Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the strategic forces subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, said in an interview last week that he plans next year to reorganize how the government manages space activities.
That effort, based on recommendations made in a 2015 GAO report, could be accomplished through language in next year’s defense authorization bills to centralize management of space activities.
Rogers acknowledged that such changes “will be very disruptive and that will make some people unhappy” but will be positive in the long run. [Defense News]
OneWeb has raised $1.2 billion in a round led by SoftBank to continue development of its broadband communications satellite system. OneWeb announced the funding round Monday, with SoftBank of Japan providing $1 billion for a roughly 40 percent stake in the company and existing investors providing $200 million. OneWeb plans to launch an initial set of 10 satellites in 2018 and build out a constellation of about 650 satellites shortly thereafter, manufacturing those satellites at a Florida factory currently under construction. [Wall Street Journal]
An Atlas 5 successfully launched a broadband satellite for EchoStar Sunday. The Atlas 5 431 lifted off at 2:13 p.m. Eastern from Cape Canaveral, a launch delayed by about 45 minutes because of a technical issue discovered late in the countdown. The rocket deployed the EchoStar 19 satellite into a supersynchronous transfer orbit a half-hour after liftoff. The satellite will provide additional capacity for HughesNet, a consumer satellite broadband service in North America. The launch was the twelfth and final mission of 2016 for United Launch Alliance. [SpaceNews]
Swiss Space Systems, a company planning suborbital and small launch services, has been declared bankrupt by a local court. A court in the Swiss canton of Vaud last week declared the company bankrupt after recent financial problems. The company’s founder and CEO, Pascal Jaussi, was kidnapped and assaulted earlier this year. Swiss Space Systems initially planned to develop an air-launched spaceplane that could be used for suborbital space tourism or small satellite launches, but more recently was focused on parabolic aircraft flights. [The Local (Switzerland)]
The life of John Glenn was honored at a memorial service Saturday in Columbus, Ohio. Vice President Joe Biden and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden were among those who spoke at the service on the Ohio State University campus to honor the life of the former Marine, astronaut and senator. “We are standing on John Glenn’s shoulders as we pursue a human voyage to Mars … it would not be possible without his bravery and selfless dedication,” Bolden said. Glenn passed away Dec. 8 at the age of 95. [Columbus Dispatch]
A change in orbit will provide a European weather satellite with a few additional years of life. Eumetsat officials agreed this month to gradually drift the orbit of the Metop-A polar-orbiting satellite from its current path, which passes over the equator at 9:30 a.m. local time, to one that passes over the equator at 7:30 a.m., saving propellant and extending its life. The spacecraft will also be placed in a lower orbit to ensure that it reenters within 25 years after the end of its life, as mandated by orbital debris mitigation guidelines. [SpaceNews]
Japan is ready to launch a small space science satellite Tuesday. The launch of the Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace (ERG) satellite, a mission to study the Van Allen Belts, on an Epsilon rocket is scheduled for 6:00 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday. The launch will be the second for the Epsilon rocket, after a successful inaugural launch in 2013. [JAXA]
China is expected to launch a carbon monitoring satellite this week. While the launch of TanSat has not been formally announced by the Chinese government, the spacecraft is expected to be launched on Wednesday. The satellite will be used to monitor carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, as part of Chinese efforts to reduce emissions. The launch will be the 20th this year for China, with perhaps three more to take place before the end of the year. [gbtimes]