Japan ‘Moon Sniper’ Lands But ‘Not Generating Power’

Japan on Saturday became only the fifth nation to achieve a soft Moon landing, but the craft’s long-term fate was in doubt after space agency officials said its solar cells were not generating power.

With the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), Japan followed the United States, the Soviet Union, China and India in landing on the lunar surface.

After initial uncertainty, space agency JAXA confirmed that the SLIM touched down on the Moon at 12:20 am Japanese time (1520 GMT Friday) and that “communication has been established”.

Read more at:

Challenges Persist In Getting Astronauts To The Moon; NASA Again Delays Launch Date

America is falling behind in the race to send man to the moon again: NASA has once again delayed its launch dates, this time citing major safety concerns. NASA delayed the missions in an announcement last week, citing unresolved issues including a battery, the heat shield, and a circuitry component responsible for air ventilation and temperature control.

The first crewed mission around the moon, Artemis II, was pushed back to September 2025. The first crewed mission to land on the moon since 1972, Artemis III, was pushed back to September 2026. Artemis II was originally scheduled for this November, and Artemis III was originally scheduled for December 2025.

Read more at: dailywire


Japan’s ‘Wacky Hack’ To Fight Space Debris – A Ground-Based Laser System That Can Burn Orbital Mess

In a bid to tackle the escalating problem of space debris, a Japan-based startup is making waves with its efforts to utilize ground-based laser beams to remove minuscule space fragments.

With the exponential growth of space-related activities globally, the threat posed by space debris originating from defunct satellites and rocket bodies has prompted innovative solutions.

The company, EX-Fusion, distinguishes itself with an innovative approach by utilizing its arsenal of laser technology, originally designed for fusion power, to effectively deal with the challenge of space debris.

Read more at: eurasian times

Starlink Close Encounters Decrease Despite Ever-Growing Number Of Satellites

SpaceX has reported that the number of close encounters between its satellites and other orbital objects has not increased in the past six months despite the constellation’s growth.

Space sustainability experts say the development is good news but warn the decrease in avoidance maneuvers is likely just a deviation from what has been a longer-term upward trend.

Twice a year, SpaceX reports to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) how many times its satellites had to change their paths to avoid possible collisions with other spacecraft and space debris. The rocket company submitted its latest “Semi- annual constellation status report” on Dec. 29, 2023, covering a period between June 1, 2023, and Nov. 30, 2023.

Read more at:

This Invention Might Help Us Tackle Debris In Space

In a move to address the escalating congestion in low Earth orbit and the growing concern over space debris, MIT’s Astrodynamics, Space Robotics, and Controls Laboratory (ARCLab) have publicly released the MIT Orbital Capacity Assessment Tool (MOCAT).

Unveiled during the 2023 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Space Forum Workshop on December 14, MOCAT offers users the ability to model the long-term future space environment, providing crucial insights into the potential growth of space debris and the effectiveness of debris-prevention mechanisms.

Read more at: interesting engineering

Geomagnetic Storm Watch Issued; Northern Lights Could Come To These States

A geomagnetic storm watch has been issued for Monday and Tuesday this week after an eruption of solar material was detected early Sunday morning.

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) warned about the eruption, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME) in a post to X. While “the general public does not need to be concerned,” the agency notes the CME could lead to the northern lights being visible across a handful of states in the coming days.

Read more at: Hill

Small Asteroid Hit Earth Above Germany Sunday Morning

In the late-night hours of January 21, 2024 – 90 minutes before impact over European skies – NASA said a small asteroid would hit Earth’s atmosphere. And hit it did. The space rock struck on schedule above an area west of Berlin, Germany. The asteroid was only about 1 meter (3 feet) in diameter. It posed no danger to people on the ground. Yet it’s possible the asteroid might have spread small meteorites over the landscape.

Soon after, footage of the fireball in the skies over Germany started coming in on social media.

Read more at: earthsky


Airbus And Voyager Finalize Starlab Joint Venture

Voyager Space and Airbus Defence and Space have finalized a partnership to develop the Starlab commercial space station, seeking to win customers for it from both sides of the Atlantic.

The companies announced Jan. 9 that they completed the formation of Starlab Space LLC, the joint venture responsible for the design, construction and operation of the station. The companies announced plans to create the joint venture in August.

“This joint venture solidifies our unwavering commitment to reimagining the future of commercial space alongside Voyager, anchoring Starlab to European and American ambitions and pioneering the future of humanity in space,” said Jean-Marc Nasr, head of space systems at Airbus, in a statement.

Read more at: spacenews

Astroscale Reveals Concept Of Operations For Its In-Orbit Refueling Vehicle

Astroscale is developing an in-space refueling vehicle that will shuttle back and forth between a fuel depot in geostationary Earth orbit and a client satellite.

The refueling vehicle will carry and transfer hydrazine to its client spacecraft, “rather than the client having to maneuver to a fuel depot, allowing client operations to continue uninterrupted,” the company said Jan. 17.

Astroscale, headquartered in Japan with a U.S. subsidiary based in Colorado, is a provider of space services to extend the life of satellites. The company last year won a $25.5 million contract from the U.S. Space Force to develop a refueling vehicle. Under the private-public partnership agreement, the project will get an additional $12 million in funding from Astroscale and its suppliers.

Read more at: spacenews

Chinese Company Targets 2025 For 1st Launch Of Powerful New Rocket

A Chinese launch company has set August 2025 as the target for the first launch of its Kinetic-2 liquid propellant rocket. CAS Space, whose full name is Zhongke Aerospace Exploration Technology Company, has already launched its Kinetica-1 (Lijian-1) solid rocket, even briefly setting a national record for the number of satellites aboard a single launch with the vehicle. But the company is also planning a larger, more complex liquid propellant launcher that will eventually be reusable.

Read more at:

Blue Origin And SpaceX Start Work On Cargo Versions Of Crewed Lunar Landers

The two companies with NASA contracts to develop crewed lunar landers are also beginning work on cargo versions of their spacecraft.

NASA has exercised options in Human Landing System (HLS) awards made to Blue Origin and SpaceX to begin initial design and development work of versions of their landers that can carry large amounts of cargo to the lunar surface.

NASA made a passing reference to the work in a Jan. 9 announcement about the delays to the Artemis 2 and 3 missions. “NASA also shared that it has asked both Artemis human landing system providers – SpaceX and Blue Origin – to begin applying knowledge gained in developing their systems as part of their existing contracts toward future variations to potentially deliver large cargo on later missions,” the agency said in a press release.

Read more at: spacenews

Astrobotic Confirms Peregrine Reentry Plans

Astrobotic confirmed Jan. 17 that its Peregrine lunar lander will reenter over the South Pacific on Jan. 18, concluding a 10-day mission that failed to land on the moon because of a propellant leak.

In a statement, the company said it had adjusted the spacecraft’s trajectory to ensure it would safely reenter at about 4 p.m. Eastern Jan. 18. The reentry location in an ellipse several hundred kilometers long with its center a little more than 500 kilometers south-southwest of Fiji.

Read more at: spacenews


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

NASA’s Robotic, Self-Assembling Structures Could Be The Next Phase Of Space Construction

Bad news if you want to move to the moon or Mars: housing is a little hard to come by. Fortunately, NASA (as always) is thinking ahead, and has just shown off a self-assembling robotic structure that might just be a crucial part of moving off-planet.

Published today in Science Robotics, the paper from NASA Ames Research Center describes the creation and testing of what they call “self-reprogrammable mechanical metamaterials,” which is a highly precise way to describe a building that builds itself. The inevitable acronym for it is “Automated Reconfigurable Mission Adaptive Digital Assembly Systems,” or ARMADAS.

Read more at: techcrunch

NASA Selects A Sample Return Mission To Venus

In Dante Alighieri’s epic poem The Divine Comedy, the famous words “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” adorn the gates of hell. Interestingly enough, Dante’s vision of hell is an apt description of what conditions are like on Venus. With an average temperature of 450°C (842°F), atmospheric pressures 92 times that of Earth, and clouds of sulfuric acid rain to boot, Venus is the most hostile environment in the solar system. It is little wonder why space agencies, going all the way back to the beginning of the Space Age, have had such a hard time exploring Venus’ atmosphere.

Read more at:

NASA Probe Shoots Indian Moon Lander With Laser

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has successfully bounced a laser off of India’s Vikram lander, which successfully touched down on the Moon’s surface in August.

The LRO’s laser altimeter aimed its sights at Vikram in December, shooting it with a series of laser pulses. Vikram’s 2-inch-wide retroreflector, which comes courtesy of NASA, bounced these signals right back, with scientists confirming the first-of-its-kind “ping” moments later.

Read more at: futurism

Buried Water Ice At Mars’s Equator?

Windswept piles of dust, or layers of ice? ESA’s Mars Express has revisited one of Mars’s most mysterious features to clarify its composition. Its findings suggest layers of water ice stretching several kilometres below ground – the most water ever found in this part of the planet.Over 15 years ago, Mars Express studied the Medusae Fossae Formation (MFF), revealing massive deposits up to 2.5 km deep. From these early observations, it was unclear what the deposits were made of – but new research now has an answer.

Read more at: ESA


NASA Commits $100 Million to Private Space Station Stocks

For a little over two years now, we’ve been watching with interest as more and more American space companies line up to compete for the right to build private space stations in orbit.

With the International Space Station (ISS) expected to deorbit and fall into the sea sometime in 2031, nearly a dozen different space companies — many of them publicly traded space stocks — are still in the competition:

Read more at: yahoo

Axiom And SpaceX Are Disrupting Europe’s Traditional Pathway To Space

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) has a deal with Axiom Space to get more Europeans in orbit. But does the partnership benefit European taxpayers who fund the agency’s operations?

On Wednesday, January 17, the third privately funded mission by US commercial spaceflight company Axiom Space is set to lift off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. Inside the Crew Dragon capsule will be a quartet of space travelers, including Swedish fighter pilot Marcus Wandt.

Read more at: arstechnica

US Must Beat China Back To The Moon, Congress Tells NASA

The delays in NASA’s Artemis moon program are making some members of Congress nervous.Last week, NASA announced that it’s now targeting September 2025 for its Artemis 2 mission, which will send four astronauts around the moon, and September 2026 for Artemis 3, which will put boots on Earth’s nearest neighbor for the first time in more than half a century.These new Artemis launch dates represent delays of about a year for each flight. The rightward push was spurred by the need to conduct more studies of key Artemis hardware, such as the heat shield of NASA’s Orion crew capsule, which didn’t perform quite as expected during the uncrewed Artemis 1 mission in late 2022.

Read more at:

With Access To Space On The Line, The U.S. Is Eating Its Seed Corn

Sometimes, success has unforeseen consequences. The United States Space Force and Air Force (and NASA) have, in essence, decided they will simply procure space launch as a service from SpaceX. This isn’t an actual decision but is nevertheless true enough, as it has become the default situation. Cost and availability — the comparative ease of getting a launch slot — have resulted in tremendous business success for SpaceX.

An unforeseen consequence of this success is that the Space Force, the Air Force, and NASA have deprioritized rocket research and development efforts that would foster continued independent space access. Some programmatic officers would suggest there is no need for the government to continue to pursue rocket science. SpaceX is doing the required R&D, so why spend money on anything other than what’s needed for deep space?

Read more at: spacenews

Iran Launches Satellite – Part Of A Western-Criticised Programme

Iran says it has conducted a successful satellite launch into its highest orbit yet, the latest for a programme the West fears improves Tehran’s ballistic missiles.

The announcement comes as heightened tensions grip the wider Middle East over Israel’s ongoing war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip – and just days after Iran and Pakistan engaged in tit-for-tat airstrikes in each others’ countries.

The Soraya satellite was placed in an orbit at some 750 kilometres above the Earth’s surface with its three-stage Qaem 100 rocket, the state-run IRNA news agency said. It did not immediately acknowledge what the satellite did, though telecommunications minister Isa Zarepour described the launch as having a 50-kilogram payload.

Read more at: euronews


SDA To Acquire Satellites With Custom Payloads To Enable Faster Targeting On Battlefields

The Space Development Agency is gearing up for its next procurement of satellites for a military communications network known as the Transport Layer Tranche 2.

SDA, an agency under the U.S. Space Force, plans to acquire 20 satellites carrying a new type of payload to transmit targeting information. SDA documents describe the payload, dubbed Warlock, as a communications node “specifically designed to close future kill chains.”

Unlike other payloads acquired by SDA, which are commercially available, Warlock will have to be developed “for space systems to provide fire control solutions.”

Read more at: spacenews

Space Development Agency Awards Contracts Worth $2.5 Billion For Missile-Tracking Satellites

The Space Development Agency announced Jan. 16 it selected L3Harris, Lockheed Martin and Sierra Space to build and operate 54 satellites equipped with infrared sensors capable of tracking hypersonic missiles in all phases of flight.

The satellites will be part of SDA’s Tranche 2 Tracking Layer, a network of satellites in low orbit 1,000 kilometers above Earth.

The three agreements are worth about $2.5 billion. Each company will produce and operate 18 satellites — the contract awarded to L3Harris is worth $919 million, Lockheed Martin’s is $890 million and Sierra Space’s is $740 million. The contracts include incentives for on-time delivery.

Read more at: spacenews

DoD ‘Completely Rewrites’ Classification Policy For Secret Space Programs

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks has signed off on a new classification policy for space programs that discourages the use of Special Access Program status (SAPs) that dramatically limits clearances to handful of US officials — in hopes of opening still-secret programs to more stakeholders, including US allies and industry partners, according to a senior official.

“What the classification memo does, generally, is it overwrites — it really completely rewrites — a legacy document that had its roots 20 years ago, and it’s just no longer applicable to the current environment that involves national security space,” DoD Assistant Secretary for Space Policy John Plumb told reporters today.

Read more at: breaking defense

Investing In Space: Pentagon’s Satellite Constellation Awards Near $10 Billion

I’ve written a bit about the Space Force’s satellite constellation program before but, with new awards already rolling this year, it’s worth checking in on who’s been added to the fray that I’m calling the PWSA Sweepstakes.

A quick refresher: In the few years since the Space Force became the first new U.S. military service branch since before the Cold War, one of its units has evolved into a satellite-building, money-slinging, fast-moving agency. Known as SDA, or the Space Development Agency, the unit is aggressively ordering and launching satellites for a new network known as the “Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture,” or PWSA.

Read more at: CNBC

Guetlein Calls For A Change In Culture In ‘Responsive Space’

The U.S. Space Force last year launched a small satellite on a Firefly rocket in a demonstration of responsive launch, sending the payload to orbit just 27 hours after receiving launch orders.

That mission, named Victus Nox, was impressive, Gen. Michael Guetlein, vice chief of space operations of the U.S. Space Force, said Jan. 19. But he cautioned that responsive space should be about more than setting speed records.

Read more at: spacenews


Water On The Moon: International Prize Launches For Purifying Lunar Water

Nearly 6 in 10 (58%) people in the UK believe that developing technology for the harsh environment of space could help us back on Earth, with more than half (56%) believing that using technology in space means we can better understand our own planet and how to protect it.

The new research from Challenge Works and the UK Space Agency marks the launch of the £1.2 million Aqualunar Challenge. The new international challenge prize – in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency and Impact Canada – is rewarding the design of innovative technologies to make human habitation on the Moon viable by finding ways to purify water buried beneath the lunar surface.

Read more at:

NASA Finally Opened Its Prized Asteroid Canister, And You Can Look Inside

Inside Building 31 at Johnson Space Center, NASA scientists have opened the metal canister holding rocks the agency plucked off a distant asteroid. NASA has spent months trying to release two “stubborn” fasteners on the canister’s lid, which was no easy feat. The asteroid receptacle, after parachuting down to Earth from outer space, has been (understandably) isolated inside a specially-designed glovebox, with limited tools and access.

Read more at: mashable

NASA Selects Crew for Next Simulated Mars Mission

NASA selected a crew of four volunteers to participate in a simulated journey to Mars inside a habitat at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Abhishek Bhagat, Kamak Ebadi, Susan Hilbig, and Ariana Lutsic will enter the ground-based HERA (Human Exploration Research Analog) facility on Friday, Jan. 26, to live and work like astronauts for 45 days during the simulated mission to the Red Planet. Crew members will exit the facility on March 11, after they “return” to Earth. Two additional volunteers are available as backup crew members.

Read more at: NASA