Elon Musk Unveils More Details about Mars Colony

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

For the second year in a row, Elon Musk has used the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) to unveil plans about his dream of developing a colony on Mars. During this year’s event – held in Adelaide, Australia – Musk disclosed plans that were much more practical than the ones he revealed at last year’s event in Guadalajara, Mexico. However, his plans are still a long way from becoming a reality. Continue reading

Northrop Grumman Acquisition of Orbital ATK Strengthens Diverse Space Offerings

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, and Richard Pettibone, Aerospace & Defense Companies Analyst, Forecast International.

Antares launch. Source: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Behind all the sound and fury surrounding the recent UTC/Rockwell deal, Northrop Grumman quietly moved in earlier this week and scooped up rocket and missile maker Orbital ATK in a deal valued at $9.2 billion.  Under the agreement Northrop Grumman will acquire Orbital ATK for approximately $7.8 billion in cash, plus the assumption of $1.4 billion in net debt. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2018 and is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory and Orbital ATK shareholder approval. Continue reading

ILS Proton Getting Back on Track

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

ILS Proton launch

International Launch Services (ILS) has successfully delivered the Amazonas 5 satellite into orbit on an ILS Proton for HISPASAT.  The ILS Proton launched from Pad 39 at 1:23 a.m. local time on September 10 (7:23 p.m. UTC, 3:23 p.m. EDT on September 11).[i] Continue reading

Alta Devices Enters Growing Smallsat Market With Unique Solar Panel Technology

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Alta Devices unique solar panel technology.

Alta Devices, founded in 2007 in Sunnyvale, California, manufactures single-junction solar cell technology. The company’s largest market is the UAV market, and it also has a presence in the automotive, Internet of Things (IoT), and consumer device markets. With the market for small satellites rapidly expanding, the need for solar panels to power these spacecraft has emerged as a growing market for many companies, including Alta. Forecast International recently had a chance to talk to Alta about its work in the satellite market. Aarohi Vijh, Alta’s head of Product, and Rich Kapusta, chief marketing officer, provided answers. Continue reading

Military Satellite Average Launch Mass Continues to Decline

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

ORS-1 Reconnaissance Satellite, United States Air Force Illustration.

Between 2012 and 2016, global militaries took delivery of 203 satellites. Deliveries reached a peak in 2013 with the launch of 55 satellites. Launches declined to a low point in 2016, when only 26 satellites were delivered into orbit. Going forward, Forecast International expects yearly satellite deliveries to continue between those two endpoints. Continue reading

NASA’s FY18 Budget Allotment Offers a Few Surprises, Though Agency is Largely Unscathed

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

NASA’s Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV)

President Donald Trump’s Fiscal Year 18 federal budget proposal – released on May 23 –  includes a few surprises for NASA.  While much has been made of the many cuts to social programs in the president’s budget, NASA’s funding remains largely unchanged – with a few notable exceptions. Continue reading

Commercial Communications Satellite Launch Mass – It’s Complicated

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Two years ago, Forecast International published a blog post about a trend toward decreasing launch mass in commercial communications satellites. Since that post has remained popular, we think our readers will be interested in an updated look at trends in launch mass and the commercial satellite industry. Continue reading

Accelerating the SmallSat Propulsion Market: Interview with Accion Systems CEO Natalya Bailey

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

The ion Electrospray Propulsion System (iEPS) for CubeSats is shown here next to a US quarter for scale

Accion Systems is developing an electric propulsion system for small satellites. As the number of small satellites built and launched increases each year, Accion sees a growing opportunity for propulsion systems to guide those spacecraft once they reach orbit around Earth.

Continue reading

Launch Vehicle Flexibility Increasingly Important

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Proton launching ExoMars. Source: : ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2016

International Launch Services (ILS) recently announced that it will introduce a new Proton launch vehicle variant with a larger payload fairing – a clear sign that flexibility is now a key differentiator in the launch vehicle market.[i] Continue reading

PSLV Launch with 104 Payloads Opens New Opportunities for Small Satellites

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

PSLV-C37 with 104 payloads. Source: Indian Space Research Organisation

On the morning of February 15, 2017, ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (designated PSLV-C37) launched the 714-kilogram Cartosat-2 Series Satellite and 103 co-passenger satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. The launch – which marked the 38th consecutively successful PSLV mission out of 39 flights – was one for the record books.

Continue reading