Dragon 2 Conducts Pad Abort Leap in Key SpaceX Test

SpaceX’s Dragon 2 test vehicle has conducted her maiden flight on Wednesday, leaping off a Cape Canaveral truss structure under the power of eight SuperDraco engines at 9am local time. Known as the Pad Abort test, the objectives of the flight involved the gathering of key test data to help graduate the vehicle to be ready to carry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

Source: NASA Spaceflight

EFT-1 Orion Inspections Provide Vital MMOD Information

A forensic level investigation into the condition of the Thermal Protection System (TPS) on the Exploration Flight Test -1 (EFT-1) Orion has evaluated the level of MicroMeteoroid and Orbital Debris (MMOD) damage on the vehicle. Orion’s MMOD impacts were evaluated by the Hypervelocity Impact Technology (HVIT) Group, showing the vehicle suffered more MMOD damage than the computation models.

Source: NASA Spaceflight

ESA Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti has First Espresso onboard the ISS

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti has tried out her ISSpresso machine for the first time, enjoying a coffee from the specially designed espresso machine that was recently sent up to the International Space Station. Cristoforetti shared a picture of herself drinking from a cup designed for use in zero-gravity, saying: “Fresh espresso in the new Zero-G cup! To boldly brew…” To mark her first espresso in space, Cristoforetti put on her Star Trek uniform. She did not say whether she enjoyed the coffee or not.

Source: IB Times

3D Printer Making Chinese Space Suit Parts

Chinese researchers have used 3D printing technology to make a safer space suit for astronauts while spacewalking. A research center under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation used a 3D printer to create the vent pipes and the flanges connecting the pipes used on extravehicular space suit, according to a recent report from China Space News.

Source: Space Daily

Humans to Mars Summit 2015 – Political Roundtable, Building Political Sustainability

While there were plenty of interesting sessions at the Humans to Mars Summit it was the political roundtable which brought home some of the key messages of the conference. In particular Wayne Hale mentioned three key points: 1) Stop talking to each other. The conference is great, but the message must be continually and effectively discussed with the public coast-to-coast. 2) Technology is not a stumbling block to a Mars mission, political will is. 3) Why are we going to Mars? For business. Mars will be good for business here on Earth.

Source: Spaceref

UAE Details Ambitious Plan for Martian Weather Satellite

Scientists from the United Arab Emirates have announced the Arab world’s first Mars probe will launch in July 2020 and collect global measurements of the Martian atmosphere. Assuming a launch in 2020, the robotic probe will fly on a seven-month cruise to the red planet and enter orbit in early 2021, the 50th anniversary of the UAE’s independence from the United Kingdom. If the program achieves its goals, the mission would place the UAE among a short list of entities with successful Mars probes, alongside the United States, Russia, the European Space Agency and India.

Source: Spaceflight Now

Getting the Low-density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) Vehicle to Test Altitude

In June NASA will conduct the second flight of the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) test vehicle from the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) located on the Island of Kauai, Hawaii. The test will begin at an altitude of about 120,000 feet. But what does it take to get a supersonic test vehicle to that altitude? It’s easier said than done. In addition to finding a way to deliver the test vehicle to the right height, the project also had to find a location and a team to help coordinate the launch range activities.

Source: NASA

Ocean on Saturn Moon Resembles Habitable Lakes on Earth

The newly-discovered subsurface ocean on Saturn’s icy moon of Enceladus is similar in makeup to some of the life-bearing salt lakes on Earth, a new US study suggested. Astrobiologists believe this small moon is the best place to search for alien life in the Solar System. The 505-kilometer-wide satellite is geologically active, with powerful geysers blasting through its ice shell. Those geysers contain water which researchers suggest comes from an ocean located beneath the moon’s icy surface.

Source: RT.com

ILS and Dauria Announce Proton/Angara Dual Launch Services Agreement

The agreement, signed by ILS President, Phil Slack and Dauria CEO, Sergey Ivanov, states that both companies will mutually cooperate on identifying spacecraft that can be dual launched in a stacked configuration-with the lower Dauria spacecraft supporting the upper spacecraft–on an ILS Proton or Angara launch vehicle.

Source: Space Daily

Explosion of US Military Satellite May Endanger Spacecraft After All

The February explosion of an American military satellite may cause some problems for orbiting spacecraft after all, a new study reports. The U.S. Air Force’s 20-year-old Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 13 (DMSP-F13) craft blew apart on Feb. 3 after experiencing a power-system faillure. Analyses by the European Space Agency and other organizations found that the cloud of space junk generated by the explosion shouldn’t pose much of a threat to their missions, but the new research suggests that not all spacecraft are in the clear.

Source: Space.com

Virgin Galactic Considering Changing SpaceShipTwo Fuels Again

Nearly one year after changing the fuel used on its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle, a Virgin Galactic executive said April 30 the company was open to switching back depending on its performance.

Source: Space News

Russia to Continue Development of Nuclear Engine for Deep Space Flights

Russia will continue its plans to create a nuclear engine for deep space flights, according to the country’s 2016-2025 Federal Space Program. A number of news agencies earlier said that Roscosmos was apparently planning on closing down its work on creating a megawatt-class nuclear engine meant for deep space flights. According to the Federal Space Program, the creation of the nuclear engine is scheduled for 2029-2030.

Source: Space Daily

DPRK Slams U.S. for Suspecting its Satellite Program

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Friday lashed out at the United States and other “hostile forces” for suspecting ulterior motives behind Pyongyang’s satellite program after a new satellite control and command center was completed for space research. The DPRK’s National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA) issued a statement denying allegations that the capability of launching satellites means the capability of controlling nuclear delivery and that Pyongyang uses its satellite program as “a card for negotiations with the United States.”

Source: China.org

U.S. Officials Urge Funding to Reduce Vulnerabilities in Space

Top U.S. military officials urged Congress to approve $5 billion in increased spending aimed at protecting U.S. military and intelligence satellites, citing what they called growing threats from China and other countries. Doug Loverro, deputy assistant defense secretary for space policy, said the Pentagon’s fiscal 2016 budget request marked a “significant turn” toward better protecting the satellites, which provide critical capabilities such as targeting, missile warning and weather data to the U.S. military. He said the fiscal 2016 budget and associated five-year budget plan increased or shifted $5 billion in funding to ensure the United States’s continued ability to fight future wars.

Source: Reuters