SpaceNews This Week |  SpaceX’s record-setting rideshare mission a challenge for space traffic control • Four space challenges for President Biden
January 22, 2021
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Space challenges for President Biden

The new Biden administration is facing several challenges as it takes office. In civil space, the administration will have to decide how it wants to change the schedule or other aspects of the Artemis lunar exploration program, as well as how to implement a transition of space traffic management responsibilities to the Commerce Department. In national security space, the administration will have to address the growth of the Space Force and modernization of launch vehicles and spacecraft systems. SEE STORY

SpaceX's record-setting rideshare mission a challenge for space traffic control

U.S. Space Command's traffic watchers have been working with SpaceX and satellite operators in recent days in preparation for Transporter-1, a rideshare mission scheduled to launch Jan. 23 that could set a new record for the most satellites ever launched in a single flight.

ESA and EU mend relations

After fraying relations in recent years, officials with the European Union and European Space Agency say they're committed to rebuilding a more cooperative relationship on space programs.

SLS Green Run static fire cut short by "intentionally conservative" test limits

A static-fire test of the Space Launch System core stage ended early Jan. 16 when a hydraulic system for one its four engines hit an "intentionally conservative" limit during the test.



Virgin Orbit reaches orbit on second LauncherOne mission

Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne rocket reached orbit on its second flight Jan. 17, demonstrating the performance of the air-launch system.

Rocket Lab launches secretive communications satellite for OHB

Rocket Lab successfully launched a communications satellite for German company OHB Group Jan. 20 in the first Electron mission of the year.

Northrop Grumman test fires solid motor for ULA's Vulcan rocket

Northrop Grumman announced Jan. 21 it completed a static firing of the strap-on solid booster it developed for United Launch Alliance's new Vulcan Centaur rocket. 

Satellogic signs multi-launch contract with SpaceX

Earth observation company Satellogic announced Jan. 19 it signed a contract with SpaceX covering several rideshare launches of its satellites through next year.



Boeing Starliner completes software requalification

Boeing has completed a requalification of software on its commercial crew spacecraft as it prepares to launch the vehicle on a second test flight as soon as late March.

NASA ceases efforts to deploy Mars InSight heat flow probe

After nearly two years of struggles, NASA has abandoned efforts to deploy a heat flow probe on its InSight lander into the surface of Mars.

Green propellant successfully demonstrated on NASA mission

A recent NASA mission successfully demonstrated the performance of a non-toxic "green" propellant, creating opportunities for its use in a wide range of future spacecraft.



Redwire acquires Oakman Aerospace

Redwire has acquired Oakman Aerospace, a Littleton, Colorado firm known for digital engineering and spacecraft development. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

China's iSpace advances with IPO plans, reusable launcher landing leg tests

Chinese private rocket firm iSpace is planning an IPO while also making progress on technology for a reusable launch vehicle.

Aurora Insight to launch cubesats for RF sensing

Aurora Insight, a Denver startup that gathers data on terrestrial and satellite communications, plans to launch the first of two cubesats on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare mission scheduled for liftoff Jan. 21.

French startup demonstrates iodine propulsion in potential boost for space debris mitigation efforts

French startup ThrustMe has performed the first on-orbit tests of an innovative iodine-fueled electric propulsion system, proving its ability to change a CubeSat's orbit.



Air Force Academy to produce more officers for Space Force

As many as 116 graduates of the U.S. Air Force Academy this year will join the U.S. Space Force.

Space industry executive calls on Biden to keep the National Space Council

The chief executive of  Virgin Orbit's sister company VOX Space called on the Biden administration to continue the National Space Council.

Former U.S. Air Force secretary Heather Wilson joins Maxar's board of directors

Former secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson has joined the board of directors of Maxar Technologies, the company announced Jan. 19. 



Google to shut down Loon

Google announced Jan. 21 it is shutting down Loon, a venture to provide wireless connectivity by balloon that has been seen as both complementary to and competitive with satellite networks.

FCC C-band auction raised nearly $81 billion so far

The U.S. Federal Communication Commission's C-band auction of 280-megahertz of C-band has raised nearly $81 billion and it's not quite over.
Written by SpaceNews correspondent Debra Werner, SN Commercial Drive highlights innovation in satellite communications, Earth observation and the space sector overall. Delivered Wednesdays. 

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