Hello NewSpace News (NSN) Readers,

2015 was a heck of a year! We sifted through all the NSN 2015 issues, and there was a lot that we covered. In many of the months, we had trouble fitting everything in and had to limit the articles and topics to the most significant ones. But now our team has also grown over the past year to six members so we can cover everything that's going on. It is indeed an exciting time to be involved in the space industry. Here's our Top 10 of 2015. Please enjoy!

Ad Astra,
Curtis and the NSN Team
#1  Reusable Rockets
NSN declares 2015 as the Year of the Reusable Rockets. There is still more development needed before they become operational, but this holds the potential of drastically reducing the cost of space access, which will open new doors for development, exploration, business, and eventually, settlement. Since announcing the Grasshopper project back in 2011, SpaceX has developed their re-ignitable engines, landing legs, fins, and barge, and in 2015, they attempted two landings of  the Falcon 9R first stage on a barge at sea and finally succeeded to land on the ground on December 21, 2015 at Cape Canaveral. Blue Origin was also successful in flying their New Shepard rocket to above 100 km on  November 23, 2015. ULA has announced its new Vulcan rocket which will have a recoverable first-stage propulsion unit. Reaction Engines' SABRE engine development continues to hold promise of enabling single stage to orbit.
#2 MadeInSpace
MadeInSpace sent the first 3D printer into space and onto the International Space Station. This technology brings sophisticated manufacturing capability to the frontier's edge where it is difficult to deliver parts and goods. This first printer was an experiment that printed test parts, and it also printed a handy ratchet that was emailed to the ISS. Although many of the achievements were accomplished at the end of 2014, NSN celebrates the successful completion of the experiment and the feat. MadeInSpace also received Space Frontier Foundation's Award for " Vision to Reality" for accomplishing what they set out to do. They're now working on a robot that prints in free space called the Archinaut.
# 3 The Martian
Andy Weir’s "The Martian" and its subsequent film set a new record for a story on space travel and habitation in 2015. The film alone grossed nearly $600 million at the box office, but its greatest legacy may be changing our understanding of what is scientifically accessible for humans in space. (Click here for 9 technologies in "The Martian" that NASA states as currently real.) Regardless, there’s little doubt this film, with the support of others like "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," has reignited an interest and curiosity in our hearts surrounding the idea of space travel and habitation for our species. (Andy was also the keynote speaker at the NewSpace 2015 conference gala and the recipient of Space Frontier Foundation's Award for " Best Representation of Space".)
#4 Commercial Crew
Both SpaceX and Boeing made strides in the Commercial Crew Program last year. SpaceX successfully completed their pad abort test - a major safety milestone. Boeing has begun constructing their CST-100 structural test article, as well as important ground facilities such as the crew access tower. So far, NASA has placed three orders to ferry astronauts to the ISS, one from SpaceX and two from Boeing. The commercial crew program guarantees at least two orders a piece, with the option for up to six. The first crew delivery launch is tentatively scheduled for late 2017.
#5 U.S. Congress Gets Behind Space
The U.S. Congress passed two laws in 2015, as well as supported a new NASA budget that further encourage the public and private sectors to continue their development in Space. The U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (SPACE ACT) promotes space launches to be contracted with commercial entities, while the Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act claims any asteroid resources obtained by a commercial entity are entitled to and property of that entity. It further mentions that public agencies are directed to discourage government barriers and allow these commercial entities to act freely in the transfer and sell of these resources. Lastly, President Obama and the U.S. Congress have allotted $18.5 billion to the NASA budget for 2016 to further advance space exploration and technologies.
#6 Pete Worden Leaves NASA Ames
Dr. Simon P. Worden (Brig. Gen., USAF, ret.) was the center director of NASA Ames Research Center from 2006 to 2015. During his nine year tenure, he has been instrumental in turning the center into hub for small satellite innovation, supercomputing research, and building the bridge between NASA and startups of Silicon Valley. He has been a long-time supporter of doing things differently, including the current wave of NewSpace, but he did so while holding public positions. The fact that he retired from NASA for a private sector job as the Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation signifies the changing times.
#7 OneWeb

Although broadband internet services running over GEO satellites already exist, today's web is primarily run on a fiber-optic infrastructure. However, the new constellation of satellites to be placed into LEO can change this completely. A startup satellite Internet service provider, OneWeb, intends to launch 720 small satellites into LEO for a global Ku-band broadband connectivity business. Ten initial test satellites to be built by Airbus Defense and Space in France will be launched atop Soyuz rockets in late 2017 whereas the operational satellites will be manufactured in US and will be placed into orbit starting in 2018. The company already leased its new office space outside Washington, D.C., But OneWeb may not be alone. SpaceX is upping the ante in the race by planning to launch 4000 satellites over the next five years, beginning in 2017. SpaceX will have the advantage to both build and launch the satellites itself (aka, the constellation will be the biggest customer for the company's Falcon rockets) which will further take the launch costs down. Other LEO internet constellations will possibly follow in the upcoming years.

#8 Remote Sensing
The remote sensing market exploded in 2015, with launches and investments rolling in all year long. The veteran constellation builder, Planet Labs, rebounded quickly from the 2014 loss of Antares, which included 26 of their satellites. To date the company has launched 101 satellites, and as of October, has raised $183 million. Toronto-based UrtheCast (UC) is also bringing home the bacon, with a net $106 million generated from financing activities as of September. UC has been putting their hard-earned money to work, purchasing Deimos Imaging in June for $84 million. Both companies plan to sell earth imagery data as a service. The new kid on the block, Black Sky Global (BSG), has ambitious plans to image the entire earth every day. BSG has raised $28.5 million thus far, and expects to launch its first six satellites in 2016.
#9 Small Launchers

There have been more than 25 ongoing launcher projects dedicated for small satellites as of 2015, but some of them are getting pretty close to their testing phase. New Zealand company Rocket Lab's carbon-composite Electron rocket is designed to launch 150 kg of payload into a 500 km sun synchronous orbit (SSO). The company has started building its launch pad near Gisborne, New Zealand, and the construction is expected to be completed early 2016. In its maiden flight planned for 2017, Electron will be carrying a CubeSat under NASA's VCLS contract. The Haas 2C launch vehicle, under development by Arca Space Corporation, is a two-stage system fueled with liquid oxygen and kerosene. Arca selected Spaceport America as their launch site and launch activities are scheduled to start in 2016. Virgin Galactic's air-launched LauncherOne rocket will be using a Boeing 747 aircraft as its first stage, and it will be capable of placing 200 kg payloads into SSO. In 2015, the company established a manufacturing facility at Long Beach Airport and signed a contract with OneWeb for 39 satellite launches. Once the carrier aircraft is modified to carry the rocket under her wing, the first LauncherOne flight is planned for the end of 2017. Interorbital Systems are developing Neptune rocket family which will be assembled from identical Common Propulsion Modules (CPM). The N5 launcher will consists of five CPMs and will be able to lift a 30 kg payload to a circular polar orbit of 310 km. The first orbital launch is scheduled for late 2016. Some other players in this emerging market are Firefly Space Systems, Celestia Aerospace, Swiss Space Systems, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Generation Orbit Launch Services, and Garvey Spacecraft Corporation, which are planning to hold their maiden launch in a two year time frame.

Commercial companies and satellites dominate Earth's orbit, but they have yet to reach the Moon. The Google Lunar XPRIZE is about to change that, and many teams have made significant progress this past year. 2015 kicked off with five teams winning a total of $5.25 million for accomplishing their milestones. Another big announcement was the extension of a competition to the end of 2017. So far, SpaceIL and Moon Express have signed contracts to go to the Moon. As the competition intensifies, new partnerships ( Astrobotic+Hakuto) and sponsors ( Audi) have been formed as well. We don't expect any launches this year, but teams looking to win should be darn close!
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