CubeSats drive commercial space race – an annotated infographic

CubeSats are ultra-small spacecraft weighing 1.3kg or less. Most CubeSats piggyback to orbit on big, expensive rockets – but affordable rocket technology is launching a new generation of space start-ups. In the past satellites have been built and launched by multibillion-dollar companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Orbital Sciences Corporation. That began to change in January 2014 when Orbital’s Cygnus spacecraft carried 33 nanosatellites to the International Space Station, ISS. These tiny satellites, built to the CubeSat standard format — a 10cm cube weighing 1.3kg or less — were launched from the ISS a month later. Since 2014 more than … Continue reading CubeSats drive commercial space race – an annotated infographic

Norway aerospace company plans test flight of hybrid rocket propulsion system – an annotated infographic

Norway-based aerospace company Nammo plans to conduct the first test flight in 2016 of a hybrid rocket propulsion system aimed at powering a low-cost, next-generation orbital launch system. Click on the graphic for an expanded view. Continue reading Norway aerospace company plans test flight of hybrid rocket propulsion system – an annotated infographic

Super-duper weather observation satellites ready to track and map the world’s weather – an annotated graphic

Weather enthusiasts the world over, especially those unfortunate souls that found themselves living on a flood plain during the very wet start to 2014 in the UK, will be delighted to learn of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Mission. Uniting a constellation of nine Earth-observing satellites, the GPM Mission will create global weather maps every three hours. The Core Observatory will take detailed measurements of rain and snowfall and is equipped with a dual-frequency precipitation radar and a microwave imager, allowing scientists to see inside clouds and measure the rate of precipitation. All the data being gathered and analysed will … Continue reading Super-duper weather observation satellites ready to track and map the world’s weather – an annotated graphic

NASA to launch twin satellites for nine-month moon study mission – an annotated graphic

They’re as busy as ever over at NASA. As if the SLS wasn’t enough, it has also been announced that the US space agency plans to launch two spacecraft on a nine-month mission to map the moon’s gravity field. The aim of all this is to improve our knowledge of the moon’s interior and its evolution.  Naturally, such an expedition deserves a snappy acronym, so the two spacecraft are collectively known as the Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory – or GRAIL – satellites. God speed, heavenly bodies. Click on the graphic for an expanded view. Continue reading NASA to launch twin satellites for nine-month moon study mission – an annotated graphic