SpaceX accused of poaching chipmaker’s employees

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A computer chip company has filed suit against SpaceX, claiming the space company is hiring away its employees.

Broadcom filed suit in Orange County, California, last week, claiming SpaceX hired a number of Broadcom’s top engineers to develop “a family of sophisticated, customized computer chips.”

The two companies had been working together on the development of advanced computer chips for an undisclosed project, but SpaceX ultimately ended the collaboration.

Broadcom alleges that SpaceX then sought to hire the Broadcom engineers working on the project. SpaceX countered that the engineers reached out to them seeking jobs, concerned about potential layoffs at Broadcom. [Courthouse News Service]

More News

The Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for operations says the U.S. has to adapt to a newly contested environment in space. In an exclusive interview, Lt. Gen Jay Raymond compared the growing threats in space to those in aviation. “When aircraft started shooting down other aircraft, we didn’t stop flying planes,” he said. “The same is true for the space domain. We have got to be able to operate.” Raymond’s comments are part of a half-hour interview on military space operations. [SpaceNews]

Software needed to handle ground operations for the Space Launch System and Orion is behind schedule and over budget. A report Monday from NASA’s Office of Inspector General found that development of the Spaceport Command and Control System software is more than 75 percent over budget, and running 14 months behind schedule. The software will handle various aspects of ground operations needed for SLS launches. The report concluded NASA underestimated the difficulty of developing the system, which is designed to “glue” together a number of different software systems, and didn’t consider the alternative of an integrated commercially available system, like that used by Orbital ATK and SpaceX for their commercial cargo launches. [SpaceNews]


Lockheed Martin has built a version of the Space Fence tracking system in New Jersey as a test of the full-fledged system. The company announced Monday it set up the S-band radar system as a test of the full-scale unit it is under contract to build on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The test system started tracking satellites in late January, although its primary purpose is to provide lessons learned on assembling and maintaining the radar. [SpaceNews]

Russia is planning to launch up to three Glonass navigation satellites this year. The head of the company that builds those satellites told Russian media Tuesday that it expects one of its Glonass-M satellites to launch in the next three months, followed by another later this year. A third satellite could launch late this year. There are currently 24 satellites in the Glonass constellation, of which 23 are operational. [Sputnik]

India plans to launch a record number of satellites on an upcoming mission. The director of one of the Indian space agency’s centers said Monday up to 22 satellites will be flown on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle mission slated for May. That launch’s primary payload will be the Cartosat 2C remote sensing satellite, with the rest small satellites from the U.S., Canada, Germany and Indonesia. The 22 satellites would be more than double the previous record of 10 satellites on a single Indian launch. [PTI]

India is also planning a long-delayed launch of a reusable launch vehicle technology demonstrator in May. That vehicle, a subscale version of a spaceplane concept, will make a suborbital flight, reaching a peak altitude of 70 kilometers and top speed of Mach 5 before splashing down. That test has been delayed a number of times since last year. [The Hindu]

Public meetings this week will discuss possible changes to the Kennedy Space Center’s master plan for future development. The meetings, scheduled for tonight and tomorrow night, will seek input on potential alternatives to a 20-year plan, eliminating the development of two seaports and deferring development of a second runway. Feedback from public meetings last year about the plan, including concerns about restricted beach access, led to the proposed changes. [Florida Today]

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A comet that flew close to the Earth last week was significantly larger than originally thought. Comet P/2016 BA14, which flew past the Earth March 22, was first believed to be only about 125 meters in diameter. Radar images taken during the flyby, though, showed it is about 1 kilometer across, with an irregular shape. The discrepancy in size is likely because the comet is darker than earlier estimated. [Discovery.com]

Resort developers want to create a simulated Mars in Las Vegas. “Mars World,” to be located near the Las Vegas Strip, would offer visitors “the music, costumes and culture of a Mars colony.” (And, given its terrestrial location, presumably its gambling as well.) Development of the resort will require raising about $2 billion. A similar proposal several years ago for a Moon-themed resort in Las Vegas failed to get off the ground. [SPACE.com]


One-Way Moustronauts

“Unfortunately, there is no way yet to bring mice live back to Earth. So it will be a terminal experiment.”

– Rosamund Smith, a scientist with Eli Lilly, during a NASA media teleconference Monday to discuss an experiment involving mice that will be flown to the International Space Station on the upcoming SpaceX Dragon mission.