SES to launch a satellite on a previously flown Falcon 9
SES plans to launch its SES-11 satellite, also known as EchoStar 105, as soon as late September from Cape Canaveral.
The first stage that will be used on launch is likely the Falcon 9 that first flew in February to send a Dragon cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station.
SES was the first customer of a previously flown Falcon 9 in March for its SES-10 satellite. [Spaceflight Now]
SES says it plans to retire its malfunctioning AMC-9 satellite if it can regain control of it. SES said Friday that it is still working with satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space to regain control of the spacecraft, which malfunctioned in June. The company said it has yet to determine if debris spotted in the vicinity of AMC-9 originated from the satellite itself or elsewhere. AMC-9 was launched in 2003 for a planned 15-year lifetime. [SpaceNews]
Rocket Lab says its first Electron launch was cut short by a telemetry glitch. The company said in a statement late Sunday that a software configuration error, made by a contractor handling ground systems for range safety, created a loss of data that required range safety officials to terminate the launch about four minutes after liftoff. Rocket Lab said that its own telemetry indicates the rocket was performing normally on that May flight up until the flight was terminated. The company plans to roll the next Electron out to the pad in about eight weeks for a second test flight. If that launch is successful, the company will move ahead into commercial operations. [SpaceNews]
A military weather satellite is expected to stop functioning next month. The Air Force’s Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Flight 19 satellite malfunctioned in orbit in February 2016, less than two years after launch, losing the ability to be commanded by the ground. The spacecraft has been providing tactical weather data since then, but the satellite is expected to lose attitude control by late next month, depriving the spacecraft of power. The Air Force said the loss of DMSP-F19 will not have an effect on the service’s strategic weather mission. [SpaceNews]
A delay in the launch of the next Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite will not have a major effect on operations. AEHF-4 was scheduled to launch in October, but the Air Force said that a problem with a power regulator unit on the spacecraft requires that unit to be replaced, postponing the launch. The Air Force now expects AEHF-4 to launch some time in 2018. Existing satellites, the service says, meet the military’s needs for communications that will be provided by AEHF-4. [SpaceNews]
Virgin Galactic performed a “dry run” of a powered SpaceShipTwo flight on Friday. The sixth glide flight of the second SpaceShipTwo included most of the suborbital spaceplane’s hybrid propulsion system, including a propellant tank filled with nitrous oxide. The company called the latest glide flight “essentially a dry run for rocket-powered flights,” but has not set a firm schedule for when those flights will begin. [SpaceNews]
China’s first space laboratory module is expected to reenter by early 2018. The orbit of Tiangong-1 has been slowly decaying since a final reboost maneuver in late 2015. The Chinese government informed the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs that it expects the spacecraft to reenter between October 2017 and April 2018. An analysis by the Aerospace Corporation predicts a reentry in January 2018, give or take two months. Most of the spacecraft is expected to burn up on reentry. [Space.com]
SES Government Solutions has won a Defense Department task order for broadband services through the O3b constellation. The task order calls for the equivalent of one satellite beam of capacity through the O3b network of 12 satellites, each equipped with 12 Ka-band steerable beams. The task order is in addition to existing services SES provides the Defense Information Systems Agency using O3b satellites. [SpaceNews]
A British company that specializes in outsourcing government services has won a contract from the European Space Agency. The $45 million contract to Serco, a continuation of previous work, covers specialist services across 16 fields from engineering to business management. Serco’s other activities include running the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory as well as London’s bike-sharing scheme. [SpaceNews]
The upper stage for the first Space Launch System mission has arrived at the Kennedy Space Center.The Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage, based on the Delta 4 upper stage, was moved recently to the Space Station Processing Facility at KSC. The stage will only be used on the first SLS mission before being replaced by the more powerful Exploration Upper Stage. The first SLS launch is expected some time in 2019. [Florida Today]
A Minotaur 4 rocket is taking shape at Cape Canaveral for a launch later this month. Crews are stacking the solid-propellant stages of the Orbital ATK Minotaur 4 rocket at Launch Complex 46 at the Cape. The launch, carrying the SensorSat space surveillance satellite, is scheduled for the night of Aug. 25. [Spaceflight Now]
A company competing with satellite operators to provide aircraft connectivity is delaying the rollout of its terrestrial network. SmartSky Networks had planned to have its air-to-ground network of towers in operation by the end of the year, but has recently delayed that to mid-2018. The company said it needs the additional time for base station radio production and software optimizations required as part of the FAA licensing process for aircraft communications. [SpaceNews]
Satellite antenna startup Phasor Solutions expects to release its phased-array antenna next year. The company says it has completed development of a flat-panel, electronically steered antenna and will launch the product some time in the first half of 2018, depending on the length of beta testing of the product with selected partners. Phasor is looking at mobility markets, including aircraft, ships and trains, as likely customers of the antenna. [SpaceNews]