Friday, January 8, 2021

FIRST UP | Arianespace seeks greater support from European governments • SDA restores contested L3Harris, SpaceX satellite contracts
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A SpaceNews daily newsletter | Friday, January 8, 2021

Top Stories

 
A Space X Falcon 9 successfully launched a Turkish communications satellite Thursday night. The Falcon 9 lifted off at 9:15 p.m. Eastern from Cape Canaveral and released the Turksat 5A satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit 33 minutes later. The Airbus-built satellite will provide Ku-band broadcast services from 31 degrees east in GEO. The launch is the first during what may be the busiest year yet for SpaceX, who is likely to exceed the 25 orbital launches it performed last year. [SpaceNews]

Arianespace's CEO says European governments need to increase their support of the launch provider to match U.S. government support of his competitors. In a briefing Thursday, Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël said companies like SpaceX benefit from U.S. government support "with no precedent," such as the national security launch contracts SpaceX and ULA received last year. He called on European governments to "renew the public-private partnership around Ariane 6 and Vega C," including a bulk order of launches the European Commission is proposing to make this year. Arianespace reported revenues of about 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) in 2020, and Israël said the company in 2021 will exceed the 10 launches it performed last year. [SpaceNews]

The Space Development Agency (SDA) has restored contracts awarded to L3Harris and SpaceX for producing an initial set of missile-tracking satellites. The two companies received awards in October, valued at $193.5 million for L3Harris and $149 million for SpaceX, for the Tracking Layer Tranche 0 satellites, but work stopped after protests filed by Airbus and Raytheon. SDA agreed to reevaluate the contracts, and concluded the L3Harris and SpaceX bids still provided the best value to the government. [SpaceNews]

Thales Alenia Space will build a European module for NASA's lunar Gateway. ESA announced Thursday that it awarded Thales a contract valued at 296.5 million euros for the European System Providing Refueling, Infrastructure and Telecommunications (ESPRIT) module. ESPRIT consists of two elements, a communications system that will fly as part of NASA's HALO module, and a separate refueling element that will launch later in the decade. [ESA]
 

Other News


Virgin Orbit is delaying a LauncherOne launch that was scheduled for this weekend by several days. The company announced Thursday that the mission, which had been scheduled for Sunday, is now set for launch Wednesday, Jan. 13 between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Eastern. That date was not among the list of backup windows published in a Coast Guard notice to mariners last week about the planned launch. Virgin Orbit didn't disclose the reason for the delay other than it was "wrapping up final tasks, coordinating with our customers, and preparing for our Launch Readiness Review on Friday morning." [Twitter @Virgin_Orbit]

NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced a new agreement Thursday regarding cooperation in scientific research. The memorandum of understanding reaffirms what the agencies call their "longstanding partnership" on space and Earth science research. That work has previously included activities from Antarctica to the International Space Station, as well as cooperation in science education. [NASA]

China's Chang'e-4 mission has started a new lunar day. The lander and Yutu-2 rover woke up Thursday for their 26th lunar day on the surface, with Yutu-2 moving towards a region of impact craters with high reflectivity. Chang'e-4 landed on the far side of the moon two years ago. [Xinhua]

The founder of SpaceX has eclipsed the founder of Blue Origin as the world's wealthiest person. Elon Musk's net worth passed $185 billion Thursday, moving him head of Jeff Bezos, worth $184 billion thanks to his stake in Amazon. Musk's wealth is driven by the soaring stock price of Tesla, which has increased dramatically over the last year. Musk started 2020 with a net worth of "just" $27 billion. Musk, informed of his title as the world's richest person, tweeted, "How strange." [CNBC]

Sounds Like the Plot of Tenet


"Turksat: Past, present and future exist at the same moment."

– From a promotional video for Turksat aired during the SpaceX webcast of the launch of the Turksat 5A satellite Thursday evening.
 

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