Spacewatch: SpaceX reuses rocket to launch north American satellite

The SpaceX Falcon 9 lifting off in Florida on 11 October this year. Photograph: SpaceX/flickr

SpaceX set a brisk pace this week, with two successful launches of the Falcon 9 rocket. The second launch by the company – whose chief executive is its billionaire founder, Elon Musk – re-used a previously flown first stage booster, increasing confidence that SpaceX could deliver re-useable rockets and so drive down launch costs.

The first launch took place on 9 October. The rocket lifted off from the Vandenberg airforce base in California at 05:37 PDT (12:37 GMT). It placed 10 communications satellites in a 400-mile-high orbit for Iridium, the telecommunications company.

Iridium runs a constellation of telecommunications satellites. This launch is the first of eight launches scheduled that will place 75 satellites in orbit for the company.

On 11 October a second Falcon 9 rocket lifted off, this time from Kennedy Space Centre, in Florida. The launch took place at 18:53 EDT (22:53 GMT), and carried a larger communications satellite into orbit for SES and EchoStar.

This second launch was notable because it re-used a previously flown Falcon 9 first stage. This part of the rocket first launched last February when it boosted a Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station; it then flew back and soft landed in Florida for re-use. This booster has now landed back on Earth again, several hundred miles from Cape Canaveral on a drone ship.

Reusing significant spacecraft components is the key to SpaceX’s business model of reducing launch costs. After each flight this week all the first stages returned safely to Earth.

These launches bring the total of SpaceX launches this year to 15, establishing the company as a leading player in the satellite launch market. In September, Musk declared his intention to use his rockets to colonise Mars.

[“Source-theguardian”]

US Slaps Sanctions on Iran Firms Linked to Satellite LaunchUS Slaps Sanctions on Iran Firms Linked to Satellite Launch

Simorgh rocket is launched and tested at the Imam Khomeini Space Centre, Iran, in this handout photo released by Tasnim News Agency on July 27, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Tasnim News Agency

Washington; The United States imposed sanctions on Friday on six subsidiaries of a company key to Iran’s ballistic missile programme, citing continued “provocative actions” like Tehran’s launch of a rocket capable of putting a satellite into orbit.

Iranian state television reported on Thursday that Iran had successfully tested a rocket that can deliver satellites into orbit, an action the United States and others say breaches a UN Security Council resolution because of its potential use in ballistic missile development.

A joint statement on Friday from the United States, France, Germany and Britain said the launch was inconsistent with a UN Security Council resolution calling on Iran not to conduct such tests.

The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on six Iranian firms owned or controlled by the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group. The move enables the US government to block any company property under its jurisdiction and prevents US citizens from doing business with the firms.

“These sanctions … underscore the United States’ deep concerns with Iran’s continued development and testing of ballistic missiles and other provocative behaviour,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.

“The US government will continue to aggressively counter Iran’s ballistic missile-related activity, whether it be a provocative space launch … or likely support to Yemeni Houthi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia such as occurred this past weekend,” Mnuchin said.

The six Shahid Hemmat units targeted by the US sanctions manufacture missile components, missile airframes, liquid-propellant ballistic missile engines, liquid propellant, guidance and control systems. They also do missile-related research and maintenance.

The Treasury move was announced just hours after the US Senate voted almost unanimously to impose new sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea.

The measure put President Donald Trump, who has sought better ties with Russia, in a tough position, forcing him to either sign the bill into law or anger his party by vetoing it.

The sanctions in that bill also target Iran’s missile development programs as well as human rights abuses.

The State Department charged on Thursday that Iran’s test of the satellite launch vehicle was a violation of UN Security Council resolutions as well as the spirit of the multinational Iran nuclear deal, under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear programs in exchange for a lifting of some economic sanctions.

Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said the Trump administration would continue to impose consequences on Iran until it complied fully with UN resolutions.

“The issue with Iran always comes back to mistrust. Iran’s widespread support for terrorists tells us we can’t trust them. Iran’s breaking its obligation on missile testing tells us we can’t trust them. Yesterday’s launch proves that yet again,” she said in a statement.

The Trump administration certified Iran as being in compliance with the nuclear deal last week, even though Trump has called the agreement negotiated by his Democratic predecessor “the worst deal ever.”

Trump issued a veiled threat against Iran earlier this week, warning Tehran to adhere to the terms of the nuclear accord or face “big, big problems.” He said in a speech in Ohio that the deal had “emboldened” Iran and added “that won’t take place much longer.”

Source:-thewie

India launches satellite for South Asian countries, Pakistan says no thanks

The Indian Space Research Organisation's GSAT-9 satellite was launched Friday, May 5, 2017 in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s GSAT-9 satellite was launched Friday, May 5, 2017 in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

New Delhi (CNN)In a first, India’s space agency launched a satellite Friday to provide communications services to its neighboring countries.

The South Asia satellite, funded entirely by India, was announced several years ago with the intention of serving all eight members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
According to Uday Bhaskar, director of Delhi-based think tank the Society for Policy Studies, the satellite represents a “new form of regional cooperation,” and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called it a “gift to the SAARC region.”
“Even the sky is not the limit when it comes to regional cooperation among like-minded countries,” Modi said after the launch.
The more than $36 million project does not, however, involve Pakistan, which pulled out of the project.
READ: Asia’s space race heats up

Tense relationship

The satellite project comes at a time of heightened tensions between the two countries. This week, India accused Pakistan of mutilating the bodies of two of its soldiers in the disputed territory of Kashmir. Last year, militants from Pakistan killed 18 Indian soldiers in an attack on an Indian army base.
While some have suggested Pakistan may have pulled out due to espionage concerns, Ajay Lele, a senior analyst at the Delhi-based Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis said “in modern times, you do not develop a satellite to spy on a country.”
But N. Sathiya Moorthy, a regional director at the Observer Research Foundation, said India should “do everything to ensure that policy makers (in Pakistan) remain convinced that it is nothing more than what India says it is.”
Lele said Pakistan’s backing out is a missed opportunity for Islamabad. “Problems on earth shouldn’t affect relationships in outer space,” he said.
Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Nafees Zakaria said the country was initially “keen to participate in the project.”
“However, as India was not willing to develop the project on a collaborative basis, it was not possible for Pakistan to support it as a regional project under the umbrella of SAARC,” he added.
He dismissed speculation over espionage concerns as “unfounded.”
The satellite will provide communications and disaster management services across South Asia.

Space diplomacy

The satellite’s launch is seen by many as a move by India to cement its big brother role in the region and improve relations with its neighbors, Pakistan aside.
“India has done satellite launches for countries commercially but never utilized them as a foreign policy tool. Space is no more just a science and technology domain — it is being seen from a strategic and foreign policy perspective,” said Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, head of the Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative at the Observer Research Foundation.
Experts say the move is also designed to counter China’s growing influence in South Asia. In 2011, Beijing launched a communications satellite for long-time ally Pakistan, followed by the launch of another for Sri Lanka in 2012.
“Space is emerging as a domain where you can see increasing competition between India and China. For China, reaching out to South Asia is a way of keeping India under check,” said Rajagopalan.
India's space program is increasing in sophistication.

Disaster control

The South Asia satellite weighs 2,230 kilograms and is carrying 12 top-of-the-line communication transponders, making it India’s most significant space project since February’s record-breaking launch of 104 mini satellites with a single rocket.
Since the 2013 launch of India’s Mars orbiter, the country’s space agency has established itself as a reliable, low-cost global player.
The new satellite will provide telecommunications, disaster management and weather forecasting services, among others.
A satellite focusing on disaster communications could be particularly beneficial to South Asia, home to about a quarter of the world’s population and prone to tropical cyclones, heat waves, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides and floods.
“Bangladesh has serious climatic variations, while Maldives is seeing the impact of climate change. Both countries have a lot to receive in terms of disaster warnings,” said Rajagopalan.
Bhaskar added, “This can go a long way in improving regional human security indicators, particularly in the more impoverished cross-sections of the regional population across South Asia.”

Google Sells Satellite Imaging Business Terra Bella to Planet Labs

Google Sells Satellite Imaging Business Terra Bella to Planet Labs

Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Friday it would sell its satellite imaging business, Terra Bella, to Planet Labs, a San Francisco-based private satellite operator founded by former NASA scientists.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

As part of the deal, Planet Labs will acquire the Terra Bella business including the SkySat constellation of satellites, Alphabet said.

“When we thought about a company that shares Terra Bella’s passion and strengths in high frequency satellite imaging, Planet was a natural home,” said Jen Fitzpatrick, VP of Product and Engineering, Google. “Terra Bella has accomplished a lot in the past two years-including the design and launch of five more satellites. We’re excited to see what’s ahead for Terra Bella, and look forward to being a long-term customer.”

Google will enter into a multi-year contract to purchase Earth-imaging data from Planet Labs after the deal closes.

Google had acquired Terra Bella, originally known as Skybox Imaging, for $500 million in 2014.

The deal will help Planet Labs broaden its available data and add new customers.

Planet Labs is one of several startups aiming to harness technology allowing satellites to become smaller and less expensive, making it easier to deploy large networks of satellites at less risk and lower cost than previously.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

Tags: Terra Bella, Google, Google Satellite, Internet
[“Source-Gadgets”]