WASHINGTON — After fraying relations in recent years, officials with the European Union and European Space Agency say they’re committed to rebuilding a more cooperative relationship on space programs. At the 13th European Space Conference Jan. 12, Thierry Breton, commissioner for the internal market at the European Union, extended an olive branch to ESA, saying
WASHINGTON — Google announced Jan. 21 it is shutting down Loon, a venture to provide wireless connectivity by balloon that has been seen as both complementary to and competitive with satellite networks. In a blog post, Astro Teller, head of X, the advanced projects or “moonshot factory” division of Google parent company Alphabet, announced that
As Joe Biden begins the first year of his presidency, there is still much we don’t know about where he and his vice president, Kamala Harris, stand on major issues in civil and national security space. The pandemic and economic recovery are sure to drive Biden’s initial agenda. There are, nonetheless, several key space issues
WASHINGTON — The European Commission announced Jan. 20 it will award contracts to Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space to build an initial set of next-generation Galileo navigation satellites, shutting out incumbent manufacturer OHB. Airbus and Thales will each build six of the second-generation Galileo satellites under contracts that will be formally signed
WASHINGTON — Earth observation company Satellogic announced Jan. 19 it signed a contract with SpaceX covering several rideshare launches of its satellites through next year. The multiple launch services agreement makes SpaceX Satellogic’s preferred provider for launching its constellation of microsatellites, after previously relying on Chinese, European and Russian vehicles, including a launch of 10
David Zikusoka will serve as special assistant at the office of the assistant secretary of defense for space policy. Leonor Tomero will be deputy assistant director for nuclear and missile defense programs. WASHINGTON — David Zikusoka, aerospace research fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, will serve as special assistant at the office
WASHINGTON — Jim Bridenstine used part of his final full day as NASA administrator to call on the incoming administration to continue the Artemis program and return humans to the moon. A Jan. 19 briefing on the Green Run static-fire test of the Space Launch System three days earlier became an opportunity for Bridenstine, who
Austin: “If confirmed, I will ensure the space domain is carefully considered across the range of upcoming strategic reviews.” WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for defense secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers Jan. 19 that China is the United States’ “most concerning competitor” and in written testimony identified space as a growing national security concern.
WASHINGTON — A static-fire test of the Space Launch System core stage ended early Jan. 16 when a hydraulic system for one its four engines hit an “intentionally conservative” limit during the test. In a Jan. 19 statement, NASA said the hydraulic system for Engine 2 on the core stage “exceeded the pre-set test limits
SAN FRANCISCO – Aurora Insight, a Denver startup that gathers data on terrestrial and satellite communications, plans to launch the first of two cubesats on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare mission scheduled for liftoff Jan. 21. Satellite manufacturer NanoAvionics built the six-unit cubesats, Bravo and Charlie, and integrated them with Aurora Insight sensors. “We deploy
WASHINGTON — NASA officials expressed confidence that a key test of the Space Launch System scheduled for Jan. 16 will go well, keeping open the chances that the vehicle will make its long-delayed debut before the end of the year. NASA has scheduled a full-duration static-fire test of the SLS core stage at the Stennis
COVINGTON, La. — Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket reached orbit on its second flight Jan. 17, demonstrating the performance of the air-launch system after years of development. The company’s Boeing 747 aircraft, called Cosmic Girl, took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California at 1:38 p.m. Eastern with the LauncherOne rocket attached. The
WASHINGTON — Broadband satellite company OneWeb announced Jan. 15 it has raised $400 million from SoftBank and Hughes Network Systems, allowing the company to continue deployment of its constellation. The new round includes $350 million from SoftBank, who was the biggest shareholder in OneWeb before it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2020. The
Space Policy Directive-7 highlights the United States’ ever growing dependence on space-based positioning, navigation and timing. WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Jan. 15 issued a policy memo focused on the United States’ dependence on the Global Positioning System and the need to prepare for a day when GPS might not be available. A constellation
BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. — NASA performed a hotfire test of the core stage of the Space Launch System Jan. 16, but the stage’s four main engines shut down a little more than a minute into a test designed to last eight minutes. The core stage ignited its four RS-25 engines at 5:27 p.m. Eastern
The uncomfortable truth now facing the space community, in the days after the horrific events at the Capitol Jan. 6, is that some of the most prominent Republican supporters of space in Congress are on the wrong side of history. The U.S. Capitol is seen in this Maxar Technologies satellite image the day after a
WASHINGTON — After nearly two years of struggles, NASA has abandoned efforts to deploy a heat flow probe on its InSight lander into the surface of Mars. In a Jan. 14 statement, NASA said that a final effort to hammer the “mole” into the surface of Mars Jan. 9 failed to make any progress. The
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Federal Communication Commission’s C-band auction of 280 megahertz of C-band has raised nearly $81 billion and it’s not quite over. Still to come is the assignment phase, where companies awarded spectrum blocks bid for frequency-specific licenses. Prior to the auction, companies struggled to put a price tag on the bandwidth.
The Space and Missile Systems Center delayed the award to further evaluate a court judgment against NSTXL. WASHINGTON — National Security Technology Accelerator (NSTXL) on Jan. 15 received a contract to manage the U.S. Space Force’s Space Enterprise Consortium for the next 10 years. The Space and Missile Systems Center intended to award the contract
WASHINGTON — Blue Origin flew a new model of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle Jan. 14, a flight the company says brings it “really close” to finally flying people. The New Shepard vehicle lifted off from Blue Origin’s West Texas test site at 12:17 p.m. Eastern. The vehicle’s crew capsule, separating from its booster about
“The DoD space industrial base remains a niche market with very specialized and capital-intensive requirements.” WASHINGTON — U.S. military satellites and missiles continue to rely on customized hardware and niche components that are no longer manufactured domestically, the Pentagon said in a report to Congress released Jan. 14. These programs need to invest in new
CASC announces successful tests of a range of liquid and solid rocket engines for future projects, commercial actors look to reusability HELSINKI — China’s space contractor has announced progress on rocket engines designed for major space missions, including a new engine for future lunar missions. The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) announced Jan.
The future headquarters will have approximately 1,400 military and civilian personnel. WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, was picked as the future location of U.S. Space Command’s headquarters. Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett announced the decision Jan. 13. The selection of Redstone Arsenal is a huge win for Huntsville, nicknamed “Rocket
WASHINGTON — SpaceX secured contracts Jan. 13 for the launches of a commercial lunar lander mission backed by NASA as well as a privately funded satellite to track methane emissions. Intuitive Machines announced that it selected SpaceX for the launch of its IM-2 lunar lander mission on a Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than 2022.
WASHINGTON — Blue Origin is gearing up for the next test flight of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle as soon as Jan. 14. Temporary flight restrictions published by the Federal Aviation Administration Jan. 12 will close airspace above Blue Origin’s West Texas test site from Jan. 14 through Jan. 17, from 9:45 a.m. to 4
Three of the 2021 launches planned from Florida’s Space Coast will be NASA human spaceflight missions — two by SpaceX and one by Boeing. WASHINGTON — As many as 53 space missions are projected to lift off in 2021 from Florida’s Space Coast, the vice commander of the 45th Space Wing said Jan. 12. “We
The NGA and NRO are stepping up research to better understand the emerging commercial geospatial intelligence market. WASHINGTON — The private sector is coming out with new geospatial intelligence products and services faster than the government can figure out how to buy them. That means analysts need ways to procure commercial geoint “at a moment’s
WASHINGTON — Less than a month after issuing a policy directive on space nuclear power, the White House released an executive order Jan. 12 seeking to promote the development of small nuclear reactors for space and defense applications. The executive order, “Promoting Small Modular Reactors for National Defense and Space Exploration,” includes separate directions for
SAN FRANCISCO – Iceye is preparing to send three Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites into orbit on the SpaceX Falcon 9 small satellite rideshare mission scheduled for launch Jan. 21. With the upcoming launch, Iceye seeks to expand its constellation to include six SAR satellites. “We are excited to start 2021 with the launch of
SAN FRANCISCO – NOAA’s National Satellite, Data and Information Service is recommending flying three satellites over the United States in the satellite constellation that will follow the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R Series (GOES-R). In addition, to operating satellites in orbits similar to those of the current GOES East and GOES West satellites, NOAA recommends
WASHINGTON — Intelsat has ordered two geostationary communications satellites from Airbus Defence and Space that will support the satellite operator’s aviation connectivity business. The companies announced Jan. 8 the order of two spacecraft from Airbus’ OneSat family of fully reconfigurable geostationary satellites. The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal beyond starting the
China’s human spaceflight agency is also soliciting proposals for low-cost cargo transportation to orbital outpost HELSINKI — China is preparing to launch three major missions in the next few months to initiate the construction phase of the country’s space station project. The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) is finalizing work on rockets which
WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission will allow SpaceX to launch 10 Starlink satellites into polar orbit on an upcoming mission, but deferred a decision on a much broader modification of SpaceX’s license. In an order published Jan. 8, the FCC granted SpaceX permission to launch 10 Starlink satellites into a 560-kilometer orbit with an
WASHINGTON — NASA has selected four small astrophysics missions for further study, although the agency cautions that not all may ultimately be flown. NASA announced Jan. 7 it selected three smallsat missions and one high-altitude balloon mission as the first in its new Astrophysics Pioneers program. The program, established last year, is intended to support
The European Space Agency (ESA) signed a nearly €296 million ($362 million) contract with Thales Alenia Space Jan. 7 to build a European module for NASA’s lunar Gateway space station. JOHANNESBURG — The European Space Agency (ESA) signed a nearly €296 million ($362 million) contract with Thales Alenia Space Jan. 7 to build a European
Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond announced the service has stood up the U.S. Space Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Enterprise to support the intelligence community. WASHINGTON— The U.S. Space Force on Jan. 8 officially became the 18th member of the U.S. intelligence community. The addition of the Space Force to the intelligence community
WASHINGTON — The outgoing director general of the European Space agency announced Jan. 8 that he will step down at the end of February, four months ahead of schedule. In a blog post, Jan Wörner announced that, after consultation with the chair of the ESA Council, Anna Rathsman, he will resign at the end of
WASHINGTON — The head of Arianespace asked European governments to provide his company with more support in order to balance what he called government support of American competitors “with no precedent.” At a Jan. 7 press briefing, Stéphane Israël, chief executive of Arianespace, said the company completed 2020 with revenues of about one billion euros
WASHINGTON — A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched a Turkish communications satellite Jan. 7 to start what may be the busiest year yet for the launch company. The Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 9:15 p.m. Eastern, more than 45 minutes into a four-hour launch window.
SDA statement: “The reevaluation confirmed the original selection decision that the SpaceX and L3Harris Technologies’ proposals offered the best value to the government.” WASHINGTON — Following a series of contract protests, the Space Development Agency again awarded SpaceX a $149 million contract and L3Harris a $193.5 million contract to each build four satellites to detect
WASHINGTON — In-space transportation provider Momentus is delaying its first operational mission, which was to fly on a SpaceX Falcon 9 later this month, because of delays completing an interagency review. In a Jan. 4 statement, Momentus said the flight of its first Vigoride tug, which was to be part of the payloads on a
The ability to “characterize threats” is a major challenge for the U.S. Space Force, said Maj. Gen. Leah Lauderback. WASHINGTON — China is developing satellites with robotic arms that could be deployed as space weapons. To prepare for the possibility that U.S. satellites might be targeted, the Space Force needs tools to identify whether a
Adm. Charles Richard said the Pentagon has to continue to invest in the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, a new intercontinental ballistic missile to replace the Minuteman 3. WASHINGTON — The commander of U.S. Strategic Command Adm. Charles Richard said the Pentagon has to procure a new intercontinental ballistic missile and updating Cold War-era missiles is
WASHINGTON — NASA plans to complete the Green Run test campaign for the Space Launch System core stage with a hotfire test scheduled for mid-January. NASA announced Jan. 5 that it has scheduled the static-fire test, where the core stage’s four RS-25 engines are fired for a full-duration burn of 493 seconds, for no earlier
WASHINGTON — Virgin Orbit has rescheduled its second orbital launch attempt for Jan. 10 as another small launch vehicle company, Rocket Lab, announces plans for its first launch of 2021. Virgin Orbit announced Jan. 5 that the second flight of its LauncherOne air-launch rocket is now scheduled for Jan. 10 between 1 and 5 p.m.
SAN FRANCISCO – Delta Air Lines announced plans Jan. 5 to turn to Viasat for in-flight Ka-band connectivity for passengers flying in more than 300 of the carrier’s mainline narrow-body aircraft. The announcement, which Delta says will lay the groundwork to make in-flight internet fast and free, covers new deliveries and retrofits of Airbus A321ceo,
WASHINGTON — SpinLaunch expects to perform the first suborbital tests of a prototype of its centrifugal system for launching small satellites later this year from New Mexico. The company, based in Long Beach, California, has said little about its efforts to develop a mass accelerator that would, in effect, serve as the first stage of
SAN FRANCISCO – Chinese startup Spacety released the first images from Hisea-1, a C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite, launched Dec. 22 on China’s new Long March 8 medium-lift rocket. Three days after launch, Spacety began receiving data from Hisea-1’s SAR payload built by the China Electronics Technology Group. On Dec. 27, Spacety acquired its