FIRST UP Satcom | Orbcomm satellite breaks up • OneWeb denies Russian investment talks
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One of Orbcomm’s first-generation satellites broke up Dec. 22, resulting in 34 trackable objects, according to the U.S. Air Force’s 18 Space Control Squadron. Marc Eisenberg, Orbcomm’s CEO, told SpaceNews the company is still investigating the cause of the breakup. Eisenberg said the damaged OG1 satellite was no longer providing service, and that more than 90 percent of Orbcomm’s communications traffic goes through its newer OG2 satellites launched in 2014 and 2015. Orbcomm’s first two generations of satellites are uninsured, according to a 2018 filing. [@18SPCS/SpaceNews]
Kratos Defense and Security Solutions said Dec. 31 it has received $65 million in recent space and satellite communications business through new contracts and extensions on existing contracts. The company will provide products for satellite command and control, signal monitoring, cloud-enabled architectures and other ground segment applications. Kratos said work from the new contracts should be “substantially completed” over the next 12 months. [Kratos]
OneWeb says it has not offered the Russian government a stake in the company, though changes are underway with a joint venture it has in the country. OneWeb said it is restructuring a joint venture with Russian partner Gonets that is focused solely on commercializing satellite broadband in Russia. Gonets will have majority ownership of the joint venture as a result of the restructuring. “[W]e have been approached by many potential investors,” OneWeb wrote Dec. 28. “The Russian Government is not one of them.” [OneWeb]
SpaceX will need an extra day to prepare the Falcon 9 rocket that will launch Iridium’s last 10 Iridium Next satellites. The new launch date is Jan. 8, and will be SpaceX’s first launch of the year. Iridium has 65 Iridium Next satellites in orbit, all launched aboard SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets. [@IridiumComm]
India is planning to perform as many as 14 launches this year. In a New Year’s message, K. Sivan, head of the Indian space agency ISRO, said those launches will include India’s first lunar lander, Chandrayaan-2, scheduled for launch early this year. Other priorities for ISRO this year include development of a new small satellite launch vehicle and ramping up work on its human spaceflight program. [The Times of India]
Older satellites could face greater cybersecurity risks than their newer counterparts, an expert warned. Jan Kallberg, a research scientist at the Army Cyber Institute at West Point, warned in an op-ed that satellites from the 1990s and earlier carry outdated technology that could be easier for a hacker to exploit. “The time between launch and end of the operation for a satellite is the foundation for its cyber vulnerability,” he wrote. Kallberg also suggested that post-mission disposal guidelines to deorbit a satellite within 25 years of ending service leaves an extended window during which hackers can seek to gain control of old satellites left in space. [Fifth Domain]
Russia’s Angara-A5 rocket will make its second launch as soon as May.The rocket, which made its only launch to date in late 2014, is now scheduled to launch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in May using a new upper stage, according to an industry source, although the payload for that mission was not disclosed. The launch pad at Plesetsk is being modified for the upcoming launch. [Sputnik]
Alaska Aerospace is considering Hawaii as a location for a second spaceport. A Hawaiian spaceport would support small satellite launches between 50 and 100 kilograms, according to Alaska Aerospace President Mark Lester. An environmental assessment is in its early stages for a spaceport on land owned by W.H. Shipman near Keaau, Hawaii. Alaska Aerospace operates the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Alaska’s Kodiak Island. A launch site in Hawaii would be closer to the equator, giving rockets an extra boost from the Earth’s rotation. [ Hawaii Tribune-Herald]
China launched an experimental low Earth orbit communications satellite Saturday. A Long March 2D rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 3 a.m. Eastern and placed the Hongyan-1 satellite into orbit. The satellite is the first in a proposed constellation of more than 300 satellites that will provide L- and Ka-band communications services. The rocket also carried six Yunhai-2 satellites to perform atmospheric research. The launch used a new upper stage, called Yuanzheng 3, designed for launching large numbers of small satellites into different orbits. [Spaceflight Now]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.