Space

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 — Rocket Lab successfully launched a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office Jan. 30 in the first of up to a dozen launches planned by the company this year. Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket lifted off from the company’s launch site on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula at 9:56 p.m. Eastern. The launch, dubbed “Birds
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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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WASHINGTON — DirecTV’s Spaceway-1 satellite, which suffered a battery malfunction last month that could still cause it to explode, is moving out of geostationary orbit and away from other satellites, ground-based observations show.  Spaceway-1 began relocating Jan. 29, two satellite trackers told SpaceNews, and is continuing to raise its altitude to a “graveyard orbit” about
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WASHINGTON — Maxar Technologies on Jan. 31 announced a $142 million NASA contract to demonstrate in-space assembly using a robotic arm.  Maxar said the contract will take its Dragonfly robotics program, which started in 2015 as a DARPA study, and pair it with Restore-L, a refueling spacecraft the company is building for NASA.  Dragonfly has
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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 — Comtech is acquiring Gilat Satellite Networks for $532.5 million, a move the company says will position it to capitalize on large anticipated demand for new ground segment infrastructure. Melville, New York-based Comtech Telecommunications Corp announced the Gilat acquisition Jan. 29, the same day it said it would also buy antenna builder CGC Technology Limited
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WASHINGTON — The House space subcommittee approved a NASA authorization bill Jan. 29 that has attracted criticism from NASA and some in the space industry, although members said they plan to continue to refine the bill. The space subcommittee of the House Science Committee approved H.R. 5666, the NASA Authorization Act of 2020, on a
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SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Air Force awarded contracts to Applied Technology Associates and Teledyne Brown Engineering to manufacture satellite instruments to detect Energetic Charged Particles (ECPs). The Air Force awarded a $5 million contract to Applied Technology Associates of Paso Robles, California, to assemble a sensor developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory. The
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WASHINGTON — A report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office Jan. 28 concluded it was unlikely that NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will launch on schedule next March, with a delay of several months possible. The GAO report, the latest in an annual series on the progress NASA is making on the flagship space observatory,
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WASHINGTON — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine expressed reservations Jan. 27 about a NASA authorization bill introduced in the House last week that he fears could constrain the agency’s approach to human space exploration. Bridenstine’s concerns about the NASA authorization act, introduced Jan. 24 by the bipartisan leadership of the House Science Committee and its space
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WASHINGTON — Vector, the launch vehicle and smallsat technology company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December, announced Jan. 24 it is proceeding with plans to sell its satellite technology to Lockheed Martin or another bidder. Vector announced that Lockheed Martin has agreed to purchase Vector’s “GalacticSky” software-defined satellite technology for $4.25 million as
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WASHINGTON — NASA has selected acting directors at two of its field centers to take those positions on a permanent basis. NASA announced Jan. 23 that Dennis Andrucyk, who has been acting director of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland since Dec. 31, will now take the job on a full-time basis, effective immediately.
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Getting the Space Force right and creating the first new U.S. armed service in more than half a century will be a herculean task. Uniforms and insignia must be chosen, logos created, and detailed organizational structures and diagrams established. While such trappings and baselines for the new service is necessary, however, they are insufficient to
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WASHINGTON — The battery malfunction that put DirecTV’s Spaceway-1 satellite at risk of exploding has a “very low likelihood” of occuring on other satellites, according to the satellite’s manufacturer, Boeing.  Spaceway-1 was the first of three virtually identical Spaceway satellites built by Boeing and launched between 2005 and 2007. AT&T subsidiary DirectTV owns Spaceway-1 and
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