The Angara 1.2 launch vehicle being lifted during pad verticalization at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in 2014. Credit: International Launch Services

International Launch Services has won the first commercial contract for an Angara 1.2 launch.

ILS announced Monday that the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) has signed a contract for an Angara 1.2 launch of the Kompsat-6 remote sensing satellite.

That launch, into sun-synchronous orbit, is scheduled for 2020 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia.

Angara 1.2 is the smallest version of the Angara rocket, capable of launching payloads of up to 3.5 tons into low Earth orbit. [ILS]

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Virgin Galactic is ready to begin tests of its second SpaceShipTwo after receiving an FAA license. The license covers test flights of the suborbital spaceplane from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, but restricts the company from flying paying passengers, known as “spaceflight participants,” until it has verified the overall performance of the vehicle. The license comes as Virgin Galactic announced Monday the first test of the vehicle outside its hangar, a taxi test to “evaluate and calibrate” its communications and navigation systems. [SpaceNews]

SES may split a $1.6 billion fund for new satellites between a new GEO system and more satellites for O3b. The company had been expected to use that fund to develop a network of Ka-band geostationary satellites to compete with ViaSat and Inmarsat. SES, which officially took a 100 percent stake in O3b on Aug. 1, is now considering spending some of that money on additional satellites for O3b’s medium Earth orbit constellation, as that system may be a more efficient way of providing broadband services. [SpaceNews]

The U.S. Army general who was about to become the service’s top space officer unexpectedly died Sunday. Maj. Gen. John G. Rossi died at the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, and his death was under investigation, according to a U.S. Army release. Rossi was scheduled to become commander of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command on Tuesday. [SpaceNews]

Canada’s MDA Corp. is working to become a more U.S.-focused company. The company, based on Canada but with facilities in the U.S., now has an American chief executive and has formed a U.S. holding company, part of efforts to be better positioned to win business from U.S. government agencies. The company is still eligible for export credit financing from Export Development Canada, even for satellites that are built by MDA-owned Space Systems Loral in California. [SpaceNews]

A minor fire broke out Monday night at SpaceX’s main factory. Los Angeles County firefighters were called to the Hawthorne, California, plant at around 11 p.m. Eastern Monday after a fire broke out in a “battery room” there. No injuries were reported, and the fire was extinguished in about 15 minutes. [City News Service]

NASA has named a new chairwoman of its Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP). The agency announced Monday that Patricia Sanders, the former executive director of the Missile Defense Agency, will lead the independent panel that reviews safety issues associated with NASA programs. She succeeds retired Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Dyer, who chaired ASAP for 13 years. [NASA]

Orbital Outfitters says its new altitude chamber facility located adjacent to a Texas spaceport is open for business. The company told local officials in Midland, Texas, that its Midland Altitude Chamber Complex is ready for customers, and anticipates its first commercial use next month. The facility, next to the city’s airport that is also an FAA-licensed spaceport, hopes to attract customers for testing space components that might otherwise use NASA-owned altitude chambers that have long wait times. [Midland (Texas) Reporter-Telegram]

Oklahoma’s underutilized spaceport is hoping to attract a new generation of spaceplanes. The Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority, which operates the spaceport, a former Air Force base, in the town of Burns Flat, wants to attract companies developing spaceplanes that take off and land horizontally. Previous efforts to line up such customers, most notably Rocketplane Global, failed. Local officials, who are not involved in the authority’s efforts to attract customers to the spaceport, are skeptical about those efforts. [The Oklahoman]

Hackers obtained credentials for logging into NASA computer systems. The information, posed online by hackers reportedly linked to a Brazilian group, included usernames and passwords as well as other information on how to access NASA computer networks. “It looks like somebody hit them with a vulnerability scanner,” the chief executive of an information security firm said, who added NASA responded quickly to address the flaws. “They were leaking like a sieve.” [SC Magazine]

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...