US Leads World In 2023 Launches, Sats On Orbit: Study

The United States led the world, far surpassing both China and Russia, in the number of space launches and satellites placed on orbit in 2023, according to a just-released study.

But rather than the US government it is one US company, billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX, responsible for that victory — a situation that is not new, but one that has been exacerbated since 2019 and the firm’s first launch for its Starlink mega-constellation to provide global internet access.

Read more at: breaking defense

Moon’s Resources Could Be ‘Destroyed By Thoughtless Exploitation’, Nasa Warned

Science and business are heading for an astronomical clash – over the future exploration of the moon and the exploitation of its resources. The celestial skirmish threatens to break out over companies’ plans to launch dozens of probes to survey the lunar landscape over the next few years. An early pioneer – Peregrine mission one – is set for launch this week.

The aim of this extraterrestrial armada – largely funded through Nasa’s $2.6bn Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative – is to survey the moon so that minerals, water and other resources can be extracted to build permanent, habitable bases there. These would later provide a springboard for manned missions to Mars.

Read more at: Guardian


Videos Show Chinese Rocket Parts Raining Down, Exploding

Videos circulating on social media show what appears to be a pair of rocket boosters of a Chinese Long March 3B rocket uncontrollably tumbling towards a forested and inhabited area, erupting in massive balls of fire.

One video, originally spotted by SpaceNews journalist Andrew Jones on Chinese social media website Weibo, shows the massive object tumbling as it makes its rapid descent.

Read more at: futurism

Strongest Solar Flare From Sun To Hit Earth Today, Geomagnetic Storms Likely

As the world welcomed the new year, the sun unleashed one of the strongest flares of the current solar cycle, an X5-class solar flare on New Year’s Eve, which is set to graze Earth on Tuesday.

A close encounter with the resulting coronal mass ejection (CME) from the flare is likely today, which is expected to slam our planet’s magnetic field. While grazing impacts typically have minimal effects, there is speculation that this event could be an exception.

Read more at: India today

Extremely Powerful New Year’s Eve Solar Flare Still Causing Radio Blackouts

An enormous solar flare spat out from the sun on New Year’s Eve is still causing havoc on Earth, with radio blackouts affecting vast areas of the globe.

The solar flare emitted by sunspot AR3536 was the strongest of the current solar cycle, classified as an X5 flare, with the solar X-rays causing a deep shortwave radio blackout across the Pacific Ocean.

Read more at: Newsweek

NASA Adds Funding To Blue Origin And Voyager Space Commercial Space Station Agreements

NASA has added milestones and funding to agreements with two companies working on commercial space station concepts using money from a third agreement that ended last year.

NASA announced Jan. 5 that it added a combined $99.5 million in funding to existing Space Act Agreements with Blue Origin and Voyager Space. The two companies received the original agreements in December 2021 as part of NASA’s Commercial Low Earth Orbit Destinations, or CLD, program to spur development of commercial space stations intended to succeed the International Space Station.

Read more at: spacenews

Solar Storm to Hit Earth Hard, Causing Radio Blackouts

A solar storm is hurtling toward the Earth after a powerful X-class solar flare shot out from the sun on New Year’s Eve. Experts have warned of radio signal disruptions and bright auroras starting Tuesday morning.

“The storm should hit hard, but last less than a day,” space weather physicist Tamitha Skov said in a post on X

Read more at: newsweek


SpaceX Comes Very Close To Meeting Goal Of 100 Orbital Launches In A Year

SpaceX had a total of 98 successful missions in 2023, far more than its nearest competitors. It will start out 2024 with a January 2 launch of a Falcon 9 with a payload of 21 Starlink satellites, some of which will have the first Direct to Call capabilities.

Every four days over the last 12 months SpaceX sent a rocket into orbit, for a total of 98 successful missions, topping its previous record of 61 orbital launches in 2022 and coming within striking distance of founder Elon Musk’s goal of 100 launches for 2023.

Read more at: techspot

NASA Adds Funding To Blue Origin And Voyager Space Commercial Space Station Agreements

NASA has added milestones and funding to agreements with two companies working on commercial space station concepts using money from a third agreement that ended last year.

NASA announced Jan. 5 that it added a combined $99.5 million in funding to existing Space Act Agreements with Blue Origin and Voyager Space. The two companies received the original agreements in December 2021 as part of NASA’s Commercial Low Earth Orbit Destinations, or CLD, program to spur development of commercial space stations intended to succeed the International Space Station.

Read more at: spacenews

ULA Says Its Vulcan Rocket Is Finally Ready To Fly

Nearly a decade of planning, designing, assembly and testing for United Launch Alliance (ULA) is about to culminate in the first launch of its Vulcan rocket. The maiden flight of the launch vehicle is set for Monday, Jan. 8, at 2:18 am EST (0718 UTC) from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The fully assembled rocket emerged from the Vertical Integration Facility around 10:40 a.m. EST on Friday to travel the roughly 500-meter journey to the launch pad. After the 61.6-meter-tall (202 feet) rocket completed its trek, ULA teams spent the rest of the day performing leak checks on the umbilicals that will fuel the rocket and checking out the guidance and flight termination systems.

Read more at: spaceflight now


Xposat: India Launches Space Mission To Study Black Holes

India’s space agency has successfully launched a rocket that is carrying an observatory which will study astronomical objects like black holes. It was launched from Sriharikota spaceport at 09:10 local time (03:40GMT) on Monday. This is only the second mission in the world of this nature after Nasa launched one in 2021.

The space agency said it wanted to help scientists improve their “knowledge of black holes”.”We will have an exciting time ahead,” Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chairperson S Somanath said after the launch.

Read more at: BBC

NASA Aims to Put Human-like Robots in Space

The American space agency NASA’s human-like robot Valkyrie looks powerful. It stands 188 centimeters tall and weighs 136 kilograms.

Valkyrie is named after supernatural females in Norse mythology. The robot is being tested at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

The robot is designed to operate in “…damaged human-engineered environments,” like areas hit by natural disasters, NASA said. But robots like Valkyrie could also work in space one day.

Read more at: learning english

NASA Successfully Tests Revolutionary Rocket That Could Get Us to Mars Faster

After setting foot on the Moon, the next destination for humankind is Mars, which presents a whole new set of challenges in speedy, long-distance space travel.

In a major step for moving heavy loads across the Solar System in short time, NASA just announced another successful test of an innovative rocket engine with enough thrust to get us to the Red Planet.

Read more at: science alert

Ingenuity Lessons Being Incorporated into Mars Sample Return

As a Mars helicopter continues to operate far past expectations, lessons from that vehicle are being incorporated into NASA’s evolving Mars Sample Return plans.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced Jan. 2 that the Ingenuity Mars helicopter completed its 70th flight on Dec. 22. The helicopter flew 260 meters during the 133-second flight, and has now traversed about 17 kilometers since its first flight in April 2021.

Ingenuity was included on the Mars 2020 mission as a technology demonstrator with the intent of performing no more than five flights. The success of Ingenuity during those flights led NASA to continue flying the helicopter, turning it into a scout for the Perseverance rover.

Read more at: spacenews

Russia And China Successfully Transmit Two Images Over Satellite Using Quantum Communication

Scientists from Russia and China have successfully demonstrated quantum communication over satellite. The test is significant as it portends the development of advanced encrypted communication networks that cannot be hacked by other nations and the possible establishment of a secure means of communication between BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries. From a geopolitical perspective, it is further proof that Beijing and Moscow are deepening high-tech cooperation for military purposes.

The test used China’s quantum satellite, Mozi, which was launched into orbit in 2016 and is managed mainly by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It took place over a distance of 2,300 miles between a ground station in Zvenigorod, near Moscow, and another near Urumqi in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region.

Read more at: techspot

NASA’s Parker Mission Poised For Solar ‘Landing’ In 2024

One of the most audacious missions in the history of space exploration, the Parker Solar Probe is the first spacecraft to have flown through the sun’s outer atmosphere, known to scientists as the corona. It is set to break new ground in late December by covering 96% of the distance separating our planet from its fiery star.

In doing so, Parker will hit speeds of around 700,000 km/h (or 435,000 mph), enough to fly from New York to Tokyo in one minute – making it the fastest human-made craft in history. It will achieve such velocity by swinging around Venus, using the planet’s gravity to tighten its orbit around the sun and acquire extra speed.

Read more at: France24


Russia, NASA Agree To Continue Joint ISS Flights Until 2025

Russian and US space agencies have agreed to keep working together to deliver crews to the International Space Station (ISS) until at least 2025, Russian corporation Roscosmos said Thursday.

The space sector — including its so-called cross-flights that involve sending crews from different nationalities on one spacecraft — is a rare area of cooperation remaining between Moscow and Washington since Russia sent troops to Ukraine.

“An agreement was reached to continue cross-flights until 2025 inclusive,” Roscosmos said in a press release.

Read more at: spacedaily

The US Should Secure Strategic Positions Between The Earth And The Moon Before China

Recently, the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party issued the report: “Reset, Prevent, Build: A Strategy to Win America’s Competition with the Chinese Communist Party.”

One of its recommendations concerns how the United States military could secure the Earth-moon Lagrange Points — areas where the gravities of the Earth and moon cancel out — against the Chinese.

Read more at: Hill


X-37B: Why This Space Plane Is So Important

On December 28, the Space Force, in partnership with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, launched its seventh X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle mission into space. As Great Power Competition between the United States and China steadily increases, both sides are becoming more interested in the space domain and the opportunities it presents for exploration, technology development, and military operations in orbit and on Earth.

Read more at: National interest

Space Force Seeking A Digital Overhaul Of Its Aging Launch Infrastructure

The U.S. Space Force is soliciting proposals from the private sector for a new initiative — ‘digital spaceport of the future’ — focused on modernizing outdated information systems at the nation’s space launch facilities.

The project is being run by the Space Force’s technology arm SpaceWERX and the Assured Access to Space office that oversees the nation’s space launch ranges, including the world’s busiest spaceport at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Read more at: spacenews

China’s Back At It With Its Balloons

China’s high-altitude balloons are back. And this time Beijing is flying the balloons over neighboring Taiwan, possibly as an ominous warning message before the self-governing island’s high-stakes elections. Last year, China floated a spy balloon above the continental United States, sparking a diplomatic crisis before the device was shot down by a US fighter jet.

Since last month, Taiwan’s defense ministry has reported more than a dozen sightings of balloons from China floating over the Taiwan Strait and into the island’s airspace before ultimately disappearing.

Read more at: business insider

Russia Thinks the X-37B Space Plane Could Drop Nuclear Weapons

What if I told you there is not only a U.S. space plane orbiting the Earth but that it had been in orbit for over two years? The X-37B robotic spacecraft set a new record for duration last year and is already back in orbit. The X-37B can be described as a mini-version of the space shuttle – the emphasis here is on “mini.”

The X-37B is only 29 feet long, 9.5 feet tall, and has a wingspan of nearly 15 feet. It takes off on a rocket and lands horizontally on an airstrip. Since it falls under Space Force control, the mission is nominally a military program. But Space Force has barely been forthcoming about various experiments being conducted on X-37B.

Read more at: national interest


Two Space Stories In 2024 Will Determine The Future Of Humanity

It’s not that difficult to predict what science stories we’ll be talking about over the next year: artificial intelligence, climate change and advances in biotechnology will remain front of mind. But there’s a pair of happenings just beyond our planet that I’ll be watching closely, because they amount to tests of a sort that could determine the trajectory of our species.

The first story you’ve probably already heard about. NASA aims to launch its Artemis II mission by the end of the year, carrying humans on a journey around the moon and back. This marks the first time anyone has traveled farther than low-earth orbit in more than 50 years.

Read more at: Forbes

Top Satellite Launches to Watch in 2024

A number of anticipated satellite programs finally got off the ground in 2023. Unfortunately, some of those satellites including the first ViaSat-3, and four of the O3b mPOWER satellites, have experienced on-orbit issues, forcing operators to recalibrate their strategies.

In this round-up, we take stock of 2024 and look at some of the top commercial satellites expected to launch this year. Lots of satellites are on deck for 2024! (Note, this list is not exhaustive.)

Read more at: satellite today

NASA Releases New Images Of Solar System’s “Most Volcanic World”

A NASA spacecraft made its closest-ever approach to Jupiter’s moon Io, coming within 930 miles of the “surface of the most volcanic world,” and the space agency released new images of the flyby.

The spacecraft, Juno, has been circling Jupiter since 2016. Since then, it has orbited the planet to learn more about the gas giant and its moons, NASA said.

Read more at: yahoo

First US Moon Lander Since Apollo Prepares To Blast Off On Monday

Final preparations are under way at Cape Canaveral in Florida for a milestone mission to put a US lander on the moon, an achievement not seen in more than 50 years since the end of the Apollo project.

Last-minute glitches aside, Peregrine mission one, named after the fastest animal on Earth, will roar into the sky at 7.18am UK time Monday. After looping around the planet, it will head to the moon and slip into lunar orbit before an attempted landing soon after local sunrise on 23 February.

Read more at: guardian

Colliding Space Junk Makes ‘Noise’ That Could Be Heard From Earth

Orbital smashups cause tiny pieces of space junk to emit signals that could be detected from Earth, a new study has found.

Space junk is a growing problem. As of November 2023, the world’s space surveillance networks were tracking about 35,610 pieces of space debris larger than 4 inches (10 centimeters), according to the European Space Agency (ESA). That stuff is old satellites, used rocket stages and fragments spawned in orbital collisions and explosions.

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