Space 

SpaceX and customers defend Falcon 9 performance after Zuma mission

WASHINGTON — SpaceX reiterated at a congressional hearing Jan. 17 that its Falcon 9 rocket performed as expected on its most recent launch, despite swirling questions about the potential failure of the classified Zuma mission. SpaceX, though, now has the support of the customer for its next commercial launch, who said it was “confident” that SpaceX would be ready for the late January mission. In a tweet Jan. 17, SES said it reviewed data from the Jan. 7 Falcon 9 launch of Zuma and concluded that the vehicle had performed…

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Space 

Effective Space signs first contract for satellite life extension services

WASHINGTON — Effective Space, a U.K.-headquartered company developing spacecraft to extend the life of communications satellites, announced Jan. 17 that it has signed its first contract with an undisclosed customer. Effective Space said the contract, with a “major regional satellite operator,” covers the launch of two of its Space Drone satellite life extension vehicles in 2020, which will dock with two of the customer’s existing satellites to provide stationkeeping and attitude control capabilities. The company said the multi-year contract has a total value of more than $100 million. In an…

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Space 

Ariane 5 down to two dozen launches before Ariane 6 takes over

WASHINGTON — European launch provider Arianespace expects to conduct just 23 more Ariane 5 launches before the next-generation Ariane 6 becomes its primary rocket. The final Ariane 5s will launch between 2020 and 2022, overlapping with the first three years of Ariane 6 missions. Arianespace ordered the final 10 Ariane 5 boosters Jan. 9, placing a billion-plus euro contract with ArianeGroup to build the rockets while spinning up the first Ariane 6 rockets. Currently a mainstay of the space launch sector, the Ariane 5 has launched 96 times since debuting…

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Space 

Cambodia to buy Chinese satellite as relations tighten on Belt and Road Initiative

WASHINGTON —  China Great Wall Industry Corp. landed a new satellite order Jan. 11 on the back of a bilateral meeting between Chinese and Cambodian officials that included an agreement to increase trade between the two countries. The Chinese satellite manufacturer inked a “framework agreement” with the Royal Group of Cambodia, an investment firm with companies in transportation, telecommunications and other fields, to build and launch a communications satellite called Techo-1. CGWIC will also provide the launch, ground systems, arrange insurance and facilitate technology transfer for its Cambodian customer. The…

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Space 

Camera focus shift won’t affect TESS mission

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Scientists are confident a focus issue discovered last year with an upcoming NASA exoplanet mission won’t affect its ability to meet its goals. NASA confirmed last July that the focus in the four cameras on the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) would drift once the cameras cool after launch to operating temperatures. At the time, the agency said that it believed that the issue would not be a major issue for the mission, although other astronomers expressed concern it could affect the spacecraft’s ability to detect…

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Space 

SN Military.Space | What happened to Zuma? – Budget standoff continues – Big week for Orbital ATK

You’re reading the SN Military.Space newsletter we publish Tuesdays. If you would like to get our news and insights for military space professionals before everyone else, sign up here for your free subscription.  Hot Topic: What happened to Zuma? Something appears to have gone seriously wrong with the secret government mission, code-named Zuma, that SpaceX launched Sunday night. Exactly what, however, is far from clear. But if SpaceX keeps launching in the days and weeks ahead, we will be fairly sure Falcon 9 isn’t to blame for what went wrong. The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed…

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Space 

Intelsat begins Galaxy fleet refresh with Orbital ATK satellite order

WASHINGTON — Satellite fleet operator Intelsat kicked off the beginning of a partial constellation replenishment focused on replacing the company’s Galaxy line of satellites with a Jan. 8 order to Orbital ATK for the Galaxy-30 satellite. Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital ATK will build Galaxy-30 in anticipation of an early 2020 launch with a yet-to-be-named launch provider. In a prepared statement, Intelsat’s senior vice president of space systems Ken Lee said the Galaxy-30 satellite “will be the 11th satellite Orbital ATK has built for Intelsat, and represents the first satellite in the…

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Space 

Orbital ATK lands second Intelsat satellite servicing deal

Orbital ATK’s Tom Wilson: ‘We’ve got interest from across the industry in additional vehicles’ WASHINGTON — Orbital ATK almost two years ago struck a groundbreaking deal with Intelsat to add years of service life to an aging communications satellite. The companies on Thursday announced they are solidifying their partnership with a second contract to service another satellite. Orbital’s first “mission extension vehicle” known as MEV-1 is scheduled to launch later this year on a Proton rocket from International Launch Services. In a vote of confidence, Intelsat has signed an order…

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Space 

Avanti tallies $114.1 million in impairment charges for Hylas-1 and 2 satellites

GLASSBORO, New Jersey— Avanti says the evolution of high-throughput satellites are outpacing the company’s satellite fleet, making it difficult to secure business with the Hylas-1 and Hylas-2 broadband satellites. The British satellite operator recorded a $53.3 million impairment charge on the seven-year old Hylas-1 spacecraft and a $60.8 million impairment charge on the five-year old Hylas-2, blaming falling capacity prices and the finite lifespans of both assets for limiting their competitiveness and value. The amount for both adds up to $114.1 million. Avanti reported $56.6 million in revenue for its…

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Space 

NASA selects comet and Titan missions as New Frontiers finalists

DENVER — NASA has selected missions to return samples from a comet and to explore Titan with a drone as finalists for the next New Frontiers medium-class planetary science mission. The two missions, selected from a pool of 12 proposals and announced by NASA Dec. 20, will receive funding for additional studies through 2018 before NASA picks one of them in the spring of 2019 for full development and launch in 2025. One, called Comet Astrobiology Exploration SAmple Return, or CAESAR, would visit the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and collect a sample…

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