Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson says he supports space exploration, but offered few policy details. 

Carson, speaking Saturday at a conference of convenience store retailers and suppliers in Scottsdale, Arizona, said that “important scientific discoveries have come from the nation’s past endeavors in space,” and that those programs required “renewed attention.”

The report didn’t state if Carson, a frontrunner in a number of recent polls for the Republican nomination, provided additional details about his space policy views. [CSPnet]

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Russia’s space agency has confirmed a one-month delay in the launch of the next Progress mission. Roscosmos announced Saturday that the launch of the first Progress-MS spacecraft, an upgraded version of the current Progress-M cargo spacecraft, is now scheduled for Dec. 21, one month later than previously planned. The Roscosmos statement gave no reason for the delay, although the head of RSC Energia said late last month the delay was linked to completing work to address the failed launch of a Progress cargo spacecraft on a Soyuz-2 rocket in April. [TASS]

Orbital ATK is naming its next Cygnus spacecraft after late astronaut Deke Slayton — again. The company said Friday the Cygnus spacecraft scheduled to launch to the space station Dec. 3 will be named “S.S. Deke Slayton II”. The previous Cygnus, also named after Slayton, was destroyed in the Antares launch failure in October 2014. This Cygnus will be launched on an Atlas 5 from Cape Canaveral. [Florida Today]

NASA named Todd May as the acting director of the Marshall Space Flight Center late Friday. May, appointed deputy director of the center three months ago, had previously been manager for the Space Launch System. May succeeds, on at least an interim basis, Patrick Scheuermann, who retired as center director on Friday. NASA appointed May as acting director as it “continues the process of looking for a permanent director,” the agency said in a statement. [NASA]

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Intelsat is not concerned about the effect Internet video services like Netflix are having on its core business. Company CEO Stephen Spengler said at an investor conference in Spain that it has yet to see a significant impact of “over-the-top” video streaming services on its broadcast customers, in part because those customers are locked up in long-term leases for satellite capacity. Spengler added that Intelsat is looking at how it can support video streaming services through satellite distribution of programming, similar to how it supports cable TV services. [SpaceNews]

A decision to reserve spectrum for satellite tracking of airliners will help bolster the business case of one company. Delegates of the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) in Geneva agreed last week to allow Earth-to-space transmissions of aircraft tracking data after receiving assurances it would not interfere with military signals at neighboring frequencies. The decision helps Iridium and its Aireon flight-tracking affiliate, the only ones to date planning a global aircraft tracking service using Iridium’s next-generation satellite system. [SpaceNews]

An effort to win satellite spectrum for controlling unmanned aerial vehicles is facing more opposition, though. The U.S. and Germany have so far won over only about 50 countries attending WRC for their proposal to allocate Ka- or Ku-band spectrum for command and control of UAVs, allowing them to be flown on transcontinental or transoceanic routes. Countries objecting to the proposal do so on various grounds, from concerns about giving military UAVs access to civilian airspace to use of spectrum originally allocated for fixed satellite services for a mobile platform. [SpaceNews]


An airborne observatory was able to capture the reentry of what was likely a piece of space debris. A chartered business jet, outfitted with cameras, observed the reentry of an object designated WT1190F in the skies above Sri Lanka Friday. The object’s unusual orbit suggested the object was perhaps a rocket stage from a moon or Mars mission, although astronomers on the plane declined to speculate on what the object might be based on their observations. Clouds prevented ground-based observers in Sri Lanka from witnessing the reentry. [Nature]

A Japanese plan to double its number of spy satellites is a sign the country takes military space more seriously. The update to Japan’s space policy released last week called for increasing the number of reconnaissance satellites from four to eight, plus two relay satellites. That decision “demonstrates its increasing seriousness about outer space as a key dimension of its overall reform and strengthening of its security stance,” according to one policy expert. [SpaceNews]

The U.S. and Russia have resumed discussions about a joint robotic mission to Venus. NASA officials said talks have resumed, at a very basic level, about a potential NASA role in Russia’s Venera-D mission, which could include both a lander and an orbiter. A joint science definition team met in Moscow last month for the first time since the Ukraine crisis last year suspended those discussions. [Spaceflight Now]

China has set a mid-December launch date for a dark matter science satellite. The Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE) satellite will launch on a Long March 2D rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the middle of next month, Chinese media said Saturday. The 1,850-kilogram satellite will study high energy particles that may provide clues about the nature of dark matter. [Xinhua]

India’s government is expected to approve plans this week for a solar science satellite. The Aditya spacecraft will study the solar corona and solar storms from the Earth-sun L-1 Lagrange point, a location 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth in the direction of the sun used by a number of solar science missions. India’s space agency, ISRO, has been studying Aditya since 2008, making the spacecraft larger and more capable during that work. [The Hindu]

The Week Ahead







  • Vancouver: The Canadian Space Summit 2015 discusses the latest developments in Canadian space science, technology and research.


  • Xichang, China: A Long March 3B rocket is scheduled tp launch the LaoSat 1 communications satellite for the government of Laos.

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...