Proposed NTSB Commercial Space Regulation Criticized By Industry And FAA

A proposal by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that would give the agency a greater role in investigating failures of commercial launches is facing strong opposition from both the industry and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The NTSB issued a notice of proposed rulemaking, or NPRM, in November regarding commercial space investigations. The proposed regulation is intended to codify the role that the board plays in investigating accidents involving commercial launches and reentries, much as it does in various modes of transportation.

Read more at: Spacenews

Astroscale Pauses Debris-Removal Demo Following Anomaly

Astroscale said Jan. 26 it has paused an attempt to autonomously capture an in-orbit satellite for the first time after detecting “anomalous spacecraft conditions.”

The company’s 175-kilogram servicer spacecraft was preparing to make the attempt Jan. 25, after separating from a 17-kilogram client satellite acting as a piece of debris for a series of on-orbit demonstrations.

While the servicer had successfully used its magnetic mechanism to release and recapture the client in an Aug. 25 test, this demonstration aimed to use autonomous capabilities for a larger-scale mission.

Read more at: Spacenews

Cause Of Lucy Solar Array Deployment Problem Identified

Engineers have identified the likely reason one of two solar arrays on NASA’s Lucy asteroid mission failed to latch in place after launch, but NASA is still studying whether to fix the problem.

At a Jan. 25 meeting NASA’s Small Bodies Assessment Group, Hal Levison, principal investigator for Lucy at the Southwest Research Institute, expressed confidence that, regardless if the solar array is fully deployed or not, the issue will not affect the spacecraft’s ability to carry out its mission to study several Trojan asteroids leading and following Jupiter in its orbit around the sun.

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NASA Confirms Russian Asat Test Doubled Debris Risk To ISS

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SpaceX Cargo Dragon Spacecraft Returns To Earth After Second Trip To Orbit

A SpaceX Cargo Dragon spacecraft has safely returned to Earth after a month in orbit, completing the company’s 24th successful cargo delivery to the International Space Station (ISS).

Launched on December 21st, 2021, the CRS-24 mission’s Dragon spacecraft docked with the ISS on December 22nd, delivering almost 3 tons (~6600 lb) of cargo to the station and raising the total amount of cargo delivered in 2021 to about 8.5 tons (18,500 lb) – about 40% of all cargo delivered in 2021. After 32 days at the station, Cargo Dragon C209 undocked from the ISS on January 23rd, 2022 and reentered Earth’s atmosphere about 30 hours later, ultimately splashing down off of Florida’s Gulf Coast with 2.2 tons (~4900 lb) of cargo aboard.

Read more at: Teslarati


Chinese Satellite In Near Miss With Russian ASAT Test Debris

A Chinese satellite experienced a near miss Tuesday with a piece of debris created by Russia’s destructive anti-satellite test conducted in November.

The Space Debris Monitoring and Application Center of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) issued a warning Tuesday of an extremely dangerous encounter between the Tsinghua Science satellite (NORAD ID: 46026) and one (49863) of more than a thousand trackable pieces of debris from the Nov. 15 ASAT test.

The warning was shared by official Chinese language industry media China Space News and reported by Chinese media. The close encounter event is backed up data from U.S. space tracking.

Read more at: Spacenews

Ancient Ice Reveals Mysterious Solar Storm

Through analyzes of ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica, a research team led by Lund University in Sweden has found evidence of an extreme solar storm that occurred about 9,200 years ago. What puzzles the researchers is that the storm took place during one of the sun’s more quiet phases – during which it is generally believed our planet is less exposed to such events.

The sun is a prerequisite for all life on Earth. But our life-giving companion can also cause problems. When there is strong activity on the surface of the sun, more energy is released, something that can give rise to geomagnetic storms. This in turn can cause power outages and communication disturbances.

Read more at: Spacedaily

NOAA Seeks Continuity Of Space Weather Observations

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is looking ahead to a future generation of space weather instruments.

The agency’s first priority is ensuring the continuity of measurements to be made by the Space Weather Follow-On (SWFO) mission sensor suite scheduled to travel to Lagrange Point 1 in 2025 on NASA’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration probe.

Because the NASA mission is designed to operate for only five years, “we need to plan for the continuity and hopefully resilience of that capability upstream of Earth,” Elsayed Talaat, Projects, Planning and Analysis director in the NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service, said Jan. 24 at the annual American Meteorological Society meeting.

Read more at: Spacenews

Anti-Satellite Weapons Are Creating Space Hazards. Here’s A Way To Limit The Damage

As companies and countries clamor to launch satellites and manned spacecraft, space is getting ever more crowded. And because satellites play increasingly important roles in military operations, multiple governments are developing anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons.

But debris generated by anti-satellite weapons tests, like the one Russia conducted late last year, poses a significant threat to use of space, whether by militaries or private enterprises. Since 2007, the United States, China, and India have also carried out debris-producing activities, creating a hazardous environment for satellites and human spaceflight. While many experts agree that debris-producing weapons tests in space should be prohibited, very little progress has been made toward achieving this goal.

Read more at: Bulletin

Discarded SpaceX Rocket Is On A Collision Course With The Moon

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A Japanese company is pushing ahead with plans to launch a private moon lander by the end of 2022, a year packed with other moonshot ambitions and rehearsals that could foretell how soon humans get back to the lunar surface.

If the plans hold, the company, ispace, which is based in Tokyo, would accomplish the first intact landing by a Japanese spacecraft on the moon. And by the time it arrives, it may find other new visitors that already started exploring the moon’s regolith this year from Russia and the United States. (Yutu-2, a Chinese rover, is currently the lone robotic mission on the moon.)

Read more at: Nytimes

China’s Landspace Appears To Be Preparing To Launch Its New Methane-Fueled Rocket

Chinese private company Landspace is working towards a first launch of its new methane-fueled Zhuque-2 rocket with the construction of launch facilities at Jiuquan.

Satellite imagery and deleted social media postings indicate that work is progressing on a new complex for facilitating methane-liquid oxygen launch vehicles at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China.

Timelapse and high resolution satellite imagery show the development near the national Jiuquan center in the Gobi Desert and suggest the presence of a Zhuque-2 test article. A recent, now-deleted article indicates a new flame trench has been completed at Jiuquan.

Read more at: Spacenews

Radian Announces Plans To Build One Of The Holy Grails Of Spaceflight

A Washington-state based aerospace company has exited stealth mode by announcing plans to develop one of the holy grails of spaceflight—a single-stage-to-orbit space plane. Radian Aerospace said it is deep into the design of an airplane-like vehicle that could take off from a runway, ignite its rocket engines, spend time in orbit, and then return to Earth and land on a runway.

“We all understand how difficult this is,” said Livingston Holder, Radian’s co-founder, chief technology officer, and former head of the Future Space Transportation and X-33 program at Boeing.

On Wednesday, Radian announced that it had recently closed a $27.5 million round of seed funding, led by Fine Structure Ventures. To date, Radian has raised about $32 million and has 18 full-time employees at its Renton, Washington, headquarters.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Bigelow Aerospace Transfers BEAM Space Station Module To NASA

NASA has hired a new company to provide engineering support for an inflatable module on the International Space Station originally built and managed by Bigelow Aerospace.

In a Jan. 18 procurement filing, NASA announced it awarded a $250,000 contract to ATA Engineering of San Diego, California, to provide engineering support services for the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), an inflatable module added to the station in 2016. The module was built by Bigelow Aerospace, which had provided support for the module until December.

Read more at: Spacenews

Phase I Of Axiom’s Houston Spaceport Design Contract Awarded To Jacobs

Phase I of the Houston Spaceport architecture and engineering design contract was awarded to Jacobs by Axiom Space. This 100,000 sq ft  facility will be developed on a 400 acre-site, located within Ellington Airport, at the heart of Space City. Axiom Space, the privately funded space infrastructure developer intends to use this new spaceport to achieve its goal of assembling the first commercial international space station and providing access to low Earth orbit. The company was approved by NASA last December to launch the world’s first commercial station, consisting of private crew members only that will travel to the International Space Station.

Read more at: construction review

Op-Ed | LEO Broadband: Will This Time Be Different?

In the late 1990s, I spent three years advising Teledesic on the business plan and customer requirements for the first LEO broadband satellite constellation. We had hoped to serve millions of small businesses and high-end consumers with a cost-effective broadband solution for suburban, rural, and remote areas. However, the Teledesic project was canceled during the dot-com bust when Craig McCaw could not convince himself that the proposed $10 billion satellite system would deliver on its business plan. The terminals were too expensive, and it was far from clear that traditional satellite contractors like Boeing and Motorola could meet either the timescales or budget.

Read more at: Spacenews


Warpspace Wins JAXA Contract To Design Optical Cislunar Communication Architecture For Lunar Mission

Warpspace Co., Ltd., a spin-out space startup from the University of Tsukuba, an optical inter-satellite communication service provider, announced that it has been selected to conduct a study on space communication for the lunar exploration by JAXA, which could be a part of the Artemis plan. Warpspace develops “WarpHub InterSat,” the optical inter-satellite data relay communication service for the earth observation satellite operators. The three optical data relay satellites will be launched in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) to cover the whole Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

Through this network, earth observation satellites can downlink their data at a high data rate in near real-time 24/7. Today, numerous national organizations and private companies including startups work on lunar exploration across the globe centering on the Artemis plan. In Japan, JAXA leads lunar-related activities in collaboration with private companies.

Read more at: Moondaily

Vladimir Solovyov Speaks on Future Development of Russian Human Spaceflight

On Tuesday, January 25, 2022, at the XLVI Academic Readings in Cosmonautics (“Royal Readings – 2022”), Vladimir Solovyov, General Designer for Manned Space Systems and Complexes, spoke about the plans for the development of the Russian manned space program.”

“It is necessary to provide maximum opportunities for observation of the entire territory of the Russian Federation, including high-latitude regions of the Earth, and to begin research with human participation in regions of the Earth with the least protection from cosmic radiation, which is necessary for a more complete understanding of the problems that future manned interplanetary expeditions may encounter.”

Read more at: Parabolic arc

Single-Stage-To-Orbit: How The Holy Grail Of Spaceflight Could Soon Become Reality

SPACEFLIGHT’S LONG-HELD dream could soon come roaring back. This month, Washington-based Radian Aerospace announced that it’s building a single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane that takes off and lands horizontally. The reveal sparked excitement about what could be considered the holy grail of the decades-old industry. Christie Maddock, a lecturer in mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Strathclyde, says that the “alluring concept” has been around for nearly a century.

Read more at: Inverse

NASA Successfully Tests Lockheed Martin X-59 QueSST Supersonic Aircraft Model in Wind Tunnel

NASA and Lockheed Martin’s X-59 QueSST supersonic aircraft has been nicknamed “Son of Concorde”, and rightfully so. The agencies hope that the ban on commercial supersonic flight over land can be lifted by replacing the loud sonic boom with a softer sonic “thump.” When shock waves from an object traveling through the air faster than the speed of sound merge together before they reach the ground, a sonic boom happens, resulting in a thunderclap. The X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft will solve that issue. 

Read more at: techeblog

Stratolaunch Plane Flies Again As Company Prepares For Hypersonic Tests

Stratolaunch flew its giant aircraft Jan. 16 for just the third time as company executives promise a higher rate of flight activities this year, including the first flight of a hypersonic test vehicle.

The plane, known as Roc, took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in California at 11:47 a.m. Eastern. The plane returned to the airport four hours and 23 minutes later after a flight that took the plane to a peak altitude of more than 7,160 meters and top speed of 330 kilometers per hour.

Read more at: Spacenews

NASA Wants Your Ideas To Reuse Trash And Waste On A Mars Mission

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Russia’s First Reusable Methane-Powered Rocket Closer to Ambitious Launch Goals

Russia’s main space-related goal is crystal clear – it wants to launch an innovative, domestically-made reusable rocket by 2026. Two years ago, the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) officially announced its plans for developing a two-stage rocket, meaning that the first stage will be able to return to Earth and be reused multiple times. Called Amur, after the region where the Vostochny Cosmodrome (its future launch site) is located, this rocket will boast a series of innovative technologies, used in the country’s aerospace industry for the first time.

Read more at: Auto evolution

SCOUT Releases Autonomy Software To Enable Safer And Less Complex Space Operations

SCOUT Inc. has announced its latest Autonomy Software offerings: computer vision and guidance software to make navigation safer and less complex for space operators. These offerings include software-hardware integration providing: next-generation AI/ML-based autonomy, hybrid data fusion from various sensors, and closed-loop optical navigation control algorithms.

“Our first SCOUT-Vision system was launched into orbit in June 2021 and the software packages we’re offering today are due in part to the success of that mission,” said Eric Ingram, Co-founder and CEO of SCOUT. “SCOUT is working towards a future where spacecraft operations can be autonomous, and space traffic is continuously monitored from orbit. What we’re announcing today gets us a few steps further along that journey.”

Read more at: Spacedaily

Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Space Station Computer Is In Demand

Since traveling in February 2020 to the International Space Station, Spaceborne Computer-2 has completed 20 experiments focused on health care, communications, Earth observation and life sciences. Still, the queue for access to the off-the-shelf commercial computer linked to Microsoft’s Azure cloud keeps growing.

Mark Fernandez, principal investigator for Spaceborne Computer-2, sees a promising future for space-based computing. He expects increasingly capable computers to be installed on satellites and housed in orbiting data centers in the coming years. Edge processors will crunch data on the moon, and NASA’s lunar Gateway will host advanced computing resources, Fernandez told SpaceNews.

Read more at: Spacenews


Russia, China Set To Sign Lunar Station Deal Soon — Envoy

A Russia-China inter-governmental agreement on cooperation in establishing a lunar station is actually ready and may be signed shortly, Russia’s Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov announced at a press conference on Tuesday.

“The agreement is practically ready and it seems that it may be signed quite soon,” the diplomat said. He recalled that all states had been invited to participate in setting up an international lunar station.

Read more at: TASS

White House Official: Norms Needed For ‘Satellite To Satellite Interaction’

The Biden administration in December released a broadly worded space policy document that recognizes growing military threats in space and calls for a rules-based international order.

With those issues in mind, the administration soon needs to start addressing more specific questions, Audrey Schaffer, director of space policy at the National Security Council, said Jan. 26.

Read more at: Spacenews

Europe Ready To Unveil Sovereign Broadband Constellation Plan

The European Commission will unveil the architecture for its proposed satellite broadband constellation “in a few weeks,” the European Union commissioner in charge of space policy said Jan. 25.

Thierry Breton told the 14th European Space Conference in Brussels that he will also present a legislative proposal for the project in the coming weeks, which would enable Europe to start searching for partners to create the sovereign multi-orbit network.

“Once presented, I count on the Member States and the European Parliament to move fast, so we can hopefully conclude in a year of time the negotiation and have the first services deployed already by 2024,” he said.

Read more at: Spacenews

NASA Safety Panel Recommends Agency Review How It Manages Human Spaceflight Programs

 NASA’s safety advisers are calling on the agency to reexamine how it manages human spaceflight programs to reflect the changing relationship with industry and to better run its core exploration effort.

The central theme of the annual report of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), released Jan. 11, was a need to reexamine the roles and responsibilities of NASA as human spaceflight programs are increasingly managed by industry rather than NASA itself, as was the case for most of the agency’s history.

Read more at: Spacenews

ESA Looks To Space Summit To Endorse Human Spaceflight Efforts

The head of the European Space Agency says he hopes an upcoming space summit provides a political endorsement for major European space initiatives, including a human space exploration program.

At a Jan. 18 press conference to discuss his agency’s plans for the year, ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher said a Feb. 16 space summit of ESA and European Union member states in Toulouse, France, will be an opportunity for convince European politicians to support initiatives that could include giving Europe its own ability to launch people into space.

Read more at: Spacenews

Israel To Sign Artemis Accords: Foreign Minister

Israel will sign the U.S.-led Artemis Accords outlining best practices for space exploration, according to Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

“Today, I won the government’s approval to join the Artemis Accords, initiated by NASA, for cooperation in space exploration,” Lapid said Jan. 16 via Twitter. “We are moving toward a global and innovative future where countries mobilize resources for science and research, and work together to advance space diplomacy. To sign the accords will strengthen cooperation with other signatories in the field of trade and economy.” 

Read more at: Spacenews

Rep. Jim Cooper, A Leader In National Security Space Policy, To Retire

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) announced today that he will not run for reelection. A highly influential member of the House Armed Services Committee on national security space policy issues, Cooper was one half of the bipartisan congressional duo that led to creation of the U.S. Space Force.

Cooper represents Tennessee’s 5th congressional district in the Nashville area and chairs HASC’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Russian Cosmonaut Secures U.S. Visa After Initial Denial

A Russian cosmonaut has received a visa to come to the United States for routine space station training after initially having his application rejected, an incident that’s raised questions about how increased tensions over Ukraine might affect space.

Roscosmos officials, including its head, Dmitry Rogozin, complained Jan. 22 that the United States had refused to issue a visa to cosmonaut Nikolai Chub so he could go to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for training on International Space Station systems. Such training is routine for all visitors for to the station.

Read more at: Spacenews

National Ukrainian Spaceport to be Built in Odesa Region

The news was announced at a Jan. 20 press conference organised by the Association of Innovation and Space Clusters of Ukraine; Head of the Odessa Regional State Administration, Serhiy Hrynevetsky; and Head of the National Center for Space Management and Testing, Volodymyr Prysyazhny.

However, construction of a strategic facility on the Black Sea Coast needs approval from neighboring Turkey because of the risk of second stage launch vehicles falling back to its territory.

Read more at: kyivpost

Op-ed | NASA Needs a Lead Program Office for Artemis

America’s Apollo, Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs bespeak how a nation with a robust Human Space Exploration Program can lead the world in technological prowess, inspire its population to greatness, and attract strategic partners among like-minded nations.  

Now, in preparation for human exploration of Mars, the U.S. once again has the opportunity to lead the world back to the surface of the moon to establish the first permanent human presence.  The piece-parts of a program seem to be falling into place, but what is lacking is a Lead Program Office with the responsibilities and commensurate authorities to make and shoulder the risk of the architectural and technical decisions, control requirements, integrate schedules across multiple teams, and foster the necessary urgency and attention to detail needed to control cost which is primarily done by meeting promised schedules.

Read more at: Spacenews


North Korea Fires Two Missiles As Testing Blitz Continues

North Korea fired two suspected ballistic missiles Thursday, Seoul said, its sixth weapons test this month in one of the most intense spates of launches on record that has delivered an emphatic rejection of Washington’s offers for talks on its nuclear programme.

Pyongyang has not fired this many missiles in a calendar month in decades, according to data compiled by the Center for Strategic and International Studies — a Washington-based think tank.

Read more at: Spacewar

Space Jam: As Earth Orbit Becomes More Congested And Contested, Critical Satellites Are At Risk

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AFRL Partners with SpaceX to Explore Rocket Cargo Potential

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US Extends Rivalry With China To The Moon As It Resists Cooperation And Seeks Control Over Mining

There’s enough strife on land, sea and in the air to keep US Cold Warriors and their Wolf Warrior counterparts in China sparring for a long time to come, but the race to create zones of influence and secure resources doesn’t begin and end with planet Earth.

With the roll-out of Nasa’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft last March in support of the US Artemis Programme, the moon has been added to the mix.

“Through Artemis, Nasa aims to land the first woman and first person of colour on the moon,” the mission statement reads. The US will “collaborate with commercial and international partners and establish the first long-term presence on the moon”.

Read more at: SCMP

Astronauts Turn Archeologists To Document Space Station ‘Dig Sites’

In a recent scene familiar to many, even those not well-versed in the discipline, a researcher marked off square areas in order to catalog the layers of contents buried within. These “test pits,” which were similar to the squares made at the sites of ancient cities and bygone civilizations, were based on a basic technique practiced by archeologists.

Only this time, the researcher was an astronaut and the “dig sites” were on board the International Space Station (ISS).

“We are extremely excited and proud to announce that the first archaeological study ever performed outside the Earth began today,” the team behind SQuARE, or Sampling Quadrangle Assemblages Research Experiment, wrote in a blog entry on Jan. 14. “NASA astronaut Kayla Barron set up an experiment consisting of six sample areas in as many modules that will be documented by the crew for us every day for the next 60 days.”

Read more at: Collectspace

Outer Space Survey

What Happens If a Space Elevator Breaks

IN THE FIRST episode of the Foundation series on Apple TV, we see a terrorist try to destroy the space elevator used by the Galactic Empire. This seems like a great chance to talk about the physics of space elevators and to consider what would happen if one exploded. (Hint: It wouldn’t be good.)

People like to put stuff beyond the Earth’s atmosphere: It allows us to have weather satellites, a space station, GPS satellites, and even the James Webb Space Telescope. But right now, our only option for getting stuff into space is to strap it to a controlled chemical explosion that we usually call “a rocket.”

Read more at: Wired

China’s Rocket Technology Hits The Ski Slopes

Who would ever have thought that technology used on China’s largest carrier rocket would be used to improve the safety of skiers?

Chinese scientists have developed a strong ski helmet with space technology originally used on the Long March-5 rocket, the country’s heaviest launch vehicle and the carrier of Mars probe Tianwen-1.

The helmet, designed by a team from the Dalian University of Technology in northeastern Liaoning Province, has been tested on Chinese freestyle skiers during their training on aerials and halfpipes for the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Read more at: Spacedaily

‘With Tax, That Will Be $481,000.’ State Lawmakers Propose Taxing Virgin Galactic Tickets.

New Mexico taxpayers have invested millions for the construction and operation of its commercial spaceport, for which the state has been promised returns in the form of high-paying aerospace jobs, related economic development and tourism. 

What New Mexico does not get, however, is any tax revenue from sales of high-priced tickets to fly to space with Virgin Galactic, the spaceport’s anchor tenant. 

A bipartisan bill introduced in the state Legislature seeks to close a loophole that excluded spaceflight passenger tickets from gross receipts taxes. The move aims to harvest revenue from ticket sales as Virgin Galactic prepares to begin regular commercial service later this year. 

Read more at: lcsun-news