The Space Resource Newsletter - April 2019

The Made In Space Optimast-SCI is a small sat based interferometer. It is autonomously built in space by a robotic in-space manufacturing and assembly system that creates the beams. Credit: Made In Space.

Welcome to The Space Resources monthly newsletter for April 2019. Hayabusa2 is still hard at work studying Ryugu, InSight detected its first possible Marsquake, Beresheet failed to land on the Moon, and many NewSpace firms are making exciting progress. We welcome all story ideas, so please contact us or reply to this email with any ideas. If you are not already subscribed to this newsletter, please consider subscribing here.


Hayabusa2 performs successful second impact on Ryugu. This second impact required the risky process of deploying an explosives laden package that fired a copper ball into Ryugu. To protect Hayabusa2 from the ejected material, it moved to the opposite side of Ryugu during the impact. Hayabusa2 has already returned to the area and captured images of the impact. The freshly exposed asteroid regolith will be sampled by Hayabusa2 within the next few weeks. This is the first time we will be able to sample newly exposed asteroid regolith, with the prior sample collected from surface material. The subsurface material may contain water bearing materials that normally sublimate when exposed to higher heats at the surface.


The NASA InSight lander detected possible Marsquake. After 128 Martian Sols on the surface, InSight’s Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument detected a tiny seismic signal thought to have originated from the planet. If verified, this would be the first time humans have recorded a seismic event on Mars. Although the signal was too faint for its origin to be determined, it provides evidence that Mars is seismically active. Studying Marsquakes will enable scientists to understand Mars’ interior and planetary evolution, including learning more about Mars’ underground aquifers.


The SpaceIL Beresheet lander crashed into Moon. Sadly, Beresheet had an engine anomaly during descent towards the lunar surface. Mission control ordered a system reboot, but the lander was descending too quickly. Beresheet would have been the first privately funded lander to touchdown on the Moon. SpaceIL has announced that they will try again, integrating valuable lessons from Beresheet into their next lander.


Made In Space developing in-orbit assembled small sat interferometer. Using an in-space manufacturing system, the Optimast-SCI (Structurally Connected Interferometer) will deploy a 10 to 50 meter boom from a 24U small sat bus. The beam is autonomously built in space by a robotic in-space manufacturing and assembly system. Mirrors at the end of each beam will reflect light to a central optics and imaging system. Interferometry allows multiple small telescopes to combine signals, effectively acting as a single large telescope.

SpaceX receives FCC permission for lower orbit of Starlink satellites. Nearly 1,600 satellites will now orbit at 550 km instead of the original 1,150 km. SpaceX indicated this change will lower the number of satellites required, decrease signal latencies to as low as 15 milliseconds, decrease interference with competitor constellations, and reduce the time required for atmospheric reentry (helping to minimize space debris). The first batch of Starlink satellites is already being processed for launch, with launch no earlier than May.

LyteLoop proposes storing petabytes within endless satellite based data loop. Using ultra-high bandwidth lasers, LyteLoop announced plans to beam data between satellites in an endless loop, enabling petabytes of data to be stored within the transmitted light beams. This is a novel use of satellites in Earth orbit, with the vast distances between satellites promising an effective system if the business and technical challenges can be solved.

Orbit Fab reveals satellite refueling connector. The Rapidly Attachable Fuel Transfer Interface (RAFTI) replaces the standard satellite fill and drain valve. RAFTI enables satellites to be refueled in orbit by providing a connection port that future refueling services could use.