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TechCrunch Space: Star spangled

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. I hope everyone has a fantastic July 4 this week. Go eat a hot dog.

Read my story from last week on the causes of Starliner's additional delay and what it might mean for Boeing's Starliner program.

Want to reach out with a tip? Email Aria at aria.techcrunch@gmail.com or send me a message on Signal at 512-937-3988. You also can send a note to the whole TechCrunch crew at tips@techcrunch.comFor more secure communicationsclick here to contact us, which includes SecureDrop instructions and links to encrypted messaging apps.

Story of the week

The indisputable story of the week is the massive $843 million contract NASA awarded to SpaceX to develop the vehicle that will deorbit the International Space Station. Once the station enters the Earth's atmosphere, it will burn up, but the contract is to ensure this is done in a manner safe to humans on the ground. There are scant details about the U.S. Deorbit Vehicle, as it's being called, but one NASA official did say it would be based on "Dragon heritage" hardware.

ISS NASA
ISS NASA

What we're reading

Check out my story about Starfish Space's new agreement with Intelsat. The GEO servicing market is still a few years away, but deals like this one show that it is much closer to being realized than the haters might think...

render of Starfish spacecraft on orbit
render of Starfish spacecraft on orbit

This week in space history

NASA has an article titled "Fourth of July Holidays in Space" and folks -- it's as delightful as the title makes it sound. Apparently, there wasn't a July 4 celebration on orbit until 1982, and the second took place 10 years later! Now that we have a continuous presence of NASA astronauts on board the ISS, such celebrations are an annual event. All I have to say is: God bless stars-and-stripes pants in space.

NASA astronauts <em>Jack D. Fischer and Peggy A. Whitson</em> on <em>July 4, 2017.</em>
NASA astronauts Jack D. Fischer and Peggy A. Whitson on July 4, 2017.