Russian Ullage Rocket Engine Explodes in Space

The U.S. Joint Space Operations Center (JspOC), which tracks space debris, has reported that a Russian Ullage rocket motor exploded in space at approximately 5:20 a.m. EDT (9:20 GMT) on Wednesday, June 1. According to a statement issued by JspOC, the motor was orbiting the Earth in a highly elliptical orbit and suffered a break-up—disintegrating into at least 20 pieces.

The destroyed Ullage motor appears to be a part of a Blok DM-2 upper stage used on a Proton-M rocket that was launched in December 2008. The mission took to the skies from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and successfully delivered a trio of GLONASS navigation satellites into orbit.

The cause of the on-orbit explosion is still unknown, but most probably, it was triggered by the mixing of hypergolic propellants. It could also be due to a collision in space; however, JspOC, relying on initial estimates, has excluded that as a possibility.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

How Blue Origin’s New Shepard will Keep Passengers Safe in Case of a Crash

Blue Origin will intentionally crash-land its New Shepard rocket during an upcoming test flight, to see if the vehicle can still keep people safe when its parachutes don’t work. The company claims anyone aboard the spacecraft should be fine if the parachutes fail. But for further protection, New Shepard has other failsafes that will help keep people alive during a botched landing, according to a new email from CEO Jeff Bezos.

Bezos claimed that these safety features will be tested out on the next test flight, along with the failed parachutes. “We’re planning to demonstrate the redundancies built into the capsule on this re-flight of the [New Shepard] vehicle,” wrote Bezos in an email.

Read more at: Verge

Home Sweet Habitat: Students Help NASA Design Mars Spacecraft Living Quarters

Building rocket ships out of cardboard boxes is a standard make-believe activity. But a class of Pratt Institute design students in New York City have taken it to the next level. In a partnership with NASA 19 students designed and built scale models of Mars spacecraft interiors over the course of a school year and presented the final products to a NASA representative on May 5. The design and architecture students brought a human-focused eye to their designs, striving to create an home that was both fun and functional for long hauls to and from the Red Planet.

The project may sound like a flight of fancy, but Robert Howard, Jr., manager of NASA Johnson Space Center’s Habitability Design Center, stresses that these university projects provide out-of-the-box insight into real design problems the space agency faces—none of which have a single correct answer.

Read more at: Scientific American

DHL and Airbus Defence and Space Support Astrobotic to Develop Lunar Delivery Service

Astrobotic, which is building a service to make the Moon accessible to the world, today announces that DHL and Airbus Defence and Space are supporting Astrobotic to develop its lunar payload delivery service.

Deutsche Post DHL Group, the world’s leading mail and logistics company, will become the “Official Logistics Provider for Astrobotic’s First Mission to the Moon.” DHL will provide logistics services for Astrobotic’s spacecraft and its customer payloads, making sure that all materials for the new lunar lander as well as the ‘space freight’ will arrive safe and on time to begin their journey to the Moon.

“DHL has a proud history of connecting its customers to the world. Moon exploration is also a theme that has a special historical significance for us – DHL was founded in 1969, the year of the first moon landing. Today, we are excited to be embarking upon this incredible venture into the next era of logistics – beyond Earth and to the Moon.

Read more at: Spaceref

Meteor Streaks Across Arizona sky

A fireball lit up the skies around Phoenix Thursday, leaving groggy residents wondering if it was a meteor, an explosion or something else.

NASA said a small asteroid zipped into Earth’s atmosphere above Arizona at a breezy 40,000 mph. After lighting up Phoenix, NASA estimates it moved south, with pieces of the meteor landing somewhere north of Tucson.
A Phoenix Police Department spokesman told CNN that they got more than 60 calls about the meteor, which was seen at about 4 a.m. (7 a.m. ET).

Read more at: CNN

After the Asteroid Breakup, the Hunt Begins for the Pieces

For a few fleeting seconds about 3:57 a.m. Thursday, the Arizona sky lit up with a bright flash and loud boom as an asteroid broke apart over Payson. The event could land the Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University its “winning lottery ticket,” or so its curator hopes.

The center, with what it calls the world’s largest university meteorite collection, hopes to be chosen as the institution that gets to analyze and study any recovered pieces from the meteorite that may be found, said Laurence Garvie, the center’s curator, on Friday.

Over the past century, pieces from only three meteorites have been recovered in the state, Garvie said. The first meteorite recovery in Arizona took place in 1912, the second in 1998 and the third in 2009, he said. This year, Garvie said, pieces from only two meteorites have been recovered in the United States as a whole, one in Florida and one in northern Texas. In 2015, there was only one recovery, in California.

Read more at: AZCentral

What we will Wear to Mars

In the 47 years since humans first stepped on the moon, space-helmet technology hasn’t exactly made a giant leap. But the prospect of exploring Mars has NASA’s designers scrambling for their drawing boards. “The requirements are different from anything we’ve done before,” says Dave Lavery, who leads NASA’s Solar System Exploration Program. They include durability (to withstand abrasion in wind storms), flexibility (for yearlong missions), and field of view (for 360-degree visibility).

“The shape [of future helmets] is going to be driven by the ability to see your feet while walking on the rough surface of Mars,” says NASA’s Amy Ross, who designs space suits. Now it’s up to NASA to get us there.

The iconic bubble helmet worn by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin was built to withstand the moon’s extreme temperature swings and protect astronauts’ eyes from solar glare and radiation.

Read more at: Popsci

China to Probe the Moon’s North and South Poles in 2017

China has unveiled plans to visit the moon’s north and south poles late next year and for the first time return to Earth with samples.

The Asian superpower’s Chang’e 5 probe will undertake the mission to “further enhance the country’s aerospace development,” according to state media citing China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.

China’s maiden lunar jaunt was the launch of the Chang’e 1 satellite into the moon’s orbit in 2007, followed by a lunar probe onto its surface in 2013. The newly unveiled project would be a precursor to Beijing’s existing plan, announced earlier this year, to launch the world’s first mission to the far side of the moon in 2018.

Read more at: TIME

First Three Subcontractors Selected by OneWeb Satellites

OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture equally owned by Airbus Defence and Space and OneWeb, has selected the first three top-tier subcontractors. The supply contracts have been signed with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) from Canada, Sodern from France and Teledyne Defence (a business unit of Teledyne Microwave Solutions) from the United Kingdom.

To equip each of the 900 satellites forming the OneWeb fleet, MDA will provide on board antenna systems, Sodern has customised to constellation its star tracker technology, while Teledyne Defence has designed communications repeater equipment derived from its high volume manufacturing heritage.

With this milestone OneWeb Satellites is pursuing its industrial development and rapidly moving forward.

Read more at: Space Daily

Microbes in Space: JPL Researcher Explores Tiny Life

On May 11, a sealed capsule containing fungi and bacteria fell from the sky and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Microbiologist Kasthuri Venkateswaran could hardly wait to see what was inside it.

At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Venkateswaran, who goes by Venkat, studies microbial life — the wild world of organisms too small for us to see with our eyes. Among his many research endeavors, Venkat has leading roles on two microbial experiments that recently returned from the International Space Station. The bacteria and fungi that came back last month will help researchers study how microgravity affects tiny organisms that were deliberately brought from Earth, and what kinds of microbes were already living alongside astronauts.

Read more at: JPL

French Space Minister Calls for European Rocket R&D Effort, Says SpaceX Victory Still TBD

France’s space minister on June 1 urged a redoubled European effort in space research, and specifically in next-generation rockets, in the face of what he said were increased investments by the United States and other major space powers.

Visiting the French and European space agencies’ merged launcher directorate in Paris, Thierry Mandon, who is responsible for space policy in the French Ministry of Education and Research, rejected the idea that SpaceX of the United States already had too far an advance in its rocket-reusability program to be matched by Europe.

Asked if Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX’s recent multiple successes in landing its Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage constituted a decisive step forward in the race to the future, Mandon said:

“They have achieved multiple successes in recovery, which is only the beginning of the process. Now they’ve got the stages back – very good. The next challenge is: How do you use them again? I don’t know if we’re too late, or behind, but I do know we need to move forward and Promethee – Prometheus – is a good way to go about this.”

Read more at: Space News

NASA Astronaut to Step into Expandable Space Habitat

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams on Monday will enter the first human-rated expandable habitat deployed in space, a technology that could prove beneficial for deep space exploration and commercial low-Earth orbit applications, the US space agency said.

Williams and the NASA and Bigelow Aerospace teams working at Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston successfully deployed the expandable habitat – Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) – at the International Space Station during more than seven hours of operations on May 28.

Expandable habitats are designed to take up less room when being launched but provide greater volume for living and working in space once expanded. This first test of an expandable module will allow investigators to gauge how well the habitat performs and specifically, how well it protects against solar radiation, space debris and the temperature extremes of space.

Read more at: Zee News

Potentially Toxic Russian Rocket Debris Set to Land in Canada’s Arctic

Aircraft are being warned to steer clear of an area near Canada’s northerly Ellesmere Island where the remains of a modified Russian ballistic missile are set to crash into the Arctic this weekend – space debris that may be laden with highly toxic rocket fuel.

Critics are asking who will take responsibility for cleaning up a sensitive maritime ecosystem of what could be extremely poisonous hydrazine from a missile that the Russians will use to boost a satellite into orbit from Plesetsk Cosmodrome, 800 kilometres north of Moscow.

The second stage of this used missile is expected to plummet into Baffin Bay, just east of Ellesmere Island. It’s within Canada’s exclusive economic zone where it has jurisdiction over protecting the marine environment.

Read more at: Globe and Mail

BEAM Fully Expanded and Pressurized

BEAM was pressurized May 28 on the International Space Station, where it will remain attached for a two-year test period.

The module measured just over 7 feet long and just under 7.75 feet in diameter in its packed configuration. BEAM now measures more than 13 feet long and about 10.5 feet in diameter to create 565 cubic feet of habitable volume. It weighs approximately 3,000 pounds.

Leak checks are being performed on BEAM to ensure its structural integrity. Hatch opening and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams’ first entrance into BEAM will take place about a week after leak checks are complete.

BEAM is an example of NASA’s increased commitment to partnering with industry to enable the growth of the commercial use of space. The project is co-sponsored by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division and Bigelow Aerospace.

Read more at: NSS

XCOR Lynx Spaceplane Might be Down for the Count

It is bound to happen. There are so many space vehicles being designed, tested, and funded that some will never fly.

This weekend XCOR—the private space company based in Mojave, CA, but soon to move to Texas—told spacenews.com that it is laying off staff who are working on the Lynx spaceplane. Although the company is saying the Lynx project is not necessarily dead for good, many signs point the other direction.

The craft had a cool flight plan. It would take off from a runway like an airplane, rocket up to a suborbital height, then glide back for a landing. It would have seats for two and a cargo hold for experiments. But the Lynx, first announced in 2008, has been delayed numerous times, with the main problem being the carbon composite airframe. Now it may be a goner.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

New Series Soyuz Spacecraft Crew Approved by Interdepartmental Commission

The Interdepartmental Commission at a meeting in Star City outside Moscow has approved the marks received at a comprehensive exam training by the crews of a new long-term expedition to the International Space Station (ISS) and confirmed their readiness for flight, the Cosmonaut Training Center (CTC) reported on Tuesday.

“The commission approved the main crew of the Soyuz MS spaceship comprising Roscosmos (Russian State Space Corporation) cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin, NASA astronaut Kathleen Rubins and the Japanese space agency JAXA astronaut Takuya Onishi for further spaceflight training,” the center said.

The Soyuz MS is the first ship of a new series. Previously, all crews were launched to the orbiting station on the Soyuz TMA-M series spacecraft.

Read more at: TASS

For the First Time, a Country has Invested Heavily in Space Mining

Luxembourg, a small European country about the size of Rhode Island, wants to be the Silicon Valley of the space mining industry. The landlocked Grand Duchy announced Friday it was opening a €200 million ($225 million) line of credit for entrepreneurial space companies to set up their European headquarters within its borders.

Luxembourg has already reached agreements with two US-based companies, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, to open offices in Luxembourg and conduct major research and development activities. “We intend to become the European center for asteroid mining,” said Étienne Schneider, deputy prime minister and minister of the economy, during a news conference Friday

Read more at: Ars Technica

Blue Origin Awarded NASA Suborbital Flight Contract

Blue Origin has become the sixth company to be awarded a contract under NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, joining Masten Space Systems, Inc., Near Space Corporation, UP Aerospace, Inc., Virgin Galactic, LLC, and World View Enterprises, Inc. in a set of opportunities designed to provide access to space for suborbital payloads.

Blue Origin was awarded an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract under the Suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicle (sRLV) Flight and Payload Integration Services solicitation, which has a combined not-to-exceed value of $45 million.

“We are pleased to have Blue Origin join our cadre of Flight Opportunities service providers,” Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) in Washington, said in a press release. “Adding additional flight providers enables NASA and the broader aerospace community to demonstrate and transition space technologies, developing new capabilities faster and, potentially, at lower cost.”

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

Study Shows How Comets Break up, Make up

For some comets, breaking up is not that hard to do. A new study led by Purdue University and the University of Colorado Boulder indicates the bodies of some periodic comets – objects that orbit the Sun in less than 200 years – may regularly split in two, then reunite down the road.

In fact, this may be a repeating process fundamental to comet evolution, according to the study, which is being published in Nature on June 1.

The team, led by Purdue postdoctoral fellow Masatoshi Hirabayashi and CU-Boulder Distinguished Professor Daniel Scheeres, studied several comets, primarily a bizarre rubber duck-shaped object known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P). Images of 67P show two cracks, each longer than an American football field, on the comet’s neck that connects its two larger lobes.

Read more at: Space Daily

King Tut’s Dagger Came from Outer Space

King Tut’s dagger was out of this world! The dagger — buried alongside the pharaoh — was made with iron from a meteorite, according to a new analysis of the weapon’s composition. In 1925, archaeologist Howard Carter found two daggers, one iron and one with a blade of gold, in the wrapping of the teenage Tutankhamun, who was mummified more than 3,300 years ago.

Researchers have been flummoxed for decades by the gold-handled iron blade with a rock crystal pommel, because the dagger’s metal had not rusted, and ironwork was rare in ancient Egypt, The Guardian reported.

Researchers, led by Daniela Comelli of the Polytechnic University of Milan, analyzed the blade with an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer and found that its nickel and cobalt content “strongly suggests an extraterrestrial origin,” the paper reported. They compared the composition to known meteorites within about 1,200 miles around the Red Sea coast of Egypt and found similar levels in one meteorite — Kharga.

Read more at: NYPost

Orbital ATK Conducts Test of Antares First Stage

Orbital ATK, a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced it conducted a full-power “hot fire” test of the upgraded first stage propulsion system of its Antares medium-class rocket using new RD-181 main engines.

The 30-second test took place at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) on May 31, 2016 at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad 0A. Initial indications are that the test was fully successful. The Antares engineering team will review test data over the next several days to confirm that all test parameters were met. Assuming the success of the test is confirmed, it will clear the way for the resumption of Orbital ATK’s cargo logistics missions to the International Space Station (ISS) from Wallops Island, Virginia, currently scheduled for July

Read more at: Spaceref

SpaceX’s Latest Booster Back Home as Company Mulls Pricing, Proof Tests

A Falcon 9 rocket core recovered after last week’s launch of a Thai communications satellite returned to port in Florida on Thursday as SpaceX preps a separate rocket structure for tests to prove it can withstand multiple missions and mulls pricing of a previously-flown rocket, targeting a re-flight of a used booster by the end of the summer.

Standing with a slight tilt after a hard landing at sea, the 15-story booster arrived at Port Canaveral for inspection and potential reuse. It will join three other recovered Falcon 9 first stages in SpaceX’s inventory.

The first Falcon 9 booster landed by SpaceX in December at Cape Canaveral will go on vertical display later this year outside the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California. A rocket core that achieved the first landing at sea in April is tagged to be the first previously-flown booster to launch a second time.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Blue Origin Clearing Land for Massive Rocket Factory

Bulldozers and excavators this week continued clearing land at Kennedy Space Center’s Exploration Park where Blue Origin will build a rocket factory rivaling the area’s largest spaceflight facilities.

The 475,000 square foot manufacturing center, which will stand eight stories tall and stretch longer than two football fields, is expected to be in place as soon as the end of next year or early 2018. A new orbital rocket built there could be ready for a first launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 36 before the end of the decade.

“We are excited to have begun the site preparation work for our orbital launch vehicle manufacturing facility in Florida,” said Blue Origin President Rob Meyerson. “This is just another big step toward our vision of enabling an enduring presence in space.”

Read more at: Florida Today

The Future of Space Exploration

During his career Sean O’Keefe has held many prestigious positions. Currently O’Keefe is University Professor and the Howard G. and S. Louise Phanstiel Chair in Strategic Management and Leadership at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Concurrently, he serves as Distinguished Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

He has held positions such as chairman and CEO of Airbus Group Inc., the U.S.-based division of the global aerospace, defense and space corporation. Prior to that, he was vice president of the General Electric Co. and chancellor of Louisiana State University.

On four separate occasions, he served as a presidential appointee — as administrator of NASA, secretary of the Navy, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and comptroller and CFO at the Defense Department.

It was his years with NASA, from 2001 to 2004, which O’Keefe was sharing when he was the speaker at the Skaneateles Speaker Series organized by the Professional Services Committee of the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Read more at: Eagle News

Airbus Defence and Space and ESA Launch Bartolomeo External Commercial ISS Payload Platform

Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, and the European Space Agency (ESA), agreed today to start a joint pilot project phase to prepare the operation and utilization of a new external payload platform on the European International Space Station (ISS) laboratory Columbus. ESA and Airbus Defence and Space signed the corresponding Memorandum of Understanding on June 2, 2016 at the ILA Airshow in Berlin (Germany).

The Bartolomeo platform is envisioned to be embedded into an end-to-end service designed to provide fast, cost-efficient and reliable access to the ISS for private and institutional users on commercial terms. The Bartolomeo all-in-one payload mission service is aimed at customers from areas including Earth observation, technology demonstrators, astro- and heliophysics, material science and new space flight applications.

“With Bartolomeo, we will provide a sustained commercial external payload hosting service on the ISS”, said François Auque, Head of Space Systems.

Read more at: Spaceref

Tiny “Chipsat” Spacecraft Set for First Flight

On 6 July, if all goes to plan, a pack of about 100 sticky-note-sized ‘chipsats’ will be launched up to the International Space Station for a landmark deployment. During a brief few days of testing, the minuscule satellites will transmit data on their energy load and orientation before they drift out of orbit and burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

The chipsats, flat squares that measure just 3.2 centimetres to a side and weigh about 5 grams apiece, were designed for a PhD project. Yet their upcoming test in space is a baby step for the much-publicized Breakthrough Starshot mission, an effort led by billionaire Yuri Milner to send tiny probes on an interstellar voyage.

“We’re extremely excited,” says Brett Streetman, an aerospace engineer at the non-profit Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who has investigated the feasibility of sending chipsats to Jupiter’s moon Europa. “This will give flight heritage to the chipsat platform and prove to people that they’re a real thing with real potential.”

Read more at: Scientific American

June 3, 1965 and the First American Walk in Space

The flight of Gemini 4 launched today in 1965 for NASA’s first Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) spacewalk by Ed White on a four-day orbital mission with commander Jim McDivitt.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

First Commercial High Altitude Balloon Flight Facility Gets Major Upgrade and Integrates Drone Operations

Near Space Corporation , a commercial flight test provider supporting NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, is proud to announce a major upgrade to the Johnson Near Space Center in support of the new collocated Tillamook UAS Test Range.

The $1.4 million dollar upgrade utilized grants from the State of Oregon, to provide essential infrastructure and key range personnel to further the testing and integration of unmannedaircraft. The upgrades provide a unique instrumented range that encompasses both low and high altitude airspace for the testing of unmanned technologies outside of restricted airspace. The infrastructure includes upgrades to the Operations Control Center with new ground stations, secure data servers, local radar/ADS-B coverage, range video & communication systems, SODAR, high altitude sounding system, GPS Simulator, and other specialized test equipment.

Read more at: Spaceref

What was the Mir Space Station?

On February 20, 1986, a Proton rose off its launchpad in Kazakstan bound for low Earth orbit. Its payload was a module designated 17KS, known better as the core stage of the Mir space station. In the 15 years that followed, modules were added and rearranged, prompting some to liken history’s first modular space station to a Tinker Toy. But however non-traditional it was at the time, a lot can be gleaned from its name. “Mir” roughly translates to “peace” or “world,” but a more nuanced is the translation of “village.” If the Americans and Soviets behind their space programs are a village, Mir brought everyone together for the sake of the mission.

Mir’s story begins in 1976 with a Soviet pledge to improve on the Salyut space station program. Like the American Skylab, Salyut was a single module station such that all experiments and systems had to be launched ready to go inside the monolithic structure.

Read more at: Popsci

For Asteroid-Hunting Astronomers, Nathan Myhrvold Says the Sky is Falling

Nathan Myhrvold—wealthy former Microsoft technologist, current patent tycoon, classically trained chef, bestselling author, prize-winning photographer, PhD-holding physicist and gleeful scientific gadfly—has a new obsession: killer asteroids, or rather the researchers he suspects of botching their study.

Astronomers have found more than 14,000 potentially hazardous “near-Earth objects” (NEOs) that buzz our planet with alarming regularity, and estimate that hundreds of thousands more await discovery. Much of what we know about NEOs comes from a single spacecraft, NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), and its offshoot NEOWISE observing program. But according to a new 110-page paper Myhrvold has submitted to the journal Icarus, much of the NEOWISE catalogue is flat-out wrong. The NEOWISE team, he maintains, has wildly miscalculated the sizes and masses of many asteroids. Because bigger rocks make bigger booms when they strike Earth, Myhrvold’s claims raise the chilling possibility that when and if another errant asteroid is found hurtling our way, no one will really know how dangerous it is—not even the supposed experts.

Read more at: Scientific American

Airbus Aims High with Perlan 2 ‘Space Glider’

It’s been 40 years since an American spy plane, the Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird,” flew 85,069 feet above the surface of the earth, setting a record for sustained altitude that stands today.

But records are made to be broken, and it looks like the Blackbird’s is about to fall.

A new aircraft, the Airbus Perlan 2, is expected to be soaring soon at an altitude of 90,000 feet – 17 miles above the earth, nearly a full mile above the Blackbird’s record – where the temperature is 94 degrees below zero and the air pressure is less than 2 percent of what it is at sea level, almost as thin as the atmosphere on Mars.

But, unlike the Blackbird, a powerful beast that also holds the absolute speed record of 2,193.2 miles per hour – more than three times the speed of sound – the Perlan 2 will achieve speeds of only about 400 mph.

Read more at: Fox News

Chinese Cyber Spies Hack Taiwan Ruling Party: Security Firm

Mainland hackers were likely to be behind an attack on the website of Taiwan’s ruling party, a US-based security firm said Thursday, as the island warns of growing cyber threats.

Cross-strait relations have turned increasingly frosty since Taiwan’s new president Tsai Ing-wen of the China-sceptic Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won elections in January and took office last month, with Beijing wary the new government may seek independence.

Read more at: Space Daily