White House Nominates Bridenstine as NASA Administrator

After leaving the space community waiting and wondering for months, the White House announced Sept. 1 that President Trump planned to nominate Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) as NASA administrator.

In a statement issued late Sept. 1, the White House announced its intent to nominate Bridenstine to the position, standard terminology to indicate that the nomination had not yet been formally transmitted to the Senate. The one-paragraph statement provided only biographical information about Bridenstine, and no discussion about the reasons the president chose to nominate him.

The announcement came after several space industry sources, speaking on background, said they anticipated a formal nomination of Bridenstine to run the space agency on Sept. 5, the day after the Labor Day holiday. At the time, they cautioned that the nomination could be delayed after the 5th depending on administration activities.

Read more at: Space News

Weightlessness Affects Health of Cosmonauts at Molecular Level

A team of scientists from Russia and Canada has analyzed the effect of space conditions on the protein composition in blood samples of 18 Russian cosmonauts. The results indicate many significant changes in the human body are caused by space flight. These changes are intended to help the body adapt and take place in all major types of human cells, tissues and organs. The results of the research have been published in the prestigious scientific journal Scientific Reports. Skoltech and MIPT Professor Evgeny Nikolaev led the study and is a corresponding author.

The effects of spaceflight on the human body have been studied actively since the mid-20th century. It is widely known that space conditions influence metabolism, thermoregulation, heart biorhythms, muscle tone, the respiratory system and other physiological aspects of the human body. However, the molecular mechanisms driving these physiological changes remain unknown.

Read more at: Phys.org

It Looks Like Yet Another Satellite is Breaking Apart at GEO

On August 26, the Indonesia based, state-owned satellite operator PT Telkom disclosed an “anomaly” in the pointing of its satellite in geostationary orbit. Company officials said that although they and contractor Lockheed Martin expected to restore service to the satellite, they were moving customers to another satellite as a precautionary measure.

However, new evidence gathered by a US-based firm that tracks objects in geostationary orbit, ExoAnalytic Solutions, suggests the satellite may be falling apart. The company uses algorithms to review data collected by its global network of 165 optical telescopes for anomalies, and one of its instruments in Eastern Australia spotted the satellite apparently breaking apart.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Cold war Era Derived ICBM Blasts Military ORS-5 Surveillance and Space Junk Tracking Satellite to Orbit

A Cold War-era derived Peacekeeper ICBM missile formerly armed with multiple nuclear warheads and now modified as a payload orbiter successfully launched an urgently needed space situational awareness and space junk tracking satellite to equatorial orbit overnight this morning, Aug. 26, for the U.S. military from the Florida Space Coast.

Following a nearly 3 hour delay due to day long dismal weather causing locally heavy rain storms and lighting in central Florida, an Orbital ATK Minotaur IV rocket carrying the ORS-5 tracking satellite for the USAF finally lifted off in the wee hours Saturday morning, Aug. 26 at 2:04 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Read more at: Universe Today

US Air Force Seeks Smallsat Owner, Launch Provider Help to Avoid Orbital Chaos

The agency with the world’s most extensive network of ground- and space-based tracking assets is mandated to offer — free of charge — a satellite identification, tracking and collision-avoidance service to anyone — North Korea included — who owns, operates or launches a spacecraft.

It’s a role that is becoming more important with the planned launch of thousands of small satellites into low Earth orbit.

The bad news: The agency is the U.S. Air Force. That means some of the launch-service providers who could most profit from it — including India’s PSLV, Russia’s Soyuz and China’s Long March vehicles, all of which are seeking foreign smallsat launch customers — are disinclined to use it.

Read more at: Spaceintel report

Tracking Debris in the Earth’s Orbit with Centimeter Precision Using Efficient Laser Technology

Uncontrollable flying objects in orbit are a massive risk for modern space travel, and, due to our dependence on satellites today, it is also a risk to global economy. A research team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena, Germany, has now especially developed a fiber laser that reliably determines the position and direction of the space debris’ movement to mitigate these risks.

Space debris is a massive problem in low Earth orbit space flight. Decommissioned or damaged satellites, fragments of space stations and other remnants of space missions pose a potential threat of collisions with active satellites and spacecraft every day. In addition to their destructive force, collisions also create additional risk creating thousands of new pieces of debris, which in turn could collide with other objects – a dangerous snowball effect.

Read more at: Phys.org

Air Force Preparing to Launch Fifth Orbital Test Vehicle Mission

The Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office is undergoing final launch preparations for the fifth mission of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle. The OTV is scheduled to launch on Sept. 7, 2017, onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

The fifth OTV mission continues to advance the X-37B’s performance and flexibility as a space technology demonstrator and host platform for experimental payloads. This mission carries small satellite ride shares and will demonstrate greater opportunities for rapid space access and on-orbit testing of emerging space technologies. Building upon the fourth mission and previous collaboration with experiment partners, this mission will host the Air Force Research Laboratory Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader payload to test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipe technologies in the long duration space environment.

Read more at: AFSPC

Falcon 9 Rocket Fired up for Launch of Military Mini-shuttle

Running through a practice countdown and hold-down engine firing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket passed a key checkpoint Thursday ahead of liftoff next week with the U.S. Air Force’s fifth X-37B spaceplane flight, a mission that will come with several firsts.

Nine Merlin 1D engines at the base of the Falcon 9 rocket fired at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT) for several seconds. Hold-down restraints kept the rocket grounded at pad 39A as the engines throttled up to 1.7 million pounds of thrust.

A plume of rocket exhaust appeared from the flame trench on the north side of the historic launch complex, the former site of Saturn 5 and space shuttle liftoffs. SpaceX tweeted to confirm the test was completed, and announced the flight is on track for launch next Thursday, Sept. 7.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

How NASA kept the ISS Flying While Harvey Hit Mission Control

In the days before Harvey hit Texas, flight controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center outside of Houston had a decision to make: should they evacuate or ride out the storm at the agency’s Mission Control Center? The dilemma wasn’t just about the safety of the flight controllers. These personnel are tasked with flying the International Space Station — a round-the-clock job that can’t be done just anywhere. If there’s a gap in ground communication, it could put the astronauts in danger.

“It’s 100 percent the flight controllers on the ground flying the space station,” Zebulon Scoville, NASA’s lead flight director of Expedition 52 for the International Space Station, tells The Verge. “If that capability is lost, then that can be a risk to the mission.”

Read more at: Verge

Short Crew Visit to Baikonur Kicks Off Final Soyuz MS-06 Launch Preparations

The next crew trio headed to the International Space Station made a short visit to the Baikonur Cosmodrome Sunday & Monday as part of an unusual flight preparations schedule laid out for the upcoming Soyuz MS-06 mission.

The Soyuz MS-06 crew of Commander Aleksandr Misurkin and Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba are working toward liftoff at 21:17 UTC on September 12 for a nine-minute ride into orbit atop a Soyuz FG rocket followed by an expedited four-orbit rendezvous with the orbiting laboratory, targeting docking at 2:57 UTC on September 13th.

Read more at: Spaceflght101

Indian PSLV Launch with IRNSS Replacement Satellite Suffers Apparent Failure

ISRO launched a PSLV Thursday carrying a replacement satellite for the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) constellation. The IRNSS-1H satellite launched on schedule from the Second Launch Pad (SLP) at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 19:00 local time (13:30 UTC). However, the launch profile was off-nominal and the fairing failed to separate leading to an apparent failure of the mission.

The IRNSS-1H spacecraft was to be the eighth to be launched as part of India’s Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), or NavIC, program. One of two ground spares built for the seven-satellite constellation, IRNSS-1H is being pressed into service after the failure of all three atomic clocks aboard the first IRNSS satellite, IRNSS-1A.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

Spaceport Officials to Seek More Funding, but it Could be Hard Sell

Managers of Spaceport America, the state-owned launch facility opened six years ago in the Southern New Mexico desert, will ask to more than double its share of the state’s general fund next year.

While a $1 million appropriation, up from $375,900 this year, would still amount to a small portion of state spending, agency officials, who for years have talked about working toward financial self-sufficiency, acknowledge the budget request could be a big ask from legislators who expected the facility would be sending people into space by now. And it comes after the state has made painful budgets cuts across government and nearly emptied reserves.

At a cost of nearly $220 million, the taxpayer-financed Spaceport America opened in 2011 near White Sands Missile Range with plans to serve as the launch site for Virgin Galactic spaceflights.

Read more at: Santafe newmexican

Dream Chaser Space Plane Makes Captive Carry Test Flight

A small space plane was lifted into the skies over southern California on Wednesday (Aug. 30), in a test supporting future commercial cargo deliveries to the International Space Station.

A Columbia 234-UT Chinook helicopter flew Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser engineering test article on a “captive carry” flight above the dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base and NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center. The one hour and 41 minute-long fight was the first of two captive tests before a “free flight,” or drop test, planned for later this year.

Read more at: Collect Space

Plans Unveiled for Multiple Chinese Solid Rocket Launches and Reusable Spacecraft

The developer and producer of new Chinese solid-fuelled rockets has unveiled plans to launch four Kuaizhou-1A rockets within one week next year, while the maiden flight of the heavier Kuaizhou-11 launch vehicle will carry six satellites.

China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC), a major space contractor, revealed the plans at the Third China International Commercial Aerospace Forum held in the city of Wuhan this week. The flurry of Kuaizhou-1A launches in 2018 will each carry a remote-sensing satellite into orbit according to Zha Xiongquan, a senior rocket designer at CASIC and vice-president of Expace, a CASIC subsidiary that provides commercial launch services.

Read more at: Gb Times

China Plans to Launch 156 Low Earth Orbit Satellites by 2025

China plans to launch 156 small satellites by 2025 to provide Internet services in low signal areas and places with adverse natural environment, according to an announcement by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC).

Due to environmental conditions of deserts, mountains and seas, half of the world’s population has no access to the Internet, and the information deficiency hampers local development, according to a press release CASIC sent to the Global Times Thursday.

It will be China’s first broadband Internet access system with small satellites hovering in low orbit, which will also help meet the needs of commercial space development, it said.

Read more at: People.Cn

Glavkosmos Denies Launch Vehicle Caused Cubesat Failures

An executive with the company that provided launch services for more than 70 satellites launched on a Soyuz in July said there is no evidence that the failure of several of those satellites was caused by the rocket.

In an Aug. 31 interview, Vsevolod Kryukovskiy, launch program director at Glavkosmos, said that the Soyuz rocket and its Fregat upper stage performed normally on a July 14 mission that carried 73 satellites, mostly cubesats from both domestic and international customers.

“We have received formal confirmation from all our international customers of their satellites’ successful injection and separation from the upper stage,” he said. “We also confirmed that the launch vehicle and upper stage worked nominally during the injection and separation.”

Read more at: Space News

First Look at the Crew Access Arm For Launch Complex 39A

Astronauts Bob Behnken and Eric Boe walk down the Crew Access Arm being built by SpaceX for Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The access arm will be installed on the launch pad, providing a bridge between the crew access tower and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon – or Dragon 2 – spacecraft for astronauts flying to the International Space Station on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The access arm is being readied for installation in early 2018. It will be installed 70 feet higher than the former space shuttle access arm on the launch pad’s Fixed Service Structure. SpaceX continues to modify the historic launch site from its former space shuttle days, removing more than 500,000 pounds of steel from the pad structure, including the Rotating Service Structure that was once used for accessing the payload bay of the shuttle. SpaceX also is using the modernized site to launch commercial payloads, as well as cargo resupply missions to and from the International Space Station for NASA.

Read more at: NASA

SpaceX Gets OK for Landing Zone on Space Coast

Private commercial rocket company SpaceX got approval for additional space for its Dragon spacecraft and Falcon Heavy rocket at Cape Canaveral. The Hawthorne, Calif.-based company got the OK on Aug. 21 to build a stormwater system at Landing Zone 1, formerly known as Launch Complex 13. Price Civil Design LLC is the civil engineer team behind the project.

Sources say SpaceX is building a temporary Dragon processing facility at Cape Canaveral until a long-term Dragon processing and refurbishment operations can be established at a location yet to be determined. The landing zone also will be a key location for SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy — its largest rocket, which is equipped with three boosters. The company plans to build two more landing pads to land two rocket boosters simultaneously and one on a drone ship in the sea.

Read more at: Bizjournals

Mock Astronauts Complete Simulated Moon Base Mission

Six mock astronauts have completed a two-week stay at a simulated moon base, where they conducted more than 20 spaceflight experiments.

Habitat Lunares is located in a former military airport in Pila, Poland, and run by a private company called Space Garden. The mock space base simulates conditions that astronauts will experience during missions on the moon or Mars, according to a statement from the European Space Agency (ESA).

“The analogue astronauts are completely cut off from external light sources. Instead, we control the base’s automated lighting systems,” Agata Kolodziejczyk, a research fellow in ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team, said in the statement.

Read more at: Space.com

How do Astronauts Exercise in Space?

The environment of the International Space Station isn’t exactly hospitable to the human body. Thanks to microgravity, astronauts experience a variety of health and physical changes while living in space — some of which they can counteract through daily exercise and other activities. But the space environment also exposes astronauts to other elements that cannot necessarily be mitigated.

Most of these health changes stem from the fact that our bodies aren’t built for space. Human beings have evolved here on Earth over millennia, so our bodies have adapted to excel in a gravity environment under the protection of our planet’s atmosphere.

Read more at: Verge

Boeing Warns Aviation Safety Program Could Interfere with Globalstar Satellites

An aeronautical communications service meant to improve aircraft safety while on the ground at airports could cause unacceptable interference to Globalstar’s satellite system, according to Boeing.

In an Aug. 18 filing to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, Boeing cautioned that the service rules for the Aeronautical Mobile Airport Communications System, or AeroMACS, as proposed by the WiMAX Forum don’t adequately ensure protection of transmissions from Globalstar’s Earth-to-space satellite links.

“Although Boeing supports the deployment of AeroMACS at major airports throughout the United States, Boeing believes that it is premature for the Commission to propose service rules for AeroMACS, particularly pursuant to the minimalist framework proposed by the WiMAX Forum,” Boeing wrote.

Read more at: Space News

How SpaceX is Able to Achieve its Amazing Rocket Landing Accuracy

After SpaceX’s successful and uniquely exciting launch of Taiwan’s Formosat-5 remote sensing satellite, Elon Musk took to Twitter to reveal some fascinating details about the launch and recovery of the Falcon 9 first stage.

Unabashedly technical, the details Musk revealed demonstrate the truly incredible accuracy of Falcon 9’s recovery, honed over 20 landing attempts and numerous modifications to the launch vehicle. The accuracy is best understood within the context of Falcon 9’s scale and the general scope of orbital rocketry.

The first stage of Falcon 9 Full Thrust, currently the active version of Falcon 9, stands 140 feet tall and 12 feet in diameter. If you can, for a moment, picture a 737 airliner, the plane most people have likely flown aboard on domestic flights. The first stage of Falcon 9 is the same length or greater and the same diameter as Boeing’s workhorse airliner. If you are now imagining a 737 landing on its tail aboard an ocean-going barge, that is a great start.

Read more at: Teslarati

Hypersonic Air-breathing Propulsion: The Key to Affordable Nanosatellite Launch

Fueled by nearly 20 years of consistent investment into both component- and system-level innovations, nanosatellites are revolutionizing the way satellite missions are being executed: faster and more affordably than ever. Significant strides in capability, combined with vastly lower manufacturing costs compared to traditional satellites, have made the deployment of nanosatellite constellations in low Earth orbit (LEO) for communications, imaging, and Earth observation missions achievable. Unfortunately for the nanosatellite industry, fully realizing their commercial and government market-based potential has been limited by a lack of access to appropriate, affordable launch opportunities.

To establish and maintain a nanosatellite constellation cost-effectively, ideally, customers would be able to determine when and where each asset will go into LEO. However, this would require the nanosatellite customer to pay the majority, if not all, of the launch costs. With the cheapest launch vehicle costing around $30 million, this is far too expensive for nanosatellite customers. Even the smallest conventional rocket would still be a very large and costly vehicle to launch comparatively inexpensive nanosatellite-sized payloads to LEO.

Read more at: Space Review

This Enzyme Enabled Life to Conquer a Hostile Earth

Computers are simulating the ancestral versions of the most common protein on Earth, giving scientists an unparalleled look at early life’s development of harnessing energy from the sun and production of oxygen.

These findings could shed light on the evolution of alien life elsewhere in the Universe, researchers said. They recently detailed their findings in the online version of the journal Geobiology.

Photosynthesis, which uses energy from sunlight to create sugars and other carbon-based organic molecules from carbon dioxide gas, has played a major role in Earth’s history. Photosynthesis supports the existence of plants and other photosynthetic organisms across Earth’s lands and seas, which in turn sustains complex webs of animal and other life. It also generates the oxygen gas that has chemically altered the face of the planet.

Read more at: Space.com

Russian Space Center Switching from Proton to Angara Heavy Rocket Production

The Khrunichev Space Center is switching over from the production of Proton-M carrier rockets to the output of Angara-A5 and Angara-A5M launchers, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said during his visit to the enterprise on Friday.

“The enterprise is by its totality both significant and strategically important, considering that this enterprise is completing, largely speaking, the production of Proton-M carrier rockets in the near-term perspective and is beginning the output of and the transition to the series of the Angara-A5 rocket and its modernized Angara-A5M version as its trials are nearing completion,” Rogozin said.

Read more at: TASS

China, Russia Set to Ink Landmark Deal for Manned Moon Missions

China and Russia are set to sign a milestone agreement on joint space exploration from 2018 to 2022. The deal is expected to be signed this October and will bring significant benefits to both nations, particularly in manned and future missions to the moon.

The idea and possibility of once again having humans return to the moon have floated around for quite some time, but after this deal, that prospect is likely to turn into a reality. The bilateral agreement will cover five areas including lunar and deep space exploration, developing special materials, collaboration in the area of satellite systems, Earth remote sensing, and space debris research.

This is not the first space agreement between China and Russia, but it is the first to cover a partnership spanning five years, a period that allows for more ambitious plans and goals to be achieved.

Read more at: ecns

NASA Completes Welding of Liquid Oxygen Tank for First SLS Flight

NASA is another step closer to completing all main structures for the agency’s first launch of the Space Launch System deep space rocket. The liquid oxygen flight tank was recently built in the Vertical Assembly Center robotic welder at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. After the liquid oxygen tank was inspected, it was moved to another area for plug welding to fill the holes left by the friction stir welding process. Five major parts — the engine section, liquid hydrogen tank, intertank, liquid oxygen tank and forward skirt –will be connected together to form the 212-foot-tall core stage, the backbone of the SLS rocket.

Boeing, the prime contractor for the core stage, is welding the liquid hydrogen tank structure–the final major core stage structure to be built for the first integrated flight of SLS and Orion. The liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks will hold 733,000 gallons of propellant to power the stage’s four RS-25 engines that together produce more than 2 million pounds of thrust.

Read more at: NASA

New High-Energy Particle Detector Installed on International Space Station

The International Space Station received a new flagship particle detector earlier this week when the CREAM instrument package was retrieved from the Dragon spacecraft’s Trunk Section and transferred – via robotic arm handshake – to the Exposed Facility of the Station’s Kibo module from where the instrument will keep track of incoming ultra-high-energy particles to help answer long-standing questions in astrophysics.

CREAM, the Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass Instrument, lifted off on August 14 as the sole external payload on SpaceX’s 12th regular Dragon mission to the Space Station – the last in the original Commercial Resupply Services Contract and the last to use a newly-built Dragon vehicle. Dragon arrived at ISS two days after launch and robotics to extract the 1,258-Kilogram instrument picked up on Monday.

Read more at: Spaceflight 101

Aerospace Test at Sandia Goes Green with Alternative to Explosives

Sandia National Laboratories has successfully demonstrated a new, more environmentally friendly method to test a rocket part to ensure its avionics can withstand the shock from stage separation during flight.

The new method – called the Alternative Pyroshock Test – used a nitrogen-powered gas gun to shoot a 100-pound steel projectile into a steel resonant beam, which then transfers energy through a resonant cone attached to the part being tested. The resulting energy transfer mimics the conditions of stage separation in space. The first test of this type using the flight hardware was completed this spring.

Read more at: Space Daily

Spacety Joins Race for an Out of This World Experience

A new player in the space race is planning to launch 20 satellites by the end of 2018. Spacety Co Ltd will use most of them to supply data to research institutions and other business customers. “Some will be involved in microgravity experiments,” said Yang Feng, CEO of the company.

In the past, Chinese scientists found it difficult to conduct research in space. But now Spacety, which is based in Changsha, Hunan province, is offering a one-stop service at an affordable price to solve that problem. “This is a business model that turns out to be viable,” said Yang, who failed to disclose detailed financial figures about the project.

Read more at: China Daily

Newfound Material on the Moon Could Offer Clues to Our Planet’s Early Years

A Japanese spacecraft orbiting the moon recently made a surprising find: oxygen that came from Earth. Scientists think this oxygen could provide a historical rec­ord of our planet’s ancient atmosphere.

Few reliable clues exist as to the early history of Earth’s atmosphere and rocky surface because geologic activity has erased detailed evidence over time. Also wiped out are snapshot details that could be gleaned from meteorites made of material that formed around the same time and from similar material as Earth.

Read more at: Scientific American

The Need for New Space-based Missile Defense Systems

The fiscal year 2018 defense budget looks like another test of whether the Republican-controlled Congress can actually get things done. A large majority of Republicans agree that, under President Obama, defense spending was cut to dangerously low levels. Congressman Trent Franks (R AZ), who serves on the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee, said that Obama was “adamant in trying to reduce spending on missile defense.” This year there is a general agreement that the US needs to spend more, and to do a better job of defending ourselves and our allies, especially from North Korea’s new missiles.

There can be no question that the Budget Control Act of 2011 has become an obstacle to the government’s obligation to “provide for the common defense.” Appropriating the dollars that the Defense Department can effectively use is, like everything else in Washington these days, amazingly difficult to accomplish. The House passed a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that offers an extra $2.5 billion for missile defense. The question now is, can the Senate follow suit?

Read more at: Space Review

Military Space Race? Why Some Say Now’s the Time for an Upgraded Treaty

“I have to say,” said President Trump in an April video call with astronauts aboard the International Space Station that was broadcast to schoolchildren nationwide, “there’s tremendous military application in space.”

The United States has long worked on that assumption, to the extent that much of its military prowess now depends upon a vast network of satellites orbiting the planet.

Other nations have come to understand that dependence – both Russia and China have reportedly tested anti-satellite missiles in recent years – which in turn has led to a growing clamor from politicians and influential thinkers for the US to improve its satellite warfare capabilities.

Read more at: csmonitor

Multi-domain Command and Control a Priority for Air Force Space Command

The Commander of Air Force Space Command spoke at the Air Force Association Lance P. Sijan Chapter’s Multi-Domain Command and Control Symposium here Thursday. He emphasized that the ability to effectively operate across multiple warfighting domains simultaneously is paramount to the success of current and future joint operations.

“Multi domain operations are a priority for our joint force,” said General Raymond, the commander of AFSPC. “In fact, there is nothing we do as a joint force that isn’t enabled by space or cyberspace, and that has significantly increased our lethality.”

However, evolving threats have necessitated a shift in how global operations are conducted. Multi-domain command and control will enable America and our allies to address the ever-changing nature of warfare in the twenty-first century. “Our potential adversaries are either global or transregional, they are not confined to lines on a map,” said Raymond. “They are multi-functional and multi-domain, that’s why this is so important for our joint force.”

Read more at: AFSPC

North Korean Missiles are Testing a Stressed U.S. Defense Net

The latest North Korean missile tests come at time when the U.S. defensive shield is weakened, missile-defense analysts say, by this summer’s loss of a pair of warships specially outfitted for ballistic-missile defense (BMD).

Those two guided-missile destroyers — the USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald — collided with commercial ships, cutting down immediate regional U.S. maritime BMD capability by at least 14 percent.

The chinks in the ocean-going parts of the shield and the subsequent tests, the analysts say, show a need to develop and deploy more space-based sensors to guarantee full and continuous missile-defense coverage. A more robust space-based layer would also provide a more encompassing picture of threats than ship- or land-based radars.

Read more at: SpaceNews

Latest Aegis Combat System is Successful Against Medium Range Ballistic Missiles

The USS John Paul Jones, supported by the U.S. Navy, Missile Defense Agency and Lockheed Martin, successfully fired two Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) Dual I missiles against a medium-range ballistic missile target from the Aegis Combat System. During the test, the system detected, tracked, engaged and launched both missiles to intercept a Medium Range Ballistic Missile target.

This exercise marked the seventh successful intercept test of the Aegis Baseline 9.1 (BMD 5.0CU) Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) tracking and engagement capabilities and the third successful SM-6 BMD intercept test using Baseline 9.1.

Read more at: Space Daily

Review: The Sky Below

Astronauts are seemingly, by the nature of their profession, adventurers. After all, one has to have a desire to travel into extreme environments and accept significant personal risk to do so. Yet, just because one signs up for a job that involves a degree of adventure doesn’t mean he or she is adventurous in other aspects of life: they’re not all into extreme sports, for example.

But some are. Scott Parazynski, a medical doctor and an astronaut, had a streak of adventure in him since he was a kid, which later led to everything from a passion for mountain climbing to a bid to be on the US Olympic luge team. As an astronaut, he flew on five shuttle missions, including a trip to the Russian Mir space station and two assembly missions to the International Space Station. And, at the end of his astronaut career, he made two expeditions to climb Mount Everest.

Read more at: Space Review

Launching in the Rain: The Delays and Ascent of Mission 51I

Thirty-two years ago, today, Space Shuttle Discovery roared into the pre-dawn darkness from historic Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), on an ambitious mission to deploy three communications satellites and retrieve and repair a fourth. Crewed by Commander Joe Engle, Pilot Dick Covey and Mission Specialists James “Ox” van Hoften, Mike Lounge and Bill Fisher, Mission 51I launched during a period of severe thunderstorms and rain in Florida; in fact, conditions were so severe that the astronauts—even in the “gung-ho” halcyon days, before Challenger—doubted that they would fly at all.

Discovery was originally targeted to fly on 24 August 1985, but local rain forced NASA to scrub the attempt. “There weren’t any big thunderstorms,” Covey recalled in his oral history, “but that violated a criteria and it was interesting to watch how the weather criteria changed, and not necessarily for good reasons.”

Read more at: America Space

Did 3 NASA Astronauts Really Hold a ‘Space Strike’ in 1973?

On December 28, 1973, for a little over 90 minutes, NASA Mission Control in Houston, Texas, lost radio contact with the three astronauts aboard the Skylab space station. Although they could track Skylab as it shot through the sky, each time they buzzed the crew to try to talk to them, they got no response. Then, after they had completed one full orbit of Earth, the three astronauts came online again.

Depending on who you ask, this relatively brief loss of contact was either a space blooper or a deliberately staged strike; a trumped-up accident or a labor milestone. Regardless, that hour and a half, along with the events that came before and after, spurred a canonical inter-atmospheric negotiation.

Read more at: Atlas Obscura