Astronauts Won’t Walk On The Moon Until 2026 After NASA Delays Next 2 Artemis Missions

We’ll have to wait a little longer for humanity’s return to the moon.In a media teleconference on Tuesday (Jan. 9), NASA leadership stated that its flagship Artemis 2 mission will be delayed from November 2024 until September 2025. And the Artemis 3 moon-landing mission, originally targeted for late 2025, will now aim for September 2026.”Safety is our top priority, and to give Artemis teams more time to work through the challenges with first-time developments, operations and integration, we’re going to give more time on Artemis 2 and 3,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said during the briefing. “So, what I want to tell you is, we are adjusting our schedule to target Artemis 2 for September of 2025 and September of 2026 for Artemis 3, which will send humans for the first time to the lunar south pole.”

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NASA Delays First Crewed U.S. Moon Landing in Half a Century to 2026

U.S. efforts to return Americans to the moon for the first time in half a century have suffered a setback.

During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, NASA officials announced that the Artemis II and Artemis III moon missions—planned for this year and next, respectively—will be pushed to September 2025 and September 2026. Artemis II is expected to put NASA astronauts in lunar orbit, while Artemis III aims to land them on the moon, where they would become the first humans to visit the lunar south pole.

Read more at: flyingmag

First US Private Lunar Lander Mission Fails

An historic commercial US mission to the Moon will fail after suffering a critical loss of fuel, organizers admitted Tuesday, ending for the time being America’s hopes of placing its first spacecraft on the lunar surface since the Apollo era.

Fixed to the top of United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan rocket, Astrobotic’s Peregrine Lunar Lander blasted off Monday from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, then successfully separated from its launch vehicle.

But a few hours later, Astrobotic began reporting malfunctions, starting with an inability to orient Peregrine’s solar panel towards the Sun and keep its battery topped up, owing to a propulsion glitch that also damaged the spacecraft’s exterior.

The company said it had “no chance of soft landing” on the Moon.

Read more at: moondaily


Space Tug Firm D-Orbit Raises $100 Million As Space Economy Expands

Courtesy of SpaceX’s rapid success with the Falcon 9 at bringing down global satellite launch costs, the demand for satellites and other associated equipment has also grown and enabled different players to gain footing in the market. One such firm is D-Orbit, whose space tugs work together with the Falcon 9 second stage to allow satellite firms to place their spacecraft in precise orbits while ensuring that launch costs remain low. D-Orbit has launched 13 commercial missions so far, and it seems like its success has convinced some investors after the company announced a cool $100 million in Series-C funding that the firm attributes to its record setting financial performance in 2023.

Read more at: wccftech

Researchers Release Open-Source Space Debris Model

MIT’s Astrodynamics, Space Robotics, and Controls Laboratory (ARCLab) announced the public beta release of the MIT Orbital Capacity Assessment Tool (MOCAT) during the 2023 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Space Forum Workshop on Dec. 14. MOCAT enables users to model the long-term future space environment to understand growth in space debris and assess the effectiveness of debris-prevention mechanisms.

With the escalating congestion in low Earth orbit, driven by a surge in satellite deployments, the risk of collisions and space debris proliferation is a pressing concern. Conducting thorough space environment studies is critical for developing effective strategies for fostering responsible and sustainable use of space resources.

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SpaceX Targets February for Third Starship Test Flight

SpaceX expects to conduct the third integrated test flight of its Starship vehicle in February as it works to demonstrate key technologies needed to land humans on the moon.

During a Jan. 9 media briefing about NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration effort, Jessica Jensen, vice president of customer operations and integration at SpaceX, said securing an updated Federal Aviation Administration launch license was the key factor driving the schedule for that test flight.

Read more at: spacenews

Vulcan Rocket’s Debut Brings Long-Awaited Challenge To SpaceX Dominance

A Boeing-Lockheed joint venture’s launch of a new Vulcan rocket this week inaugurated a formidable rival to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, a milestone long sought by the U.S. government as it seeks to build a list of launch suppliers for its satellites.

Boeing and Lockheed Martin’s United Launch Alliance sent Vulcan into space for the first time on Monday, a first step toward reclaiming market share from SpaceX, whose reusable Falcon 9 rocket for years has been the main option for countries to get their satellites into space. The payload, a privately funded moon lander, will not finish its mission because of tech problems, but the Vulcan launch in Florida was a success.

Read more at: reuters

Iridium Pivots To Standardized Direct-To-Device Satellite Services

Iridium Communications plans to make its low Earth orbit constellation compatible with 5G standards used by mass-market smartphones, aiming to enable them to access messaging and SOS services outside cellular coverage from 2026.

The standards-based approach comes after a proprietary-only strategy for serving the emerging direct-to-device market derailed last year when Qualcomm scrapped plans to make specialized chips that would give smartphones the ability to connect to Iridium’s satellites.

Read more at: spacenews

Orienspace Breaks Chinese Commercial Launch Records With Gravity-1 Solid Rocket

A young Chinese launch startup has reached orbit with its Gravity-1 all-solid launch vehicle, smashing the record for payload capacity for Chinese commercial rockets.

Orienspace’s Gravity-1 rocket lifted off from Defu-15002 mobile sea platform in the Yellow Sea at 12:30 a.m. Eastern (0530 UTC) Jan. 11. Ignition of the solid rocket motors produced large plumes of exhaust, with debris visibly falling into the sea as the rocket climbed into the sky. The firm confirmed launch success shortly after.

Read more at: spacenews

Musk Blows The Lid Off Of Starship Explosion – Says SpaceX Loaded It With Too Much Fuel

After its representative shared new details about the third test flight of Starship earlier this week, SpaceX’s chief Elon Musk revealed why SpaceX’s second stage Starship exploded during its second test flight last month. Starship is the world’s biggest rocket, and the November launch saw the second stage ship successfully hot-stage separate from the first stage and make its way to space. However, its mission was not a complete success, as the second stage did explode after successfully flying post stage separation for some time.

Read more at: wccftech


Scientists In New Mexico Creating A ‘Vacuum Balloon’ That Can Travel ‘As Fast As A Commercial Airliner’ With The Goal To Carry Humans, Drop Deliveries And Spy

They’re balloons – but not as we know them.

Scientists at New Mexico‘s Los Alamos National Laboratory are working on a ‘vacuum balloon’ with a hard shell that could eventually carry humans and travel ‘as fast as a commercial airliner’.

Miles Beaux, a physicist at the lab, told in an exclusive interview that if his experiments are successful the craft could be used for transport, surveillance, and even for parcel delivery drones.

Read more at: dailymail

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.

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NASA And JAXA Troubleshooting Glitch With New X-Ray Astronomy Satellite

A Japanese X-ray astronomy satellite, with contributions from NASA and ESA, is working well in orbit four months after its launch, other than an issue that could affect one of its instruments.

The Japanese space agency JAXA launched the X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) on an H-2A Sept. 6. XRISM is a replacement for the Hitomi spacecraft, which malfunctioned shortly after its launch in 2016.

JAXA and NASA released the first data from XRISM Jan. 5, demonstrating the performance of its two main instruments, a spectrometer called Resolve and imager called Xtend. NASA cooperated with JAXA on the development of Resolve and also built the spacecraft’s X-ray mirror assembly.

Read more at: spacenews

Self-Eating Rocket Could Help UK Take A Big Bite Of Space Industry

New developments on a nearly century-old concept for a ‘self-eating’ rocket engine capable of flight beyond the Earth’s atmosphere could help the UK take a bigger bite of the space industry.

University of Glasgow engineers have built and fired the first unsupported ‘autophage’ rocket engine which consumes parts of its own body for fuel.

The design of the autophage engine – the name comes from the Latin word for ‘self-eating’ – has several potential advantages over conventional rocket designs.

Read more at: spacedaily

ISRO’s Aditya-L1 enters Halo Orbit for Solar Studies

India’s ambitious journey into solar exploration has achieved a significant milestone. The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) maiden solar mission, Aditya-L1, has successfully reached its designated orbit in space, enabling continuous observation of the Sun. This achievement marks a critical step in India’s expanding space exploration capabilities.

Launched in early September last year, Aditya-L1 has been on a trajectory towards the Sun. It has now settled into a halo orbit around the Sun-Earth Lagrange Point 1 (L1), a strategic location approximately 1.5 million kilometers from Earth in the direction of the Sun. The significance of this position lies in its stable gravitational balance between the Earth and the Sun, allowing for uninterrupted solar observations.

Read more at: spacedaily


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

NASA Awards Another $100 Million For Private Space Stations

NASA has awarded nearly $100 million in additional funding to commercial space station partners that are developing low Earth orbit destinations.With the International Space Station (ISS) set for retirement in 2030, NASA has Space Act Agreements with Blue Origin and Voyager Space to develop concepts for a new orbiting lab as part of the space agency’s Commercial Low Earth Orbit Destinations (CLD) program. On. Jan. 5. NASA announced modifications to its existing agreements, including new technical milestones and reallocated funding.

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The Advent Of Astropolitical Alliances

As the world grows increasingly multipolar, beset by geopolitical tensions and a resurgence of great power rivalry, the dynamics that have historically defined terrestrial politics are being projected into the final frontier, outer space. Recent developments in Asia illustrate this trend. Notably, Pakistan joined China’s International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) in October 2023, months after India signed the Artemis Accords with the United States in June. These declarations are not just diplomatic platitudes to indicate bilateral space cooperation between these states; they herald the dawn of astropolitical alliances that will have far-reaching ramifications for the bifurcation of the framework of global space governance.

Read more at: spacenews

Space Security In The Americas Can No Longer Go Overlooked

2023 was a busy year — albeit one with mixed progress — on the space security front. No less than 27 countries pledged to not conduct destructive anti-satellite missile testing, bringing the total to 37. Meanwhile, the recently concluded Open Ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats was lauded for driving energy into the long-stunted multilateral discussion, despite its disparate outcomes. In Ukraine, the possibility of space-related aggression in the war with Russia has persisted thanks to Russia describing commercial satellites as a “legitimate target.” The first so-called “commercial space war” has drawn rare broader public attention to the need to set firm lines for space aggression in times of conflict.

Read more at: spacenews

JPL Lays Off 100 Contractors, Citing Budget Uncertainty

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory laid off 100 contractors last week because of potential sharp budget cuts to the Mars Sample Return (MSR) program and warned that more layoffs could come.

A JPL spokesperson confirmed Jan. 7 that the center laid off the contractors and took other measures, such as across-the-board spending cuts and pausing work on one aspect of MSR, because of the “uncertain federal budget” in fiscal year 2024. The Los Angeles Times first reported the layoffs.

Read more at: spacenews


U.S. Army Issues New Guidance On The Use Of Space For Ground Warfare

The U.S. Army’s top leadership has unveiled new guidance underscoring the vital role of space systems in modern ground warfare and calling for greater investment in space capabilities.

The memo, released Jan. 8, was signed by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, and Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Weimer. It outlines a vision for enhanced integration of space capabilities across all Army operations and activities.

Read more at: spacenews

How Sentinel Missiles Compare to Minuteman as US Upgrades Nuclear Arsenal

The U.S. is pouring funds into upgrading its land-based nuclear deterrent, replacing decades-old long-range missiles while keeping a close eye on the weapons programs touted by Russia, China and North Korea.

The U.S. Air Force is replacing LGM-30 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with the LGM-35A Sentinel, a new ICBM to take over the most responsive part of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

Read more at: newsweek

North Korea Claims to Have Tested New Missile With Hypersonic Warhead

North Korea on Monday said it flight-tested a new solid-fuel intermediate-range missile tipped with a hypersonic warhead as it pursues more powerful, harder-to-detect weapons designed to strike remote U.S. targets in the region.

The report by North Korea’s state media came a day after the South Korean and Japanese militaries detected the launch from a site near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, in what was the North’s first ballistic test of 2024.

Read more at: TIME

Army To Refine Requirements For Next-Generation Satellite Terminals

The U.S. Army plans to launch later this year a new procurement of satellite communications terminals through the so-called Family of Terminals – Large (FoT-L) program.

The Army is trying to consolidate as many as six types of terminals into just two variants, said a Jan. 12 request for information from the Army’s program office that oversees tactical networks, based at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

Having fewer large terminal antenna variants is a key goal, said the RFI, due to the logistics burden and rising cost of operating aging equipment.

Read more at: spacenews

Japan Launches IGS-Optical 8 Reconnaissance Satellite

Japan launched a new optical reconnaissance satellite late Thursday to boost the country’s remote sensing capabilities.

A Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-2A rocket in a figuration with a pair of SRB-A3 solid boosters lifted off from Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan at 11:44 p.m. Eastern (0444 UTC Jan. 12). MHI confirmed separation of the satellite from the launch vehicle half an hour later.

Aboard was the IGS-Optical 8 (Information Gathering Satellite) optical reconnaissance satellite. The satellite is expected to enter a roughly circular 500-kilometer altitude Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO).

Read more at: spacenews


Should We Send Humans to Pluto?

Universe Today has examined the potential for sending humans to Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa, the planet Venus, and Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, all despite their respective harsh environments and vast distances. These conversations with planetary science experts determined that humans traveling to these worlds in the foreseeable future could be possible, despite the harsh conditions and travel time, specifically to Titan.

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NASA Peregrine 1 Launch: Peregrine Lunar Lander Sends First Signals From Orbit After Successful Launch – As It Happened

Astrobotics have reported that it has acquired signal from the Peregrine lunar lander.

Another tense moment for the mission has been successfully completed.

After the lander separated from the Centaur rocket there were a couple of expected minutes of silence before a signal from the craft was received at Astrobotics mission control, where it sparked some emotional scenes.

Read more at: guardian