Friday, May 19, 2017

SpaceNews This Week | U.S. Air Force lays out its case for keeping space operations

May 19, 2017
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Air Force lays out its case for keeping space operations

Phillip Swarts —Separating space operations from the Air Force would hamper the service's efforts to address threats in orbit, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said May 17.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, Goldfein argued that setting up a separate "Space Corps" within the Air Force — similar to the Marine Corps within the Navy — would only cause confusion.

All booked: Virgin Galactic says suborbital spaceflights are full until 2021

Jeff Foust  —Stephen Attenborough, commercial director of Virgin Galactic, said that anyone buying a ticket today for a SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceflight is unlikely to fly until 2021 because of the backlog of about 650 customers already holding tickets.

Attenborough said that estimate was based on starting commercial flights in 2018.

The company has been reticent to set schedules for beginning commercial service, although founder Sir Richard Branson said earlier this year he would be disappointed if regular suborbital flights were not underway by the end of next year.

Arianespace Soyuz orbits SES-15 carrying FAA hosted payload

Caleb Henry —Arianespace launched a Soyuz rocket May 18 from Europe's space center in French Guiana, carrying the electrically propelled SES-15 satellite to geostationary transfer orbit.

The mission is Arianespace's second since territory-wide protests rocked the French territory in northeast South America for a month and a half, closing the Guiana Space Centre near Kourou in the process. SES-15 is the second of three missions previously slated for April, but pushed to May — a month during which Arianespace originally scheduled downtime for spaceport maintenance and thus had no missions — because of the protests.

China Satcom poised to support China's 'Belt and Road' trade initiative

Caleb Henry — Chinese satellite fleet operator China Satcom is preparing to support the country's ambitious international trade development program by growing its footprint in maritime and aviation services, among others.

Of particular interest is China's "21st Century Maritime Silk Road," Zhang Yu, senior sales manager at China Satcom, said here May 18. 

The goal of China's Belt and Road Initiative, which began in 2013, is to foster increased trade through a modernized version of the Silk Road, connecting Asia, Europe and Africa through investments in trade infrastructure. The maritime route links to Europe through two paths that start in the South China Sea: one passing through the South Pacific while the other cuts straight to the Indian Ocean. A third path does not terminate in Europe but passes by the Philippines on the way toward Eastern Indonesia.

Spaceflight purchases Electron launch for medium-inclination payloads

Jeff Foust —Spaceflight, a company that arranges launches for small satellites, announced May 17 is it purchasing a launch from Rocket Lab for payloads seeking access to a less common orbit.

Seattle-based Spaceflight didn't disclose the terms of the deal for the Electron launch, although Rocket Lab has previously quoted a launch price of as low as $4.9 million for a dedicated launch. The companies have also yet to determine the launch date for the mission.

China Great Wall Industry Corp lands Indonesian commercial satellite order

Caleb Henry  China Great Wall Industry Corp. has clinched a contract with an Indonesian joint venture to build a replacement for a satellite that is running out of fuel early due to an underperformed Long March launch.

Palapa Satelit Nusantara Sejahtera, a joint venture of Indosat Ooredoo and Pasifik Satelit Nusantara (PSN), signed the contract for Palapa-N1, a high-throughput Ku-band satellite with 10 Gbps of capacity here May 17 with Beijing-based CGWIC, a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. 

CGWIC also received a non-binding agreement for a second satellite with PSN — a Ka-band high-throughput satellite called PSN-7 that would deliver 100 Gbps of capacity through 104 spot beams covering Indonesia, the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.


Resiliency is about more than just spending more money

Phillip Swarts — Don't look for a line item marked "resiliency" in the space budget.

That was the message from top Defense Department space officials at this month's Washington Space Business Roundtable lunch.

"I would caution when you look into any budget that you don't just look for things that say resiliency, because it's a whole of government perspective here," Chirag Parikh, deputy director for counterproliferation at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, said May 9. "It's when you bring all these things together, whether it's at the Pentagon or at the White House, that's where you really get things going on." WATCH VIDEO

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