Hello and welcome back to Max Q! Happy Memorial Day everyone.
In this issue:
- Astranis’ new approach to GEO satellites
- Virgin Galactic returns to the skies
- News from SpaceX and more
Astranisa satellite internet startup based in San Francisco said Wednesday its first spacecraft has completed a milestone test and will begin providing broadband access to rural Alaskans starting in mid-June.
It’s a big step for the company, which was founded in 2015 by John Gedmark and Ryan McLinko. By taking a first-principles approach to satellite development, the two bet they could create a smaller, less expensive spacecraft for geosynchronous orbit — the orbit furthest from Earth and perhaps the most inhospitable — and they would can use to bring the Internet to millions or even billions. of people all over the world.
Their bet pays off: the company’s first satellite, Arcturus, was launched on a Falcon Heavy at the end of April. Within less than two minutes of detaching from the rocket’s upper stage, the spacecraft began sending telemetry and tracking data to Astranis engineers. From there, the satellite connected to an Internet gateway in Utah and communicated with multiple user terminals in Alaska for the first time.
After a successful flight to the edge of space, space tourism company Virgin Galactic says it is ready to enter commercial service in June.
Virgin Galactic’s aircraft, VMS Eve, took off from the launch site in New Mexico around 9:15 AM MT with a crew of six (plus two aircraft pilots). The VSS Unity spaceplane dropped out of the jet’s wing just over an hour later and ascended into suborbital space at an altitude of 44,500 feet. The entire mission took about 90 minutes.
The mission, dubbed Unity 25, concludes a nearly two-year hiatus in operations for the company. That last flight, which took place in June 2021, also carried six people into suborbital space, including the company’s founder, billionaire Richard Branson. Although Virgin Galactic did not broadcast the Unity 25 mission, the company kept followers updated via social media. NASA Spaceflight, a private news website with massive followings on YouTube and Twitter, livestreamed the flight unofficially.
More news from TC and beyond
- Fleet Space raised $33 million to grow its space-based mineral prospecting business. (SpaceNews)
- guitar, a Tokyo-based startup, wants to use robots as labor for the moon and Mars. (TechCrunch)
- NASA still working on the construction of Mobile Launcher 2 for the next Space Launch System mission (Artemis II), with steel arriving at Kennedy Space Center. (Bechtel)
- that of NASA The Office of the Inspector General found appalling cost overruns in the Artemis program, and in particular in the development of the Space Launch System and RS-25 rocket motors. (OIG)
- Satellite Vu, a thermal imaging start-up, secured a new tranche of funding ahead of its initial launch. (TechCrunch)
- SpaceX will join the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration as a co-defendant in a lawsuit filed against the regulator over the environmental effects of the Starship launch program. (CNBC)
- South Korea launched a domestically built rocket to space. (Reuters)
- SkyFi let anyone order satellite images from their smartphone. (TechCrunch)
- The Spaceport Company demonstrated the potential for off-shore rocket launches in conjunction with Evolution Space. (Evolution)
- TRL11 closed pre-seed financing to further develop video solutions for the space environment. (TRL11)
- the big Bear won a contract with the US Air Force to continue development of two massive engines, one for space launch and one for hypersonics. (Defense News)
- Virgin job launch business was sold for parts to Rocket Lab, Stratolaunch and Vast. (TechCrunch)
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