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 — 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 — 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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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 — 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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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
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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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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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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
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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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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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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
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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
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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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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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,
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