Russian officials say no decision until Monday on Soyuz delay
Reports Wednesday stated that the Soyuz MS-01 launch, scheduled for June 24, had been delayed to July 7 because of problems with the spacecraft’s control system.
On Thursday, though, sources said a decision on when to launch the spacecraft won’t be made until Monday, giving Soyuz manufacturer Energia time to correct the issue and avoid a delay.
However, the same report also claimed that a decision to delay the launch had already been made, and Monday’s meeting would be to only formally confirm it. [TASS]
Blue Origin is now a part of NASA’s suborbital flight research program. NASA announced Thursday it has awarded a contract to Blue Origin to fly research payloads through its Flight Opportunities program. Blue Origin joins five other companies that provide flights using either suborbital launch vehicles or high-altitude balloons. Company officials said at a suborbital research conference Thursday that the next test flight of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle would take place soon, but did not provide a date. [SpaceNews]
The Delta 4 Heavy launch of an NRO payload has been rescheduled for June 9. The launch of the NROL-37 mission was scheduled for Saturday, but ULA announced last week the launch would be postponed at the request of the customer. Neither ULA nor the NRO provided any additional details on the cause of the delay. The launch, from Cape Canaveral, is planned for between 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. Eastern. [Spaceflight Now]
The latest Falcon 9 first stage to land at sea returned to port Thursday with a noticeable tilt. The stage, which landed May 27 after launch from Cape Canaveral on the Thaicom-8 mission, returned to Port Canaveral on SpaceX’s landing ship. Photos showed the stage leaning to one side at a small but noticeable angle. The company said that “crush core” in the rocket’s landing legs was used up during the landing, which was harder than normal, causing the stage to tilt. [Florida Today]
The European Space Agency and Airbus plan to develop a commercial research platform for the International Space Station. The platform, named Bartolomeo after the younger brother of Christopher Columbus, will be installed on the exterior of the European Columbus lab module on the ISS in 2018. Airbus plans to use Bartolomeo to provide access to the station for researchers in a wide range of fields. [Airbus Defence and Space]
Bigelow Aerospace denied a report by a Las Vegas television station that it’s planning a lunar base. “Although it’s a great idea, we are not proposing to construct a lunar base at this time,” the company said in a tweet Thursday, a day after an article claimed that Bigelow proposed to NASA assembling a lunar base complex comprised of the company’s B330 modules and other components. The company added that its focus is on commercial stations in Earth orbit, as well as a plan announced in April to add a B330 module to the ISS. [Twitter]
The upcoming reentry of a Russian upper stage has some Canadians nervous.The Rockot stage is expected to reenter this weekend over Baffin Bay in the Canadian Arctic. Environmentalists are concerned because the stage contains toxic hydrazine fuel. However, the Canadian government is downplaying the risk, expecting little, if any, of the hydrazine to survive reentry. [CBC]
The universe is expanding faster than what astronomers predicted.Measurements of the distances of 2,400 stars yielded an expansion rate 5-9 percent higher than that calculated by other measurements of the universe. While astronomers said it’s possible that the different expansion rates are telling them something fundamental about the nature of the universe, they concluded it’s more likely than one of the expansion rates was simply miscalculated. [AP]
The three physicists who led the effort that detected gravitational waves have won still more prizes. Ron Drever, Kip Thorne and Rainer Weiss, the co-founders of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), won the $1 million Kavli Prize for astrophysics on Thursday, just days after sharing the $1.2 million Shaw Prize in astronomy. In February, the LIGO team announced they had for the first time detected gravitational waves, ripples in spacetime predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity. The trio are considered leading candidates to win the Nobel Prize in physics as well. [Physics World]