Blue Origin Successfully Completes Fourth Space Tourism Mission

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin just launched its fourth successful space tourism mission, putting yet another feather in the cap of the company that hopes to make these supersonic joyrides a mainstay of pop culture. The six passengers, which include a Blue Origin engineer and five paying customers, boarded their New Shepard capsule Thursday just after sunrise at the company’s West Texas launch facilities. Boosted by a 60-foot-tall rocket, they soared to more than three times the speed of sound, or more than 2,000 miles per hour. 

Read more at: CNN

SLS Countdown Test On Hold After Second Scrub

After a series of problems scrubbed a second countdown rehearsal for the Space Launch System April 4, NASA will wait until after the launch of a SpaceX mission to the space station before trying again.

NASA halted the wet dress rehearsal (WDR) for the SLS at Launch Complex 39B at about 5 p.m. Eastern April 4. The decision to stop the test came after controllers could not open a vent valve on the mobile launcher required to start loading of liquid hydrogen into the rocket’s core stage. Technicians later found that the valves were physically closed in a way such that they could not be remotely commanded to open.

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Amazon Orders Record Number Of Launches For Kuiper Satellite Constellation

Three top U.S. and European launch service providers have won contracts to launch more than 3,000 satellites for Amazon’s Project Kuiper, a constellation of satellites to provide global high-speed broadband services. It will be a competitor to SpaceX’s better-known Starlink system and SpaceX notably is not included in the deal.

The massive order for up to 83 launches over five years was announced today in conjunction with the Space Symposium  in Colorado Springs, CO. Amazon called it the “largest commercial procurement of space launch services in history.”

Read more at: Spacepolicy online


China’s Cargo Spacecraft Re-Enters Earth’s Atmosphere, Mostly Burns Up

China’s Tianzhou-2 cargo craft entered the Earth’s atmosphere under ground control at 6:40 p.m. Beijing Time, the China Manned Space Agency announced on Thursday.

Most of the spacecraft burned up during the process, while a small amount of the debris fell into the intended area of safe water in the South Pacific, said the agency.

Tianzhou-2 is the first cargo ship sent into space during the construction of China’s space station. It carried out a series of extended application tests in orbit.

Read more at: CN news

Loud Meteor Explosion Shakes Indiana With Surprise Boom

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Getting A Jump On Traffic: The Sudden Urgency Of Government-Industry Partnerships In Space Traffic Management

Some operators of low Earth orbit satellites are bracing for a storm of debris. Russia’s demonstration of an antisatellite weapon last November, destroying the Cosmos 1408 satellite, created thousands of tracked pieces of debris, and many more too small to be tracked.

Much of that debris remains in orbits similar to the satellite, with an inclination of 82.3 degrees. That means the debris can end up running headlong into satellites operating in sun-synchronous orbits at inclinations of 97 degrees.

Read more at: Spacenews

Data | How Rising Space Debris Will Impact ISRO’s Budget

In the latest edition of the Space Situational Assessment report, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has rued the increasing threat of collisions in space due to rising orbital debris. Space debris is a result of tens of thousands of rocket parts from launches, past collisions, defunct satellites, and fragments after anti-satellite weapon strikes (ASAT). While some have re-entered Earth’s atmosphere, many others have continued to orbit Earth and collide with active satellites. Given that the number of launches and payloads peaked in 2021, the crisis has only intensified. Hours have to be spent monitoring the debris to plan manoeuvres to avoid collisions. Also considering the extra fuel spent on such movements, it becomes a costly exercise. India did 19 such corrections in 2021, the highest ever for the country

Read more at: Hindu

SES To Work With Northstar On Space Situational Awareness

Satellite operator SES announced March 31 it is working with Canadian startup NorthStar Earth & Space on developing space situational awareness (SSA) data products to support its fleet of communications satellites.

The companies announced a partnership that will use data collected by NorthStar’s future fleet of spacecraft that will track objects from low Earth orbit to geostationary orbit. The companies will work together to develop SSA products “tailored to benefit SES’s satellite operations and fleet management,” they said in a statement.

SES operates more than 70 satellites, primarily large GEO communications satellites. It also operates the O3b fleet of satellites in medium Earth orbit, which will be augmented by up to 11 mPOWER satellites that will be launched starting later this year.

Read more at: Spacenews

ISRO Experts To Examine Unidentified Objects That Crashed Into Maharashtra’s Chandrapur

Experts from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have taken it upon themselves to inspect the unidentified object which crashed in eastern Maharashtra’s Sindewahi tehsil of Chandrapur district on the night of April 2. A team of two scientists from the space agency visited the crash sites on Friday which were struck by a giant metal ring and six cylinder-like objects. While the source of these objects is still unclear, many claim that the debris is part of China’s Chang Zheng 3B rocket. 

Read more at: Republic world


Florida Company Looks to Revive XCOR’s Lynx Spaceplane as Drone to Launch Satellites

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Head Of U.S. Space Force Launch Operations ‘Watching Starship Closely’

Brig. Gen. Stephen Purdy was in Boca Chica, Texas, last month visiting Starbase. That is SpaceX’s launch and rocket manufacturing and testing facility where the company hopes to operate Starship, the largest rocket ever built. 

Purdy is the commander of Florida’s Eastern Range and also serves as the Space Force’s program executive officer for assured access to space, a new post within the Space Systems Command overseeing launch services procurement for the U.S. military and intelligence agencies. 

Read more at: Spacenews

Virgin Orbit To Launch Maritime Data Satellite From The UK

Virgin Orbit has announced an agreement with The Satellite Applications Catapult (The Catapult) to launch the latest satellite in The Catapult’s In-Orbit Demonstration (IOD) programme into space from the UK later this year.

The satellite, called Amber-1, is a partnership between The Catapult and Horizon Technologies. Built by AAC Clyde Space in Scotland, it will be launched by Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne on its historic flight from Spaceport Cornwall this year – a mission that will mark the first-ever orbital launch from a UK spaceport.

Read more at: Virgin

SpaceX Set For First Private Astronaut Launch To The International Space Station

A flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft have rolled out of SpaceX’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Pad 39A hangar and been raised vertical ahead of the company’s second private astronaut launch

Known as Axiom-1 or Ax-1, the mission – managed by third-party provider Axiom Space – aims to be the first fully private crewed launch to the International Space Station (ISS). That means that Ax-1 will launch a crew of private astronauts from a privately-operated launch site with a privately-owned rocket and spacecraft, all with zero direct government impetus or funding. Of course, the situation is a bit more complex just beneath the surface.

Read more at: Teslarati

Orbital Reef Passes Design Review

Orbital Reef, a commercial space station being developed by a consortium of companies, has completed an initial design review as part of a NASA award.

Blue Origin and Sierra Space, the lead partners in the project, announced April 5 that Orbital Reef completed a system requirements review. The review was one of the first milestones in a $130 million funded Space Act Agreement NASA awarded the companies as part of its Commercial Low Earth Orbit Destinations, or CLD, program.

Read more at: Spacenews

D-Orbit Launches its Fifth ION Satellite Carrier Mission

D-Orbit, the space logistics and orbital transportation company, today launched Spacelust, the fifth mission of the Company’s proprietary ION Satellite Carrier (ION), aboard SpaceX’s Transporter-4 mission. The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off today, April 1, 2022, at 12:24 PM EDT from the Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS), Florida. ION, a versatile and cost-effective orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) designed both to precisely deploy satellites and perform technology demonstrations of third-party payloads in orbit, was successfully deployed at 1:50 PM EDT into a 500 km Sun synchronous orbit (SSO).

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Scientists Claim That The Moon Has Enough Oxygen To Support The Entire Population Of The Earth For 100,000 Years

According to a new study by scientists, the Moon would have enough oxygen to support the lives of 8 billion people (about how many of us are now on Earth) for 100,000 years.

Most of the oxygen on the Moon is “hidden” in and under the rocks above its surface. Also on Earth, oxygen can be found in many minerals and rocks that we can find on the Moon.

For example, silica, aluminum, and iron and magnesium oxides are found almost everywhere on the Moon.

These minerals on the moon contain oxygen, but why is there no life on the Moon if there is so much oxygen?

Read more at: bailey-universe

ESA-Developed P120C Solid Rocket Motor Enters Production

ESA’s Ariane 6 and Vega-C will soon join the family of launch vehicles operating from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana to guarantee more opportunities for Europe to reach space. The P120C motor, which will power both Ariane 6 and Vega-C, will soon come into operations with the Vega-C inaugural flight. The ‘C’ stands for ‘common’ as P120C will be used as the first stage of Vega-C and two or four will be used as strap-on boosters for Ariane 6. To successfully develop a motor for use on two very different launch vehicles is a pivotal achievement of European industry. This strategy reduced development costs, benefits from economies of scale, and creates an opportunity for Europe to scale up production.

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Meet the Lunar Gateway’s Robot Caretakers

An integral part of NASA’s plan to return astronauts to the moon this decade is the Lunar Gateway, a space station that will be humanity’s first permanent outpost outside of low Earth orbit. Gateway, a partnership between NASA, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is intended to support operations on the lunar surface while also serving as a staging point for exploration to Mars.

Read more at: IEEE Spectrum

On The Road To Cultured Meat For Astronauts (And Earthlings)

Cultured meat could be a game changer for the environment, food security, human health and animal welfare. But some challenges prevent it from reaching its full potential. Now ESA is supporting researchers to explore the possibility of growing cultured meat to feed astronauts. Overcoming the challenges of growing meat in space could also help us find solutions to produce it sustainably and effectively on Earth.

Read more at: ESA

Why Landing A Spaceship On The Moon Is Still So Challenging

At only some 1,600 feet above the moon’s surface, Neil Armstrong grabbed control of the Apollo moon lander. The spacecraft’s computer had guided the crew to a boulder-strewn field, so the legendary pilot had to quickly steer away. Meanwhile, errant alarms sounded in the module, and a gauge showed they would soon run out of fuel.

Thankfully, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down, and walked, on the moon in the summer of 1969. In fast succession, five more Apollo missions would land on the lunar surface over the next few years.

Read more at: Mashable

ESA Astronaut Performs Simulated Polar Moon Landing

Side-lit by the Sun, its heavily cratered surface mired in shadow, the south pole of the Moon represents a highly challenging lunar landing target. Italian ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori took to an advanced flight simulator to try out a mock polar touchdown as part of a project to design a ‘human-in-the-loop’ lunar landing system.

The ESA-led ‘Human-In-the-Loop Flight Vehicle Engineering’ technology study investigated the added performance benefit offered by human oversight of lunar landings to improve robustness and reliability of the flight system.

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SpaceX Retires Old Starship Vehicles, Puts New Ones To The Test

SpaceX is continuing to make progress with its prototype Starship vehicles, with Booster 7 undergoing a full cryoproofing test on Monday night.

The move to the latest iteration of Super Heavy marks the end of service for Booster 4 and Ship 20, which has conducted numerous ground test objectives. Ship 24 – likely to pair up with Booster 7 – is also being prepared at the Production site, along with multiple additional vehicles, such as Booster 8, which is being stacked inside the High Bay.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

Lightning Strikes NASA’s Artemis 1 Moon Megarocket Launch Pad During Test

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Biden Administration Embraces Office Of Space Commerce In Fy2023 Budget

After more than a year in office, the Biden Administration is finally showing support for NOAA’s Office of Space Commerce. The FY2023 budget request includes a huge increase in funding for OSC to become the civil Space Situational Awareness agency and advocate for the U.S. commercial space sector. The office still lacks a permanent director, but if Congress goes along it will be in a much better position to fulfill its mandate.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Rogozin Delays Decision On Space Station Future

After Western nations refused his demand to end sanctions on Russian companies involved in the International Space Station, the head of Roscosmos said he will make recommendations in the “near future” on Russia’s continued participation in the station, but there are no signs of any near-term changes in station operations.

Dmitry Rogozin had set a March 31 deadline for the United States and other Western nations to lift sanctions on two Russian companies, TsNIMash and Rocket and Space Centre Progress, that support ISS operations. Rogozin warned in March he would make a decision of some kind if sanctions were not lifted, but declined to elaborate on the decision.

Read more at: Spacenews

NASA Plans Talks With Partners On ISS And Artemis

NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy plans to use this week’s Space Symposium to meet with international partners on both the long-term future of the International Space Station and roles in later phases of NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration effort.

In an interview, Melroy compared the symposium to the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) as a forum for meeting with other space agencies. She represented NASA at the most recent IAC in Dubai last October, holding similar meetings with other space agencies, including Roscosmos.

Read more at: Spacenews

NASA Needs To Commit To A Permanent Lunar Base

Recently, NASA held a presentation announcing the second round of Human Landing System selections to develop a second lunar lander to supplement the SpaceX Lunar Starship to take astronauts from lunar orbit to the lunar surface. However, in his opening remarks, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson noted that Artemis will consist of a series of expeditions to the moon in the decade following the planned return to the moon in 2025, to be followed by the first expedition to Mars in the late 2030s or early 2040s.

Read more at: Hill


USSPACECOM and UKSpaceCom Sign Space Cooperation Agreement

 U.S. Space Command and the United Kingdom Space Command signed a Memorandum of Understanding concerning Enhanced Space Cooperation (ESC MoU).

The agreement was signed at the 37th Space Symposium by U.S. Army Gen. James Dickinson, USSPACECOM Commander, and Royal Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey, Commander of UKSpaceCom.

Read more at: Spacewatch global

The Space Arms Race Keeps Accelerating, New Reports Warn

It’s hard to imagine how the world’s economies and military forces would operate without unfettered access to services provided by satellites in space. But as space becomes increasingly important to terrestrial activities, the tools and weapons available to disrupt and damage satellites are proliferating around the world, according to two reports released April 4.

“The existence of counterspace capabilities is not new, but the circumstances surrounding them are,” says the 2022 edition of the Secure World Foundation’s “Global Counterspace Capabilities: An Open Source Assessment.” 

Read more at: Spacenews

Kendall Highlights Space’s Importance, Need To ‘Transform’ Operations & Thinking For The Domain

Presenting a robust case for operating in – and defending – space, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said April 5 that “transforming” without delay priorities, practices and spending for the domain is necessary to adequately adapt to a theater that is more volatile yet also increasingly essential to the nation’s security and everyday life.

“Space is a warfighting domain now,” Kendall bluntly told an audience of senior government, industry, military and commercial space officials during his keynote address at the 37th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“We need to transform our capabilities because we no longer can put up expensive and easily targeted systems in space and expect to operate with impunity; that era is over, it’s been over for a while,” Kendall said.

Not surprisingly, Kendall listed China as the “pacing threat” with Russia also demanding unblinking attention.

Read more at: Spaceforce military

Consequences For Nefarious Activity In Space

The U.S. Space Force is working with allies to establish international norms of behavior for space activity and to share a common operating picture of activity occurring in space.

“What’s lacking at the moment is the ability to then apply consequences,” Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, Royal Australian Air Force chief, said during an April 5 Space Symposium panel. “Once we can get an agreed position on behaviors and norms in space, then how do we define consequences for those that may not follow it?”

Many conversations at the 37th Space Symposium revolved around norms of behavior in light of the Russian antisatellite test in November, the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine and the international response.

Read more at: Spacenews

War In Ukraine Underscores Need For Missile Defense Upgrade

The war in Ukraine is demonstrating the rapid pace of change in modern warfare and underscoring the need for enhanced missile defense capabilities, Derek Tournear, director of the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency, said April 6 at the Space Symposium here.

“We have seen some hypersonics deployed over Ukraine,” Tournear said. Once it’s in place, SDA’s missile Tracking Layer “would allow you to detect them and track them,” he said.

Read more at: Spacenews

As Russia Prepared To Invade, U.S. Opened Commercial Imagery Pipeline To Ukraine

An unprecedented release of commercial satellite imagery of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and the rapid sharing of that intelligence – was facilitated by U.S. intelligence agencies that already were familiar with the capabilities of the private sector and how they could be applied, a U.S. intelligence official said April 6. 

“We partner with over 100 companies, we’re currently using imagery from at least 200 commercial satellites and we have about 20 or so different analytic services in our pipeline,” David Gauthier, director of commercial and business operations at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), said during a panel discussion at the 37th Space Symposium. 

Read more at: Spacenews


Rare NASA Lunar Dust Collected By Neil Armstrong On The Apollo 11 Mission Is Up For Auction

Most people want to get rid of dirt, but this special sample of lunar dust is out of this world. Particles of lunar dust collected by Neil Armstrong in 1969 during the Apollo 11 mission are up for auction this month. Bonhams, the auction company in charge of the sale, estimated the sample to be worth between $800,000 and $1.2 million.

It’s the only known lunar dust sample from Apollo 11 that can legally be sold, making it difficult for the auction house to estimate its value, according to Bonhams specialist Adam Stackhouse.

Read more at: CNN

New Revelations Raise Pressure on NASA to Rename the James Webb Space Telescope

Sadness. Disappointment. Frustration. Anger. These are some of the reactions from LGBTQ+ astronomers over the latest revelations regarding NASA’s decision not to rename the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), given that the agency long had evidence suggesting its Apollo-era administrator James Webb was involved in the persecution of gay and lesbian federal employees during the 1950s and 1960s.

The new information came to light late last month when nearly 400 pages of e-mails were posted online by the journal Nature, which obtained the exchanges under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. 

Read more at: Scientific American

Space Industry Struggling To Attract More Skilled Workers

While the space industry workforce continues to increase, there are signs the industry may be struggling to attract people, which could stifle its long-term growth.

At a briefing during the 37th Space Symposium April 4, the Space Foundation released new data on the size of the core space industry workforce in the United States. That research found that there were 151,797 people working in the industry in 2021, an 18.4% increase over the last five years.

That growth continued even during the pandemic. “We did not see a dip in the space sector with COVID,” said Mariel Borowitz, an associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology who worked on the employment data released by the Space Foundation. That growth is driven by manufacturing of launch vehicles and spacecraft.

Read more at: Spacenews

Canoo Wins NASA’s Artemis Crew Transport Vehicle Contract

When astronauts finally return to the Moon with NASA’s Artemis project, their journey to the launchpad will be fully electric. The space agency has been looking for a replacement for its early 1980s-era Astrovan, and this week it awarded a contract to electric vehicle startup Canoo. NASA had a number of requirements for the Artemis transport vehicle when it issued the contract opportunity in 2021.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Preparation Of Ukrainian Rockets For Canso Spaceport Continues

Development of the Ukrainian rockets Maritime Launch Services intends to send aloft from its proposed facility outside Canso continues, despite the Russian invasion. “Everything is stable with respect to our team in Ukraine,” said Steve Matier, president of Maritime Launch Services. “The facility there is fine, the staff is fine and at work. . . . We’re continuing to finance their development of the launch vehicle.”

Read more at: Saltwire

Dr Niamh Shaw Recognised As ‘ESA Champion’ For Space Education Work

Dr Niamh Shaw has been named as a ‘champion’ by the European Space Agency (ESA) for her contributions to communicating about space.

Shaw is one of 15 people to get this commendation by the ESA and is Ireland’s only space expert to receive the title.

The ESA Champions initiative was set-up last year to honour outstanding contributions to space advocacy in Europe. The initiative recognised individuals across five categories, which were video, art, education, storytelling and public speaking.

Read more at: Silicon republic

After His Virgin Galactic Spaceflight, Richard Branson Now Hopes To Fly With Elon Musk’s SpaceX

Sir Richard Branson, less than a year after reaching space with Virgin Galactic, hopes to next trade flights with Elon Musk and fly with SpaceX. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to go up on one of his spaceships one day, and he’ll be able to go up on one of ours,” Branson told CNBC on Tuesday. Branson achieved his dream of reaching space in July 2021, nearly two decades after he founded Virgin Galactic. The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday honored the first-time astronauts of Virgin Galactic’s Unity 22 flight crew – Branson, Sirisha Bandla and Colin Bennett – with wings, recognizing them for crossing the 80 kilometer (50 mile) altitude mark that the U.S. recognizes as the boundary to space.

Read more at: CNBC

The Canadian Space Agency Remembers Bjarni Tryggvason

Former Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason has passed away at the age of 76.

Tryggvason was one of the original six Canadian astronauts selected in December 1983.

He flew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on August 7, 1997, as a payload specialist. He spent over 11 days in space, where he successfully operated a Canadian technology he helped develop: the Microgravity Vibration Isolation Mount. Designed to isolate payloads from vibrations, this technology would later be adapted for the Canadian Microgravity Vibration Isolation Subsystem.

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