Globalstar is considering selling the company.
The company, which operates a constellation of low-Earth-orbit communications satellites, is reportedly working with financial advisers to explore a sale of the company.
Potential buyers will likely be more interested in the company’s spectrum than its satellite network, after Globalstar won approval to use that spectrum for a mobile broadband service. [Bloomberg]
NASA said Friday it won’t put a crew on the first SLS/Orion mission after all. The agency said a study initiated earlier this year at the request of the White House concluded it would be technically feasible to modify the hardware for the EM-1 flight to allow it to carry astronauts. However, that work would add risk to the mission, increase its costs by $600-900 million and delay the flight until the first half of 2020. NASA and the White House then jointly decided to keep EM-1 uncrewed. NASA also confirmed that, even with keeping EM-1 uncrewed, the launch will slip to some time in 2019. A updated launch date should be available in a month or two. [SpaceNews]
Blue Origin said Sunday it suffered a setback in the testing of its BE-4 engine. The company announced in a pair of tweets that it lost “a set of powerpack test hardware” Saturday on a test stand at the company’s West Texas test site. The company didn’t disclose additional details about the mishap. The powerpack is the turomachinery that pumps propellant through the engine. Blue Origin was gearing up for full-scale tests of the BE-4 soon. The company said its “hardware-rich” test plan would allow it to resume testing soon. [SpaceNews]
SpaceX is set to launch an Inmarsat communications satellite tonight. Launch of the Falcon 9 from the Kennedy Space Center, carrying the Inmarsat 5 F4 satellite, is scheduled for 7:20 p.m. Eastern at the beginning of a 51-minute window. Forecasts call for an 80-percent chance of acceptable weather at launch time. Because of the mass of the satellite, SpaceX will not attempt a landing of the rocket’s first stage on this mission. [Florida Today]
Rocket Lab will attempt the first launch of its Electron rocket as soon as next Sunday. The company announced Sunday that a 10-day launch window for the first Electron test launch will open at 5 p.m.Eastern May 21, or 9 a.m. local time May 22 at the New Zealand site where the launch will take place. The launch, the first of three test flights planned for the Electron, will not carry a payload. The company said there are no plans for public viewing sites for the launch, which also will not be webcast. [SpaceNews]
A key member of the House space subcommittee is planning a run for the Senate. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) is expected to announce today that he will run for the Senate seat from Alabama opened up when Jeff Sessions became U.S. attorney general. That seat is held on an interim basis by Luther Strange, who will also run in the election to serve the remainder of Sessions’ original term. The primary election will take place in August, followed by a December general election. Brooks, whose district includes NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, serves as vice chair of the space subcommittee of the House Science Committee. [Politico]
Astronauts completed most of the tasks on a space station spacewalk Friday despite a technical problem that shortened the EVA. The spacewalk started more than an hour late because of a leak in a water umbilical line in the station’s airlock. Flight controllers initially compressed the spacewalk down to a single major task, the replacement of an avionics box outside the station, but astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer were able to get ahead of that revised schedule and complete several other tasks originally planned for the spacewalk. [CBS]
LeoSat believes a deal with Sky Perfect Jsat should encourage others to invest in its broadband satellite constellation. LeoSat announced last week that Sky Perfect Jsat would invest an undisclosed sum in LeoSat. That deal, LeoSat CEO Mark Rigolle said, should encourage other potential investors to put money into the company. The full cost of the system, featuring 108 Ka-band satellites, is estimated at $3.5 billion. [SpaceNews]
India is planning to launch an upgraded version of its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) next month. The Indian space agency ISRO is planning the launch of the first GSLV Mark 3 in the first week of June, carrying the GSAT-19E communications satellite. The Mark 3 version of the GSLV is designed to place satellites weighing up to four tons into geostationary orbit, double the capacity of older versions of the GSLV. [PTI]
A Russian space station module years behind schedule won’t launch until the middle of next year. A Russian space industry source said the launch of the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, or Nauka, is now planned for no sooner than August 2018, and possibly not until 2019. The module, intended to provide new laboratory space for the Russian segment of the ISS, has suffered a number of technical problems, including contamination of its fuel tanks. [TASS]
A SpaceX executive had harsh words for the company’s competitors. Tom Mueller, the propulsion chief technology officer at SpaceX who has been at the company since its founding, told a university audience in a Skype call that SpaceX was initially “ridiculed” by other companies in the launch business. Now, he said, “The other guys are really scrambling. It’s pretty funny to watch.” Mueller’s comments were likened to those made over a year ago by a United Launch Alliance executive, Brett Tobey, although Tobey’s comments included claims of government contracting misconduct that led to his dismissal and, ultimately, a Defense Department investigation. Mueller largely spared government agencies, including NASA, of criticism. [Ars Technica]