Energia close to settlement agreement with Boeing over Sea Launch lawsuit
The company’s chief executive, Vladimir Solntsev, said that a final agreement to settle a suit should be signed soon.
Boeing won a U.S. court judgement of more than $300 million against Energia regarding debts in the Sea Launch joint venture.
Solntsev did not disclose the details of the agreement, but Boeing officials said in January they obtained rights to several Soyuz seats from Energia as part of the deal. [Sputnik]
A computer glitch has delayed the arrival of a Dragon cargo spacecraft at the International Space Station by a day. The Dragon automatically aborted its arrival a few hours before the scheduled berthing this morning because of a problem processing GPS data used to guide the Dragon’s approach to the ISS. The spacecraft was a few hundred meters from the ISS at the time of the abort, and is in good health. NASA and SpaceX are planning another berthing attempt Thursday morning. [Spaceflight Now]
The last in a series of Soyuz rockets launched a Progress cargo spacecraft early Wednesday. The Soyuz-U rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 12:58 a.m. Eastern and placed the Progress MS-05 spacecraft into orbit. The Progress is carrying nearly three tons of cargo for the ISS, and is scheduled to dock with the station early Friday. The launch was the last for the Soyuz-U series of rockets, in part because the rocket’s guidance system was made in Ukraine. Other versions of the Soyuz rocket will be used for future Progress missions. [NASASpaceFlight.com]
Shares in in-flight connectivity company Global Eagle Entertainment dropped sharply Tuesday after the surprise departure of two executives. The company announced that CEO Dave Davis and CFO Tom Severson had resigned on Monday, effective immediately. The company’s share price dropped by 28 percent in trading Tuesday on the Nasdaq exchange. Global Eagle, a leading provider of satellite-based in-flight services, named board member Jeff Leddy as its new CEO. [SpaceNews]
The two companies working on commercial crew vehicles said that, contrary to a GAO report, they will be ready by 2018. Executives with Boeing and SpaceX said recently they were still on track to complete test flights of their vehicles and begin transporting astronauts to the ISS in 2018. Their comments came after a GAO report last week that concluded that certification reviews of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon would likely slip to 2019 because of development delays. [SpaceNews]
The lack of Ex-Im Bank financing was ultimately not an issue for a company that just ordered a satellite from Boeing. Kacific went ahead with its “condosat” order of a Boeing 702 satellite, shared with Sky Perfect JSAT, even though original plans to finance the deal through Ex-Im fell through when the bank’s charter lapsed temporarily in 2015. Ex-Im still lacks the ability to finance large deals because of a lack of a board quorum. Kacific CEO Christian Patouraux said the company went ahead with the order after raising $147 million late last year and signing contracts for satellite bandwidth worth $434 million. [SpaceNews]
Sea Launch’s new owner has won Russian government approval for launch. S7 Space Transport Systems, a subsidiary of Russian airline S7 Group, received a license from the Russian government to carry out a Zenit launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome later this year. The launch, of an unspecified payload, is intended as a test before resuming launches using Sea Launch’s floating platform. [Moscow Times]
The British government formally released a draft version of a new spaceflight law Tuesday. The bill, unveiled at a London symposium, would set up a regulatory structure for commercial spaceports and launches in the country. The UK Space Agency is seeking feedback on the draft before the government formally introduces it in Parliament later this year. [The National]
A JPL engineer working on the Mars 2020 mission is running for Congress. Tracy Van Houten is one of 23 candidates in a special election to fill the seat previously held by Xavier Becerra, who left Congress to become California Attorney General. Van Houten said she had been considering running for the state legislature in a few years, but her concerns about the policies of the new administration, and the open seat, accelerated her plans. The election is scheduled for April 4, with a runoff, if needed, two months later. [The Atlantic]
A group of scientists have proposed a new definition of “planet” that would promote Pluto and 100 other worlds in the solar system. The proposal would define a planet as a body massive enough to take on a spheroidal shape because of its gravity, but not large enough to undergo nuclear fusion and become a star. Such a definition would include Pluto, as well as many other worlds that are moons or Kuiper Belt objects. There is no sign that the International Astronomical Union, which approved a definition of “planet” in 2006 that excluded Pluto, plans to consider this alternative definition in the foreseeable future. [Ars Technica]