Port Canaveral reconsidering SpaceX fees
John Murray, CEO of Port Canaveral, pulled the proposal, which called for charging fees of up to $15,000 per booster, from the agenda of a Wednesday meeting of the port’s board.
SpaceX had objected to the proposal, saying the fees were 14 times higher than what the port charges other users.
One of the port’s commissioners later said the port is in discussions with SpaceX about leasing land there so SpaceX could build a rocket refurbishing facility at the port. [Florida Today / WOFL-TV Orlando]
The U.S. Air Force is considering asking Congress again to support the launch of a weather satellite. Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, commander of the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, said in an interview Wednesday that the Pentagon has pushed back a deadline to dismantle the DMSP-20 satellite three months to Sept. 1. The delay will give the Air Force time to decide if it will once again request funding from Congress to launch the satellite. Congress eliminated funding to launch the spacecraft in the final fiscal year 2016 spending bill, but the on-orbit failure of DMSP-19 earlier this year led the Air Force to delay dismantling the satellite as it weighs its options. [SpaceNews]
A former NASA ISS program manager is starting a commercial space station venture. Michael Suffredini said at the NewSpace 2016 conference in Seattle Wednesday that he has co-founded a new company, Axiom Space LLC, that initially seeks to install a commercial module on the ISS. That module would later serve as the core of a commercial space station once the ISS is retired. Suffredini said Axiom Space is in discussions with NASA about a Space Act Agreement to cover studies of the commercial module, which the company would seek to launch as soon as 2020. Bigelow Aerospace announced in April its own desire for a commercial ISS module as it plans its own space stations. [SpaceNews]
Google-owned remote sensing company Terra Bella is in discussions with ISRO about additional satellite launches. The company, previously known as Skybox Imaging, launched its first second-generation satellite on an Indian PSLV this week. ISRO Chairman A. S. Kiran Kumar said after the launch that negotiations between his agency and Terra Bella about future satellite launches are in progress. [Deccan Chronicle]
The head of ESA doesn’t think it’s feasible to send humans to Mars for at least 15 years. Jan Woerner said absent levels of funding for space programs not seen since the Apollo era, it is not feasible to send humans to Mars before the 2030s. Woerner continues to advocate for a “moon village” international lunar base as a steeping stone for later Mars missions. His comments appear critical of SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who said earlier this month he believes SpaceX can start human missions to Mars in the mid-2020s. [Reuters]
Boeing believes it has a “legitimate chance” of making its current schedule for its commercial crew contract. That schedule recently slipped, with the first crewed flight of its CST-100 Starliner delayed from October 2017 to February 2018 because of several technical issues with the spacecraft. Boeing officials say the new schedule is realistic and added they are not concerned about SpaceX, the other commercial crew company, which still plans a crewed test flight in 2017. [Ars Technica]
Sierra Nevada Corp. has achieved the first milestone in its commercial cargo contract with NASA. Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president for SNC Space Systems, said the company was on track to make its first cargo delivery mission to the ISS in the second half of 2019. The company plans to ship an engineering test article of its Dream Chaser vehicle to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California in August for flight tests planned for late this year. [GeekWire]
American and Chinese astronauts are participating together on a new mission — into a cave. The ESA-led CAVES (Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behaviour and performance Skills) program will include two NASA astronauts and one each from ESA, JAXA, Russia and, for the first time, China. The team will spend two weeks this summer on an expedition into caves on the Italian island of Sardinia as an analogue for future planetary exploration. The program will also test how an international group of explorers can work together effectively. [gbtimes]