SpaceX CEO Elon Musk denied the donation on Twitter Wednesday, saying SpaceX has not donated to any candidate’s campaign.
A Center for Responsive Politics spokesman said they made a “matching error” that incorrectly identified a donor as a SpaceX employee.
SpaceX, like many other companies, does donate to congressional campaigns. [Inverse]
NASA could make a decision within a week on the future of the InSight Mars lander. That spacecraft was scheduled to launch this month, but NASA postponed the mission in December because of problems with one of its key instruments, a seismometer. The project has developed a plan to launch the mission in 2018 at an additional cost of about $150 million, and presented that proposal to NASA this week. A decision on whether to approve that plan or cancel the mission altogether could come within a week, a NASA official said Wednesday. [SpaceNews]
The U.S. Air Force’s youngest weather satellite, DMSP-19, stopped responding to commands Feb. 11. Officials do not know the cause of the problem, or if the satellite can be recovered. The Air Force has reassigned DMSP-17, which launched in 2006 and had been serving as a backup, into a primary role. [SpaceNews]
The Air Force could continue to fund development of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AR1 engine even if it is not selected by United Launch Alliance. Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO Eileen Drake said in an interview that a selection of the AR1 by ULA for its Vulcan rocket is not a condition for additional Air Force funding to complete work on the engine. ULA is considering the AR1 but has stated that Blue Origin’s BE-4 is their current preferred choice. Drake said Aerojet has held discussions with at least two other unidentified launch providers about using the AR1. [SpaceNews]
The Pentagon plans to spend $22 billion on space in 2017, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said this week. Carter mentioned that spending level in a speech earlier this week in San Francisco, where he discussed emerging threats in space and stated that the Defense Department “must now prepare for, and seek to prevent, the possibility of a conflict that extends into space.” Carter didn’t elaborate on the $22 billion figure, which is more than twice what the Air Force said last month it plans to spend on unclassified space projects. [SpaceNews]
The head of Orbital ATK believes satellite servicing is more promising than reusable launch vehicles. David W. Thompson said in a conference call with investors this week that while reusable rockets are “intuitively appealing,” he is skeptical that they can provide sustainable cost reductions. Orbital ATK is planning a new launch vehicle, which he said will not incorporate reusability. Thompson also said that the company will provide more details about its satellite servicing initiatives, including customer agreements, later this year. That work is commercially funded with no government investment. [SpaceNews]
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Scott Kelly is back in the U.S. after his nearly one year in space. Kelly arrived in Houston late Wednesday night, a little more than 24 hours after the Soyuz spacecraft returning him and two Russian cosmonauts landed in Kazakhstan. Among those greeting him in Houston were presidential science adviser John Holdren and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden. President Obama also spoke with Kelly by phone earlier in the day. [CBS/AP]
China has plans for a heavy-lift launch vehicle similar in size to the Space Launch System. The Long March 9 could place about 130 metric tons into low Earth orbit, a payload capacity similar to upgraded versions of the SLS. Chinese officials said the rocket could be used to support Mars exploration plans as well as sending humans to the Moon. The vehicle, though, is still in its earliest design phases and is not expected to launch until at least 2030. [gbtimes]
The head of Air Force Space Command is “close to a lock” to becoming the next Air Force Chief of Staff. Gen. John Hyten has been widely rumored to be a top choice for the service’s top post, and another candidate, Gen. Lori Robinson, is expected to instead take over Northern Command. Hyten is not a fighter pilot, which in the past would have been a handicap but, under current Defense Department leadership, could work to his advantage. Hyten’s space experience could help elevate the importance of space systems within the Air Force should he become Chief of Staff. [Breaking Defense]
An American company is in negotiations to launch a satellite on an Indian GSLV rocket. An Indian government minister told the nation’s parliament Wednesday that the U.S. firm, identified as only a “leading space company,” is in talks with Antrix, the commercial arm of the Indian space agency ISRO, about launching a communications satellite on a GSLV. Neither the size of the satellite nor the proposed launch date were disclosed. [IANS]
ESA has released the first images from its latest Earth science satellite. Sentinel-3A, launched last month, returned the images on Monday. The sampling of images released by ESA include color images of the Strait of Gibraltar and Southern California. The spacecraft and its instruments are still undergoing testing and calibration, and routine science observations won’t begin for a few more months. [BBC]
Low Pay, High Payoff
A survey indicates that employees at SpaceX are among the most stressed in the tech industry, but apparently think it’s worth it. The survey, performed by Seattle company PayScale, found that 88 percent of SpaceX employees who responded indicated their jobs have high stress, tops among the 18 companies included in the study. However, 92 percent of SpaceX employees said their jobs have high meaning, also highest among the companies included. Another Elon Musk company, Tesla, ranked second in both categories. That high job meaning comes in spite of money: SpaceX ranked 14th in “early career” median salaries, at $78,500. [GeekWire]
This story was provided by SpaceNews, dedicated to covering all aspects of the space industry.