Last-second computer glitch scrubs Sunday’s launch of Intelsat satellite on SpaceX Falcon 9
The countdown was proceeding as planned until a guidance computer triggered an abort 10 seconds before the scheduled 7:36 p.m. Eastern liftoff from Florida.
SpaceX later scrubbed the launch for the day, but will attempt another launch as soon as Monday evening.
The rocket is carrying the Intelsat 35e satellite, a payload heavy enough that SpaceX will not attempt a landing of the rocket’s first stage. [CBS]
President Trump signed an executive order Friday formally reestablishing the National Space Council. Trump signed the order in a brief ceremony at the White House Friday afternoon, one that was not announced until shortly before the event itself. The new council will be similar in organization to its previous iteration in the administration of President George H.W. Bush, led by the vice president with participation from several cabinet-level departments and other agencies. The White House provided no other details about the council, including who would serve as its executive secretary and when it will first meet. [SpaceNews]
The second launch of China’s Long March 5 heavy-lift rocket ended in failure Sunday. The rocket lifted off from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on the island of Hainan at 7:23 a.m. Eastern and initially appeared to go as planned. About 45 minutes after liftoff, though, Chinese media reported that the launch had failed, but did not provide additional information. Some observers of in-flight video noticed a plume of gas from one of the engines in the core stage of the rocket more than five minutes after liftoff, suggesting a malfunction of the engine. The rocket’s payload was Shijian-18, a large experimental communications satellite. The rocket’s next flight was planned for November, carrying the Chang’e-5 lunar sample return mission. [SpaceNews]
SES says it has regained contaact with its malfunctioning SES-9, even as it appears that pieces have broken off the spacecraft. SES said Sunday it had reestablished contact with the satellite, which malfunctioned two weeks earlier and started to drift in the geostationary belt. The company confirmed tracking information from a commercial space situational awareness company, ExoAnalytic, who said that at least two objects had broken off the spacecraft. What caused the breakup remains under investigation. [SpaceNews]
Britain’s Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) plans to close a satellite factory in the U.S. SSTL established a U.S. subsidiary, Surrey Satellite Technology-US, in 2008 and opened a factory in Colorado in an effort to capture business in the U.S. market. SSTL recently decided to consolidate its manufacturing work in the U.K. in order to become more competitive in winning business for smallsat constellations. SSTL will maintain a sales team in the U.S. but lay off an unspecified number of people there once current satellite projects are completed. [SpaceNews]
A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft completed its second trip to space with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean this morning. The spacecraft splashed down 420 kilometers off the California coast at 8:12 a.m.Eastern Monday morning, returning about 1,850 kilograms of cargo from the International Space Station. Its return was scheduled for Sunday but postponed a day because of sea conditions. This was the first Dragon to make a second flight to space, having flown a cargo mission to the station in 2014. [NASASpaceFlight.com]
An engineer and a test pilot are Canada’s newest astronauts. As part of ceremonies Saturday in Ottawa to celebrate the country’s 150th birthday, the Canadian Space Agency announced the selection of Jennifer Sidey and Joshua Kutryk as the agency’s newest astronauts. Sidey is a mechanical engineer and lecturer at the University of Cambridge, and Kutryk is an air force test pilot. The two will start training in August along with NASA’s newest astronaut class in Houston. [Canadian Press]
A company that offers a virtual network of ground stations has signed up a satellite constellation as an early customer. RBC Signals said last week that it was working with Sky and Space Global, providing communications for its initial three cubesats launched last month on an Indian rocket. RBC Signals has a ground station in Alaska but also works with operators of more than 30 antennas worldwide, using excess capacity at those facilities to provide communications, particularly for Earth-observation spacecraft. [SpaceNews]
An asteroid impact mission has won approval for the next phase of its development. NASA has approved plans to move the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission into its preliminary design phase, the agency said Friday. DART would fly to the asteroid Didymos and collide with a small moon orbiting it, allowing scientists to measure the effectiveness of kinetic impactors to change the trajectories of potential hazardous asteroids. DART is intended to work with a European spacecraft, the Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM), on a joint mission called the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment, but DART could also operate on its own if AIM is not funded. [Applied Physics Laboratory]
Israel is in negotiations to sell two high-resolution imaging satellites to Poland. The Polish defense minister, Antoni Macierewicz, has reportedly sent a delegation to the offices of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to discuss the purchase of the satellites, valued at up to $2 billion. It wasn’t clear if IAI was offering to sell a version of its Ofek satellites it builds for the Israeli military, or a lower-resolution commercial version, EROS. The Polish government has also discussed purchasing satellites from Airbus and Ball Aerospace. [Spacewatch Middle East]
The chicken sandwich sent into the stratosphere is back on Earth, earlier than planned. World View launched a test version of its “stratollite” high-altitude balloon Thursday, with a payload that included a Zinger chicken sandwich from Kentucky Fried Chicken as part of a promotional deal. The balloon was to stay aloft for several days, but World View announced Saturday that the balloon had come down after just 17 hours because of a leak. The company said they were still able to meet all of their test objectives, and added that the sandwich “performed flawlessly” during the flight. [GeekWire]