One of the founders of commercial satellite remote sensing startup Planet Labs is leaving the company. 

In a tweet, Chris Boshuizen said he was leaving the company “in pursuit of new opportunities.”

Boshuizen founded the company in 2010 with Will Marshall and Robbie Schingler, who are CEO and president, respectively, of the company today. [Twitter @cboshuizen]

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Intelsat is teaming with JSAT for a new communications satellite. The companies said Wednesday they will jointly develop the Horizons 3e spacecraft, based on Intelsat’s EpicNG high-throughput platform, for launch in 2018 to 169 degrees east in GEO. The two companies will jointly own the satellite, although Intelsat stated that the spacecraft is not considered part of the company’s capital expenditure program. [Intelsat]

A compromise version of a commercial space bill is facing new obstacles in the Senate. A House-Senate conference committee completed work last week to reconcile differences between their versions of commercial space bills they passed earlier this year, and backers hoped the Senate and House would quickly pass the final version. However, the Senate has yet to take up the bill, reportedly because of concerns by one or more senators about some of its liability provisions. The bill, which also includes language about rights to resources extracted from asteroids, has the strong support of the commercial spaceflight industry. [SpaceNews]

The House will debate amendments to a highway bill related to the Ex-Im Bank as soon as today. The House is considering this week the Senate version of a highway bill that also includes language reauthorizing the bank. A number of amendments up for debate would restrict the bank’s activities and, if passed, would have to be reconciled with the Senate’s version. The Democratic leadership in the House is urging its members to reject the amendments. Satellite manufacturers and launch services companies have increasingly used the bank in recent years to finance deals for international customers. [Roll Call]

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A U.S. agency is interested in the “Moon Village” idea promoted by the head of ESA, but that agency is not NASA. ESA Director-General Johann-Dietrich Woerner has discussed the concept of an international lunar base on a number of occasions, including last month’s International Astronautical Congress. While NASA has shown little enthusiasm for the idea, the head of the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation said recently he was “impressed” with the idea, but wanted to ensure that commercial entities, and not just government agencies, could contribute. [SpaceNews]

The first launch of a Super Strypi rocket from Hawaii failed shortly after liftoff Tuesday. The small rail-guided rocket lifted off at 10:45 p.m. Eastern time from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai. Video of the launch showed the rocked beginning to spin and tumble before telemetry was lost less than a minute after liftoff. The Air Force confirmed that the rocket “failed in mid-flight” but offered no other details about the failure of the mission. The rocket, on a mission for the Operationally Responsive Space Office called ORS-4, was carrying a small satellite built by the Univ. of Hawaii and 12 cubesats, including eight for NASA’s small satellite technology program. [SpaceNews]

China launched a communications satellite Tuesday. The Long March 3B rocket launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 11:25 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday, placing the Chinasat-2C satellite into orbit. Outside observers believe the satellite may be the second in the latest generation of Shentong military communications satellites. []


ESA is starting to plan for the end of the Rosetta mission. The spacecraft, which has been orbiting the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for more than a year, will end its mission next September with a crash landing on the comet’s surface. Scientists hope the spacecraft’s final descent will yield new data on the comet, such as whether the two lobes of the duck-shaped comet have different compositions. [Nature]

Scientists released radar images taken of an asteroid that flew past the Earth on Halloween. The images show asteroid 2015 TB145 is roughly spherical and about 600 meters in diameter. They also reveal surface details, such as ridges and boulders, with a resolution as sharp as 4 meters per pixel. The images were obtained around the time of closest approach Oct. 31, when the asteroid was 480,000 kilometers from the Earth. [NASA/JPL]

An “acid fog” may have helped erode rocks on the surface of Mars. Data collected by the now-defunct Spirit rover showed erosion patterns on rocks that scientists believe were created by interaction with a diffuse acid fog over the course of millions of years. That fog formed when water vapor in the atmosphere combined with acidic vapors from volcanoes. []

Brian Berger is editor in chief of and the SpaceNews magazine. He joined in 1998, spending his first decade with the publication covering NASA. His reporting on the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident was...