Space has become a testing area for Earth-bound industries. In this 11th issue of DirectIndustry e-magazine, we present some of the most striking industrial space spin-offs, demonstrating how space technology is making industrial life better and more efficient back on Earth.
Our journalists also take you on an exploratory tour of the Mars Rover, Curiosity. Check our infographics to learn more about the advanced technologies that were assembled for the rover’s special mission of the century.
Everyday life is full of objects that originated in space: The composite structures on commercial aircraft flying today, UV-blocking sunglasses and shock-absorbing footwear were all first created for the space shuttle. Smartphone technology also comes from space—it was work done at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory...
Curiosity landed on Mars in August 2012 for a special mission: scouring the red planet for any sign of water and life, which it successfully did. Several companies were involved in the project in collaboration with various international space agencies. They developed advanced technologies able to withstand extremely harsh conditions. This infographic presents some of those innovations.
Putting a satellite into space will soon cost €9 million or less thanks to Virgin Galactic, whose liquid-fuelled LauncherOne starts its journey cradled beneath a Boeing 747-400. DirectIndustry e-magazine spoke to Will Pomerantz, Vice President, Special Projects at Virgin Galactic about how this technical achievement could transform the business of smallsat launch.
The Cosmic Girl
Virgin Galactic—best known for its ambition to become the Earth’s first “spaceline”—plans to use a 747-400 (nicknamed Cosmic Girl) recently retired from Virgin Atlantic’s fleet to air-launch the company’s two-stage rocket from 10,000 meters. For Pomerantz, the price of a 200 kg launch will begin at €9 million.
“LauncherOne is custom-built for launching smaller satellites, from 400 kg down to 2 kg, into a standard sun-synchronous orbit.“
Orbital ATK’s three-stage Pegasus rocket can place 600 kg in orbit from a Lockheed Martin L-1011 airplane, but flights cost a whopping €45 million.
“For the same money, companies could launch their small satellites from LauncherOne three, four or even five times.“
Newton Defies Gravity
To date, Virgin Galactic has been little more than a brand, subcontracting manufacture of its SpaceShipTwo spacecraft to Scaled Composites, and its hybrid propulsion system to Sierra Nevada Space Systems.
However, the expendable LauncherOne rocket is being designed and built in-house and is powered by its own rocket engines, called Newton.The RP-1 kerosene and supercooled liquid oxygenfuel, known for its stability and safety, also powers Soyuz rockets taking astronauts to the International Space Station.
Released from under the wing, the LauncherOne will fire its NewtonThree, a 335-kilonewton thrust engine. After three minutes, fuel is exhausted and the first stage separates. The second stage NewtonFour 22-kilonewton engine then carries the payload into orbit. Test flights are planned for late 2016, and orbital launches from 2017.
Courtesy of Virgin Galactic
A Space Industry Buzz
The main impetus behind LauncherOne was Virgin Galactic’s many orders for small satellite launches that it can’t fill using planned SpaceShipTwo test flights.
“NASA is a customer of ours. It’s already purchased a LauncherOne flight to do small satellite science.“
GeoOptics, Spaceflight Inc., Skybox and Planetary Resources also have signed up for launches. But the biggest LauncherOne deal is with OneWeb, a project to put a constellation of 700 satellites in near-Earth orbit to provide affordable, high-speed, satellite-based Internet (see our article The Conquest of Space Awakens published in December 2015). OneWeb—whose investors include the Virgin Group, as well as Qualcomm, Airbus, Coca-Cola, Intelsat and Hughes Network Systems—will deploy its first 39 satellites using LauncherOne.
“There’s an option for 100 more, but even without it, it’s one of the largest satellite orders on the books.“
NASA also has smallsat launch contracts with Firefly Space Systems, Rocket Lab USA, but there’s space industry buzz around LauncherOne. Sierra Nevada Space Systems and Surrey Satellite Technology are already constructing satellite buses around LauncherOne’s design, but with a bigger payload. Either way, it seems as if Virgin Galactic’s rocket tech could soon launch it into a lucrative new business.
At Ecomondo, the Italian company Eurven, specialized in the research, design and manufacture of systems for reducing waste, showcased OILMATIK 500, a new machine for collecting and recycling used vegetable oil.
An innovative, patented sensor in the machine detects a frequency wave which recognizes different kinds of cooking oil. It uses an algorithm to compare the liquid’s characteristics to pre-established parameters to determine whether it is waste cooking oil or another substance.
Eurven’s Carlo Alberto Baesso:
“It is the first solution of its kind—a recycler that recognizes automatically, thanks to the analysis of the chemical formula by an innovative sensor, if you have entered cooking oil or other liquids and separates them into different sectors, to ensure collection quality. The oil collected is then sent to the recycling phase, resulting in a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions during waste handling.”
Eurven’s innovation comes from a concrete observation, as Mr. Baesso explains:
“Waste cooking oil is not a biodegradable food. If it reaches the water table, it can render the water non-potable or cause damage to the operation of water treatment plants. It shouldn’t be dumped in the sink or the garbage can, but should be taken to a collection center.”
Driving With Oil
One of the possible applications of recycled oil is as biodiesel. Mr. Baesso emphasizes its economic benefit:
“Easy to handle, vegetable cooking oil is worth about 50 cents per liter. If you calculate its cost as at 1.30 to 1.50 euro, it is a real resource.”
The machine was developed by Baytom, a Turkish company, and has already been distributed in the country. Eurven plans to continue development and distribute it under license in the Italian market.
Institutional clients—schools and large public utilities—are among those interested in this new-gen recycling. These include Hera (Emilia Romagna), Ama (Rome), Contarina (Treviso) and A2A (Milan). Private companies such as Dolomia and Ferrarelle have also responded positively.
Following the Path of Differentiated Incentive
Eurven follows a concept called recycling incentives. In this system, the user receives something (a new product, a discount, a credit in a local business network) in exchange for virtuous recycling behavior. The company is no using 2Pay, an app that works a bit like a “WhatsApp for payments.” Participants get one euro for the first bottle and one cent for each additional bottle deposited at an eco-compactor.
During last week’s Las Vegas electronics show, the Wi-Fi Alliance presented Wi-Fi HaLow, an energy-efficient connectivity solution for Wi-Fi products. It complements existing Wi-Fi technologies, and is intended for areas where sensors and wearable devices require low-power connectivity, including smart cities and industrial environments.
Its range is twice that of normal Wi-Fi thanks to frequency bands below one gigahertz (900 MHz vs. the 2.4 GHz standard). This enables it to transmit signals farther, but also offers power efficiency. Wi-Fi HaLow also ensures connection in difficult environments, for example by penetrating walls more easily.
Wi-Fi HaLow will also find applications in the IoT, as its devices support existing Wi-Fi protocols, such as IP-based connectivity, to link to the cloud. In addition, thousands of devices can connect to a single access point.
Camille Rustici is a Video Journalist and the Editor-in-Chief for DirectIndustry e-magazine. She has years of experience in business issues for various media including France 24, Associated Press, Radio France…