Galileo launch
A Europeanized Russian Soyuz rocket launches the 11th and 12th Galileo satellites from Europe’s Guiana Space Center. Credit: Arianespace

An Italian radar satellite will share a Soyuz launch with a European science satellite next year.

The Italian space agency ASI said it will launch one of two next-generation Cosmo-Skymed radar satellites on a Soyuz from French Guiana, co-manifested with ESA’s Cheops exoplanet satellite.

That launch is scheduled for late 2018. ASI had considered launching the satellite on a Falcon 9 before choosing the Soyuz. [Spaceflight Now]

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A Soyuz spacecraft carrying three space station crew members landed safely this morning. The Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft landed in Kazakhstan at 7:20 a.m. Eastern, nearly three and a half hours after undocking from the ISS. The Soyuz returned to Earth NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko after spending almost six months in space. On Sunday, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson formally took command of the station from Kimbrough. She remains on the ISS with ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy. A Soyuz carrying two new crew members will launch to the station April 20. [CBS]

The company that provides RD-180 engines for United Launch Alliance hopes to win another order. During a panel session at last week’s Space Symposium, Michael Baker, CEO of RD Amross, said he expected a decision in the near future from ULA about an additional order of RD-180 engines as a hedge against delays in the development of the Vulcan rocket. The last RD-180s engines are currently due to be delivered in 2019 for launches through 2022, and another order could support Atlas 5 launches into 2024. [SpaceNews]

The chief executive of O3b Networks has now has a broader role at parent company SES. Steve Collar will oversee all non-television business at the global satellite operator after serving as CEO of O3b since 2012. Collar, in his new role, will oversee business in the mobility, enterprise and government services sectors. SES also promoted Ferdinand Kayser, previously chief commercial officer at SES, to the role of CEO of SES Video, its broadcast business. [SpaceNews]

A Japanese small launch vehicle will get a second launch attempt within the next year. The president of the Japanese space agency JAXA said Friday that the agency would make a second launch attempt of the SS-520-4 rocket, a converted sounding rocket, some time during the current Japanese fiscal year, which started April 1. The first SS-520-4 launch, in January, ended in failure because of wiring problems with the rocket. [Nikkei]

A congressman noted for his advocacy of human missions to Mars is mounting his own mission to become governor of Colorado. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) announced Sunday he will seek the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018. The state’s current governor, John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, is not eligible to run again because of term limits. Perlmutter, a member of the House Science Committee, has supported plans for human missions to Mars, frequently holding up a bumper sticker at hearings calling for a mission there in 2033. [Denver Post]

A large asteroid will pass fairly close to the Earth next week, but don’t panic. Asteroid 2014 JO25 will pass about 1.8 million kilometers from the Earth, less than five times the distance to the moon, on April 19. The asteroid, about 650 meters across, poses no impact risk to the Earth, but it is a relatively close approach for an asteroid this large. [CNN]

Former Soviet cosmonaut Georgy Grechko has passed away at the age of 85. Grechko flew on three missions to Salyut space stations between 1975 and 1985, logging nearly 135 days in orbit. He performed one spacewalk in 1977 to test the new Orlan-D spacesuit, versions of which continue to be used by Russian cosmonauts to this day. [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...