Press Clips Week 33-2023


Russia Says Luna-25 Spacecraft Crashed Into The Moon’s Surface

Russia’s space agency said Sunday that its Luna-25 spacecraft — its first lunar mission in almost half a century — crashed into the moon.

Roscosmos earlier reported an “emergency” as it was trying to enter pre-landing orbit ahead of a planned Monday moon landing. After Roscosmos lost contact with the uncrewed spacecraft, and efforts to locate it failed, the agency added that a preliminary analysis determined that it “ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the lunar surface” and that an interdepartmental commission will investigate the cause.

Read more at: washington post

Indian Rover Begins Exploring Moon’s South Pole

India began exploring the Moon’s surface with a rover on Thursday, a day after it became the first nation to land a craft near the largely unexplored lunar south pole.

Pragyan — “Wisdom” in Sanskrit — rolled out of the lander hours after the latest milestone in India’s ambitious but cut-price space programme sparked huge celebrations across the country.

“Rover ramped down the lander and India took a walk on the moon!” the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday.

The six-wheeled, solar-powered rover will amble around the relatively unmapped region and transmit images and scientific data over its two-week lifespan.

Read more at: spacedaily

India Lands First Mission On Moon – First To Reach South Pole

India on Wednesday became the first nation to land a craft near the Moon’s south pole, a historic triumph for the world’s most populous nation and its ambitious, cut-price space programme.

The unmanned Chandrayaan-3, which means “Mooncraft” in Sanskrit, touched down at 6:04 pm India time (1234 GMT) as mission control technicians cheered wildly and embraced their colleagues.

Its landing comes days after a Russian probe crashed in the same region and four years since the previous Indian attempt failed at the last moment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi smiled broadly and waved an Indian flag on a live broadcast to announce the mission’s success as a triumph that extended beyond his country’s borders.

Read more at: spacedaily


Small Satellite Shows Off Cheap Way To Reduce Space Junk

A small cube satellite meant to demonstrate a practical, low-cost method to cut down on space debris has re-entered Earth’s atmosphere about five years ahead of schedule.

The student-built satellite made its re-entry sometime on Tuesday, August 8, or immediately after—burning up high above Turkey after 445 days in orbit, according to its last tracked location from US Space Command.

Read more at: futurity

European Union Nations Join ASAT Testing Ban

Ahead of a final meeting of a United Nations working group on reducing space threats, members states of the European Union, but not the E.U. itself, have pledged not to conduct destructive direct-ascent anti-satellite tests.

In a document recently published by the U.N. Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on Reducing Space Threats, a “joint contribution” by the E.U. included a commitment by its 27 member states not to perform such ASAT tests, which can generate significant amounts of debris. Breaking Defense first reported on the document.

Read more at: spacenews

Senate Committee Advances Orbital Debris Removal Bill

As the Senate advances a bill that would direct NASA to support missions to remove orbital debris, the agency is outlining the role it will take assisting the Commerce Department on a new space traffic coordination system.

The Senate Commerce Committee advanced the Orbital Sustainability, or ORBITS, Act on a voice vote during an executive session July 27. A version of the bill made it through the Senate last year but was not taken up by the House.

Read more at: spacenews


Axiom Space Raises $350 Million

Axiom Space announced Aug. 21 that it has raised $350 million from Saudi Arabian and South Korean investors to continue development of a commercial space station.

The Houston-based company said it raised a Series C round that was led by Aljazira Capital and Boryung Co., Ltd., along with what it called “an array of diverse backers” that include venture capital funds and strategic brand partners.

Read more at: spacenews

Bezos’ Blue Origin Methane Emissions Were Spotted by the Space Station

Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, is thought to be responsible for more than a quarter of global warming experienced to date. Controlling it is such an urgent priority that President Joe Biden recently hosted a “Methane Summit” at the White House.

Most of the problem stems from just a few kinds of places: natural gas wells and pipelines, cattle feedlots, coal mines, rice paddies, and landfills. But occasionally, the scientists who hunt for large methane releases find them in surprising spots. Such was the case on June 4, when a plume of the gas was detected at the sprawling ranch in West Texas where billionaire Jeff Bezos tests space rockets.

Read more at: Bloomberg

How Investors See The Space Industry

The race to access space has opened a new frontier of investment opportunities that could bring cosmic returns. Although it is difficult to imagine, the rapid pace of innovation and high public and private interest could make fields like space tourism and hypersonic intercontinental travel a near-term reality.

By 2040, Morgan Stanley estimates the potential revenue from the global space industry could surpass $1 trillion, from $350 billion in 2020, an increase of 186%. In addition, possible breakthroughs in aerospace and defense, satellite-broadband internet, telecom and high-speed cargo delivery may propel the industry to new highs.

Read more at: seattle times

Redwire And Sierra Space Partner On Commercial Space Station Biotech Research Platform

Sierra Space and Redwire are partnering on a biotech experiment platform that will be installed on a Sierra Space commercial space station module in what the companies call a first-of-its-kind arrangement.

The two companies announced Aug. 21 that Redwire will provide a set of equipment that will be installed on a Sierra Space inflatable module known as Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFE). That “pathfinder” module will be launched later this decade for commercial pharmaceutical and other biotech research.

Read more at: spacenews

Rocket Lab Launches 40th Electron Mission, Successfully Flies Reused Engine

Rocket Lab USA, Inc has launched a dedicated Electron mission for Capella Space (Capella). The mission demonstrated several significant milestones for Rocket Lab’s reusability program, including an ocean splashdown of the Electron rocket’s first stage and the successful flight of a previously flown Rutherford engine. The mission was also Rocket Lab’s 40th Electron launch since the Company began launches in 2017, further cementing Electron’s position as the leading commercial small launch vehicle globally.

The ‘We Love The Nightlife’ mission lifted-off on August 24th at 11:45 am NZST from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula, deploying Capella’s next-generation Acadia satellite for its synthetic aperture radar (SAR) constellation to a 640km circular low Earth orbit.

Read more at: spacedaily


A Maglev System On The Moon Could Make Lunar Logistics A Breeze

Maglevs are one of those technologies that still look like magic, even years after they were initially rolled out. While they have long been a workhorse of the transportation systems of some major cities, they don’t often impact the day-to-day lives of people who don’t use them to commute. But, they might be invaluable in another setting – lunar exploration. There’s an ongoing debate about the best way to shuttle stuff around on the Moon’s surface, and a team from JPL and a company called SRI International think they have a solution – deploy a maglev track on the Moon.

Read more at: universe today

NASA’s Lunar Trailblazer: Final Instrument Locked and Loaded for Moon Water Exploration

NASA’s Lunar Trailblazer spacecraft is nearing completion with the integration of its final cutting-edge science instrument. The Lunar Thermal Mapper (LTM), developed by the University of Oxford and provided by the UK Space Agency, will work in conjunction with the High-resolution Volatiles and Minerals Moon Mapper (HVM3). Together, these instruments will allow scientists to comprehensively study the Moon’s water content, determining its abundance, location, and form.

Read more at: scitech daily

From Rice To Quantum Gas: China’s Targets Pioneering Space Research

China’s orbiting Tiangong space station is now fully operational and has embarked on a mission that aims to achieve groundbreaking scientific discoveries, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA). This marks a significant step forward as the station enters an application and development phase that is anticipated to last for over a decade.

The spokesperson for CMSA, Lin Xiqiang, revealed on Friday that the completion of the station in 2022 has propelled it into a new phase, during which it is expected to uncover scientific insights on cosmology, dark matter, dark energy, and the mysteries of galaxies, among other topics. Lin’s list of research topics reflects the vast potential of the space station, including studying the Milky Way, star evolution, and the enigmatic world of exoplanets.

Read more at: space daily

Viasat Reports Second Satellite Malfunction In A Matter Of Weeks

A second Viasat communications satellite is malfunctioning in orbit, this time from the fleet of recently acquired U.K.-based Inmarsat, the company said on Thursday.

The I6 F2 satellite, which Inmarsat launched in February, suffered a failure with its power system while climbing in orbit to where it planned to operate as a backup.

Airbus manufactured the satellite and is, alongside Viasat, assessing whether the satellite can be recovered for use.

Read more at: CNBC

Russian Luna-25 Makes Stunning Discovery On Moon Ahead Of Landing

Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft has made several remarkable discoveries during its mission to the Moon, shedding new light on lunar composition, surface features, and lunar exosphere dynamics, even before it lands on the surface.

The most significant revelation came from the ADRON-LR neutron and gamma spectrometer onboard, which recorded intense lines of chemical elements within the lunar soil’s energy spectrum.

This finding offers valuable insights into the Moon’s geological composition and the distribution of chemical elements on its surface.

Read more at: India today


Why Do All These Countries Want To Go To The Moon Right Now?

On December 6, 1968, Time magazine published an issue with a metaphor illustrated on the cover: a Soviet cosmonaut and an American astronaut were in a sprint to the moon. The actual space race had kicked off a decade earlier, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, in 1957. It ended less than a year after Time published its cover, when US Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. The excitement wore off quickly—the last humans to step foot on the moon, the crew of Apollo 17, did so in 1972. So far, no one has gone back.

Read more at: popsci

How NASA’s Artemis Program Could Help To Defeat China

Recently, NASA administrator Bill Nelson offered a warning about Chinese designs on the moon.

“I don’t want China to get to the South Pole first with humans and then say: This is ours, stay out,” he said. “If indeed we find water in abundance there that could be utilized for future crews and spacecraft, we want to make sure that’s available to all, not just the one that’s claiming it.”

Nelson has previously warned about the possibility of China’s extending its hegemony to the heavens. He has even suggested that the United States is in a space race with China. But unlike NASA versus the Soviet Union, the prize is not who gets back to the moon first but who controls the moon and its abundant resources.

Read more at: thehill

The New Space Race Is Here. Will It Look Like The ’60s — Or The 16th Century?

The overwhelming, deafening, cataclysmic roar erupted and hurtled the Saturn V rocket — as tall as a 36-storey building — into the sky and then beyond.

Four days later the first person to visit another celestial body uttered the words now etched into our species’ history.

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Neil Armstrong’s famous phrase, on July 21, 1969, was the culmination of a decade of American research and ingenuity — and billions of dollars. It sealed victory for the United States over the Soviet Union in a competition to land someone on the moon, a prestigious moment during heightened geopolitical tensions.

Read more at: globalnews

What SpaceX Has To Do To Convince The FAA To Let Starship Fly

Elon Musk doesn’t like being told what to do. That’s, in part, why he decided that his company SpaceX would build its own launch site on private land in Texas as an alternative to the pads he leases from the US government.

Eight years after breaking ground on a spaceport at Boca Chica, the company has only made one attempt at flying a rocket to orbit from there.

Read more at: QZ

Russia Has Declared A New Space Race, Hoping To Join Forces With China. Here’s Why That’s Unlikely

This week, the Russian space agency Roscosmos had hoped to return to the Moon after an absence of nearly 50 years. Instead, on Saturday it lost control of its Luna-25 lander. The agency explained the spacecraft “switched to an off-design orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the lunar surface”.

Yet, in an interview aired on state television, the agency’s chief, Yuri Borisov, pledged his nation’s unwavering commitment to lunar exploration:

This is not just about the prestige of the country and the achievement of some geopolitical goals. This is about ensuring defensive capabilities and achieving technological sovereignty.

Read more at: conversation

Spaceport America Releases Economic Impact Study for 2022

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA), in partnership with the New Mexico State University (NMSU) Arrowhead Center and Center for Border Economic Development (C-BED), have released an economic impact report encompassing the 2022 calendar year for Spaceport America.

The report provides economic information regarding activities occurring due to the existence of the spaceport. Additionally, the report illustrates numerous positive impacts from customer operations and events held as a result of the existence of the spaceport.

Read more at: spaceport america


Ukrainians Describe ‘Chaos’ of Musk’s Starlink Battlefield Outages

Outages of Elon Musk’s Starlink communication devices have plunged Ukrainian troops who rely on the technology into “chaos,” according to a new report. A soldier in Ukraine’s signal corps who had responsibility for maintaining access to the Starlink system told the New Yorker that, at one point, forces advancing into contested areas in the south of the country suddenly found their communication had dropped out close to the front line. “Communications became dead, units were isolated,” the soldier, identified only as Mykola, said. “When you’re on offense, especially for commanders, you need a constant stream of information from battalions. Commanders had to drive to the battlefield to be in radio range, risking themselves.” A Ukrainian tech executive involved in bringing Starlink to Ukraine following Russia’s invasion last year said they were called by a Ukrainian military official saying: “We need Elon now.” “How now?” the exec replied. “Like fucking now. People are dying,” the official said. U.S. and Ukrainian officials told the New Yorker they believed SpaceX “cut the connectivity via geofencing, cordoning off areas of access.”

Read more at: dailybeast

Pentagon Awards Contracts For Next ‘Swarm’ Of Tiny Missile Defense Satellites

The Pentagon announced Monday it has awarded $1.5 billion to contractors Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin for a “swarm” of 72 tiny prototype satellites meant to detect incoming enemy missiles.

The Space Development Agency said each company will build and operate 36 of the satellites, with approximately $816 million going to Lockheed Martin and $733 million to Northrop Grumman for the project.

The small satellites, each about one-eighth the size of current satellites, constitute the “Tranche 2 Transport Layer” of the U.S. Space Force’s planned Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture, which when fully deployed will include nearly 1,000 craft in low orbit around the Earth.

Read more at: spacedaily

North Korea Again Fails To Launch Spy Satellite Into Space

North Korea failed Thursday to launch a spy satellite into space, its second attempt to launch the reconnaissance orbital amid international condemnation.

A Chollima-1 rocket with the Malligyong-1 reconnaissance satellite payload launched at dawn Thursday from the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground in North Pyongang Province’s Cholsan County, which is located about 115 miles northwest of Pyongyang.

But the North’s aerospace agency said it failed “due to an error in the emergency blasting system during the third-stage flight,” according to state-run Korean Central News Agency

Read more at: spacedaily

Defense Innovation Unit To Sponsor A Rapid Response Space Mission

The Defense Innovation Unit is seeking industry bids for a “tactically responsive space” mission where a launch provider would get  only 24 hours’ notice to get a payload off the ground.

In a solicitation posted Aug. 24, DIU asks companies to submit proposals by Sept. 7 for a responsive space mission named Victus Haze. Companies selected for this mission would be responsible to deploy an imaging satellite to orbit to inspect a potential threat.

Read more at: spacenews

Space Force To Seek Industry Ideas For Rapid Deployment Of Satellites

The U.S. Space Force is kicking off a new initiative focused on the rapid deployment of satellites during conflicts or emergencies.

From Aug. 30 through Sept. 28, companies can submit bids for the “Tactically Responsive Space Challenge” on the DoD Small Business Innovation Research portal. Selected proposals will receive “direct to Phase 2” Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contracts worth up to $1.7 million.

Read more at: spacenews

Mynaric To Design Optical Ground Terminal For U.S. Military Constellation

Mynaric, a supplier of laser communications terminals, was selected by the Space Development Agency to design an optical ground station to transmit and receive data from satellites in low Earth orbit.The ground terminal will be used to demonstrate communications with the Space Development Agency’s mesh network of military satellites. SDA, an organization under the U.S. Space Force, is building a constellation of hundreds of satellites, each equipped with multiple laser communications terminals.

Read more at: spacenews


A New Approach To Reduce The Risk Of Losing Solar-Powered Rovers On The Moon

NASA and other space agencies worldwide periodically send robots and automated vehicles into space to explore planets and other celestial objects in our solar system. These missions can greatly improve our understanding of the environment and resources in other parts of the solar system.

Researchers at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) recently carried out a study exploring recovery strategies that could improve the effectiveness and success of lunar explorations using solar-powered rovers. Their paper, pre-published on arXiv, introduces a new approach that could help solar-powered rovers to safely leave permanently shadowed regions on the moon.

Read more at:

Study Of Earth’s Inner Core Reveals A ‘Planet Within A Planet’

Scientists are trying to go where no man has gone before, into the inner core of Earth! A team of scientists at the University of Utah has made significant progress in understanding the formation and structure of the planet’s enigmatic inner core. They believe seismic waves from natural earthquakes will help unravel the secrets of this hidden area.

The inner core, a solid metal ball within our planet, not only influences its magnetic field but also plays a crucial role in supporting life on Earth.

Read more at:

Russian Space Agency Chief Blames Decades Of Inactivity For Luna-25 Lander’s Crash On The Moon

The head of Russia’s space agency said Monday that the Luna-25 spacecraft crashed into the moon after its engines failed to shut down correctly, and he blamed the country’s decades-long pause in lunar exploration for the mishap.

The pilotless Luna-25 had been scheduled to land Monday while aiming to become the first spacecraft to touch down on the south pole of the moon, an area where scientists believe important reserves of frozen water and precious elements may exist.

Read more at: apnews

How Many People Does It Take to Start a Colony on Mars?

It might only take 22 people to establish a colony on Mars, though that small group of cosmic inhabitants should have agreeable personality types to survive on the Red Planet, according to new research.

Mars has been home to robotic explorers for nearly 60 years, but when it comes to landing humans on the Red Planet, things get a little more complicated. In a recent study uploaded to the preprint arXiv server, a group of scientists decided to look into the behavioral and psychological interactions among future Mars colonists and came up with a surprisingly small population size they say could build and sustain the colony: 22 would-be-Martians.

Read more at: gizmodo

Will Launch Capacity Fall Short?

Remember when Rocket Lab’s CEO said he would eat a hat if the company ever developed a heavy-lift rocket? Years later, in 2021, he ate that hat after unveiling the Neutron rocket. What about when the industry was reluctant to believe SpaceX could pull off a successful first-stage landing? Yet, the company completed the first in 2015 and has since landed and recovered a rocket stage over 200 times. There are endless examples, but the point remains the same; recent change in rocket technology has been rapid, but not always expected.

Read more at: aerosociety

See Stunning Footage Captured By India’s Chandrayaan-3 Lunar Lander

The history-making Chandrayaan-3 mission, which landed on the lunar surface two days ago, has deployed its small, six-wheeled rover on an exploratory expedition to better understand the composition of the moon’s soil.

The Indian Space Research Organization, or ISRO, said in a social media post that the rover, which rode to the lunar surface tucked inside the lander, successfully exited the spacecraft on Thursday by rolling down a small ramp.

The agency also released a short video clip from the lander, called Vikram, showing the ramp deploying and the rover making its careful exit.

Read more at: CNN