Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work will remain on the job after the inauguration for a limited time.
Work confirmed that he will stay at the Pentagon “just a little bit longer” to provide continuity for the incoming administration.
Work has been deeply involved with a number of military space issues, including the development of the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center (JICSpOC) and a reorganization of space leadership within the Defense Department. [DOD Buzz]
NASA is considering a Boeing proposal to purchase additional Soyuz seats for ISS missions. NASA said in a procurement filing Tuesday it has received an offer from Boeing to buy seats on Soyuz flights in the fall of 2017 and spring of 2018, as well as an option for three seats in 2019. Boeing obtained the seats from Energia as part of a settlement between the two companies involving Sea Launch. The seats in 2017 and 2018, freed up by Russian plans to reduce the size of its crew from three to two, would provide NASA with an additional ISS crewmember to perform research. The three seats in 2019 could serve as insurance should Boeing and SpaceX’s commercial crew efforts encounter delays, or instead augment the station’s crew. Boeing expects to start negotiating a deal with NASA after a Jan. 27 deadline for responses to the procurement filing. [SpaceNews]
The head of Middle Eastern satellite operator Yahsat is optimistic about business prospects in Brazil, despite economic problems there. In an interview, Yahsat CEO Masood M. Sharif Mahmood said that although Brazil, a key market for its upcoming Al Yah 3 satellite, went into recession after the satellite was ordered in 2014, he sees “green shoots of recovery” there, with 20-25 percent of the satellite’s capacity already acquired by several companies. Part of Al Yah 3’s capacity will also be used by Eutelsat to provide broadband access in Africa, replacing the Amos-6 satellite lost in a pre-launch pad accident last year. Al Yah 3 is scheduled to launch this year on an Ariane 5. [SpaceNews]
The man set to become NASA acting administrator said some members of the “landing team” at the agency will remain there after the inauguration. In a speech Tuesday, NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot said some people who came to the agency after the election as part of the incoming Trump administration’s review team will remain as a “beachhead team” of presidential appointees after the landing team is formally disbanded Friday. Lightfoot said he’s had good discussions with the landing team, hinting that they have “lots of good ideas” for the agency. [SpaceNews]
Several people are in the running to become the head of NOAA. Three people have emerged as frontrunners to lead the agency whose responsibilities include operating weather satellites: Scott Rayder, senior adviser for development and partnerships at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and a member of the Commerce Department landing team; Barry Myers, CEO of AccuWeather; and Jonathan White, president and chief executive of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. There’s no timeline for when the Trump administration is expected to nominate one of those individuals for the position. [Washington Post]
The Falcon 9 stage that made a successful landing at sea after Saturday’s Iridium launch is back in port. The “droneship” carrying the Falcon 9 first stage arrived in the Port of Los Angeles early Tuesday, three days after the launch and successful landing. The landing was the seventh time SpaceX had landed a first stage either on a ship or on land, but the first time for a launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base. [Daily Breeze]
The satellite that will be the first to launch on a reused Falcon 9 has arrived in Florida to begin launch preparations. The SES-10 satellite, shipped from its factory in Europe to Cape Canaveral over the weekend, is set to launch on a Falcon 9 in late February. That launch will use a Falcon 9 first stage that first launched a Dragon cargo spacecraft last April. SES and SpaceX announced the plan to fly SES-10 on a “flight-proven” Falcon 9 in August, shortly before a pad explosion put a halt to Falcon 9 launches. [Spaceflight Now]
Government and industry shouldn’t delay improved space traffic management capabilities despite a wide range of challenges facing the topic. A panel at a recent conference noted that improving the ability to monitor objects in Earth orbit and accurately predict potential collisions requires dealing with a number of issues, from data collection and analysis to regulatory issues. Nonetheless, the problem is important enough, they argued, to start work now rather than wait for a better solution later. “We need to avoid the temptation because it is a complex and challenging problem to try to get everything perfect before we start taking action,” said the FAA’s George Nield. [SpaceNews]
Engineers have finished building a European wind-observation satellite slated for launch this year. The Aeolus spacecraft, built by Airbus Defence and Space in the U.K., will use an ultraviolet laser to measure wind patterns from the Earth’s surface into the stratosphere. Development of the spacecraft has been delayed for years because of problems with the laser instrument. Aeolus is now scheduled for launch on a Vega rocket late this year. [BBC]
The man behind The Martian is making a move to television. CBS announced Tuesday it was ordering a pilot for a drama called “Mission Control” about “the next generation of NASA astronauts and scientists as they juggle both their personal and professional lives during a critical mission with no margin for error.” Andy Weir, who wrote the novel The Martian that later became a hit movie, will be a writer and executive producer of the show. [Variety]