Problem that Delayed Launch of Soyuz-MS Solved, Launch Due July 7 — Roscosmos

The problem that postponed the launch of the manned spacecraft Soyuz-MS has been eliminated, the CEO of the space corporation Roscosmos, Igor Komarov, told TASS in an interview on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum.

“The root cause and the problem was in the software. In principle the problem has been localized and the main glitches eliminated. I believe that the government commission will schedule the launch for July 7,” Komarov said.

On June 6, the launch of a manned spacecraft of a new series, Soyuz-MS, to the ISS was postponed from June 24 to July 7.

Read more at: TASS

Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch Lifts Veil on World’s Biggest Plane — a Giant Bet on a New Way to Space

When you walk into the place where Seattle software billionaire Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch Systems is building the world’s biggest airplane, it feels as if you’re stepping into the Starship Enterprise’s construction zone.

“It’s jaw-dropping when you walk into that hangar,” said Chuck Beames, Stratolaunch’s executive director and president of Vulcan Aerospace, during a rare tour last week.

The plane’s wing, taking shape inside a 103,000-square-foot hangar at the Mojave Air and Space Port, stands three stories off the ground and measures 385 feet from tip to tip. That’s three times longer than the distance of the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight in 1903. If the Enterprise is ever built to its “Star Trek” TV dimensions, now or in the 23rd century, the starship would be only a few dozen feet wider.

Read more at: Geekwire

Antares Return to Flight Pushed Back to August

The return to flight of Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket will be sometime in August rather than July 6.  The company is still analyzing data from its May 31 hot fire test and the timing of the launch also depends on other activities on the International Space Station (ISS).

The July 6 date has always been tentative, but in an emailed statement to SpacePolicyOnline.com today, Orbital ATK confirmed the slip to August.

We are continuing to prepare for the upcoming launch of the Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft for the OA-5 cargo logistics mission to the International Space Station from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Our Antares team recently completed a successful stage test and is wrapping up the test data analysis.

“Final trajectory shaping work is also currently underway, which is likely to result in an updated launch schedule in the August timeframe.  A final decision on the mission schedule, which takes into account the space station traffic schedule and cargo requirements, will be made in conjunction with NASA in the next several weeks. Also, our Cygnus spacecraft for the OA-6 mission successfully undocked from the space station and hosted the Spacecraft Fire Experiment-I (Saffire). The team is now performing the final OA-6 mission milestones.”

Read more at: Space Policy online

Blue Origin Successfully Crash Tests Space-tourism Capsule

The private space company headed by Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) CEO Jeff Bezos successfully landed the same Blue Shepherd rocket again Sunday after an unmanned test flight from its launch site in West Texas.

Blue Origin wants to pioneer space tourism by offering paying customers a ride to what’s known as suborbital space, reaching about 62 miles above Earth’s surface. It plans to make the first trip with passengers in about two years.

The company made another leap toward that goal on Sunday by crash testing the portion of its spacecraft intended to carry people. The capsule landed safely even though one of its three parachutes intentionally malfunctioned upon descent.

Read more at: CNN

In ISRO’s Record Space Launch, Google-Made Satellite Finds a Place

In a first, Indian space agency ISRO is set to place into Earth’s orbit a hi-tech satellite made by a Google company as part of a record-making 20-satellite launch scheduled for Wednesday from Sriharikota.

On its 36th launch, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle will fly 20 satellites into space at a cost about 10 times less than other space agencies.

As a mark of the India-US friendship, ISRO or the Indian Space Research Organisation will launch 13 American-made small satellites into space.  This includes an earth imaging satellite made by Terra Bella, a Google-owned company. The 110 kg Google satellite called SkySat Gen- 2 is capable of taking sub-meter resolution images and high definition video.

Read more at: NDTV

Reusable Rocket Clears Fourth Trial Run at Bezos Space-exploration Firm

Billionaire Jeffrey P. Bezos’s space-exploration company Blue Origin launched and landed an unmanned rocket Sunday while running a parachute failure test, a key step in checking the safety of the firm’s New Shepard vessel before sending it to space with astronauts aboard.

The mission was the fourth time the same Blue Origin rocket has flown to suborbital space and returned to Earth intact. It was the first time testers intentionally caused a failure in the landing equipment of the rocket’s capsule; the purpose of such a trial is to test backup plans meant to protect the vessel and its passengers.

The capsule, which would carry astronauts on a manned mission, landed successfully in West Texas on Sunday at 9:46 a.m., after two instead of a typical three parachutes deployed. The capsule and the rocket split after takeoff and landed separately.

Read more at: Washington Post

What Happens if GPS Fails?

In only took thirteen millionths of a second to cause a whole lot of problems.

Last January, as the U.S. Air Force was taking one satellite in the country’s constellation of GPS satellites offline, an incorrect time was accidentally uploaded to several others, making them out of sync by less time than it takes for the sound of a gunshot to leave the chamber.

The minute error disrupted GPS-dependent timing equipment around the world for more than 12 hours. While the problem went unnoticed by many people thanks to short-term backup systems, panicked engineers in Europe called equipment makers to help resolve things before global telecommunications networks began to fail. In parts of the U.S and Canada, police, fire, and EMS radio equipment stopped functioning. BBC digital radio was out for two days in many areas, and the anomaly was even detected in electrical power grids.

Read more at: Atlantic

Do We Really Need Humans to Explore Mars?

The dazzling sunlight that flooded the lake-front restaurant where I sat down with Chris Kraft in 2014 was nothing compared to the brightness in his eyes. He’d just turned 90 and was frustrated that NASA hadn’t flown any humans beyond low-Earth orbit since he was the agency’s first flight director during Apollo. As much as anyone else, Kraft had built NASA and put men on the moon. You would think he’d want to see humans on Mars soon. Instead, he spent the next 90 minutes eating pasta and explaining that Mars, for now, is best left to robots.

NASA’s justification for sending humans to Mars has something to do with jump-starting the search for life while furthering research and exploration on the red planet. However, even under the space agency’s most wildly optimistic plans, humans will not reach the surface of Mars until the late 2030s. During his lifetime, Kraft has watched the increasing sophistication of robots and artificial intelligence. He imagines that this progress will continue apace or even accelerate. With these trends, the robots and rovers of the 2030s will certainly have some impressive capabilities. If so, why should NASA spend 20 to 40 times as much to send humans to Mars when robots could be almost as able, at a fraction of the cost?

Read more at: Arstechnica

Astronaut Scott Kelly Thinks NASA Should Provide Lifetime Medical Care

Space is a vast unknown. NASA wants to send astronauts on a journey to Mars that would last at least 18 months, yet humans have so far never spent more than a week or so outside cozy low Earth orbit. What risks will those first Mars explorers face?

To help us find out, astronaut Scott Kelly spent a year in space getting bombarded by radiation, letting microgravity weaken his bones and muscles and immune system. NASA is comparing his test results with those of his twin brother, Mark, who remained on Earth, to learn what effects long-term spaceflight might have on the human body.

It’s because of those known and unknown risks that Scott Kelly, two current astronauts, and a medical ethicist told a Congressional committee yesterday that the U.S. government has an ethical obligation to provide lifetime medical care to NASA astronauts who fly into space.

Read more at: Popsci

Europe’s Orion Service Module Shipment to U.S. Delayed by Three Months

The European-built service module for NASA’s Orion crew-transport vehicle will be three months late in being shipped to the United States following modifications to the design recommended by a June 16 program review, a senior European Space Agency official said June 17.

The new shipment date has been tentatively set for late April, rather than late January. ESA, NASA and the two main industrial teams – Airbus Defence and Space for the service module and Lockheed Martin Space Systems, which is prime contractor for Orion — met June 16 at ESA’s Estec facility in Noordwijk, Netherlands, to conclude a service module critical design review.

Nico Dettman, head of ESA’s space transportation department, said the delay is partly a result of the fact that several components could not yet be assessed in the full critical design review and need more time to be integrated into the design.

Read more at: Space News

Space Agency Advertises Danger as it Recruits Astronauts

The CSA is down to two astronauts, David Saint-Jacques and Jeremy Hansen. Applications are being accepted now, and the window closes Aug. 15. And the recruiting drive is advertising the hardship and danger of the job, as well as the contribution to science that astronauts make.

“They are dedicated. Fearless. When their bodies want to quit, their spirit sets fire to their step. They are determined. Resilient,” says the two-minute video. “Where is the finish line? There is none. Astronauts train hard and charge into the unknown. They will have to adapt. To experiment…“To survive.”

To back up the part about survival, there are two video clips showing Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, who was on a spacewalk in 2013 when his helmet started filling with water. There was a leak in the cooling system of the space suit, and in the absence of gravity the water formed a floating blob that filled his ears, covered his eyes and blocked his nostrils.

Read more at: Ottawa citizen

China, United Nations Sign Cooperation Agreement on Space Station

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) have agreed to work together to develop the space capabilities of United Nations Member States via opportunities on-board China’s future space station.

Following the signing of a Framework Agreement and a Funding Agreement earlier this year, Wu Ping, Deputy Director General of CMSA, presented the project to the 59th session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) at the UN in Vienna earlier this week.

Under the agreements, UNOOSA and CMSA will work together to enable United Nations Member States, particularly developing countries, to conduct space experiments on-board China’s space station, as well as to provide flight opportunities for astronauts and payload engineers. Both parties will also promote international cooperation in human space flight and other space activities, increased awareness of the benefits of human space technology and its applications, and capacity-building activities in space technology. CMSA will provide funding support to UNOOSA in this regard.

Read more at: Parabolic Arc

NASA Ignites Fire Experiment Aboard Space Cargo Ship

Understanding how fire spreads in a microgravity environment is critical to the safety of astronauts who live and work in space. And while NASA has conducted studies aboard the space shuttle and International Space Station, risks to the crew have forced these experiments to be limited in size and scope. Fire safety will be a critical element as NASA progresses on the journey to Mars and begins to investigate deep space habitats for long duration missions.

The Spacecraft Fire Experiment (Saffire) is a three-part experiment that will be conducted over the course of three flights of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus vehicle to investigate large-scale flame spread and material flammability limits in long duration microgravity.

Read more at: Space Daily

JAXA’s Incompetence Blamed for Loss of Satellite

It’s Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)’s turn to have a problem, as the agency’s recent loss of an X-ray astronomy satellite can largely be attributed to carelessness and incompetence.

“The errors were astonishingly human,” a science and technology ministry investigative subcommittee set up to study the loss of the spacecraft said on May 24. “It seems like the organization lacked the approach to examine the overall design of the spacecraft.”

Launched Feb. 17, the X-ray satellite Hitomi had been doing fine until about a month into its mission. The spacecraft lost contact with ground control at around 4:40 p.m. on March 26. It was later confirmed that it began to spin uncontrollably, ultimately breaking up into a number of pieces.

After several failed attempts to revive the satellite, JAXA gave up and announced that it would be ending the operation of the short-lived Hitomi on April 28.

Read more at: Asahi

Bolden Urges ESA to Extend Participation in Space Station

Bolden addressed the ESA Council last week to update it on NASA’s and to make an appeal for the space agency to remain as a partner in the International Space Station through 2024.

“Seeing the potential of ISS to help solve terrestrial problems and to support our journey to Mars, in January 2014, the Obama Administration announced its commitment to extend the ISS through at least 2024. Despite tight budgets and competing domestic priorities, Russia, Japan and Canada have all also made the decision to commit to supporting ISS operations through at least 2024.

“I know that ESA ministers will be considering extending participation in the ISS at the upcoming Ministerial in the midst of competing institutional needs and while dealing with social, political and financial challenges back home. Still, I urge all of you, whether your nation is subscribed to the ISS or not, to advocate with your ministers about the importance of the Space Station for not only our near-term objectives, but also for our long-term future.”

Read more at: Parabolic Arc

Japan’s DSN-1 Military Communications Satellite Damaged During Transport to Launch Base

Japan’s DSN-1 X-band military communications satellite was damaged during transport from Japan to Europe’s Guiana Space Center spaceport in South America and will miss its planned summer launch aboard a European heavy-lift Ariane 5 rocket, also delaying its intended co-passenger, India’s GSAT-18 telecommunications satellite, industry officials said.

It remained unclear whether the damage is severe enough to require the satellite to be returned to Japan or can be treated at the spaceport facilities. Also unknown is whether the damage occurred during loading or unloading of the satellite, or during its air transport from Japan.

Read more at: Space News

Russia, China to Sign Deal Paving Way to Rocket Engine Contract — Deputy PM

Russia and China plan to sign an agreement on protection of intellectual property in the sphere of rocket and space technology during the upcoming visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to China in late June. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told reporters on Monday after a meeting of the Russian-Chinese intergovernmental commission for preparing regular meetings of the government heads that China is interested in buying Russia’s RD-180 engines, and Russia – in getting Chinese micro radio electronics for space purposes.

“Agreements both on the first and second issues will be reached when we sign during the upcoming visit of President Vladimir Putin to China an agreement on protection of intellectual property. Consequently, this opens for us the way to concluding two major contracts”, he said.

Read more at: TASS

New Record and Successful Launch for Ariane 5

Ariane 5 launched two telecommunication satellites weighing a total of 10.730 tonnes into space from the European spaceport in Kourou, a new record for the European launcher specialised in heavy payloads. The previous record of 10.5 tonnes, dates back to February 2013.

“Yet again, Ariane 5 has demonstrated itself as a leader on the world market, which doesn’t just happen by chance,” said François Auque, Head of Space Systems. “This new record is just one of the many results of the Airbus Defence and Space and Airbus Safran Launchers teams’ determination to continually improve the performance and competitiveness of the European launcher.”

Read more at: Airbus Defence and Space

Space Station Crew Lands Safely

Three crew members from the International Space Station returned to Earth at 5:15 a.m. EDT (3:15 p.m. Kazakhstan time) Saturday after wrapping up 186 days in space and several NASA research studies in human health.

Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra of NASA, flight engineer Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) and Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos touched down southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

The crew completed the in-flight portion of NASA human research studies in ocular health,cognition, salivary markers and microbiome. From the potential development of vaccines, to data that could be relevant in the treatment of patients suffering from ocular diseases, such as glaucoma, the research will help NASA prepare for human long-duration exploration while also benefiting people on Earth.

Read more at: Parabolic Arc

ESA, Roscosmos to Sign Cooperation Agreement on Russian Satellites

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia’s state-run space corporation Roscosmos will soon sign an agreement on cooperation on the Bion program, Jean-Yves Le Gall, the President of France’s National Center for Space Studies (CNES), said on Monday.

“We are preparing a cooperation agreement with Roscosmos in the area of the space science and micro-gravitation research under the Bion program, which we hope to sign with Mr. Komarov [Roscosmos’ head Igor Komarov – TASS] within weeks,” he told journalists.

Bion is a series of Russia satellites used to study radiation and zero gravity effects on living organisms. The first such satellite, Kosmos-605, was launched as far back as 1973. The first satellite of the Bion-M series was orbited in 2013.

Read more at: TASS

High-Tech Telescope for Dangerous Asteroids Detection Launched in Russia

At the Sayan Observatory of the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, trial operation of the first wide-angle telescope in Russia has started. The new telescope will be able to view any asteroid or comet from thousands of miles away before their collision with Earth.

“Within just 30 seconds the telescope can get information about an asteroid of 50 m in size and at a distance of one astronomical unit — 150 million km. This means that the telescope will be able to view any object from that distance, parameters of which could be comparable to the Tunguska meteorite,” Shustov further said.

Read more at: Sputnik News

McCain Stands Down: Congress Reaches Compromise on Russian Rockets

The Senate war over Russian rocket engines appears to be over, as lawmakers have agreed that an all-out boycott benefits no one. Debate over this year’s US defense budget centered around the purchase of Russian-made RD-180 rocket engines. Designed and manufactured by NPO Energomash, the rockets are a key element of the Atlas V launch vehicles, providing a cost-effective alternative to the Delta IV, Washington’s only other current option.

Arizona Senator John McCain led a charge to ban the Russian-made engines, citing security concerns. Now McCain has backed down. Reaching a compromise, the Senate Armed Services Committee presented an amendment to the defense policy bill that places an end date of 2022 for the RD-180’s use, and limits the number that the US military can purchase to 18.

Read more at: Space Daily

Can We Defend What We Put in Space?

Space, officially, is at peace. The Outer Space Treaty from 1967 declared space free from nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, and with remarkably few known exceptions, space exists as a weapon-free place. But the absence of weapons does not mean the absence of targets, and with everything from GPS to reconnaissance to communications requiring earth-orbiting bundles of electronics, figuring out how to protect space is an ongoing challenge. At the Atlantic Council, James Hasik of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security contemplates two ideas for space defense: scorched orbit, and systems protecting systems.

Read more at: Popsci

Space Command Readies for War with ‘Space Enterprise Vision’

Air Force Space Command has created a blueprint for fighting and winning wars in space, known by the innocuous title of the Space Enterprise Vision. The existence of the plan is not classified but many of its working elements are.

The SEV is “an all-encompassing look at all the things we need to do to create more resilience in our space forces, enhance them, and respond to threats,” Air Force Space Command spokesman Col. John Dorrian says.

It includes current weapon systems and those planned for the near future, as well as changes to training and organization. It isn’t a direct result of the government-wide Space Portfolio Review, according to Dorrian, but it is “related.” A large part of the reason for that distinction, I think, is because the SPR dealt in great detail with US spy satellites, which Space Command does not  control.

Read more at: Breaking Defense

The First American Woman in Space Shattered a Major Glass Ceiling 33 Years Ago

“To boldly go where no man has gone before.” That’s how space travel is described in the brief monologue that preceded nearly every episode of Star Trek I watched as a kid. I was 9 years old when Janeway became the show’s first central female captain, and space still seemed a man’s domain. Back on Earth, however, one woman had worked hard to shatter the cosmos’ highest glass ceiling for American women. Thirty-three years ago today, with the launch of the space shuttle Challenger, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space.

The early days of space exploration — Russian Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first human to blast into space on April 12, 1961 — were undoubtedly a boy’s club. Space largely remained uncharted territory for women for more than two decades. Although the Soviet Union would send a woman to space two years after Gagarin, it would take another 19 years before a second woman would follow. As the third woman in space, Ride’s historic voyage came 20 years and two days after the Soviet Union’s Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space.

Read more at: Bustle