Power Anomaly Forces End of Mission for Copernicus Sentinel-1B Satellite

On December 23, 2021, Copernicus Sentinel-1B experienced an anomaly related to the instrument electronics power supply provided by the satellite platform, leaving it unable to deliver radar data. Spacecraft operators and engineers have been working tirelessly since then to rectify the issue. Unfortunately, despite all concerted efforts, ESA (European Space Agency) and the European Commission announce that it is the end of the mission for Sentinel-1B. Copernicus Sentinel-1A remains fully operational and plans are in force to launch Sentinel-1C as soon as possible.

Read more at: scitech daily

Subsurface Water On Mars Defy Expectations: Physics Connects Seismic Data To Properties Of Rocks And Sediments

A new analysis of seismic data from NASA’s Mars InSight mission has revealed a couple of surprises.

The first surprise: the top 300 meters of the subsurface beneath the landing site near the Martian equator contains little or no ice.

“We find that Mars’ crust is weak and porous. The sediments are not well-cemented. And there’s no ice or not much ice filling the pore spaces,” said geophysicist Vashan Wright of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego.

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Nelson Satisfied With NASA Authorization Act

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson says the agency has “gotten what we need” from an authorization bill that became law Aug. 9.

President Joe Biden signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act during a White House ceremony. The bill, primarily intended to stimulate domestic production of semiconductors, included the first NASA authorization act in more than five years. Its provisions featured support for NASA’s exploration programs and a formal extension of International Space Station operations to 2030.

Read more at: Spacenews

India’s New Rocket Fails To Put Satellites In Right Orbit In Debut Launch

India’s new rocket launched for the first time on Saturday night (Aug. 6) but failed to deliver its satellite payloads into their intended orbit due to a sensor issue.

The 112-foot-tall (34 meters) Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) lifted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre on India’s southeastern coast on Saturday at 11:48 p.m. EDT (0348 GMT and 9:18 a.m. India Standard Time on Sunday, Aug. 7) with two satellites onboard.

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Watch NASA’s Next-Generation Lunar Gateway Space Station Build Up In Concept Video

Like a celestial Lego set, a new NASA video shows parts of a lunar station coming together. Gateway, a space station which will support the Artemis human missions to the moon, will require several assembly missions, shown in detail in a new YouTube video (opens in new tab) from the NASA Johnson Space Center.

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Caught in a Solar Storm on the Way to Mars

A chance alignment between Earth and a Mars-bound spacecraft has given us a rare glimpse into the movement of high-energy particles from the Sun. The data from this event can help researchers understand the radiation environment near Mars — a key factor in planning crewed missions to our neighboring planet and beyond.

Read more at: SkyandTelescope

Mars Astronauts Would Get Unsafe Radiation Doses Even With Shielding

A crewed mission to Mars would expose astronauts to radiation levels higher than the safe limits set by space agencies, even with metal shielding, simulations have revealed. There have been real-world and simulated studies of radiation doses in space, but these tend to be either time-limited or restricted in scope, such as only accounting for specific organs or focusing on men only.

Read more at: Newscientist

Intensifying Solar Storms a Mounting Headache for Unprepared Satellite Operators

We’re in the third year of the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle, and satellites in low Earth orbit are already experiencing the deleterious effects. Scientists are now warning that the worst is yet to come, as the current cycle is proving to be stronger than forecasters anticipated.

A panel of space weather experts expressed these concerns at the recently concluded 36th Small Satellite Conference organized by the Secure World Foundation. Speaking on August 8, Tzu-Wei Fang, a space scientist at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), offered a bleak outlook for the next several years.

Read more at: Gizmodo

A ‘Potentially Hazardous’ Blue-Whale-Size Asteroid Will Zip Through Earth’s Orbit On Friday

A “potentially hazardous” asteroid the size of a blue whale is set to zip past Earth on Friday (Aug. 12), according to NASA (opens in new tab).

The asteroid, named 2015 FF, has an estimated diameter between 42 and 92 feet (13 and 28 meters), or about the body length of an adult blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), and it will zoom past the Earth at 20,512 mph (33,012 km/h).

Read more at: livescience

First Asteroid Found By Satellite Is Also The STRANGEST Asteroid, Says NASA

Asteroid Phaethon was the first to be discovered by a satellite. But it turns out that it is also the strangest asteroid in our solar system. What makes it so unusual? NASA explains.

Asteroids, just like planets and stars and other celestial bodies, come in various shapes and sizes and attributes. But some of them are more dangerous and strange than the others. Asteroid 3200 Phaethon is one of those asteroids. It is the first ever asteroid to be discovered using a satellite and ever since its discovery it has baffled the astronomers. In fact, it would not be an overstatement to say that this asteroid is perhaps one of the most bizarre in our solar system.

Read more at: Hindustan times

Meteor Hitting Atmosphere Is ‘Likely’ Cause For Loud Boom Heard In Utah And Idaho, Officials Say

A high-altitude meteor which blew up when it hit the atmosphere “is likely the best theory” for a loud boom heard across portions of northern Utah and southern Idaho on Saturday, said Utah Gov. Spencer Cox.

Cox, a Republican, said in a tweet he heard a loud boom while he was running in Salt Lake City early Saturday morning. “We have confirmed it was not seismic/earthquake and not related to our military instillations,” his tweet continued.

Read more at: CNN


Intelsat And Oneweb To Provide Multi-Orbit Inflight Connectivity

Intelsat said Aug. 11 it has signed a global distribution deal with OneWeb to provide multi-orbit inflight connectivity solutions for airlines.

The agreement enables Intelsat, which currently uses satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO) to connect airline passengers, to also provide low Earth orbit (LEO) solutions once OneWeb deploys the last third of its constellation. 

The companies expect to be able to provide the multi-orbit services by 2024.

Read more at: Spacenews

Elon Musk’s SpaceX Emerges As Partner For European Space Agency

The European Space Agency has begun preliminary technical discussions with Elon Musk’s SpaceX that could lead to the temporary use of its launchers after the Ukraine conflict blocked Western access to Russia’s Soyuz rockets.

The private American competitor to Europe’s Arianespace has emerged as a key contender to plug a temporary gap alongside Japan and India, but final decisions depend on the still unresolved timetable for Europe’s delayed Ariane 6 rocket.

Read more at: Nypost

D-Orbit To Deploy 20 Astrocast Satellites Over Three Years

Italy’s D-Orbit said Aug. 9 that it would launch 20 nanosatellites over three years for Swiss startup Astrocast with its orbital transfer vehicle.

The first mission under their agreement is slated for no sooner than November 2022 on a SpaceX Falcon 9, which will launch D-Orbit’s ION Satellite Carrier with four Astrocast satellites onboard.

Each satellite in this batch is 3U, or the size of three cubesats, and will be dropped off at a 500-600-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) to improve coverage for Astrocast’s internet of things (IoT) constellation.

Read more at: Spacenews

Starlink Satellites Encounter Russian ASAT Debris Squalls

Debris from a Russian antisatellite weapon demonstration that caused “squalls” of close approaches to satellites earlier this year is now affecting a new series of Starlink satellites.

During a presentation at a Secure World Foundation event during the Small Satellite Conference here Aug. 8, Dan Oltrogge, chief scientist at COMSPOC, said his company found a “conjunction squall” affecting Starlink satellites Aug. 6, with a spike in the number of close approaches of debris from the former Cosmos 1408 satellite.

Read more at: Spacenews

Rocket Lab Plans Another Helicopter Catch Later This Year

Keep your eyes out for another rocket-grabbing helicopter snatch. Rocket Lab officials plan to snag another falling Electron booster out of the air by the end of 2022, they announced Thursday (Aug. 11) during a quarterly results call. CEO Peter Beck told analysts that the data from the epic helicopter catch in May indicates that everything mostly went to plan. This is despite the fact that the helicopter pilots released Rocket Lab’s booster into the water due to concerns about how their rotorcraft was flying.

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NASA, Space Force Resolve SLS Flight Termination System Issue

NASA and the U.S. Space Force have resolved an issue with the flight termination system on the Space Launch System that could have cut short the vehicle’s inaugural launch campaign.

In an update late Aug. 12, NASA said it worked with Space Launch Delta 45, the Space Force unit that operates the Eastern Range, to extend the certification of the flight termination system (FTS) on the rocket from 20 to 25 days. That extension will be valid for all attempts for the upcoming Artemis 1 mission.

Read more at: Spacenews

Making Oxygen With Magnets Could Help Astronauts Breathe Easy

A potentially better way to make oxygen for astronauts in space using magnetism has been proposed by an international team of scientists, including a University of Warwick chemist.

The conclusion is from new research on magnetic phase separation in microgravity published in npj Microgravity by researchers from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, University of Colorado Boulder and Freie Universität Berlin in Germany.

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Hermeus Plans Engine Tests On Mach 5 Hypersonic Concept Aircraft

Hypersonic aircraft hopeful Hermeus reports it expects to complete several engine test runs by October for its “Quarterhorse” Mach 5 scaled testing concept aircraft. The turbine-based combined cycle engine, based on the venerable GE J85 jet, is part of the program jointly funded by the U.S. Air Force in a $60 million 50/50 public-private investment agreement. From the USAF perspective, the deal focuses on capturing flight testing data with an eye toward future procurement decisions.

Read more at: avweb

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Discovers Thermally Stable Areas In Surface Pits Suitable For Future Lunar Bases

Using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a group of NASA-funded researchers has discovered that shaded locations inside surface pits on the lunar surface harbor comfortable temperatures that could prove useful for future lunar exploration.

Furthermore, LRO continues to operate in a healthy state around the Moon and is regularly returning data, so much so that NASA awarded the spacecraft and teams a mission extension back in April, which will allow the craft to continue its observations of the Moon.

Read more at: NASAspaceflight

Spaceflight’s Chemically Powered Space Tug Heads For Launch

Spaceflight shipped its Sherpa-LTC2 orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) Aug. 10 to Cape Canaveral in Florida, where it will make a second attempt to debut the chemically powered space tug on a SpaceX launch.

The Seattle-based company’s first Sherpa-LTC, which has more powerful thrusters for dropping satellites off in specific orbits post-launch faster than the other tugs it has deployed, leaked propellant in December after integrating with SpaceX equipment at Cape Canaveral.

Read more at: Spacenews

Israel’s Stemrad Gears Up For Major Demo Of Anti-Radiation Suit On NASA’s Artemis I

Israeli company StemRad, a developer of radiation protection suits for space explorers, emergency responders, defense forces, nuclear industry workers, and medical personnel, is preparing for a major demonstration of its technology as part of NASA’s Artemis I mission later this month.

NASA’s Artemis program, first unveiled in 2017, aims to land astronauts on the lunar surface in the next few years and establish a long-term human presence on the Moon as a warm-up for future missions to Mars. Israel officially signed onto the Artemis program in January.

Read more at: timesofisrael

Planetary Defense: Study Finds That NASA’s DART Spacecraft Could Obliterate Asteroids

The world’s first comprehensive planetary defense test against potential asteroid impacts on Earth is being conducted by NASA as part of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) project. Researchers from the University of Bern and the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS have now shown that the impact of the DART spacecraft on its target might render the asteroid almost unrecognizable rather than leaving behind a relatively tiny crater.

Read more at: scitechdaily

Benchmark Unveils Small Satellite Collision-Avoidance Kit

At the Small Satellite Conference, Benchmark Space Systems unveiled a collision-avoidance kit designed to help small satellites dodge debris and steer clear of other spacecraft.

Benchmark is taking orders for its “Cola Kit,” which the company plans to begin shipping to customers in early 2023.

The Cola Kit is the size of a two-unit (2U) cubesat.

Read more at: Spacenews


New Rules Needed To Fix Growing Space Debris Problem, FCC Says

It’s time to modernize the fight against space junk, U.S. regulators say.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is pledging to update the rules it enacted just two years ago to address space debris, with a new focus on in-space servicing assembly and manufacturing (ISAM) risks and opportunities.

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FCC Considers New Rules For Emerging Space Capabilities

An inquiry into updating rules around space debris and emerging on-orbit services seeks to position the U.S. as a leader in an emerging space economy.

The Federal Communications Commission voted Aug. 5 to explore the economic potential and policy questions relating to in-space servicing, assembly, and manufacturing capabilities (ISAM).

“We believe the new space age needs new rules,” FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement, because “the regulatory frameworks we rely on to shape space policy were largely built for another era.”

Read more at: Spacenews

Harris Says U.S. To Update Commercial Space Regulations

Vice President Kamala Harris said Aug. 12 that the National Space Council will work to revise commercial space regulations that have become “simply outdated” as the industry evolves.

Harris, in a brief speech at a science center in Oakland, California, said a “new rules framework” for commercial space activities will be discussed at the next National Space Council meeting, scheduled for Sept. 9.

“We’ve got to update the rules because they’re just simply outdated. They were written for a space industry of the last century,” she said. “We will do this work to make sure our nation remains a role model for the responsible use of space because we must keep pace with the tremendous rate of innovation.”

Read more at: Spacenews

FCC Considers Opening Up More Ku-Band To Non-GEO Satellite Operators

The Federal Communications Commission is considering opening up more Ku-band spectrum to Starlink and other non-geostationary satellite (NGSO) operators to improve broadband speeds. 

The U.S. regulator said Aug. 3 it will invite comments on a proposal to free up 17 GHz frequencies as it approved a similar move for satellites in higher geostationary orbits (GEO).

Read more at: Spacenews


Army Looking At New Ways To Use Space Technology For Unconventional Warfare

The U.S. Army’s land forces for decades have relied on satellites for communications, navigation and early warning of missile attack. But the Army now wants to figure out other ways to use space technologies for nontraditional military operations such as cyber and information warfare.

Army leaders in panel discussions at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium said wars in the future will be fought in the space and cyber domains. And they argued that there should be more synergy among space, cyber and information warfare capabilities so they can be layered to greater effect.

Read more at: Spacenews

DARPA Selects Companies For Inter-Satellite Laser Communications Project

Five commercial satellite operators — SpaceX, Telesat, SpaceLink, Viasat and Amazon’s Kuiper — are among 11 organizations selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to help develop laser terminals and technical standards to connect satellites in space.

Under a project called space-based adaptive communications node, or Space-BACN, DARPA is pursuing a new laser terminal design that would be compatible with any constellation and make it easier for government and commercial satellites to talk to each other.  

Read more at: Spacenews

Tracking Debris And Space Traffic A Growing Challenge For U.S. Military

When U.S. Space Command was established in 2019, the unit responsible for monitoring space traffic was tracking about 25,000 pieces of debris in orbit. Three years later, that number has risen to over 47,000.. 

“And it keeps increasing,” the head of U.S. Space Command Gen. James Dickinson said Aug. 9 at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium.

“If you think about the resources it takes to keep track of all that stuff in orbit, it is very difficult,” he said. 

Read more at: Spacenews

Pentagon Space Chief Condemns ‘Irresponsible’ Launch Of Russian Inspector Satellite

The Pentagon is speaking out against Russia’s launch of a spy satellite believed to be shadowing one of its American counterparts closely in the same orbit. The Russian satellite, known as Kosmos 2558, launched on Aug. 1 and appears to have been placed in nearly the same orbit as a classified American reconnaissance satellite that launched on Feb. 2. According to Netherlands-based satellite tracker Marco Langbroek, as of Aug. 2 Kosmos 2558 is mirroring the American satellite’s orbit with a difference of just 0.04 degrees (opens in new tab) and a separation of 37 miles (60 kilometers).

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Spacelink And U.S. Army To Study Use Of Relay Constellation To Deliver Data To Troops In The Field

SpaceLink signed an agreement with the U.S. Army to explore ways to use the company’s data-relay constellation to deliver commercial satellite imagery directly to troops on the ground. 

The company on Aug. 8 announced a five-year agreement with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Technical Center at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. 

Under the CRADA, short for cooperative research and development agreement, SpaceLink will share proprietary information about its system and in exchange will get insights on the Army’s concepts of operations and specific needs. 

Read more at: Spacenews


Small Launch Vehicle Industry Growth Slows

The growth of the small launch vehicle industry is slowing, with fewer new vehicles entering the market and more vehicles going defunct, as demand for such vehicles lags expectations.

In a presentation at the Small Satellite Conference Aug. 11, Carlos Niederstrasser of Northrop Grumman discussed the latest version of an annual survey of the small launch vehicle industry, focused on vehicles capable of placing up to 1,000 kilograms into low Earth orbit and available commercially.

The survey now includes 166 launch vehicle projects, far higher than the 31 the same survey identified in 2015. However, growth in the number of those vehicles is now slowing.

Read more at: Spacenews

Expedition 67 In Final Stretch As European Robotic Arm Commissioning Continues

July saw Expedition 67 aboard the International Space Station reach two-thirds distance, with two months remaining until its longest-serving crewmembers return home and the rest of the crew transitions to the next increment. Over the course of the month, the crew has been continuing scientific research and housekeeping tasks around the station, while also receiving supplies from a Cargo Dragon freighter and performing a spacewalk on the Russian segment of the outpost.

Read more at: NASAspaceflight

Telespazio Unveils Product Line For Newspace Market

Spaceflight services company Telespazio is beginning to offer a family of products to help commercial space companies set up a digitized ground segment in the cloud.

Under the brand name Ease, Telespazio offers products to help satellite operators control spacecraft and receive telemetry and data — services the Rome-based company has performed for decades in support of government and large commercial space missions.

Read more at: Spacenews

Satellite-Based Search-And-Rescue, Part 4: Enhancements, Even The Moon

A sophisticated satellite-based system allows pinpointing a person’s location in a dangerous, isolated situation on land or sea. It thus hopefully speeds their subsequent rescue in many cases.

This final part looks at the next generation of system satellites and some ideas for a similar lunar system.

Read more at: microcontrollertips

Building On The Moon And Mars? You’ll Need Extraterrestrial Cement For That

Sustained space exploration will require infrastructure that doesn’t currently exist: buildings, housing, rocket landing pads.

So, where do you turn for construction materials when they are too big to fit in your carry-on and there’s no Home Depot in outer space?

“If we’re going to live and work on another planet like Mars or the moon, we need to make concrete.

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Hypersonic Revolution! Chinese Firm Claims Breakthrough In Novel Engine Technology That Both US & China Are Trying To Master

A Chinese engineering company, TWR-Engine, has completed ground-testing of a prototype rotating detonation engine (RDE), which the company hopes, will attain hypersonic speeds in the future, offering much better fuel efficiency than the rocket or jet engines that are currently in use.

Read more at: Eurasian times

New Mapping Method Could Aid Exploration Of Moon, Mars And Beyond

Researchers have discovered a method for making high-resolution maps of planetary surfaces like the moon’s by combining available imagery and topography data.

Mapping the complex and diverse surface of a world like the moon in detailed resolution is challenging because laser altimeters, which measure changes in altitudes, operate at much lower resolution than cameras. And although photographs offer a sense of surface features, it’s difficult to translate images into specific heights and depths.

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Equatorial Mars Is Surprisingly Dry, NASA’s Insight Lander Finds

The chances of finding Martian life appear poor at in the vicinity of NASA’s InSight lander.

The InSight mission uncovered little or no sign of water or water ice in the nearly 1,000 feet (300 meters) below the lander, a new study shows. The subsurface around the landing zone — an equatorial site chosen especially for its flat terrain and good marsquake potential — appears loose and porous, with few ice grains in between gaps in the crust, researchers said.

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