Boeing has won a contract for a satellite that will be jointly owned by two operators.
The JCSAT-18/Kacific-1 spacecraft, announced Monday, will be jointly owned by Sky Perfect JSAT Corporation and Kacific Broadband Satellites.
JCSAT-18 will provide mobile and broadband services in the Asia Pacific region, including far eastern Russia, and Kacific-1 will provide broadband Internet access to more than 20 countries in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
The Boeing 702 satellite will launch in 2019. [Boeing]
International Launch Services says it still plans to carry out three commercial launches this year despite an engine issue that has delayed Proton launches for months. ILS president Kirk Pysher said in an interview the company plans to launch EchoStar 21, AsiaSat-9 and Amazonas-5 on Proton missions this year. Four additional non-ILS Proton launches are also planned for 2017, with the first Proton launch expected in April or May. Pysher said the engine problem that forced Russia to postpone Proton launches was traced to the use of a different solder that did not bond to engine parts as well as expected. [SpaceNews]
A provision of a NASA authorization bill passed by the Senate last week would require NASA to study Orion missions to the ISS. The language directs NASA to prepare a study within 60 days of the bill’s enactment on Orion’s ability to visit the ISS launching on a vehicle other than the SLS, and what issues that would create for Orion’s beyond-Earth-orbit missions. The provision is one of the few changes in the bill compared to one that the Senate passed in the final days of the previous Congress in December. The House is expected to take up the new bill as soon as next week. [SpaceNews]
Thaicom may drop plans for a new satellite because of a dispute with the Thai government. The company said it may seek alternatives to its planned Thaicom 9 satellite, planned for launch in 2019, if it cannot resolve a dispute with the Digital Economy and Society Ministry about license fees for the satellite. The government is seeking a fee of 20.5 percent of total revenue from two current satellites, Thaicom 7 and 8, far higher than the 5.75 percent Thaicom currently pays. [Bangkok Post]
The French and Russian space agencies will cooperate on an instrument for a Mercury-bound spacecraft. Roscosmos will contribute a scanning system for the PHEBUS ultraviolet spectrometer being developed by the French space agency CNES for ESA’s BepiColombo mission. That mission is now scheduled for launch in October 2018, arriving at Mercury in 2025. [Air & Cosmos]
The head of India’s space agency says the country could develop its own space station if given the resources to do so. ISRO chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar said Monday that ISO had “all the capabilities” needed to develop a space station, provided it was allocated the “necessary funds and time.” India has previously explored developing a human spaceflight capability, but is not actively pursuing a program at this time. [PTI]
Former NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will be the commencement speaker this May at the University of Arizona. The university said Monday that Bolden, who left the agency last month at the end of the Obama administration, will give the commencement address May 12. The university is involved in a number of NASA missions, including the OSIRIS-REx asteroid-sample return spacecraft launched last September. [Univ. of Arizona]
NASA will hold a press conference Wednesday on an exoplanet discovery. The agency provided few details about the announcement, other than it is linked to the publication of a paper in the journal Nature. Participants in the briefing include scientists from MIT, the Space Telescope Science Institute and the University of Liege in Belgium, as well as the manager of NASA’s Spitzer Science Center. [NASA]