Stratospheric ballooning company World View unveils its new Arizona headquarters
The facility will be used by the company to build high altitude balloons, initially for use as so-called “stratollites” that will fly in the stratosphere to carry imaging, communications or other payloads.
Some of those balloons will be launched from a pad immediately adjacent to the building, known as Spaceport Tucson.
The company has long-term plans to fly people on its balloons as well.
World View said their plans are not affected by a legal dispute between Pima County and an Arizona think tank that argued the incentive deal the county made with the company to build the $15 million facility violated state law and the state constitution. [Arizona Daily Star]
MDA Corp. announced this morning it plans to acquire commercial remote-sensing company DigitalGlobe. MDA said it will buy DigitalGlobe in a cash and stock deal valued at $2.4 billion, plus the assumption of $1.2 billion in DigitalGlobe debt. The companies’ boards of directors have already approved the deal, and MDA expects it to close in the second half of this year. DigitalGlobe will retain its name and Colorado headquarters. It will operate as a subsidiary of SSL MDA Holdings, a U.S.-based entity that MDA, headquartered in Canada, established to create an American presence to be eligible for U.S. government work. [SpaceNews]
A Russian Progress spacecraft docked with the ISS early this morning. The Progress MS-05 spacecraft docked with the station’s Pirs module at 3:30 a.m. Eastern, two days after launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The spacecraft is carrying nearly three tons of food, water and other cargo for the ISS. The Progress arrived less than 24 hours after a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft, launched Sunday, berthed with the station. [CBS]
A NASA safety panel warned the agency it needs a “compelling rationale” for putting a crew on the first SLS/Orion launch. The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, meeting Thursday at the Kennedy Space Center, said that NASA should “carefully and cautiously weigh the value proposition for flying crew on EM-1,” a mission currently designed not to carry astronauts. NASA said last week that it would study the possibility of flying a crew on that mission, a study that will evaulate risk and cost issues, as well as effects putting a crew on the first mission would have on later missions. That study is due to be complete by late March or early April. [SpaceNews]
NASA’s study of putting a crew on EM-1 could affect Europe’s contribution to the program. ESA officials said this week that they will contribute to that study by looking at implications for the Orion service module that ESA is providing. ESA is developing the service module to cover its costs of participating in the ISS through 2020. A separate barter agreement is under discussion with NASA that would include two additional service modules and other technologies to cover ISS costs from 2021 through 2024. [SpaceNews]
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has approved a set of themes to name features on Pluto and its moons. The IAU, in a statement, said it has approved a nomenclature system for craters, mountains and other features discovered on the surface of Pluto and its five moons by the New Horizons spacecraft in 2015. For Pluto, those naming themes range from gods of the underworld to pioneering space missions. Scientists involved with the mission have already been using unofficial names for those features, many of which can now be submitted to the IAU for formal approval. [IAU]
A movie about the “unsung heroes” of Apollo will appear in theaters in April. The documentary Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo, about the people who worked in mission control during the Apollo missions, has won a distribution deal that includes a limited run in select U.S. theaters starting April 14. The movie will also be available on video-on-demand services at that time. The documentary, which includes interviews with flight controllers and astronauts, will make its world premiere March 14at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. [collectSPACE]