The United Kingdom could be locked out of some aspects of the Galileo satellite navigation system because of Brexit.
Officials with the European Union, as well as members of the British Parliament, warned that the UK’s impending exit from the EU would require the country to negotiate a new deal with the EU to remain part of Galileo.
Without such an agreement, the UK could lose access to Galileo signals intended for government users, and Galileo contracts with UK firms could be canceled. [The Independent]
SpaceX test-fired a Falcon 9 rocket yesterday on a historic pad at the Kennedy Space Center in advance of a launch of a cargo mission. The static fire of the Falcon 9’s first stage engines, which took place Sunday afternoon, marked the first time a rocket fired its engines from the Launch Complex 39A pad since the launch of the final shuttle mission in 2011. SpaceX has been refurbishing the pad for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches, and is pressing the pad into service early because of damage to its other Cape Canaveral pad in a September explosion. The launch of a Dragon cargo spacecraft from LC-39A is currently scheduled for Saturday morning. [CBS]
A competition between “OldSpace” and “NewSpace” for a return to the moon is not necessarily in the cards. A report last week claimed that the White House had received a proposal to conduct an internal competition at NASA between existing programs and commercial alternatives for a human return to lunar orbit by 2020. However, sources say that proposal does not match what the transition team recommended to the new administration in its report on the agency. Moreover, NASA’s current programs, including the Space Launch System, have received renewed support recently, including from a commercial organization and a think tank. [SpaceNews]
Scientists have identified three finalist landing sites for NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. NASA announced Friday that it was now considering sending the rover mission to Jezero Crater, Northeast Syrtis or Columbia Hills, which was visited by the Spirit rover. The announcement came at the end of a three-day workshop where scientists discussed the scientific rationale for eight candidate launch sites. NASA added Columbia Hills to the list despite it not polling well among scientists at the workshop. Mars 2020 will feature a rover based on Curiosity that will collect samples for later return to Earth. [Nature]
Sierra Nevada Corp. has floated a proposal for a crewed Dream Chaser mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. The company reportedly pitched the Trump administration’s transition team on a concept to use a crewed version of Dream Chaser to service Hubble as a possible insurance policy should there be additional delays or problems with the James Webb Space Telescope. Sierra Nevada is developing an uncrewed version of Dream Chaser to transport cargo to and from the ISS, but failed to win a NASA commercial crew contract in 2014 for development of the crewed version of the spacecraft. The cost of the concept was not disclosed. [Wall Street Journal]
A Minotaur rocket is being stacked on a long-dormant Cape Canaveral launch pad for a mission this summer. The Minotaur 4 rocket is scheduled to launch in mid-July on the Operationally Responsive Space-5 mission from the Cape’s Launch Complex 46. The pad, originally developed for Trident missile launches and later converted for small launch vehicles, was last used by an Athena rocket in 1999. The mission will place a satellite into an equatorial low Earth orbit to test technologies for monitoring activities in geostationary orbit. [Spaceflight Now]
Japan will attempt another launch of an experimental small rocket. The first launch of the SS-520-4 rocket, a converted sounding rocket intended for launching small satellites, ended in failure last month when controllers lost telemetry from the rocket. A second launch of the SS-520-4 could take place as soon as later this year, with participating companies and the Japanese space agency JAXA sharing the cost of the mission. [Nikkei]
The proposed new budget for India’s space agency ISRO includes funding for Mars and Venus missions. The budget, which provides a 23-percent increase for ISRO overall, includes money to start work on a second Mars orbiter mission and India’s first mission to Venus. Both missions could include cooperation with NASA in the form of propulsion and communications systems. [PTI]
A JPL engineer returning to the United States last month was detained by customs agents and forced to surrender his government-issued phone. Sidd Bikkannavar, a U.S.-born citizen and an engineer at JPL, was returning from a personal trip to Chile when he was detained by customs agents in Houston. Bikkannavar said that agents demanded he hand over his JPL-issued phone, and PIN for accessing the phone, before releasing him. Bikkannavar said he had no idea why customs agents singled him out for investigation. [The Verge]