Orbiting Debris Trackers Could Be A Game Changer In Space Junk Monitoring

Tiny devices on satellites will soon be able to detect pieces of space debris as small as 1 inch that are invisible to existing space junk monitoring systems but still capable of destroying spacecraft if they might collide with.

These innovative space debris trackers take advantage of technologies flown on most satellites, the so-called star trackers that help spacecraft maintain their orientation in space by adjusting their tilt according to the positions of the surrounding stars.

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FAA Concludes Starship Mishap Investigation, 63 Corrective Actions Needed Before Second Flight

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced Friday the conclusion its mishap investigation into the first integrated test flight of SpaceX’s reusable Starship launch vehicle. It stressed SpaceX has 63 corrective actions that need to be taken before Starship can make a second test flight.

“SpaceX must implement all corrective actions that impact public safety and apply for and receive a license modification from the FAA that addresses all safety, environmental and other applicable regulatory requirements prior to the next Starship launch,” the FAA said in a statement.

The announcement came days after SpaceX completed stacking its Starship vehicle (S25) on top of a Super Heavy Booster (B9). Company founder Elon Musk said it was ready for Integrated Test Flight 2 (IFT-2) and was “awaiting FAA license approval”.

Read more at: spaceflight now


Defining ‘Responsible Behavior’ in Space Is a Growing Necessity

Outer space was considered a largely peaceful domain until a decade ago. No longer. The situation has been worsening progressively with countries pursuing destructive activities in space. Unless corrective steps are taken to regulate the kind of activities states engage in in outer space, exploration and peaceful use of outer space even in the medium term cannot be guaranteed.

There are several efforts that have been undertaken in recent years in order to moderate the activities in outer space. The most recent is the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) on reducing space threats through norms, rules, and principles of responsible behaviors. The group concluded its work on September 1.

Read more at: diplomat

A Historic Solar Flare’s Huge Intensity Is Revealed By New Tools

Read more at: Nature

Space Junk In Earth Orbit And On The Moon Will Increase With Future Missions − But Nobody’s In Charge Of Cleaning It Up

There’s a lot of trash on the Moon right now – including nearly 100 bags of human waste – and with countries around the globe traveling to the Moon, there’s going to be a lot more, both on the lunar surface and in Earth’s orbit. In August 2023, Russia’s Luna-25 probe crashed into the Moon’s surface, while India’s Chandrayann-3 mission successfully landed in the southern polar region, making India the fourth country to land on the Moon.

With more countries landing on the Moon, people back on Earth will have to think about what happens to all the landers, waste and miscellaneous debris left on the lunar surface and in orbit.

Read more at: astronomy

Asteroid Hit By NASA Spacecraft Is Behaving Unexpectedly

A high school teacher and his students have discovered that an asteroid hit by a NASA spacecraft, in a test run for saving Earth from a collision, is behaving unexpectedly. The find could have implications for future planetary defence missions. On 27 September 2022, NASA intentionally crashed its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft into the asteroid Dimorphos.

Read more at: Newscientist

Enormous Fireball Meteor Turns The Sky Over Turkey Green In Eerie Viral Video

A stunning video captured the moment a vibrant green fireball streaked across the skies above Turkey.

Taken by Onur Kaçmaz in a playground in the Turkish city of Erzurum on Saturday (Sept. 2), the now-viral video shows the sky and surrounding clouds bathed in a deep-sea snot green as the brilliant object hits the upper atmosphere. A large green meteor was spotted blazing through the sky in Turkey moments ago.Wow.

Read more at: livescience


SpaceX Confirms Engine Fires Lead To Massive Rocket Explosion In April

SpaceX has officially received the list of actions that it needs to take to ensure that the Starship rocket complies with FAA regulations. SpaceX’s April Starship test launch was quite a spectacle. While it saw the world’s biggest rocket successfully soar to the sky after clearing the pad, the remainder of the flight provided metal-fueled fireworks that saw the rocket flip multiple times in mid-air before exploding. The FAA released today’s press release explaining the work it has been doing with SpaceX after the April test attempt. Simultaneously, SpaceX also released a press release clearing up some uncertainties about a couple of failures during the April launch.

Read more at: wccftech

Terran Orbital Announces Plan To Speed Up Satellite Production

Satellite manufacturer Terran Orbital in 2024 plans to accelerate production at its factory in California, promising deliveries in 30 to 60 days, the company announced Sept. 7.

The company is marketing this effort as a “responsive space initiative” to shorten production timelines,  said Marc Bell, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Terran Orbital.

“Today it takes us over a year to deliver a bus,” he said in a statement to SpaceNews. The 30-60 day service will be available in late 2024, he said.

Read more at: spacenews

Ariane 6 Completes Short-Duration Engine Test

The European Space Agency and ArianeGroup announced a successful hot-fire test of the core stage of the Ariane 6 rocket, the first of two such tests before ESA is ready to set a date for the rocket’s inaugural launch.

The test took place Sept. 5 on the launch pad at the spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. A prototype of the Ariane 6 core stage was fueled with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants and its Vulcain 2.1 engine fired for four seconds, as planned.

Read more at: spacenews

ESA-Funded Accelerator Selects Two 3D Printing Companies To Advance In-Orbit Manufacturing

Satellite Applications Catapult, leading the Business in Space Growth Network (BSGN) In-orbit Manufacturing Accelerator (IMA), has included two 3D printing companies, Photocentric and Deployables Cubed (DCUBED), at the top tier of the Accelerator.Funded by the European Space Agency, the Accelerator is an initiative sponsored by ESA’s BSGN Industry Accelerator program. Through the BSGN program, the ESA enables private industries to actively engage, adapt their capabilities, and foster advancement for commercialization within the Lower Earth Orbit (LEO) economy.

Read more at: 3dprinting industry

Elon Musk Dominates Commercial Space. Some Think That’s A Problem.

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, has singlehandedly revolutionized space travel. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets have lowered the cost of launching people and cargo into space by orders of magnitude. Its Starship, the massive spaceship currently in development, promises to open the moon, Mars and beyond to human activity. Thus, Musk has come to dominate commercial space in ways no other entrepreneur has ever done.

However, what most people might consider a good thing, others find to be a problem. Indeed, some people in the federal government want Elon Musk to be taken down a peg.

Read more at: Hill


China Publishes New Datasets Obtained By Mars, Lunar Probes

China published two new batches of data on Monday, obtained by its Mars probe and lunar probe.

The scientific data obtained by three scientific payloads including a high-definition camera on Tianwen 1, the country’s Mars probe, from January to March this year, have been released, amounting to nearly 68 gigabytes, according to the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC).

This is the probe’s fifth data release. Tianwen 1, consisting of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, entered the Mars orbit on Feb 10, 2021, becoming the country’s first probe to orbit the planet.

Read more at: spacdaily

A Device On NASA’s Perseverance Rover Generated Enough Oxygen On Mars For A Small Dog To Breathe For 10 Hours. Astronauts Could Be Next.

NASA has a way to produce oxygen out of the air on Mars, and it could be a huge step toward building crewed bases on the Red Planet. Creating oxygen from the Martian air is no easy feat. Mars’ atmosphere consists of mostly carbon dioxide (95%) and nitrogen (3%). It only has traces of oxygen, meaning it’s impossible to breathe on Mars, let alone explore it. That’s where the microwave-sized device named the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, aka MOXIE, comes in.

MOXIE hitched a ride to Mars on NASA’s Perseverance Rover in 2021 and has been hard at work ever since.

Read more at: business insider

Scientists May Have A Solution To The International Space Station’s Fungus Problem

Clogs in water recovery systems on the international space station have been so backed up that hoses have had to be sent back to Earth for cleaning and refurbishing. This is thanks to the build up of biofilms: a consortium of microorganisms that stick to each other, and often also to surfaces — the insides of water recover tubing, for instance. These microbial or fungal growths can clog filters in water processing systems and make astronauts sick.

So space, like Earth, has a germ problem – so what? Because biofilms can compromise the integrity of and damage equipment, including space suits, recycling units, radiators and water treatment facilities, it can cost space agencies loads of money to replace affected materials.

Read more at: engadget

New Fuel To Power Rolls-Royce Micro Nuclear Space Reactor

Scientists from Bangor University in Wales have designed nuclear fuel cells as small as poppy seeds that could be used to produce energy required for future lunar habitats, a press statement reveals.

For the first time since Apollo 17 in 1972, NASA aims to send humans back to the lunar surface with its Artemis III mission in 2025 or 2026. By around 2030, the US space agency aims to establish a lunar outpost.

The new nuclear fuel cell technology, called Trisofuel, could be used to power a micro nuclear generator developed by Rolls-Royce.

Read more at: interesting engineering

Chinese Scientist Proposes Solar System-Wide Resource Utilization Roadmap

Chinese space scientists have outlined a tentative roadmap for establishing a space resources utilization network stretching into the outer reaches of the solar system.

Wang Wei, a scientist affiliated to CASC, China’s main space contractor, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), is proposing a four-stage roadmap for a space resources utilization project which would, eventually, span the entire solar system by 2100.

The initiative is titled Tiangong Kaiwu and takes its name from Ming Dynasty scientist Song Yingxing’s work, “The Exploitation of the Works of Nature.” It proposes developing strategic mineral resources, utilizing off-world water-ice for fuel, creating transport and supply nodes, and establishing a space resource development system.

Read more at: spacenews


NASA’s Mega Moon Rocket Is ‘Unaffordable,’ According To Accountability Report

Senior NASA officials say that the agency’s Space Launch System — the massive rocket designed to propel its ambitious Artemis program to establish a base on the moon — is “unaffordable,” according to a report Thursday from the US Government Accountability Office.

The report, which breaks down SLS program expenditures, makes the striking admission that senior NASA officials deem the rocket to be unsustainable “at current cost levels,” and it criticizes what the GAO said is a lack of transparency into the program’s ongoing costs. The report does not name which officials — or how many — at NASA made such claims.

Read more at: CNN

South Africa Joins China’s Moon Base Project

South Africa has formally joined the China-led ILRS project to establish a permanent moon base.

Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong, on behalf of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), and Humbulani Mudau, CEO of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), signed Sept. 1 the Memorandum of Understanding between CNSA and SANSA on the International Lunar Research Station Cooperation (ILRS).

Read more at: spacenews

The European Space Agency Has A Transparency Problem — But It’s Completely Legal

The European Space Agency has come under criticism from journalists for its reluctance to disclose information. But here’s the catch: The intergovernmental organization that redistributes billions of euros in taxpayer money is not obliged to comply with any Freedom of Information law. It stands above it. Here’s why.

The legal world of the European Space Agency (ESA) is a strange one. The organization, founded in 1975, is governed by its Convention, a 130-page document that outlines not only the space agency’s governing structure but also the many immunities and privileges its staff members and representatives enjoy.

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EU and UK Reach Deal on Copernicus

The European Union and the United Kingdom have reached a deal that will allow the UK to resume participation in the EU elements of the Copernicus Earth observation program.

The European Commission and the UK government announced Sept. 7 that they had completed an agreement to permit the UK to be a part of Copernicus as well as the Horizon Europe research funding program. The UK had been cut out of both programs after it completed its exit from the EU in 2020.

Read more at: spacenews


The US Space Force Has A New Mission Statement To Secure Everything ‘In, From And To Space’

The United States Space Force has a new mission statement.

Space Force unveiled the new statement this week, outlining the service’s mission in just nine brief words: “Secure our Nation’s interests in, from, and to space.”

In a statement, the service’s top officer, Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman, said the new mission statement was produced exclusively through soliciting suggestions from Space Force servicemembers, who are known as Guardians. “We did not hire a corporate marketing team to develop a catch phrase,” Saltzman said. “Nor did generals sit around a table in the Pentagon debating what the statement should be. Our mission statement was sourced from a Guardian-driven process.”

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U.S. Military Launches ICBM In Display Of Nuclear Forces’ Readiness

The U.S. military on Wednesday launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from California in a display of the U.S. nuclear forces’ readiness.

The Air Force Global Strike Command launch was successfully carried out at Vandenberg Space Force Base at 1:26 a.m. PDT.

“The Airmen and Guardians who perform this vital mission are some of the most skilfully trained and dedicated personnel in America’s Air Force,” said Col. Bryan Titus, Space Launch Delta 30 vice commander. “These test launches demonstrate the readiness of U.S. nuclear forces and provide confidence in the lethality and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent.”

Read more at: UPI

‘How Am I In This War?’: New Musk Biography Offers Fresh Details About The Billionaire’s Ukraine Dilemma

Elon Musk secretly ordered his engineers not to turn on his company’s Starlink satellite communications network near the Crimean coast last year to disrupt a Ukrainian sneak attack on the Russian naval fleet, according to an excerpt adapted from Walter Isaacson’s new biography of the eccentric billionaire titled “Elon Musk.”

CNN was provided the excerpt, which has since been amended, according to a version now published by The Washington Post.

Musk’s decision, which left Ukrainian officials begging him to turn the satellites on, was driven by an acute fear that Russia would respond to a Ukrainian attack on Crimea with nuclear weapons, a fear driven home by Musk’s conversations with senior Russian officials, according to Isaacson, whose new book is set to be released by Simon & Schuster on September 12.

Read more at: CNN

Russia Warns ‘All-Out War’ with US Could Erupt Over Worsening Cyber Clashes

Escalating tensions between the United States and Russia in cyberspace threaten to spark a real-life clash between the nuclear-armed powers, Moscow’s top cybersecurity diplomat has told Newsweek.

At a time when Washington has regularly accused Moscow of using cyber tools—referred to in Russia as information and communication technologies (ICTs)—to pursue illicit aims, Artur Lyukmanov, who serves as both director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s International Information Security Department and special representative to President Vladimir Putin on international cooperation on information security, pointed to a “lack of hard evidence” to substantiate such allegations.

Read more at: Newsweek

With the Silent Barker Satellites, America Is Entering a New Space Arms Race

The U.S. is growing worried about the increasing number of so-called inspector satellites launched into space by China and Russia that have the potential to move close to U.S. satellites, potentially spying on and even interfering with their functionality. So the U.S. is launching into space a new class of its own spy satellite called Silent Barker that’s specifically billed as being good for spying on those rival inspector satellites.

Yes, you have that right: America’s response to satellites used to spy on U.S. satellites is to send our own space spies to spy on theirs.

Read more at: Popular mechanics

DoD Satellites In Low Earth Orbit Promise More Connectivity For Military Users

With its first 23 satellites in orbit, the U.S. Space Development Agency in the coming months will begin the demonstration phase of a data network in space designed to support military operations.

SpaceX on Sept. 2 launched SDA’s second batch of satellites. The agency now has 19 communications satellites and four missile-tracking spacecraft in orbit. These make up the Tranche 0 portion of a projected network known as the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture.

Read more at: spacenews


World’s First Crewed Liquid Hydrogen Plane Takes Off

At a somewhat small and unassuming airport in Maribor, Slovenia, German hydrogen propulsion startup H2FLY has quietly been building up to a major milestone in zero-emission aviation over the summer. And all the hard work has come to fruition, with the successful completion of the world’s first crewed liquid hydrogen-powered flights.

Before any aviation history enthusiast out there goes “but what about the Tupolev Tu-155?” — yes, the Soviets did try out liquid hydrogen as fuel 35 years ago, but only for one of the three engines.

Read more at: nextweb

As Night Falls, India’s Lunar Lander/Rover Goes to Sleep. Probably Forever

India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission delivered its Vikram lander and Pragyan rover to the lunar surface on August 23rd. Now, as the lunar day ends two weeks later, the rover’s mission may be over. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has put Pragyan into sleep mode.

We’re accustomed to rover missions that last years, thanks largely to NASA’s Mars rovers. But those rovers have MMRTGs (Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator) power plants that last for years. They’re also really expensive, whereas the Chandrayaan-3 mission cost only about $75 million.

But Pragyan relies on solar power, and lunar night is setting in.

Read more at: universe today

NASA To Launch Mission To Metal-Rich Asteroid

NASA is preparing for its Psyche mission and says it is on track to launch a spacecraft to a metallic asteroid next month.

Read more at: CNN

India’s Moon Lander Detects Movement Underneath The Surface

A few weeks ago, the Chandrayaan-3 lander and rover successfully touched down on the lunar surface, making India the fourth nation on Earth to land successfully on the Moon, and the first to land near the south pole.

Since then, the mission aimed at primarily examining the composition of the lunar soil has detected sulfur, aluminum, calcium, iron, chromium, titanium, manganese, silicon, and oxygen. It has also completed a lunar first by measuring the temperature at the lunar south pole, and found time to take a selfie before the rover took a well-earned rest through the lunar night.

Read more at: IFLscience

Will Mining the Moon and Asteroids Be Worth the Trouble?

The new era of space exploration is opening entirely new possibilities, including the tantalizing prospect of mining for resources on the Moon and asteroids. Sounds exciting—and potentially very profitable—but the reality of the situation is that space mining is completely uncharted territory. Plenty of prospecting needs to be done first to determine if these resources are even economically worth being harvested in the first place.

In the next decade, NASA and its collaborators are turning their gaze back to the Moon. The agency is looking to land astronauts there in 2025 as part of the ongoing Artemis program; this would be the first time an astronaut has landed on the Moon since the final Apollo mission in 1972.

Read more at: Gizmodo

Las Vegas Spaceport Could Provide Satellite Launch Services

The Las Vegas Spaceport could add satellite launch services to its list of offerings when it opens.

Company officials said they’ve entered into a strategic agreement with O-G Launch to introduce advanced small and medium satellite launch services. According to a press release, they would use a Boeing 757 aircraft to carry recyclable rockets and payloads up to 40,000 feet before launching them into space. That’s if they get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Read more at: ktnv

Astronauts On ISS Can Face Muscle Loss In Microgravity – A New ESA Experiment May Help

On Aug. 27, Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen scripted history when he became the first European to pilot the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS).

Over the next six months, Mogensen will carry out over 30 research activities including 3-D printing in space, supporting astronauts’ mental health with soothing virtual reality videos and clicking pictures of thunder clouds on Earth to better understand the phenomena. One experiment, however, is captivating scientists because of its potential to provide better healthcare not just for astronauts but also for humans on Earth.

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Japan Launches X-ray Satellite, ‘Moon Sniper’ Lunar Lander

A revolutionary satellite that will reveal celestial objects in a new light and the “Moon Sniper” lunar lander lifted off Wednesday night.

The Japanese Space Agency launch, which was rescheduled several times due to bad weather, occurred aboard an H-IIA rocket from Tanegashima Space Center at 7:42 p.m. ET Wednesday, or 8:42 a.m. Japan Standard Time on Thursday.

The event streamed live on JAXA’s YouTube channel, offering a broadcast in both English and Japanese.

Read more at: CNN