USAF Awards $2.3 Billion to Develop New Launch Vehicles

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Blue Origin New Glenn 2.   Source: Blue Origin

The U.S. Air Force has awarded three companies a combined $2.3 billion in contracts to help fund the development of new launch vehicles under the Air Force’s Launch Service Agreement (LSA) program. Under contracts announced on October 10, United Launch Alliance was awarded $967 million to develop the Vulcan Centaur launch system, Northrop Grumman was awarded $791.6 million to develop the OmegA launch system, and Blue Origin was awarded $500 million to develop the New Glenn launch system. Continue reading

ULA Selects Blue Origin’s BE-4 Rocket Motor for Next Generation Launch Vehicle

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

vulcan, be-4, ar1, eelv

Artist’s Rendition of Vulcan Lifting Off

ULA has selected Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine for the Vulcan Centaur’s booster stage. The selection follows the completion of a competitive procurement contest. The liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueled booster will be powered by a pair of BE-4 engines, each producing 550,000 pounds of sea level thrust. ULA held a multiyear competition that pitted startup Blue Origin against industry incumbent Aerojet Rocketdyne, which proposed its AR1 engine. Once operational, the Vulcan, powered by the BE-4, will end reliance on the Russian-built RD-180 that powers the Atlas V currently used by ULA. Continue reading

Elon Musk Reveals Identity of Passenger to the Moon and Updates BFR Progress

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

BFS Around the Moon, credit: SpaceX

In a live-streamed presentation, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa will be the first paying passenger aboard the company’s developmental Big Falcon Rocket (BFR). Maezawa plans to fly aboard the BFR on a week-long mission that will orbit the moon in 2023. Maezawa reserved an entire rocket so that he could take along artists who will use the experience to inspire their work. Continue reading

Trump Administration Moves Space Force Plans Forward

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Space Force logo designs were released by the Trump campaign to supporters for a vote. Source: Trump campaign

With a speech by Vice President Mike Pence, along with an interim report issued by the Pentagon, the U.S. government has begun laying out its plan to create a Space Force as a branch of the U.S. military. The plans will shake up an organization that has managed the launch of 116 satellites over the past eight years. Continue reading

Remote Sensing Satellite Market Takes Off, Driven by SmallSat Deliveries

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

JPSS-1 meteorological satellite. Source: NOAA

Annual deliveries of remote sensing satellites are increasing at high rates. Only 18 remote sensing satellites launched in 2013, but 177 were launched in 2017.

This trend can be expected to continue. During the 2018-2032 forecast period, civil and commercial satellite operators will take delivery of 3,979 satellites, representing an estimated $39 billion in value of production. Continue reading

Trump Calls for Space Force

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)

In a move designed to disrupt the military space establishment, President Donald Trump called for the creation of the Space Force as a “separate but equal” branch of the U.S. military. While Trump has mentioned the creation of a Space Force previously, the June 18, 2018, announcement came as a surprise. The Department of Defense and the White House both opposed earlier congressional plans to separate space operations from the rest of the Air Force. Continue reading

Yahsat to Acquire Thuraya, Making Satellite Investment More Likely

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Yahsat Ground Station or Teleport. Source – Yahsat

 

Yahsat has entered into an agreement to acquire a majority stake in Thuraya. Both companies are based in the United Arab Emirates. Yahsat primarily provides fixed satellite services (FSS), while Thuraya chiefly provides mobile satellite services (MSS). Continue reading

FCC Has Approved over 5,000 Smallsats to Provide Broadband Communications Services

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

OneWeb’s non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) satellite constellation.

With its approval of SpaceX’s proposed constellation in late March, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has now approved the deployment of 5,264 small satellites from four companies to provide broadband communications services from Earth orbit. Continue reading

Taking Satellite Propulsion from Fabergé Eggs to Mass Production: Interview with Brad King of Orbion Space Technology

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Orbion Space Technology’s Hall effect thrusters.

Orbion Space Technology is developing the Aurora propulsion system to serve the growing small satellite market. Orbion is relying on tried-and-true Hall effect propulsion technology as the basis for its Aurora system. Instead of developing a system based on entirely new technology, Orbion is working to mass produce systems based on proven technology. Continue reading

NASA Finally Sets a Direction Under President Trump, But Will Its Plans Make It Through Congress?

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

This artist rendering shows an aerial view of the liftoff of the 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capacity configuration SLS from the launchpad. Funding for the SLS will continue. Source: NASA

America’s preeminent space agency is proposing a major change in focus for FY19. Along with the rest of the federal government, NASA released its fiscal year 2019 budget request on February 13. While NASA’s budget faced few changes in President Donald Trump’s FY18 budget request, for FY19 NASA is looking to shift its priorities and thereby change how its funding is spent. Continue reading