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Tethers Unlimited delivers radios for satellites

Bothell, Wash.-based Tethers Unlimited says it has completed an on-time delivery of 15 S-band software-defined radios in support of a small-satellite constellation mission being developed by Millennium Space Systems, a Boeing subsidiary.

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LeoStella delivers BlackSky Earth-viewing satellites

Tukwila, Wash.-based LeoStella cast a spotlight today on the delivery of its first two built-from-scratch satellites for the BlackSky Earth-watching constellation ⁠— with their launch on a SpaceX rocket coming up soon.

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Spaceflight signs rideshare launch deal with SpaceX

SpaceX SSO-A launch
One of Spaceflight Industries’ most notable projects was the launch of 64 satellites aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in December 2018. (SpaceX Photo)

Seattle-based Spaceflight Inc. says it’s signed an agreement to secure spots for secondary payloads on several of SpaceX’s rockets due for launch through the end of 2021.

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SpaceX sends Starlink and Planet satellites to orbit

SpaceX today launched dozens more of its Starlink broadband internet satellites, plus three piggyback satellites for Planet — marking the first of the company’s in-house rideshare deliveries to orbit.

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Rocket Lab lofts satellites for NRO, NASA, Australia

Rocket Lab’s low-cost Electron rocket lofted a bevy of small satellites into orbit tonight for the National Reconnaissance Office, NASA and a project backed by the Australian government and the University of New South Wales Canberra Space.

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SpaceX software team talks up Starlink satellites

Starlink satellite
An artist’s conception shows the deployment of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites. (SpaceX Illustration)

SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation is still deep into testing mode, but it’s already generating 5 trillion bytes of data on a daily basis and getting software updates on a weekly basis.

Those are a couple of the nuggets coming from a weekend Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session featuring SpaceX’s software team.

The main focus of the online chat was SpaceX’s successful mission sending NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station in a Crew Dragon capsule — but one of the team members, Matt Monson, has moved on from Dragon to take charge of Starlink software development.

Although SpaceX’s HQ is in Hawthorne, Calif., most of the work relating to the Starlink satellites is being done at the company’s facilities in Redmond, Wash.

SpaceX tends to play its satellite cards close to the vest, in part because the process of building a satellite system is “highly proprietary” — as one of the company’s vice presidents, Patricia Cooper, said in a 2016 filing with the Federal Communications Commission. For that reason, any nuggets about Starlink’s workings are avidly sought by SpaceX’s fans as well as the occasional inquiring journalist.

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SpaceX launches eighth batch of Starlink satellites

Less than a week after sending two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, SpaceX sent 60 more of its Starlink broadband internet satellites into low Earth orbit tonight, boosting the constellation to 480 satellites.

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OneWeb applies to put 48,000 satellites in orbit

Image: Satellite web
An artist’s conception shows a constellation of satellites in orbit. (Credit: OneWeb)

Even though the OneWeb satellite venture is going through bankruptcy and a potential sale, it filed an application overnight with the Federal Communications Commission to expand its planned broadband internet constellation to as many as 48,000 satellites.

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Rules for satellite imaging get streamlined

Global satellites
An artist’s conception shows BlackSky’s Global satellites in orbit. (BlackSky Illustration)

The Commerce Department has released a new set of rules aimed at making the procedure for licensing Earth-imaging satellite systems more in tune with what’s technically possible and commercially available on the global market.

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How BlackSky uses AI to analyze satellite views

Color-coded satellite view
A color-coded satellite map of an area in northern Virginia shows that parking lots around Dulles Town Center are relatively open, as noted by the oval-shaped patchwork of green blocks just above the center of the image. But other parking lots, noted in shades of orange and red, are relatively busy. Such geospatial information can serve as a measure of economic activity and traffic congestion. (BlackSky Image)

How do you know when a region’s economy has recovered from the coronavirus pandemic? You could wait for the verdict from the unemployment figures, gather reports from individual businesses and scan news reports about business reopeniings. You could count how many cars show up in the parking lots of factories and shopping centers. Or you could just let Spectra do all of that.

Seattle-based BlackSky’s Spectra geospatial data platform can combine satellite imagery and other data inputs to generate insights that are greater than the sum of their parts. It’ll even use AI-enabled image recognition to count the cars.

As the COVID-19 crisis progresses, Spectra is learning how to recognize the early signs of recovery, or the telltale signs of a rebound.

“That’s what BlackSky is really all about: How can we inform you that something is happening, or something is going to happen, before you hear it from anywhere else?” said Patrick O’Neil, director of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

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