NASA preparing to solicit proposals for Europa lander mission despite uncertain funding

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NASA is preparing to solicit proposals for a Europa lander mission despite uncertain funding for it.

NASA issued a “community announcement” Wednesday stating it would issue an announcement of opportunity later this year for instruments that could fly on the proposed lander.

NASA will use fiscal year 2017 funding to support Phase A studies of about 10 proposals in 2018 and 2019.

NASA is going ahead with these plans even though the administration’s fiscal year 2018 budget blueprint included no funding for a Europa lander mission.

That mission, though, has as a strong advocate in Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA. [NASA]


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A Soyuz rocket carrying an SES satellite lifted off this morning. The Soyuz launched from French Guiana on schedule at 7:54 a.m. Eastern carrying the SES-15 satellite. The Boeing-built spacecraft, weighing 2,300 kilograms, carries a Ku-band payload with connectivity to gateways in Ka-band, as well a Wide Area Augmentation System hosted payload for the FAA to support GPS use in aviation. Spacecraft separation is scheduled for more than five hours after liftoff. [Spaceflight Now]

China Great Wall Industry Corporation has won a contract to build an Indonesian communications satellite. China Great Wall and Palapa Satelit Nusantara Sejahtera, an Indonesian joint venture, signed the contract Wednesday in Jakarta for the Palapa-N1 spacecraft. Palapa-N1 will carry a Ku-band payload and replace Palapa-D, whose orbital lifetime was limited when the Long March rocket that launched it in 2009 underperformed. The companies also announced a non-binding agreement for a Ka-band satellite, PSN-7. [SpaceNews]

Intelsat issued a new debt exchange offer with a revised deadline. The company said Thursday that it is making new offers to bondholders to exchange existing debt, with a new deadline of May 31. The company originally set a deadline of late April for bondholders to accept the original offer, extending it three times prior to this latest announcement. The debt exchange is key to Intelsat’s plans to merge with OneWeb. [Intelsat]

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Spaceflight has purchased an Electron launch from Rocket Lab for medium-inclination payloads. The companies announced the contract Wednesday, but did not disclose terms of the deal or indicate when the launch would take place. Spaceflight, which brokers launches of smallsats as secondary payloads, said it purchased the Electron launch for satellites seeking to fly to inclinations of 45 to 60 degrees, which are not well-served by existing rideshares that primarily go to sun-synchronous orbit. Rocket Lab is still on track to launch its first Electron in a 10-day window that opens Sunday. [SpaceNews]

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