Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos hinted that tests of the company’s BE-4 engine will start soon.
Bezos, in an email update Monday on the company’s work on the engine, said he’ll provide more news as the testing of the BE-4 “progresses in the coming weeks.”
The company released images earlier this month of the first completed engine, which Bezos said was being prepared for shipment to the company’s West Texas test site.
Bezos, in the email update, primarily discussed the design of hydrostatic bearings used in the engine’s turbopump. [GeekWire]
A problem with ground support equipment will delay the upcoming Cygnus launch to the International Space Station by several days. The Atlas 5 launch of a Cygnus cargo spacecraft, previously scheduled for Friday, has been delayed to no earlier than March 27. United Launch Alliance said a hydraulics problem with ground support equipment caused the latest delay. That delay will push back the next SpaceX Falcon 9 launch, planned for no earlier than March 27, to the 29th. [Florida Today]
An Ariane 5 launch scheduled for today has been delayed at least a day because of a labor strike.Arianespace said Monday that a “social movement” at the Kourou, French Guiana, launch site prevented the company from moving the rocket to the launch pad Monday as previously planned. The launch, of the SGDC and Koreasat 7 communications satellites, has been rescheduled for Wednesday, assuming the rocket can be moved to the pad today. [Spaceflight Now]
Kymeta is on track to introduce its flat-panel satellite antennas in May. The company had planned to introduce the antennas in 2015 but were forced to redesign them after discovering the original rectangular antennas couldn’t send a receive signals with the same aperture. A new circular design solves that problem, and allow them to reach download speeds of 100 Mbps. The company has raised $144 million since 2012, including investments from satellite operators Intelsat and Sky Perfect JSAT. [SpaceNews]
The U.S. government reportedly denied a visa for a Chinese official to speak at a planetary science conference. Guobin Yu, vice director of the Lunar and Space Exploration Engineering Center of China, was scheduled to speak at a symposium near Houston Sunday to provide updates on the country’s planned missions to the moon and Mars. However, conference organizers said at the last minute the U.S. embassy in Beijing denied Yu a visa for unknown reasons. Other Chinese scientists were approved to attend the conference. [SpaceNews]
SpaceX has signed a lease for a warehouse and office facility at Port Canaveral, Florida, to support booster recovery work. The company signed a five-year lease for a building previously used by Spacehab and which SpaceX had been leasing on a month-to-month basis since last August. SpaceX also plans to build a hangar next to the building. The facility will be used to store and refurbish Falcon booster stages recovered after launches from Cape Canaveral. [Florida Today]
North Korea says it has tested a new rocket engine it claims could be used to support its space program. State media announced over the weekend the successful test of the engine, saying it supports the development of future satellite launch vehicles. While many Western observers believe the test is linked to the country’s development of long-range ballistic missiles, at least one expert notes the engine doesn’t appear to be a good fit for any known North Korea missile programs, and instead may be for the second stage of a proposed launch vehicle. [Space.com]
A team that failed to make the cut in the Google Lunar X Prize competition is continuing development of its lunar rover. Part Time Scientists said it has secured a sponsorship from British mobile phone company Vodafone to cover the communications between its lander and the Earth. PTScientists is continuing to develop its rover for a 2018 launch despite not continuing in the Google Lunar X Prize competition. The team failed to make the list of finalists announced in January because it could not secure a launch contract in 2017. [The Telegraph]
NASA is not tweeting as much about its “Journey to Mars” these days. In the first two months of the Trump administration, NASA used the #JourneyToMars hashtag just once in its tweets from its flagship @NASA account, compared to an average of six times a month in the last half-year of the Obama administration. A NASA spokesman said the lack of use of the hashtag was not a deliberate decision reflecting a change in policy, noting that other NASA social media accounts have used it and that, in general, hashtags are not as effective in social media as they once were. [Ars Technica]