Static firing of SpaceX reused Falcon Monday clears way for launch Thursday
The first stage fired its nine main engines briefly while on the pad at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, part of standard pre-launch preparations for Falcon 9 missions.
The test, previously scheduled for Sunday, allows plans to proceed for a launch attempt Thursday at 6 p.m.Eastern of the SES-10 satellite.
The launch will be the first to use a previously flown first stage, in this case a stage that launched a Dragon cargo spacecraft last April. [Spaceflight Now]
Satellite connectivity provider Global Eagle Entertainment is facing a mid-May deadline to provide financial results or have its stock delisted. The Nasdaq exchange warned the company earlier this month it has until May 19 to provide 2016 financial results or submit a compliance plan. The company delayed the release of its financial results after the abrupt departures in February of its CEO and CFO. The company’s shares are trading about 60 percent below its 52-week high. [SpaceNews]
A member of the new administration’s “beachhead” team at NASA has taken a permanent position at the agency. NASA announced Monday that Jen Rae Wang will be the new associate administrator for the office of communications, directing internal and external communications for the agency. Wang was part of the so-called “beachhead” team of advisers assigned to NASA by the Trump administration after inauguration. She previously worked as deputy chief of staff for Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) [NASA]
NASA’s Juno spacecraft completed its fifth close approach to Jupiter Monday. The spacecraft made its closest approach to the planet in its elliptical orbit shortly before 5 a.m. Eastern Monday, and project officials confirmed later in the day that the spacecraft was working well and collected data during the close approach. The spacecraft arrived at Jupiter last July and has remained in its initial 53-day orbit after mission managers concluded last month that problems with the spacecraft’s propulsion system precluded lowering the spacecraft into a 14-day orbit as originally intended. [NASA/JPL]
An Earth observation spacecraft NASA is decommissioning this week will remain in orbit through the middle of the century. NASA announced earlier this month that it was shutting down the Earth Observing 1 (EO-1) spacecraft on Thursday, more than 16 years after launch and far longer than its planned one-year mission. A decision made in 2007 to use the spacecraft’s remaining propellant to maintain its orbit, rather than lower it, means that the spacecraft will remain in orbit until 2056, longer than the 25-year post-mission lifetime required by orbital debris mitigation guidelines. At the time of the decision, uncertainties in the solar activity models indicated that the spacecraft could remain in orbit more than 25 years even if its altitude was lowered with its remaining propellant. [SpaceNews]
An terrestrial-based in-flight connectivity network under development could compete with satellite based systems. SmartSky Networks raised $66 million earlier this year and expects to complete its network in the continental U.S. by the end of the year. SmartSky says its network will provide airline passengers with connection speeds similar to 4G networks. SmartSky, though, played down concerns that it could pose a threat to satellite-based systems. [SpaceNews]
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Ivanka Trump will hold an event today at the National Air and Space Museum. DeVos and Trump, appearing with museum officials and NASA astronaut Kay Hire, will discuss science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education opportunities for visiting students, and introduce a screening of the movie Hidden Figures. The purpose of the event, according to the Education Department, is to “highlight the importance of education in STEM fields and related opportunities for young women.” [Dept. of Education]
Scientists are charged up about unusual sand patterns seen on Saturn’s moon Titan. A new study suggests that static electricity could explain the formation of a set of dunes seen on the moon’s surface that formed in the direction opposite the prevailing winds. Lab tests showed that hydrocarbon molecules can maintain an electric charge for extended periods, allowing them to clump together and form dunes. [New Scientist]