Orbital ATK returns to the skies with upcoming international Space Station cargo mission
Everyone loves a good comeback story, and Orbital ATK’s return to space is no exception. In its first cargo mission to the International Space Station following a launch failure in October 2015, Orbital ATK is back with an ambitious launch plan. There’s the enhanced Cygnus spacecraft launching atop United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket, a modified Antares rocket returning to service in 2016 along with three scheduled launches set for next year.
Privately-held Orbital ATK is one of several commercial partners that are vital to NASA. Missions to the International Space Station will be conducted by Orbital ATK, SpaceX and Boeing — the latter two companies tasked with developing new spacecraft to ferry astronauts to the science lab in the sky. This strategy lets NASA worry about large tasks like bringing an asteroid into a lunar orbit or landing humans on Mars while commercial companies can use their ingenuity to develop cost-effective strategies.
Stratolaunch’s future up in the air
The president of Vulcan Aerospace, Chuck Beames, said the project is being reassessed based on shifts in the market towards smaller satellites, which don’t require a large rocket and large aircraft that the company is building in California.
Vulcan closed out an earlier contract with Orbital ATK to develop the rocket, and this summer said it planned to make a decision on a new rocket, or rockets, this fall.
Yahsat, Hughes expand partnership to serve Africa
Satellite fleet operator Yahsat of the United Arab Emirates on Nov. 17 said it was expanding its relationship with broadband hardware and service provider Hughes Network Systems with a multiyear contract for broadband rollout in 18 African nations.
The contract announcement constitutes the latest move in a global chess match among satellite operators and broadband hardware and service providers to line up coverage and customers. Hughes is the ground network provider for the Yahsat 1B satellite.
The announcement comes on the heels of Paris-based Eutelsat’s decision to build a Ka-band satellite for Africa. Eutelsat has not yet named a ground network provider.
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