Footage Shows Meteorite Touching Down On SA / Botswana Border

CCTV cameras capture all kinds of horrid activities, but sometimes they also capture nature at its finest.

This weekend that meant two meteorites falling in the North West province, although other accounts peg them as having landed in Botswana, just the other side of our borders. Either way, witnesses reported seeing “at least two bright fireballs” just before 7PM on Saturday.

Times LIVE report that “a local farmer near Ottosdal in North West‚ Barend Swanepoel, shared CCTV footage on Facebook of what appeared to be a meteorite hitting the earth at 6:49PM”.

Read more at: 2oceansvibe

Incredible Moment Falling Meteor Lights Up the Night Sky Over China Before ‘Smashing into a Villager’s House’

People in south-west China were left stunned as a blazing meteorite illuminated the night sky of Yunnan Province on Friday night. Footage of the spectacular phenomenon shows the meteorite shooting across the sky in a flaming path as it enters the earth’s atmosphere at about 9:41pm. The meteorite then smashed into a villager’s home, leaving a hole on its clay roof, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

‘There was a loud noise,’ said Mr Yan, a villager in the autonomous prefecture Xishuangbanna. ‘It almost sounded like a plane.’ ‘The entire sky lit up and it seemed that something was falling from the sky,’ he said.

Read more at: Dailymail

Heavier Astronauts have Higher Risk of Post-flight Eye Changes

New research suggests that changes in the eye that occur during spaceflight may be related to how much an astronaut weighs. The study is published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology—Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

Reduced gravity levels (microgravity) in space can lead to spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome (SANS) in some astronauts. SANS refers to structural changes in the eye that may impair vision, including swelling of the optic nerve (optic disc edema) and colored indentations (choroidal folds) in the blood vessel network at the back of the eye. Researchers now think that how much a person weighs may play a role in these ocular changes.

Read more at: aps

SpaceX Just Missed Catching Rocket Nose Cone During Launch Last Week

SpaceX hasn’t yet plucked a falling payload fairing out of the sky, but it’s getting closer.

The company’s net-equipped boat, Mr. Steven, just missed catching half of the fairing that protected two NASA Earth-observation satellites during their launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket last week, SpaceX representatives said.

“Falcon 9 fairing halves deployed their parafoils and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean last week after the launch of Iridium-6/GRACE-FO. Closest half was ~50m from SpaceX’s recovery ship, Mr. Steven.” SpaceX wrote via Twitter Thursday

Read more at: Space.com

Astronaut to Join USC Faculty

Garrett Reisman, Director of Space Operations at SpaceX and a former NASA astronaut, will be joining the faculty of the Department of Astronautical Engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. Reisman, who has participated in three space shuttle missions and spent three months on the International Space Station, will join USC as a full-time faculty member on June 1, 2018.

At the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, Reisman will teach undergraduate and graduate level astronautical engineering students, and advise the Department and the School on various space-related issues. In addition, he is expected to provide support to the student-run, student-operated Rocket Propulsion Lab and the Liquid Propulsion Lab.

“We are elated with Dr. Reisman joining our faculty,” said USC Viterbi School of Engineering Dean, Yannis C. Yortsos. “Garrett will provide invaluable contributions to our programs and our students from his experience as astronaut, and Director of Space Operations at SpaceX. I look forward to working closely with him as we expand our already strong efforts in space.”

Read more at: Viterbi school

Branson Takes Another Leap Towards Space Tourism

Sir Richard Branson’s attempt to send tourists into orbit has taken a step forward with the second successful trial of his company’s spacecraft.

VSS Unity fired its main engine and reached a height of 114,500ft over California before landing in the Mojave desert on Tuesday afternoon. It achieved a top speed of Mach 1.9.

The spacecraft was lifted by WhiteKnightTwo, a carrier plane, to a height of 45,600ft before being released. It was the second test flight in less than two months. It is nearly four years since Virgin Atlantic’s original spacecraft, VSS Enterprise, crashed during a test in October 2014, killing its co-pilot. The aim is to send tourists into space.

Read more at: Times

New Federal Policy would Hike Student Spacecraft Costs, Threatening Technology Education

There are only a handful of astronauts, but every year thousands of high school and college students get to visit space vicariously, by launching their own satellites. Students design, build and test each one, and then work with space industry professionals to get them loaded on rockets and launched into orbit. But this opportunity – available to students and educators for more than 30 years – may not continue much longer, as the Federal Communications Commission considers hiking communications licensing fees beyond the reach of most students and schools.

In a move that threatens U.S. education in science, technology, engineering and math, and could have repercussions throughout the country’s aerospace industry, the FCC is proposing regulations that may license some educational satellite programs as commercial enterprises. That could force schools to pay a US$135,350 annual fee – plus a $30,000 application fee for the first year – to get the federal license required for a U.S. organization to operate satellite communications.

Read more at: Conversation

The Summer of Small Launchers

Rocket Lab, the US-New Zealand developer of the Electron small launch vehicle, has taken a somewhat whimsical approach to naming its missions. Its first test flight, last May, was called, straightforwardly enough, “It’s a Test.” Its second launch, another test flight in January, was called, sure enough, “Still Testing.”

With the success of that mission, the company decided to skip a planned third test launch and move into commercial service. That flight was thus named “It’s Business Time,” and was scheduled for April before a problem with a motor controller in one of the nine first-stage engines led them to postpone the launch.

Read more at: Space review

The Space Age and a New Age for Health Care: The Technology of Saving Lives

If you want to touch a product of the Space Age, reach for your pocket or purse. Take out your smartphone or tablet, whose features are some of the many inventions created by NASA. Touch the screen of your mobile device, in which tools such as GPS, weather reports, live video transmissions, internet connectivity and images of the Earth are the result of a network of low-orbiting satellites.

None of these things would be possible — and few, if any, would be affordable — without the nation’s space program. Indeed, before these things became part of everyday life, they were the stuff of science fiction — props used by astronauts in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” among other films, to depict a future of revolutionary (albeit mostly large) computers and consumer electronics.

Read more at: Space.com

ESA Astronaut Luca Parmitano to be Space Station Commander on his Next Flight

Next year ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is returning to the International Space Station for his second mission and he will be acting as commander of the weightless research outpost during the second part of his flight.

Luca was the first of ESA’s astronauts selected in 2009 to fly to the Space Station in 2013 and stayed for 166 days. On his Volare mission Luca conducted two spacewalks and collected data for many experiments that are still running today.

Luca commented on the news: “I am honoured that the Space Station programme chose me for this role, and at the same time I am humbled by the task.”

Read more at: ESA

Here’s What Astronauts Will Look for Flying on SpaceX and Boeing Spaceships

NASA astronauts are helping the agency’s commercial crew program get ready for spaceflight, by working on the design and development of private spaceships and spacesuits as well as training operations for them. The goal is to ensure safe flights for future astronaut crews.

In 2014, NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX to fly agency astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS); SpaceX received a contract worth up to $2.6 billion and Boeing a deal valued at up to $4.2 billion.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule and SpaceX’s human-rated Dragon spacecraft are expected to complete their uncrewed test flights later this year. The first crewed flights may follow in 2019 or 2020. Now, a joint test team is working to share technical expertise, to come up with procedures to train crews and to assess the spacecraft’s interfaces with astronauts.

Read more at: Space.com

NASA to Request Proposals for First Gateway Element Later this Summer

NASA now expects to release a draft request for proposals for the first element of the proposed Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway this summer, several months later that previously planned.

In an update posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website May 31, NASA said it expects to release the draft solicitation for the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) of the Gateway in June or July, followed by an industry day at the Glenn Research Center. The update didn’t state when a final solicitation would be released, but said NASA expected final proposals to be due in November.

In the previous formal update about the PPE program, posted to the same website in February, NASA said it was expecting to release a draft solicitation in April, with proposals due in late July. The agency didn’t explain the delayed schedule for the PPE program in its statement.

Read more at: Spacenews

The Private Space Race: By the Numbers

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk aims to send two people into orbit around the moon—the first entirely private passenger flight ever. His original target was 2018, but the development of a new rocket reset the clock. The estimated price for a seat? Anywhere from $70 million to $175 million.

Blue Origin, the Kent, Wash., company founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, hopes to offer tourists 11-minute rides to the edge of space as early as this year. It hasn’t yet disclosed a price.

Read more at: Fortune

Firing Up a New Alloy

A centuries-old materials bonding process is being tested aboard the International Space Station in an experiment that could pave the way for more materials research of its kind aboard the orbiting laboratory. Sintering is the process of heating different materials to compress their particles together.

“In space the rules of sintering change,” said Rand German, principal investigator for the investigation titled NASA Sample Cartridge Assembly-Gravitational Effects on Distortion in Sintering (MSL SCA-GEDS-German). “The first time someone tries to do sintering in a different gravitational environment beyond Earth or even microgravity, they may be in for a surprise. There just aren’t enough trials yet to tell us what the outcome could be. Ultimately we have to be empirical, give it a try, and see what happens.”

Read more at: Eurekalert

NASA Astronaut Reveals the Lows of Space Travel: Packing Poop With her Hand

Just in case you watched those videos of giant rockets landing in tandem or of Elon Musk’s car gliding through orbit and fell under the delusion that modern space flight is glamorous, please listen to NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson’s story about how she regularly packed poo with her hand.

Actually, not yet; that might be too much too soon. Let’s start with the basics of the International Space Station’s toilet.

Read more at: Washington Post

Greening the Future of Outer Space

The Outer Space Treaty—written in 1967 and signed by all the major world powers—is the closest thing we have to a constitution for space. For a document conceived before the moon landing, it’s remarkably forward-looking: it declares “celestial bodies” like the moon and asteroids off-limits for private development and requires countries authorize and continually supervise companies’ activities in space. It also says that space exploration should be carried out for the benefit of all peoples, and it explicitly prohibits weapons of mass destruction in space.

But even with that impressive scope of vision, the treaty’s authors could never have imagined where we’d be now. Currently there are 1,738 man-made satellites in orbit around our planet. As they become more affordable to build and launch—think of them as the drones of low Earth orbit—they’ll no doubt proliferate and vie for valuable real estate there with space stations, space tourists, space colonists, space miners, military spacecraft, and thousands of derelict satellites and other immobile debris.

Read more at: Smithsonian

Why China is Opening its Space Station to International Partners

China this week opened its planned space station to international participation, in cooperation with the United Nations. The call for proposals for research to be carried out aboard the orbital facility has generally been welcomed, but what are China’s motives for sharing its space station?

In general terms, sending humans to space is incredibly challenging and risky, and therefore expensive. China, like other nations, will look to reap all the dividends possible for its investment in the Chinese Space Station (CSS), a project started in 1992 that first sought to develop the capability to put astronauts in orbit.

Read more at: Gbtimes

A Step Towards a “One-stop Shop” for Commercial Space Regulations

This time, the administration’s latest milestone in space policy got a little less media attention.

In the past, the White House heralded such milestones, such as the signing of the executive order last June re-establishing the National Space Council after a quarter-century hiatus or the signing last December of Space Policy Directive 1 that formally instructed NASA to return humans to the Moon, with signing ceremonies. Members of Congress and industry officials would stand by while the president signed the order and made some comments, often along with Vice President Mike Pence.

The signing last Thursday of Space Policy Directive (SPD) 2, though, was a quieter affair, without the same pomp and circumstance. President Trump signed the policy in the Oval Office, documented by a single official photo of the president holding the signed document along with Pence and National Space Council staff. The signing itself, once planned for Thursday morning, was moved to the afternoon.

Read more at: Space review

Guess Who’s Unhappy About Elon Musk’s SpaceX

SpaceX has astonished the world during the past few years, perfecting the art of reusable rockets and thus bringing down the cost of launching things into space. As a result, a customer can expect to pay $62 million to launch something on a Falcon 9, a price that is expected to come down as the block 5 version comes into service.

The United States military, NASA, and commercial companies are thrilled to be able to pay what a few years ago would be absurdly rock-bottom prices for a space launch. However, SpaceX’s competitors are less than thrilled by the upstart rocket company.

Read more at: Hill

Who will Own Space as Commercialization Trend Continues?

President Trump signed a memorandum last week on the commercialization of outer space. The goal is to treat space like other platforms such as internet, highways and American air space.

During his inaugural address, President Trump, in a most poetic way, said “We stand at the birth of a millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space.” Not long after, NASA’s acting administrator mentioned the agency will study the risk and costs of putting astronauts on the first flight by a giant new rocket in 2021.

Read more at: Florida Today

After Rancorous Confirmation Fight, NASA’s Bridenstine Mends Fences with the Democrats who Opposed him

In his first appearance before Congress as NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine last week was pointedly asked whether his views on climate change had evolved and whether he now believed humans were the primary cause of global warming.

Yes on both counts, the Trump-appointed chief of the nation’s space program conceded during a sparsely attended hearing on the NASA budget before the Senate Appropriations Committee. “It is extremely likely that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming and I have no reason to doubt the science that comes from that,” he told senators, affirming the long-held consensus of government scientists.

Read more at: USA Today

Where does Outer Space Start?

Where’s the edge of space? What seems like a simple question has an answer with more layers than the Earth’s atmosphere. You might expect that space begins where the atmosphere ends, and that could be true. But, as it turns out, no one can tell exactly where that point is. And the majority of scientists look much closer to home, placing the edge of space well within the bounds of the atmosphere.

The most widely accepted definition of the “edge of space” is 100 kilometers above the Earth’s surface (approximately 62 miles, though the number is often rounded down to 60). That altitude is what’s known as the Kármán Line, named for Hungarian physicist and engineer Theodore von Kármán, who determined that aeronautics would no longer work at that altitude.

Read more at: Popsci

Zero 2 Infinity Completed Another Successful Launch from Europe’s Stratoport, this Time for Airbus

On the afternoon of April 23rd, Zero 2 Infinity (Z2I) performed another successful flight to Near Spacefrom Europe’s Stratoport.

The aim of the launch was to test a equiplment Europe’s leading aerospace company: Airbus. The Z2I and Airbus teams worked as one on the pre-flight preparations during the month of April. All the operations were performed from Europe’s Stratoport, also known as the Air Traffic Laboratory for Advanced unmanned Systems, or ATLAS, in Villacarrillo, Spain.

This unique test flight center provides the right combination of field experts, dedicated infrastructure, clear airspace and excellent weather. From unmanned aerial vehicles to vehicles flying above controlled airflight, FADA-CATEC, who owns the Stratoport, is pushing the limits of what is possible, doing research and development now to enable the businesses of tomorrow.

Read more at: Space Daily

Germany Trades P120 Booster Production for Ariane 6 Turbo Pumps, Upper Stage Carbon Fiber Research

European Space Agency member states have agreed to keep all production of P120 solid rocket boosters in Italy instead of opening a second production line in Germany.

Germany will instead produce turbo pumps for the upcoming Ariane 6 rocket and redirect its P120 funds towards technology maturation work on a carbon fiber upper stage that could give Ariane 6 another 1,000 kilograms of lift capacity.

The compromise, reached during a May 17-18 meeting of the ESA launcher program board in Frascati, Italy, puts to rest the controversial division of P120 production. The 2016 decision, while popular in Germany, was viewed unfavorably in Italy.

Read more at: Spacenews

To Win the New Space Race, US Must Abandon Clunky, Outdated Systems

The United States is at an historic inflection point in terms of its national security. Depending on the path Washington takes, America will either secure its leadership and dominance in space for the foreseeable future or cede the high ground to competitors like China and Russia.

If the United States government can break its outdated model of acquisition, seize upon the new and emerging capabilities offered by commercial companies in space, and rapidly integrate advanced technologies into the national security space architecture, America will control the highest ground for the next generation and beyond.

But, if Washington continues to rely on its overly bureaucratic acquisitions systems and risk calculus, it will lose the new space race. This may sound hyperbolic, but it is the critical risk our country faces today.

Read more at: Hill

DARPA to Begin New Effort to Build Military Constellations in Low Earth Orbit

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency next week will start reviewing bids from space industry vendors as it sets out to prove that there are cheaper, nimbler alternatives to traditional military satellites.

DARPA last year launched the project known as Blackjack with the goal to develop a low Earth orbit constellation to provide global persistent coverage for military operations. The closing date for bids is June 6.

Laying a path for the military to transition from huge satellites in geostationary Earth orbit to constellations of smaller and less expensive platforms in LEO has been a longtime pursuit at DARPA. That goal recently took on greater urgency as the military weighs replacing existing constellations  that could be targeted by enemies with more resilient systems that would be easier to reconstitute if they came under electronic or kinetic attack.

Read more at: Spacenews

Why DARPA Wants Everyone to Launch Tiny Satellites

You could be excused, when you first hear Dane Rudy describe his company, for thinking that he wants to use raccoons to send satellites into space. Trash pandas, though, are not the future that Rudy is talking about.

He’s talking about rockoons—rockets launched from high-altitude balloons. Rockoons trace their trajectory back to the military, like the 1950s Air Force program called Farside.

Rockoons, Rudy believes, deserve a reboot. Through his company, Leo Aerospace, he wants to balloon small satellites into the stratosphere, then shoot them to orbit with rockets. When launched from the ground, rockets require lots of fuel to push through the dense air of those first miles. If another vehicle floats them way up before they have to fire, they can use their fuel for what really matters—getting to space—rather than wasting it on leaving the ground. Right now, small satellites usually have to carpool on serious rockets, with names like Falcon, which is inconvenient, inefficient, expensive, slow—all the things small satellites are supposed to not be.

Read more at: Wired

Why the US Needs a ‘Coast Guard’ in Space – Analysis

Last week, tech journalist Ramin Skibba wrote an op-ed for The Hill where he analogised some of the challenges of 21st century space exploration to those faced in the maritime environment.  Skibba wrote that the United States is “in dire need of a single national organisation dedicated to authorising and regulating activities in orbit and beyond.” If we are to apply the maritime analogy to space governance as Skibba suggests, it only makes sense to look to the US Coast Guard as a model for that agency.

The idea of a “Space Guard”, first conceived of by the US Air Force officer Cynthia A.S. McKinley and later expounded on by space journalist James C. Bennett, is back in fashion. A Space Guard, modeled after the Coast Guard is so appealing because if such an agency were truly a Coast Guard analogue, it would be vested with nearly every regulatory, management, and operating authority that the United States would need for the effective governance of space.

Read more at: Eurasia review

The Galileo Space Row Shows the Mess of Brexit in Microcosm

A row over the UK’s access to the Galileo project, the European satellite global-positioning system used both for civil and military purposes, is the latest tussle about what Brexit would mean for British science and technology. For all the familiar, rhetorical huffing and puffing, the dispute is another illustration of the myriad small-print complexities that need to be resolved if the UK departs from the EU.

The government’s position, outlined in a document just released by the UK Space Agency, is that the UK wants to retain its participation in Galileo, including access to classified data from the satellite system needed for security and defence.

Read more at: Guardian

The 12 Men who Walked on the Moon

Alan L. Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon, died on May 26, 2018, in Houston.

Neil Armstrong stepped into history on July 20, 1969, leaving the first human footprint on the surface of the moon. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” Armstrong is famously quoted as saying after walking on the moon, but in interviews he claimed that he meant to say “one small step for a man.” Armstrong died in 2012 at age 82 following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.

Read more at: NBC News

NASA Reveals Logo for 50th Anniversary of Apollo Moon Missions

NASA has taken “one small step” towards celebrating its history, while also promoting its next “giant leap.”

The space agency on Friday (June 1) unveiled its logo for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Program. From October 2018 through December 2022, NASA will mark a half century since astronauts to journeyed the moon.

Over the same four years, NASA will continue its push to return astronauts to the lunar surface and, ultimately, send crews to Mars. “The logo offers a nod to the past with a few elements borrowed from the original program emblem, and a glimpse into the future with a graphic depiction of NASA’s vision for the next half-century of deep space exploration,” NASA described on its website.

Read more at: Collect space

Quality Assurance for Space Projects

26 – 29 June 2018 – 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 full description of the course in the IAASS Professional Training Courses Catalog (download from the right bar on this page). Please register for attendance at the course by sending a completed Space Quality Assurance June 2018 – Booking Form to Catherine Lenehan by e-mail: [email protected]

Read more at: IAASS

“Safe Passage to Mars” Design Challenge

“Safe Passage to Mars” is a design challenge for undergraduate students. Enabling safe space exploration of Moon, Mars and beyond requires the application of the concepts of Engineering Psychology to design and build hardware (tools, devices, or equipment) which can mitigate critical human performance issues associated with long-duration spaceflight.

Read more at: ISSF