United Launch Alliance has multiple options to get around a congressionally imposed ban on the Russian-built main engine on its workhorse Atlas 5 rocket that the company says will prevent it from bidding in a competition to launch a GPS satellite, a senior U.S. Air Force official said.
The successful launch of Mexico’s Morelos-3 satellite will enable Mexico to deploy its MexSat service despite the loss of an identical satellite in May.
Moon Express announced Oct. 1 that it is buying three launches for its lunar lander spacecraft from Rocket Lab, a deal that should unlock a two-year extension of the Google Lunar X Prize competition.
The challenger is expected to square off with incumbent United Launch Alliance for the right to launch the next-generation navigation satellite in 2018.
The satellites — the first of two Sky Muster Ka-band broadband satellites for Australia’s NBN Co. and the Arsat-2 Ku- and C-band telecommunications satellite for Arsat of Argentina — were both reported by their owners to be healthy in orbit and sending signals.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 also would end annual U.S. Air Force payments to ULA that critics have long branded as a subsidy.
Blue Origin said Sept. 30 that it has completed more than 100 developmental tests of its BE-4 engine, which the company is building both for United Launch Alliance and its own vehicle.
A U.S. District Court has ruled in favor of Boeing and against its Russian and Ukrainian partners in the Sea Launch commercial-launch company, saying the partners breached their contract obligations by not reimbursing Boeing their share of Sea Launch expenses.
United Launch Alliance says reuse of its future Vulcan rocket’s first-stage engines — featuring an inflatable hypersonic decelerator to protect the engines on atmospheric reentry, then a parafoil to glide them into position for a mid-air pickup by helicopter — is far more cost-effective than SpaceX’s planned recovery and reuse of the Falcon rocket’s entire first stage.
Virgin Galactic announced Sept. 28 that it has made “significant progress” on the engines that it will use on its LauncherOne small satellite launch vehicle, two weeks after the company said it was increasing the vehicle’s performance.
LOX-rich staged combustion oxygen-kerosene engines have been in production for decades in Ukraine.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said the 1,513-kilogram Astrosat spacecraft was healthy in orbit. Operating from and orbit of 650 kilometers in altitude inclined six degrees relative to the equator, Astrosat is expected to deliver optical, ultraviolet and X-ray images of black holes and other phenomena in a five-year mission.
Aerojet Rocketdyne will pay Orbital ATK $50 million to end a dispute about the role Aerojet’s AJ-26 engine played in last year’s Antares launch failure, the propulsion provider announced Sept. 24.