One of many propulsion systems developed by Doug Jones. Credit: XCOR

A co-founder of XCOR Aerospace has joined Deep Space Industries.

Doug Jones, formerly chief test engineer at XCOR, will be the director of propulsion systems at Deep Space Industries, a company developing small satellites and other technologies needed for asteroid mining.

Jones was one of four co-founders of XCOR, and the last to leave the company. XCOR laid off all of its employees at the end of June, retaining a handful as contractors. [Deep Space Industries]

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NASA is hoping for the best but planning for the worst when it comes to Earth science cuts. At a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council’s science committee Monday, agency officials downplayed a proposed cut for the the program in the 2018 budget request, calling the $167 million reduction “significant” but not “existential.” At the same time, they expressed hope that the Senate version of an appropriations bill that funds NASA will at least partially override those cuts. Senate appropriators will mark up such a bill this week. [SpaceNews]

Speedcast is buying an American satellite network operator to enter the defense market. Australia-based Speedcast said it is acquiring UltiSat, a Maryland company that operates a teleport in Denmark, for at least $65 million. Speedcast said that the acquisition would allow it to enter the U.S. government market for satellite communications, noting that UltiSat’s customers include the Defense Information Systems Agency. [SpaceNews]

Russia’s plans for a space station after the end of the International Space Station remain uncertain. Igor Komarov, head of Roscosmos, said earlier this year that Russia would separate its modules from the ISS in 2024 to form its own space station, then said a short time later that Russia was open to an extension of the ISS to 2028. More recently, Russia and China have expressed interest in space cooperation that could include a Russian role in China’s proposed space station, although there are technical hurdles to any such effort. [SpaceNews]

Potential revisions to SpaceX’s Mars architecture could involve cutting the number of engines on its future vehicle in half. The Interplanetary Transport System booster Musk unveiled last September has 42 engines and a diameter of 12 meters. Musk over the weekend hinted that an ongoing redesign of the vehicle would reduce its core diameter to 9 meters, which would have the effect of eliminating an outer ring of 21 engines. Musk plans to provide more details about this revised vehicle and mission architecture this September at the International Astronautical Congress in Australia. [Ars Technica]

Luxembourg’s space resources initiative has signed up another company. The government of Luxembourg announced Monday a memorandum of understanding with Kleos Space, a new company that plans to use in-space manufacturing techniques to develop composite antenna booms for use in commercial signals-intelligence satellites. The five-person company, wholly owned by British company Magna Parva, will operate from Luxembourg and plans to grow to 60 people in the next five years. [Luxemburger Wort]

Scientists report there is more water inside the moon than previously thought. In a new study, analysis of glass beads from ancient volcanic eruptions there, collected and returned to Earth on Apollo missions, found traces of water within them. Deposits of those beads are widespread across the surface, indicating that the lunar interior has more water than previously thought. While that water cannot be easily tapped from the surface, the beads themselves could be a source of water for future missions. [National Geographic]

Scientists are analyzing data from three stellar occultations by the Kuiper Belt object that is New Horizons’ next target. Astronomers used networks of small telescopes, and in one case the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, to observe 2014 MU69 as it passed in front of stars on three occasions in June and July. The latest occultation, on July 17, was seen by five telescopes in southern Argentina. The occultations will help scientists refine the size and shape of 2014 MU69 and prepare for the Jan. 1, 2019, flyby of the small body by New Horizons. []

Residents of Florida’s Space Coast will hear a series of sonic booms next month, but not from any launches or reentries. NASA is planning a series of flight tests off the Florida coast to study how low-altitude turbulence affects sonic booms. Those tests, starting Aug. 21, will use a NASA F/A-18 flying off the coast for a study titled Sonic Booms in Atmospheric Turbulence, or SonicBAT. At most, project scientist said, local residents will hear “a boom sound like those heard when the space shuttle landed.” [Florida Today]

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...