Arianespace rolled out the Ariane 5 Wednesday for a launch scheduled for 4:31 p.m. Eastern Thursday.
The launch window extends until 7:19 p.m.Eastern. The rocket is carrying the SGDC communications satellite for Brazil and the Koreasat 7 communications satellite for South Korean operator KTSat.
The launch was originally scheduled for late March but postponed when protests in French Guiana disrupted spaceport operations. [Spaceflight Now]
The U.S. Air Force held the first-of-its-kind training event last month for space operations. The “Space Flag” exercise is modeled on the well-known “Red Flag” air combat training event. During Space Flag, airmen practiced scenarios that might take place in space during a conflict. The Air Force plans to carry out “increasingly more realistic operational scenarios” in future exercises, which the service plans to conduct twice a year. [SpaceNews]
SpaceX plans to start launching satellites for its broadband constellation in 2019. Company vice president Patricia Cooper said in testimony at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing Wednesdaythat the first prototype satellite will fly by the end of this year, with a second in early 2018. That system, which will ultimately have 4,425 satellites, will launch in phases from 2019 through 2024 on Falcon 9 rockets, pending a license from the Federal Communications Commission. Cooper, in her testimony, sought improvements in the spectrum licensing process, and argued that satellite constellations should be eligible for any federal broadband infrastructure funding. [Ars Technica]
SpaceX shot down a report that the company is planning for an initial public offering of stock.Company president Gwynne Shotwell said a report published early Wednesday about plans for an IPOwere “not true.” That report was based on an email sent by Empire Capital Partners, an asset management firm who claimed that SpaceX was preparing to offer shares on the New York Stock Exchange. The firm later said they had no evidence an IPO was in the works. [Reuters / Teslarati]
NASA is seeking information from companies that could carry NASA payloads to the moon. The request for information (RFI) issued Monday seeks information from U.S. companies with plans to land spacecraft on the moon for potential missions flying as soon as fiscal year 2018. Those NASA payloads could include scientific instruments, technology demonstrations and other payloads intended to address strategic knowledge gaps for exploration. This RFI comes six months after NASA issued a similar one seeking information on instruments that could fly to the moon. [SpaceNews]
Vector tested a prototype of its small launch vehicle Wednesday. The Vector-R engineering model, designated P-19H, lifted off from a pad in California’s Mojave Desert. The company did not disclose the peak altitude of the flight, planned to be 1,370 meters, but called the flight a successful test of the vehicle. The company said Wednesday’s flight was the first of several suborbital launches planned to evaluate key technologies planned for the vehicle. [SpaceNews]
Russia’s latest cosmonaut selection round has, so far, attracted just 200 applicants. The Russian state space corporation Roscosmos started accepting applications in March and said Wednesday it had received 200 to date. The deadline for applications is July 14, and Roscosmos plans to select six to eight new cosmonauts. By contrast, NASA received more than 18,000 applications in its most recent round last year. [TASS]
California is considering a tax on launch companies that could depend on where in space the satellites they launch go. The Franchise Tax Board is seeking public input on a proposal for levying taxes on spacecraft launched by California companies. The formula is based on the number of launches a company performs as well as the “mileage”, or orbital altitude, of the satellite, with the tax rate declining the higher the satellite’s orbit is. State officials say the tax is modeled on those used for other transportation companies. The board will vote on the proposed tax June 16. [San Francisco Chronicle]
The Air Force is working to improve cybersecurity for space systems. That effort, the service says, is complicated by a “stovepipe” architecture and ground systems that are, in some cases, decades old. The Space Defense Task Force is working to address security concerns with a new common ground system, a secure hardware and network infrastructure and revised policies and procedures. [SpaceNews]
A NASA balloon flight will come to an early end because of a leak. The balloon, carrying an astrophysics instrument, took off from New Zealand on April 25 on what was planned to be a 100-day flight. However, the balloon’s altitude, intended to remain constant, has instead gone up and down during the day-night cycle, which suggests to project leaders that the balloon has developed a leak. NASA plans to bring the balloon down and recover the instrument once it crosses the Pacific and is over South America. [Stuff]