United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket launches NROL-55 mission. Credit: ULA

Weather is looking good for an Atlas 5 launch this week.

Forecasts predict an 80 percent chance of acceptable weather for Thursday morning’s launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with similar odds if the launch slips to Friday.

The Atlas 5 is carrying a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office on a mission designated NROL-61. [Spaceflight Now]

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The satellite industry is keeping a low profile after losing a regulatory battle with the FCC. Earlier this month, the FCC opened up some Ka-band spectrum for terrestrial 5G wireless applications, despite lobbying from the satellite industry to keep that spectrum protected from their own use. Individual companies as well as industry groups have said little about the ruling, and what comments they have made have been neutral. One industry official said companies were warned not to criticize the decision because FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was “still angry” with the satellite industry after its opposition to use of Ka-band spectrum for 5G services at the WRC-15 conference last year. [SpaceNews]

A small launch vehicle developer says it’s on track for a 2018 first launch after completing the acquisition of another company. Vector Space Systems said last week it completed the acquisition of Garvey Spacecraft Corporation, which had been designing a small rocket called the Nanosat Launch Vehicle. That vehicle, now known as the Vector 1, is slated to make its first launch in 2018 after a series of suborbital tests planned by the company. Vector Space Systems has signed up one customer and is in negotiations with a second that, combined, could account for 30 launches over several years. [SpaceNews]

Democrats have added a space policy plank to their 2016 platform. The updated platform, published Friday, includes one paragraph about NASA, with general support for the space agency and space exploration. “We will strengthen support for NASA and work in partnership with the international scientific community to launch new missions to space,” it stated, without offering specifics. An earlier draft of the platform included no mention of NASA. The platform will be formally adopted this week at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. [DNC]

India is planning to launch a weather satellite next month. A.S. Kiran Kumar, chairman of the Indian space agency ISRO, said his weekend a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) is scheduled to launch the Insat-3DR satellite in August. An upgraded version of the GSLV, the GSLV Mark 3, is scheduled to launch at the end of this year to launch a communications satellite that, at 3.2 tons, will be the heaviest geostationary orbit satellite launched by India. [IANS]

A former NASA chief technologist is taking a new job in Colorado. Robert Braun, who served as NASA chief technologist in 2010 and 2011, was named last week as the new dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado. Braun will join the Colorado faculty in October and take over as dean in January. Braun had been a professor at Georgia Tech, and before that worked at NASA’s Langley Research Center. [Univ. of Colorado]

At United Launch Alliance, even the student-built rockets are big. ULA interns successfully launched Sunday the “Future Heavy” rocket, built by the company’s summer interns and, at about 15 meters tall, the largest sport rocket ever launched with a liftoff thrust of 6,600 pounds. The rocket carried payloads built by interns at Ball Aerospace as well as K-12 students. [PR Newswire]

Another Rocket is heading to the International Space Station — along with Groot. At the San Diego Comic-Con Friday, Marvel Comics and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit that manages the national lab portion of the ISS, unveiled a new patch for science payloads heading to the ISS this year. The patch features Rocket Raccoon and Groot, two characters from “The Guardians of the Galaxy” comics and movies. CASIS plans to use the patch, and the characters, for an educational flight contest later this year. [collectSPACE]

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...