Satellite Photos Show Iran Had Another Failed Space Launch

Iran likely suffered another failed launch of a satellite-carrying rocket while attempting to reinvigorate a program criticized by the West, even as Tehran faces last-minute negotiations with world powers to save its tattered nuclear deal in Vienna.

Satellite images from Maxar Technologies seen by The Associated Press show scorch marks at a launch pad at Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran’s rural Semnan province on Sunday. A rocket stand on the pad appears scorched and damaged, with vehicles surrounding it. An object, possibly part of the gantry, sits near it.

Read more at: APnews

Experts: Russian Move To Hold Up Oneweb Launch May Affect Entire Space Industry

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine hit the space industry harder Wednesday after Russian space agency Roscosmos said it would hold up a satellite launch for a British company — which experts say may completely shift the industry away from Russia.

OneWeb, a communications satellite company partly owned by the British government, intended to launch 36 satellites Friday on a Russian Soyuz rocket. But Roscosmos issued a statement Tuesday saying the launch was in doubt.

Read more at: UPI

Biden Announces Sanctions Targeting Russia’s Space Program

President Biden said Thursday the United States is imposing new sanctions against Russia, including measures that will “degrade” the country’s space program, in response to Russian military attacks on Ukraine.

So far, operations and training for future missions on the International Space Station are proceeding without interruption, according to NASA. The space station, an investment of more than $100 billion in U.S. taxpayer funding, has been continuously staffed by U.S. and Russian crew members since 2000.

NASA said in a statement that the new export control measures against Russia announced Thursday “will continue to allow U.S.-Russia civil space cooperation.”

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

NASA’s Artemis 1 Moon Mission, 1st Flight Of New Megarocket, Won’t Launch Until May

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Avoiding Satellite Collisions: NOAA Unveils Prototype Warning System

A new collision-warning system could help satellite operators sleep a little easier. The prototype system, developed by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is designed to alert operators when their spacecraft may be on a collision course with another object. That’s a real and growing concern, given how crowded Earth orbit is becoming. The system, which was demonstrated in a webcast press conference on Feb. 11, is called the Open-Architecture Data Repository (OADR). It’s a cloud database that keeps tabs on the growing population in Earth orbit and warns if there’s a danger of a collision, just as you might get a weather warning if you’re in the path of a storm.

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The Moon Could Soon Have A Space Junk Problem

On 4 March, a discarded rocket booster will slam into Hertzsprung Crater on the far side of the Moon—humanity’s first known piece of litter to unintentionally reach the lunar surface. Skywatchers originally thought the booster was part of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched in 2015. But now they say it is part of a Chinese Long March 3C rocket that blasted off in 2014. 

The confusion surrounding the booster’s origins illustrates just how hard it is to track space junk in the vicinity of the Moon. With many countries and companies preparing to head to the Moon and beyond in the coming years, researchers are bracing for the problem of lunar pollution to grow. Here’s what they’re doing to prepare.

Read more at: Science

China Casts Doubt On Origin Of Rocket Debris About To Slam Into The Moon

China claims that a piece of distant space debris that’s about to slam into the Moon does not stem from one of the nation’s lunar missions, as astronomers tracking the object believe. However, it’s possible that China may have mixed up which mission the debris originally came from, as most evidence points to it being an old Chinese rocket.

This doomed space object has received quite a lot of attention over the last few weeks, ever since an astronomer and space tracker by the name of Bill Gray first predicted that it would slam into the Moon on March 4th after years of orbiting the Earth. 

Read more at: Verge

Looming Rocket Impact Forecasts Trouble for Future Lunar Exploration

On March 4 a four-metric-ton spent rocket stage will end its uncontrolled, 7.5-year voyage through space with a flourish: it will slam into the far side of the moon, close to the 570-kilometer-wide crater Hertzsprung, at about 9,300 kilometers per hour, creating a modest crater of its own. Earth is no stranger to space junk falling from the sky, most of which burns up in the atmosphere or splashes down into the ocean. But the idea that a sizable piece of humanity’s trash is going to litter the moon has fostered disquiet around the globe.

Read more at: Scientific American

NOAA Seeking Information On Commercial Space Situational Awareness Data

The Commerce Department is seeking information on commercial sources of space situational awareness (SSA) data to augment its own space traffic management capabilities.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a request for information (RFI) Feb. 16 seeking details about commercial data for tracking space objects. NOAA is interested in observations of debris and satellites, trajectory information and conjunction assessments. Responses are due to NOAA March 21.

NOAA says it is looking for commercial data that can fill gaps in existing government data provided primarily by the U.S. Space Force.

Read more at: Spacenews


NASA Awards SpaceX Three Additional Commercial Crew Missions

NASA ordered three more commercial crew missions to the International Space Station from SpaceX Feb. 28 at a price of more than three-quarters of a billion dollars.

NASA formally announced a modification of its existing Commercial Crew Transportation Capability, or CCtCap, contract with SpaceX. The modification adds three missions to the original six operational, or post-certification, missions to the International Space Station covered by the original contract awarded in 2014.

The NASA announcement did not disclose the value of the contract modification, only that the total value of the contract was now $3.49 billion. 

Read more at: Spacenews

China’s Rocket Startup: Not A Replica Of SpaceX

China’s private aerospace sector didn’t start to develop until 2014 when a national guideline came out that opened up the construction of civil aviation infrastructure with the help of social capital. 

CGTN sat down with Xia Dongkun, the co-founder and vice president of one of China’s private rocket developers Galactic Energy, and discussed the development of China’s private aerospace sector and his expectations of the industry ahead of the upcoming Two Sessions.

Read more at: CGTN

SpaceX Responds To NASA’s Concerns Over Starlink Collisions In Outer Space: ‘The Reliability Of The Satellite Network Is Currently Higher Than 99%’

Read more at: Business insider

Rocket Lab Aims To Break In New Launch Pad With Next Space Mission

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Artemis I Still On Track For Major Test In March

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Likely To Launch NASA Telescope After ULA Skips Competition

On the heels of what will likely be NASA’s most significant telescope launch for at least a decade, the space agency appears to be about to select the launch provider for its next most expensive space telescope – a contract that SpaceX seems all but guaranteed to win.

Tory Bruno, CEO of the United Launch Alliance (ULA), revealed on February 15th that SpaceX’s chief competitor won’t even attempt to compete for the contract to launch NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (NGRST; formerly the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope or WFIRST).

Read more at: Teslarati

Spaced Out? The Impact Of Spaceflight On The Brain

Time in space ‘rewires’ the brains of astronauts, a new study has revealed. The research, published in Frontiers in Neural Circuits, is the first to analyse structural connectivity changes in the brain after long-duration spaceflight. Led by Floris Wuyts of the University of Antwerp, Belgium, the researchers acquired diffusion MRI (dMRI) scans of 12 male astronauts before and just after their spaceflights. They also collected eight follow-up scans seven months after flight. Each of the astronauts had spent an average of 172 days in space.

Read more at: Cosmosmagazine

Skycorp To Test “USB For Space” Cable Outside ISS

Skycorp Inc., a California company focused on orbital logistics, is preparing to test a key component of future satellite servicing vehicles on the International Space Station.

Within days testing will begin of the robotic connector developed by Germany’s iBoss GmbH to transmit power and data like a computer’s USB cable, alongside a Skycorp computer and a radiation sensor built by Space Environmental Technologies and jointly funded by the Defense Department and NASA Science Mission Directorate.

If successful, tests of the iBoss Intelligence Space Systems Interface will help pave the way for on-orbit servicing, assembly and manufacturing, Dennis Wingo, Skycorp founder and CEO, told SpaceNews.

Read more at: Spacenews

NASA Selects Futuristic Space Technology Concepts for Early Study

An astronaut steps into a body scanner and, hours later, walks on Mars in a custom-made spacesuit, breathing oxygen that was extracted from Mars’ carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere. On Venus, an inflatable bird-like drone swoops through the sky, studying the planet’s atmosphere and weather patterns. Ideas like these are currently science fiction, but they could one day become reality, thanks to a new round of grants awarded by NASA.

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program fosters exploration by funding early-stage studies to evaluate technologies that could support future aeronautics and space missions. A new slate of awards will provide a total of $5.1 million to 17 researchers from nine states.

Read more at: NASA


First Four Artemis Flights Will Cost $4.1 Billion Each, Nasa Ig Tells Congress

NASA Inspector General Paul Martin told a congressional subcommittee today that each of the first four Artemis missions will cost $4.1 billion and projected the agency will spend $53 billion on Artemis from FY2021-2025. Even at that, he predicts the first astronauts will not return to the Moon until at least 2026. Other witnesses at the House hearing forecast dates between 2025 and 2027, but the hearing overall was strongly supportive of Artemis and its ultimate goal of putting people on Mars.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Russia Crisis Could Sink the International Space Station

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could jettison NASA’s plan to extend the operating life of the International Space Station — and could even spell its more imminent demise.

Russian space agency Roscosmos said Tuesday that it has authority to operate for only two more years and “the issue of extending the agreement in the current conditions causes our skepticism.”

Backing out of the partnership could be catastrophic for NASA and its other international partners, which are heavily dependent on Moscow for key sections of the orbiting laboratory and to carry out resupply, power generation and even boost the station’s altitude to prevent it from crashing to Earth.

Read more at: Politico

The European Space Agency Wants To Be Able To Launch Its Own Astronauts

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Romania Signs the Artemis Accords

Romania became the 16th country to sign the NASA-led Artemis Accords for cooperation in space exploration March 1.

Marius-Ioan Piso, the longtime head of the Romanian Space Agency, signed the accords in a ceremony in Bucharest attended in person by David Muniz, the U.S. chargé d’affaires to Romania, and virtually by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

NASA announced the Artemis Accords in October 2020 with eight countries, including the U.S., as initial signatories. The document outlines principles for cooperation in space exploration, from sharing of data to rights to utilize space resources. Romania and seven other countries, a mix of traditional and emerging space partners, have joined the Accords since then.

Read more at: Spacenews

Ex-Official: Space Station ‘Largely Isolated’ From Tensions

Tensions in eastern Ukraine and heightened Western fears of a Russian invasion should not have a significant impact on the International Space Station or U.S.-Russia cooperation in space, the former head of the National Space Council told The Associated Press.

Four NASA astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts and one European astronaut are currently on the space station.

Read more at: ABC news


US Officials See Security Risks In China’s Space Advances 

China gaining the upper hand in space could pose an existential threat to U.S. national security, officials said at the U.S. Space Force Association’s ‘Lasso the Moon’ conference in Houston on Monday. 

“Whoever leads in space sets the rules. And I for one don’t want the Chinese Communist Party setting our rules,” said Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), who attended the conference virtually due to a weeklong illness.

The U.S., China and Russia have for years been jostling for power in space. China has recently teaming up with Russia for a slate of space missions and initiatives, including plans for a research base on the moon. 

Read more at: Hill

Ukraine’s Proud Space Industry Faces Obliteration, But Country’s Former Space Chief Has Hope For The Future

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Russia Space Agency Head Says Satellite Hacking Would Justify War -Report

Russia will treat any hacking of its satellites as a justification for war, the head of the country’s space agency was quoted as saying in a news report on Wednesday.

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin denied media reports that Russian satellite control centres have already been hacked amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, while warning against any attempts to do so, Interfax news agency reported.

“Offlining the satellites of any country is actually a casus belli, a cause for war,” Interfax quoted him as saying.

Read more at: Reuters

Department of Defense and Partners Release Combined Space Operations Vision 2031

The United States joins Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom in the joint release of the “Combined Space Operations (CSpO) Vision 2031” today.

CSpO is an initiative to address the overarching need to encourage responsible use of space, recognizing challenges to space sustainability, threats presented by technological advances, and the increasingly comprehensive and aggressive counterspace programs of other nation states. The “CSpO Vision 2031” outlines the initiative’s overarching purpose and highlights its guiding principles, including: freedom of use of space, responsible and sustainable use of space, partnering while recognizing sovereignty, and upholding international law.

Read more at: Spaceforce

U.S. Space Command Needs Help Identifying Hostile Intent In Space

If Russia or any other actor were to intentionally interfere with U.S. satellites, it would be difficult to identify the aggressor, said the top commander of U.S. military space operations. 

“The challenge in the space domain is determining intent,” Gen. James Dickinson, commander of U.S. Space Command, said Feb. 23. 

Dickinson spoke at the National Security Space Association’s Defense and Intelligence Space Conference via video conference from Colorado Springs. 

Read more at: Spacenews

What’s Next for Space Force Uniforms: Tweaked Collars, Less Baggy Pants, Supply Chain Problems

It’s been more than five months since Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond unveiled the Space Force’s first prototype service dress uniforms to the world at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference.

Since then, members of the Air Force Uniform Office have been busy entering what director Tracy Roan called a “true development cycle,” making subtle tweaks, correcting fits, and incorporating Guardians’ feedback.

Still, it will likely be quite some time before the uniform is officially rolled out, Roan told Air Force Magazine in an interview.

Read more at: Airforce mag


Richard Branson & Chamath Palihapitiya Sued Over Alleged Insider Trading of Virgin Galactic Stock

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How Russia’s War In Ukraine Hinders Space Research And Exploration

Space exploration may seem like a faraway endeavor from Earth’s surface, but events on the ground ripple into space. The Russian war on Ukraine is no exception.

From a rocket launch system to a rover set to explore Mars, a wide range of space missions is facing postponements or cancelations due to escalating tensions on the ground in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion into Ukraine on February 24. The European Union, United States and others have imposed sanctions on Russia; Russia, as a result, is continually changing and canceling its space-related plans. The shifts are having an impact on everything from international collaborations to missions that rely on Russian rockets to get to space.

Read more at: Sciencenews

British Rocket Startup’s Staff Helping Defend Dnipro, Ukraine’s Space City

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The Kessler Syndrome

Of all the human-made satellites in low-Earth orbit, 95% are space junk – rocket thrusters, derelict satellites, and fragments of debris from collisions and explosions. All this debris poses a potential threat to active satellites and the future of space travel if we don’t find a way to clean it up. We’ve seen the dangers of space junk over the past year: in May 2021 a large, uncontrolled piece of debris from China’s Long March 5B rocket hurtled back to Earth, and in June the International Space Station’s robotic arm was punctured by a mystery piece of space junk in a “lucky strike” that thankfully didn’t impact operations or any of the seven astronauts aboard.

Read more at: Cosmos magazine

The Dark Side Of Online Space Disinformation

Theoretical cosmologist Katie Mack spends a lot of time on Twitter. Mack, at North Carolina State University, joined the platform to talk about science under the moniker “Astro Katie” more than 10 years ago. Since then, her fun and informative posts about space have earned her nearly half a million followers. Unfortunately, she says, there are many other astronomy-themed Twitter accounts sharing misleading or downright wrong information. From doctored images to sinister conspiracy theories, Mack has seen it all.

Read more at: Science

Stunning Photo Captures Space Station Crossing The Moon In Jaw-Dropping Detail

Thierry Legault pointed his camera up at the night sky and waited for the International Space Station to cross in front of the moon.

Then, like a water strider on a pond, the Earth-orbiting laboratory skated over the pool of lunar light. He had a half-second to get the shot. Click.

Legault caught a spectacular picture of the spaceship on Jan. 18, with the crusty, mottled moon in full form behind it. The silhouette of the space station is so clear, observers can make out a faint grid pattern on its solar panel arrays. The attached SpaceX Crew-3 spacecraft, which brought up NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, as well as European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer in November, is easily identifiable.

Read more at: Mashable