The Pentagon’s overseers in Congress have been consistently critical of how the military acquires space hardware. Frustration with space procurements was in fact one of the catalysts for the creation of the U.S. Space Force. Satisfying congressional demands for a revamped space acquisition process will now fall on President-elect Joe Biden’s Pentagon team. Earlier this
WASHINGTON — Voyager Space Holdings, a company that has acquired several space ventures, is taking a majority stake in commercial space station company Nanoracks, the two firms announced Dec. 23. Voyager announced it would take a majority stake in XO Markets, the parent company of Nanoracks. The companies did not disclose terms of the agreement.
VALETTA, Malta — Through a novel approach to testing, the European Space Agency’s Clean Space initiative is assisting in the development of satellite components that are designed for demise, an approach to satellite development that advocates for the safe disposal of spacecraft by destructive atmospheric reentry. The ESA Clean Space initiative was launched in 2012
Space Development Agency spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said in a statement Dec. 22 that the agency is “expeditiously implementing its corrective action plan for the Tracking Tranche 0 solicitation.” WASHINGTON — Companies that competed earlier this year for Space Development Agency satellite contracts awarded to L3Harris and SpaceX were asked to resubmit their proposals following several
WASHINGTON — An upgraded upper stage for the Space Launch System rocket has passed a major review, allowing its prime contractor, Boeing, to start producing hardware. Boeing announced Dec. 21 that the Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) of the SLS completed a critical design review with NASA. That review confirmed the design of the EUS, allowing
HELSINKI — China successfully carried out a first launch of the new Long March 8 medium-lift rocket late Monday, marking a small step towards Chinese rocket reusability. The 50.3-meter-long, 356-ton Long March 8 lifted off at 11:37 p.m. Eastern Dec. 21 from the coastal Wenchang launch site carrying five satellites into Sun-synchronous orbits. Launch was delayed
The acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne will be the first test case of how the Biden administration views defense and aerospace industry consolidation. WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin CEO Jim Taiclet said he expects the U.S. government to approve the company’s proposed $4.4 billion acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne despite concerns that it could reduce competition in the
SAN FRANCISCO — Viasat Inc. announced an agreement Dec. 21 to acquire Houston-based communications firm RigNet Inc. in an all-stock transaction with a value of approximately $222 million based on Viasat’s current share price and RigNet’s debt. RigNet has particular expertise in the energy sector, a vertical market of interest to Viasat, which is preparing to
WASHINGTON — An independent investigation of a Vega launch failure in November confirmed that misconnected cables in the rocket’s upper stage doomed the mission and made recommendations to allow a return to flight in early 2021. The European Space Agency announced Dec. 18 it had completed an investigation, jointly conducted with Arianespace, into the Nov.
James Taiclet, Lockheed Martin’s president and CEO, said the acquisition gives the company a larger footprint in space and hypersonic technology. WASHINGTON — The largest U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin announced Dec. 20 it has inked a deal to acquire rocket engine and missile manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne for $4.4 billion. James Taiclet, Lockheed Martin’s president
New Long March 8 expected to be vehicle for testing state-owned vertical landing and reuse plans. HELSINKI — China has rolled out a Long March 8 to the pad for the first launch of a rocket that will later be adapted for vertical landing and reuse. The Long March 8 was vertically transferred to the
WASHINGTON — OneWeb resumed deployment of its broadband satellite constellation with a Dec. 18 launch of 36 satellites, the first since the company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A Soyuz-2.1b rocket lifted off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia at 7:26 a.m. Eastern. The rocket’s Fregat upper stage released the 36 satellites in nine sets
WASHINGTON — NASA is moving ahead with work on a pair of Mars sample return missions, although some in the planetary science community worry how the cost of that effort will affect other projects. NASA announced Dec. 17 that it approved moving the Mars Sample Return (MSR) program into Phase A of development, working on
A Falcon 9 carrying the NROL-108 mission lifted off at Dec. 19 at 9:00 a.m. Eastern from Space Launch Complex 39 at Kennedy Space Center. WASHINGTON — A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched a classified mission for the National Reconnaissance Office Dec. 19. It was the company’s 26th and final launch of 2020. The Falcon 9
WASHINGTON — The Senate unanimously approved a NASA authorization bill Dec. 18, a largely symbolic move intended to set up work on a new version of the legislation next year. The Senate passed by unanimous consent S. 2800, the NASA Authorization Act of 2019. The bill had been awaiting action by the full Senate since
The Space Force says Guardians is a “name with a long history in space operations.” WASHINGTON — The members of the U.S. Space Force finally have a name: Guardians. Vice President Mike Pence revealed the name Dec. 18 at a ceremony at the White House for the Space Force’s one-year anniversary. “Henceforth the men and
WASHINGTON — NASA will not repair a faulty electronics unit on the Orion spacecraft recently completed for the Artemis 1 mission after concluding there was sufficient redundancy in the overall system. In a Dec. 17 statement, NASA said it had decided to “use as is” one of eight power and data units (PDU) on the
Tory Bruno said he is confident that Vulcan and first customer — Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander — will be on the launch pad “by the end of next year.” WASHINGTON — United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket will be ready to launch its first mission in late 2021, CEO Tory Bruno said Dec. 17.
WASHINGTON — NASA has added New Glenn, the large launch vehicle under development by Blue Origin, to the list of vehicles eligible to compete for future agency missions. NASA announced Dec. 16 it awarded a launch services contract to Blue Origin, adding New Glenn to its NASA Launch Services (NLS) 2 contract vehicle as part
SAN FRANCISCO – Shey Sabripour was first exposed to active phased array antennas while designing satellites at Lockheed Martin in the early 1990s. At the time, engineers spent three to five years building a geostationary communications satellite that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to perform a specific job. If that job was broadcasting television
SAN FRANCISCO — AST & Science LLC announced plans Dec. 16 to become a publicly traded company through a special purpose acquisition company. In what is becoming a trend in the industry, AST & Science is merging its business with New Providence Acquisition Corp. as it prepares to trade on the Nasdaq exchange in the
WASHINGTON — Amazon has tested what it describes as a low-cost flat-panel antenna for use with its Project Kuiper constellation, an innovation that could be essential to the long-term success of satellite broadband. Amazon announced Dec. 16 that it developed a Ka-band phased-array antenna that is much smaller and less expensive that traditional antennas that
WASHINGTON — The Italian government has ordered two additional Cosmo-SkyMed radar imaging satellites from Thales Alenia Space and tapped Telespazio to upgrade the constellation’s ground segment under a contract announced Dec. 15. The Italian Defense Ministry and Italian Space Agency (ASI) are funding the project, which provides synthetic aperture radar imagery to miltiary and civilian
SAN FRANCISCO – Satellite data could play a role in monitoring, reporting and verifying compliance with emissions trading systems also known as cap and trade, Stephanie La Hoz Theuer, a member of the International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP) Secretariat, said at the virtual American Geophysical Union fall meeting. ICAP is an international forum based in
WASHINGTON — Small launch vehicle developer Astra Space fell just short of reaching orbit on its second launch attempt Dec. 15, but the company is “beyond ecstatic” with the performance of the rocket. Astra’s Rocket 3.2 vehicle lifted off from Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska at 3:55 p.m. Eastern. The company did not provide a
SpaceX’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase 1 award is big, but the impact on its overall Starlink broadband business will be modest. Picking up $885.5 million out of $9.2 billion in broadband subsidies over a 10-year period is no small feat, especially for a first-time participant in U.S. Federal Communications Commission auctions. SpaceX’s award
WASHINGTON — NASA has selected three astronauts for a future SpaceX commercial crew mission to the International Space Station as it leaves open the possibility of exchanging seats with Russia. NASA and the European Space Agency jointly announced Dec. 14 they had assigned NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer
The satellites Blue Canyon developed for DARPA — based on the company’s commercial X-STAR bus — passed a critical design review. WASHINGTON — Small satellite manufacturer Blue Canyon Technologies has been cleared to produce its first two satellites for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Blackjack program, the company announced Dec. 14. DARPA plans to
The SpaceNews Awards celebrate excellence and innovation in the global space industry. Past winners include U.S. Space Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell, ESA Director General Jan Woerner and many more. The 2020 SpaceNews Awards are given to organizations, programs and people with demonstrable achievements in the space
JOHANNESBURG — The European Space Agency has finalized a €167 million ($200 million) contract with Thales Alenia Space Italy and Avio to deliver Space Rider — Europe’s first robotic orbital spaceplane — in time for a mid-to-late 2023 launch atop an expendable rocket. Under the contract signed Dec. 9 in Rome, Thales Alenia Space Italy
WASHINGTON — A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched a new spacecraft for satellite radio company SiriusXM Dec. 13 as the company nears the end of a record-setting year. The Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 12:30 p.m. Eastern. SpaceX scrubbed a previous launch attempt two days
The bill is now headed to the president desk. Trump has said he will veto the NDAA because it does not repeal Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Act. WASHINGTON — The Senate on Dec. 11 voted 84-13 to pass the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, adopting the compromise defense policy bill by a large
SAN FRANCISCO – As the combined mass of satellites in orbit climbs, research is needed to better understand the environmental impact of the portions of satellites and launch vehicles that eventually reenter Earth’s atmosphere, according to an Aerospace Corp. poster presented at the virtual American Geophysical Union fall meeting. The Aerospace Corp. included a model of
WASHINGTON — Three small launch vehicle developers won a combined $16.7 million in NASA contracts as part of an effort to support the development of new launch vehicles. Astra Space, Firefly Aerospace and Relativity Space won the contracts through NASA’s Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) 2 program, the agency announced Dec. 11. The companies will
WASHINGTON — Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo aborted an attempted suborbital spaceflight Dec. 12 from Spaceport America in southern New Mexico. Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo aircraft, carrying the SpaceShipTwo vehicle named VSS Unity by the company, took off from Spaceport America in southern New Mexico at 10:24 a.m. Eastern. Piloting SpaceShipTwo were Dave Mackay, the company’s chief test
A challenge for the Space Force is to bring a sense of urgency and vision to its acquisition programs. The U.S. Space Force on Dec. 20 marks its first birthday. The service overall has moved forward at remarkable speed organizing a brand-new military branch — something that hasn’t been done in over 70 years. As
SAN FRANCISCO – Researchers seeking to improve space weather forecasting need detailed information on the impact of previous space weather events from airplane, power grid and satellite operators, according to a panel of experts speaking at the virtual American Geophysical Union fall meeting. “One of the impediments to being able to do good space weather
Satellite firm’s funding round caps a year of growing Chinese space industry investment alongside cooperation agreements between space companies and local governments. HELSINKI — Chinese remote sensing company Changguang Satellite has secured $375 million for its constellation of optical Earth observation satellites. Changguang Satellite Co. Ltd., a commercial offshoot of the state-owned Changchun Institute of
WASHINGTON — The latest in a series of delays in a test campaign for the core stage of the Space Launch System now leaves “very little margin” in the schedule for its launch next November, NASA managers said Dec. 10. NASA had planned to conduct a test known as a “wet dress rehearsal” of the
The survey was conducted by the Government Business Council and satellite operator ViaSat. WASHINGTON — A survey of military organizations reveals that many don’t have access to modern technologies to communicate and share data despite growing availability of commercial satellite services. Participants said the Defense Department and the U.S. armed forces are not taking advantage
WASHINGTON — Launch integration company TriSept has purchased a launch from Relativity Space that it plans to use for a smallsat rideshare mission as soon as 2022. TriSept announced the contract Dec. 10 for a launch of Relativity’s Terran 1 rocket no earlier than 2022. The launch will take place either from Cape Canaveral Space
WASHINGTON — NASA has selected a team of astronauts who will be eligible for future Artemis missions to the moon even as the prospects of a 2024 crewed landing continue to dim. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced at the Dec. 9 meeting of the National Space Council at the Kennedy Space Center that the agency
WASHINGTON — SpaceX performed the first high-altitude test flight of a prototype of its Starship launch vehicle Dec. 9, with the vehicle successfully lifting off the pad but exploding when attempting a landing several minutes later. The Starship SN8 vehicle lifted off from SpaceX’s test site at Boca Chica, Texas, at approximately 5:45 p.m. Eastern.
SAN FRANCISCO – Dawn Aerospace announced Dec. 9 that it received approval from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to begin flying the Dawn Mk-II Aurora, a 4.8-meter-long test vehicle the company developed as part of its campaign to develop a spaceplane to conduct multiple daily flights from conventional airports. “The challenge of getting
“Austin is a trusted, trailblazing leader who brings deep experience serving as a top military commander and in critical Pentagon roles,” Biden said in a statement. WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday will formally introduce his pick to be the next secretary of defense — retired U.S. Army four-star general Lloyd Austin. Biden and
The overwhelming vote is more than the two-thirds majority needed to thwart a presidential veto. WASHINGTON — The House on Dec. 8 approved the conference report of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 by a vote of 335 to 78. Next comes a Senate vote this week and a likely presidential veto.
SAN FRANCISCO – Electro Optic Systems (EOS) of Australia formed SpaceLink, a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary to provide data-relay services for satellites in low Earth orbit and named former OneWeb Vice President David Bettinger as its chief executive officer. “We are developing and implementing a commercial, medium Earth orbit data-relay service to provide direct access
Tom Russell, interim CEO of Millennium Space Systems, said the technology is a possible solution to the growing problem of orbital debris congestion. WASHINGTON — Boeing subsidiary Millennium Space Systems announced Dec. 7 that an experiment launched to space last month will show a small satellite can safely deorbit in about 45 days. Two Millennium
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