Misc: Low-cost radar images via smallsat constellations + Aerojet’s mondaloy is special for high-temp engines + Video: Commercial crew update

NewSpace Watch
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Launch
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December 21, 2017

Low-cost synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery from SAR smallsat constellations in development could have a big impact on current earth observation markets and encourage the creation of new ones: New Low-Cost Spy Satellites Are Getting Scarily Powerful – FastCompany.

Both Finland’s ICEYE and Capella Space, based in Palo Alto, are scheduled to launch satellites next year that pack a technology called Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), a form of radar that can more cheaply scan the Earth’s surface regardless of daylight, cloud cover, or other conditions. While SAR surveillance exists today, it generally rides on satellites the size of school buses, which can revisit a particular spot on the planet’s surface only once every day or two.

But both Capella and ICEYE will put their SAR capacity on cheaply built and launched cube-shaped microsatellites measuring around two feet on a side or less. This will let them each create a constellation of dozens of satellites that can revisit nearly any spot on the planet as often as every hour. “The lowest cost and smallest SAR satellite launched so far is 100 times larger than one we are going to produce,” says ICEYE CEO Rafal Modrzewski.

For more about commercial SAR development, see our recent NewSpace Global SAR Deep Dive Report.

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Aerojet has a special alloy developed in house that might make its AR1 Kerosene/LOX engine competitive with low cost engines from Blue Origin and SpaceX: What is Mondaloy and why should you care? – SpaceNews.com

Why is Mondaloy important to AR1?

It helps us meet our affordability goals. We have this alloy that we developed in-house that has the needed characteristics: it’s compatible with the high-pressure, high-temperature oxygen and has high strength. It allows us to avoid the use of coatings, which saves weight and expense while improving safety and reliability.

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A brief video from NASA on progress by Boeing and SpaceX in commercial crew

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