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Satellite

Though we tend to think of private spaceflight as being in the SpaceX league, it also includes many smaller-scale efforts. For example, the non-profit Planetary Society has announced that its LightSail spacecraft will make its first test flight in May. The solar-propelled CubeSat will lift off as a piggyback cargo atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Read More
On its third attempt, NASA has successfully launched its Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite atop a United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket. The orbiter is designed to take high resolution moisture maps on a global scale, mapping the entire planet in the space of only two to three days. The maps will grant us an improved ability to forecast droughts, floods, and even aid agricultural workers in crop planning and rotation. Read More
Weather forecasting is a notoriously inexact science. According to San Francisco-based tech startup Spire, this is partially because there are currently less than 20 satellites responsible for gathering all of the world's weather data – what's more, some of the older ones are using outdated technology. Spire's solution? Establish a linked network of over 100 shoebox-sized CubeSats, that will use GPS technology to gather 100 times the amount of weather data than is currently possible. The first 20 of those satellites are scheduled to launch later this year. Read More
After 12 years in orbit, the European Space Agency (ESA) is in the process of enacting its retirement plan for the International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (Integral). However, while the agency is adjusting the orbit of the satellite now, the spacecraft will continue to make observations for some years, and won’t re-enter Earth’s atmosphere until the late 2020s. Read More
Both the ESA’s Sentinel-1A and CryoSat satellites have detected a significant degree of ice loss in the Austfonna ice cap, located on Norway’s Nordaustlandet island in the Svalbard archipelago. Parts of the ice cap have thinned by as much as 50 m (164 ft) since 2012 – around a sixth of its total thickness, and the speed of the outer glacier has increased to 3.8 km (2.4 miles) per year. Read More
Key orbits frequented by GPS and communications satellites are becoming more and more hazardous, as man-made debris presents an increasingly palpable danger to the valuable assets orbiting at heights of around 2,000 km (1,243 miles) above the Earth. That' s why the European Space Agency (ESA) is hosting an international workshop geared towards cleaning up low-Earth orbit, with a focus on how to make the space industry more sustainable. Read More
Space maneuvers have often been described as an orbital ballet, but the European Space Agency's (ESA) Cluster II satellites are currently in a ballet where the dancers are moving blindfolded at hypersonic speeds as they pass within a cosmic hairsbreadth of one another. That's because two of the Cluster satellites are flying within "touching distance" of one another as scientists try to learn more about the effects of solar wind on the Earth's magnetic field. Read More
According to the International Telecommunications Union, over half of the world's population has no access to the internet. A new plan, however, could provide access to billions of those people. OneWeb says it will launch a network of satellites that will provide global high-speed internet access. Read More
In the United States, more and more television programming has become available for streaming online thanks to names like Hulu, Amazon and many of the TV networks themselves, but being able to watch live television and events like sports and live news online has remained elusive for cord cutters. Dish took a big move towards changing that here at CES 2015, announcing the launch of Sling TV to deliver live channels to connected devices like Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Xbox and others. Read More
A Glasgow-based startup is reducing the cost of access to space by offering "satellite kits" that make it easier for space enthusiasts, high schools and universities alike to build a small but functional satellite for as little as US$6,000 and then, thanks to its very small size, to launch for significantly less than the popular CubeSats. Read More
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