An Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle lifted off Jan. 20 carrying IRNSS-1E, the fifth satellite in the seven-spacecraft Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. Credit: ISRO

India plans to turn over operations of its PSLV rocket to the private sector by the end of the decade.

Under the plan, to be discussed with Indian industry this week, a consortium of companies led by Antrix, the commercial arm of the Indian space agency ISRO, will handle manufacturing and operations of the PSLV.

That plan, ISRO’s chairman said, would allow an increase in the PSLV’s launch rate. [The Times of India]

More News

Japan has rescheduled the launch of an astronomy satellite for Wednesday. The Japanese space agency JAXA announced Sunday that the launch of its Astro-H satellite, previously scheduled for last Friday, is now planned for Wednesday at 3:45 a.m. Eastern. Poor weather delayed the launch of the spacecraft, an X-ray astronomy mission. [Jiji Press]

Europe’s next Earth observation satellite is on track for a launch Tuesday from Russia. A Rockot launch vehicle is scheduled to lift off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia at 12:57 p.m. Eastern Tuesday and place the Sentinel-3A satellite into orbit. The satellite will provide wide-field images and other data regarding ocean and land conditions and ice thicknesses.


Two companies are competing for a contract from the Canadian government for space-based maritime monitoring. One company, exactEarth, was recently spun out of ComDev after Honeywell acquired ComDev. The other, Skywave Mobile Communications, is owned by Orbcomm. The companies are pursuing a contract to provide data from Automatic Identification System using sensors on spacecraft they operate. A contract award is expected in the coming weeks. [SpaceNews]
An effort to search for a visible signature of the first gravitational wave detection came up empty. Astronomers used a wide-field instrument on a telescope in Chile to search the skies in September, a day after observatories in the U.S. detected gravitational waves created by the collision of two massive black holes.That search, over a wide swath of the sky, turned up no “unusual bursts” of visible light that might be linked to that collision. That effort, though, will serve as the basis for future followups of gravitational wave detections. [Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics]

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Law enforcement in the U.S. and Britain were called in to investigate a case of online harassment of a NASA astronaut. The unnamed astronaut had started a friendship on Twitter with a British woman, which also involved phone calls and texts. The relationship soured, though, when the woman reportedly learned the astronaut had a girlfriend, and started sending “false and malicious statements” through various Twitter accounts. An investigation by NASA’s Office of Inspector General led to the woman being placed on a Customs and Border Protection watch list. British police visited the woman to advise her to end the harassment, although no charges were filed. [Motherboard]

The Week Ahead


  • Greenbelt, Md.: The Maryland Space Business Roundtable hosts a luncheon with Harold Weaver, New Horizons project scientist at the Applied Physics Laboratory.
  • Plesetsk, Russia: Scheduled launch of a Rockot vehicle carrying ESA’s Sentinel-3A Earth science satellite at 12:57 p.m. Eastern.


  • Tanegashima, Japan: Rescheduled launch of the Astro-H astronomy satellite on an H-2A rocket at 3:45 a.m. Eastern.
  • Arlington, Va.: The AIAA’s National Capital Section hosts a luncheon with Winston A. Beauchamp, deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space.


  • Mojave, Calif.: Virgin Galactic will unveil the second SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle at its facilities there.

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...