Iranian rocket launch draws U.S. complaint
The Simorgh rocket, reportedly based on North Korea’s Unha vehicle, launched from a new facility, the Imam Khomeini Space Center.
The Simorgh is described as being able to place satellites weighing up to 250 kilograms into low Earth orbit, but it was unclear if this launch intended to place a payload into orbit.
The U.S. government criticized the launch, saying it violated a U.N. Security Council resolution that called on Iran to not develop ballistic missile technology. [Reuters]
A new funding round values SpaceX at more than $21 billion. The $351 million round, disclosed by financial company Equidate, closed earlier this month and gives the company a valuation of $21.2 billion. SpaceX raised $1 billion in January 2015 that valued the company at $12 billion. The company did not comment on the round, including who participated in it or how SpaceX will use the funding. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk did announce on social media late Thursday that the company is now planning the first launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket in November. [SpaceNews]
Three new International Space Station crewmembers are set to launch later today. The Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 11:41 a.m. Eastern and dock with the station about six hours later. The Soyuz will transfer to the station Sergey Ryazanskiy, Randy Bresnik and Paolo Nespoli, bringing the station’s crew back up to six people. [CBS]
A Senate bill would restore funding for NASA Earth science and satellite servicing missions that the White House sought to terminate. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a commerce, justice and science spending bill Thursday that provides NASA with $19.529 billion. That total includes $1.921 billion for Earth science, funding four missions that the administration sought to cancel in its budget request. It also funds Restore-L, a satellite servicing mission that the request sought to restructure into a smaller and more generic program. For NOAA, the bill provides more than $400 million for the Polar Follow-On program of future JPSS weather satellites, rejecting a proposed cut by the White House. [SpaceNews]
An Intelsat satellite that took longer than planned to reach its orbit is now taking longer than expected to fill with customers. Intelsat-33e suffered a thruster problem after launch that delayed its arrival into geostationary orbit. The satellite, the second in Intelsat’s Epic line of high-throughput satellites, is filling at a slower rate than the first, which the company attributes to differences in geography and potential customers. Intelsat added that it is open to using future satellite servicing systems to extend the life of its satellites, delaying decisions on procuring replacement satellites. [SpaceNews]
Thales is the latest company to enter the in-flight connectivity market using satellites. Thales said Thursday it received FCC approval later this month to use its Thales FlytLive aeronautical terminals. Those terminals will provide broadband services to aircraft in Ka-band through four satellites. Thales joins five other companies offering internet access for aircraft in the United States. [SpaceNews]
Iridium expects to launch its next batch of next-generation satellites at the end of September. The company said Thursday the launch of the third set of Iridium Next satellites on a Falcon 9 is scheduled for Sept. 30, a little more than three months after the launch of the second set of 10 satellites. In its second quarter results, also released Thursday, Iridium reported net income of $24.8 million on revenue of $111.6 million. [Iridium]
Astronomers have found evidence for a Neptune-sized moon orbiting a giant exoplanet. In a new paper, astronomers reported evidence for the moon in data from the Kepler spacecraft. The moon orbits a planet about 10 times the mass of Jupiter in a star system 4,000 light-years away. Astronomers plan follow-up observations of the star in October using the Hubble Space Telescope to attempt to verify the moon’s existence. If confirmed, it would be the first discovery of an “exomoon,” or a moon orbiting an exoplanet. [BBC]