Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is running space-themed ads online.
The “Aspire to Greatness” ads feature a space shuttle launch and an astronaut performing a spacewalk, but are generic ads for the candidate, seeking campaign donations, rather than offering any space policy details.
Trump has offered conflicting views about space, stating that the U.S. has always been a leader in space exploration while also expressing disappointment about a perceived decline in the space program. [AdAge]
The launch of the first next-generation polar orbiting weather satellite has slipped two months. NOAA confirmed Friday that the launch of the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) 1 spacecraft, which had been scheduled for January 2017, has been delayed until March. NOAA said that “recent tests of the flight and ground systems” led to that decision, but did not elaborate on the specific issues causing the delay. Delays in the JPSS-1 launch raise concerns about a potential data gap because of problems with an instrument on the current NPP Suomi spacecraft. [SpaceNews]
Eutelsat has sold its majority stake in a maritime satellite communications provider as part of a growing consolidation of that sector. Eutelsat sold its 70 percent ownership of WINS Ltd to SpeedCast International in a deal that valued WINS at $67 million. The sale, announced early Monday, comes a week after Apax Partners-owned Marlink said it was acquiring Telemar, creating a combined company that serves a third of the global maritime vessel fleet. SpeedCast says it expects to make more acquisitions in the future “amid an accelerating consolidation trend in our industry.” [SpaceNews]
China launched its first satellite devoted to mobile communications Friday. A Long March 3B rocket lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 12:22 p.m. Eastern Friday and placed the Tiantong-01 satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit. China Telecom will use the satellite to provide mobile communications services from China to Africa. Chinese media stated that additional Tiantong satellites will be launched in the future, but did not include details about those plans. [Xinhua]
Launch vehicles for China’s next human spaceflight missions have arrived at the launch site. The Long March 2F rockets that will be used for the launch of the Tiangong-2 module and Shenzhou-11 spacecraft arrived at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center this weekend. One rocket will launch Tiangong-2 in mid-September, and the other will launch Shenzhou-11 a month later to dock with Tiangong-2. Shenzhou-11 will carry two astronauts for a one-month mission. [gbtimes]
ORBCOMM, reporting increases in both revenue and earnings, hopes to find new growth in China. The company reported $50.1 million in total revenue for the three months ending June 30 and adjusted earnings of $12.1 million for the same period, both representing growth of more than 10 percent over a year ago. ORBCOMM hopes a deal with China International Marine Containers could open the door for bigger deals in the Chinese market. ORBCOMM added that while it has won some Automatic Identification System deals, it does not yet believe that represents a large market. [SpaceNews]The next U.S. Air Force missile warning satellite has arrived at Cape Canaveral to prepare for an October launch. The SBIRS GEO Flight 3 satellite shipped last week from a Lockheed Martin factory in California, where it was built, to the Cape for an Oct. 3 launch on an Atlas 5. The satellite will provide early warning of missile launches, but the Air Force has not announced where in geostationary orbit the spacecraft will operate. [Spaceflight Now]
A company run by a former astronaut is planning a major test of its in-space propulsion technology this fall. Ad Astra Rocket Company plans to run a prototype of its Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) engine in a vacuum chamber for one hour in October. Previous tests of the VASIMR engine have run at full power for only a few seconds at a time. The company, led by former NASA astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz, is working on VASIMR under a NASA contract with hopes of eventually using the engine for deep space missions. [The Tico Times (Costa Rica)]
An Apollo 11 artifact is at the center of a legal dispute. The U.S. Attorney’s Office asked a federal court last week to rescind the sale of an Apollo 11 sample bag that was sold at a government auction in 2015 for $995. The bag was seized by the government from Max Ary, founder of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, who was convicted in 2005 of stealing and selling museum artifacts. The government says that the bag was not properly identified in records, and NASA was thus not notified of its sale. In 2001, Ary sold a similar bag from the Apollo 17 mission for more than $24,000; that bag was later recovered by the government. [AP]