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,
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 — 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
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 — 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 — 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 — 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 — 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
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
Northrop Grumman won a $253.5 million payload development contract under the Protected Tactical Satellite Communications program. WASHINGTON — Northrop Grumman was awarded a $253.5 million contract by the U.S. Space Force to develop a cyber-secure communications payload that could be deployed on a military or commercial satellite. The U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems
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
National Guard officials said a Space National Guard should be established as soon as possible as a reserve component to the U.S. Space Force. WASHINGTON — National Guard leaders are openly questioning the Defense Department’s decision to stand up a U.S. Space Force without defining the role the National Guard will play in supporting the
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 — 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
Congress approved $148 million for the Consolidated Space Operations Facility. WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s budget request for fiscal year 2021 includes $88 million to complete the construction of a Consolidated Space Operations Facility at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. The CSOF was requested two years ago by the U.S. Air Force Space Command and U.S.
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 — 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.
Updated 8:35 p.m. Eastern with new launch date. WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. — A technical issue scrubbed a scheduled Feb. 9 launch a Cygnus cargo mission to the International Space Station as NASA is considering changes to the schedule of future cargo missions and science activities on the station given uncertainties about the size of the
WASHINGTON — An Atlas 5 successfully launched a European-led solar science mission Feb. 9, the latest effort in what scientists are calling a “golden age” for studying the sun. A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 411 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 11:03 p.m. Eastern. The Solar Orbiter spacecraft
The April launch will be SpaceX’s second GPS 3 mission WASHINGTON — The third satellite of the GPS 3 constellation arrived Feb. 5 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, where it will undergo final testing and checkout before its scheduled launch in April aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The GPS 3 satellite was
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
The RAND Corp. will identify commercial technologies that the Space Force could put into use as well as the potential risks. WASHINGTON — The two-star general in charge of strategic requirements for the U.S. Space Force is overseeing a study that will examine the capabilities of the commercial space industry. The study was commissioned in
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
Reusability efforts and Starlink are two sides of the same coin This article originally appeared in the Dec. 23, 2019 issue of SpaceNews magazine. SpaceX’s technical validation of reusable rockets has opened new horizons for the launch sector while inciting the firm’s competitors to invest in technological innovation as a means to fight market share
WASHINGTON — Boeing will reverify all the software on its CST-100 Starliner commercial crew spacecraft after an ongoing investigation found “numerous” problems in the original development process that allowed at least two major problems to escape detection. In a call with reporters Feb. 7, NASA and Boeing officials said they had made no decisions about
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.
HELSINKI — China’s space industry is suffering adverse effects from the coronavirus outbreak which has so far infected mare than 30,000 in mainland China. The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the country’s state-owned main space contractor, has resumed a degree of launch vehicle production activities following the Chinese New Year holiday. However the
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – The current and former directors of the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency (SDA) have differing views of congressional direction to move SDA under the U.S. Space Force. “Eventually, the Space Development Agency will report to the U.S. Space Force,” SDA Director Derek Tournear said Feb. 6 at the SmallSat Symposium. “That’s the
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — A NASA safety panel is recommending a review of Boeing’s software verification processes after revealing there was a second software problem during a CST-100 Starliner test flight that could have led to a “catastrophic” failure. That new software problem, not previously revealed by NASA or Boeing, was discussed during a Feb.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — SpaceX disclosed new details about its small satellite rideshare efforts Feb. 5 as it, and other programs like it by large launch vehicle operators, put new pricing pressure on small launch vehicle companies. SpaceX updated the website for its smallsat rideshare initiative, including creating an online booking system. Customers can see
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Finnish startup Aurora Propulsion Technologies signed a contract at the SmallSat Symposium to fly a deorbiting technology demonstration on a Momentus Space Vigoride mission. Aurora plans to send a 1.5-unit cubesat into orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in December 2020 before riding with Momentus’ Vigoride service to sun-synchronous orbit.
To receive FIRST UP Satcom, a weekly SpaceNews newsletter for satellite and telecom professionals, sign up here. TOP STORIES The Guiana Space Center is preparing for the first launch of Europe’s Ariane 6 rocket. Spaceport staff rolled the Ariane 6 mobile gantry out to its prelaunch position over the launchpad in July and December. The gantry, used
The NTS-3 satellite developed by L3Harris for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory has passed a preliminary design review. WASHINGTON — An experimental navigation satellite being developed by L3Harris for the U.S. Air Force has passed a preliminary design review, clearing the way for the program to move forward, the company announced Feb. 5. The
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — NASA awarded a contract to SpaceX Feb. 4 for the launch of an Earth science mission that has successfully staved off cancellation several times. NASA announced it selected SpaceX to launch the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) spacecraft on a Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in December 2022. The
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The management of NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, facing dwindling cost reserves while still years away from launch, is looking at cost saving options that would preserve the mission’s science. In a Feb. 3 presentation at a meeting of the Outer Planets Assessment Group in Houston, Jan Chodas, project manager for Europa
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Space propulsion startup Accion Systems has raised $11 million in a new round of funding designed to allow the company to increase production of its electric thrusters for smallsats. The Boston-based company said Feb. 4 that Boeing HorizonX Ventures and Shasta Ventures co-led the Series B round. Both companies are returning
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — An independent review has concluded that NASA and other agencies have generally done a good job implementing the most recent decadal survey for space physics, despite funding for such programs that was lower than predicted. The report by a National Academies committee, released Feb. 3, offered a midterm assessment of the
Once again, U.S. policy for human spaceflight is under debate. As reported by SpaceNews, the House Science Committee is pushing a policy more directed to Mars and away from commercial participation. That is sensible if you believe that the purpose of human spaceflight is exploration and that its rationale is geopolitical. That has been true
WASHINGTON — Blue Origin will perform tests of the engine it is developing for its Blue Moon lunar lander at a U.S. Air Force Research Lab test site, the two organizations announced Jan. 27. AFRL and Blue Origin signed a 15-year cooperative research and development agreement, or CRADA, Dec. 11, regarding testing of Blue Origin’s
Test flight for low Earth orbit space station to also demonstrate deep space crewed mission capabilities. HELSINKI — The first flight model of a rocket designed to launch modules for a Chinese space station is set to arrive at Wenchang spaceport for a crucial test mission. The Long March 5B launch vehicle — including a
WASHINGTON — NASA plans for the first time to allow researchers to fly with their payloads on commercial suborbital vehicles, ending years of debate and deliberation. NASA released Jan. 29 a draft solicitation seeking payloads for its Flight Opportunities program, which provides rides for such payloads on high-altitude balloons, parabolic aircraft flights and commercial suborbital
WASHINGTON — The head of the Commerce Department office with the mandate, but not the money, for civil space traffic management says he hopes the recent near-miss involving two satellites will help provide more attention to the issue. In an on-stage interview at the 23rd Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference here Jan. 30, Kevin O’Connell,