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White House Announces $50 Million Investment in Smallsats

By | October 14, 2016
      LightSail Students Testing - ELaNa XI NASA

      Students testing the Planetary Society’s lightsail satellite. Photo: The Planetary Society/NASA

      [Via Satellite 10-14-2016] The United States executive branch has announced an investment of more than $50 million for small satellite technologies. The White House announcement came as part of the Frontiers Conference that President Barack Obama hosted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania yesterday.

      The White House said federal agencies will announce investments and new steps they will take to advance the small-satellite technology in the coming weeks. These investments are to promote the increased adoption of smallsats for commercial, scientific, and national security needs. As part of this initiative, NASA will invest $30 million to support public-private partnership opportunities that allow for Earth science observations from constellations of commercial small spacecraft. The White House also shared that the value of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s data purchase agreement with smallsat startup Planet is $20 million for imagery from its constellation of cubesats.

      President Obama is also enacting a new executive order to coordinate efforts to prepare the United States for space-weather events. He signed the order yesterday, which aims to minimize economic loss and save lives by enhancing national security, identifying successful mitigation technologies, and ordering the creation of nationwide response and recovery plans and procedures.

      Last year the U.S. government released a National Space Weather Strategy and an accompanying Action Plan describing how the federal government would coordinate the efforts of federal agencies. The executive order aims to enhance the scientific and technical capabilities of the United States, including improved prediction of space-weather events and their effects on infrastructure systems and services.