ISS docking test with Progress spacecraft successful
The 30-minute flight was designed to test an improved manual docking system on the station that would be used as a backup should the normal automated docking system malfunction.
NASA and Roscosmos said the brief flight was a success, although a Russian industry source reported the Progress spacecraft was “wobbling” when it docked back at the station because of an “additional pulse” of its engines. [TASS]
The Air Force formally declared a Nunn-McCurdy cost breach on the GPS 3 ground control system Thursday. The Air Force said it would notify Congress that the cost of the GPS Operational Control Segment, or OCX, program has exceeded its baseline by more than 25 percent. That notification could lead to the cancellation of OCX unless the Secretary of Defense determines the program is vital to national security, that no alternatives exist and that there is a plan to overcome its problems. Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s acquisition chief, is expected to complete a report on the OCX program by October. [SpaceNews]
NASA’s Juno spacecraft is on track to enter orbit around Jupiter late on July 4.Project officials said Thursday they have uploaded the last of the commands needed for its orbital insertion maneuver, a 35-minute engine burn starting at 11:18 p.m. Eastern July 4 that will put the spacecraft into orbit around the giant planet. Juno will carry out that maneuver on autopilot. NASA also announced Thursday a partnership with Apple to support public outreach for the mission, including the release of a short film produced by Apple and several songs by recording artists such as Brad Paisley and Weezer inspired by the mission. [SpaceNews]
Intelsat turned to a private placement of debt to repurchase some of its bonds after investment banks declined to participate. Intelsat said it raised $490 million in that private placement to repurchase bonds. While bondholders were willing to participate in the repurchase, Intelsat could not win support from investment banks to finance the deal after one firm, Aurelius Capital Management LP of New York, alleged that Intelsat had violated its bond covenants, claims that Intelsat denies. [SpaceNews]
Eumetsat will move a weather satellite to ensure it will provide continued coverage of the Indian Ocean region. Eumetsat said Wednesday it will move its aging Meteosat-8 spacecraft over the next several months to 41.5 degrees east, eventually replacing the Meteosat-7 spacecraft currently serving that region. Eumetsat plans to retire Meteosat-7 in early 2017, a move that had sparked criticism from the U.S. Air Force, which has been relying on Meteosat-7 to support weather forecasting for U.S. forces in the region. [SpaceNews]
As Dawn’s primary mission ends, project officials hope to get a decision from NASA soon on an extended mission. Dawn, currently orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres, officially ended its primary mission on Thursday. The project, though, has been seeking an extended mission that would take advantage of larger-than-expected reserves of fuel on the spacecraft to leave orbit and travel to another asteroid. The project needs a decision on an extended mission by July 12 in order to start its ion engines in time to carry out that mission. NASA has been carrying out a senior review of ongoing planetary missions, and the results of that are due out within days. [Spaceflight Now]
Taiwan is relying on Japanese remote sensing satellites after a combination of spacecraft problems and launch delays. Taiwan Science and Technology Minister Yang Hung-duen said this week that the second of four reaction wheels on its Formosat-2 spacecraft malfunctioned June 21, preventing the spacecraft from being pointed accurately enough to carry out Earth imaging. A replacement satellite, Formsat-5, was supposed to launch early this year on a SpaceX Falcon 9, but delays traced back to last June’s Falcon 9 launch failure have pushed back that launch until at least October. [CNA]
Alaska’s spaceport on Kodiak Island has won a major deal with the Missile Defense Agency. Alaska Aerospace Corporation said the contract, valued at up to $80 million over six years, will support an “indefinite number” of launches to test the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system from Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska, the launch site located on the island. The spaceport, which has rebuilt its launch facilities after an explosion in a 2014 missile test, has been struggling to line up new missile or space launch customers. [Alaska Public Media]
The Italian Space Agency signed a cooperative agreement Thursday with the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation. The agreement will allow the FAA to support the development of regulations for commercial suborbital spaceflight in Italy. Roberto Battiston, head of the Italian Space Agency, said the work could eventually lead to the development of a commercial spaceport in the country. [ANSI]
Boeing will be the corporate sponsor of a new attraction at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The complex hosted a “topping off” ceremony Thursday for its new Heroes and Legends attraction, which will host the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. It will be sponsored by Boeing and marks the first corporate sponsorship of an attraction there. The new attraction is scheduled to open Nov. 11. [Florida Today]
The National Air and Space Museum is marking its 40th anniversary with a revamped Milestones of Flight gallery. The renovated gallery, which formally opens Friday, now includes the Apollo lunar module, which previously had been at one end of the museum. Other items added to the gallery include the Discoverer 13 reentry capsule, the backup Telstar satellite and a model of the starship Enterprise from the original Star Trek series. The museum is holding ceremonies this weekend, including an all-night event Friday night, to celebrate its 40th anniversary. [collectSPACE]
Note: First Up will not publish Monday, July 4. Have a great Independence Day holiday weekend, and we’ll see you on Tuesday, July 5.