Dragon Pad Abort Test Set for Early May

A major test of the system that would shoot SpaceX astronaut crews away from a failing rocket is scheduled for no earlier than May 5 from a specially-built mount at Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad. The four-hour window for the test opens at 9:30 a.m. EDT (1330 GMT). A backup opportunity is available May 6, NASA officials said. The Dragon capsule test unit will fire SuperDraco thrusters to blast off from a truss mimicking a Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad, then deploy three main parachutes and splash down in the Atlantic Ocean approximately one mile offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.

Source: Spaceflight Now.

NASA Extends Lockheed Martin Contract to Prepare Critical Cargo for the International Space Station

Lockheed Martin will plan, process and pack a steady supply of cargo for the International Space Station (ISS)—ranging from science hardware to food and the crew’s personal items—under an extension of NASA’s Cargo Mission Contract. Currently, Lockheed Martin maintains more than three million items destined for the station. The team exports and ships about 25,000 pounds of cargo to launch locations around the world annually, including the United States, Russia, Kazakhstan and Japan.

Source: Lockheed Martin

Russian Mission Control Adjusts ISS Orbit to Avoid Space Junk 

Russia’s space agency Roscosmos adjusted the orbit of the International Space Station (ISS) due to a threat of collision with fragments of a former spacecraft, a spokesperson for the Roscosmos Mission Control Centre said Thursday 23 April. “The adjustment of the orbit was carried out by means of engines of cargo spacecraft Progress M-26M. The engines were switched on at 8:22 a.m. Moscow time [05:22 GMT] and were running 140.4 seconds…,” the spokesperson told RIA Novosti

Source: Space Daily

China to Launch Tianzhou-1 Cargo Ship in 2016

China will send a cargo ship into the space in 2016 to dock with a future space module scheduled to be launched earlier the same year. The Tianzhou-1, which literally means “heavenly vessel”, will carry propellants, living necessities for astronauts, research facilities and repair equipment to China’s second orbiting space lab Tiangong-2, said Zhou Jianping, chief engineer of China’s manned space program.

Source: China.org

First Launch of Piloted Spacecraft from Vostochny Center Postponed

The launch of the first piloted spacecraft from the Russian Vostochy space complex will be postponed from 2018 to 2020, Kommersant newspaper reported Friday, citing space industry and governmental sources. According to the media outlet, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos Igor Komarov suggested the postponement of the launch to President Vladimir Putin in order to avoid creating infrastructure for old spacecraft at the new space center.

Source: Space Daily

Powerful Wind Laser Close to Launch

Developing new satellite instruments is always challenging, but at times more head-scratching is needed to create something truly cutting-edge. ESA’s Aeolus mission may have caused a few headaches along the way, but its wind lasers are now ready and the task of putting the rest of the instrument together can begin so that it can be ready for launch in 2016. This pioneering Earth Explorer mission will provide accurate and timely profiles of the world’s winds as well as information on aerosols and clouds. These profiles will not only advance our understanding of atmospheric dynamics, but will also offer much-needed information to improve weather forecasts. To do this, the satellite will carry some of the most challenging technology ever put into orbit: a novel wind lidar called Aladin – incorporating two powerful lasers, a large telescope and very sensitive receivers.

Source: European Space Agency

Boeing To Unveil Crew, Spacesuits For CST-100 Test Flight This Summer

Boeing plans to announce this summer the crew that will be on a test flight of the company’s CST-100 crew vehicle in 2017, as well as reveal the pressure suits the crew will wear. One crewmember will be a Boeing test pilot, and the other a NASA astronaut. Boeing will also unveil the pressure suits the crew will wear on the vehicle. Those suits are being developed by David Clark Co. of Worcester, Massachusetts, a firm that also developed the pressure suit worn by astronauts on space shuttle missions.

Source: Space News

AFRL Gives Seal of Approval to British Air-breathing Engine Design

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has answered with a qualified “yes” the question of whether a British company’s revolutionary air-breathing rocket engine, designed for a horizontal-takeoff vehicle climbing to orbit with a single stage, holds promise.

Source: Space News