ESA has selected a second potential landing site for its ExoMars 2020 rover.
The agency said Tuesday it will consider Mawrth Vallis, an area that once likely had liquid water, along with Oxia Planum, a site scientists selected in 2015 when the mission was scheduled for a 2018 launch.
ESA doesn’t plan to select a final landing site until a year before launch. [BBC]
The White House is seeking to trim NASA and NOAA’s budgets in any final fiscal year 2017 spending bill. The administration sent congressional appropriators a list of nearly $18 billion in non-defense discretionary spending cuts it’s seeking in 2017 appropriations bills. The cuts include $50 million distributed among NASA science programs and $90 million from NOAA weather satellite programs. The cuts are from 2016 spending levels, under which government agencies have been operating since the fiscal year began nearly six months ago under a continuing resolution. That CR expires April 28, giving Congress less than a month to pass new spending bills or extend the CR through the rest of the fiscal year. [SpaceNews]
Teledyne Technologies has completed a $789 million acquisition of British space electronics company e2v. Teledyne says the acquisition of e2v was “highly complementary” to its own electronics business. e2v, whose work has included providing cameras for ESA and NASA missions, generated $295 million in sales in the fiscal year ending last March. [SpaceNews]
NASA said Tuesday that a Cygnus cargo mission to the space station delayed by booster problems won’t fly until at least mid-April. In a presentation at a NASA Advisory Council committee meeting, Robyn Gatens attributed the delay to ongoing work to resolve a hydraulics problem with the Atlas 5 rocket Orbital ATK is using for this Cygnus mission instead of its own Antares rocket. The launch was scheduled for mid-March but postponed by earlier problems with both the rocket and ground support equipment. The delay will also postpone a spacewalk planned for next week because the Cygnus is carrying equipment to be installed outside the station during that EVA. [SpaceNews]
NASA also announced Tuesday new crew assignments for upcoming ISS missions. NASA said Joe Acaba will fly to the ISS this September in a seat NASA obtained from Boeing earlier this year. Shannon Walker will train as his backup, and Ricky Arnold will fly in a second extra seat to the station next spring. Russian media reported earlier this month that Acaba was expected to take that extra seat vacated by the Russians as they temporarily reduce their crew size from three to two. NASA also assigned Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Nick Hague to Soyuz missions scheduled for launch in late 2018. [NASA]
An executive with satellite operator SES is confident in SpaceX’s ability to fly a reused rocket. Martin Halliwell, chief technology office at SES, said his company had closely followed SpaceX’s refurbishment and testing of the Falcon 9 first stage, first flown on a Dragon cargo launch last April, that will be used to launch the SES-10 satellite this Thursday. “This booster is a really good booster, and we’re confident,” he said Tuesday. [Florida Today]
Experts say there’s no debate on the goals of national security launch policy, but also no agreement on how to achieve them. William LaPlante, who served as the Air Force assistant secretary for acquisition during the Obama administration, said in a panel discussion last week that everyone would like to see launch become a “service” with at least two commercial, independent providers. Among the issues under debate to achieving that goal, he said, is how to end dependence on the Russian-manufactured RD-180 engine, with some cautioning that legislating the end of the RD-180 prematurely could jeopardize the future of ULA. [SpaceNews]
An instrument that forced a delay in the launch of NASA’s Insight Mars lander has passed a major milestone. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, said Tuesday that the seismic instrument being developed by the French space agency CNES had successfully completed testing. Problems with the instrument’s ability to hold a vacuum forced a redesign that postponed Insight’s launch from March 2016 to May 2018. [Spaceflight Now]
Russia’s next-generation crew spacecraft will have advanced displays. A designer with Russian company Energia said that the Federation spacecraft will include touch-screen displays similar to those being planned for U.S. spacecraft, replacing the manual controls on the Soyuz spacecraft. Future cosmonauts, though, may better appreciate another feature: a “full-size toilet cabin, well isolated from the other compartments” on the spacecraft. [TASS]
Orbital ATK is donating two used shuttle-era solid rocket boosters to a California museum. The boosters, featuring segments that flew on shuttle missions from 1982 to 2011, will be incorporated into a display of the shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The display, which will also include an external tank, mated to the shuttle and SRBs and mounted vertically, is scheduled to be ready in 2019. [Spaceflight Now]