Kepler Resumes Operations Despite Malfunctioning Thruster

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft is back in operation despite a problem with one of its thrusters and low fuel levels that may soon bring the mission to an end.

In a brief statement Sept. 5, NASA said Kepler resumed observations Aug. 29. The spacecraft was set to begin what the project calls Campaign 19, the latest in a series of observations spanning nearly three months at a time, in early August, but the spacecraft went into a “sleep mode” after transmitting data collected during the previous campaign.

Alison Hawkes, a spokesperson at NASA’s Ames Research Center, told SpaceNews Sept. 5 that engineers found no evidence of “systemic problems” on the spacecraft other than an issue with one of the spacecraft’s eight thrusters.

Read more at: Spacenews

Hole That Caused Leak in Russian Spacecraft Possibly Traced to Assembly or Testing: Report

The Russian Soyuz spacecraft responsible for last week’s leak aboard the International Space Station (ISS) may have received its wounds here on Earth, on the grounds of its manufacturer, according to a new report from Russian news agency TASS.

ISS controllers noticed a slight pressure drop on the night of Aug. 29 and alerted crewmembers about it the next day. The astronauts traced the issue to a 2-millimeter (0.08 inches) hole in the upper “orbital module” of the crew-carrying Soyuz, which arrived at the station in June.

Cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev, the Soyuz commander, soon patched the hole with epoxy, apparently solving the problem. Pressure levels have been steady ever since, NASA officials have said. (The leak never put crewmembers in any serious danger, officials have stressed.)

Read more at: Space.com

Cosmonauts May Examine Hole In Soyuz Spacecraft’s Hull During Spacewalk — Source

During a spacewalk, Russian cosmonauts may examine from the outside the hole in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, which caused a pressure drop aboard the International Space Station (ISS) last week, a rocket and space industry source told TASS on Friday.

“The possibility of conducting a spacewalk to examine from the outside the hole in Soyuz is now being considered. Possibly, they will be able to find the ‘plug’ that closed the hole before the August 30 emergency situation, or some other ‘evidence,’” the source said.

TASS has been unable to officially confirm the information at the time of the publication.

Read more at: TASS

Who Caused The Mysterious Leak At The International Space Station?

Russian officials are saying that a tiny leak at the International Space Station was likely caused by a human hand. Now, they’re trying to figure out who did it, why they did it and whether it happened in space or on the ground.

The crew identified the source of the leak as a 2-millimeter hole in the upper section of a Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, which is docked in the Russian section of the space station.

“We don’t reject any theories,” said Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s state space agency Roscosmos, according to state news agency TASS. He added that they’re aiming “to find out whether it was an accidental defect or a deliberate spoilage and where it was done … we will find out, without fail.”

Read more at: NPR

Japanese Cargo Ship To Launch To Space Station

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) unpiloted H-II Transport Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) is scheduled to lift off from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan nine years to the day after the flight of the first HTV cargo spacecraft.

HTV-7 will arrive at the space station Friday, Sept. 14. Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the spacecraft as it approaches from below. Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) will monitor HTV-7 systems during its approach to the orbiting complex. Capture is scheduled for around 7:40 a.m.

Named Kounotori, White Stork in Japanese, the unpiloted cargo spacecraft is loaded with six new lithium-ion batteries and adapter plates to replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries that make up part of the station’s electrical power system. The batteries will be replaced through a series of robotic operations and two spacewalks planned for Sept. 20 and 26.

Read more at: Spacenewsfeed

Experimental Perlan 2 Aircraft Breaks High Altitude Human Flight Record

Flying an aircraft to the edge of space usually involves a jet engine, a full tank of fuel, a whole load of noise and a pilot with the kind of Right Stuff needed to reach for the stars.

Not any more.

This week the experimental Airbus Perlan Mission II pressurized glider got there by silently riding atmospheric pressure waves. And then it kept going — smashing the record for human flight in a winged aircraft by reaching more than 76,000 feet. This meant the flight crossed the Armstrong Line, the point in the atmosphere beyond which the blood in a human’s body will boil unless it’s protected.

Read more at: 9news

Airspace Usage A Priority For New Commercial Industry Group Chairman

The new chairman of a commercial space industry group says addressing growing demands for airspace, and conflicts with commercial aviation, will be a major priority for him.

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) announced Aug. 29 that Taber MacCallum, the co-founder and chief technology officer of stratospheric ballooning company World View Enterprises, will be the chairman of the board of the industry group. He succeeds Alan Stern, another co-founder of World View who is best known as principal investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission, who was chairman the past two years.

In an Aug. 30 interview, MacCallum said he was asked to take on the role of chairman after serving as a CSF board officer for two years. “It’s an honor to take the position and help here,” he said. “I couldn’t pick a better year. This next year or two is going to be really exciting.”

Read more at: Spacenews

ISRO To Collaborate With French Space Agency On Manned Space Mission ‘Gaganyaan’

India and France on Thursday announced a working group for Gaganyaan, ISRO’s first manned mission announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Independence Day. The announcement was made at the sixth edition of Bengaluru Space Expo by French space agency President Jean-Yves Le Gall.

India plans to send three humans to space before 2022. The Indian Space Research Organisation’s mission is significant as it would make India one of the four countries in the world after Russia, US, and China to launch a manned space flight.

ISRO and CNES, the French space agency, will be combining their expertise in fields of space medicine, astronaut health monitoring, life support, radiation protection, space debris protection and personal hygiene systems, Gall said.

Read more at: NDTV

NASA’s 1st Orion Spaceship to Carry Astronauts Is a Step Closer to Reality

Technicians recently completed construction of a lightweight capsule made to carry astronauts back to the moon.

The capsule, also known as a pressure vessel, is part of NASA’s Orion Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2). NASA plans to send crewed missions in the 2020s to the moon, and the capsule’s spacecraft, the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, is built to take them there; EM-2 will be the second test-flight of Orion with NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and the first test flight with a crew.

Technicians welded seven large aluminum-alloy pieces together over the last seven months to produce the capsule, according to a recent statement from Lockheed Martin, the contractor building the vessel for NASA.

Read more at: Space.com

NASA Says It’s Building A Gateway To The Moon—Critics Say It’s Just A Gate

It is the year 2026. A veteran astronaut, Nicole Mann, leads her crew of four through a hatch from the Orion spacecraft onto a small space station near the Moon. Inside, it smells something like a new car. Outside, all is splendor. Below the station, half of the Moon reflects the sunlight—shimmering, silvery, and silent. The depths of space blacken the other half of the orb. In the distance, a blue and green Earth also basks in the Sun’s glow. Humanity’s cradle and its future among the stars share the vista.

The 49-year-old Mann, who goes by the call sign “Duke,” begins a series of communications checks. There is a two-second delay before Mission Control responds with cheers and high fives. For decades after Apollo, humans had remained confined in low-Earth orbit. No more. After Mann’s crew spends a dozen days outfitting the new “Gateway” in orbit around the Moon, NASA will finally have a toehold in deep space again. From here, humans may soon go down to the lunar surface or make final preparations for missions to Mars.

Read more at: Arstechnica

How NASA Keeps Astronauts From Going Crazy In Space

Are astronauts aboard the International Space Station headed for a Milky Way melee? Relations among the six-member crew aboard the satellite are reportedly tense this week following the discovery of a small but dangerous hole in the craft’s exterior, possibly hand-drilled in an act of starry sabotage.

The current orbiting team includes scientists from the United States, Germany and Russia. It’s not yet clear which country’s space cadet might be responsible, but a July report from NASA called for improvements in mitigating mental breakdowns on space missions.

Read more at: NYPost

Spacex Failures Small In Comparison To Its Successes

2018 is turning out to be the biggest year in SpaceX’s history. However, this success wasn’t always guaranteed as the company has had two high-profile failures between 2015 and 2016, costing customers and U.S. taxpayers millions. However, these losses should be weighed with the innovations and launch tempo that have become a hallmark of the company’s activities.

If all continues to go as planned in 2018, the company could end up launching two dozen rockets on behalf of their many customers. This already includes the maiden flight of the massive Falcon Heavy, several cargo Dragon resupply missions to the International Space Station and, if the schedule holds, the first unpiloted flight of the company’s Crew Dragon on the first demonstration test for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

How Astronauts Deal With Emergencies

We’ve been looking up at the stars for centuries, but it’s only in the last few decades that we’ve been able to actually think about exploring them. Space is still one of the harshest environments that we’ve ever discovered — colder than most people can imagine, with no oxygen and plenty of radiation to increase the risk of cancer and other dangerous diseases. When an emergency happens in space, there’s no one to come to the rescue. So how do astronauts handle it?

There are plenty of emergencies for us to pick from in science fiction movies and novels, but there are harrowing incidents to pick from in the real world, too. First, let’s take a look at the history of space travel and outer space emergencies.

Read more at: Discover magazine

The Scoop On How Mouse Poop Might Get Humans To Mars

When astronauts on the International Space Station need to go number two, they direct their poo through a narrow hole into a carefully sealed toilet. Eventually, their waste bursts into flames when jettisoned into Earth’s atmosphere.

The fate of the feces of 20 mice tagging along on the ISS this year won’t be quite as flashy, but it’s just as dramatic. The rodents, who shot into space on June 29, made a voyage to the station to provide scientists data on the effects of microgravity on their bodies and internal rhythms—part of which will be captured in their poop.

Sound familiar? It should. In 2015, NASA did the same thing, but with people. The Rodent Research-7 study is a sibling of the Twins Study, during which astronaut Scott Kelly spent a year on the stationwhile his brother, Mark Kelly, acted as a control back on Earth. Scientists have spent years poring over the data generated by the experiment—among them, the researchers who designed the mouse mission.

Read more at: Popsci

Landspace Closing In On First Chinese Private Orbital Launch

Launch company Landspace is nearing the first-ever Chinese orbital launch of a privately-developed rocket following assembly and testing of its Zhuque-1 launch vehicle.

Zhuque-1 was expected to launch in the final quarter of 2018, with liftoff now looking likely to take in October. Aboard will be a small satellite named Future (Weilai-1/未来一号) for China Central Television (CCTV), which will carry out remote sensing and feature in a TV show.

Zhuque-1 (朱雀一号) is a 19-metre-tall, 1.35-metre-diameter three-stage rocket with a takeoff mass of 27 metric tonnes, producing thrust of 45 tonnes, making it capable of lifting 200 kg to 500 km Sun-synchronous orbit and 300 kg to a 300 km low Earth orbit.

Read more at: Gbtimes

Al Maktoum International To Become A ‘Cosmic Super-Port’

The announcement, made in June, is part of the Dubai 10X initiative, with Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects working on the project in partnership with Dubai Future Foundation (DFF).

This means DWC is to become a “multi-mode super-port” with the hub set to become the region’s first spaceport, with the surrounding aviation infrastructure being known as a “cosmotropolis”. It will become the first of its kind in the world to provide an integrated travel outlet for both air and space travel.

According to the Government of Dubai’s website, the initiative, part of a total of 26, was approved by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai and chairman of the board of trustees of the DFF.

Read more at: Arabian aerospace

Pressure Mounts On Commercial Crew As Russia Plans To Stop Flying U.S. Astronauts To ISS

Amidst worsening conditions between the United States and Russia, the contract that provides U.S. astronauts with transportation to and from the International Space Station – is a few months away from expiring. The close of this agreement coincides with the time that NASA and its commercial partners hope to conduct the first test flights of so-called “space taxis” to the orbiting lab.

The current timeline of when the two commercial companies that NASA has awarded $6.8 billion to, Boeing and SpaceX, has the manufacturers slated to carry out the first crewed test flights in mid-2019 and April of the same year. April is the same month that the contract NASA has with the Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities (more commonly known as “Roscosmos”) – expires.

The timeline of these upcoming flights was released on Aug. 2, as was noted by Justin Bachman in a report that appeared on Bloomberg.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

Precision EGNOS Satnav Sparking Quiet Revolution In Aircraft Landings

If you’ve taken a flight in Europe recently, then the chances are growing that you’ve been a pioneer EGNOS user. Satellites in orbit would have guided your airliner’s descent, rather than signals beamed from the ground. You wouldn’t have felt any difference – except for possibly a smoother ride.

More than 180 European airports have now been certified to make use of the ESA-designed European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service, EGNOS, for approaches to given runways. This includes approaches at major hubs such as Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt and Amsterdam Schiphol. Thanks to EGNOS, safe landings would still be possible even if an airport were shut down entirely.

Sharpening the precision of US GPS satnav signals over most European territory, EGNOS was designed to make satnav reliable enough for safety-critical aviation employment, but has found a wide range of other uses, from agriculture to road, rail and maritime transport.

Read more at: Spacenews feed

The Quest to Conquer Earth’s Space Junk Problem

On Monday 2 July, the CryoSat-2 spacecraft was orbiting as usual, just over 700 kilometres above Earth’s surface. But that day, mission controllers at the European Space Agency (ESA) realized they had a problem: a piece of space debris was hurtling uncontrollably towards the €140-million (US$162-million) satellite, which monitors ice on the planet.

As engineers tracked the paths of both objects, the chances of a collision slowly increased—forcing mission controllers to take action. On 9 July, ESA fired the thrusters on CryoSat-2 to boost it into a higher orbit. Just 50 minutes later, the debris rocketed past at 4.1 kilometres a second.

Read more at: Scientific American

Satellites More At Risk From Fast Solar Wind Than A Major Space Storm

Researchers investigating the space weather risks to orbiting satellites calculated electron radiation levels within the Van Allen radiation belts.  This ring-doughnut-shaped zone wraps around the Earth, trapping charged particles.  Geostationary orbit lies inside the Van Allen radiation belts

The study, which analysed years of satellite data, found that electron radiation levels at geostationary orbit could remain exceptionally high for 5 days or more, even after the solar wind speed had died down.  As a result, electronic components on satellites could charge up to dangerously high levels and become damaged.

Read more at: BAS

Japan To Conduct First Test As Part Of Space Elevator Project

Elon Musk may not believe in space elevators yet, but Japan is taking a step forward to realise the dream of travelling to space by elevators instead of the traditional rocket.

A team of researchers from Japan’s Shizuoka University and other institutions will conduct the first test in space this month as part of a project to build a space elevator, Japan’s The Mainichi reported last week. The space elevator essentially ferries people and cargo shipments in an elevator car travelling on a cable connecting Earth to a space station.

This test is the first exploring the movement of a container on a cable in space. Two ultra-small cubic satellites measuring 10 centimeters on each side connected by a steel cable about 10 metres long will be carried from Kagoshima’s Tanegashima Space Center to the International Space Station on Sept. 11.

Read more at: CNET

Arianegroup Supplier GKN To 3D Print Turbines For Reusable Prometheus Engines

European rocket builder ArianeGroup, the company leading development and production of the Ariane 5 and upcoming Ariane 6 rockets, on Sept. 4 awarded a contract to a Swedish supplier for a reusable engine program.

GKN Aerospace’s space business unit in Trollhättan, Sweden, will build two turbines for Prometheus, a reusable liquid-oxygen-and-methane engine projected to cost $1 million per unit — one-tenth the cost of Ariane 5’s Vulcain 2 first-stage engine.

GKN, which has participated in Ariane launch programs since 1974, will supply components for the first and second stage engines of the expendable Ariane 6 rocket slated to debut in 2020. For Prometheus, the company said it will use 3D printing to reduce the number of turbine parts from over 100 to two, helping lower costs while enabling the engine to meet high temperature, pressure and velocity criteria.

Read more at: Spacenews

Chinese Startup Onespace Launches Second Suborbital Rocket

Chinese space startup OneSpace successfully launched its second suborbital rocket from a site in the Gobi Desert on Friday, marking a step towards an orbital rocket flight expected before the end of 2018.

The Chongqing Liangjiang Star rocket lifted off at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre at 04:10 UTC (12:10 local), reaching an altitude of around 35 kilometres during a flight of 200 seconds, travelling 169 km, in accordance with requirements from the customer. No information on the payload has been released.

It follows a suborbital test by another company in the emerging Chinese space launch sector, iSpace, from the same launch centre just two days prior.

Read more at: Gbtimes

ANA HOLDINGS and JAXA Partner to Create a New Space Industry Centered Around Real-World Avatars

ANA HOLDINGS INC. (hereinafter ANA HD) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are proud to announce the launch of “AVATAR X,” a multi-phased program to revolutionize space exploration and development using real-world Avatars.

AVATAR X aims to capitalize on the growing space-based economy by accelerating development of real-world Avatars that will enable humans to remotely build camps on the Moon, support long-term space missions and further explore space from afar.

AVATAR X is part of “ANA’s AVATAR Vision,” a breakthrough endeavor to advance and pioneer real-world Avatar technologies, and JAXA’s new research and development program “J-SPARC” (JAXA Space Innovation through Partnership and Co-creation). Together with a growing list of public and private partners, AVATAR X hopes to catalyze new space-based businesses that will provide key services and an unprecedented level of access to space.

Read more at: JAXA

NASA Will Launch 2 Rockets to Test a Mars Parachute and Track ‘Nanoflares’

NASA will launch two brief rocket missions tomorrow (Sept. 7): One will test a parachute that could be used to help land the next rover on Mars; the other will measure tiny explosions on the sun called “nanoflares.”

The rocket launches will occur separately in Virginia and New Mexico. Only the parachute test will be livestreamed, with coverage beginning at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT) on the Ustream page for NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Sounding rockets fly for up to about half an hour and never reach high enough altitudes to stably orbit Earth.

That launch will be the third test of the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE), which is designed for NASA’s next Red Planet rover mission, called Mars 2020.

Read more at: Space.com

Making Space Exploration Real – on Earth

You are on a rock speeding through space. On this rock called Earth every single mineral tells you something about planetary formation. This week astronauts and space engineers will unlock the mystery of those minerals as they start an ESA geology field training course to prepare for future exploration of the Moon, Mars and asteroids.

The third edition of the Pangaea campaign – named after the ancient supercontinent – will help participants build their understanding of planetary geology, collect and document interesting rock samples, and assess the most likely places to find traces of life on other planets.

Leading European planetary geologists will equip astronauts with a geologist’s eye to see, feel and understand the building blocks of our Solar System.

Read more at: ESA

Mining in Space Offers Benefits For Life on Earth (Radio)

Tom James, Chief Executive Officer, Navitas Resources and Author of Deep Space Commodities, joined Juliette Saly and Bryan Curtis on Daybreak Asia to discuss the potential for mining commodities in space. He goes into what discoveries in space have already benefitted life on earth, what minerals can be found and the economics of space exploration.

Read more at: Bloomberg

Earth’s Oxygen Increased in Gradual Steps Rather Than Big Bursts

A carbon cycle anomaly discovered in carbonate rocks of the Neoproterozoic Hüttenberg Formation of north-eastern Namibia follows a pattern similar to that found right after the Great Oxygenation Event, hinting at new evidence for how Earth’s atmosphere became fully oxygenated.

By using the Hüttenberg Formation, which formed between a billion and half a billion years ago, to study the time between Earth’s change from an anoxic environment (i.e. one lacking oxygen) to a more hospitable environment that heralded the animal kingdom, a team of researchers led by Dr. Huan Cui of the NASA Astrobiology Institute at the University of Wisconsin–Madison discovered a sustained, high level of carbon. This influx of carbon, coupled with changes in other elements, indicates how changing levels of oceanic oxygen may have lent a helping hand to early animal evolution.

Read more at: Space.com

Nasa Reorganization On Hold, Ffrdc Report Headed To Omb

NASA’s FY2019 budget request proposed eliminating the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) and refocusing technology efforts on the Moon/Mars program.  A recommendation on a new structure was expected this summer, but the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) was told yesterday that it is on hold because NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine wants more time. Separately NASA was directed to look at turning its nine civil service field centers into federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs).  That report was being sent to the White House today.

NASA Associate Administrator (AA) Steve Jurczyk briefed NAC on the status of these actions yesterday.  Prior to becoming AA, he was the head of STMD and before that the Director of Langley Research Center, so he has unique expertise on both topics.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Defense Policy Chief: Weapons In Space Are ‘Bridges Yet To Be Crossed’

The Pentagon is moving forward with plans to build a constellation of warning satellites to defend the United States and allies from missile attacks. Congress also directed the Pentagon to study the possibility of deploying weapons in space to shoot down enemy missiles.

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood said the Defense Department is following congressional orders and looking at the technological and security implications of putting interceptor missiles in space. But he cautioned the Pentagon is not yet ready to endorse the idea or proceed ahead with a program.

“Those are bridges yet to be crossed,” Rood said on Tuesday at a conference on Capitol Hill organized by the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance.

Read more at: Spacenews

Pentagon Plans to Deploy Space-Based Missiles

The Pentagon is studying the deployment of space-based missiles and new sensors to counter the growing threat of high-speed missile attacks from China and Russia, senior defense officials said Tuesday.

Michael Griffin, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, said a network of 1,000 missile interceptors deployed on satellite launchers, could be built for $20 billion—not at a cost of hundreds of billions as critics of space weapons assert.

Griffin, a long-time missile defense expert, said missile threats are increasing and space-based defenses are needed to counter the threats.

Read more at: freebeacon

The Ties That Bind Space and War

Plans to establish A space force as a new branch of the U.S. military are in the earliest of stages. But the relationship between science and warfare has a very real, ancient history.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and his collaborator, Avis Lang, chart those ties in “Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military.”

In a recent conversation with U.S. News, Tyson explains how the collaborations between those who search the stars and those who make war on Earth that go back millennia were – and continue to be – indispensable both for battle and for peaceful exploration. Excerpts:

Read more at: usnews

Top US Air Force Official Is Now On Board With Trump’s Space Force Plan

The U.S. Air Force’s top civilian has been one of the biggest critics of creating a separate military service for space, but now that President Donald Trump has directed the Pentagon to craft a new “Space Force,” she wants to make sure its done right.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said Wednesday at the Defense News Conference that she was now in “complete alignment” with Trump’s desire to stand up a Space Force, complete with a separate military department with the same authorities as any other service.

That will manifest itself in a fiscal 2020 spending request that includes a separate budget for the “Department of the Space Force” and a “fulsome” proposal of how to structure the new service. From there, it will be up to Congress to decide whether to approve its formation, Wilson said.

Read more at: Defense news

Delta II: End of an Era

Endings remind us of beginnings. The planned September 15 launch of the last Delta II rocket marks the end of a launch era that began with the rocket’s first launch into a blue sky over Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 17A at 1:30 p.m. on February 14, 1989.

Amid talk of super-heavy launch vehicles and BFRs—Big F—ing Rockets—it is easy to forget the outsized presence of this comparatively diminutive rocket in the pantheon of space launch systems.

Delta II has been a workhorse for science, literally the initial push for many significant probes to destinations throughout the solar system. Delta II was also an important part of the nation’s recovery from the Space Shuttle Challenger accident.

Read more at: Space review

‘An Evolving Process’: Remembering the Shuttle’s First Landing in Darkness, 35 Years Ago

Characterized by NASA as “any landing which occurs no later than 15 minutes before sunrise”, nighttime landings were among the most dramatic events in the 30-year span of the Space Shuttle Program (SSP). On 26 occasions between August 1983 and July 2011—most recently the triumphant homecoming of the program’s final voyage, STS-135—shuttle crews alighted at night on the runway at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida or Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to wrap up a variety of missions, including the first Hubble servicing and the inaugural construction flight to the International Space Station (ISS). Thirty-five years ago, this week, Challenger and her five-man STS-8 crew touched down at Edwards to complete the first nighttime landing of the shuttle program. Dictated by operational parameters, landing at night was a fundamental requirement in NASA’s pre-51L drive to make shuttle missions more “routine”.

Read more at: America space

People Calling Ryan Gosling’s First Man Unpatriotic Are Stuck In 1969

There is a fiery controversy about a new movie, First Man, which recounts NASA’s mission to put a human on the moon. The film omits Neil Armstrong, played by Ryan Gosling, planting the US flag on the moon.

US senator Marco Rubio called this exclusion “total lunacy”. Fellow senator Ted Cruz accused the film of being “wrong” and “denying American exceptionalism”.

Read more at: New Scientist

Unique Photos Detailing Creation Of USSR’s First Ballistic Missile Released

The Soviet rocketry program, which would eventually help Moscow achieve strategic parity with the United States and send human beings into space, had its origins in a design reverse-engineered from a captured German V-2.

Russian Space Systems, a subsidiary of Roscosmos, has published a unique and detailed photo album detailing the elements that comprised the R-1, a short-range ballistic missile tested some 70 years ago and introduced into service in 1950.

The 44-page album contains details on everything from rocket wiring schematics to individual components, including commutators, telemetry systems, transformers, the rocket’s control compartment, launch equipment and its ground-based control panel.

Read more at: Space daily

The Enduring Myth of Phantom Cosmonauts

There’s an ongoing fascination with the idea of phantom cosmonauts. The story goes something like this: a handful of Soviets launched into space before Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth, but because they all died their missions and deaths were covered up. The stories are myth. No one flew in space before Gagarin. Even X-15 flights above the Karman line came after 1962. But like any enduring myth, there is a kernel of truth in this story.

The idea of phantom cosmonauts gained traction because the Soviet Union’s early space program was shrouded in fair bit of mystery. Neither robotic nor manned missions were announced until they were successfully off the ground and even then details were sparse and often misleading. It was hard, too, to piece together full programs since unsuccessful launches got a different designation than successful missions. Additionally, observers frequently misinterpreted reports from Soviet news agencies, like one that listed cosmonauts that may or may not be living. All this meant that it was nearly impossible to figure out what the Soviet scientists were trying to do.

Read more at: Discover magazine

Accessory to War

In Accessory to War, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang give a sweeping panoramic overview of the enduring alliance between astrophysics and the military—from the Greeks to Galileo to GPS. The book’s key contribution is in documenting the various ways science has aided military endeavors over the millennia and making the sometimes-arcane source material accessible.

As the authors make clear, this isn’t a one-way street, with science simply enabling greater military prowess or lethality. The military “Vela” satellites of the 1960s and 1970s, for example, were looking for gamma-ray signatures from nuclear explosions on the ground during the Cold War. Instead they serendipitously found celestial gamma-ray bursts coming from the other direction, ushering in gamma-ray astrophysics.

Read more at: Science magazine

Paul Spudis, Moon-Exploration Expert, Dies at 66

It was a personal shock to me yesterday (Aug. 29) to learn of the passing of Paul Spudis, a leading moon expert, a great friend over the decades and an in-your-face proponent of the moon over Mars as the next deep-space astronaut destination.

Word first came to me via a posting by Samuel Lawrence of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, who chairs the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group: “Today, we lost a giant of our field. It is my sad duty to report that Dr. Paul Spudis passed away this morning due to complications from lung cancer,” Lawrence wrote. “Few individuals have been as articulate, passionate or resolute in their advocacy of lunar exploration and human spaceflight as Paul Spudis,” Lawrence added.

Read more at: Scientific American

“Safe Passage to Mars” Design Challenge

“Safe Passage to Mars” is a design challenge for undergraduate students. Enabling safe space exploration of Moon, Mars and beyond requires the application of the concepts of Engineering Psychology to design and build hardware (tools, devices, or equipment) which can mitigate critical human performance issues associated with long-duration spaceflight.

Read more at: ISSF

10th IAASS Conference

15 – 17 May 2019 – Los Angeles, USA

The tenth IAASS Conference “Making Safety Happen” is an invitation to reflect and exchange information on a number of topics in space safety and sustainability of national and international interest. The conference is also a forum to promote mutual understanding, trust, and the widest possible international cooperation in such matters. The once exclusive “club” of nations with autonomous space access capabilities is becoming crowded with fresh, and ambitious new entrants. New commercial spaceports and near-spaceports are in operations and others are being built.

Read more at: IAASS Conference