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— Space

Rubbish removal satellite to be launched from an A300 jetliner

By - September 16, 2013 8 Pictures
Back in the 1970s, there was a short-lived sitcom called Quark about an outer space rubbish collector. What was played for laughs back then may soon be a reality with the announcement that Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Swiss Space Systems (S3) have formed a partnership to launch the CleanSpace One satellite into orbit to collect space debris using a launch system that promises to be cheaper than using conventional techniques. Read More
— Space

How do you put a big antenna on a tiny satellite? Make it inflatable

By - September 9, 2013 1 Picture
CubeSats are certainly in the process of revolutionizing the satellite industry. They can serve many of the same functions as full-sized satellites, but at a size of 10 x 10 x 10 cm (3.9 x 3.9 x 3.9 in) and a mass of under 1.33 kg (2.9 lb), they’re much cheaper to build and get into orbit. With that smaller overall size, however, comes smaller onboard antennas. These severely limit CubeSats’ communications range, restricting them to fairly low orbits. That may be about to change, though, as MIT is developing larger, inflatable antennas. Read More
— Aircraft

Solar-powered UAV could fly in the upper atmosphere for 5 years at a time

By - August 30, 2013 12 Pictures
Conventional satellites may be decent at their jobs, but they do have some drawbacks – the spacecraft themselves are quite expensive, getting them into orbit is also a costly process, and they can’t be reclaimed once they’re in use. Titan Aerospace, however, is offering an alternative that should have none of those problems. The company’s Solara unmanned high-altitude aircraft is intended to serve as an “atmospheric satellite,” autonomously flying in the sky’s upper reaches for as long as five years continuously. Read More
— Space

RINGS propels satellites without propellants

By - August 18, 2013 6 Pictures
Astronauts on the International Space Station are testing a new propulsion system ... inside the station. While this might seem like the height of recklessness, this particular system doesn't use rockets or propellants. Developed in the University of Maryland's Space Power and Propulsion Laboratory, this new electromagnetic propulsion technology called the Resonant Inductive Near-field Generation System (RINGS) uses magnetic fields to move spacecraft as a way to increase service life and make satellite formation flying more practical. Read More
— Telecommunications

Text Anywhere off-the-grid satellite messaging lets you text ... anywhere

By - August 14, 2013 1 Picture
Touted as a simpler, subscription-free alternative to the Delorme inReach, the Text Anywhere is a portable, satellite-powered hot spot that adds virtually unlimited text-messaging range to your phone. If your work or play takes you to remote regions of the world out of mobile phone range, this device can keep you in touch with the folks back in civilization. Read More
— Space

Slingatron to hurl payloads into orbit

By - July 28, 2013 11 Pictures
People have been shooting things into space since the 1940s, but in every case this has involved using rockets. This works, but it’s incredibly expensive with the cheapest launch costs hovering around US$2,000 per pound. This is in part because almost every bit of the rocket is either destroyed or rendered unusable once it has put the payload into orbit. Reusable launch vehicles like the SpaceX Grasshopper offer one way to bring costs down, but another approach is to dump the rockets altogether and hurl payloads into orbit. That's what HyperV Technologies Corp. of Chantilly, Virginia is hoping to achieve with a “mechanical hypervelocity mass accelerator” called the slingatron. Read More

Alphasat blasts off without a hitch

Europe's largest telecommunications satellite has gone into orbit following a successful launch from French Guiana on Thursday. At 8:38 p.m. GMT, Alphasat (all 6.6 tonnes of it) was picked up at Inmarsat's Beijing ground station, confirming that the satellite was operating as expected. Read More
— Space

Kickstarter project developing micro plasma thrusters to send CubeSats on interplanetary missions

By - July 9, 2013 12 Pictures
CubeSats are one of the wonders of our day. They allow projects with small budgets and smaller equipment to access low Earth orbit (LEO) at achievable costs. Seeing greater potential for these miniaturized modular satellites, Professor Benjamin Longmire of the University of Michigan is heading a team to install a miniature plasma thruster system into a 3U CubeSat, enabling the vehicle to leave LEO and cruise much of the Solar System. Funding for the project is being sought through Kickstarter. Read More
— Space

Pocket Spacecraft wants to send thousands of personalized satellites to the Moon

By - July 3, 2013 8 Pictures
Launching more than one satellite at a time is common practice these days, but what about packing thousands of satellites into a rocket and shooting them at the Moon? As part of a Kickstarter campaign, Pocket Spacecraft is offering the public the chance to send small disc satellites into space. These will then either flutter back to Earth from orbit or impact on the lunar surface. Based in Bristol, UK, Pocket Spacecraft plans to create thousands of tiny customized “Scout” satellites to be launched in a cubesat as a way of promoting low cost, mass space exploration. Read More
— Space

Proba-V shows space-based aircraft monitoring is possible

By - June 14, 2013 4 Pictures
When the ESA’s Proba-V was launched on May 7, its main mission was to map land cover and vegetation growth across the entire surface of the Earth every two days. But the miniaturized ESA satellite is also casting its gaze higher, to test whether it is possible to track aircraft continuously from space. Proba-V has now shown this is indeed possible, by becoming the first satellite to pick up aircraft tracking signals from space. Read More

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