During the first week of January, U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told SpaceX founder Elon Musk to tell him that it would take another six months to certify the Falcon 9, effectively taking SpaceX out of the running for a U.S. National Reconnaissance Office launch contract worth more than $100 million.
Dmitry Savin was fired from his post managing construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East.
A Europeanized Russian Soyuz rocket on March 27 successfully delivered two European Galileo navigation satellites into orbit, stabilizing a program that was knocked off balance in August when the same vehicle put the two previous Galileo spacecraft into a badly off-target orbit.
The launch, which had been delayed because of Dnepr availability, is the latest sign that despite the year-long hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, cooperative efforts that generate hard currency, such as Denpr, are being maintained despite occasional statements to the contrary in Russia.
Arianespace will use a Vega to launch Peru’s high-resolution optical reconnaissance satellite in the first half of 2016 under a contract signed March 25 with Airbus, the satellite’s builder.
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell’s tour of Washington the week of March 16 – a luncheon speech, participation in the Satellite 2015 conference and testimony to a U.S. congressional panel – found her occasionally doing the work of the circus shovel brigade.
Challenged to compete with SpaceX on price, other commercial launch providers are emphasizing an alternative attribute they believe makes them more competitive: the ability to launch on time.
SpaceX plans to inaugurate its new, more-powerful Falcon 9 rocket this summer, using the same Merlin 1D engine with a modified fuel mix and other changes to extend the company’s planned reuse of the first stage to cover all SpaceX launches, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said.
The Pentagon’s congressional overseers appear divided over the timetable for weaning the U.S. Air Force from the RD-180, a matter that sources say likely will not be settled until House and Senate lawmakers meet later this year to finalize the 2016 defense authorization bill.
Airbus contracted with Arianespace to launch the EDRS-C laser-optical data-relay satellite in early 2017, a deal that follows contract discussions with rival SpaceX that drew fire from the French government.