Quick Takes (05-23-16)

Cislunar serenade

orbitalatk_cislunarUnited Launch Alliance isn’t the only U.S. aerospace contractor talking up the merits of putting human outposts in lunar orbit. Orbital ATK exec Frank Culbertson — a former astronaut — told a congressional panel May 18 that cislunar habitats are a logical next step on NASA’s path to the red planet. “The experience gained in the cislunar proving ground will lead directly to longer mission durations in deep space and eventually enable a manned mission to Mars,” he said, plugging a human-rated variant of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo tug as “a very good starting point for the design of a cislunar habitat.”

Significant Figures


The number of orbits the International Space Station has completed since the launch of its cornerstone module, the Russian-built Zarya, in November 1998.

3 million

The number of photos astronauts have taken from the ISS since the first permanent crew arrived in November 2000.

$88 million

The price per seat RSC Energia is charging NASA for Soyuz rides to ISS in 2018 and 2019.

$550 million

The amount Global Eagle Entertainment is paying for maritime satellite services provider EMC.

$625 million

What Intelsat is willing to spend to entice bondholders to cash out holdings early at $657 to $685 per $1,000 of face value.

Secret recipes

Burney-GPS-Bake-off_5.23.16Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman took home $5 million study contracts in May to convince the U.S. Air Force they can produce a pair of “low-risk, high-confidence” GPS 3 satellites a year. The studies set the stage for a competition later this decade for a much bigger contract to build as many as 22 GPS 3 satellites.

The Air Force’s first batch of eight GPS 3 satellites are being built by Lockheed under a $3.6 billion contract the Denver company won in 2008.