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Space

AST SpaceMobile, a satellite firm, plans to conclude the SPAC transaction next week and start selling on Nasdaq

AST & Science, a satellite-to-smartphone broadband provider, stated on Thursday that it plans to complete its SPAC merger next week. The company’s shares will be traded on the Nasdaq. The corporation disclosed intentions to combine with New Providence, a special purpose takeover company that operates under the ticker NPA, in 2020. Stockholders accepted the agreement on Thursday, with the sale set to close “on or around April 6”. AST Space Mobile will be the merged business of AST & Science and New Providence, and it will operate under the ticker ASTS.

Before the SPAC merger, Avellan established AST in May 2017 and raised around $121 million. He has put some capital into the business and will control 43 percent of AST as it becomes official, with the other 29 percent held by other current shareholders. Around 160 people work for the firm.

New Providence’s SPAC was disclosed in September 2019, receiving $230 million in a stock sale to “acquire a firm in the wider business industry,” according to the company’s website. In a quote, New Providence Chairman Alex Coleman stated, “AST SpaceMobile offers a rare opportunity to be able to invest in a visionary organization with innovative technologies, a built-in client base, and a versatile and scalable market model that solves one of the greatest barriers to global connectivity.”

A $230 million private placement fund led by AST’s current partners as well as joined by UBS O’Connor was also secured as part of the transaction. With Sir Richard Branson’s tourism firm Virgin Galactic premiering in late 2019 as well as space transportation expert Momentus planning to go public early next year in a contract with Stable Road Capital, the group is at least third in the space industry to follow the SPAC route to enter financial markets.

In Thursday’s trading, New Providence’s stock fell 2.4 % to $11.39 a share. AST SpaceMobile, headquartered in Midland, Texas, is constructing a constellation, or a network of satellites, that will bring broadband from space to customer smartphones. Established satellite networks need additional physical devices to connect to the system, such as Iridium’s mobile satellite phones or even SpaceX’s Starlink customer terminals.

The group, which raised around $120 million before the SPAC acquisition, expects the sale to bring around $462 million in net proceeds. AST plans to launch its next demo satellite, BlueWalker 3, later this year, using the new capital to finance the firm’s network growth. The planned completion of AST will be the first of a recent string of space SPAC mergers. In the last six months, seven space firms, including AST, have confirmed deals with SPACs.

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Space

OneWeb announces a commercial aviation venture as it prepares for a new satellite launch

Space is no secret the most extensive field that the planet has ever ventured in so far. Why is that? Space experts realize new concepts on the field and innovative new technologies in the sector every day. Since the first space launch over five decades ago, we are still learning, and it seems impossible to exhaust all the facts regarding this sector. Besides, the main issues are the lack of reference material since, unlike details about this planet, space experts have no books to back up what they find out to explain the many tests. However, the sector is exciting and motivates people to look beyond what we can see.

Many companies have ventured into the industry include OneWeb. It is a satellite company founded a while back and is working on commercializing its services which will officially begin in October this year. Recently, the company announced more good news with a report about their moves to aviation networks.

OneWeb has robust backups, including the UK government and Indian Group Bharti Airtel, and has signed up an antenna specialist SatisFy to build a spacecraft terminal. This terminal will come in handy for the low-earth-orbit satellites and the geostationary orbit satellites. In a statement by OneWeb’s VP of mobility, Ben Griffin, we learn that the satellite company is confident in the latest venture it is going to undertake. He explained that the satellite firm is suitable for all aviation purposes, including regional, business, commercial, and government aviation use.

This announcement coincides with the Arianespace, a French Company’s preparations to launch 36 OneWeb satellites. The launch will occur in the early hours of European local time on March 25th, which marks four months after the last OneWeb launch. Arianespace will use the Soyuz rocket lifting off from a Russian space station, Vostochny Cosmodrome, and take these satellites into space. This launch will deliver the second satellite payload since OneWeb recovered from the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy incident.

If things go according to the development team’s plans, the company will have 146 operating satellites, around a quarter of the total satellites it needs. The executive chairman of the company, Sunil, stated that the company would commercially launch covering areas between the North Pole and 50 degrees North

SatisFy will create a flight connectivity terminal alongside Singapore Technology Engineering and work with geostationary and LEO satellites to commercialize the aviation market. Griffin explained that the new venture with SatisFy is a considerable step for OneWeb as they work on promoting onboard connectivity. The UK Space Agency and European Space Agency’s support represent their commitment to encourage innovative companies to make a remarkable difference in the space industry.

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Space

US mobile payload company called Globalstar intends to develop an Earth station in SW Estonia

The United States mobile satellite company called Globalstar is preparing to roll out an earth station in southwestern Estonia. The Saarde municipality newspaper, Parnu Postimees, stated this in one of their weekly publishes. Globalstar is waiting for the municipality to approve the project by issuing a construction permit in the meeting coming up next week. Globalstar is a trader on the New York stock exchange operating some low-Earth orbit satellites.

The company provides communications services to its clients with the help of these satellites. The request for a construction permit was handled by an Estonian construction company called AS Merko Ehitus earlier last month. The company has the responsibility of ensuring that the mobile satellite communications earth station is ready for operations. The preliminary design for the project, which will facilitate the construction permit’s acquisition, has reached its conclusion stage after Globalstar’s subsidiary Globalstar Europe SAS is working on it.

Globalstar procured the 2.3-hectare land where this earth station will be developed through the municipality and is hopeful of acquiring the construction permit in a similar manner. Mayor Andres Annast of this municipality explained that the company had submitted several copies of the proposal to the Estonian estate institutions.

These institutions will send their comments to the municipal offices for inclusion in the construction permit procession. This project will help develop one of the over 20 connection sites for satellites around the Earth. This move ensures that the mobile satellite traffic in Europe is reduced. The Globalstar satellite communications are helpful by the government and public entities in special industries like healthcare and the military. The satellites can help improve the maritime portfolio, construction activities, and agricultural operations in the public spectacle.

The Saarde municipality revealed that the earth station would be composed of the control building and three dome antennas with a circumferential diameter of eight meters and suspended on artificial structures. A minimum of two technicians will be observing the data streaming in at the control station.

The engineers managed to eliminate the exposure of the antennas to earthly influences through the dome shape and focusing the radio emissions directly overhead at the satellite orbital path in space. Additionally, a 10 degrees allowance for the satellites ensures that they only monitor the signals from the satellite and can differentiate from those of the cosmic influences. Finally, the development of the earth station will attract more clients to take up the services that Globalstar is offering.

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Space

ISRO creates radar for the US-India satellite mission partnership and recently shipped to NASA

Different space companies are achieving milestones every day and making the future of the space industry interesting. The Indian Space Research Organization recently shipped the S-band radar to the NASA headquarters. This invention is a collaborative venture between ISRO and NASA, where India produces an S-band while NASA develops the L-band for the NISAR Mission (Nasa-Isro Synthetic Aperture Radar). The NISAR satellite comprises two dual-frequency bands whose main goal is to observe the planet’s landscape and other global features, maintaining a high resolution.

In NASA’s official statement, the agency explained that the NISAR mission would capture the planet’s ever-changing ecosystems, ice masses, and dynamic surfaces, giving information about natural disasters and rising sea levels and hosts many applications. This mission involves two well-connected frequency bands, the L-band and the S-band, where the radar will map the earth surface less than a centimetre with a 12-days regular when ascending and descending.

Recently, ISRO sent the radar to NASA headquarters to allow their development team to integrate the L-band. The process is complex, and it will take NASA months to complete, while ISRO expects the complete version by April next year. ISRO will take several measures, including testing, to ensure that the satellite is function before sending it into space.

The NISAR satellite is the world’s most expensive satellite currently existing, with an investment of over 5000 rupees crore. Good things come to people who invest more, and this satellite deserves all the praise. It will work on improving different sectors helping customers find solutions to existing problems.

This partnership dates back to 2014, September 30th, in Canada, between a NASA administrator and then chairman of ISRO. The NISAR satellite is scheduled to launch by the end of 2022 from the ISRO Sriharikota spaceport. This launch centre is in Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore District, located 100km north of Chennai. Unlike other earth observation satellite, NISAR will use advanced radar imaging to detect and determine the planet most complex processes.

NASA explained that this mission would help people manage natural resources better and avoid disasters. Also, scientists will get reliable and accurate data to work with and understand some of the earth’s complex processes. Another major sector that this satellite will assist is climate change. It will learn different ecosystems trends and will have an impact on climate change. The data will come in handy in the coming years as the world works on transiting clean energy. With the data, experts can learn of the areas to prioritise and if the changes they implement are functional or a failure. The ISRO-NASA partnership is something all are looking up to hoping for innovations and a brighter future.

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Space Technology

Fleets of radar satellites monitoring movements on earth better

Having the ability to watch all the happenings of the planet via space is no secret a blessing. East Africa is popularly known as the cradle of humanity, but even this geologically active region has some volcanoes rising. For years, few of them were under close monitoring for warnings of a potential eruption. Still, experts were confident that they were dormant until Juliet Biggs took a closer look at the situation.

Juliet Biggs is a popular geophysicist from the University of Bristol who uses the Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar technique to detect Earth surface movements. Together with her team, she took a series of studies to analyze East African volcanoes from satellite data. Her report indicates that fourteen of these volcanoes have been shrinking or growing for the last five years. This fact proves that there is either magma or water flowing to the underground, and the volcanoes are not entirely dormant.

Biggs stated that the data has changed how experts view these volcanoes from something sleeping to something active. One of the Corbetti volcano volcanoes in Ethiopia, where the country has placed this volcano in its geological hazard monitoring network. The InSAR technique is the only tech that can notice such minor movements, and Juliet talked of how people are ignorant and claim the ground is a solid platform, but it is not steady.

With this technology, scientists can look out for any movements on the earth’s surface. Paul Rosen, an InSAR NASA pioneer, talked of his experience, claiming that something new will pop-up every time you look on earth. The earth’s monitoring from space is currently outstanding, with many commercial satellites from different countries recording data. Besides, there are more satellites set to launch this year.

InSAR is a powerful technology that is spreading all over the world. InSAR data helps experts monitor the small things happening on earth from space, and many believe this tech will underpin our lives. This technology depends on SAR, which originated as a tool for the military. Its vital mission was to capture data of the planet and could penetrate the cloud. Also, it works perfectly during the day and night. Later, the InSAR was born with the ability to detect any motion on the earth’s surface, and its history dates back over thirty years ago.

Different research teams and experts took in the technology to keep track of the happenings of the planet. In 2019, this technology came in handy during the Bahamas flooding damage. From the current space calendar, it is clear that many countries are working towards the same goal, to launch more satellites into the earth’s orbit. Most of the aim behind the launches is for close monitoring of the planet.

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Space

Space satellites provide photos of deadly eruptions from Mount Etna

Earth-orbiting satellites have provided images of Mount Etna spewing lava across Sicily. The incident has been taking place for weeks. Etna is an active volcano mountain in the whole of Europe, and its exposure to eruption started in 2011. the recent series of eruptions began on February 16, 2021. On that date, a volcano was seen erupting, again another series took place after two days, and the last one on February 23, 2021. Fountains of lava could be seen shooting high into the sky, reaching a height of 0.7 kilometers higher than the previous one. Later in the month, the lava shot as high as 1.5 kilometers.

According to the statement released by Marco Neri, an Italian-based volcanologist stated that the recent volcanoes were recorded to be among the most dangerous in the Southeast Crater’s young history. Marco Neri works with Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology.

Earth-observing satellites were close to observe the smoke, lava, and ash coming out of the volcano. On February 18, NASA-US Geological Survey Landsat 8 satellite took a natural picture of the volcano. In the picture, it appeared overlapped with infrared data to spot lava; however, the spots showed how lava had broken through. Besides, on the same date, the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2, which consists of two satellites, took a view of the volcano. The satellite snapped a picture showing bright orange and red lava coming out of the mountain.

On February 23, Mount Etna was seen erupting again. NOAA-20 Satellite that belongs to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration produced the image. NOAA-20 satellite used the VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer) gadget to provide a distinct image of plumes erupting from the volcano. Five days later, Landsat 8 satellite snapped a nigh image on the mountain to depict the lava’s heat signature. The satellite uses a shortwave of infrared bands to facilitate the distinct view of the lava.

On February 25, Landsat 8 satellite took a view of the volcano during the night. The satellite revealed that the lava down below at the base of the mountain contained heat emanating from it.  Those eruptions did not cause a major alarm to the surrounding environments. The Ash that came out of the mountain blocked the Catania Airport and was deposited across Sicily. The only problem here was that the residents had to take care of themselves from the falling ash and rocks.

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Science Space

Tianwen-1 gets into orbit around Mars

Tianwen-1 has entered orbit. This is the first Chinese interplanetary mission. Tianwen-1 burned its thrusters in 15 minutes at around 6:52 a.m. Eastern.  This allowed the spacecraft that weighs five tonnes to reduce speed to be captured by Mars gravitationally. The Mars orbit insertion was developed to put Tianwen-1 into the orbit of 400 by 180000KM. Tianwen-1 inclined by 10-degree and has an orbital time of 10 days.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. said that Tianwen would lower its orbit for Mars observations. It is also expected to start preparing for the entry and landing trial of a 240KG solar-powered rover, which will be held in May or June. At bout 265KM from the Earth’s surface, the orbiter will approach, enabling a high-resolution camera to capture images with a resolution of 0.05 meters per pixel.

Tianwen-1 joins Hope, the United Arab Emirates’ mission that reached orbit on Tuesday around the Red Planet. On 18th February, NASA’s Perseverance rover made a soft landing. Some of the spacecraft that had failed before during the orbital insertion stage of the mission include the Japanese, Soviet, and the US. For instance, in 1999, NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter was near Mars, but the mission was interrupted. The Soviet Mars 4 did not burn its engines, making it go past Mars.

Science objectives

Tianwen-1 is developed such that it will be able to gather diverse data on the Martian surface and from orbit. A planetary scientist at the China University of Geosciences, Long Xiao, said that Tianwen-1 has 13 scientific payloads to help study the following: topography and Martian morphology, surface materials’ composition, surface regolith, ionosphere characteristics, environment, climate, and magnetic field. It will also help to search for the water ice with radars.

Long said that the main intention of Tianwen-1 is searching and mapping the water ice distribution on the subsurface and surface. Tianwen-1 has two autonomous sounding radars. One onboard the orbiter for carrying out a global survey with the primary focus being on high latitude regions. The other is placed on the rover. The two will offer more reliable data than a single one since radar data interpretation and processing are complex processes.

An associate professor who works at Macau University of Science and Technology, Zhang Xiaoping, said that using the radar system will help measure the Martian surface’s subsurface structure like the buried water ice. He added that this is essential as it will aid in studying Mars’ underlying geologic structures.

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Space

Satellites overtake balloons in leading the internet technology

Satellites reached their peak usage when they gained entrance into internet connectivity in areas where the internet is unavailable. Initially, they were the most expensive and the slowest in broadband services before the pandemic brought a new perspective of this concept.

Moreover, high technology companies decided to venture into this technology with the likes of SpaceX and OneWeb developing satellite constellations to provide broadband services. Google had initiated the Loon company to develop network balloons for internet coverage in remote and sidelined areas. Another company that deviated from balloon technology is Facebook. The company halted the Aquila project that intended to run the internet drones two years ago.

Companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX decided to develop satellites to provide internet services. Moreover, satellites have demonstrated that they can be relied upon when the weather changes, unlike the balloons, which would be less effective in bad weather.

Big satellites in the low-Earth orbit have the potential to provide internet to remote areas globally. Satellites have proved to offer high-speed internet connection with low latency. The Starlink constellation will dealing with 42000 satellites that will provide broadband internet connectivity for the UK and North American people. The rival to SpaceX, OneWeb, is also deploying constellation to provide internet connection services.

Another company that declared its intention of offering broadband internet connectivity is Amazon, which is deploying 3000 satellites to serve its customers through the Kuiper project. However, these mega-constellations have angered the astronomer who loves monitoring the systems of the cosmos from Earth.

The astronomers argue that the satellites hinder them from viewing the stars and confuse them to be stars. Dr. Alice Girman, an astronomer, stated that the satellites are going into space in huge quantities that are dangerous, with the industry defending itself as the provider of internet services. She emphasized that the industries behind these projects should stop rallying behind the philanthropy concept and accept that they are making profits from this business.

Gorman explained that satellites are not the answer to all the problems facing Earth. She pointed out that some areas for internet services’ inaccessibility are because they have not witnessed terrestrial infrastructure installations.

The assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Regina, Samantha Lawler, is in support of the arguments raised by these astronomers stating that the satellites reflect light, hindering the observation of stars. Elon Musk came to the support of satellite companies stating that there are about 4900 satellites in space and no incidence of satellite obscurity has been reported. He tweeted that astronomers should stop making excuses to hinder space exploration.

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Space

A detailed discussion on the impact of the existence of satellites in the world we live in

There is a high availability of relatively small satellites, and their materials are now cheaper than before. That has seen rapid growth in their manufacturing and, more so, launches. For the record, the number of spacecrafts orbiting the Earth, excluding now-defunct ones for one reason or the other, is about to hit the 3000 marks. People would look at it on a lousy note whereby there are chances of a collision. After all, the number of satellites that no longer work yet still orbiting the Earth is also relatively high. Space junk is terrible news, but it shouldn’t let us turn a blind eye to the fact that satellites do more good than harm. Let’s take a look at the good side of satellites.

First of all, it turns out that most financial transactions rely on them may it be for location, timing, or security in most cases. So, if there were no satellites, imagine how one would survive without some things. Subscribing your Netflix every month could be a big hustle or, to make matters worse, impossible. The same case with stock market transactions, ATM transactions, Google Pay, and many other online payment systems. After all, the providers of these services rely heavily on Global Navigation Satellite Systems. They include America’s GPS, Russian GLONASS, and Europe’s Galileo. They ensure that financial transactions occur at precise timing, especially in fluctuating cases such as stock markets.

Besides money, satellites have also played a huge role in saving lives. As climate change and its effects become more evident, readiness on Earth is seemingly lacking. That’s where satellite comes in to help with tropical storms, forest fires, and other natural disasters that are becoming more common with many dire consequences nowadays. They monitor them and study their behaviors as well. With such information, it becomes easy for them to respond accordingly, which ends up saving lives.

The likes of investigators, journalists, and activists have found satellites as the oasis of much-needed information. That’s because they are not controlled by things such as jurisdiction. Neither a country nor an entity can stop any satellite from accessing a particular part of the space. That makes them more reliable when it comes to information than even drones are aircraft.

Satellite networks are the only option when one is in the middle of the sea or ocean. Their existence has helped in tracking the ships and boats. If one is spotted with its beacon turned off, there are high chances it belongs to illegal fishers or pirates. Immediate action is taken before something bad happens.

Others are looking for alternative habitable areas, including planets other than Earth, conducive for human life. Last but not least, it helps in identifying the number of species, especially the endangered ones. It simplifies counting.

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Space

With a second orbital test deployment, iSpace experiences a drawback

Chinese private company iSpace‘s deployment of a Hyperbola-1 rocket finished in tragic loss shortly after Monday’s liftoff from Jiuquan’s launch center. By about 3:00 a.m. Eastern, Hyperbola-1 4-stage solid rocket took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center situated in the Gobi Desert. The deployment itself was performed with no official notice or even advertisement just moments after the issuance of a navigational warning. Soon after the liftoff, clear amateur footage emerged on the Chinese social media. Later pictures show that the launch didn’t go according to schedule. However, over three hours later, the Chinese state media had not commented on the liftoff at the time of publication. After 7:00 a.m. Eastern, a terse (Chinese) news article was released.

The flight failure arose 18 months after the iSpace, with the very first Hyperbola-1 rocket, was the first predominantly private Chinese launch firm to enter orbit. Failed efforts by other Chinese companies such as Onespace and Landspace and in March 2019, as well as in October 2018, respectively, followed the achievement. Hyperbola-1 comprises 3 solid phases with the 4th stage liquid-propellant which has a length of about 20.8 meters and a mass of about 31 metric tons at the takeoff. With the liquid-propellant fourth stage, the launcher does have three solid stages. Pictures of the first as well as second Hyperbola-1 missiles show major design changes between these two launches.

For its Hyperbola rocket sequence, iSpace received $173 million in the Series B financing last year. Initiatives for an Initial Public Offering on the STAR Market (Science and Technology Innovation Board) were unveiled on Jan. 12. Following the effective deployment of Tiantong-1 (03) communications satellite as well as the Yaogan-31 (02) group of the reconnaissance satellites in January, the Hyperbola-1 mission became China’s third launch bid in the year 2021. In the second half of the year 2020, the Hyperbola-1 launch was postponed.

After a 2014 government announcement to open the launching and tiny satellite fields to the private capital, various Chinese commercial space firms have arisen. – The new firms were primarily founded by ex-employees of CASIC, CASC, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, as well as related actors from large government-owned space sector conglomerates. Companies also attracted private funding, while state-linked financial assets have also been funded in some cases. Firms have also obtained funding from massive space contractors which are owned by the state, regional as well as local government contracts as well as Military-Civil Fusion (MCF) in the mode of policy support

The MCF is a national policy that promotes the exchange of skills, capital, and technology to accelerate innovation, minimize costs and develop new supply chains. As per the Chinese data program Tianyancha, 6 billion Chinese yuan ($933 million) was invested in China’s commercial aerospace industry in 2020, up from about $296 million in the year 2019. Despite Monday’s loss, 2021 is predicted to be a major year in terms of operation for China’s latest commercial launch firms.