Air Force looking how to “progress forward” after BE-4 testing incident, official says

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An Air Force acquisition official said the service is looking how to “progress forward” on engine development after a BE-4 testing incident.

Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch said Monday that he was aware of last month’s setback by Blue Origin, which said it lost a set of engine powerpack hardware during a test.

He said he was working with the Space and Missile Systems Center “to figure out how to progress forward” on efforts to develop a replacement for the RD-180 engine, work that includes funding of another engine, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AR1, as well. [Investor’s Business Daily]


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India is basking in the successful first launch of its largest rocket to date. The Indian space agency ISRO said the GSLV Mark 3 rocket operated as planned, releasing the GSAT-19 satellite into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) about 16 minutes after liftoff Monday. The GSLV Mark 3 can place up to 4,000 kilograms into GTO, mch more than earlier versions of the rocket. The rocket could also be used for a future Indian human spaceflight program, although there is no major effort currently underway by ISRO to launch humans into space. GSAT-19, weighing 3,166 kilograms at launch, carries a Ka- and Ku-band high-throughput payload. [PTI]

Ahead of its merger with MDA, DigitalGlobe is already offering access to Radarsat data. DigitalGlobe said Monday it now includes Radarsat 2 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery as part of its cloud-based geospatial big data platform called GBDX. That platform already includes optical imagery from DigitalGlobe’s own satellites as wellas Landsat and Sentinel data. MDA, which operates Radarsat 2, announced plans in February to acquire DigitalGlobe, a deal expected to close later this year. [SpaceNews]

A Dragon cargo spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station Monday morning. The Dragon, flying a cargo resupply mission designated SpX-11 by NASA, was grappled by the station’s robotic arm shortly before 10 a.m. Eastern and berthed to the station later in the day. The Dragon brought more than 2,700 kilograms of cargo, primarily experiments and related hardware, to the station. The mission is the second flight of the same Dragon spacecraft, which flew the SpX-4 mission in 2014. [Spaceflight Now]

A startup is working on its first SAR cubesat after closing a funding round and lining up its first customer. Capella Space closed a $12 million Series A round in May after an undisclosed customer paid $10 million up front for access to SAR imagery from the company’s first satellite. That spacecraft, scheduled for launch in the next six months, will later be joined by dozens more to provide global SAR imagery at a resolution of one meter, updated hourly. [SpaceNews]

The flight of a Chinese experiment on the latest Dragon mission could open new doors for U.S.-China space cooperation. The experiments on the Dragon mission include an experiment developed by the Beijing Institute of Technology to test the biological effects of space radiation and flown through an agreement with NanoRacks. The commercial arrangement between NanoRacks and its Chinese customer is not subject to federal bans on bilateral cooperation between NASA and China, and people in both the U.S. and China believe it could help enable more space cooperation between the the two countries. [Xinhua]

GEOINT 2017 news: An expert in geospatial intelligence advised the community to keep in mind the needs of users in the field. Patrick Biltgen, the technical director of analytics for Vencore, said developers of such systems have to make their solutions useful for troops deployed in the field with limited network access. DigitalGlobe unveiled a subscription service called SecureWatch Sites that allows users to identify specific geographic locations of interest and obtain frequently updated satellite images of those locations. Descartes Labs presented a new geospatial machine-learning platform to potential defense and intelligence customers that pulls in remote-sensing data from a variety of sources. Planet announced plans to offer data from its constellation of global Earth-imaging cubesats through Harris Geospatial’s ENVI desktop platform. [SpaceNews]

British astronaut Tim Peake’s second spaceflight could be in jeopardy because of a funding dispute. The British government said in January that Peake, who flew on the ISS in 2015-2016, would get another flight as part of the government’s commitment to ESA’s human spaceflight program. However, ESA has reportedly asked the UK to “significantly” increase its contribution to that program, which the UK has apprently declined to do. Other ESA members argued that the UK got a discount on its first flight and should pay its fair share of the program for another flight opportunity. [Financial Times]

OneWeb formally abandoned its merger with Intelsat last Friday, as expected. The merger was all but dead last week when Intelsat gave up on efforts to swap debt with bondholders, a condition of the merger deal and financial backing from Japan’s SoftBank. OneWeb formally withdrew from the merger deal late Friday. The two companies will continue to collaborate commercially, and OneWeb founder Greg Wyler said his company is still on track to deploy its broadband low Earth orbit constellation. [SpaceNews]

Russia plans to launch the first in a new generation of navigation satellites next year. Russian satellite manufacturer ISS Reshetnev said Monday that it expects the first Glonass-K2 satellite to launch some time next year. The K2 series of satellites feature addiitonal signals and power, with each satellite weighing twice as much as the earlier K1 series. [TASS]

Astronomers have found an exoplanet that is hotter than many stars. The Jupiter-sized planet, KELT-9b, is so close to its star it completes one orbit in just 1.5 days. The side of the planet facing the star has temperatures of 4,300 degrees Celsius, `approaching the temperature of the sun’s photosphere of 6,000 degrees. Astronomers said that, because of its intense heat, the planet’s atmosphere “is almost certainly unlike any other planet we’ve ever seen” and that the star’s ultraviolet radiation may ultimately evaporate the planet. [Space.com]

William Shatner wants to create a TV series highlighting NASA’s rising stars. Shatner, best known for portraying Capt. James T. Kirk on Star Trek, spoke at the GEOINT 2017 conference Monday and pitched his proposed “The Young Guns of NASA” series. The series seeks to profile “young scientists who are involved in planning new things at NASA, JPL” and find out what they want to do in space. [SpaceNews]