Space

WASHINGTON — Space Adventures announced Feb. 18 that it has an agreement with SpaceX to fly a dedicated Crew Dragon mission that would send four space tourists on a mission to a relatively high Earth orbit. Virginia-based Space Adventures, best known for arranging flights of private individuals to the International Space Station on Soyuz spacecraft,
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Blue Origin formally opened a factory Feb. 17 that the company plans to use to produce engines both for its vehicles and for United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket. A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the completion of a 350,000-square-foot factory here that will produce BE-4 and BE-3U engines. The factory, built in a little
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A full moon rises behind the dome of the U.S. Capitol in 2015 in Washington. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls In a recent SpaceNews Op-ed, Louis Friedman, co-founder and executive director emeritus of The Planetary Society, argues that the U.S. should pursue “a policy more directed to Mars and away from commercial participation.” With all due respect to
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WASHINGTON — NASA’s fiscal year 2021 budget request proposes cancelling an airborne observatory, a move that has surprised many astronomers but is also not the first time the project has faced termination. The budget proposal, released Feb. 10, included the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) among the programs slated for termination. SOFIA, which received
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WASHINGTON — A Cygnus cargo spacecraft launched Feb. 15 carrying more than three tons of supplies and experiments for the International Space Station. A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket lifted off from Pad 0-A the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at 3:21 p.m. Eastern, carrying a Cygnus spacecraft on a mission designated NG-13. The Cygnus, now in orbit,
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WASHINGTON — NASA awarded a contract to Rocket Lab Feb. 14 for the launch of a cubesat mission that will serve as a precursor for the agency’s planned lunar Gateway. A Rocket Lab Electron will launch the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) satellite from the company’s Launch Complex 2 site
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WASHINGTON — The White House has added the Secretary of Energy and two other officials to the roster of members of the National Space Council. In a statement issued late Feb. 13, the White House announced that the Secretary of Energy, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and the Assistant to the President for
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WASHINGTON — DirecTV’s Spaceway-1 satellite has been retired to a graveyard orbit 500 kilometers above the geostationary arc, eliminating the risk of the malfunctioning satellite exploding in an orbit populated by active satellites.  Ground-based observations from ExoAnalytic Solutions’ network of space surveillance telescopes show that Spaceway-1 has been moved out of harm’s way and deactivated. 
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WASHINGTON — NASA is considering missions to Venus and two outer solar system moons as the next in its Discovery line of planetary science missions. NASA announced Feb. 13 it selected four finalists in the next round of the Discovery program from an unspecified number of proposals submitted last summer. Each of the mission proposals
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WASHINGTON — Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane arrived at the company’s spaceport in New Mexico Feb. 13, ready for a final series of test flights before the company starts commercial operations. The vehicle, named VSS Unity, flew from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California to Spaceport America in southern New Mexico attached to
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Sigmatech will provide “architecture and integration support for Air Force space systems and programs.” WASHINGTON — Sigmatech, a professional services firm headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, has won a five-year $74 million contract to provide expert support staff to the office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for space acquisition and integration, the company
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WASHINGTON — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has selected Astroscale to send a spacecraft into orbit to inspect a discarded Japanese rocket upper stage, a step that would pave the way for a debris-removal  mission.  The contract gives Tokyo-based Astroscale until March 31, 2023 to complete the inspection mission.  If Astroscale is awarded a
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WASHINGTON — NASA Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWit will resign from the agency this week to return to his family in Arizona and work in the private sector. In a Feb. 11 internal memo, DeWit announced he was leaving the agency, with Feb. 13 his last day. He said he has been in discussions about
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WASHINGTON — The head of Israel Aerospace Industries’ space division says he is confident the Israeli government will order more communications satellites beyond Dror-1, a national satellite it ordered last month to keep Israel’s primary spacecraft factory from going dormant.  “I am sure there will be follow-on orders,” Boaz Levy, executive vice president and general
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A space industry flush with startups and easy money struggles to tamp down all the B.S. At a meteorology conference, a space industry consultant asked if I’d heard the news. He claimed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration canceled plans to buy commercial weather satellite data. Since I hadn’t heard, I checked with NOAA officials
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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — A small launch vehicle company emerged from stealth mode this week, but is still keeping many details about its plans and capabilities behind closed doors. Astra, a company based in Alameda, California, formally announced its plans Feb. 3, an unveiling timed to the publication of a profile of the company in
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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — NASA withdrew without explanation last week a task order for its commercial lunar lander services program, frustrating many of the companies involved. According to several industry sources, NASA withdrew late Jan. 31 a task order designated 19C for the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. The task orders serve as requests
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WASHINGTON — A Federal Communications Commission plan to auction satellite C-band spectrum without waiting for legislation garnered mixed reactions from U.S. lawmakers who oversee the FCC.  On Thursday, Ajit Pai, chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, outlined the agency’s plan to commence an auction Dec. 8 to license the spectrum to 5G network operators.
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