The United States is on the verge of a new space age. Despite civil unrest and the continuing pandemic, the future for space exploration and development looks bright. Provided we successfully navigate the legal and economic challenges, the benefits for humanity can be enormous. Both the public and private sectors recently made bold moves. NASA
WASHINGTON — Italy is the latest country to sign an agreement to cooperate with NASA on the Artemis human lunar exploration program, although the details of Italy’s participation have yet to be worked out. In a Sept. 25 ceremony held by videoconference, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Riccardo Fraccaro, undersecretary to Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe
WASHINGTON — NASA has delayed the launch of a mission to Saturn’s moon Titan by a year, citing budget challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic. In a Sept. 25 statement, NASA said the Dragonfly mission, which had been scheduled to launch in 2026, will instead launch in 2027. The change in launch date will not
WASHINGTON — The British government, seeking a replacement for the Galileo satellite navigation system, said it will consider alternatives to an original plan to develop its own satellite constellation. In a Sept. 24 statement, the British government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said an ongoing study to examine the feasibility of a U.K.
The 18th Space Control Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base is now providing “more meaningful” data on approximately 25,000 space objects. WASHINGTON — U.S. Space Command starting Sept. 24 is providing more precise data about the location and potential interaction between objects in space, which could help predict collisions involving space junk, officials told SpaceNews. The
WASHINGTON — NASA is taking the next small step in its efforts to promote commercialization of low Earth orbit by flying a cosmetics company’s product to the International Space Station, a project that has prompted questions from one senator. Among the payloads on a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft launching to the ISS Sept. 29
WASHINGTON — Several NASA astrophysics missions in various stages of development are likely facing delays because of the coronavirus pandemic, an agency official said. At a Sept. 21 meeting of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee, Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s astrophysics division, said the agency anticipated a number of missions, big and small, will
WASHINGTON — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine urged Senate appropriators to provide full funding of Artemis as some members questioned the agency’s emphasis on its lunar exploration program. Bridenstine, testifying before the commerce, justice and science subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee Sept. 23, said that NASA needed the full $3.2 billion it requested in its
VALLETTA, Malta — The European Space Agency signed a 300-million-euro ($352 million) contract with Airbus Defence and Space on Sept. 21 to develop an ice-monitoring satellite for European Union’s Earth-observing Copernicus program. The Copernicus Polar Ice and Snow Topography Altimeter mission, or CRISTAL, is one of two Earth-observing missions Airbus was awarded this summer as
WASHINGTON — The International Space Station maneuvered to avoid a potential collision with a piece of space debris Sept. 22, an incident the head of NASA used to advocate for more funding for the agency directed to handle space traffic management. NASA announced on the afternoon of Sept. 22 that it was working with U.S.
WASHINGTON — Commercial spaceflight company Blue Origin is considering development of commercial space stations, with NASA as a potential early customer. Blue Origin posted a job opening Sept. 18 for am “Orbital Habitat Formulation Lead” at its headquarters in the Seattle suburb of Kent, Washington. That individual will be charged with leading the company’s development
The space industry has a rich history of building supply-chain relationships to deliver complex and exacting space systems. The industry is also no stranger to partnering closely with suppliers and customers, including governments, to develop and deliver new technology and advance the art of the possible. However, while public-private partnerships are getting a lot of
SAN FRANCISCO – Radar satellite operator Iceye raised $87 million in a Series C round announced Sept. 22, boosting the Finnish startup’s total investment tally to $152 million. “We’re grateful to have closed a great round,” Mark Matossian, Iceye US CEO, told SpaceNews. “Now, we can stand on the accelerator.” With the Series C round
The contract is to upgrade and expand the Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance System that track objects in geostationary orbits. WASHINGTON — L3Harris Technologies received a $119.1 million contract to upgrade and expand the network of U.S. military telescopes known as the Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance System that track objects in geostationary orbits. The
WASHINGTON — Arianespace and OneWeb on Sept. 21 announced a revised launch contract that covers OneWeb’s constellation deployment with three fewer launches than originally planned. Arianespace will conduct 16 Soyuz launches for OneWeb, each carrying 34-36 satellites, to complete OneWeb’s internet megaconstellation by the end of 2022. The revised contract canceled two Soyuz launches, and
WASHINGTON — NASA’s inspector general warned in a recent report that the agency’s planetary science division was taking “undue risk” in its current approach to a commercial lunar transportation program. The Office of Inspector General (OIG), in an audit of the agency’s planetary science division released Sept. 16, highlighted several issues with the Commercial Lunar
A secure system that allows troops at the tactical edge to communicate securely The U.S. Space Force acquires, operates and maintains a constellation of Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellites that are reserved for strategic, high-priority military missions, providing secure, jam-resistant communications. While tactical military forces do use AEHF, its primary mission is to provide 100% assured
“China’s Space Narrative” was released Sept. 17 by the U.S. Air Force Air University’s China Aerospace Studies Institute and the CNA nonprofit research center. WASHINGTON — A new study by the U.S. Air Force’s university think tank confirms the widely held view that China’s anti-satellite weapons pose a national security threat to the United States.
To receive FIRST UP Satcom, a weekly SpaceNews newsletter for satellite and telecom professionals, sign up here. TOP STORIES French propulsion startup Exotrail has signed two contracts with the European Space Agency for its smallsat electric propulsion technology. Under the first contract, Exotrail said it will “accelerate the qualification and flight demonstration” of its 150-Watt ExoMG-Micro thruster.
WASHINGTON — Astranis, a startup developing small geostationary satellites, has brought onboard former NASA administrator Dan Goldin as an adviser. Astranis announced Sept. 17 that Goldin will chair the company’s new technical advisory board, and recently oversaw the critical design review of the company’s first satellite ahead of a mid-2021 launch. In an interview, Astranis
WASHINGTON — “We couldn’t believe they went so fast,” Telesat executive Don Brown said of the Space Development Agency’s first major contract award for 20 satellites. Brown, general manager of government services for the Canadian communications satellite operator Telesat, said he and many colleagues in the space industry expected that the SDA would take years
New Space has for the last decade challenged the established design rules for spacecraft, and proved that is it possible to design and launch small spacecrafts at a fraction of the cost of traditional designs. OneWeb being one of the pioneers challenging the established supplier base using new thinking to drive down the cost and
VALLETTA, Malta — Launch startup PLD Space of Spain raised 7 million euros ($8.2 million) this week from Madrid-based investment bankers Arcano Partners to continue development of its Miura family of partially reusable rockets. PLD Space spokeswoman Lorena Santos said Sept. 17 the new investment will allow the Elche, Spain-based company to add at least
WASHINGTON — A smallsat mission to study the atmosphere of Mars is looking for a new ride after being removed as a secondary payload on the launch of a NASA asteroid mission. The Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers, or EscaPADE, mission, was one of three smallsat missions selected by NASA in 2019 for
WASHINGTON — As a new venture proposes to send the winner of a reality show to the International Space Station, some investors see a stronger business case for a future commercial space station. A television production company, Space Hero LLC, announced Sept. 17 that it was planning a “global, unscripted casting show” called “Space Hero”
WASHINGTON — The NASA directorate responsible for human spaceflight efforts has completed a long-anticipated internal reorganization intended to better align activities ranging from the International Space Station to Artemis. At a Sept. 16 Washington Space Business Roundtable webinar, Kathy Lueders, who took over as NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations three months ago,
WASHINGTON — Intelsat has signed a satellite contract with Maxar Technologies, placing the final order in a one-time surge in manufacturing deals triggered by the Federal Communications Commission’s upcoming C-band spectrum auction. Maxar will build the Intelsat-37 communications satellite at its Palo Alto, California, factory on a 1300-class platform, Intelsat said Sept. 17. Intelsat-37 is
WASHINGTON — The longtime president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is stepping down next month to become an executive with one of the organization’s member companies. The CSF announced Sept. 17 that Eric Stallmer will leave the organization in late October to become executive vice president for government relations and public policy at Voyager
Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach: “Yes, I am absolutely in favor of more space-based ISR.” WASHINGTON — Pacific theater Air Force commander Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach said one of the items on his wish list are low-orbiting surveillance satellites to help track targets on the ground, at sea and in the air. “Yes, I am absolutely in favor
WASHINGTON — The lunar lander under development by Dynetics for NASA’s Artemis program will make use of in-space refueling of cryogenic propellants and require three launches in quick succession, company officials revealed. In a Sept. 15 webinar held by Dynetics in cooperation with the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics, the company discussed the overall
WASHINGTON — Despite the successful demonstration of a launch to polar orbit from Cape Canaveral, the U.S. Space Force doesn’t foresee shifting launches to those orbits there from Vandenberg Air Force Base. At a Sept. 14 meeting of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC), Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt, director of operations
Raymond: “One of the really big issues is the dollars that are transferring from the Air Force to the Space Force that can’t officially move over in a CR.” WASHINGTON — Congress is expected to pass a continuing resolution to fund the federal government when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. An extended CR
SpaceNews is seeking an experienced reporter to join our team of award-winning journalists to cover key developments in the commercial space sector. The ideal candidate will have at least 10 years of journalism experience and a demonstrated track record covering the intersection of politics and business in a technology-driven field. SpaceNews is based in the Washington,
WASHINGTON — The discovery of a molecule in the atmosphere of Venus associated with life could boost the prospects for both government and private missions to the planet. In a paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy Sept. 14, a group of astronomers reported the discovery of the molecule phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus.
WASHINGTON — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine suggested Sept. 14 that NASA would be open to sending the first Artemis human landing mission to a location other than the south pole of the moon. In remarks at an online meeting of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG), Bridenstine said there could be benefits to sending a
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WASHINGTON — The House is slated to pass a space weather bill this week, culminating a five-year effort to turn a put elements of a space weather strategy and action plan into law. A schedule released Sept. 11 by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) listed the Promoting Research and Observations of Space Weather to
Sen. Cramer: The Space Force caucus will provide an avenue to craft bipartisan legislative ideas. WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of U.S. senators announced they have formed a Space Force Caucus to help the new military branch advance issues on Capitol Hill. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) will chair the group.
WASHINGTON — The Japanese space agency JAXA announced Sept. 11 that the first launch of the country’s new H3 rocket will be delayed to no earlier than the spring of 2021 because of problems with the rocket’s main engine. JAXA said that the first flight of the rocket is now scheduled for some time in
WASHINGTON — United Launch Alliance is looking at a three-core version of its Vulcan Centaur rocket, although an executive said that such a vehicle is “pretty far out on the horizon.” In a Sept. 9 keynote at the Secure World Foundation’s Summit for Space Sustainability online conference, Mark Peller, vice president of major development at
HELSINKI — Launch of a Kuaizhou-1A satellite carrying a remote sensing satellite ended in failure following liftoff from Jiuquan Saturday. The Kuaizhou-1A solid rocket lifted off from a transporter erector launcher at Jiuquan in the Gobi Desert at 01:02 a.m. Eastern Saturday. Amateur footage of the apparent launch appeared on Chinese social media shortly after.
WASHINGTON — Astra launched its Rocket 3.1 vehicle late Sept. 11, but the flight ended during the small launch vehicle’s first-stage burn. The rocket lifted off from Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska on Kodiak Island at approximately 11:20 p.m. Eastern, according to a series of tweets by the company, which did not provide live video of
While ULA builds the Atlas 5 for NROL-101 it also is working to get NROL-44 launched on a Delta 4 Heavy. WASHINGTON — United Launch Alliance has begun assembling the Atlas 5 rocket that will launch a classified spy satellite sometime before the end of the year, the company said Sept. 11 via Twitter. The
WASHINGTON — Virgin Orbit has asked OneWeb’s bankruptcy court to require OneWeb pay $46.3 million on a contract termination fee for 35 LauncherOne missions it canceled in 2018. Virgin Orbit sued the megaconstellation startup 15 months ago over a 2015 launch contract that called for 39 LauncherOne missions, with options for 100 more. OneWeb canceled
WASHINGTON — NASA is offering to buy lunar samples collected by companies for a token sum primarily to set a precedent for space resource rights on the moon. In a solicitation issued Sept. 10, NASA requested quotations from companies willing to go to the moon and sell between 50 and 500 grams of lunar rocks
Raytheon is one of several major defense contractors selected by the U.S. Air Force for the program known as “defense experimentation using commercial space internet.” WASHINGTON — Raytheon Technologies on Sept. 10 received a $13 million contract to test the use of commercial space internet services on military aircraft. Raytheon is one of several major
WASHINGTON — One of the two co-founders of launch vehicle company Relativity Space is stepping down as the company’s chief technology officer to create a new startup. In a series of tweets Sept. 9, Jordan Noone announced he was transitioning from chief technology officer to “executive advisor” at Relativity “in preparation for starting my next
VALLETTA, Malta — QuadSAT, a Danish startup that tests and calibrates antennas using quadcopter drones as stand-ins for satellites, announced Sept. 10 that it raised 2 million euros ($2.35 million) in a Pre-Series A investment round as it prepares to productize its technology. QuadSAT plans to use the money to fuel its pivot from traveling