NASA Engineers Rally To Save Voyager 1, The Icon Of Space Exploration

NASA engineers are undertaking their last rounds of efforts in a final push to re-establish communication with Voyager 1. As the second-longest operating spacecraft in history, Voyager 1 has ventured more than 24 billion kilometers (15 billion miles) from Earth, securing its place as the farthest-traveled object crafted by humanity.

NASA announced in a statement that since mid-November 2023, the interstellar Voyager 1 probe has encountered difficulties transmitting data gathered by its scientific instruments back to Earth.

Read more at: interesting engineering


See The Massive Solar Flares The Sun Spit Out This Week

The Sun put on a firework show this weekend, emitting one powerful X-class flare and at least one other intense burst of radiation.Thankfully, NOAA and NASA spacecraft are constantly watching the Sun, and we can see amazing images of hot materials spewing out into space.Solar flares are eruptions of radiation from the Sun that send powerful bursts of energy and hot material out into the universe. Powerful solar flares can cause high-frequency radio blackouts in the polar regions and pose risks to space launches and spacecraft orbiting Earth. However, most people do not need to be concerned as these energetic particles do not reach low enough into Earth’s atmosphere to affect the public.

Read more at: foxweather

17 Years After its Launch Into Space, ISRO Successfully Brings Down Imaging Satellite Cartostat-2

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully de-orbited and crashed its high-resolution imaging satellite Cartosat-2 on the Indian Ocean on February 14, four years after the satellite completed its mission life.

The satellite was expected to take about 30 years to naturally de-orbit after its mission but ISRO opted to incrementally lower its perigee (the point in its orbit where it is closest to the earth) using the leftover fuel.

Read more at: republic world

Scientists Issue Update On When Doomed Satellite Will Hit Earth But Still Have No Idea Where It Will Land

A satellite is going to come crashing back down to Earth in the next week and despite scientists issuing an update, they still have no idea where it will land. Now that would be a sight to open up your curtains to in the morning… Back in April 1995, the European Remote Sensing 2 (ERS-2) satellite was sent up into space and at that time, was the most sophisticated Earth observation spacecraft ever developed in Europe.

Working with the practically identical ERS-1, it collected a load of valuable data on Earth’s land surfaces, oceans and polar caps and was called upon to monitor natural disasters such as severe flooding or earthquakes in remote parts of the world.

Read more at: ladbible

SpaceX Takes A Proactive Step Toward Responsible Behavior In Orbit

SpaceX announced this week that it will voluntarily bring down about 100 of its first-generation Starlink satellites, which provide broadband Internet from low-Earth orbit, as part of its commitment to “space sustainability.”

The satellites are presently operational and serving Internet customers. However, in a statement, the company said, “The Starlink team identified a common issue in this small population of satellites that could increase the probability of failure in the future.”

Read more at: arstechnica

Can We Refuel ‘Dead’ Satellites In Space? Bold New Missions Aim To Try.

Running out of gas is annoying at the best of times, let alone if you’re a satellite traveling at speeds of up to 17,500 mph (28,200 km/h) high above Earth’s surface. At the moment, a satellite that burns through all its fuel simply becomes space junk, adding to the vast debris field surrounding our planet.”It’s the equivalent of buying a car with one tank of fuel in it, and you throw the car away when you run out of that fuel,” Ray Fielding, head of space sustainability at the UK Space Agency, told Live Science. Often, the satellites are perfectly functional and just lack the fuel to maneuver around debris, he added

Read more at: livescience

NASA Explains How It Would Alert The Public Of An Apocalyptic Asteroid Strike

When the Chicxulub impactor, a six-mile-wide asteroid, struck Earth 66 million years ago, the dinosaurs had no warning.

If an asteroid that size hit Earth today, a shock wave two million times more powerful than a hydrogen bomb would flatten forests and trigger tsunamis. A seismic pulse equal to a magnitude 10 earthquake would crumble cities. And long after the impact, a cloud of hot dust, ash, and steam would blot out the sun, plunging the Earth into freezing cold.

Read more at: yahoo

Stark Pictures Show Doomed 5,000lb ‘Star Wars’ Satellite Hurtling Towards Earth As It’s Set To Crash In Just TWO Days

THE UK Space Agency is on high alert after pictures emerged of a Star Wars-esque satellite hurtling towards Earth.

Scientists expect the doomed 5,000lb satellite will crash into our planet in a matter of days, but have no idea where it will land.

European Remote Sensing 2 satellite (ERS-2) may re-enter Earth’s atmosphere about noon on Wednesday, if scientists’ latest guess is correct. But it could also return up to 27 hours before or after, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). Data from Monday indicated the crash to Earth would take place at 5:26 pm ET on February 19.

Read more at: the Sun


SpaceX’s Starship Should Break NASA’s Spaceflight Record Soon Says Musk

After a brief lull during which it developed multiple rockets capable of conducting test flights, SpaceX is back as it has shipped its booster and ship for the third Starship integrated flight test (IFT-3). The delay between the second and third Starship test flights, which initially appeared to be heading towards being much shorter than the one between IFT-2 and IFT-1, has started to creep up as mid February approaches without any concrete information about a timeline.

However, soon after the FAA shared that SpaceX is yet to meet documentary requirements for third license approval, the firm shared the latest images of its new rockets that will mark yet another step in a campaign seeking to develop the world’s first pure play interplanetary transport system. At the same time, SpaceX chief Elon Musk believes that his next generation rocket will be able to reach the Moon in five years.

Read more at: wccftech

An Astronomer’s Lament: Satellite Megaconstellations Are Ruining Space Exploration

I used to love rocket launches when I was younger. During every launch, I imagined what it would feel like to be an astronaut sitting in the spacecraft, listening to that final countdown and then feeling multiple gees push me up through the atmosphere and away from our blue marble.

But as I learned more about the severe limitations of human spaceflight, I turned my attention to the oldest and most accessible form of space exploration: the science of astronomy.

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Iridium Adds Five Years To Constellation Lifetime Estimate

Iridium Communications expects to get another five years out of its satellites, pushing out any need to complete a replenishment of the L-band connectivity constellation to at least 2035.

The 80 satellites in the operator’s second-generation Iridium Next low Earth orbit (LEO) constellation, launched from 2017-2019 apart from five spares lofted last year, came with a 12.5-year design life from their prime contractor, Thales Alenia Space.

Speaking during Iridium’s Feb. 15 quarterly earnings call, CEO Matt Desch said a recent engineering assessment “prompted us to update the constellation’s estimated life, which we now believe will perform well to at least 2035.”

Read more at: spacenews

India Targets A Surge In Civil And Commercial Launches

India is planning up to 30 launches over a 15-months period, indicating the ambition for a significant rise in both civil and commercial launch activities.

The launch plans are a mix of scientific, commercial, user-funded and technology demonstration missions across the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2023-24 and the fiscal year 2024-25. Seven test launches will serve India’s Gaganyaan human spaceflight project, with nine others under the aegis of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Read more at: spacenews

Airbus Confirms Onesat Satellite Programme Hit By Major Charges

Airbus confirmed on Thursday that the OneSat family of commercial telecom satellites had been swept up in financial charges at its Space business.

In November, Airbus announced 400 million euros of charges related to unidentified satellite programmes at the nine-month stage, mostly taken in the third quarter. Industry sources said at the time that these notably included the OneSat family.
On Thursday, Airbus added another 200 million of charges, bringing last year’s total to 600 million euros.

Read more at: reuters

Lockheed Martin Ramping Up Small Satellite Production

Lockheed Martin is experiencing a growth spurt in an unexpected corner of its business: small satellites. While traditionally known for its expertise in GPS and giant geostationary (GEO) satellites, the company has quietly built a backlog of 100 smallsats on order from Department of Defense and intelligence customers.

“This is probably a different picture than many of you may have in our minds” about what the company does, Johnathon Caldwell, head of Lockheed Martin’s military space business, told a military conference Feb. 14.

Read more at: spacenews

Spacex’s $100M Starbase Industrial Factory “Already Well Underway:” Elon Musk

SpaceX is expanding its South Texas operations with a $100 million project at its Starbase complex in Brownsville. The project, simply called “SpaceX Starbase Office,” will see the construction of an industrial complex that would be large enough to fit 15 football fields.

Details filed with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation shed light on the project’s scope. As per SpaceX’s filings, the project will be located at 52190 San Martin Blvd. in Brownsville, at the SpaceX launch facility in Boca Chica Beach, as noted in a report from Valley Central.

Read more at: teslarati


First U.S.-India Joint Space Mission Will Deliver Hyper-Detailed View Of Earth

An upcoming satellite mission will provide a first-of-its-kind, hyper-detailed view of Earth — and a glimpse of how shifting geopolitics on the ground may play out in space.Why it matters: Earth-observing is now a key space capability for countries. The technology helps answer crucial questions about the impacts of climate change and guide officials in managing resources and disaster response.The NASA-Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission is the largest and first truly joint collaboration in space between the U.S. and India.It comes as the two countries deepen their scientific ties more broadly.

Read more at: Axios

After A Decade And $1.2 Billion, NASA Reveals Its Booty From Bennu: 121 Grams

After years of speculation, NASA finally revealed on Thursday the totality of the asteroid sample returned from Bennu to Earth last fall: 4.29 ounces (121.6 grams).

To put that number into perspective, the total mass is only slightly more than one-half cup of sugar or a box of 100 paper clips. It’s about the same mass as a small avocado, and you can’t even smear it on toast.

Read more at: Arstechnica

A view of eight sample trays containing the final material from asteroid Bennu.

China Wants To Send Plants, Microbes And Lunar Resource Experiments To The Moon In 2028

An upcoming Chinese lunar mission will carry a small ecosystem and other payloads to test using lunar resources later this decade.China’s Chang’e 8 mission is a precursor mission for a moon base, named the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) that the country wants to build with partners in the 2030s. Chang’e 8 will test key technologies needed to make the ILRS sustainable.The China National Space Administration (CNSA) revealed details of Chang’e 8’s planned payloads in a solicitation for domestic expressions of interest in developing the payloads released on Feb. 7. Notably, these include in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) and terrestrial ecosystem experiments.

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China Eyes May 2024 Launch For 1st-Ever Lunar Sample-Return Mission To Moon’s Far Side

Engineers working on China’s Chang’e-6 mission have foregone family reunions over the Lunar New Year to help get the spacecraft ready for launch.

The components of the complex Chang’e-6 moon sample return mission arrived at Wenchang spaceport on Hainan island in early January. There, a team of engineers and researchers, many with extensive experience from the 2020 Chang’e-5 mission, is intensively testing and adjusting the equipment, according to a China Central Television (CCTV) report.

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NASA’s Solar Sail Is So Close to Harnessing Sunlight for Propulsion

Deep space missions are many things, but “cheap” is not one of them. It takes a lot of money to get a spacecraft (along with a lifetime supply of fuel) beyond Earth’s orbit. Luckily, NASA (along with its space subcontractor, Redwire) have developed a solution that’ll help lighten the load and the cost—a solar sail.

On January 30, 2024, Redwire officially deployed one quadrant of its solar sail at its Colorado-based facility, proving that the technology is now ready for space missions.

Read more at: popular mechanics

Water Found On The Surface Of An Asteroid For The 1st Time Ever

Water molecules have been detected on the surface of an asteroid for the first time, revealing new clues about the distribution of water in our solar system.

Scientists studied four silicate-rich asteroids using data gathered by the now-retired Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a telescope-outfitted plane operated by NASA and the German Aerospace Center.

Observations by SOFIA’s Faint Object InfraRed Camera (FORCAST) instrument showed that two of the asteroids — named Iris and Massalia — exhibit a specific wavelength of light that indicated the presence of water molecules at their surface, a new study reports.

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Surgery In Space: Tiny Remotely Operated Robot Completes First Simulated Procedure At The Space Station

A tiny surgical robot in residence at the International Space Station completed its first surgery demo in zero gravity on Saturday, developers of the technology exclusively told CNN.

The robot, known as spaceMIRA — which stands for Miniaturized In Vivo Robotic Assistant — performed several operations on simulated tissue at the orbiting laboratory while remotely operated by surgeons from approximately 250 miles (400 kilometers) below in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Read more at: CNN


Lawmakers Warned of International Space Station Transition Gap

The U.S. is at risk of losing its leadership role to China in low-Earth orbit (LEO) space activities if it fails to manage the transition to a commercial space economy, according to space station developers.

At a U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology subcommittee hearing on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., lawmakers were warned about there being no clear path toward ensuring that NASA’s aging International Space Station (ISS) can be deorbited after 2030—its designated end-of-life year.

Read more at: flyingmag

Uruguay Becomes Latest Nation To Join NASA’s Artemis Accords

Uruguay signed NASA’s Artemis Accords on Thursday, making it the 36th signatory to the U.S. pact that defines principles for the safe exploration of space.

The accords were signed by Uruguayan Foreign Minister Omar Paganini at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., with dignitaries, including NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay Heide Fulton and State Department Assistant Secretary Kevin Sullivan, looking on.

Read more at: upi

Industry Seeks More Resources, Policy Changes To Support Transition From ISS To Commercial Space Stations

Executives with two companies developing commercial space stations called on NASA and Congress to take fiscal and policy steps to avoid a space station gap they feared could cede leadership in low Earth orbit to China.

Speaking at a Feb. 14 hearing of the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee, representatives of Axiom Space and Voyager Space said more funding was needed to ensure a smooth transition from the ISS to commercial stations, along with policy measures to ensure the ISS does not undermine the business case for those stations.

Read more at: spacenews

US Space Science Could Fall Behind China If Private Successors To ISS Are Delayed, Congress Warns

NASA risks ceding ground to China in space research if there is no ready replacement for the International Space Station, lawmakers said in a hearing on Wednesday (Feb. 14).

China’s burgeoning space program and its Tiangong space station were raised repeatedly in remarks during a livestreamed U.S. House subcommittee hearing considering the future of space research and the International Space Station (ISS), which is expected to be retired in 2030.

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FAA Space Report – February 16, 2024

Register On Site at FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference Feb. 21-22
Join hundreds of others from across the commercial space industry to discuss launch infrastructure, international developments, the space economy, U.S. legislative updates, space science, Moon missions, the future of low-Earth orbit, and many other topics. Attendees will leave with an improved understanding of the policy landscape and an enhanced network of professionals within the industry. The conference is hosted in partnership with the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. On site registration is available.

Read more at: US FAA

After 8 Months Stuck In Orbit, Varda’s Drug Spacecraft Gets FAA Approval To Return

Space startup Varda received long-awaited approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to bring its first spacecraft back to earth after a stint manufacturing drugs in space.

Varda’s small W-Series 1 capsule, or W-1, has been stuck in orbit since it launched eight months ago. The company has awaited regulatory authorization to make a landing attempt in Utah, at the Air Force’s Utah Test and Training Range. The FAA confirmed on Wednesday it had issued the license to Varda.

Read more at: CNBC


Blue Canyon To Deliver Spacecraft For U.S. Air Force Cislunar Mission

Blue Canyon Technologies is preparing to deliver a spacecraft designed for the U.S. Air Force to demonstrate the capabilities of maneuverable satellites in deep space.

The company, a subsidiary of defense and aerospace contractor RTX, expects to soon complete production and testing of Oracle-M, an Air Force Research Laboratory experiment intended to fly beyond Earth’s orbit to test satellite mobility and navigation capabilities in the cislunar region of space.

Read more at: spacenews

White House Breaks Silence on Russian Anti-Satellite Weapon

The White House publicly confirmed that Russia has obtained a “troubling” emerging anti-satellite weapon, but National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Thursday it cannot directly cause “physical destruction” on Earth.

On Wednesday, Republican Representative Mike Turner issued a statement calling on President Joe Biden to declassify information relating to a “serious national security threat.”

Read more at: Newsweek

How The US Is Preparing To Fight — And Win — A War In Space

Capt. Even Rogers had the best job at the first large-scale war games focused on space, conducted by the US military in 2017. He got to be the bad guy.

Most of the military’s work in space had been about maintaining infrastructure in orbit, not reacting to attacks in real time. Worried about deepening tensions with Russia and China in 2016, Congress had asked the Pentagon to up its readiness. Serving in what was then the US Air Force’s 527th Space Aggressor Squadron, Rogers was the Red Team lead — tasked with studying how America’s rivals might fight a war in space and turning those tactics against his comrades to prepare them for potential conflicts.

Read more at: vox

Russia’s Space Weapon: Is It Nuclear And Does It Pose A Threat?

The US government has privately warned lawmakers and European allies that Russia plans to launch a space weapon with possible nuclear capabilities, according to a flurry of reports.

The news broke after Mike Turner, chairman of the US House Intelligence Committee, issued a vague warning about a “serious national security threat” and urged US president Joe Biden to “declassify all information relating to this threat” for the purpose of more public discussions. Since then, news reports have revealed additional details about what the Russian mystery weapon might be. Here is what we know so far.

Read more at: newscientist

US Blasts HBTSS To Counter Russian Plans Of ‘Blowing Up’ The Space & Neutralizing Its Military Edge

Amid the burgeoning threat from hypersonic weapons fielded by its adversaries, the Pentagon announced that the Space Development Agency (SDA) and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) successfully launched six satellites, including MDA’s Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS), on February 14.

A statement published by the US Department of Defense (DoD) noted, “The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Space Development Agency (SDA) confirmed the successful launch of six satellites to low-Earth orbit at 5:30 p.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.”

Read more at: eurasiantimes


Commercializing Mars Exploration Could Be NASA’s Best Bet

Ars Technica recently reported that NASA has issued a request for a proposal to private companies for commercial Mars missions. The space agency apparently intends to apply the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) approach to exploring Mars.

Taken to its logical conclusion, NASA could upend the historical model of going to Mars just as it has with going back to the moon.

Read more at: thehill

The Secret to SpaceX’s $10 Million Starship, and How SpaceX Will Dominate Space for Years to Come

Elon Musk wants to revolutionize spaceflight — and lower the cost of a space launch by nearly 99%. In 2010, SpaceX’s founder and CEO took a first step toward this goal with the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket. Priced at $61 million, Falcon 9 cost just 15% the price charged for the Delta IV Heavy rockets ($400 million) it competed with. And in 2018, ahead of the first launch of an improved “Block 5” Falcon 9, Musk promised to lower the cost to less than $5 million.

Read more at: yahoo

After an Explosive First Attempt, Japan Will Try Again to Launch the H3 Rocket

The H3 rocket—11 years in the making—is set for its second launch, following a flubbed debut in March 2023. Japan urgently needs the rocket to succeed, with a second failure risking further delays and monumental headaches for Japan’s space program.

H3 is ready to fly again after its botched maiden launch last year, with Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) targeting Wednesday, February 14 at 7:22 p.m. ET (Thursday, February 15 at 9:22 a.m. JST). The two-stage rocket, assisted by two side boosters, will blast off from Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the JAXA Tanegashima Space Center with a dummy payload and two small satellites on board.

Read more at: gizmodo

Cosmonaut Told To Leave Area Immediately After Discovering Blob Growing Outside International Space Station

Earlier this year, experts debunked the mystery of ‘non-human corpses’ and it was revealed that the US government is now taking UFO threats pretty seriously. Elsewhere, NASA recently claimed that Mars could once have been habitable, while researchers stated a human-to-whale conversation could eventually lead to alien contact.

While scientists are yet to announce that little green men do exist, a group of Russians made an interesting out-of-world discovery last year. The collective was on board the International Space Station (ISS) in October 2023 when they were forced to step outside to fix a leaking radiator. The leak was reported by Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, who later scheduled a rescue spacewalk.

Read more at: unilad

‘The Space Race’ Brings An Out-Of-This-World Perspective To Black History Month

The annual influx of Black History Month programming yields an out-of-this-world documentary in “The Space Race,” which recognizes pioneers in integrating the space program, the resistance they faced and even the Soviet Union preceding America in sending a person of color into orbit. From the title to the execution, this National Geographic presentation has the right stuff.

Much of “The Space Race” – directed by Lisa Cortés and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza – will be revelatory to those whose image of the space program and NASA relies heavily on movies like 1983’s “The Right Stuff,” with the all-White Mercury 7 squad.

Read more at: CNN

NASA’s Interstellar Voyager 1 Spacecraft Isn’t Doing So Well — Here’s What We Know

On Dec. 12, 2023, NASA shared some worrisome news about Voyager 1, the first probe to walk away from our solar system’s gravitational party and enter the isolation of interstellar space. Surrounded by darkness, Voyager 1 seems to be glitching.It has been out there for more than 45 years, having supplied us with a bounty of treasure like the discovery of two new moons of Jupiter, another incredible ring of Saturn and the warm feeling that comes from knowing pieces of our lives will drift across the cosmos even after we’re gone. (See: The Golden Record.) But now, Voyager 1’s fate seems to be uncertain.

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Moon Race 2.0: Why So Many Nations And Private Companies Are Aiming For Lunar Landings

The number of astronauts who walked on the Moon hasn’t changed in over 50 years.

Only 12 human beings have had this privilege – all Americans – but that will soon increase. The historical two-nation competition between the US and Soviet space agencies for lunar exploration has become a global pursuit. Launching missions to either orbit the Moon, or land on its surface, is now  carried out by governments and commercial companies from Europe and the Middle East to the South Pacific.

Despite the success of the US Apollo missions between 1969-72, to date only five nations have landed on the Moon. China is one of the most ambitious of the nations with the Moon in its sights.

Read more at: BBC