Hubble Space Telescope Team Hits ‘Reset’ To Get Balky Camera Back To Doing Science

NASA says the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 is back to doing science observations, a week after it went dark due to a telemetry glitch. Basically, engineers hit the reset button to clear up the telemetry problem. After going through tests and calibration, the camera completed its first science observations just after noon ET (9 a.m. PT) today, NASA said in a status update.

Hubble’s three other main instruments — the Advanced Camera for Surveys, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph — were unaffected by WFC3’s glitch.

WFC3 was installed during NASA’s final space shuttle servicing mission in 2009. Because of the shuttle fleet’s retirement in 2011, there’s no longer any way to make house calls to Hubble. Any repairs have to be done by sending commands up to the orbiting telescope. For example, a gyroscope problem was fixed last year by commanding the telescope to jiggle itself and free up what was assumed to be a blockage in the gyro.

Read more at: Geekwire

Specialists will try to regain control over Spekr-R radio telescope on January 21

Specialists will try once again to regain control over Spektr-R radio telescope on January 21 when the distance to the apparatus will be minimal, science advisor to the Roscosmos’s chief Alexander Bloshenko told TASS on Wednesday.

“The next step is to repeat today’s program on Monday when the distance to the spacecraft will be minimal. The distance currently stands at around 300,000 km,” Bloshenko said.

He noted that on Wednesday, specialists from NPO Lavochkin and Russian Space Systems tried to regain control over the radio telescope from the Medvezhyi Ozera station. “Unfortunately, the result was negative,” Bloshenko said.

Read more at: TASS

Cosmic Radiation Possible Cause Of Spektr-R Failure – Source

The Spektr-R space radio telescope’s transmission device failure may have been caused by cosmic radiation accumulated in the spacecraft’s electronics during the past eight years, a source in the Russian space industry informed TASS on Monday.

“The specialists cite the influence of the radiation dosage accumulated during the flight period in the satellite’s electronic component base as a possible cause for the failure of the Spektr-R receiving and transmitting device,” the agency’s source informed.

On January 11, the Gazeta.ru internet portal reported problems with the Spektr-R spacecraft, citing the Radioastron project head and corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Yuri Kovalev. Nikolai Kardashev, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and director of the Astrospace Center (the Radiosastron project contractor), told TASS that the satellite’s control has malfunctioned, although the spacecraft still emits a signal.

Read more at: TASS

Russian Scientists Find Defect In New Heavy Lift Space Rocket Engine

Scientists have discovered a defect in the engines of Russia’s new flagship heavy lift space rocket that could destroy it in flight, an apparent setback to a project President Vladimir Putin has said is vital for national security.

The Angara A5, which was test-launched in 2014, is being developed to replace the Proton M as Russia’s heavy lift rocket, capable of carrying payloads bigger than 20 tonnes into orbit. A launch pad for the new rocket is due to open in 2021.

In July, Putin said the Angara A5 had “huge significance” for the country’s defense and called on space agency Roscosmos to work more actively on it and to meet all its deadlines.

Read more at: Reuters

Spacex’s Dragon Cargo Ship Leaves Space Station And Splashes Down In The Dark

SpaceX’s robotic Dragon cargo ship splashed down in the Pacific Ocean tonight, bringing science experiments and used hardware from the International Space Station back to Earth after dark.

The Dragon delivered nearly 3 tons of food, supplies and experiments to the stationon Dec. 8, and it took more than four weeks to unload the cargo and reload the Dragon with payloads for the return trip. NASA delayed the Dragon’s descent by several days due to concerns about weather in the recovery area.

The station’s robotic arm released the Dragon at 3:33 p.m. PT, and the craft parachuted to its splashdown just before 9:15 p.m. SpaceX’s recovery ship headed to the scene to pull the Dragon out of the sea and bring it back to port in California.

Read more at: Geekwire

Stratolaunch Space Venture Sharply Scales Back Its Operations, Months After Paul Allen’s Death

Stratolaunch, the Seattle-based space venture created by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen seven years ago, says it’s discontinuing its programs to develop a new type of rocket engine and a new line of rockets.

The company said it would continue work on the world’s largest airplane, which is designed to serve as a flying launch pad for rockets. Last week, Stratolaunch put its 385-foot-wide, twin-fuselage plane through a high-speed taxi test that many saw as a precursor for its first test flight at Mojave Air and Space Port.

“Stratolaunch is ending the development of their family of launch vehicles and rocket engine. We are streamlining operations, focusing on the aircraft and our ability to support a demonstration launch of the Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL air-launch vehicle,” the company said in an emailed statement. “We are immensely proud of what we have accomplished and look forward to first flight in 2019.”

Read more at: Geekwire

Stratolaunch Abandons Launch Vehicle Program

Stratolaunch, the company founded by the late billionaire Paul Allen, said Jan. 18 that it is ending work on a launch vehicle that would be flown on the company’s giant aircraft.

In a statement to SpaceNews, a company spokesman said that the company was ending work on its own family of launch vehicles and would instead use its aircraft for launching small Pegasus XL rockets from Northrop Grumman. News of the change in plans was first reported by GeekWire.

“Stratolaunch is ending the development of their family of launch vehicles and rocket engine,” the spokesman said in an emailed statement. “We are streamlining operations, focusing on the aircraft and our ability to support a demonstration launch of the Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL air-launch vehicle.”

Read more at: Spacenews

It’s Been a Bad Week to Work for Elon Musk

Elon Musk’s two biggest companies have announced massive cuts to their workforces over the past week. Last Friday, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell sent an email to employees announcing that the company would lay off approximately 10 percent of its 6,000 employees by March 12. (The company hasn’t disclosed the exact number of people, but estimates range from 700 to 850 people.) This Friday, Musk sent a letter notifying Tesla employees that the company planned to cut 7 percent of its 45,000-person workforce, an estimated 3,150 people.

The companies both attributed the layoffs to impending ordeals. SpaceX’s statement reads, in part, “This action is taken only due to the extraordinarily difficult challenges ahead and would not otherwise be necessary.” Tesla’s statement similarly states that “the road ahead is very difficult” and “we unfortunately have no choice but to reduce full-time employee headcount.”

Read more at: Slate

These Are The 577 Positions Spacex Is Cutting At Its Headquarters In A Major Round Of Layoffs

Elon Musk’s $30 billion rocket company, SpaceX, plans to lay off about 10% of its employees. A government document lists most of the positions being terminated.

SpaceX announced the layoffs to employees on Friday, and the Los Angeles Times reported the cuts shortly after. The workforce reduction will terminate hundreds of employees at SpaceX facilities across at least seven states by March 12.

“This action is taken only due to the extraordinarily difficult challenges ahead and would not otherwise be necessary,” a SpaceX representative told Business Insider in a statement, which is below in full.

Read more at: business insider

Russia Prepared To Create Super-Heavy Rocket — Roscosmos Head

Russian space industry companies have confirmed their preparedness to create a super-heavy rocket, Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin wrote on his Twitter page on Saturday.

“The Central Research Institute of Machine Building [TsNIIMash] – the leading scientific center of Roscosmos (based in Korolyov, Moscow Region) confirmed the readiness of its designer and production teams to implement the project of creating a super-heavy carrier rocket,” Rogozin wrote.

Earlier, Rogozin said that the super-heavy rocket, set to perform its first flight from the Vostochny launch center in Russia’s Far East in 2028, was officially named Yenisey.

The rocket is being developed by Rocket and Space Corporation (RSC) Energia, Progress Rocket Space Centre and Khrunichev design bureau.

Read more at: TASS

Victory for SA Space Science

outh Africa has been recognised as a leading player in the space science sector.

The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) has been selected by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to become the designated regional provider of space weather information to the entire aviation sector using African airspace.

This means that every aircraft flying in the continent’s airspace will rely on SANSA for the space weather information as part of its flight plan, Department of Science and Technology said on Sunday.

Read more at: Defence web

SLS Liquid Hydrogen Tank Test Article Placed On Test Stand

Even though much of the U.S. space agency is currently furloughed due to the ongoing partial U.S. government shutdown, some work is still being done on NASA’s most important programs, including the Space Launch System, which could fly as early as 2020.

According to the U.S. space agency, the largest piece of structural test hardware for the SLS — the 149-foot (45-meter) tall liquid hydrogen tank for the core stage — was loaded onto the 215-foot (66-meter) tall Test Stand 4693 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Jan. 14, 2019.

“The liquid hydrogen tank test article is structurally identical to the flight version of the tank that will comprise two-thirds of the core stage and hold 537,000 gallons of supercooled liquid hydrogen at minus 423 degrees Fahrenheit,” a NASA news release reads.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

Growing Air Force’s Space Medicine Culture

As space continues to play an increasingly critical role in our nation’s defense, the need for the space medicine specialty grows. Medical Airmen within U.S. Air Force Space Command are making sure space operators are ready for future readiness requirements.

“Space is no longer a neutral, docile domain,” said Col. Walter “Sparky” Matthews, AFSPC Command Surgeon. “It has become a contested environment where many state and non-state actors actively seek to disrupt U.S. space capability.” It is the role of AFSPC medics to ensure space operators are medically ready to complete their mission, and to optimize their performance, while also preparing for the future of space medicine.

Space operators have unique readiness requirements because they are employed in place, meaning they must maintain readiness and high vigilance every day.

Read more at: Afspc

China Tried To Grow Cotton On The Moon, But It Didn’t Work

It turned out to be the little sprout that couldn’t.

The vaunted cotton seeds that on Tuesday China said had defied the odds to sprout on the moon — albeit inside a controlled environment — have died. China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency announced the news, simply stating: “The experiment has ended.”

But China’s greater Chang’e-4 mission goes on. Earlier this month, China announced it had become the first country to land a probe on the far side of the moon, in what is largely a scientific mission and is also preparation for sending Chinese astronauts to the moon.

Read more at: NPR

Astronauts for Gaganyaan to be Chosen this Year

Astronauts for India’s first manned mission to space are likely to be selected this year, with the air force getting ready to identify a pool of ace pilots who would undergo a battery of tests, including psychological assessments, to fly the Gaganyaan space mission.

A senior air force officer told ET that while a formal request for astronauts is pending, the IAF is in touch with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and that the selection would be over by the end of this year. The Indian mission has an ambitious launch date of early 2022 — before India’s 75th Independence Day — that leaves a tight schedule to identify and train the first set of astronauts.

Read more at: Economic times

Virgin Orbit: Guam Is Our First Choice

Virgin Orbit executives hope to conduct “significant” satellite launch operations out of Guam, but it’s too soon to say when that would start because there is still a lengthy regulatory process ahead and no final agreement has been signed.

“We have looked around,” said Richard DalBello, vice president of business development and government affairs for Virgin Orbit. “There are other alternatives,” but “we believe that Guam is the best alternative.”

“We did a worldwide study of candidate airfields,” said Mandy Vaughn, an aeronautical engineer and president of Virgin Orbit’s sister company, VOX Space LLC. The conclusion was that Guam is “the best first place to go,” she said.

Read more at: postguam

How Spacex’s First Astronaut Crew Is Preparing To Take On A Brand New Spacecraft

2019 may finally be the year when American astronauts launch to orbit from American soil again, ending an eight-year drought that started when NASA’s Space Shuttle program shut down in 2011. The inaugural flights of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program are slated to take place in the coming months, and the launches will see privately owned vehicles carrying space agency astronauts for the very first time. If the current schedules hold, California-based SpaceX may be the first one to send its vehicle to space with two NASA astronauts on board.

For this Verge Science video, we visited SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, to meet those astronauts and see what one possible future of American crewed spaceflight looks like.

Read more at: Verge

Spacex Opts For Texas Over LA To Build Starship Prototypes

SpaceX is centering some of its next-generation development not its Los Angeles-area headquarters but in south Texas facilities, the company said today. Development of at least the test versions of its next-generation Starship and Super Heavy launch vehicle will take place in Texas, while Falcon 9 and Dragon work will remain at Hawthorne. The L.A. Times first reported the news.

The decision spells trouble for workers at the Hawthorne, Calif. facility, where many of SpaceX’s work has been done heretofore — however, it may also come as little surprise to those who have been following closely. The layoffs announced last week, the bulk of which are reportedly at Hawthorne, is logical considering the company’s shift away from development to operation and maintenance of the Falcon 9 system.

Read more at: Techcrunch

Blue Origin Reschedules New Shepard Launch For Wednesday

Blue Origin plans to launch its single stage New Shepard suborbital booster Wednesday as the commercial space company moves closer to flying people to the edge of space.

Officials announced a new target launch date of Wednesday in a tweet Monday, after a two-day delay triggered by high winds at the West Texas launch site, and a technical concern with the New Shepard vehicle. The two-day slip this week came after a delay from December to resolve an unspecified “ground infrastructure issue.”

The launch from Blue Origin’s test facility north of Van Horn, Texas, will mark the 10th flight of a New Shepard rocket, and the fourth flight of the reusable New Shepard vehicle currently in service.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

SpaceX Goes Lean on Staffing & Supply Chain

In recent days, SpaceX has had the aerospace world abuzz with a pair of sudden business shifts. First the company laid off a tenth of its workforce and then CEO Elon Musk announced the company’s intentions to scrap plans to put it development work in California in a Tweet.

Last week, SpaceX announced that it will lay off 10% of its nearly 6,000 workers in an effort to become leaner. “This action is taken only due to the extraordinarily difficult challenges ahead and would not otherwise be necessary,” the company said in a statement printed by the Associated Press.

“To continue delivering for our customers and to succeed in developing interplanetary spacecraft and a global space-based internet, SpaceX must become a leaner company,” the Hawthorne-based company said in a statement printed by the Los Angeles Times. “Either of these developments, even when attempted separately, have bankrupted other organizations. This means we must part ways with some talented and hardworking members of our team.”

Read more at: EETimes

Unpaid NASA Workers Protect Critical Missions During Government Shutdown

NASA managers and engineers working on the agency’s high-priority commercial crew program are still on the job, without pay, during the ongoing government shutdown, continuing preparations for the first unpiloted launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on a long-awaited test flight in February, officials say.

Whether senior NASA managers would actually press ahead with the Demo-1, or DM-1, launch if the shutdown lasts that long is not yet clear. But multiple agency officials confirm unpaid government personnel are in place to carry out final safety assessments, a flight readiness review and other required pre-flight activities if it comes to that.

In the meantime, NASA sources say SpaceX is expected to test fire the first stage engines of the Falcon 9 rocket slated for use in the test flight next week at historic launch complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. The unpiloted test flight is tentatively targeted for launch Feb. 9, although sources say additional delay is expected.

Read more at: CBSnews

Space Dreams: Alum Frank Bunger’s Quest To Make Space Tourism A Reality

Frank Bunger, MBA 18, dreamed of space as a child. Today, he’s pursuing that dream as co-founder and CEO of Orion Span, a startup that plans to build the Aurora Space Station to launch travelers into space 200 miles above the earth’s surface by 2021.

Bunger, who started Orion Span as a Haas student, has a goal to raise $2 million by Feb. 5 on SeedInvest, an online investment service, so the company can begin building a prototype. The station will accommodate six people—two crew members and four guests, who will pay $12.5 million each for the 12-day trip. So far, 26 people have put down the $800,000 deposit.

We recently sat down to discuss Bunger’s space travel plans.

Read more at: Berkeley

Russian Technical University Proposes Using Traps For Space Debris Disposal

Specialists of the Bauman Moscow State Technical University have proposed using traps to dispose of space debris and will deliver a report at academic discussions on cosmonautics on January 29 – February 1 to describe two types of devices to bring medium and large space junk into the dense layers of the atmosphere.

“The project of a promising system of space junk disposal using a transformable mechanical trap has been developed. Two types of traps have been simulated to open up and their basic characteristics have been obtained,” the report says.

Specialists believe that the project for a trap with mechanically deployable grabs holds promise as it enables clearing away debris from the outer space using one-off modules, each of which is disposed of after an operation.

Read more at: TASS

NASA Preps For ‘Armageddon’ Style Asteroid Threat — But With Far Less Drama

Neil deGrasse Tyson once tweeted that, “Asteroids are nature’s way of asking, ‘How’s that space program coming along?’” Dr. Tyson was making a sly reference to an incident 65 million years ago, when a huge rock struck the Earth in the region of the Yucatan and wiped out the dinosaurs and much else.

The dinosaurs did not have a space program. However, human beings, who arose to dominate the Earth after the dinosaurs’ demise, do have one and therefore the ability to save themselves if another world-killing asteroid approaches.

NASA will soon launch a probe to an asteroid to practice saving the world. Teslarati reports that sometime between December 2020 and June 2021, the space agency intends to launch a probe called Double Asteroid Redirection Test or DART. DART will journey to a double asteroid called Didymos, which consists of a rock that is half a mile across and a smaller object dubbed “Didymoon,” which is about 530 feet in diameter. DART will slam into Didymoon at 4 miles per second, the idea being to change its speed by a fraction of 1 percent.

Read more at: Hill

The Earth Has Been Experiencing More Frequent Asteroid Strikes

How often does a big rock drop on our planet from space? As we’ve gotten a better understanding of the impact that did-in the dinosaurs, that knowledge has compelled people to take a serious look at how we might detect and divert asteroids that pose a similar threat of planetary extinction. But something even a tenth of the size of the dinosaur-killer could cause catastrophic damage, as you could easily determine by placing a 15km circle over your favorite metropolitan center.

So, what’s the risk of having a collision of that nature? It’s actually hard to tell. The easiest way to tell is to look for past impact craters and try to figure out the frequency of these impacts, but the Earth has a habit of erasing evidence. So, instead, a group of scientists figured out a clever way of looking at the Moon, which should have a similar level of risk. They found that the rate of impacts went up about 300 million years ago.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Boeing-Lockheed’s Vulcan Rocket Design ‘Nearly Fully Mature’

A joint venture between Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp will conduct the final design review for its new flagship Vulcan rocket within months, it said on Wednesday, as the aerospace company heads for a showdown with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and others in the launch services market.

The final design review is a crucial milestone as the company, United Launch Alliance (ULA), tries to move into full production ahead of a first flight in spring 2021 after slipping from its initial 2019 timetable.

“The design is nearly fully mature,” ULA systems test engineer Dane Drefke told Reuters during a tour of Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The companies are vying to develop rockets to carry satellites into orbit in what the Satellite Industry Association lobby group estimates is a roughly $5.5 billion (£4.28 billion) satellite launch services market.

Read more at: Reuters

There’s More Than One Way To Go Back To The Moon

Mark Whittington’s Jan. 4 op-ed ( “NASA wants to go back to the Moon the hard way”) questioned NASA’s strategy of building an orbiting lunar space station before establishing a base on the Moon’s surface. His piece concludes with a broad swipe at NASA’s Space Launch System, currently under development, and advocating cancellation of the project in favor of commercial launch providers.

Doing so at this time would put the United States at serious risk of failing to meet its stated objectives in both manned and unmanned space exploration, precisely at a time when other nations are undertaking bold new initiatives in space.

Critics of the SLS have focused on its sticker price and a price-per-pound comparison relative to reusable rockets. As former senator and astronaut Harrison Schmitt noted last year, that argument fails to consider the real requirements of a deep space mission.

Read more at: Washington examiner

Russia May Design Space Rockets Using Eco-Fuel By 2021

An eco-fuel has been created for Russian space rockets, according to a report prepared for the Korolyov Readings.

“Over a brief period of time, the Applied Chemistry Russian Research Center fulfilled an order of Roscosmos and created an environmentally friendly mono-fuel, an ionic liquid, which has the working name Green Fuel,” the report said.

The center has launched an experimental line producing 100 kilograms of fuel per year. The GIPKh experimental plant has conducted successful firing tests of the new mono-fuel and its catalyst in model engines, according to the report.

“The new mono-fuel is being produced and supplied for testing in liquid-fuel satellite controlled-and-correction engines. The goal of the work is to design an engine running on eco-fuel and to perform test flights in 2021-2023,” the report said.

Read more at: Interfax

Op-Ed | Newspace Must Be Regulated

Move fast and break things, the mantra of Silicon Valley startups, has created a scapegoat for tech founders who do just that: break things. And it’s not just with Facebook breaking democracy — the contagion of dismissing regulation has now spread to the space sector with Swarm Technologies going as far as breaking the law.

Swarm Technologies, the Silicon Valley creator of “SpaceBee” pico satellites, has found itself in hot water with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the regulatory body of international communications by radio, wire and satellites. Swarm disregarded a decision by the FCC which refused a license to launch its satellites because pico satellites, being much smaller than nanosatellites, could not be safely detected and hence tracked in space. Swarm launched the satellites anyway aboard an Indian polar satellite launch vehicle.

Read more at: Spacenews

How Realistic Are China’s Plans To Build A Research Station On The Moon?

The world is still celebrating the historic landing of China’s Chang’e-4 on the far side of the moon on January 3. This week, China announced its plans to follow up with three more lunar missions, laying the groundwork for a lunar base.

Colonising the Moon, and beyond, has always being a human aspiration. Technological advancements, and the discovery of a considerable source of water close to the lunar poles, has made this idea even more appealing.

But how close is China to actually achieving this goal?

If we focus on the technology currently available, China could start building a base on the Moon today.

Read more at: Conversation

British Rocketeers In The New Space Age

When the UK government announced plans to have rocket launches conducted from British soil as early as 2020, many questioned the feasibility of such a vision – especially the ambitious timeline.

The spaceport itself might not be a problem. One important element, however, is missing – a functional small-satellite launcher. The UK doesn’t aim to fly those Falcons, Arianes or Soyuzes that lift massive satellites to all sorts of orbits from established spaceports in the USA, Russia or French Guiana. It aims to target the small satellite market – quite understandably, since the country is among the global leaders in the development and manufacture of small satellites with masses below 500kg.

Read more at: eandt

The 4 Things That Could Hobble the Commercial Space Revolution

The private space industry will have a lot to celebrate in 2019. Virgin Galactic will launch its suborbital space tourism business. NASA astronauts will again fly to the International Space Station from U.S. soil, and on hardware owned by private companies. Small satellites will enjoy their own dedicated launches, no longer relegated to being secondary payloads on expensive flights. And NASA has begun to turn to the private sector for its lunar plans.

Yet the Grateful Dead said it best: When life seems like easy street, there is danger at your door. It’s a melodic warning to be on guard, one that is particularly appropriate to the commercial space industry as it roars into an epic 2019. Not content to be optimistic, Popular Mechanics reached out to some experts to find what headwinds the private space revolution might face this year.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

Make Space Exploration A Global Project

On Oct. 20, an 800-ton Ariane 5 rocket launched from the coast of South America. Onboard, it carried a $2 billion spacecraft named BepiColombobuilt to endure hard radiation, the vacuum of space and the extreme heat and cold experienced along its seven-year journey to the planet Mercury. What makes BepiColombo unique, however, is not the destination, but rather the twin orbiters it carries, each designed and constructed by a separate nation. A joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), BepiColombo is an example of what the future of scientific space exploration could be: a coordinated, integrated international effort to address the mysteries of our solar system and its neighbors.

Read more at: Stanford daily

NASA And China Collaborate On Moon Exploration

The space agencies of the United States and China are coordinating efforts on Moon exploration, NASA said Friday, as it navigates a strict legal framework aimed at protecting national security and preventing technology transfer to China.

“With the required approval from Congress, NASA has been in discussions with China to explore the possibility of observing a signature of the landing plume of their lunar lander, Chang’e 4, using our @NASAMoon spacecraft’s instrument,” NASA’s associate administrator for the science mission directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, wrote on Twitter. Zurbuchen’s tweet confirmed a similar statement made Monday by the deputy chief commander of China Lunar Exploration Program, Wu Yanhua.

NASA shared information from a US satellite while China told the Americans about the latitude, longitude and time of the landing “in a timely manner,” he said.

The hope was that NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) could observe the historic touchdown of the Chinese lander on January 3.

Read more at: France24

The Longstanding NASA-Russian Partnership In Space May Be Unraveling

After an American Apollo and Soviet Soyuz spacecraft docked in orbit during the height of the Cold War, in 1975, the two leading space powers gradually worked more and more together on civil space activities. Over time, they forged a successful and, among astronauts and engineers at least, even a comfortable bond. But of late, that bond is fraying, and long-term it may unravel entirely.

The most immediate issue involves Dmitry Rogozin, appointed to lead the Russian space corporation Roscosmos in May 2018. Overtly political, Rogozin shares Vladimir Putin’s antipathy toward the West. Following the Crimean crisis in 2014, Rogozin was one of seven Russian officials sanctioned by the Obama administration. In response, he taunted NASA, which relied then (and still does) on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to reach the International Space Station.

Read more at: Arstechnica

European Space Agency Leaders Expect A Challenging Year Ahead

Amid difficulties for the European launch industry, and with Brexit looming on the horizon, European Space Agency executives face a challenging year ahead.

Jan Woerner, ESA’s director general, held his annual press breakfast Jan. 16 in Paris, outlining his vision for 2019, at the end of which, ESA will hold its next ministerial meeting to secure funding for its programs for the next several years. Dubbed Space19+, the meeting is set to take place in Seville, Spain, Nov. 27-28.

This year will see crucial milestones in Europe’s transition from its Ariane 5 and Vega launchers to the next-generation rockets, Ariane 6 and Vega C.

Read more at: Spacenews

In The 2020s, China Aims To Lay Groundwork For A Moon Base — Plus Missions To Mars

Flush from the success of the world’s first rover mission to the moon’s far side, Chinese space officials said today that they’re planning robotic trips to the lunar south pole to prepare the way for a crewed moon base.

The officials discussed future lunar exploration plans less than two weeks after the Chang’e-4 lander’s history-making touchdown, and only a few days after China’s space agency released video of the lander’s descent and lunar surface activities.

Chang’e-4 and its solar-powered Yutu 2 rover are hibernating during the 2-week-long lunar night, but their handlers are already thinking about sending probes to places where the sun almost always shines.

Read more at: Geekwire

Iranian officials said on Tuesday that a satellite launch that had been condemned by the Trump administration failed when the carrier rocket could not reach orbit.

“I would have liked to make you happy with some good news, but sometimes life does not go as expected,” Iran’s minister of telecommunications, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, said in a Twitter post.

He said the rocket, a Safir, long used for satellite launches, had failed in the final stage, falling short of placing its payload into the correct orbit. He did not offer any explanation.

The United States, Israel and some European countries have criticized Iranian missile tests in the past, saying the launches pose a threat to the region. One reason President Trump gave for withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal was its failure to address the threat of Iran’s ballistic missiles.

Read more at: Nytimes

Defense Intelligence Report: China In Steady Pursuit Of Space Capabilities To Outmatch U.S.

An unclassified report released Jan. 15 by the Defense Intelligence Agency does not reveal anything new about China’s advances in space technologies and capabilities. But it does highlight one major concern for the Pentagon: China’s military is becoming increasingly adept at militarizing commercial space technologies.

The People’s Republic of China is conducting “sophisticated satellite operations and probably is testing on-orbit dual-use technologies that could be applied to counterspace missions,” said the DIA in its first unclassified report made public on China’s military power.

China’s space advances in support of civil, economic and political goals could provide the nation a significant edge in military operations, the DIA said. Chinese military strategists regard the ability to use space-based systems and deny them to adversaries as central to enabling modern warfare. “As a result, the People’s Republic of China continues to strengthen its military space capabilities despite its public stance against the militarization of space,” said the report.

Read more at: Spacenews

Airbus Wins DARPA Contract To Develop Small Constellation Satellite Bus For Blackjack Program

Airbus Defense and Space Inc. has been awarded a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a satellite bus in support of the Blackjack program.

DARPA describes the Blackjack program as an architecture demonstration intending to show the military utility of global low-earth orbit constellations and mesh networks of lower size, weight and cost. DARPA wants to buy commercial satellite buses and pair them with military sensors and payloads. The bus drives each satellite by generating power, controlling attitude, providing propulsion, transmitting spacecraft telemetry, and providing general payload accommodation including mounting locations for the military sensors.

“Airbus has previously co-invested hundreds of millions of dollars in high-rate manufacturing technology and supply chain logistics to build large constellations of small satellites,” said Tim Deaver, Director of US Space Programs at Airbus Defense and Space, Inc. “Airbus is committed to growing manufacturing capability in the US and our government customers can leverage this commercial capability to develop low-earth orbit constellations to complement large existing systems.”

Read more at: Airbus

White House Missile Defense Review: Space Lasers, Weapons On Table

The Pentagon is studying options for putting lasers, directed energy weapons, and missile defense systems into space to protect against an array of increasingly advanced ballistic and cruise missiles being developed by China, Russia, and North Korea, a senior Trump administration official said Wednesday.

President Trump is set to announce the results of a sweeping review of the nation’s missile defenses on land, sea, air and space during a rare visit to the Pentagon Thursday afternoon, officially kicking off plans for the military to begin weaponizing space.

“Space is a very important point of emphasis for the president and vice president,” the official told reporters Wednesday. “It’s something we want to invest in and is very important in going beyond the current capabilities we have…space is important to the next step of missile defense.”

Read more at: Breaking Defense

US Slams Russia Over Missile Treaty

The US on Wednesday accused Russia of dishonesty and evasiveness over a controversial missile system the West says breaches a key arms control treaty.

US Under Secretary of State Andrea Thompson said talks in Geneva aimed at saving the Cold War era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) did not “break new ground” and there was no sign Russia would come back into compliance with the accord.

The 1987 treaty, seen as a key prop of international arms control, is in danger of collapse, with the US vowing to pull out unless Russia takes steps to dismantle a new nuclear-capable cruise missile system that Washington and NATO says violates the accord.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Mechanisms are Critical to All Space Vehicles

About three years ago the National Transportation Safety Board announced its finding regarding the Virgin Galactic crash that occurred on October 31, 2014. The simple explanation was that the co-pilot unlocked a critical vehicle mechanism too early. After a nine-month investigation the NTSB further concluded that human error and inadequate safety procedures caused the violent crash.

The vehicle was named the VSS Enterprise, or more precisely, Virgin Galactic/Scaled Composites Model 339 SpaceShipTwo experimental test vehicle. This spacecraft suffered a catastrophic in-flight breakup, followed by a crash in California’s Mojave Desert. Fortunately, there were no passengers on board, because this was a test flight.

Read more at: Spacedaily

How An Astronaut Almost Drowned In Space

When you think about the dangers of a spacewalk, accidentally floating away from your ship or running out of air might come to mind — but not drowning.

But that’s what almost happened to an astronaut on a spacewalk in 2013.

A new documentary details what went wrong. It’s called EVA 23. EVA stands for extravehicular activity, NASA lingo for a spacewalk. It was July 2013, and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano were doing some pretty routine work outside the International Space Station. But things took a turn when Parmitano experienced something unusual: he felt water on the back of his neck.

Read more at: Houston public media

Shutdown Stalemate Spurs Fears Of Exodus From NASA Ames

The dim prospects of a swift end to the federal shutdown is leading to growing concern that NASA Ames will emerge from the feud as a shell of its former self.

Now four weeks in, the shutdown is putting increasing financial and professional strain on the local NASA workforce, and many are now talking out loud about the possibility of jumping ship. The shutdown, already considered the longest in U.S. history, will soon stretch into its second missed pay period. And it could go on much longer: U.S. political leaders seem no closer to resolving the budget impasse, and NASA employees are expressing doubts that the situation will be resolved for weeks or months.

Read more at: mv-voice

Notes On The Run: Where The Wild Things Are

The locations where rockets are tested at or lift off from are usually in the middle of nowhere. Within these swamps and deserts live a wide assortment of creatures that you have to contend with if you’re going to be in the space business.

One of my first personal experiences with “space critters” was relatively mild. When I interned at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in 2007, I came to work at 9 a.m. – on one particular day someone else checked in a little earlier.

Dubbed “Pamela Possum” one of the marsupials had curled into a trash can by the NBC building and given birth. Wildlife management came in and gently relocated her and her brood to a more appropriate location where she could raise her family.

Read more at: Spaceeflight Insider

STEM Group Launches ‘Draft Mark Kelly’ Effort in Arizona

314 Action, a group that backs candidates with scientific backgrounds, is launching a new effort Wednesday to encourage former astronaut and Navy veteran Mark Kelly to run for Senate in Arizona.

Kelly, who is married to former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is among a handful of potential Democratic challengers to appointed Sen. Martha McSally. The race is expected to be a top party target in 2020, and 314 Action is hoping a show of support will bolster Kelly’s decision to run.

The effort to draft Kelly, shared first with Roll Call, involves a “six-figure” digital ad campaign. The ads will direct supporters to draftmarkkelly.org where they can sign a petition urging him to run. The campaign will largely target Arizonans on social media platforms.

Read more at: Rollcall

Steve Carell to Star in Netflix Comedy Based on Trump’s ‘Space Force’

Steve Carell and The Office creator Greg Daniels are reuniting for a Netflix series inspired by President Donald Trump’s idea for a space force as the sixth branch of the military.

Netflix has handed out a straight-to-series order for Space Force, co-created by Carell and his former Officeshowrunner Daniels. Carell will star in the series, which is described as a workplace comedy centered around the people tasked with creating a sixth branch of the armed services — Space Force. Sources note the idea for the project was sparked by Trump’s June order to establish Space Force as the sixth military branch.

Daniels will executive produce alongside Carell and 3 Arts’ Howard Klein, with the trio reuniting following their collaboration on NBC’s The Office. An episode count has not been determined as scripts for the comedy have yet to be written.

Read more at: Hollywood reporter

Reentry – An Orbital Simulator

Reentry is a space flight simulator based on real life spacecrafts. You create a new astronaut, gain levels and experience for every move you make by completing missions in space. You will have access to missions similar to what happened in real life, or fictional missions designed to challenge you as an astronaut.

Spacecrafts are highly complicated machines with the primary task of exploring and understanding what’s outside the atmosphere of Earth, while keeping the astronauts alive for long periods. This is achieved by hundreds of individual systems and backup systems working together. With the help from the in-game Space Flight Academy, the provided flight manual for each spacecraft, and checklists, you will learn how to fly and operate these machines, and explore space in a high resolution and realistic environment.

Control almost every system like the real astronauts, see the sunset and sunrise while orbiting orbiting Earth with speeds exceeding 25,500 ft/s. Explore the surface of Earth and the Moon with high resolution textures, or simply enjoy the solitude of being in space.

Read more at: cracked-games