SpaceX timelapse
A timelapse photo showing the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 and the landing of the rocket's first stage. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX is gearing up for two commercial satellite launches in the next month.

A Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch the JCSAT-16 communications satellite for Sky Perfect JSAT on Aug. 14 from Cape Canaveral.

That will be followed in late August or early September by a Falcon 9 launch of Amos-6 for Spacecom, also from the Cape. []

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Inmarsat is less worried about dropping satellite communications prices than some other companies. The mobile satellite communications operator said falling prices for satellite capacity caused by the introduction of high-throughput satellites are most likely to affect companies in the fixed satellite services business instead. Inmarsat is keeping an eye on the planned ViaSat-3 system, which Inmarsat acknowledges is “no longer a mythical beast” but likely several years away from entering service. [SpaceNews]

NASA’s discussions with China in Earth sciences is the latest sign of cooperation despite strong restrictions on such efforts in federal law. NASA confirmed Thursday that Michael Freilich, the director of NASA’s Earth science division, met with Chinese officials in Beijing last month to discuss data exchanges and China’s upcoming TanSat greenhouse gas monitoring mission. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden also said Thursday he would be visiting China to discuss aviation issues after he wraps up ongoing meetings in Japan. Provisions in appropriations bills in recent years sharply restrict bilateral cooperation between NASA and Chinese entities, but does allow them with some conditions and advance congressional notification. [SpaceNews]

Gogo believes 100 megabits per second of satellite broadband per plane is good enough. The company said this week it’s getting good results from its 2Ku satellite broadband service, currently installed on 10 airliners but growing to 75-100 by the end of the year. The company said it doesn’t believe that higher data rates offered by competing systems will be an issue for Gogo: “I don’t think it’s going to matter to anybody for any practical purpose,” the company’s CEO said. [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...