianespace.

The Ariane 5 lifts off from Kourou, French Guiana. Image: Arianespace.

Inmarsat’s S EAN satellite for the European Aviation Network (EAN) inflight connectivity service has been launched from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 rocket.

The launch, designated VA238, took place at 21:15hrs UTC on Wednesday 28th June 2017 from the Kourou Space Centre. The launch had been delayed a few minutes from its scheduled time after a “red” authorisation condition was detected during the pre-launch phase.

The satellite is a dual-purpose “condosat”, comprising the Hellas Sat 3 and Inmarsat S EAN. Hellas Sat 3 will deliver direct-to-home TV and telecom services.

The satellite has been initially launched into a highly-elliptical orbit with its initial apogee point (the furthest point from Earth) at about 36,000 kilometres and its perigee just 250 kilometres from Earth.

A series of thruster firings will then be made to circularise the orbit and bring the satellite into its final geostationary position at 39 degrees east.

Initial testing of the EAN payload will be handled through Inmarsat’s Nemea satellite access station (SAS) in Greece and the satellite should be ready for use in August.

European Aviation Network

The full European Aviation Network service is scheduled to launch in the second half of 2017. This comprises a ground-based LTE network built by Deutsche Telekom plus links from the 5.8-tonne S-band satellite, built by Thales Alenia Space.

The 300 LTE-based ground stations will provide the air-to-ground connection to aircraft and the satellite will provide coverage over water and in regions where it has been difficult to install the cellular network.

Deutsche Telekom says the beauty of the ground segment is that it can be scaled around airport hubs and busy flight routes as required.

A system on board the aircraft automatically determines what signal – satellite or ground – is best and routes the data across the best/fastest channel accordingly.

Frederik van Essen, SVP Strategy and Business Development, Inmarsat Aviation, said: “Because we can use both a satellite and ground segment we can use two very small antennas on the aircraft, weighing around 8-9kg in total.”

“The satellite antenna is a slimline fuselage-mounted design from Cobham. The LTE air-to-ground antenna, which is tiny and can fit in your hand, is mounted on the underside of the fuselage,” van Essen said. “These offer low drag and therefore have a smaller impact on aircraft fuel consumption.

IAG Group

“Our launch partner IAG group will equip more than 300 aircraft, with the first service introduction expected in in 2018. We expect 90% of its short-haul fleet will be equipped by early 2019,” he said.

Deutsche Telekom says that tests over the air-to-ground segment of the European Aviation Network in southern UK have seen data speeds already exceeding those seen over Inmarsat’s Ka-band satellite-based GX Aviation system.

“Test flights over the UK showed a solid 70Mbps from the ground network to the aircraft, reaching up to 90-100Mbps at times,” said Rolf Nafziger, SVP International Wholesale Business, Deutsche Telekom.

By comparison, GX Aviation was designed to offer around 30-50Mbps to the aircraft, depending upon the antenna type in use, although Inmarsat says this will increase with future modem developments.

Nafziger said: “We always want to provide the best connectivity, wherever our customers are.

“There are 2,500 flights across Europe every day and half a billion passengers flying every year. They want to be connected and we needed a new technology for the dense airspace in the region.

“The EAN ground network is unique — stretching from Portugal to Romania, and from Sweden to Greece.

“We have completed the EAN network build-up in five countries, but the total is 30 (28 EU countries plus Norway and Switzerland) so we still have a way to go. But it will be completed by the end of 2017,” Nafziger said.

“The network will offer low latency, be very fast, and very scalable.”

Nafziger said that Deutsche Telekom would not rule out expanding the EAN to countries outside of the EU, if spectrum and regulatory hurdles could be overcome. An obvious country for future expansion, for example, might be Turkey.

But what speeds can be expected over the satellite segment?

Inmarsat S-band satellite

While the satellite is “only” S-band, Inmarsat says that it can use digital processing to dynamically allocate bandwidth as required.

Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband uses frequencies around 1.6GHz and up to four 5MHz bearers can be combined or bonded to provide around 1.4Mbps or so. But the EAN uses S-band frequencies around 2-4GHz and has up to 2 x 15MHz of spectrum available.

It says speeds from the satellite will be in the “megabits rather than hundreds of kilobits per second” range.

“Get Connected” will provide you with the results of any speed and usability tests just as soon as we get invited aboard an EAN-equipped aircraft, probably in very late 2017 or early 2018.

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Inmarsat satellite launches for European Aviation Network was last modified: June 29th, 2017 by Steve Nichols

Into the blue – pioneering astronout training centre to come to RAF Henlow

The world’s biggest 50m deep pool and an astronaut training centre is to be developed at the soon to be closed RAF Henlow site.

Plans for Blue Abyss, the world’s first commercial deep sea to space research, training and test centre were unveiled on Tuesday.

It is at the centre of a multi-million- pound regeneration vision to develop a science, innovation and technology park on part of the RAF base site.

The £120m facility will house the 50m deep pool, a hotel, an astronaut training centre including parabolic flight capability, hypobaric and hyperbaric chambers and a human performance centre to enable divers, astronauts and top athletes to perform at the peak of their potential. There will also be a conference theatre and training rooms and a 120-room hotel.

It is hoped to start building at the end of the year to start operating in 2019, bringing about 160 new jobs.

The Blue Abyss team plans to reuse some facilities at RAF Henlow, including a centrifuge base already installed at the site for its long-arm human centrifuge for high-G astronaut training.

At the launch event at Cranfield Blue Abyss chief executive John Vickers said its aim was to transform human life science research and performance training in extreme environments, focusing on advanced commercial diving skills, underwater and space robotics, human spaceflight preparation, professional athlete fitness and healthcare from a better understanding of human physiology under extreme conditions.

He said: “RAF Henlow provides the ideal site for Blue Abyss. The market is waiting for this facility – space tourism, the UK space programme and the demand for experiential packages.

“Having a centrifuge base already there is an important feature because it’s the most expensive and difficult element of the equipment to install.

“Being part of something bigger, working closely with a proactive council in its enabling and planning capacity and bringing jobs to the area, means we can make the incredibly exciting facilities for the industries we will serve a reality, for UK plc and increase the profile of space travel, space adventure and tourism, deep-sea and offshore energy innovation.

“The government highlighted in the Queen’s Speech how important the space industry is for UK plc. It wants to make the UK the most attractive place in Europe for commercial spaceflight to help increase the UK share of the global space economy to 10% by 2030.”

Cllr James Jamieson, Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “The council welcomes the proposals to bring Blue Abyss to the Henlow site as a central part of a comprehensive mixed use regeneration vision.

“The proposal of a science, innovation and technology park at Henlow with Blue Abyss as a key investor will secure many high-tech jobs for the local area and beyond and ensure sustainable regeneration of this former RAF site.

“The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) representing the Ministry of Defence (MoD), and central government, are exploring opportunities to work in partnership with Central Bedfordshire to secure the sustainable redevelopment of the Henlow RAF site. Central Bedfordshire is pleased to be working in partnership with Blue Abyss to bring these exciting, innovative proposals to fruition within central Bedfordshire.”

Blue Abyss’ education outreach programme and collaboration with universities will help shape a new generation of scientists and engineers, working with primary schools through to post-graduate and post-doctorate researchers.

Find out more at

SpaceX set to launch massive satellite on July 2nd: 3 flights in 9 days

Blue Origin, new combat ship, Cuba and Alabama in business news

Updated June 26, 2017
Posted June 26, 2017

SpaceX goes for a weekend rocket launch 'doubleheader'

So far, SpaceX has safely landed first-stage rockets on land or a droneship 12 times.

SpaceX just capped off two successful missions to space this weekend – the company’s quickest launch turnaround yet. The system was first successfully used on a Falcon 9 launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on February 17.

This weekend, it started to look like the future business Musk had originally envisaged back in 2002, when two Falcon 9s were launched within the space of three days.

Seven minutes after the launch, the first-stage of the rocket landed back on earth on a drone ship.

On Friday, a Falcon 9 launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX may eventually move used boosters for another launch in a day.

Shortly after the landing, though, Musk returned to Twitter to add that the rocket booster used “almost all of the emergency crush core”, which helps soften the landing.

No matter what you did over the weekend, you’ll struggle to top Elon Musk’s after his space trucking venture launched 11 satellites atop two rockets, both of which stuck flawless landings on barges.

Ground checks have been completed for Friday’s launch and the mission to send BulgariaSat-1 – a Bulgarian commercial satellite – appears set for lift off at Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The most-recent came more than a day before SpaceX’s planned Monday launch.

The latest mission: to deliver a group of satellites into orbit for a company called Iridium.

The second batch of 10 satellites is now scheduled to launch on a Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California Sunday (June 25), making a weekend doubleheader for SpaceX.

Following the launch, the rocket booster successfully landed on the floating pad. As it’s done in the past, SpaceX will be using one of its drone ships due to the launch trajectory.

BulgariaSat-1, which was built by the California company SSL, is the first Bulgarian-owned communications satellite. The plan makes sense to both parties since it means an addition $3 billion in revenue for Mr. Musk and the chance for Iridium Communications to replace 66 older satellites and put 9 new satellites into orbit before the decade is through.

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