PSLV launch June 2016
An Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) lifts off June 22, 2016, carrying 20 satellites, including 13 provided by U.S. companies. Credit: ISRO

Indian prosecutors are seeking to try a former chairman of the Indian space agency ISRO on charges linked to a satellite deal.

The Central Bureau of Investigation told a judge Monday that it’s planning to charge G. Madhavan Nair, former ISRO chairman, and two other ISRO officials, saying they abused their positions to support a deal with Devas Multimedia that cost the Indian government tens of millions of dollars.

The judge plans to consider the charges at a June 1 hearing. [IANS]

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An executive order to formally reestablish the National Space Council is expected soon. At a symposium in Washington Monday, Robert Walker, the former chairman of the House Science Committee who served as a space policy adviser to the Trump campaign last fall, said the executive order has already been written and that is a “matter of timing” about when it will be released. Walker said that timing may be linked to the selection of an executive secretary who would run the council on a day-to-day basis. Attendees of the symposium, devoted to developing ultra low-cost access to space, said they believed the council could pay a key role in that area. [SpaceNews]

Virgin Galactic carried out the latest glide flight of its second SpaceShipTwo Monday, testing its feathering mechanism for the first time. The test flight Monday was the fourth unpowered free flight for the suborbital spaceplane, and the first since late February. After release from its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, SpaceShipTwo raised its twin tail booms, a process known as feathering that is designed to keep the spacecraft stable during reentry. The vehicle’s pilots then lowered the booms into their regular configuration and glided to a runway landing in Mojave, California. [SpaceNews]

As Iridium deploys its next-generation satellite constellation, it’s starting the process of deorbiting the satellites in its original system. The company says new satellites are initially co-located with the satellites they’re replacing, then the older satellite is moved either into a temporary storage orbit as a contingency, or is deorbited. The company says it follows NASA guidelines for lowering each spacecraft’s orbit and depleting it of fuel, as well as discharging its batteries and aligning its solar arrays for maximum drag. The company expects that each satellite that goes through that process should reenter within a year. [SpaceNews]

The next Long March 5 rocket has arrived at the launch site for a mission next month. The rocket, the most powerful one in China today, arrived at the Wenchang spaceport on the island of Hainan Sunday. It’s scheduled to launch the Shijian-18 satellite in June. The launch will be the first for the Long March 5 since its debut last November. [Xinhua]

The James Webb Space Telescope is ready to be shipped from Maryland to Texas for additional testing. NASA said Monday the telescope will soon depart the Goddard Space Flight Center, having completed testing there, for the Johnson Space Center, where it will undergo thermal vacuum testing. The exact date of the shipment has not been disclosed for security reasons. The telescope will later go to California to be integrated with its spacecraft bus and sunshade, and from there sent by boat to French Guiana, where it will launch in October 2018 on an Ariane 5. [Baltimore Sun]

The Japanese government and a consortium of companies are seeking to support that country’s commercial space industry. Under the program, the government will solicit ideas for technologies that could expand the space industry. Winning ideas will be funded by the consortium, up to $180,000, along with access to expertise provided by those companies and the government. [Nikkei]

The U.S. Mint has started a competition to solicit designs for a coin to mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. The competition, open through June 29, invites artists to submit their portfolio. The Mint will then select about 20 artists to provide designs for the coin. The coin, authorized by a law passed by Congress last year, will be produced in time to mark the 50th anniversary of the mission in 2019. [collectSPACE]

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...