Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show


SkyCube: the first satellite launched by you

Southern Stars Group LLC, the company responsible for the popular SkySafari apps for iOS, Android and Mac OS X, is thinking a little bigger with its next project. The publicly funded SkyCube is a miniature CubeSat satellite that will orbit the planet, transmitting low-resolution images of the Earth while broadcasting short messages from sponsors in the form of data pings. In short, it's the world's first social space mission.  Read More

NASA has been given two ex-spy satellites with optics superior to those of the Hubble Spac...

NASA’s collection of space telescopes just got a bit bigger thanks to an extraordinary gift from America's National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) intelligence agency. The space agency announced on Monday that the NRO has given it two surplus spy satellites that are more advanced than the Hubble Space Telescope. If the money can be found for a mission for the spy “birds” then NASA will not only have two possible replacements for the retiring Hubble, but also an added ability to scan the skies for supernovae, locate new exoplanets and even seek the answer to the fate of the universe.  Read More

SSTL's STRaND-2 nano-satellite uses Kinect technology for approach and docking

Little satellites grow up to be big satellites. At least, that’s what will happen if Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) gets its way. Working in conjunction with the University of Surrey, the UK-based company plans to launch a pair of nano-satellites into orbit equipped with Kinect motion-control sensors that will allow the minisats to seek each other out and dock to form a new, larger satellite. If this technology proves successful, it has the potential to change the way satellites are built, maintained and even disposed of by changing satellites from individual machines into intelligent building blocks.  Read More

A North Korean Unha rocket reportedly carrying a weather satellite exploded 80 seconds aft...

North Korea confirmed the failure of its rocket (or missile, depending on your interpretation) which launched at 7:39 this morning, local time. The United States, South Korea and Japan all reported that the rocket broke up shortly after launch.  Read More

The ionic motor developed at EPFL is designed to extend the capabilities of the new genera...

Researchers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have created a prototype mini motor designed to extend the capabilities of the new breed of small satellite. The motor weighs roughly 200 grams (7 oz) – including the fuel and control electronics - and could be used to change the orbit of small satellites, or even propel them to more far flung destinations that would usually require larger, more expensive spacecraft.  Read More

A swarm of laser-wielding satellites could be used to nudge an asteroid off a collision co...

A collision between Earth and an asteroid a few kilometers in diameter would release as much energy as the simultaneous detonation of several million nuclear bombs, and with the impact of an asteroid estimated at around 6.2 miles in diameter believed to be responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs, numerous strategies have been devised to try and avoid such devastation. The latest idea comes from engineers at Glasgow’s University of Strathclyde who suggest that a swarm of laser-wielding satellites could nudge Earth-bound asteroids off their collision course.  Read More

A prototype of the new Lockheed Martin Space Fence radar system is currently tracking orbi...

A prototype of the new Lockheed Martin Space Fence radar system is currently tracking orbiting space objects smaller than was ever possible - down to about a centimeter in size. In doing so, it met a key contract requirement during a series of demonstration events by proving it could detect and track such small objects.  Read More

SeeMe would provide eyes in the sky quickly to troops on the ground (Image: DARPA)

DARPA, the United States' defense technology research agency that's created such notable projects as the Internet you're using right this moment, is now looking for help in creating a swarm of "disposable" eyes in the sky. It is seeking technical assistance from a wide range of fields - from auto racing to optics - to create the means to provide on-demand satellite imagery for troops on the front lines.  Read More

The Robotic Refueling Mission module is successfully transferred from the Atlantis shuttle...

Repairing and refueling satellites robotically may seem rather mundane, especially when compared with moon landings, Mars rovers and the Hubble space telescope, but NASA's two-year Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) experiment, now underway on the International Space Station (ISS), turns out to be surprisingly complex. Designed to demonstrate that servicing working satellites with remotely-controlled robots is a feasible option, NASA, in conjunction with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), initiated the first of several RRM test tasks just a few days ago and the results look very promising.  Read More

A depiction of CleanSpace One, closing in on an expired picosatellite

NASA currently monitors approximately 17,000 pieces of space junk that are orbiting the earth at extremely high speeds. These odds and ends consist of things like dead satellites, spent rocket stages and parts that have broken off of spacecraft. As the amount of junk increases, it becomes increasingly difficult for functioning satellites to avoid colliding with it. When collisions do occur, the satellite is often destroyed, with the resulting debris further adding to the problem. Scientists from Swiss research institute EPFL, however, have decided that enough is enough – they’re currently developing a small satellite known as CleanSpace One, which will be tasked with grappling expired satellites and pulling them back to Earth.  Read More

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