Your Monday Briefing + What’s Happening This Week

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Eutelsat’s CEO stepping down — SpaceX changes RTF plans — Long March’s close call — Ermahgerd, Gersberms!

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The CEO of Eutelsat will step down next year. Eutelsat announced Monday that current chief executive Michel de Rosen will leave his post next March, but remain with the satellite operator as non-executive chairman of the board though next November. Eutelsat’s board named Rodolphe Belmer, former CEO of Groupe Canal, as de Rosen’s successor. Belmer will join Eutelsat as deputy CEO in December as part of the transition process. [Eutelsat]

SpaceX is changing the payload for the return-to-flight mission of its Falcon 9. The company announced Friday that the first Falcon 9 launch since a June failure will carry 11 satellites for Orbcomm, rather than the SES-9 satellite for SES. The change, SpaceX said, will allow the company to test relighting the upper stage engine on the Falcon 9, since a second burn of the upper stage isn’t needed for the Orbcomm satellites, destined for low Earth orbit. That return-to-flight mission, scheduled for launch in six to eight weeks, will also be the first flight of an upgraded Falcon 9. [SpaceNews]

A mysterious Russian satellite has once again maneuvered near an Intelsat spacecraft. The Luch spacecraft, which earlier this year positioned itself in GEO between the Intelsat 7 and Intelsat 901 spacecraft, has now moved to 24.4 degrees west in GEO, next to Intelsat 905. The Russian spacecraft’s maneuvers have raised questions about its intent, and one Intelsat executive called the actions “irresponsible.” [SpaceNews]

A Proton rocket successfully launched a Turkish communications satellite Friday. The Proton lifted off from Baikonur at 4:40 p.m. Eastern time Friday and released the Turksat 4B satellite into its transfer orbit a little more than nine hours later. Turksat 4B, built by Mitsubishi Electric for Turkish operator Turksat, will provide communications services from 50 degrees east in GEO. [Spaceflight Now]

A Long March rocket launched a communications satellite Friday for a Hong Kong company. The Long March 3B lifted off at 12:16 p.m. Eastern Friday and placed the Apstar 9 satellite into geostationary transfer orbit. The Chinese-built satellite will be used by APT Satellite Company at 142 degrees east in GEO. Part of the rocket’s payload fairing “narrowly missed” homes in a Chinese village, falling onto a nearby hillside and cutting electric lines. [Xinhua / South China Morning Post]

Astronaut Scott Kelly now holds the U.S. record for most time spent in space. Kelly marked his 383rd day in space on Friday, breaking the NASA record for cumulative time in space previously held by Mike Fincke. Kelly is more than halfway through a nearly year-long stay on the ISS, and will break the record for the longest single spaceflight by a NASA astronaut later this month. [CNN]


The Week Ahead

Tuesday-Wednesday:

Tuesday-Thursday:

Thursday:

Thursday-Friday:


The heads of NASA and ESA faced policy challenges last week at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC). For NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, it was dealing with a ban on cooperation with China, imposed on NASA by Congress, that could potentially lock the U.S. out of cooperation with other nations as well. Bolden, at the IAC, took pains to emphasize that he believed the ban was “temporary” even though there is no sign it will be lifted any time soon. ESA Director-General Johann-Dietrich Woerner had a different challenge: drumming up support for his “Moonvillage” vision for an international lunar base that, so far, as little support even within ESA. [SpaceNews]

An uncontested election for the president of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) was controversial nonetheless. The IAF elected Jean-Yves Le Gall, current head of the French space agency CNES, as president on Friday after former ESA Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain withdrew from the race. Dordain backed out after ESA reversed an earlier decision to back Dordain and said it supported Le Gall. [SpaceNews]


 

The flag of a controversial Russian biker gang flew on the ISS. Russian officials confirmed that a photo posted on Twitter last week, showing the flag of the Night Wolves biker club floating in the station’s Russian segment, was authentic. Night Wolves, described as “Vladimir Putin’s favorite nationalist biker gang,” arranged the photo with cosmonaut Sergei Volkov, who flew to the station in September. [Moscow Times]


The Martian got goosebumped from the top of the box office charts this weekend. The movie, in its third weekend in theaters, brought in $21.5 million, finishing second to a new release, Goosebumps, based on the R. L. Stine books. The Martian has brought in $143.8 million domestically and $319.2 million globally since its release. [Hollywood Reporter]

Robert Farquhar passed away Sunday at the age of 83. Farquhar, who worked for NASA and the Applied Physics Lab, was known for his innovative work in spacecraft trajectory design, developing the concept of halo orbits around Lagrange points and working on a number of missions, including the International Sun-Earth Explorer-3 (ISEE-3) spacecraft that later became the first spacecraft to fly past a comet. [SpaceRef]