For Second Time In Two Months, A Russian Spacecraft Loses Critical Coolant

A Russian Progress supply ship successfully docked with the International Space Station early Saturday but in an unlikely, presumed coincidence, another Progress, docked at a different port, suffered a sudden loss of coolant similar to an incident that disabled a Soyuz crew ship in December.

It was not immediately known if the Progress MS-21/82S spacecraft suffered a malfunction of some sort or if it might have been hit by space debris or a micrometeoroid, like the small particle that ruptured a coolant line on the Soyuz MS-22/68S crew ferry ship two months ago.

Read more at: CBS news

Office Of Space Commerce Examines Options For Commercial SSA Pilot Project In LEO

With one commercial space traffic coordination pilot project successfully completed, the Office of Space Commerce is considering ways to do a similar project in the more challenging environment of low Earth orbit.

Speaking at the Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Space Transportation Conference Feb. 8, Richard DalBello, director of the Office of Space Commerce within NOAA, said the office had just completed a two-month project to test the ability to perform space situational awareness in medium and geostationary Earth orbits using only commercial data.

Read more at: spacenews

Meteor Over Channel Was Predicted To Hit Earth Just Hours Before Impact

A small meteor about 1 meter (3 feet) in diameter burned up over the Channel between France and the UK in the early hours of this morning. The object, called Sar 2667, was discovered just a few hours previously and has become only the seventh asteroid impact that has been predicted to happen before hitting our planet.

Read more at: IFLscience


Asteroid Twice The Size Of Super Bowl Trophy Impacts Near France – NASA

A small asteroid twice the size of a Super Bowl trophy struck the Earth early Monday morning, exploding above the English Channel near France due to the Earth’s atmosphere.

The asteroid in question has been designated 2023 CX1, according to NASA, and it had been discovered seven hours before the impact by Hungarian astronomer Krisztián Sárneczky.

This makes it the seventh asteroid ever discovered before impacting Earth.

Read more at: jpost

Solar Storm Speeding Toward Earth Could Affect Radio, GPS Signals

A massive explosion was spotted on the sun on Wednesday, and now astronomers are keeping a close eye on how that may impact us here on Earth in the coming days. NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center issued G1-Minor and G2-Moderate Geomagnetic Storm Watches that will run from Feb. 16-18 due to the continuing effects of the Coronal Mass Ejections (CME).

Read more at: Yahoo news

Asteroid Today: Space Rock Speeding Towards Earth At A Fearsome 60905 Kmph

To protect Earth against rogue asteroids that may impact the planet, NASA carried out its first planetary defense test called DART. The Double Asteroid Detection Test mission was to smash a spacecraft into the Dimorphos asteroid to deflect it away from its original path. This historic test was successful and the asteroid was actually deflected from its path, making the planet safe from potential asteroid impacts.

Having said that, this kind of measure needs time to prepare. It is still uncertain whether NASA can deploy such a startegy at short notice. For instance, new asteroids are being discovered frequently. That is why there is tremendous interest in the asteroids that approach Earth. And now, the latest asteroid today, is all set for its closest approach to Earth.

Read more at: hindustan times

Study Quantifies Global Impact Of Electricity In Dust Storms On Mars

Mars is infamous for its intense dust storms, some of which kick up enough dust to be seen by telescopes on Earth. When dust particles rub against each other, as they do in Martian dust storms, they can become electrified, transferring positive and negative electric charge in the same way as you build up static electricity if you shuffle across a carpet. 

Strong electric fields build up in dust storms on Earth, so it is perhaps unsurprising that this also happens on Mars. But what happens next? Probably not a sudden flash of lightning, as we might expect on Earth.

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Planetary Defense: Protecting Earth From Space-Based Threats

Planetary defense is the effort to monitor and protect Earth from asteroids, comets and other objects in space. Earth’s gravity attracts more than a hundred tons (more than 90 metric tons) of small objects and dust from space daily, according to NASA. Most of this material burns up in the atmosphere without any effect on the planet; larger chunks may produce a bright streak of light that’s visible in the night sky or a small meteorite for a rock hunter to find.

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Chinese Asteroid-Detection System Enters New Phase Of Construction

Construction of a second phase of China’s planetary defense radar array is underway. The “China Compound Eye” or Fuyan project will create a network of radar antennae that will bounce radar signals off distant objects to image and track asteroids and determine if they could threaten Earth. A first phase consisting of four, 54-foot-diameter (16 meters) radars located near Chongqing in southwest China was completed (opens in new tab) last December. Scientists then pinged signals off the moon to verify the feasibility of the system and its key technologies.

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WATCH: Meteorite Burns Up as it Enters Earth’s Atmosphere Above Europe

Footage was captured across Europe Sunday of a newly detected meteorite entering Earth’s atmosphere. Europe’s space agency previously confirmed the meteorite was on its way, but claimed the meteorite is too small to cause any real damage—measuring just one meter across. The aerial phenomenon was expected to be visible from northern France, most of Belgium, southern England and the Netherlands as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere at approximately 4:00am CET. The meteor burned up on entry and does not pose a danger to anyone in the area, the space agency said.

Read more at: daily beast


Blue Origin Made Solar Cells By Smelting Simulated Moon Dust

Whether or not Blue Origin puts a lander on the Moon, it might play a key role in sustaining lunar operations. Jeff Bezos’ spaceflight company has revealed that it can produce solar cells and transmission wire using simulated Moon regolith. The firm’s Blue Alchemist technique uses molten electrolysis to separate the lunar soil’s aluminum, iron and silicon from bound oxygen to extract key materials. The process can build solar cells, cover glass and aluminum wire using only sunlight and the reactor’s silicon.

Read more at: engadget

One Faulty Fuel Filter Scuttled Virgin Orbit’s Big UK Launch Debut

Read more at: techcrunch

Ex-NASA Space Shuttle Astronaut Has A Plan To Get Humans To Mars Fast

The first human Mars explorers will be terrifyingly isolated.

There’s no abort system that could safely return astronauts to Earth from deep space, meaning a relatively minor malfunction could prove catastrophic. Then there’s the mental health toll of space exploration as well as the long-term effects of radiation exposure.

Read more at: interesting engineering

NASA Updates Plans For Use Of Commercial Space Stations

NASA has released additional details about how it plans to use commercial space stations after the retirement of the International Space Station as some in industry seek to accelerate NASA’s support for them.

NASA published two white papers Feb. 13 as part of a request for information (RFI) for its Commercial Low Earth Orbit Destinations effort to support development of commercial stations. The documents provide new details about how NASA expects to work with companies operating those stations and the agency’s needs to conduct research there.

Read more at: spacenews

Plasmos Unveils Space Truck

Plasmos revealed plans to offer in-space transportation and to return payloads to Earth with a Space Truck.

The Space Truck, powered by Plasmos’ dual-mode propulsion system, will transport payloads to altitudes as high as 1,400 kilometers “to enable in-space manufacturing, last-mile delivery, point-to-point transportation, on-orbit servicing and active debris removal,” Plasmos CEO Ali Baghchehsara said Feb. 9 during Plasmos’ unveiling of the Space Truck.

Read more at: spacenews

Intuitive Machines Completes SPAC Merger

Commercial lunar lander company Intuitive Machines has completed its merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), raising far less money than originally anticipated.

Intuitive Machines said Feb. 13 it had closed its merger with Inflection Point Acquisition Corp., a SPAC that trades on the Nasdaq. The merged company, retaining the Intuitive Machines name, will trade on the Nasdaq starting Feb. 14 under the ticker symbol LUNR.

Read more at: spacenews

A hardware upgrade is in the works for the first-generation Starlink satellite constellation that promises to improve its capabilities. On Wednesday, SpaceX mentioned incorporating new satellite technology into the existing Starlink network in an FCC application, which was noticed(Opens in a new window) by telecommunications lawyer Ryan Thomspon. “This upgraded hardware will allow SpaceX to more efficiently meet the demand for its revolutionary broadband capabilities,” the company wrote in the application(Opens in a new window).

Read more at: PCmag

Why SpaceX Is Under Fire After The Record Breaking Super Heavy Booster Test

SpaceX tested the Super Heavy rocket booster on February 9, 2023. The static firing of the rocket marked what is likely to be the most powerful booster ignition in the history of human space exploration. The rocket includes 33 engines, and 31 were successfully lit and fired throughout the testing. Elon Musk noted in a tweet that this was “still enough engines to reach orbit!” The Super Heavy booster is a massive launch platform designed in concert with the Starship project. This system is designed to bring people and equipment far into the depths of space. The goal is to support missions to Mars, life in orbit, and exploration far beyond our current reach.

Read More: slashgear

Chinese Rocket Firm Space Pioneer Set For First Launch

Commercial launch firm Space Pioneer announced new funding this week and will soon take a shot at becoming China’s first such company to reach orbit with a liquid propellant rocket.

Space Pioneer, full name Beijing Tianbing Technology Co., Ltd., announced Feb. 15 that it recently secured “B+ and “Pre-C” strategic funding rounds. The company says it has now raised nearly 3 billion yuan ($438 million) in funding since its founding in 2018.

Read more at: spacenews

Stockholder Sues Virgin Galactic, Alleges Richard Branson Lied About Spaceplane After Botched Flights

A Virgin Galactic stockholder is taking the company’s execs to task, saying their penchant for covering up major failures encountered during tests of its Unity spaceplane have tanked investors’ chances of winning big in the commercial space race.

In a new lawsuit filed Monday in Delaware district court, stockholder Yousef Abughazaleh claims that the spaceflight company, its execs, and its billionaire founder Richard Branson lied about just how good and safe its spaceplanes were, all in order to inflate the company’s stock price and let execs cash out in more than $1.3 billion of common stock. The suit was filed on behalf of Virgin Galactic Holdings Incorporated.

Read more at: Gizmodo

1st Private Launcher Space Tug Fails After Launching On Spacex Rocket

Space launch startup Launcher said its first spacecraft, which launched on a SpaceX rocket last month, has failed. The Launcher Orbiter SN1, the company’s first spacecraft, launched on the SpaceX Transporter-6 mission, which took off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida last month carrying 114 satellites to orbit — the second-most spacecraft ever launched on a single mission. Transporter-6 was SpaceX’s 200th flight and deployed a wide variety of payloads, including a Space Force weather cubesat and a prototype solar sail designed by French firm Gama.

Read more at:


New Spacecraft Can See Into the Permanently Shadowed Craters on the Moon

Shackleton Crater at the lunar south pole is one of the locations on NASA’s shortlist for human exploration with the future Artemis missions. But because craters at the lunar poles — like Shackleton — at have areas that are perpetually in shadow, known as permanently shadowed regions (PSRs), we don’t know for sure what lies inside the interior.  However, a new spacecraft with a specialized instrument is about to change all that.

ShadowCam is one of six science instruments on board the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI)’s Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, known as Danuri, which launched in August 2022 and entered lunar orbit last December. ShadowCam’s mission is to peer inside these dark craters and determine for sure what lies within, and if the PSRs contain volatiles like water ice – a significant resource for exploration that can be used as fuel or oxygen.

Read more at: universetoday

World’s First Space Platforms Utilising H2O2 In Concentration Above 98% – Next Level Of Green Space Propulsion

With 25 projects from the European Space Agency (ESA) since Poland’s accession to ESA 10 years ago, Łukasiewicz – Institute of Aviation became a R&D hot spot in space propulsion in Central-Eastern Europe. Completed and ongoing projects with key spacecraft integrators (i.e. Airbus Defence & Space, OHB and Thales Alenia Space), as well as established players in space transportation systems (i.e. ArianeGroup, Avio, Nammo) and major new space companies – the institute have the ultimate goal of bringing new components, technologies and subsystems to the international market.

Read more at: spacenews

What You Need to Know About Japan’s New H3 Rocket

Following a series of technical delays, Japan’s H3 rocket is set to make its much-anticipated debut this week. Here’s what you need to know about the medium-lift rocket and its inaugural mission.

H3 is currently expected to perform its first flight on February 14, with liftoff from the Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center scheduled for 8:37 p.m. ET, and with a launch window lasting for less than 7 minutes. The rocket is on a mission to deliver the 4-metric-ton payload, the ALOS-3 Earth observation satellite, to a Sun-synchronous orbit.

Read more at: Yahoo news

Instrument on NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Switches Off Unexpectedly

One of the instruments on NASA’s Parker Solar Probe powered down unexpectedly last weekend, but don’t panic — the mission team expects it to come back online soon.

The sun-studying spacecraft switched off its Energetic Particle Instrument-Hi (EPI-Hi) on Feb. 12, while a software patch was being uploaded to it, NASA officials explained in a brief Parker Solar Probe update on Friday (Feb. 17).

Read more at:

New Nuclear Fission Concept Could Power Future Rockets in Space

Novel propulsion ideas for moving around space seem like they’re a dime a dozen recently. Besides the typical argument between solar sails and chemical propulsion lies a potential third way — a nuclear rocket engine. While we’ve discussed them here at Universe Today before, NASA’s Institute of Advanced Concepts has provided a grant to a company called Positron Dynamics for the development of a novel type of nuclear fission fragment rocket engine (FFRE). It could strike a balance between the horsepower of chemical engines and the longevity of solar sails.

Read more at: inverse


Launches Of Chinese Commercial Rockets Could Double In 2023

Launches conducted by commercial Chinese launch service providers could more than double those attempted last year, according to firms’ plans for 2023.

The more than 20 launches now planned by commercial launch service providers would notably eclipse the total number of orbital launches conducted by China in 2017, demonstrating the rapid growth in Chinese launch capacity and cadence in recent years.

Read more at: spacenews

Elon Musk Says SpaceX Restricted Internet In Ukraine To Prevent Escalation ‘That May Lead To WW3’

SpaceX’s recent restriction on the Ukrainian military’s use of its satellite internet service for drone control was to prevent the conflict from escalating into a world war, according to Elon Musk. Answering a request from a former NASA astronaut to restore full access to the internet for Ukrainian forces, SpaceX CEO Musk tweeted late Sunday: “Starlink is the communication backbone of Ukraine, especially at the front lines, where almost all other internet connectivity has been destroyed. But we will not enable escalation of conflict that may lead to WW3.”

Read more at:  politico

Astronaut Chris Hadfield Meets King Charles III, Pushes Space Sustainability

Canada’s most famous astronaut reached royal realms on Thursday (Feb. 9). King Charles III met with Chris Hadfield, the retired Canadian astronaut best known for commanding the International Space Station (ISS) in 2012-13 with social media flair. The discussion concerned “efforts to encourage sustainability in space,” the official Royal Family Twitter account (opens in new tab) stated. “What a pleasure and privilege to be asked to advise and assist, and make the King laugh,” Hadfield wrote of the experience on Twitter (opens in new tab), alongside a picture showing His Majesty looking amused.

Read more at:

FAA To Conduct Sweeping Safety Review After Multiple Incidents

Citing a series of recent aviation safety incidents, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration has ordered a sweeping review of the agency. “We are experiencing the safest period in aviation history, but we cannot take this for granted,” Billy Nolen, the acting FAA administrator, wrote in a memo. “Recent events remind us that we must not become complacent.” His memo comes after a technological breakdown led to the first nationwide airplane departure grounding since the 9/11 attacks, and two significant events where airliners nearly collided at the runways of major US airports.

Read more at: CNN

NASA Launches New Framework for Procurement Ideas, Solutions

NASA is now seeking procurement ideas and solutions to encourage innovation from diverse perspectives, improve reach, reduce barriers, and ultimately meet and exceed agency goals.

The NASA Acquisition Innovation Launchpad (NAIL), managed by the agency’s Office of Procurement, is now online, and submissions of inquiries and ideas will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Read more at: NASA

As a New Space Age Dawns, the Artemis Accords Should Take Center Stage

The liftoff of Artemis 1 last November launched a new era in space, as the United States prepares to send humans beyond low-Earth orbit and back to the Moon for the first time in half a century. The Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion capsule finally made their debut after $23 billion and eleven years of development.

Back on Earth, another element that will define this new era in human exploration of the cosmos has also begun taking shape. The Artemis Accords are a set of shared, non-binding principles that aim to govern “responsible, peaceful, and sustainable” exploration of space, taking the form of bilateral agreements between the United States and twenty-two signatory countries. This new international space club saw nine nations sign on last year.

Read more at: nationalinterest

Blinken Says U.S. Has Had Talks With Elon Musk About Starlink In Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday that the U.S. government has had conversations with Elon Musk about the use of Starlink satellite internet in Ukraine.

SpaceX this month said it has taken steps to prevent Ukraine’s military from using the company’s Starlink service for controlling drones in the region during the country’s war with Russia.

Read more at: yahoo news

FAA Proposes Fining SpaceX For Missing Launch Data

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Feb. 17 it is seeking to fine SpaceX $175,000 for failing to provide collision avoidance data before a Falcon 9 launch last year.

The FAA said it informed SpaceX of the planned fine for not submitting launch collision analysis trajectory data at least seven days before the launch of 53 Starlink satellites on a mission designated Starlink 4-27, which launched on a Falcon 9 Aug. 19 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Read more at: spacenews


US Jet Shoots Down Another Mystery ‘Object’ Over Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a joint US-Canadian military operation led to the takedown of the object, the latest in a series of mysterious air intrusions.

“Canadian and US aircraft were scrambled, and a US F-22 successfully fired at the object,” Trudeau tweeted Saturday.

Shortly after the 3:41 pm (2041 GMT) downing of the  object, aviation authorities shut down part of the airspace over the northwest US state of Montana after detecting what they called a “radar anomaly,” the US Northern Command said.

Read more at: France24

China Accuses U.S. Of Flying Spy Balloons Into Chinese Airspace More Than 10 Times

China claimed Monday that the United States flew spy balloons into Chinese airspace more than 10 times since January 2022 without Beijing’s permission, accusations that further ratcheted up tensions between the two countries amid mutual allegations of surveillance.

U.S.-China relations are already on edge after the U.S. shot down a large, high-altitude balloon on Feb. 4 that it says was set aloft by China and which a State Department official says was part of a “fleet” of Chinese military balloons designed to conduct surveillance. China said the balloon was a civilian airship that drifted astray by accident.

Read more at: NPR

Russia Is Launching ‘Military Balloons’ With Corner Reflectors Into Ukraine To Exhaust Its Air Defenses – Kyiv

The Pentagon informed that an F-16 shot down the object, employing the same AIM-9X Sidewinder missile as in the last three shootdowns. Pentagon officials assured that none of these objects shot down appeared to pose a military threat. However, there has been a proliferation of balloons being sent to the continent.

Intriguingly, even as the United States and Canada are actively fighting the menace of UFOs, Russia has now borrowed a fig leaf from this playbook and started infiltrating Ukrainian airspace with its balloons.

Read more at: eurasian times

On National Security | A Coming Of Age For Commercial Satellite Imagery

“Someone’s on the move,” Jeffrey Lewis tweeted on Feb. 23, 2022, the day before Russian forces invaded Ukraine.

Known on social media as @ArmsControlWonk, Lewis had been tracking Russian movements in the days preceding the invasion, using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite data from a commercial company, Capella Space.

Read more at: spacenews

Space Force FY24 Request Likely To Jump By Billions, But Lawmakers May Balk: Analyst

The Defense Department’s fiscal 2024 budget request is more than likely to include yet another giant leap for the Space Force’s budget, perhaps by as much as $3 billion to $6 billion more than the $26.3 billion appropriated this year, according to an analysis by Mike Tierney, legislative affairs head for the National Security Space Association. But the key question will be whether Congress is satisfied with the service’s actions to untangle a bevy of management and oversight issues troubling lawmakers.

Read more at: breaking defense


The US Navy Once Fired 300 Rounds At An Aircraft, Then Realized It Was Venus

Balloons and as yet unidentified flying objects are popping up all over the place at the moment. As well as four (so far) objects being shot down above the US and Canada, China says it is preparing to down one in its air space, while the Uruguayan air force is investigating reports and photos of flashing lights over the Termas de Almirón area.

Prompted by this, the US Naval Institute decided to share its own story of a mysterious aircraft that came the Navy’s way in 1945 (though a different account places it in 1941).

Read more at: IFLscience

Moon Mountain Name Honors NASA Mathematician Melba Mouton

Scientists recently named a mesa-like lunar mountain that towers above the landscape carved by craters near the Moon’s South Pole. This unique feature will now be referred to as “Mons Mouton,” after NASA mathematician and computer programmer Melba Roy Mouton (MOO-tawn). Members of NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) mission proposed the name to the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The flat-topped mountain is adjacent to the western rim of the Nobile Crater, on which VIPER will land and explore during its approximately 100-day mission as part of NASA’s Artemis program.

Read more at: NASA

MIT Scientists Design AI That Could Predict Rare Disasters, Like Bridge Collapses And Rogue Waves

In 1995, the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth II was sailing off the coast of Newfoundland. The ship’s crew and passengers were caught in the teeth of a hurricane. The seas were a roiling mass, jostling the boat back and forth. 

As his crew struggled to keep the boat afloat and the passengers huddled inside their cabins, Captain Ronald Warwick saw a wall of white rise before the boat. It seemed, he later recalled, as if the boat were heading straight for the White Cliffs of Dover. In horror, he realized this wall was not a landmass, but a wave dozens of feet high.

Read more at: Bigthink

Leonardo Noted Link Between Gravity And Acceleration Before Newton, Galileo

Caltech engineer Mory Gharib was poring over the digitized notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci one day, looking for sketches of flow visualization to share with his graduate students for inspiration. That’s when he noticed several small sketches of triangles, whose geometry seemed to be determined by grains of sand poured out from a jar. Further investigation revealed that Leonardo was attempting to study the nature of gravity, and the little triangles were his attempt to draw a link between gravity and acceleration—well before Isaac Newton came up with his laws of motion, and centuries before Albert Einstein would demonstrate the equivalence principle with his general theory of relativity. [Edited for clarity.] Gharib was even able to re-create a modern version of the experiment.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Colonization Of Mars Practically Impossible, Says Greek-American Space Expert

Greek-American space exploration scientist Dr Stamatios Krimigis told a TV interview on Thursday that the colonization of Mars is practically impossible, at least for the next 200 years.

Speaking to journalist Nikos Chatzinikolaou on Greek private network Ant1 TV, Dr Krimigis opined that Elon Musk, a passionate advocate of the colonization of Mars, hasn’t realized the actual difficulties of such a venture.

“Manned missions for visit and exploration, that is something else, but colonization, certainly not,” the acclaimed space expert said.

Read more at: greekreporter

SpaceX Starship Launch Date Potentially Revealed In NASA Calendar

SpaceX’s highly anticipated Starship orbital flight test just got tentative launch data courtesy of a NASA calendar. The company has picked up the pace on conducting full scale tests this year, and January saw it fill the vehicle up with propellant as part of a wet dress rehearsal. After this, earlier this week, SpaceX finally attempted to fire up all 33 engines on the 230 feet tall Super Heavy booster.

The test was almost a complete success since it met the time duration and saw 31 engines fully light up. It came a day after SpaceX president Ms. Gwynne Shotwell announced that her firm would not only conduct the hot fire test but also make an orbital flight attempt next month. SpaceX chief Mr. Elon Musk later reiterated Ms. Shotwell’s timeline, and now we have a tentative date courtesy of NASA’s WB-57 plane.

Read more at: wccftech

SpaceX Breaks Launch Pad Turnaround Record With Midnight Mission

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket hauled 55 more Starlink internet satellites into orbit just after midnight Sunday from Cape Canaveral, breaking a record for the shortest time between missions — five days — from the same SpaceX launch pad.

The mission was SpaceX’s 10th launch of the year, a pace of one launch every four days since Jan. 1. SpaceX is aiming to launch up to 100 Falcon rocket missions this year from launch pads in Florida and California, while teams in Texas ready for the first orbital test flight of the company’s giant new Starship launch vehicle.

Read more at: spaceflightnow