Venture capital took a shine to space in 2015
A study released Monday by The Tauri Group found that there was $1.8 billion of venture capital investment in the industry in 2015, nearly double the total of the previous 15 years combined.
That surge was largely due to two unusual events: a $1 billion investment in SpaceX by Google and Fidelity, and OneWeb’s $500 million Series A funding round. [Fortune]
Intelsat has hired an investment banking firm to help with “financing and balance-sheet initiatives.” Guggenheim Securities will help the company evaluate, among other things, “balance sheet management opportunities” for Intelsat, which has $14.6 billion in debt as of end of 2015. Intelsat said hiring Guggenheim is not a sign of any plans for merger or acquisition, or of a bankruptcy filing. Intelsat reported revenue of $2.35 billion in 2015, down 4 percent from 2014, with another drop of 8 percent expected in 2016 as the industry faces pricing pressure from new entrants and high-throughput satellites. [SpaceNews]
A static fire test Monday evening clears the way for a Wednesday night launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9. The brief test of the rocket’s first stage engines on the pad at Cape Canaveral, part of SpaceX’s regular pre-launch preparations, was apparently a success, as SpaceX said it was moving ahead with a launch Wednesday at 6:46 p.m. Eastern of the SES-9 communications satellite. Forecasts call for a 60 percent chance of acceptable weather Wednesday, improving to 80 percent on Thursday. [Florida Today]
The newest version of India’s GSLV is on track for a December launch after a recent engine test. India’s space agency ISRO said the final ground test of the CE-20 upper stage engine, conducted Friday, was a success. That engine will be used on the Mark 3 version of the GSLV, which is scheduled for its first orbital launch in December. The GSLV Mark 3, also known as the LVM3, can place up to 4,000 kilograms into geostationary transfer orbit, double the capacity of the existing version of the GSLV. [SpaceNews]
The White House brought together science and science fiction to study humanity’s future in space. The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy convened a workshop at UCLA earlier this month that included scientists and engineers as well as artists and storytellers to examine issues associated with “homesteading in space.” The goals of the workshop were to inform the “creative community” about positive visions of humanity in space and encourage them to incorporate those visions into their work. [SPACE.com]
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A full moon rising means it’s time for a new stamp. The U.S. Postal Service formally released its new stamp featuring the moon, which is a $1.20 “forever” stamp for first-class international mail. The issuing of the stamp, one of several space-themed stamps the Postal Service plans to release this year, was timed to the “Snow Moon” full moon. [collectSPACE]
NASA wants to blast your artwork into the solar system. The agency is accepting digital artwork that will be added to a flash drive on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft that will launch in September on a mission to collect samples from an asteroid for return to Earth. Artwork can be submitted via Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #WeTheExplorers until March 20, or until the 512 gigabyte flash drive is filled. [Denver Post]
The “outer-spacey music” the Apollo 10 astronauts reportedly heard has a simple explanation. An upcoming episode of the Science Channel show “NASA’s Unexplained Files” claims that “recently declassified” audio and transcripts from the mission claim that Apollo 10 astronauts heard “eerie music” while the lunar and command modules were flying separately in lunar orbit. NASA’s History Office notes that the transcripts were never classified, and released back in 1973. The music had a simple explanation known back in 1969: interference between the radios in the two spacecraft. [CBS]