OneWeb names new chief executive

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Eric Beranger is the new chief executive of OneWeb.

The company, developing a broadband satellite constellation, named Beranger as its new CEO this week, replacing Matt O’Connell.

Beranger had been at Airbus Defence and Space, which is partnering with OneWeb on the construction of its fleet of up to 900 satellites. The company gave no reason for O’Connell’s departure. [OneWeb]


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NASA has less than a 50 percent chance of having Orion ready for its first crewed mission in 2021, according to a GAO report. NASA is working to an internal goal of August 2021 for that mission, although a joint confidence level analysis done last year set a goal of April 2023 at a confidence level of 70 percent. A GAO report on Orion released Wednesday said that 2021 date is only at the 40 percent confidence level, making it “aggressive beyond agency policy.” The GAO also concluded that NASA was asking for Orion funding that would only achieve the 2023 date, counting on Congress to provide additional money to keep 2021 feasible. A second GAO report released Wednesday raised cost and schedule concerns about SLS and ground systems in advance of its 2018 first launch. [SpaceNews]

Intelsat is hoping its new Epic satellites disrupt the entrenched satellite communications market — one that Intelsat itself is heavily invested in. The first Epic high-throughput spacecraft, Intelsat 29e, entered service this week over Latin America, and competitors said they are seeing new pressure on satellite bandwidth prices in that region. Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler said he believes the Epic satellites, while pushing down prices, will have an “overall positive effect” on the data market by stimulating demand. Intelsat reported a revenue decrease of 9.4 percent in its latest quarter compared to the same period a year ago. [SpaceNews]

Eric Beranger is the new chief executive of OneWeb. The company, developing a broadband satellite constellation, named Beranger as its new CEO this week, replacing Matt O’Connell. Beranger had been at Airbus Defence and Space, which is partnering with OneWeb on the construction of its fleet of up to 900 satellites. The company gave no reason for O’Connell’s departure. [OneWeb]

A brilliant meteor seen over the western U.S. Wednesday night was the reentry of a Chinese rocket stage. The reentry was seen around 12:40 a.m. Eastern Thursday by observers from California to Idaho. The Joint Space Operations Center later confirmed that the reentry was from the second stage of China’s first Long March 7, launched last month. [Spaceflight Now]
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called NASA “wonderful” in an online question-and-answer session. Trump, answering a question during an “ask me anything” discussion on Reddit about the role NASA should play in his campaign’s theme to “make America great again,” responded, “Honestly I think NASA is wonderful! America has always led the world in space exploration.” That is a different theme than one offered at last week’s Republican National Convention, when former astronaut Eileen Collins called for “leadership that will make America’s space program first again.” [Ars Technica / SpaceNews]

Indian officials say they plan to appeal a ruling against the commercial arm of country’s space agency by an international tribunal. The Permanent Court of Arbitration earlier this week ruled in favor of Devas, an Indian company with international investors who alleged that Antrix had cancelled a contract to lease transponders on an Indian satellite. The ruling could cost India up to $1 billion. The secretary of India’s Department of Space said India would appeal the verdict, but did not disclose how. [PTI]

China will perform more international cooperation in the area of astronaut training. Li Xinke of the Astronaut Center of China said the country “will strengthen international communication in astronaut training” in an effort to become a major space power. A Chinese astronaut, Ye Guangfu, recently participated in a European-led training program called Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behavior and performance Skills (CAVES) that included Europeans, Russians and Americans. [Xinhua]

Future Mars settlers should be able to use “massive” resources available on the red planet. A report by two engineers at NASA’s Langley Research Center said that in situ resource utilization (ISRU) technology is critical to sustain humans on Mars for extended periods. Those resources, including water, can be used for life support, fuel production, and the manufacturing of equipment using 3-D printers that can turn Mars into “an effective inner solar system Walmart for, eventually, nearly everything required for spacefaring and colonization.” [SPACE.com]

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is also a hot spot. Infrared observations of Jupiter by Earth-based telescopes found that the atmosphere above the Great Red Spot is hundreds of degrees warmer than the rest of the planet’s atmosphere. That heat may be coming from within the planet, although the exact mechanisms for heating the planet’s atmosphere remain unclear. “This question really highlights our failure to understand the basic physics of these atmospheres,” said the scientist who led the study. “It’s just really shocking that we don’t understand something so basic.” [Washington Post]