OSIRIS-REx mated with its Atlas 5 launcher for Sept. 8 liftoff
Crews placed the spacecraft, encapsulated within its payload fairing, atop the Atlas 5 rocket that will launch the mission to the asteroid Bennu.
The mission, which will collect samples from the surface of Bennu and return them to Earth, is scheduled to launch on the evening of Sept. 8. [Spaceflight Now]
SES will be the first customer for a Falcon 9 launch involving a reused first stage. SES announced Tuesday that its SES-10 satellite will launch on a “flight-proven” Falcon 9 in the fourth quarter of this year. That launch will use a first stage flown on a previous mission, most likely a Dragon cargo mission to the space station in April. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but SES has previously expressed an interest in being the first customer for a reused Falcon 9 at a significant discount from standard Falcon 9 prices. [SpaceNews]
The U.S. Air Force’s weather satellite strategy makes extensive use of international partnerships. That long-term strategy, recently delivered to Congress, involves using data from European, Indian and South Korean weather satellites to fill gaps in the Air Force’s own satellite systems. The Air Force also expects to make a decision next month on whether to launch DMSP-20, the last in a series of military weather satellites currently in storage and awaiting disassembly. [SpaceNews]
New discoveries of distant Kuiper Belt objects are providing more evidence for the existence of a ninth planet. The orbital characteristics of the objects, in the outer reaches of the solar system, are consistent with a recent study that argued the orbits of other distant bodies have been shaped by a planet about ten times the mass of the Earth, which has yet to be directly detected. “I’d be somewhere like 80 percent sure that there’s a Planet X out there,” said one astronomer involved in the new discoveries. [Space.com]
President Nixon was briefed several times about failures of the Soviet Union’s giant moon rocket. Recently declassified Presidential Daily Briefs, the daily summary provided to the president by the intelligence community, included several references to failures of N-1 launches both shortly before the Apollo 11 mission and in the years following. The discussion of the N-1 and Soviet lunar mission plans in the briefings ended after a November 1972 N-1 failure, shortly before the final Apollo lunar landing mission. [The Space Review]
Russia is considering getting into the Mars analog base field. A Russian scientist said Monday that RSC Energia and the Institute for Biomedical Problems were interested in developing a simulation facility near the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East that could train crews for future Mars expeditions. Those comments were prompted by the end of a one-year Mars simulation, funded by NASA, on Hawaii’s Mauna Loa. [Sputnik International]