United Launch Alliance is paying the federal government $100,000 to settle allegations employees received kickbacks from a subcontractor.
According to the Justice Department, the subcontractor, Apriori Technologies Inc., which offers technology, compliance and project management consulting, provided “gratuities” to ULA employees in exchange for winning business from ULA. (The company is unrelated to aPriori Technologies Inc., a Massachusetts-based product cost management software company.)
That resulted in higher costs for government launch contracts.
The settlement is not an admission of guilt by ULA, the Justice Department noted, adding that ULA voluntarily made the government aware of the kickbacks. [Denver Business Journal]
Arianespace closed out its year with the successful launch of two communications satellites Wednesday. The Ariane 5 carrying the Star One D1 and JCSAT-15 satellites lifted off on schedule at 3:30 p.m. Eastern and released the satellites into geostationary transfer orbit. Star One D1 will be used by Brazil’s Embratel Star One to provide communications services in Latin America, while Japan’s Sky Perfect JSAT will use JCSAT-15 to provide services in Japan, Oceania and the Indian Ocean. Both satellites were built by Space Systems Loral. The launch was the seventh Ariane 5 mission of 2016, and the 11th overall for Arianespace. [SpaceNews]
China launched a carbon-monitoring satellite Wednesday. A Long March 2D rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 2:22 p.m. Eastern Wednesday and deployed the TanSat spacecraft into a sun-synchronous orbit. TanSat is designed to monitor the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere as part of efforts to study climate change. [Xinhua]
One new person with commercial space expertise has been added to the NASA landing team, with perhaps more to follow. Charles Miller joined the landing team on Tuesday, according to updated rosters of landing team members maintained by the transition team for President-elect Trump. Miller is a former senior adviser for commercial space at NASA and has both worked at commercial space companies as well as been a policy advocate for the field. Others reportedly under consideration include Alan Stern, the chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, and Alan Lindenmoyer, the former manager for the commercial cargo program at NASA. [SpaceNews]
DARPA and NASA are joining forces for setting standards for satellite servicing. In a joint op-ed, NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman and Pam Melroy, deputy director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, said the agencies are co-sponsoring the initial development of an industry group intended to develop industry consensus standards for satellite servicing. DARPA issued a broad agency announcement for establishing the group, called the Consortium For Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing Operations (CONFERS), last week. [SpaceNews]
ULA, meanwhile, is gearing up for its first launch of 2017. A Delta 4 will launch the SBIRS GEO-3 missile warning satellite Jan. 19 from Cape Canaveral, the company announced. The launch was scheduled for this fall but postponed to investigate a potential issue with the spacecraft’s engine. [SpaceNews]
Russia recently tested a missile that could be used as an anti-satellite weapon. The test of the PL-19 Nudol missile took place Dec. 16 from a base in central Russia and was tracked by U.S. intelligence agencies. The test was the third successful flight for a missile designed for missile defense but which the Pentagon believes could also be used as a direct-ascent anti-satellite weapon. [Washington Free Beacon]
China and the United Nations plan to soon solicit proposals for science projects that could fly on China’s future space station. The call for proposals should be released by early 2017, inviting countries without space programs of their own to propose experiments that could fly on the Chinese station. The China Manned Space Agency and the UN’s Office for Outer Space Affairs signed an agreement earlier this year to work together on efforts such as this. [gbtimes]