Japanese satellite operator Sky Perfect JSAT will invest in broadband company LeoSat
The companies announced early Thursday that Sky Perfect JSAT will make an unspecified investment in LeoSat and market LeoSat’s services.
LeoSat is developing a constellation of 108 low-Earth-orbit satellites that will provide high-throughput communications comparable to terrestrial fiber systems.
The company plans to start launching its satellites in 2019. [Business Wire]
NASA and Boeing are investigating an accident last week that damaged part of a Space Launch System liquid oxygen tank. The incident, which took place May 3 at the Michoud Assembly Facility, damaged one dome section of a tank being built for qualification tests. No one was injured, but the incident shut down the Vertical Assembly Center at Michoud used for welding SLS components. NASA is assessing the damage to the tank and the effect it will have on development schedules for SLS. [SpaceNews]
The new Secretary of the Air Force will, like her predecessor, also be the Defense Department’s principal space adviser. David Hardy, the associate deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space, said this week that Heather Wilson will hold the position of Principal DoD Space Adviser, or PDSA, a position established in 2015 when Deborah Lee James was Air Force secretary. There had been speculation that a potential reorganization of space leadership at the Pentagon might do away with the PDSA position. Wilson was confirmed by the Senate as the new Air Force secretary on Monday, but has not yet been sworn into office. [Space News]
An Inmarsat satellite has been fueled for a launch next week on a Falcon 9. The Inmarsat 5 F4 satellite is scheduled to launch Monday evening from the Kennedy Space Center, joining three other Inmarsat 5 satellites that provide broadband mobile communications. The new satellite will likely be placed into service over Europe, but Inmarsat has not finalized those plans. The launch is part of a surge in activity by SpaceX that involves launches roughly every two weeks. Because of the mass of this satellite, SpaceX will not attempt to land the rocket’s first stage. [Spaceflight Now]
Russia’s Gazprom Space Systems remains optimistic about the future despite foreign exchange challenges. The company, the smaller of two Russian satellite operators, recorded an increase in revenues, measured in rubles, of more than 9 percent last year, but the ruble’s decline against the dollar wiped out that increase. Dmitriy Sevastiyanov, director general of the company, said in an interview that despite those problems demand from Russia’s broadcast sector remained strong, and that he was expecting the Russian economy overall to rebound. [SpaceNews]
The U.S. military could have access to frequent, low-cost launches in five years, but may need to create a new organization to foster its development. A recent Air University study concluded private sector activities could make frequent affordable launch a reality in the near future. At a panel earlier this week, experts suggested that enabling the development of those systems should be a priority of the new National Space Council as well as a new organization within the Pentagon with “the right culture” to work with industry. [SpaceNews]
KBR was won a contract to provide ground systems and operations support at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The contract, awarded to its KBRwyle government services unit, covers more than 20 missions operated by Goddard. The Ground Systems and Mission Operations-2 contract runs for five years and a has a maximum value of $442 million. [KBR]
China plans a series of long-duration stays in a simulated lunar habitat to prepare for eventual human missions to the moon. State media said that researchers have developed a “simulated space cabin” to test life support and other technologies needed for a lunar base. One group of four volunteers will spend 60 days in the habitat, followed by a second group of four who will spend 200 days there. [Xinhua]
Three members of the House are asking the GAO to study moving the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST). In the letter, Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) and Ami Bera (D-Calif.) asked the GAO to see if AST would be more effective as a standalone agency within the Department of Transportation. The office was established in the 1980s under the office of the Secretary of Transportation, but was moved within the FAA in the mid-1990s. [SpacePolicyOnline]
Fitness levels of astronauts drop dramatically during an extended stay in weightlessness. A new study found that the exercise capacity of astronauts drops 30 to 50 percent after a six-month stay on the space station, likely because capillaries are not as effective in delivering oxygen to muscles while in microgravity. The finding could support both improved healthcare for astronauts on missions to Mars as well as people suffering from heart failure on Earth. [Space.com]