The former CEO of a construction company involved with Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome has been arrested on corruption charges.
Mikhail Kalinin, who was chief executive of Main Military Construction Office No. 9 until a year ago, was arrested after being charged with accepting a bribe from a subcontractor for work building the launch site in Russia’s Far East.
Kalinin has entered a not guilty plea, but is reportedly willing to cooperate with investigators. [Crime Russia]
A House appropriations bill would increase the budget of the FAA’s commercial space office. The draft bill, released late Monday and scheduled to be marked up by a subcommittee this evening, offers nearly $21.6 million for the Office of Commercial Space Transportation, an increase of more than $1.7 million over what the office received for 2017. The White House budget proposal had instead sought to cut the office’s budget by nearly $2 million. The office is responsible for regulating commercial launches and reentries, and its leadership has said it needs additional funding to keep up with the growing number of commercial launches. [SpaceNews]
With time running out to start work on a 2022 Mars orbiter, NASA said it will have a “coherent Mars architecture” ready to present at a committee meeting next month. During a meeting Monday of the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group, Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters, said he expects NASA to have a plan for future robotic missions, including Mars sample return efforts, ready to present at a National Academies committee meeting in late August. Many in the Mars science community are concerned about the lack of plans for missions beyond the Mars 2020 rover. They are also worried about the limited funding for those missions in NASA’s 2018 budget request that could make it impossible to have an orbiter to handle reconnaissance and communications duties ready for launch in 2022. [SpaceNews]
OneWeb says the deorbiting systems for the satellites in its broadband constellation will be highly reliable. Speaking at a forum Monday about space debris, Tim Maclay, OneWeb’s director of mission systems engineering, said the deorbiting systems on its spacecraft will be the “highest-reliability functions on the entire spacecraft,” even above that of the communications payload. The spacecraft will be designed to deorbit within as little as one to two years after the end of their lives, much earlier than the 25-year deadline in international orbital debris mitigation guidelines. [SpaceNews]
Security researchers have broken an encryption system used by satellite phones. Chinese researchers said they have been able to attack the GEO-Mobile Radio Interface 2 (GMR-2) encryption system, one of two such encryption systems specifically developed for satellite radio systems. While those systems have been hacked in the past, the new approach could allow for real-time decryption of communications that use GMR-2. [SecurityWeek]
A new study has found high levels of racial and gender harassment in astronomy and planetary science. The study, published Monday, found that about 40 percent of women of color reported feeling unsafe in their workplace because of their gender, while 28 percent feel unsafe due to their race. The results, based on surveys of more than 450 people in the field, provide strong evidence “that something is terribly wrong” in the field, said the study’s lead author, Kathryn Clancy. [AGU]
A dramatic smoke plume seen at the Kennedy Space Center came from a planned fire. Firefighters decided Monday to burn about 6,100 acres of land north of the KSC Visitor Complex to contain a wildfire triggered by lightning over the weekend. Such “burnout” efforts are intended to accelerate a wildfire’s demise. The fire did not affect operations at KSC or the visitor’s center. [Florida Today]
An Australian entrepreneur is seeking government backing for a spaceport in Queensland. The Federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science said it has been talking with businessman John Moody about establishing a spaceport neat the city of Rockhampton and expects to receive a formal proposal from him in the near future. Moody is also interested in government funding for the spaceport. He has provided few details about what vehicles the site would support, but says he has been working with Interorbital Systems, a U.S. company that has long offered plans for a series of orbital launch vehicles, none of which have yet to fly. [Brisbane Courier-Mail]
Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle is going to Oshkosh. The Experimental Aircraft Association, which holds it annual AirVenture show in the Wisconsin city in late July, announced Monday that Blue Origin will bring the propulsion module that flew five suborbital flights to the show, along with a module of the vehicle’s crew capsule. That hardware was on display in April at the Space Symposium in Colorado. [EAA]