Russia lofts milcom troika — Kepler PI sharing Shaw Prize purse — New Horizons teases “technicolor” data dump
- A Russian Rockot vehicle placed three military communications satellites into orbit. The Rockot lifted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia at 6:00 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday carrying three Rodnik low Earth orbit communications satellites. It was not immediately clear if the rocket also carried a fourth satellite: some past launches of Rodnik satellites carried an additional satellite that maneuvered after deployment. [NASASpaceFlight.com]
- The Air Force is considering outsourcing operations of its fleet of Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) satellites. A request for information issued earlier this month sought details on how to commercialize on-orbit operations and maintenance of the satellites. Outsourcing WGS operations could be a pathfinder for commercializing operations of other military satellite systems, including GPS. [SpaceNews]
- A geomagnetic storm at least temporarily disrupted operations of a Russian weather satellite. The Meteor-M No. 2 satellite, in a sun-synchronous orbit, reportedly suffered a malfunction in its attitude control system because of a failure of a microprocessor during a magnetic storm. The Russian space agency Roscosmos said the satellite is now operating normally. [TASS]
- Space situational awareness (SSA) is becoming increasingly commercialized. The growing role of private companies in offering services to track satellites and warn of potential conjunctions was a “hot topic” at last week’s AMOS conference in Hawaii, devoted to SSA efforts. Private SSA efforts track fewer objects than the U.S. Air Force, but companies may be better able to handle the “big data” processing of that data than the government. [Nature]
- Legal disputes and protests over the Thirty Meter Telescope are having a financial impact on the Univ. of Hawaii. The university has spent $2.2 million in legal fees defending plans to build that telescope as well as the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope in Maui. The university is considering cutting funding from some other overhead costs to pay those legal fees. [HawaiiNewsNow]
Tease of the Day
“Boy there’s going to be some WAY COOL new science with what we release tomorrow! Science in technicolor! #Plutoflyby #Hang_onto_your_hat”
– A tweet Wednesday from the official account for the New Horizons mission about an upcoming release of data returned by the spacecraft from its July flyby of Pluto.
- The chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) has won election to another term in office. Frank DiBello, president and CEO of Space Florida, was elected by the group’s membership to another term as chairman of the commercial space industry organization. Several new organizations also joined the CSF, bringing its membership to more than 60 companies. [Commercial Spaceflight Federation]
- For the first time in decades, space is being discussed during a Canadian federal election campaign. Canada’s two leading opposition parties, Liberal and New Democratic, have said they support developing a long-term space strategy that the ruling Conservative Party promised but did not complete. The head of the New Democratic Party has also promised to spend $40 million over four years on a technology development program at the Canadian Space Agency. [SpaceNews]
- Luxury yachts and cruise ships will get satellite broadband access under a new deal. Maritime satellite communications provider OmniAccess said Wednesday it is buying satellite capacity from Panasonic Avionics to serve its 250 ships, with potential future opportunities in aeronautical broadband as well. Panasonic is providing that capacity from planned Intelsat and Eutelsat high-throughput spacecraft. [SpaceNews]
- Houston’s nascent spaceport will host a business incubator. The Houston Airport System is in the early stages of planning an incubator for early-stage companies at Ellington Airport, as well as a co-working space where small and large companies could collaborate. The airport received an FAA commercial spaceport license earlier this year, but does not yet have any firm customers for launches or landings. [Houston Business Journal]
- The principal investigator for NASA’s Kepler mission is donating part of a prize to an advocacy organization. William Borucki, who won the $1 million Shaw Prize in Astronomy this year for leading a mission that has discovered thousands of exoplanets, will donate $100,000 to the Union of Concerned Scientists to support its work addressing climate change. “While we can detect other worlds, we cannot go to them,” he said in a statement. “Our future is here on Earth and we must do much more to ensure that our planet’s climate remains hospitable.” [Union of Concerned Scientists]
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