SpaceX Falcon 9 with Amos-6 payload. Credit:SpaceX
Spacecom, the owner of Amos-6, says it will be compensated for the destroyed satellite by both SpaceX and the satellite’s manufacturer, IAI. Spacecom said Sunday it will receive $50 million or a free launch from SpaceX.
IAI will pay Spacecom about $200 million, the cost of Amos-6, under an pre-launch insurance policy IAI held. Spacecom’s stock, traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, plummeted by nearly 50 percent in trading early Sunday before rebounding slightly, closing down about a third. [Reuters]
As SpaceX continues the investigation into last week’s pad explosion, the company says it could move some launches to another pad. In an update late Friday, SpaceX said the anomaly that destroyed the Falcon 9 rocket and Amos-6 satellite during preparations for a static-fire test originated around the upper stage liquid oxygen tank, but offered no additional details. The company is reviewing extensive telemetry from the test to track down the cause. SpaceX also said the extent of damage to Space Launch Complex 40 is still being analyzed, but noted it could perform some Falcon 9 launches planned for that site from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, which SpaceX is leasing from NASA primarily for commercial crew and Falcon Heavy missions. [SpaceNews]
The CEO of Spacecom said a planned sale of the company to a Chinese conglomerate could still happen. David Pollock said in an interview that Beijing Xinwei, who announced a deal a week before the accident to buy Spacecom for $285 million, is still interested in the deal, but at a new price. Pollock said he is also working on solutions for customers on Amos-2, the aging satellite Amos-6 was to replace, by the end of the year. [SpaceNews]
The U.S. Air Force will be participating in the Falcon 9 failure investigation. Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, the head of the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, said in a statement after the accident that he is willing to support SpaceX’s efforts to investigation the failure and return to flight. The Air Force is joined by the FAA and NASA on SpaceX’s accident investigation team. The Falcon 9 won Air Force certification last year to launch military payloads. [SpaceNews]
The Falcon 9 pad accident highlights an unusual aspect of SpaceX launch campaigns. The explosion took place while the rocket was being fueled not for launch but instead a static-fire test, which is all but unique to the industry. Even “wet dress rehearsals,” where the rocket is fueled for a practice countdown but the engines not ignited, are becoming less common by other launch providers to save time and money. [SpaceNews]
The European Space Agency said Monday it’s found the final resting place of its Philae comet lander. Images of the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, returned by the Rosetta orbiter late last week, show the spacecraft lying on its side in a crevasse. Philae landed on the comet in November 2014 but bounced from its original landing site, and engineers were unable to pinpoint its location before it stopped transmitting a couple days after landing. ESA had given up trying to restore contact with the lander months ago, after hoping that changes in sun angle would its solar panels to generate power again. The discovery comes less than a month before Rosetta ends its mission with its own landing on the comet. [BBC]
NASA has approved plans to launch a delayed Mars lander in 2018, but at a cost to be paid by future planetary missions. NASA said Friday it formally approved a revised plan for the InSight Mars lander, which will now launch in May 2018 and land on Mars in November of that year. InSight was to launch in March, but NASA postponed the launch because of problems with a seismic instrument being provided by the French space agency CNES. The delay will add more than $150 million to the mission’s cost, which NASA said could mean fewer opportunities for other planetary missions between 2017 and 2020. [SpaceNews]
LeoSat has signed up its first customer for a proposed broadband satellite constellation. LeoSat said an unnamed “globally operating financial trading company” has agreed to use the system, which LeoSat argues will provide faster global communications than fiber-optic systems. That difference, caused by the difference of the speed of light in vacuum versus fibers, is measured in milliseconds but could be critical for high-frequency traders. LeoSat expects its constellation of 108 satellites to cost about $3.5 billion. [Wall Street Journal]
The CEO of Swiss Space Systems is hospitalized in serious condition after an attack. Pascal Jaussi was reportedly abducted by two individuals in the Swiss canton of Fribourg, and later beaten and set on fire. News of the attack was not publicized until his condition improved, and his life is now no longer in danger. Jaussi had reportedly received threats related to his company in the months before the attack. Swiss Space Systems plans to start zero-g aircraft flights in the near future and, later, begin small satellite launches. [The Local (Switzerland)]
The United Arab Emirates has formally adopted a national space policy. The policy, approved by cabinet ministers Sunday, is intended to support international cooperation, education and research, but reports disclosed few specific details about the policy. The UAE has been working to build up its space industry in recent years, including plans to launch a Mars orbiter mission in 2020. [The National]
A strike Friday disrupted operations at several Indian space agency centers. Strikers blocked buses carrying ISRO employees from entering three centers, part of a broader protest by trade unions in the country on Friday. The protest kept workers from getting into the centers for several hours. [The Times of India]
An earthquake last week in New Zealand did not damage a launch site under construction for Rocket Lab. The company said that the magnitude 7.1 quake, which took place off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island early Friday, caused no damage to the launch site nearing completion of the island’s Mahia Peninsula, a few hundred kilometers from the epicenter. The company plans to use the site for its Electron small launch vehicle, with an initial test launch planned for a few months. [SpaceNews]
from Department of Private Space Inc.