Spacewalkers Restore ISS Control System, Install Wireless Antennas in Busy Contingency EVA

Two NASA Astronauts ventured outside the International Space Station on Tuesday as a quick-response team to deal with the failure of an external command and control unit that occurred just three days prior.

Jack Fischer and ten-time spacewalker Peggy Whitson spent two hours and 46 minutes outside the Station, successfully replacing the faulty computer box and installing a pair of communications antennas on the Destiny laboratory as an extra task.

Coming on the heels of the 200th ISS Spacewalk back on May 12, Tuesday’s EVA had to be put together in a hurry with only two days of lead time per contingency requirements that dictate an immediate EVA be performed in the event of an equipment failure that leaves the Space Station in a non-fault tolerant configuration. This failure occurred at 18:13 UTC on Saturday when the External Control Zone Multiplexer/Demultiplexer 1 (EXT-1 MDM) failed without prior warning.

Read more at: Spaceflight 101

Deputy PM Tells Russia’s Space Agency to Look into Developing ISS with BRICS Partners

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has instructed Roscosmos to look into the possibility of developing the International Space Station in cooperation with partners in the BRCIS group (Brazil, India, China and South Africa).

“Yes, I did give such an instruction to Roscosmos to look into the possibility,” Rogozin said.  “For now we have agreed with the Americans to work on the ISS up to 2024, but it should be born in mind that starting from 2019 they will be launching space crews on their own, using their own vehicles. Also, we expect that the ISS will be increasingly commercialized.”

Rogozin pointed out that the ISS project had its own deadlines. “When it is to be brought to an end will be decided at negotiations with our US partners,” he said. “The question is different: nobody doubts Russia needs an operational orbiting station – either a new national space laboratory or an international project.” Rogozin added that Russia’s existing ISS segment would be involved in that future project.

Read more at: TASS

Sierra Nevada Corporation Passes Key Milestone in NASA Commercial Cargo Contract

Sierra Nevada Corporation said Thursday it passed a key milestone in its commercial cargo contract with NASA. The company said it completed a third integration review on its Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract with NASA, confirming that the company’s Dream Chaser vehicle can meet NASA requirements for transporting cargo to and from the space station.

Sierra Nevada won one of three CRS-2 contracts last year for services scheduled to begin in late 2019. The company is currently developing Dream Chaser, with a flight test article undergoing tests at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center that will include glide tests later this year.

Read more at: Space News

SLS & Orion Delays Have Multiple Causes

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) 2017 assessment of NASA’s 21 largest programs contained a stark warning: the agency was in increasing danger of slipping the first flight (EM-1) of the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle scheduled for November 2018.

But, by the time the assessment was published on May 16, it was already outdated: NASA officials had already announced a delay to an unspecified time in 2019.

The space agency’s deep space human exploration program is composed of three programs: SLS, Orion and the Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) needed to support flights. The total cost of the programs is $23.78 billion, which breaks down as follows: Orion — $11.28 billion, SLS — $9.69 billion, EGS: $2.81 billion.

Read more at: Parabolic Arc

Boeing Unveils Deep Space Concepts

Boeing today unveiled concepts for the deep space gateway and transport systems that could help achieve NASA’s goal of having robust human space exploration from the Moon to Mars.

NASA’s Space Launch System, which Boeing is helping develop, would deliver the habitat to cislunar space near the Moon. Known as the Deep Space Gateway, the habitat could support critical research and help open opportunities for global government or commercial partnerships in deep space, including lunar missions. It would be powered by a Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) system.

“The ability to simultaneously launch humans and cargo on SLS would allow us to assemble the gateway in four launches in the early 2020s,” said Pete McGrath, director of global sales and marketing for Boeing’s space exploration division.

Read more at: Spaceref

Weak Simulations, Inadequate Software & Mismanagement Caused Schiaparelli Crash Landing

The European Space Agency concluded its inquiry into the crash landing of the experimental Schiaparelli Mars Lander last October, citing a lack of understanding and modeling of parachute dynamics experienced at high speed, insufficient failure identification and recovery options in the craft’s software and mismanagement of subcontractors & hardware acceptance as contributing factors for the botched landing sequence.

ESA emphasized that the Schiaparelli mission was not a complete write-off as a very important part of the mission’s demonstration objectives were achieved until the point of failure. The agency also said findings of the investigation will help the upcoming ExoMars 2020 mission by reinforcing design weaknesses identified by the inquiry and doubling down on flight dynamics modeling. “As a direct result of this inquiry we have discovered the areas that require particular attention that will benefit the 2020 mission,” said Jan Woerner, ESA’s Director General.

Read more at: Spaceflight 101

China’s Tiangong-1 Space Lab to Fall to Earth Between October 2017 and April 2018

China has released an update on the fate of its orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab, which in March 2016 was revealed to be no longer functioning and would be making an uncontrolled reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

According to a note verbale from the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations (Vienna), Tiangong-1’s average orbital altitude is 349 kilometres, decaying at a daily rate of approximately 160 metres. Its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere is expected to occur between October 2017 and April 2018.

The unsigned diplomatic note  addressed to Secretary-General provided the update on the re-entry of the 8 metric tonne Tiangong-1 space lab, whose name means ‘heavenly palace’, on May 10.

Read more at: GBTimes

Budget Proposal Puts NASA Satellite Servicing Mission in Doubt

NASA plans to shelve a robotic demonstration mission to refuel an aging Landsat Earth-imaging observatory and join forces with the private sector and a U.S. military research and development agency in a public-private partnership to commercialize satellite servicing technologies, according to language in the White House’s budget request released Tuesday.

A blueprint of the White House proposed budget in March indicated the Restore-L satellite refueling mission would be “restructured,” calling the effort duplicative to commercial satellite servicing projects and another government-managed in-orbit refueling and repair initiative from DARPA.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Launch of Space-debris-removal Experiment Delayed Due to Safety Reviews

RemoveDebris, a space-junk-wrangling spacecraft  once slated to hitch a ride to the International Space Station with SpaceX in June, won’t launch until the end of 2017 or early 2018 to allow additional NASA safety reviews, according to the European project’s manager.

The 100-kilogram spacecraft, developed by a consortium of 10 European companies including Airbus Defense and Space and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd., would be the largest and heaviest satellite deployed from the ISS.

“Nothing of this size has ever been launched from the ISS before,” said Jason Forshaw, RemoveDebris project manager at the University of Surrey’s Surrey Space Centre, which leads the consortium.

Read more at: Space News

Who Will Build the World’s First Commercial Space Station?

Michael Suffredini has big business plans for low Earth orbit. After a decade as NASA’s program manager for the International Space Station (ISS) he retired from the agency in September 2015 to pursue opportunities in the private sector, convinced that a golden age of commercial spaceflight was dawning. Partnering with Kam Ghaffarian, CEO of SGT, the company that operates the ISS for NASA and also trains America’s astronauts, Suffredini co-founded Axiom Space in early 2016.

As Axiom’s president, Suffredini’s goal is simple: to build and fly the world’s first private space station, using the ISS as a springboard. The company is in talks with NASA to install a new commercial module on the ISS’s sole available unused docking port as early as 2020 or 2021, and is presently planning the module’s construction and flight with aerospace manufacturers and launch providers.

Read more at: Scientific American

DARPA Picks Design for Next-Generation Spaceplane

DARPA has selected The Boeing Company to complete advanced design work for the Agency’s Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program, which aims to build and fly the first of an entirely new class of hypersonic aircraft that would bolster national security by providing short-notice, low-cost access to space.

The program aims to achieve a capability well out of reach today-launches to low Earth orbit in days, as compared to the months or years of preparation currently needed to get a single satellite on orbit.

Read more at: Space Daily

Frozen ‘Space Sperm’ Passes Fertility Test

Healthy baby mice have been born using freeze-dried sperm stored in the near-weightless environment of space. The Japanese team behind the gravity-breaking experiment on the International Space Station (ISS) say it shows that transporting the seeds of life away from Earth is feasible. Sperm banks could even be made on the Moon as a back-up for Earth disasters, they told a leading science journal. It is unclear if this will ever help humans populate space, however.

Sustaining life in space is challenging to say the least. On the ISS, radiation is more than 100 times higher than on Earth. The average daily dose of 0.5mSv from the cosmic rays is enough to damage the DNA code inside living cells, including sperm.

Read more at: BBC

Re-Entry: Delta I Rocket Body

The Star 37D Upper Stage of the Delta 2913 launch with the COS-B Cosmic Gamma-Ray satellite re-entered the atmosphere on May 20, 2017 after over four decades in orbit.

Star 37 was introduced in the 1970s and has been used on a variety of spacecraft. The upper stage features a 0.93-meter diameter casing holding a total of 718 Kilograms of solid propellant, consumed during a 50-second long burn to create around 44 Kilonewtons of thrust and provide the final kick to deliver a payload into orbit.

Read more at: Spaceflight 101

Fiery Re-Entry of Chinese Rocket Stage Captured on Video

The re-entry of the upper stage of China’s Long March 7 rocket that recently launched the country’s first orbital logistics mission was captured by dozens of observers in the Uzbek Capital of Tashkent. The rocket stage had been in orbit for a month, slowly losing altitude before succumbing to drag and starting a fiery dive into the atmosphere, putting on a spectacular show in the night skies over Uzbekistan.

Dozens of ‘meteor sighting’ videos were uploaded to YouTube Thursday night, but the speed of the object and the visible fragmentation was consistent with a human-made object descending from orbit as opposed to a natural meteor that would move significantly faster.

Read more at: Spaceflight 101

Scotland “On the Cusp” of Launching Spacecraft into Orbit

The final frontier is closer than ever as a new golden age of space dawns and Scotland is on the launch pad, ready for lift-off.

And competition is intense. An American company recently launched a rocket into space from New Zealand, the first from a private launch facility. The private space company SpaceX also sent up a rocket to deliver a Japanese communications satellite into orbit earlier this month. And closer to home, a communications satellite will be launched from the European Space Agency Spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana on Thursday.

This week’s UK Space Conference will be told that Scotland is now the “most space intensive part of the UK” as we move ever closer to launching our own satellites into Earth’s orbit.

Read more at: Herald Scotland

ISRO Braces to Tame Monster Rocket That Could Launch Indians into Space

An indigenous rocket as heavy as 200 full-grown Asian elephants could well be the one taking “Indians into space from Indian soil” as the country inches closer to joining the big boy’s space club. Standing tall on the rocket port at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh is the country’s latest rocket called the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk— III), the heaviest rocket ever made by India that is capable of carrying the heaviest satellites till now.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) enters into a bold new world muscling its way to make its mark in the world’s heavy weight multi—billion dollar launch market. “We are pushing ourselves to the limits to ensure that this new fully self—reliant Indian rocket succeeds in its maiden launch,” ISRO chairman A S Kiran Kumar said.

It is the maiden experimental launch of GSLV—Mk III earlier named Launch Vehicle Mark—3, but if all goes on well in a decade or after a slew of at least half a dozen successful launches, this rocket could be India’s vehicle of choice to launch “Indians into space, from Indian soil using Indian rockets“.

Read more at: Hindu Business Line

This Time, Not for Prestige: The Space Race in the 21st Century

Why is everyone in such a rush to take giant leaps with space? NASA is examining the possibility of sending a crew on its first Space Launch System–Orion test flight. China and the European Space Agency are joining in an effort to colonize the moon. Private companies are aiming for Mars and asteroid mining. The debate over the practicality of space operations rages on. It isn’t new. In fact, it parallels the debate between 1958 and 1962. The argument during the Cold War entailed the same concern for cost and return that we see today. There is, however, a key difference between then and now — the cost of apathy today would cost the U.S. not just prestige but also resources and strategic opportunities. Understanding this difference is crucial when calculating the value of investments in space in light of broader U.S. strategy.

Read more at: National Review

Russia’s Soyuz Launches EKS Missile Warning Satellite, Ends Year-Long Military Launch Gap

The rumble of rocket launches returned to Russia’s Plesetsk Cosmodrome on Thursday when a Soyuz 2-1B rocket blasted off from the site’s 43/4 complex with the second EKS missile warning satellite operated by the Russian armed forces. It was the first launch from the military launch base since June 2016 and also ended a general lull in Russian satellite launch activity.

Topped with the second Tundra satellite, Soyuz blasted off at 6:34 UTC on Thursday on a multi-hour mission into a highly elliptical orbit from where the satellites can keep watch over the Northern Hemisphere and provide advance warning of any missile activity.

Read more at: Spaceflight 101

A Counterspace Awakening? (part 1)

When the Obama Administration released its National Space Policy (NSP) in June 2010, many observers pointed out the rhetorical difference compared to his predecessor’s NSP, especially in regards to national security space. The language of the Bush Administration’s NSP departed significantly from previous NSPs and was criticized for being overly nationalistic and aggressive, a perception that the Obama Administration was determined to reverse. Both its NSP and its National Security Space Strategy (NSSS) of 2011 scaled back on rhetoric, and instead opted for what Hitchens and Johnson-Freese called “strategic restraint,” which they defined as forgoing the introduction of “offensive capabilities in hopes of moderating the behavior of both friends and potential foes.”

Read more at: Space Review

Woman Arrested for Smuggling US Space Technology to China

A woman in California was arrested on Tuesday on federal charges of conspiring to procure and illegally export sensitive space communications technology to her native China, according to the US Justice Department.

Si Chen, also known as Cathy Chen, faces 14 charges that accuse her of purchasing and smuggling more than $100,000 (89,000 euros) worth of equipment from the US to China between March 2013 and December 2015. Chen did so without obtaining proper export licenses that are required by federal law.

A resident of the Los Angeles suburb of Pomona, the 32-year-old Chen is accused of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which controls the export of certain goods and technology from the United States.

Read more at: DW

Our Next World War Might be Fought in Outer Space

There’s plenty to criticize about Donald Trump’s plans to massively expand the U.S. military. His requested $54 billion increase in defense spending, combined with his bellicose rhetoric, seems tailor-made to lead America into more violent conflicts. And aside from Trump’s obsession with owning “the best” of everything, it’s not clear that the United States needs to boost military spending by 10 percent—particularly when Trump campaigned on a pledge to avoid foreign entanglements.

Yet there’s one area of national security where America might benefit from more spending: outer space. In recent years, China has demonstrated its ability to shoot down satellites that the United States relies on for everything from processing credit card transactions and balancing the power grid to collecting intelligence and directing troops on the battlefield. The opening salvo came in 2007, when China launched a missile that destroyed one of its own satellites—a clear demonstration of military and technological prowess.

Read more at: New Republic

Secretary of the Air Force’s First Visit Emphasizes Space and Cyber

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson’s first official trip included visits to Airmen at Peterson and Schriever Air Force Bases this week.  Her trip highlighted the importance of Air Force space and cyberspace missions.

Wilson visited the 21st Space Wing, 302nd Airlift Wing, and North American Aerospace Defense Command/U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base, and the 50th Space Wing and National Space Defense Center at Schriever Air Force Base.

She also spoke at the U.S. Air Force Academy graduation, where she was joined by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein.  Both leaders participated in an interview prior to departing the area.

“The United Sates is very dependent upon space and our adversaries know it. We have to anticipate in any future conflict that space will be contested,” said Wilson. “With respect to cyber, whether it is air, space, or land, there are effects that you can create though computer systems that we might otherwise have to create by sending aircraft.”

Read more at: Airforce Space Command

John Glenn’s Family Asks for Privacy During Investigation into Handling of Remains

John Glenn’s children say the family won’t seek damages because they are satisfied that the Air Force is investigating allegations that a mortuary worker twice offered a look at the remains of the former senator and astronaut.

Late Friday afternoon, Glenn’s daughter, Carolyn “Lyn” Glenn, and her brother, David, released a statement: “Dave and I spoke with the secretary of the Air Force yesterday. The Air Force is taking complete responsibility and is conducting an investigation. We are asking that our privacy be respected.”

But in a Facebook comment on the Military Times article that broke the story, Lyn Glenn elaborated: “The Glenn family has not and will not seek any monetary response to this incident. The Sec. of the Air Force is conducting an investigation and we trust and respect her commitment to respond to this situation.

Read more at: Dispatch

The Training Accident that Almost Ruined My Chance to be an Astronaut

The following is excerpted from Chasing Space by Leland Melvin.

On my first day of spacewalk training in NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center, the future loomed in front of me as bright as the heavens I had hoped to reach. I wanted to master the fundamentals and, like all astronauts, I knew that spacewalk proficiency was the quickest path to that coveted first flight assignment.

The sooner I could fly, the more time I would have to spend off-planet getting my orbital shift on. There are almost 7.5 billion people living on Earth. Only 555 of them have ever flown in space. Of that number, 362 were American astronauts. It’s a very, very exclusive club, and as I prepared for the day’s trials, I was determined to join it.

Read more at: Popsci

Quality Assurance for Space Projects

26-29 June 2017 – Athlone, Ireland

The course is designed to provide the participant with an understanding of basic principles of Quality Management, Quality Assurance and Quality Control, as they are usually applied to space projects. You will find the description of the course in the IAASS Professional Training Courses Catalog 2017 – Course Code 006. To register, download the Registration Form from the website, fill in and return to: [email protected]

Read more at: IAASS