Launch of Japanese Cargo Mission Slips Due to Weather

Inclement weather forecast at the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan has again caused a postponement of the launch of a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) H-IIB rocket. The new launch date is set for Wednesday, Aug. 19 at 7:50 a.m. EDT. The rocket will send JAXA’s H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)-5 on a five-day trip to reach the International Space Station on Monday, Aug. 24. The unpiloted cargo craft, named Kounotori, Japanese for “white stork,” is loaded with more than 4.5 tons of research and supplies, including water, spare parts and experiment hardware for the six-person space station crew.

Read more at: blogs.nasa.gov

Milestone Test Firing of NASA’s SLS Monster Rocket Engine Advances Human Path to Deep Space

With today’s (Aug. 13) successful test firing of an RS-25 main stage engine for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) monster rocket currently under development, the program passed a key milestone advancing the agency on the path to propel astronauts back to deep space at the turn of the decade. The 535 second long test firing of the RS-25 development engine was conducted on the A-1 test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi – and ran for the planned full duration of nearly 9 minutes, matching the time they will fire during an actual SLS launch. All indications are that the hot fire test apparently went off without a hitch, on first look. “We ran the full duration and met all test objectives,” said Steve Wofford, SLS engine manager, on NASA TV following today’s’ test firing. “There were no anomalies.” – based on the initial look. The RS-25 is actually an upgraded version of former space shuttle main engines that were used with a 100% success rate during NASA’s three decade-long Space Shuttle program to propel the now retired shuttle orbiters to low Earth orbit. Those same engines are now being modified for use by the SLS.

Read more at: Universe Today

Ariane 6 and Vega C Begin Development

Today (12 August), ESA signed contracts for the development of the Ariane 6 new-generation launcher, its launch base and the Vega C evolution of the current small launcher. The contracts, signed at ESA’s Paris Head Office with Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL), France’s CNES space agency and ELV, respectively, cover all development work on Ariane 6 and its launch base for maiden flight in 2020, and on Vega C for its 2018 debut. “These contracts will allow the development of a family of European launchers, highly competitive in the world market and ensuring autonomous access to space at fully competitive prices for ESA’s Member States,” said Jan Woerner, Director General of ESA. “They are an important change of governance in the European launcher sector, with industry being the design authority and taking full responsibility in the development and exploitation of the launchers, and committing to deliver them to ESA and the European institutional actors at specified competitive prices.”

Read more at: ESA

Ad Astra Rocket Company Wins Major NASA Advanced Propulsion Contract

Ad Astra Rocket Company has been selected by NASA as one of the winners of the space agency’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) competitive solicitation, which opened in November of 2014. Ad Astra’s winning proposal for advancing the technology readiness of the VASIMR® engine was one of three selected in the field of advanced electric propulsion. Under this work, valued at approximately $10 million over three years, the partnership will advance the VASIMR® engine to a technology readiness level (TRL) greater than 5 – a step closer to spaceflight – with a demonstration of the VX-200-SS™ laboratory prototype, a fully integrated system capable of operating at high power continuously for a minimum of 100 hours.

Ad Astra Rocket Company is the developer of the VASIMR® engine, an advanced plasma space propulsion system aimed at the emerging in-space transportation market. Ad Astra also owns and operates supporting research and development subsidiaries in the US and Costa Rica. Through its subsidiaries, the company also develops earthbound high technology applications in renewable energy, advanced manufacturing and applied physics.

Read more at: Ad Astra Rocket Company

Former Finance Wonk Wants To (Literally) Clean Up in Space

As a teenager in 1988, Nobu Okada traveled from Japan to attend camp at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. While there he met Mamoru Mori, Japan’s first astronaut, who gave him a handwritten message: “Space is waiting for your challenge. More than 25 years later, Okada is preparing to tackle one of the most vexing challenges facing space mission planners: the increasing amount of debris in heavily traveled orbits. Through Astroscale, the Singapore-based company he founded in 2013, Okada plans to conduct a spaceflight mission in 2016 called In-situ Debris Environmental Awareness (IDEA) to gather detailed information on the tiny satellite and rocket fragments that pose a threat to spacecraft. In 2017, Astroscale plans to launch its first Active Debris Removal by Astroscale (ADRAS) mission to demonstrate technology to clean up debris

Read more at: Space News

Electrical Glitch in US Sector of ISS Fixed

Electrical glitch in the US segment has been fixed, according to a NASA source. The crew of the International Space Station has completely fixed the electrical glitch in the US segment that occurred late Tuesday night (August 11), a NASA source at the Mission Control outside Moscow said. “A glitch in the convector’s operation giving charges to the system of electrical energy for the American sector was found, which caused a break in a range of work for some systems. “The crew completely repaired the glitch in two hours overnight and everything has been running fine since,” the source told RIA Novosti.

Read more at: Space Daily

Russian Cosmonauts Clean Windows of ISS During Two-Hour Spacewalk

A pair of Russian cosmonauts began their working week on Monday by cleaning the windows of the International Space Station, floating 250 miles (400 km) above the Earth’s surface. Station commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineer Mikhail Kornienko closed the hatch on the station’s Pirs module at 1951 GMT (3:51 p.m. EDT), completing the almost six-hour spacewalk to install new equipment and carry out maintenance tasks. The cosmonauts finished the expedition 30 minutes ahead of schedule after breezing through their first task — installing equipment to help crew members maneuver outside the ISS. They later completed maintenance on various experiments, photographed the Russian section of the space station and cleaned a porthole window to remove years of dirt left by exhaust fumes from visiting ships. “They developed a (cleaning) tool kit with two swabs with handles on them. The swabs are kind of a type of terry cloth,” spacewalk specialist Devan Bolch said in a NASA video published before the walk. “It’s kind of similar to what you would use on your car headlights, when they get hazy, to clean them.”

Read more at: NBC news

Company in Canada Gets U.S. Patent For Space Elevator

Scientists working on space elevators are thinking about materials and designs that can be used to access space as an alternative to rocket technology. A sign of the times is the upcoming Space Elevator Conference 2015 which takes place this month in Seattle. Imagine, said The Spaceward Foundation, the space elevator, serving as a track on which electric vehicles called “climbers” can travel up and down carrying about 10 tons of payload. “There are no intense gravity-loads during the trip, no acoustic vibration, no onboard fuel, nor any of the rest of the drama (and cost) associated with rocket launches,” it added.

Now a Canadian company, Thoth Technology in Ontario, has a patent for a space elevator to access space. It would reach 20km (12 miles) above the planet. Its engineers said the technology could save more than 30 percent of the fuel of a conventional rocket— spacecraft and people could be lifted to a level in the atmosphere requiring less force to launch. As GCR (Global Construction Review) News described it, this is a freestanding space tower concept, held rigid by pressurized gas. In Fast Company, Charlie Sorrel had some thoughts on this: ” The patent does say that the elevator could be scaled to reach 200km, but that’s a little like saying that your bank balance could be scaled to reach $1 billion—it’s technically true, but the execution may prove tricky.”(The patent said the tower could be further scaled to provide direct access to altitudes above 200 km and with the gravitation potential of Low Earth Orbit [LEO].) The patent document reads: “The present invention is a self-supporting space elevator tower for the delivery of payloads to at least one platform or pod above the surface of the Earth for the purposes of space launch. The space elevator tower may also be used to deliver equipment, personnel and other objects or people to at least one platform or pod above the surface of the Earth for the purpose of scientific research, communications and tourism.”

Read more at: Techxplore

Elysium Space Gets Into the Moon Burial Business

The moon burial business is no longer a monopoly. San Francisco-based Elysium Space announced Wednesday (Aug. 12) that it has signed a contract with Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology to deliver people’s ashes to the surface of the moon aboard Astrobotic’s Griffin lander. Another space burial company, Houston-based Celestis, also plans to fly cremated remains to the moon using Griffin (and using the lunar lander being developed by another company, Moon Express, as well). Celestis’ moon burial options start at $12,500, while Elysium Space’s “Lunar Memorial” service costs $11,950 (though the first 50 participants will receive a special rate of $9,950).

Read more at: Space.com