Canadian company MDA is reportedly in talks to acquire DigitalGlobe.
A report Friday said MDA was in “advanced talks” to purchase DigitalGlobe, which operates several high-resolution Earth-imaging satellites. The value of any deal could be $2-3 billion, based on DigitalGlobe’s market cap of $1.8 billion.
DigitalGlobe had been discussing a sale of the company to potential buyers recently, sources said. [Wall Street Journal]
SpaceX successfully launched a Dragon cargo spacecraft Sunday in the company’s first launch from a historic Kennedy Space Center pad. The Falcon 9 lifted off at 9:39 a.m. Eastern from Launch Complex 39A and placed the Dragon spacecraft in orbit 10 minutes later. The Falcon 9’s first stage landed at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 pad at Cape Canaveral eight minutes after liftoff. The launch was the first from LC-39A since the final shuttle launch in July 2011. SpaceX leased the pad in 2014 and renovated it to support launches of the Falcon Heavy and crewed Falcon 9 launches, but pressed it into service for other Falcon 9 missions after the September pad explosion damaged its other Florida launch site, Space Launch Complex 40. [SpaceNews]
NASA’s Juno spacecraft will remain in its current longer orbit around Jupiter. The agency said Fridaythat mission managers have elected not to perform a maneuver that would have reduced the period of the spacecraft’s orbit from 53 to 14 days. Such a maneuver was planned for October but postponed because of a problem with helium check valves used to pressurize the propulsion system. Engineers ultimately concluded it was not worth the risk to the mission to attempt the maneuver. The longer orbit does not affect the quality of the science Juno collects, but will require an extended mission to collect all of the data originally planned. [SpaceNews]
Instead of supporting the Ex-Im Bank, the Trump administration may seek to eliminate it. A report this weekend said that the export credit agency, used by U.S. satellite manufacturers and launch providers, is among nine programs that the White House’s Office of Management and Budget has tentatively targeted for elimination. On Friday, President Trump spoke at a Boeing airliner plant in South Carolina, where he was expected to make some mention of support for Ex-Im. However, he did not raise the topic in his speech. [SpaceNews]
The British government plans to unveil a bill this week to support commercial launches in the country. The draft legislation, which will be formally introduced in Parliament later this year, covers the establishment of commercial spaceports for suborbital and orbital launches. The government hopes the legislation, and other efforts to support commercial launch providers, will allow such launches to begin by 2020. [Reuters]
The Senate passed an updated version of a NASA authorization bill on Friday. The Senate approved the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 by unanimous consent, sending it to the House for passage there. The bill is similar to one the Senate passed in the final days of the previous Congress in December, authorizing $19.5 billion for NASA in fiscal year 2017 and setting policy on a wide range of issues, including exploration programs. [SpacePolicyOnline]
SpaceX will likely delay its Red Dragon Mars mission to 2020. During a press conference at the Kennedy Space Center Friday in advance of the company’s launch there, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said demands on company resources for its commercial crew program and development of the Falcon Heavy have kept it from making progress on Red Dragon to support a mid-2018 launch. That mission, which will send a Dragon spacecraft to land on Mars, is intended primarily to be a demonstration of technologies for Mars landings, such as supersonic retropropulsion. SpaceX has a Space Act Agreement with NASA where the agency provides technical support, but not funding, for the project. [Mashable]
Former NASA officials and astronauts support the idea of studying putting a crew on the first SLS/Orion mission. At a House hearing, witnesses said NASA’s announcement last week to study launching a crew on Exploration Mission 1 was a good idea as a way to accelerate the agency’s exploration program. That study, which will examine issues associated with SLS, Orion and ground systems, is expected to be completed by late next month. [SpaceNews]
Aerojet Rocketdyne has established a new division consolidating its space activities. The new Space Business Unit, announced Friday, will be led by Jerry Tarnacki, a former Air Force officer who joined the company in December 2015 as vice president of quality and mission assurance. The new unit will be responsible for all NASA, defense and commercial launch and in-space propulsion programs and related activities. [SpaceNews]
The vice commander of the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center will be taking a new job in the Pentagon. The Defense Department said Friday that Brig. Gen. Mark Baird will become director of space programs within the office of the U.S. Air Force assistant secretary for acquisition. That position is currently held by Maj. Gen. Roger Teague. [SpaceNews]
The upper stage engine for a new version of India’s GSLV completed a full-duration test firing Friday. The C-25 engine, powered by liquid-hydrogen and liquid-oxygen propellants, fired for 640 seconds on a test stand Friday. The test is one of the last major milestones before the engine is flown on the upper stage of the GSLV Mark 3 rocket, increasing the vehicle’s payload performance to geostationary transfer orbit to four tons. The first GSLV Mark 3 launch is expected in the coming months. [The Hindu]