U.S. Senate hopeful Patrick Murphy, second from right, meeting Feb. 5 with the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast. Credit: Patrick Murphy for U.S. Senate via Facebook

A candidate for the U.S. Senate in Florida says he supports a balance of government and commercial space efforts.

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) met Friday with Space Coast business leaders and said afterwards he was impressed with private sector space accomplishments, but that there was room to make public-private space partnerships more efficient.

Murphy is running for the Senate seat currently held by Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio. [Florida Politics]

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French officials hope a series of space cooperation agreements with other countries leads to satellite orders from them. France signed such deals with 11 countries in 2015 alone, which in some cases have already resulted in purchases of French satellites or launches. French officials hope that a strong U.S. dollar, and the current inability of the Ex-Im Bank to finance big-ticket deals like satellite and launch orders, will also help their efforts to win business this year. [SpaceNews]

A Colorado startup that was making progress on a new space transportation technology has shut down. Escape Dynamics, in a message on its website, said that while it made progress on microwave beamed propulsion technology, the high cost of continued development and technical risks made it unattractive to private investors, and the company decided to wind down operations. The small firm announced last year it had successfully tested its technology in the lab on a small scale, and believed that, if scaled up, could reduce the cost of space access by a factor of 100. [SpaceNews]

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Scientists may announce this week the detection of gravitational waves from merging black holes. An email message distributed among physicists last week claims that the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected the gravitational waves created when two black holes, 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun, merged. Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicted gravitational waves but they have not been observed; LIGO was designed specifically to attempt to detect them. A confirmed discovery, one physicist said, would make it the front-runner for the next Nobel Prize. The discovery could be announced as soon as this week in the next issue of the journal Nature. [Science]

Indian officials claim a man was killed, and three others injured, by a meteor Saturday. Eyewitnesses reported an explosion on the grounds of an engineering college in the state of Tamil Nadu, which left a small crater. The state’s chief minister claimed Sunday that the explosion was caused by a meteorite impact, and that at least one fragment has been recovered, although it had not yet been examined by scientists. If confirmed, it would be the first time in recorded history that an impact killed a person. [NDTV]


Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, has passed away. The 85-year-old Mitchell died Thursday night after a short illness, family members said. Mitchell was the lunar module pilot for Apollo 14, 45 years ago this month, walking for nine hours on the surface on two moonwalks. Mitchell left NASA in 1972 and later formed an institute to study consciousness and other phenomena, including ESP. [collectSPACE]

The Week Ahead


  • Washington: The White House releases its fiscal year 2017 budget request. Various agencies, including the Defense Department and NASA, plan briefings that day to provide more details about their proposals.


  • Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.: A Delta 4 Medium+ (5,2) rocket is scheduled to launch a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office between 6:00 and 8:00 a.m. Eastern.
  • Washington: The Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee will hold a hearing on the Air Force’s fiscal year 2017 budget request at 10:30 a.m. Eastern.


  • Singapore: The Global Space & Technology Convention features panels that include executives from OneWeb, Spire, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. and the French space agency CNES



  • Tanegashima, Japan: An H-2A rocket will launch the Astro-H x-ray science satellite, which includes NASA-provided instruments, between 3:45 and 4:30 a.m. Eastern.

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...