2013 Year in Review | April

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Orbital’s Antares rocket makes its successful inaugural launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Va., carrying a dummy payload into Earth orbit.

The White House unveils plans to haul a small asteroid to near-Earth orbit for close inspection by astronauts as part of a $17.7 billion budget request for NASA for 2014. The U.S. defense budget request cancels a long-planned constellation of low-orbiting missile tracking satellites.

Work on a ground station in Sicily for the U.S. Navy’s Mobile User Objective System satellites is halted following months of protests sparked by residents’ concerns about harmful electromagnetic radiation that might be emitted from the site.

Under questioning from a House panel, Pentagon leaders acknowledge the indirect lease of capacity aboard a telecommunications satellite partially owned by the Chinese government.

Virgin Galactic completes the first powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo, the first in a planned fleet of vehicles intended to take paying customers to the edge of space beginning in 2014.

Arianespace Chief Executive Jean-Yves Le Gall is named as the new president of CNES. Stephane Israel replaces Le Gall at Arianespace.

Satellite fleet operator AsiaSat agrees to host a weather sensor for GeoMetWatch, which plans to build a global commercial weather forecasting network based on hosted payloads.

The Canadian Space Agency says the 17-year-old Radarsat-1 imaging satellite suffered a technical anomaly from which it is not likely to recover.

The U.S. Defense Department announces plans to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile interceptor system to Guam to defend against a possible North Korean missile attack.

Intelsat is forced to sell shares at reduced prices in a disappointing initial stock offering.

ESA announces that the $1.4 billion Herschel infrared space telescope mission has ended after four years of observing dark and cold regions of the universe.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission launches an antitrust probe of United Launch Alliance’s exclusivity arrangement with RD-Amross, provider of the Russian-built RD-180 main engine for the Atlas 5 rocket.

NASA announces an agreement to pay Russia $424 million for astronaut transportation to the space station through 2016, and emergency crew rescue services through June 2017. The deal calls for round trips and training for six astronauts at about $70 million per seat.

Jimmie Hill, former longtime deputy director of the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, dies at 79.

Gen. William Shelton, commander of U.S. Air Force Space Command, says two receiver sites for the Air Force Space Surveillance System have been placed in cold storage, reducing the overall accuracy and effectiveness of the system, as a cost-cutting measure.