NASA’s Orion spacecraft will look particularly shiny on future missions. 

The agency unveiled a revised look for the spacecraft late last week, showing the spacecraft sporting a metallic coating on the conical backshell section.

That coating, similar to that used on Apollo capsules, will better regulate the spacecraft’s temperature and protect it from electrical surface charges. [The Verge]

More News

China launched a communications satellite for the government of Laos Friday. The Long March 3B rocket lifted off at 11:07 a.m. Eastern time Friday and placed the LaoSat-1 spacecraft into orbit. The 3,800-kilogram satellite, built by China for Laos, will provide C- and Ku-band communications for the government of the southeast Asian nation. []

The director of the Kennedy Space Center was more involved in illegal hiring practices there than previously believed. Documents showed that Robert Cabana lobbied heavily for several people to win jobs as executive assistants for himself and other top center officials, circumventing federal laws for hiring procedures. Cabana received a “Letter of Counseling” from NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot as a result of the investigation into the hiring practices, and Cabana said in a statement that the issues identified in the investigation have been addressed. [Florida Today]

Israeli company Spacecom has lost contact with its Amos-5 satellite. Spacecom said it lost contact Saturday with the Russian-built communications satellite, launched in 2011. The cause of the failure wasn’t immediately known, nor were the prospects of restoring contact with the spacecraft. Amos-5 accounts for about a third of Spacecom’s revenue, and the company’s stock fell by a third in trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Sunday. Spacecom plans to provide an update on the spacecraft’s status later today. [Jerusalem Post]

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NASA officially ordered Friday the first commercial crew mission under its contract with SpaceX. The order for the first “post-certification mission” comes after SpaceX completed a critical design review of the Crew Dragon spacecraft the company is developing to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Boeing received a similar order under its contract in May. NASA said it has not made a decision about which company will fly its mission first. Both companies’ contracts include at least two, and options for up to six, missions after being certified by NASA. [SpaceNews]

The European Space Agency announced a new senior leadership team for the agency Saturday. In a rare weekend meeting of the ESA Council, the agency selected several new managers for key agency positions. David Parker, chief executive of the U.K. Space Agency, was named director of ESA’s human spaceflight and robotic space exploration programs. Paul Verhoef, former coordinator for Galileo activities with the European Commission, will take over ESA’s Galileo and other navigation programs. The new leadership team is expected to start work in early 2016. [ESA]

A major communications conference enters its final week with some key satellites issues still unresolved. The World Radiocommunication Conference in Geneva is scheduled to wrap up its 2015 session this Friday, but has yet to reach decisions on issues like the fate of C-band satellite spectrum. Also yet to be decided is terrestrial access to some Ka-band frequencies reserved for satellites, as well as the use of Ka- and Ku-band spectrum for satellite control of UAVs. [SpaceNews]


The space industry is seeking closer ties with some other industries that could make use of space-related products and services. About a fifth of the attendees of the recent SpaceCom commercial space expo in Houston came from outside of the space field, including representatives of the energy, medical and maritime industries. One challenge attendees noted is the lack of communication to link space industry capabilities with the needs of other industries. [SpaceNews]

Japan’s H-2A rocket will make a rare commercial launch Tuesday. The rocket is scheduled to launch the Telstar 12 Vantage satellite for Canadian operator Telesat early morning Tuesday Eastern time. The H-2A features improvements to allow it to place the 4,800-kilogram satellite into geostationary transfer orbit. [Yomiuri Shimbun]

The new head of International Launch Services says the company will improve communications to help win back business. Kirk Pysher said in an interview Friday that improving communications with customers, and between ILS and its parent company Khrunichev, is the first step in winning confidence and trust in the Proton rockets that ILS sells to commercial customers. He added that the company’s customers have said they want Proton to remain in the market in order to provide a greater range of launch options. [TASS]

The Week Ahead



  • Tanegashima, Japan: An H-2A rocket will launch the Telsat 12 Vantage satellite for Telesat during a launch window of 1:23 a.m to 3:07 a.m. Eastern time.


  • London: The London Space Week conference features a combination of business-to-business meetings for companies in the space industry and conference sessions.



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...