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,
WASHINGTON — Intelsat has abandoned plans to order a one-for-one replacement for the Intelsat-29e satellite that failed last year and will rely instead on leased capacity, a borrowed satellite, and the newly ordered Intelsat-40e spacecraft to fill a coverage gap over North and South America. Intelsat said last summer it intended to award a contract
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
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
WASHINGTON — SpaceX completed its fifth dedicated Starlink launch Feb. 17, successfully sending 60 satellites into low Earth orbit while missing what would have been the company’s 50th booster recovery. A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 10:05 a.m. Eastern from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on a mission profile that differed from past
HELSINKI — China has quietly rolled out a new Long March 7A rocket at a coastal launch site in preparation for launch of a ‘technology verification satellite’. Official acknowledgement of an mission involving the new launcher came on Feb. 12 (Chinese), but with no indication of its timeline. However images shared by Chinese space program
WASHINGTON — The Commerce Department is once again requesting a large budget increase for its Office of Space Commerce in order to work on space traffic management activities after Congress rejected a similar request last year. Parts of the department’s fiscal year 2021 budget proposal were not released with the rest of the White House’s
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
Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman will serve as the first senior enlisted advisor of the U.S. Space Force. WASHINGTON — Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman will serve as the first senior enlisted advisor of the U.S. Space Force, Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond announced Feb. 13. Towberman last year was named the senior
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,
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
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
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.
WASHINGTON — As Astra prepares for its first orbital launch attempt, the company is setting expectations accordingly and taking the long view towards its goal of frequent, low-cost access to space. The launch window for Astra’s first orbital launch from Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska now opens Feb. 25, according to a U.S. Coast Guard
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
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
WASHINGTON — Astranis, a startup satellite builder aiming to launch and operate a 350-kilogram geostationary communications satellite by year’s end, announced Feb. 13 that it raised $90 million in a debt and equity round led by Venrock and TriplePoint Capital. Astranis said it would use the new money to finish its first satellite, a broadband
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
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
SAN FRANCISCO –Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) announced plans Feb. 12 to supply its X-SAT small satellite for Made In Space’s Archinaut One on-orbit manufacturing demonstration mission. “The implications of our ability to conduct 3D printing in space are endless and we’re proud to partner with Made In Space to make this mission a reality,” George
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
WASHINGTON — Bill Gerstenmaier, the longtime head of NASA’s human spaceflight program who was reassigned last year and later retired, is now working as a consultant for SpaceX as the company prepares to being commercial crew flights. A company source, speaking on background, said Feb. 11 that Gerstenmaier is working as a consultant to the
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
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
WASHINGTON — The White House is proposing to increase NASA’s budget by more than two and a half billion dollars in fiscal year 2021, providing substantially increased funding for the Artemis program while seeking once again to cancel several science and education program. The budget proposal, released by the Office of Management and Budget Feb.
WASHINGTON — Only one of the four regional satellite operators authorized to provide C-band services in the United States, Embratel Star One of Brazil, will be eligible to receive payments as part of a spectrum clearing plan by the Federal Communications Commission. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Feb. 6 the commission would allow up to
Gen. John Raymond said recent orbital maneuvers by a Russian “inspector” satellite are concerning and threaten stability in space. WASHINGTON — The commander of U.S. Space Command and chief of the U.S. Space Force Gen. John Raymond said recent orbital maneuvers by a Russian “inspector” satellite are unacceptable and appeared to be threatening a U.S.
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
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
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.