Elon Musk promises SpaceX announcement today.
Musk, in a tweet Sunday night, said “SpaceX announcement tomorrow at 1pm PST,” or 4 p.m. Eastern.
Musk did not provide any additional details about the nature of the announcement. [Twitter]
MDA’s deal to acquire DigitalGlobe sets the stage for development of a new imaging satellite constellation. As part of the $2.4 billion deal, MDA-owned Space Systems Loral will build satellite for a new constellation called WorldView Legion that will revisit areas of the globe up to dozens of times a day. MDA will make initial investments this year in the constellation, with the first satellites planned for launch in 2020. WorldView Legion will ultimately replace DigitalGlobe’s existing WorldView-1 and -2 satellites. [SpaceNews]
A NASA study looking at putting a crew on the first SLS/Orion mission will focus on options that allow a launch in 2019. NASA officials, speaking at a media teleconference Friday, said the study announced earlier this month about flying astronauts on Exploration Mission 1 will be limited to options that would allow the mission, currently scheduled to launch without a crew in late 2018, to fly with a crew in 2019. That mission would fly a two-person crew on a flight around the moon, a profile similar to what NASA is considering for the EM-2 mission. A preliminary version of the study will be completed in about a month to support planning of NASA’s 2018 budget request. [SpaceNews]
A former Trump administration appointee at NASA said he supported the study of flying a crew on EM-1. Greg Autry, a member of the NASA transition team and White House liaison at NASA until last week, said he believes the idea of flying astronauts on that first SLS/Orion mission “will be carefully considered by many qualified and conservative professionals.” He added that he believed some risk with the mission was warranted as an overall approach of risk aversion was “incompatible with the reality” of declining budgets. Autry did not offer details about why he decided to leave the agency just a month into the new administration. [Space.com]
OneWeb is considering adding nearly 2,000 more satellites to its broadband constellation. Company founder Greg Wyler said last week that based on interest in the current system of about 650 satellites under development, coupled with an oversubscibed financing round, the company is considering exercising “priority rights” for an additional 1,972 satellites. Wyler said a decision on increasing the size of the constellation will be made by the end of this year. [SpaceNews]
Virgin Galactic has resumed test flights of its second SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle. The spaceplane performed its third glide flight Friday at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, the first in two months. George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic CEO, said earlier this month the company would continue the glide flight program over the next few months before beginning powered test flights. [SpaceNews]
An Atlas 5 is being prepared to launch a classified satellite this week. Launch of the payload on a mission for the National Reconnaissance Office designated NROL-79 is scheduled for 12:50 p.m.Eastern on Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The identify of the payload, launching on a 401 version of the Atlas 5, has not been disclosed. The launch will be the 14th NRO mission flown on an Atlas 5. [Spaceflight Now]
A former head of India’s space agency offered a cautionary note about the recent historic launch by the country. Former ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair said he was “somewhat concerned” about the mid-February launch that placed 104 satellites into orbit because of orbital debris worries. Most of the satellites launched were cubesats without propulsion, and will remain in orbits used by Indian and other satellites long after the end of their missions. Nair added that India, as the launching state for those satellites, could be held liable if one of those satellites caused damage in a collision. [IANS]
China has released the first images from a new weather satellite. The images released Mondaydemonstrate that the Fengyun-4A satellite, launched in December, is working well in geostationary orbit. The satellite is the first in a new generation of Chinese weather satellites with improved image resolution and other new instruments. [gbtimes]
After losing a court case, NASA will turn over an Apollo artifact to a woman who bought it in an auction. Nancy Lee Carlson bought the Apollo 11 sample bag at a February 2015 federal marshals’ auction after the government failed to identify that the bag still belonged to NASA. Carlson sent the bag to the Johnson Space Center for authentication, and the agency retained possession of the bag until a federal judge ruled in Carlson’s favor. NASA will hand over the bag to Carlson today, and hopes she will consider putting the artifact on public display. [collectSPACE]
A Hidden Figure got a standing ovation at last night’s Oscars. Katherine Johnson, a African American mathematician whose work at NASA was a central part of the movie Hidden Figures, appeared on stage with three of the stars of the movie. Johnson, now 98, received the ovation after being escorted on stage by NASA astronaut Yvonne Cagle. The movie itself lost in all three categories it was nominated in, including Best Picture. In another space connection at the awards, Iranian-American space tourist Anousheh Ansari and former JPL scientist Firouz Naderi accepted the award for best foreign language film, The Salesman, on behalf of Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who declined to attend the ceremonies in protest of the administration’s immigration policies. [Space.com]