As widely expected, the White House has selected Scott Pace to be the executive secretary of the National Space Council.
The White House announced late Thursday the appointment of Pace to the position, which handles the day-to-day activities of the council, chaired by the vice president.
Pace, currently the director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, previously worked at NASA and other agencies involved with space issues before joining the Space Policy Institute. [SpacePolicyOnline]
A Soyuz rocket launched 73 satellites early this morning. The Soyuz-2.1a rocket lifted off on schedule from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 2:36 a.m. Eastern. The rocket’s primary payload is the Kanopus-V-IK remote sensing satellite, but it is also carrying 72 smallsat secondary payloads, including cubesats for Astro Digital, GeoOptics, Planet and Spire. Deployment of the satellites into their planned orbits won’t be completed until more than eight hours after liftoff. [Spaceflight Now]
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Orbital ATK over a satellite-servicing program at DARPA. The judge ruled Wednesday that it did not have subject matter jurisdiction in the suit against DARPA, concluding the complaint was more broadly based than simply a procurement action. The judge also ruled that the national space policy, which Orbital ATK said DARPA was in violation of by funding a satellite servicing program when there are commercial alternatives available, did not carry the force of law. Orbital ATK filed the suit in February when DARPA selected Space Systems Loral for its Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites program. Orbital ATK said in a statement Thursdaythat the company will “redouble its efforts” with the White House and Congress to change the program. [SpaceNews]
On-orbit servicing, along with manufacturing and assembly, is emerging as a key space development area in the next decade. At a defense technology conference Thursday, panelists said emerging capabilities to build and repair satellites in space will require the U.S. military to rethink how it uses satellites and prepares for potential conflict in space. While U.S. agencies and companies are at the forefront of on-orbit servicing, panelists warned that other countries are also developing cutting-edge technologies in these areas. [SpaceNews]
Canadian company MDA has refiled paperwork with a U.S. government agency regarding its planned acquisition of DigitalGlobe. The two companies said this week that they resubmitted documents with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The companies did not disclose why they refiled the documents, but it does reset a 30-day review period by the agency, which reviews and approves proposed investments by foreign entities in American companies. [SpaceNews]
House appropriators approved a spending bill for NASA and NOAA without making significant changes. The full House Appropriations Committee approved its commerce, justice and science (CJS) spending bill on a 31-21 vote Thursday. The committee approved several minor amendments to the bill, none of which affected the funding in the bill for NASA, NOAA satellite programs or the National Science Foundation. The bill, approved by the CJS subcommittee in late June, provides nearly $19.9 billion for NASA, including significant increases over the administration’s request for exploration programs and planetary science while also restoring funding for NASA education efforts. [House Appropriations Committee]
Orbital ATK has won a contract from the Missile Defense Agency for rocket motors. The $48 million sustainment contract, awarded earlier this week by the agency, covers Trident 1 and Orion rocket motors used for targets and interceptors. The contract covers testing of aging motors, storage and disposal of motors, and testing. [SpaceNews]
The Huntsville City Council has approved its role in an incentive deal for Blue Origin. The council voted unanimously to approve its share of an incentive package announced last month to bring Blue Origin to the city, where it will manufacture BE-4 rocket engines. The agreement is contingent on United Launch Alliance selecting the BE-4 for Vulcan. The vote came after commissioners in Madison County approved their participation in the deal. [WAFF-TV Huntsville]
A Senate hearing provided a few new insights into a stealthy launch vehicle startup. Among those testifying at a hearing of the Senate space subcommittee on public-private partnerships was Tim Ellis, CEO of Relativity Space, a startup that announced plans last year to build rockets with “zero human labor.” Ellis said that the company is currently testing a liquid oxygen/methane engine at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, as well as “developing a series of novel, never-seen-before technologies” for launch vehicles that he declined to disclose. [GeekWire]
Russia, apparently struggling to find qualified candidates, has extended the deadline for applications for its next class of cosmonauts. The deadline for application was today, but Roscosmos said it was extending it for an unspecified period in order to attract “a bigger number of young people with engineering, technical and natural science skills.” The Roscosmos Cosmonaut Training Center had earlier received 300 applications, a far cry from the thousands submitted in recent astronaut selection rounds by NASA and the Canadian Space Agency. [TASS]