2013 Year in Review | June

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U.S. regulators clear the merger of U.S. propulsion providers Aerojet and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. RD-Amross does not convey to the newly created Aerojet Rocketdyne due to the lengthy Russian government approval process.

A Chinese capsule carrying a three-person crew launches toward the nation’s Tiangong-1 orbital module. The 15-day mission is China’s longest human spaceflight.

In a draft of its 2013 operating plan, NASA tells Congress it plans to shield the Commercial Crew and James Webb Space Telescope programs from sequestration budget cuts.

Orbital sues ULA over its exclusivity arrangement with RD-Amross for the RD-180 main engine. 

For the first time, SpaceX test fires the core stage of its Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket, to which the company’s future as a commercial launch provider is staked.

The U.S. House’s chilly reception of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission turns icy as lawmakers in that chamber unveil an authorization bill that would kill the mission.

ESA signs a long-awaited ExoMars prime contract with Thales Alenia Space.

Orbital is tapped to build the rocket for the Stratolaunch system — a massive air-launch-to-orbit vehicle announced in 2012 by an investment group led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. 

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission opens a probe to determine whether Intelsat and other large satellite fleet operators are hoarding orbital slots.

A Europeanized Soyuz rocket launches the first four satellites in O3b Networks’ planned constellation of up to 20 Ka-band broadband satellites.  

New Mexico lawmakers write the U.S. Air Force secretary with “serious concerns” about the service’s bid to close the Operationally Responsive Space Office at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., saying the change was at odds with existing statute.

Space Systems/Loral wins a contract to build the JCSat-14 satellite for Japan’s Sky Perfect JSat, which had a history of buying satellites from Lockheed Martin.

Retired Gen. Walter Natynczyk, former head of the Canadian Forces, is tapped as the next head of the Canadian Space Agency.

The Indian Space Research Organisation announces plans for two new telecommunications satellites to keep pace with surging domestic demand for transponder capacity.

NASA inspector general criticizes the agency for making payments on its space station resupply contract with Orbital before the company fully demonstrated it could perform the task.

SpaceX signs a data-sharing agreement with the U.S. Air Force as part of a process intended to certify the company’s Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket to launch national security satellites.

The U.S. Air Force awards ULA a $1.1 billion contract to launch Air Force and NRO satellites. The deal includes four Atlas 5s and three Delta 4s.

ESA says it has no intention of changing the design of the future Ariane 6 launcher despite criticisms by industry and former industry officials.

Orbital’s Pegasus XL rocket, making its final manifested flight for NASA, delivers the $180 million Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph solar observatory to orbit.