An Indian Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) rocket successfully launched a weather satellite Thursday.
The GSLV lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center at 7:20 a.m. Eastern and placed the INSAT-3DR advanced weather satellite into its planned geostationary transfer orbit.
The launch was delayed by 40 minutes to resolve a problem during fueling of the rocket.
The launch was the first operational mission for the Mark 2 version of the GSLV, featuring an Indian-developed cryogenic upper stage. [The Hindu]
A NASA asteroid sample return mission is set to launch tonight. The Atlas 5 carrying NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft rolled to the pad at Cape Canaveral Wednesday morning, in advance of a launch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Eastern tonight. Forecasts continued to call for an 80 percent chance of acceptable weather during the nearly two-hour launch window. OSIRIS-REx will travel to the near Earth asteroid Bennu to study the asteroid and collect samples for return to Earth in 2023. [Florida Today]
Arianespace is considering adding another launch to its 2017 manifest in response to Proton and Falcon delays. In an interview, Arianespace CEO Stephane Israel said Arianespace was currently planning seven Ariane 5 launches in 2017, but was now considering adding an eighth “given the evolution of the market,” a reference to ongoing Proton delays and the recent Falcon 9 pad accident. Arianespace had expected to perform seven Ariane 5 launches this year, but delays caused by a Japanese satellite damaged in shipment to the launch site earlier this year mean the company now expects to perform only six. [SpaceNews]
It will be difficult, though, for companies to steal much business from SpaceX despite its accident. Crowded launch manifests offer few opportunities for accommodating customers facing delays while the Falcon 9 is out of service. Satellite operators looking to take advantage of business intended for the Amos-6 satellite destroyed in the accident may also find it difficult given limited capacity and delays in the launch of their own satellites. [SpaceNews]
A House hearing Wednesday criticized NOAA for delays and uncertainty in the commercial remote sensing licensing process. Members of the House space subcommittee and industry witnesses expressed concern that lengthy delays in the licensing process, particularly for new systems planning infrared or hyperspectral imagery, could push the industry to other countries. Committee members also criticized NOAA for “slow-rolling” a report on potential licensing reforms required by last year’s Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act. [SpaceNews]
The European Space Agency has selected Arianespace to launch an Earth sciences mission. ESA said Wednesday that a Vega small launch vehicle will launch its Aeolus satellite around the end of 2017. The spacecraft, equipped with a lidar, will study winds as well as aerosols and clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere. [ESA]
Two companies in the satellite services industry are up for sale. Industry sources said that Harris Corp. is looking to sell CapRock, its maritime satellite services division, while private equity company Wasserstein & Co. is looking to sell Globecomm, which is also in the maritime satellite services market. Those efforts, triggered at least in part by decreased demand after oil prices dropped, may be part of a long-anticipated consolidation in the satellite services sector. [SpaceNews]
Blue Origin may seek to develop a second launch site at Cape Canaveral. The company filed for a permit this week to develop launch sites both at Launch Complex 36 and Launch Complex 11 at the Cape. The company announced last year plans to develop a launch site at LC-36 for its planned orbital launch vehicle, but had not discussed LC-11, an Atlas pad that was last used for a launch more than 50 years ago. The sites will be used for launches as well as engine tests, according to the permit application. [Orlando Business Journal]
Virgin Galactic is ready to resume test flights of its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle. The company said Wednesday it plans to begin tests of the second SpaceShipTwo in the “near future,” starting with captive carry tests where the spaceplane remains attached to its WhiteKnightTwo aircraft. Virgin Galactic unveiled the second SpaceShipTwo, named VSS Unity, in February. It replaces the original SpaceShipTwo lost in a test flight accident in October 2014. [Los Angeles Times]
China says the world’s largest radio telescope will open later this month. The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, will replace the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico as the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope. Regulations limiting activities within 10 kilometers of FAST, including prohibition of “irrelevant projects” as well as radio silence, will go into affect Sept. 25. [Xinhua]