Sunrise as viewed from the International Space Station in November. Framing the edge of sun is the Soyuz TMA-17M (front) which brought NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, JAXA astronaut Kimiya Yui and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko to the station and a Russian Progress 60 (back) cargo craft which arrived back in July. Credit: NASA JSC

Russia is studying dedicated space tourism missions using its Soyuz spacecraft.

Glavkosmos Director General Denis Lyskov said at the Paris Air Show Tuesday that future missions could fly two tourists and one professional cosmonaut, possibly visiting the ISS.

The head of RSC Energia, meanwhile, said he thought Soyuz missions could continue to fly even after the introduction of Russia’s new Federation crew vehicle, with the Soyuz being devoted to tourism missions and possibly, with upgrades, circumlunar flights. [TASS]

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A House bill under development would require the Air Force to establish a “Space Corps.” The fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act is expected to include language that would call on the Air Force to create a Space Corps by the beginning of 2019, giving it responsibility for national security space programs. The provision has the backing of Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the strategic forces subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, and the subcommittee’s ranking member, Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) That subcommittee is scheduled to mark up its portion of the authorization bill on Thursday. [SpaceNews]

A Falcon 9 successfully performed a static fire Tuesday in advance of a Sunday launch of 10 Iridium satellites. The static fire, part of SpaceX’s standard pre-launch preparations, clears the way for a launch attempt at 4:25 p.m. Eastern Sunday. The launch is the second of eight that will be used to deploy Iridium’s next-generation satellite constellation. [Spaceflight Now]

That launch will use a new Falcon 9, but Iridium says it’s open to using previously flown boosters. Iridium CEO Matt Desch said his contract with SpaceX calls for the use of new boosters for all its launches, but that he would be open to using reflown boosters for later launches, particular if that would accelerate the overall launch schedule. He said while reused boosters would offer some cost savings, those savings would need to be greater to convince him it was worth using one. [SpaceNews]

Weather is promising for a Friday launch of a Falcon 9 from Florida. Forecasts predict a 90-percent chance of acceptable weather for the Friday afternoon launch of the BulgariaSat-1 spacecraft, and 80 percent should the launch slip to Saturday. The launch, previously scheduled for Monday, was postponed to replace a fairing valve; weather forecasts were also less favorable for a launch. That launch will be the second Falcon 9 mission to use a previously flown first stage. [Florida Today]

The European Space Agency has formally selected a gravitational-wave observatory as its next major science mission. ESA announced Tuesday the selection of the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) for launch by 2034. LISA was widely expected to be chosen, given recent discoveries of gravitational waves by groundbased observatories and the success of the LISA Pathfinder technology demonstration mission. ESA also approved for continued development PLATO, an exoplanet survey mission scheduled for launch in 2026. [SpaceNews]

Russian company Glavkosmos seeks to become a major smallsat launch provider. The company, a subsidiary of Russian state space corporation Roscosmos, will fly 72 smallsats as secondary payloads on a Soyuz launch next month, and plans to launch about 40 more on two Soyuz launches scheduled for December. Glavkosmos expects to to provide secondary payload opportunities on three more Soyuz missions in 2018 and on a continuing basis thereafter, competing primarily with India’s PSLV for smallsat missions. [SpaceNews]

Brexit is clouding the prospects for British space startups. Uncertainty about how the United Kingdom will exit the European Union means companies don’t know how they will be able to participate in future EU missions or have access to EU research programs. Startups warn that a “hard” Brexit could be disastrous to them. [SpaceNews]

The B612 Foundation is studying smallsat mission concepts that could detect smaller near-Earth asteroids. The foundation announced plans nearly five years ago for a large space mission, Sentinel, to look for asteroids that could pose an impact threat to Earth, but struggled to raise money for it. B612 is now studying how smaller spacecraft, coupled with advanced computer technologies, could be used to detect smaller asteroids that are not a priority for existing survey efforts but still pose threats to the Earth. B612 also recently established an “Asteroid Institute” supporting postdoctoral fellows studying these issues at the University of Washington. [SpaceNews]

A leading contender in the Google Lunar X Prize is still waiting for confirmation of its launch plans. Team Indus said last year it had a contract for a launch of its lunar lander on a PSLV in late December of this year. However, the chairman of Antrix, the commercial arm of the Indian space agency ISRO, said government approvals for the launch were still in progress. Team Indus said it was not aware of any government questions about the mission, despite sources reporting that the launch agreement was facing scrutiny. Team Indus and the other remaining Google Lunar X Prize teams have until the end of this year to launch their missions. [Indian Express]

The commander of U.S. Strategic Command said that the country needs to be willing to accept risk if it is to remain a world power in space. “We’ve lost the ability to go fast, test, and fail,” said Gen. John Hyten Tuesday. He noted the speed at which the U.S. developed early ICBMs and launch systems in the early Space Age despite numerous failures. He also criticized the media coverage of a Blue Origin engine testing mishap last month: “Blue Origin just had a failure. Son of a gun. That’s part of learning.” [SpaceNews]

Thales Alenia Space is taking a stake in a French airship maker. Thales said this week it will make an undisclosed investment in Airstar Aerospace, which is developing a high-altitude airship called Stratobus that could carry out Earth observation or communications applications. Stratobus is scheduled to become operational in 2021. [SpaceNews]

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...