Space Policy Events for January 1-10, 2014 – UPDATE 3

Space Policy Events for January 1-10, 2014 – UPDATE 3

UPDATE 3, January 6, 2014:   SpaceX’s launch of Thaicom-6 is now scheduled for today, January 6, at 5:06 pm ET.  Orbital’s Orb-1 launch is now scheduled for Wednesday, January 8 at 1:32 pm ET and the associated pre-launch briefings are now on Tuesday (January 7) instead of today.  They still are at 2:00 pm ET (science) and 3:00 pm ET (mission status).  (India’s GSLV launch did go off on as planned on January 5.)

UPDATE 2, January 3, 2014:  The Orb-1 Antares/Cygnus mission to the ISS has been delayed from January 7 to January 8 or 9 because of weather.  Orbital Sciences Corp. says January 9 is the more likely day — launch window 1:10-1:15 pm ET. (But January 8 is a possibility — launch window 1:32-1:37 pm ET).

UPDATE, January 2, 2014:  Multiple sources report that the SpaceX launch scheduled for January 3 has been postponed to no-earlier-than January 6.

ORIGINAL STORY, January 1, 2014:  Happy New Year everyone!  Hopefully you’ve been having a nice few days of rest because, for space policy aficionados, the New Year gets off to a quick start with three interesting launches and Congress returning for the second session of the 113th Congress all within the first seven days — and that’s just the beginning.

During the Week

OK, so we’re defining “week” loosely this time to mean the first 10 days of 2014.  We don’t cover all the launches that take place each year since not all have space policy implications.   There are three coming up that are of special interest though:  SpaceX’s launch of Thaicom-6 on January 3, India’s return-to-flight of its Geosynchronous Space Launch Vehicle (GSLV) on January 5, and the rescheduled first operational launch of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares/Cygnus system to resupply the International Space Station on January 7.

Admittedly the SpaceX launch is less exciting than its successful SES-8 launch last month, the company’s first launch to geostationary transfer orbit, but getting another rocket ready to repeat that success just a month later is a sign of maturity for the entrepreneurial launch firm so deserves a mention here.  It’s interesting to note that we couldn’t find anything about the upcoming launch on SpaceX’s website other than a mention on its 2013 launch manifest when the launch originally was scheduled to take place., however, reports the launch window on January 3 as 5:50 – 7:17 pm ET from Cape Canaveral, FL.

Two days later, on January 5, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will try to launch the return-to-flight-mission of its GSLV, the first flight since two failures in 2010.  This is India’s most capable launch vehicle, with a cryogenic upper stage.  The return-to-flight was supposed to occur last August, but was scrubbed an hour before launch because of a second stage leak.    The payload is India’s GSAT-14 communications satellite.

Two days after that, on January 7, Orbital Sciences Corporation is scheduled to launch its Antares rocket with the Cygnus cargo spacecraft to take supplies to the ISS.  The launch was delayed from last month because of a coolant loop problem on the ISS that necessitated a couple of spacewalks to resolve and NASA needed to focus on that instead.  This is Orbital’s first operational cargo launch to the ISS, designated Orb-1.

Separately, the United States is hosting an International Space Exploration Forum (ISEF) concomitantly with an International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) symposium and “Heads of Agencies” summit on Wednesday and Thursday in Washington, DC to discuss the future of space exploration and international cooperation in space.

Just outside Washington, the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is holding its annual winter meeting all week with major announcements of scientific discoveries from ground- and space-based instruments expected.

Meanwhile, the second session of the 113th Congress will commence. The Senate convenes on January 6 and the House on January 7.   They have a lot of work to do! 

Friday, January 3

  • SpaceX launch of Thaicom-6 satellite, Cape Canaveral, FL, launch window 5:50 – 7:17 pm ET

Sunday, January 5

  • ISRO’s return-to-flight of its GSLV, Sriharikota, India, 16:18 Indian Standard Time (5:48 am Eastern Standard Time)

Sunday-Thursday, Janary 5-9

Monday, January 6

  • Senate begins the second session of the 113th Congress

Tuesday, January 7

Wednesday-Thursday, January 8-9

Thursday, January 9

Thursday-Friday, January 9-10

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