Marubeni enters cooperation with satellite propulsion engine manufacturer

Marubeni forms alliance with Phase Four, which develops small satellite propulsion engines.

Space Four, a space venture that develops and manufactures  thrusters for small satellites, has entered into a financial agreement with Marubeni and has signed an exclusive distributor / sales contract in Japan for a small thruster named “Maxwell”. 

Maxwell is a turn-key electric propulsion solution for next generation small satellites. It includes proprietary RF thruster, power electronics, 1 kg xenon propellant tank (and control system), and flight software.

It offers satellites 90 degrees phase change up to 33 times and lifetime at 350 km altitude of 150 months.

Phase Four is a space venture founded in Los Angeles in 2015, developing small thrusters using high-frequency radio technology. The company’s Maxwell realizes drastic simplification of thruster design, shortened manufacturing period, high performance and high reliability.

Japanese trading house Marubeni aims to be a solution provider that supplies all the functions necessary for launching and operating small satellites. Marubeni is expected to promote the development of various businesses utilizing small satellites and supplying them with Maxwell propulsion engines.

Northrop Grumman acquires additional funding from US Military for Satellite Development

Northrop Grumman has announced that it has received additional funding from the US Air Force for the development of a missile-warning satellite to be introduced into polar orbit. The total amount of funds raised is expected to be at $ 2.37 billion.

In 2018, the US Air Force has selected Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin as the main contractors for the development of the next generation planned early warning satellite. Northrop Grumman won the $ 47 million contract in August 2018 and embarked on a satellite design. This additional funding seems to be aimed at accelerating satellite development.

The Space and Missile System Center of the US Space Force launches the next-generation OPIR (Overhead Persistent Infrared) satellite in 2025, and aims to complete five satellite constellations by 2029. This constellation is intended to provide early warning of ballistic missile attacks against the United States and its allies.

It is important to pay attention on how existing space companies will be involved in enhancing the US Space Force operational capacities

Rwanda approves a bill to establish the Space Agency

On May 18, it was revealed in a Cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Gakame that the bill for establishing the Rwanda Space Agency was approved. According to Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT Innovation, the Rwanda Space Agency is set to open in July 2020.

The Rwanda Space Agency’s main activities include supporting agricultural efficiency, environmental monitoring, disaster management, and satellite-based urban planning. The country has already used satellite data for census, city planning, land management, etc., but there seems to be an urgent need to accumulate knowledge on space technology.

Rwanda signed a space cooperation agreement with JICA and JAXA in May 2018. Received training on manufacturing small satellites and started training engineers and launching space programs in Rwanda. The country’s first satellite “RWASAT-1” was launched in November 2019 by a Rwandan engineer trained in Japan with the full support of the University of Tokyo.

In January 2019, Rwanda announced a long-term space program aimed at developing national space technology and promoting research and development. Furthermore, in June 2019, the country applied for membership in the United Nations Commission on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and became the 93rd member state. From Africa, 19 countries with Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa among them are the members.

Australian Department of Defense and Gilmour Space Technologies forms partnership

The Australian Department of Defense has announced a strategic partnership with Gilmour Space Technologies , a venture company that manufactures and develops small rockets .

It will support research related to defense such as propulsion systems, materials, and electronic equipment mounted on aerospace vehicles, as well as the development of hybrid rockets that can transport satellites and observation equipment.

Gilmour Space aims to become a launch-ready company in Australia since its establishment in 2013, and plans to launch its first commercial transportation service in 2022. In cooperation with the government they aim to raise funds and hire 50 new employees.

“This partnership has opened the door for Australian space companies to serve military and commercial customers,” said Defense Minister Melissa Price.