China ‘Counters’ Starlink With Starlink; Accelerates Plans For 2nd Satellite Mega Constellation
To increase its stake in the rapidly growing space-based internet sector, China is forging ahead with its ambitious plan to construct a second satellite mega constellation known as ‘G60 Starlink.’
This ambitious project, backed by the Shanghai municipal government, aims to compete head-to-head with SpaceX’s Starlink, according to the SCMP. G60 Starlink, once completed, will comprise a fleet of more than 12,000 satellites strategically positioned in low Earth orbit.
This undertaking mirrors the scale of the National Network, often referred to as Guo Wang, which is a separate satellite constellation project initiated by the Chinese government.
Read more at: eurasian times
Space Safety and Sustainability Momentum
Space safety and sustainability concerns have become widely recognised issues in policy-making and the available evidence signals a continuation of this trend in the foreseeable future. While multiple concurrent developments and trends are magnifying the concerns related to safety of space operations and sustainability of the space environment, new opportunities arise for more impactful policy making, leveraging technological innovation, emerging commercial and investment dynamics, and a growing global awareness.
Read more at: ESPI
Japanese Spacecraft To Meet Large Space Debris In World First
Astroscale aims to become the world’s first company to safely approach and characterize a piece of large debris orbiting Earth, the company announced today.
During a live webinar, Astroscale showed off its ADRAS-J spacecraft to the press from its clean room in Tokyo.
The roughly 331 lbs (150 kg) spacecraft will demonstrate Rendezvous and Proximity Operations (RPO) and the company says the mission is the “start of a full-fledged debris removal service.”
Read more at: interesting engineering
SPACE HAZARDS & STM
A Near-Catastrophic Space Collision This Month Is Worth Caring About
Earlier this month two big pieces of space junk came unsettlingly close to colliding over our heads in low-earth orbit.
“It looks like the collision would have been almost head-on, so worst-case energy-wise,” astronomer and leading orbital traffic watcher Jonathan McDowell from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
Orbital monitoring and data company LeoLabs noticed the near-miss between a defunct Soviet era Russian satellite and a used Chinese rocket body on Sept. 13.
Read more at: Forbes
Will Musk’s Starlink Satellites Lead to Kessler Syndrome?
Over the course of the 2020s and 2030s, the night sky and the volume of space that surrounds the Earth are both poised to become very different than they’ve been for all of human history. As of 2019, all of humanity had launched an estimated total of between 8,000 and 9,000 satellites, where approximately 2,000 of them were still active back then, mostly in low-Earth orbit. As many companies now scramble to provide worldwide 5G coverage from space — led most prominently by Elon Musk’s and SpaceX’s Starlink, which has by far the most satellites — humanity is now beginning to enter the era of satellite mega-constellations.
Read more at: Bigthink
Towards A Zero Debris Future
This panel is driven by the shared concern about the continuing degradation of the outer space environment which puts space activities evermore at risk and, consequently, the need for more ambitious actions on space debris mitigation and remediation from all stakeholders. Heads of agencies are invited to highlight their views and measures on space safety and sustainability. The goal of the panel would be to identify collective efforts of a community of proactive actors towards jointly defined ambitious, meaningful and measurable targets by 2030. ESA’s recently announced zero-debris charter will be introduced and discussed as a vehicle to drive joint ambitions in this field.
Read more at: IAF
India’s Private Space Sector Skyrockets
When Indian entrepreneur Awais Ahmed founded his satellite startup in Bangalore in 2019, his country was still a year away from opening the space industry to the private sector.
“When we started, there was absolutely no support, no momentum,” said Ahmed, who was 21 when he founded Pixxel, a company deploying a constellation of Earth imaging satellites.
Since then, the private space sector has taken off in India, joining a rapidly growing global market.
There are now 190 Indian space start-ups, twice as many as a year earlier, with private investments jumping by 77 percent between 2021 and 2022, according to Deloitte consultancy.
Read more at: Yahoo
Amazon Satellites Are Placed Atop Atlas V Rocket For Milestone Launch On October 6
United Launch Alliance says the first prototype satellites for Amazon’s Project Kuiper broadband network have been placed atop their Atlas V rocket, with launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida set for Oct. 6.The launch window will open on that day at 2 p.m. ET (11 a.m. PT), ULA said today in an online update.Liftoff will mark a milestone for Project Kuiper, which aims to put more than 3,200 satellites into orbit to provide broadband internet access to millions of people around the world who are currently underserved. Kuiper is seen as a competitor to SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network, which already has more than 2 million subscribers.
Read more at: geekwire
Fancy A Trip To Space From Spain?
They say that Spain has everything under the sun…and soon you will be able to go up into space. Spanish company, Halo Space, plans to take 10,000 tourists up into space within a decade from a Spanish base. The company is offering a five-hour flight during which passengers will reach an altitude of 35 kilometres. The space capsule combines comfort, modern design, and advanced aerospace technology to deliver passengers safely to the edge of space and back in style.
The price tag is around 150,000 euros, more than your package holiday but Halo Space says that the experience is out of this world.
Read more at: majorca daily bulletin
Commercial Spaceflight Research Needs A Code Of Ethics, Scientists Say
As commercial spaceflight operations ramp up and potentially thousands of passengers take to space in the coming decades, there will be ample opportunity for these passengers to participate in research programs and scientific studies. However, there are currently limited ethical guidelines around such research, and a team of experts are expressing urgency in laying the groundwork for such rules now.
Prospective space voyagers present a golden opportunity to advance research essential for ensuring the safety of future space operations and addressing vital health issues that may occur in orbit and back on the ground as a result of exposure to microgravity.
Read more at: space.com
Beijing To Foster Commercial Space And Satellite Constellations As Key Future Industries
Beijing’s municipal government intends to support commercial aerospace and satellite constellations and applications in a plan to promote industries of the future.
The city will seek to incubate and promote innovation in areas including development and production of reusable rockets and crewed suborbital flight. Software-defined satellites, flat-panel satellites, integrated satellite constellations, remote sensing and ground segments are also priority areas.
Read more at: spacenews
Rogue Space Systems Gets US Air Force Funds To Advance In-Orbit Servicing Tech
Rogue Space Systems, a three-year-old startup with plans for a fleet of small in-orbit servicing spacecraft, announced more U.S. government funding Sept. 27 to develop core technologies.
The U.S. Air Force’s SpaceWERX technology accelerator awarded the Gilford, New Hampshire-based venture two contracts in July to advance work on a more universally compatible cubesat dispenser and a magnetic system for stabilizing tumbling space objects.
Read more at: spacenews
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Ispace Revises Design Of Lunar Lander For NASA CLPS Mission
The American subsidiary of Japanese company ispace has revised the design of a lunar lander it is providing for a NASA mission, pushing back the launch of that mission by a year.
The company, ispace technologies U.S., unveiled the new lander design, called APEX 1.0, at a Sept. 28 event at its new headquarters in the Denver suburb of Centennial, Colorado. The lander will be used on a NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) mission awarded to Draper in July 2022 that, at the time, planned to use a lander called Series-2.
Read more at: spacenews
NASA Needs A Design For $1 Billion Space-Tug For International Space Station
Taking the aging International Space Station (ISS) out of orbit will require a potentially $1 billion space-tug – and NASA just recently kicked off its search for design proposals of such a spacecraft.
The space-tug that NASA has started fielding proposals for will be “focused on the final deorbit activity” of the entire process that will ultimately see it come out of orbit somewhere over an ocean far away from people, NASA said earlier this month in a blog post. The spacecraft, which can be a novel design or a modification of an existing one, has been officially referred to as the U.S. Deorbit Vehicle.
Read more at: Fox business
Scientists Develop Incredibly Lightweight Material 4 Times Stronger Than Steel
Working at the nanoscale provides scientists with a deep understanding and precision in crafting and analyzing materials. In broader-scale production, and even in natural settings, numerous materials are susceptible to defects and contaminants that can compromise their intricate architecture. Such vulnerabilities can cause them to fracture under pressure. This is particularly evident in most types of glass, leading to its reputation as a fragile material.
Read more at: scitech daily
NASA Funds Eight Studies to Protect Astronaut Health on Long Missions
NASA is funding eight new studies aimed at better understanding how the human body reacts to spaceflight. These studies will be done on Earth without the need for samples and data from astronauts.
Collectively, these studies will help measure physiological and psychological responses to physical and mental challenges that astronauts may encounter during spaceflight. With this information, NASA may be better able to mitigate risks and protect astronaut health and performance during future long-duration missions to the International Space Station, the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
Read more at: NASA
NASA Finds More Than Rocks Inside Space Capsule Carrying Asteroid Samples
Black dust and debris were found on the avionics deck of the canister containing the first deep space asteroid sample captured in U.S. history.
NASA scientists made the discovery after the aluminum lid was removed from the OSIRIS-REx mission’s canister, which completed its 7-year-long mission
“The dust is presumed to be a part of the sample,” a spokesperson for NASA’s Johnson Space Center told Fox News, adding the scientists plan to conduct a quick look analysis on it. “This was expected and was always a part of the curation procedures.”
Read more at: MSN
Chandrayaan-3: Chinese Scientist Claims India’s Moon Landing Was Nowhere Near Lunar South Pole
Chinese scientist, Ouyang Ziyuan, who is known as the father of China’s lunar exploration programme, has claimed that ISRO’s path-breaking achievement of lunar landing is overstated. Chandrayaan-3 landed on the Moon surface on August 23 after embarking on its journey from Sriharikota on July 14.
The scientist told Chinese-language newspaper Science Times that the landing site, at 69 degrees south latitude, is not near the south pole. The south pole is defined at between 88.5 and 90 degrees, he said.
Read more at: Business today
Vega’s Fuel-Free Cubesats To Keep Formation With Wings
Spain’s trio of ANSER CubeSats, due to fly on Europe’s next Vega launcher, will fly like a flock of birds in orbit – in more ways than one. Keeping in formation by following their leader, the three shoebox-sized satellites will image Iberian waters as if they are a single standard-sized mission. And they will unfurl wing-like flaps to maintain their relative positions, surfing on the scanty airflow at the top of Earth’s atmosphere.
Read more at: ESA
Chandrayaan-3 Detects ‘Unexpected’ Levels of Sulfur on The Moon
In an exciting milestone for lunar scientists around the globe, India’s Chandrayaan-3 lander touched down 375 miles (600 km) from the south pole of the Moon on August 23, 2023.
In just under 14 Earth days, Chandrayaan-3 provided scientists with valuable new data and further inspiration to explore the Moon. And the Indian Space Research Organization has shared these initial results with the world. While the data from Chandrayaan-3’s rover, named Pragyan, or “wisdom” in Sanskrit, showed the lunar soil contains expected elements such as iron, titanium, aluminum and calcium, it also showed an unexpected surprise – sulfur.
Read more at: sciencealert
Read more at: NASA
Eutelsat Completes Multi-Orbit Oneweb Merger After Shareholder Vote
Eutelsat has combined its geostationary satellite business with OneWeb’s low Earth orbit (LEO) constellation after shareholders voted Sept. 28 in favor of the all-share deal.
Getting approval from at least two-thirds of Eutelsat’s shareholders was the final step for a merger valuing OneWeb at $3.4 billion when it was announced last year, and had been expected after investors collectively holding 49.4% of the French operator already voiced their support.
More than 87% of Eutelsat shareholders voting at its general meeting Sept. 28 supported the OneWeb merger.
Read more at: spacenews
US FAA Ends Probe Of Blue Origin’s 2022 Rocket Mishap, Needs Engine Redesign
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday it has closed a probe into Blue Origin’s 2022 New Shepard rocket failure, forcing a redesign of the vehicle’s engine and other fixes before the company can resume its suborbital launch business.
Blue Origin must take 21 corrective actions before its reusable New Shepard rocket can return to flight, including a “redesign of engine and nozzle components to improve structural performance during operation as well as organizational changes,” the FAA said.
Read more at: Yahoo
Artemis Moon Program Will Prioritize Ethics, Good Of Society, NASA Says
A new NASA report aims to take the agency’s Artemis moon program as an example of how to implement “ethical and societal considerations” in other efforts. Artemis aims to land humans on the moon again by 2025 or 2026 with Artemis 3, depending on how technical and mission development goes.The agency also has named its first moon crew in more than 50 years, with the four Artemis 2 astronauts set to fly around the moon no earlier than late 2024.
Read more at: space.com
UAE’s $5 Billion Commitment Opens Doors For Yahsat
Yahsat is considering expanding into new satellite markets after the UAE government made a $5.1 billion pledge to buy broadband services from the Emirati fleet operator until at least 2043.
The company announced a 17-year capacity deal with the government Sept. 22 to replace contracts due to expire in 2026, and fund two geostationary satellites from Airbus slated to launch in 2027 and 2028.
Their agreement includes a $1 billion advance payment in 2024, roughly the same amount the operator plans to spend in total on the Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5 satellites over the next five years.
Read more at: spacenews
Germany And Venezuela Have Been Chosen For Teams In The US-China Space Race
Two recent events illustrated how Project Artemis has become an instrument of international diplomacy for the United States and how China is trying to do the same for its own lunar efforts.Germany has signed the Artemis Accords, bringing the number to 29 nations and counting. Germany, a member state of the European Space Agency, is a modern, industrialized nation. The country has a long tradition of rocket research, dating back to the Second World War. German rocket scientists, led by Wernher Von Braun, who worked on the V-2 missile, were instrumental to NASA’s Apollo race to the moon.
Read more at: Hill
Pending FAA Approval, Starship Ready To Sport Upgrades For Upcoming Test Flight
Following Starship’s debut during Integrated Flight Test One (IFT 1), SpaceX is ready to improve on the vehicle’s objectives by employing a vast series of upgrades. Most of the enhancements have been made to the launch site and Booster 9, which, in turn, are waiting for final regulatory approval.
Booster 7 and 9 have several significant differences, starting with the changeover from Raptor 2 to Raptor 2.1, which uses electric TVC (Thrust Vector Control) over the previous hydraulic system. This removes two hydraulic power units (HPUs) from the booster’s aft.
Read more at: NASA spaceflight
Proliferate, Don’t Obliterate: How Responsive Launch Marginalizes Anti-Satellite Capabilities
Concern over the Kessler syndrome — in which destroying satellites creates an impenetrable field of debris that blocks all access to space — has generated considerable public opposition to anti-satellite weapons. Nevertheless, a number of countries, the People’s Republic of China foremost among them, continue to actively research, develop, and test both kinetic and nonkinetic anti-satellite capabilities. This has led to something of a miniature arms race, with geopolitical rivals rushing to field offensive anti-satellite capabilities alongside the defensive measures to counter them. The conventional wisdom appears to be that anti-satellite weapons represent a singular danger, as existing legal frameworks struggle to check this arms race.
Read more at: warontherocks
Elon Musk Wins US Space Force Contract for Starshield
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has received its first contract from the US Space Force to provide customized satellite communications for the military under the company’s new Starshield program, extending the provocative billionaire’s role as a defense contractor.Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is competing with 15 companies, including Viasat Inc., for $900 million in work orders through 2028 under the Space Force’s new “Proliferated Low Earth Orbit” contracts program, which is tapping into communications services of satellites orbiting from 100 miles to 1,000 miles (160 kilometers to 1,600 kilometers) above Earth.
Read more at: Bloomberg
Space Force Selects University Partner To Evaluate Classified Ground Systems Software
The Space Force awarded a $10 million contract to the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab to evaluate the software and cybersecurity of ground systems being developed for a new classified satellite network.
According to a Sept. 26 announcement, Johns Hopkins University’s APL will assess the ground systems of the Evolved Strategic Satcom (ESS) satellites that are being developed for nuclear command control and communications.
Read more at: spacenews
U.S. Eyes Setting Up Space Force Unit In Japan Amid China’s Rise
The U.S. Space Force is considering setting up a unit in Japan, its top uniformed officer said Monday in Tokyo, underscoring the importance of bilateral collaboration in the space domain where China is ramping up its capabilities.
“We’re just in the planning phases to figure out exactly what that headquarters would do,” Gen. Chance Saltzman, who is leading the newest branch of the U.S. military, told reporters in Tokyo.
The move comes as the U.S. Space Force, created in December 2019, is expanding its presence in the Asian region. In November, it established a unit within the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command based in Hawaii, followed by the creation of a subordinate unit in South Korea in December.
Read more at: Kyodonews
Sky Shield Initiative: Can it Protect Europe?
The invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops has brought war back to Europe — and thrown the defensive capabilities of NATO and Europe into the spotlight. Now, rearmament efforts are underway and new defense strategies are being prepared. This includes protection against possible Russian missile attacks in case the war over Ukraine escalates and other European countries could come into confrontation with Moscow.
However, NATO’s protective shield for Europe has some holes. The air defense system, which Germany launched last October, is intended to close them. At that time, on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels, 15 countries signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a European air defense system. Along with Germany, the signatories were: Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, the UK, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Later, Denmark, Sweeden, Austria and Switzerland also joined the initiative.
Read more at: DW
In 2022, EU leaders identified space as a strategic domain in the Strategic Compass and called for an EU Space Strategy for Security and Defence. Building on this political momentum, the Commission and the High Representative have developed the first-ever EU Space Strategy for Security and Defence.
In the current geopolitical context of increasing power competition and intensification of threats, the EU is taking action to protect its space assets, defend its interests, deter hostile activities in space and strengthen its strategic posture and autonomy.
Read more at: defence industry
The Race to Carve Up the Moon
As human access to space expands, the influx of new actors promises to forever alter the dynamics of space. The head-to-head U.S.–Soviet rivalry that once dominated the Space Race will evolve into something more inclusive—but also messier. Aspiring space nations, such as Luxembourg, India, and China, together with new categories of nonstate actors, including large industrial players, startups, and universities, raise questions about how we should regulate space. Explosive commercialization is particularly challenging for existing space law, whose foundations were set in the 1960s and designed with national governments in mind.
Read more at: slate
To The Moon: ESA Seeks Ideas For Small Lunar Missions
ESA’s Terrae Novae exploration programme is advancing Europe’s presence in space by using robots as precursors and scouts, bringing the benefits of exploration back to society. The Terrae Novae 2030+ strategy has essentially three goals: establishing a sustained European presence in low-Earth orbit, sending the first European astronaut to explore the Moon’s surface by 2030, and participating in the first human mission to Mars.
Read more at: ESA
The Eight Best Hidden Impact Craters on Earth
The solar system can be a violent place. When we look at bodies like the Moon or Mercury, we see that they are peppered by the meteor impacts of many eons. On Earth, though, evidence of collisions is rare. Sure, there’s the famous Meteor Crater in Arizona, and perfectly circular lakes that are in fact water-filled impact craters. But for the most part, craters on our planet have been erased by wind, rivers, or rain—things you will not see on Mercury or the Moon.
Read more at: JSTOR
Blue Origin, Sierra Space Weigh Future Of Orbital Reef Space Station As Partnership Turns Rocky
The Orbital Reef space station partnership between Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Sierra Space is on rocky footing, CNBC has learned.
The companies announced Orbital Reef as a co-led project in 2021, but updates about the project dried up in the past year. The pair of private space companies are now navigating a potential end to the Orbital Reef partnership, according to three people who spoke to CNBC about the situation.
Those people, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss nonpublic matters, emphasized that discussions are ongoing and described the situation as fluid. But other development projects with more significant current contracts – such as Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lunar lander and Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser spaceplane – have taken higher priority for both companies, those people said.
Read more at: CNBC
SpaceX Reveals Operation of Over 8,000 ‘Space Lasers’ Across Starlink Satellite Constellation – Enabling Faster Internet
Today, September 26, SpaceX’s Starlink division shared a photograph of a Starlink satellite stack and gave a first close-up look of the “space laser” hardware that is installed on the newest fleet of Starlink V2 Mini satellites. “Our next generation Starlink optical space lasers (pew pew!) were launched to orbit on Monday,” the company shared (pictured above). Yesterday, SpaceX launched a fleet of 21 Starlink V2 Mini satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), as reported by TESMANIAN.
Read more at: tesmanian
Fungi Creepily Infiltrates Space Stations — But Scientists Aren’t Scared. They’re Excited
In 1988, astronauts aboard the now-retired Russian space station Mir realized that something had blanketed one of their windows — from the outside. The thing had even started trudging its way within the station by slowly destroying the window’s titanium-quartz surface. It was later revealed that the blanket was, in fact, fungi that had piggybacked to space. And it got there by hugging onto the astronauts themselves.
This fungi had managed to adapt to the space environment, and so well that it not only survived but thrived on windows, control panels, air conditioners and cable insulators. It even contaminated the crew’s precious food and water supply. Although this incident was the first time a fungus was found significantly damaging the space station, it was not the last.
Read more at: space.com
US-China Rivalry Spurs Investment In Space Tech
The US is “in a space race with China to go back to the moon”, says Nasa chief Bill Nelson.
In a BBC interview, Mr Nelson says he wants to make sure “we get there first”.
His comments revive memories of the 1960s and 1970s, when Nasa was in a space race with the Soviet Union. But half a century later, Nasa is employing private companies to do much more of the work.
Mr Nelson says they are crucial because it allows for the huge costs to be shared, and for Nasa to draw on “the creativity of entrepreneurs in the private sector”.
Read more at: BBC
Space Critical Infrastructure: Breaking the Binary Debate and a Call for Space Council Action
Many in the United States are just beginning to fully understand the role services from space-based assets play in their everyday lives. These services do not simply impact individuals but businesses, militaries, critical infrastructure, and more. As more satellites are placed in orbit, and the cost per kilogram for space launches falls, experts and novices alike are increasingly engaging in calls to designate space as critical infrastructure. The commercial space industry is growing rapidly, and its convergence with emerging technology development is enabling novel space activities like permanent habitations on the Moon or Mars and mining celestial bodies. As the orbital space around our planet continues to fill with new satellites and those satellites provide us with more terrestrial services, the space domain is viewed as increasingly critical.
Read more at: spacenews
Who Owns The Moon Owns The Future
Ice and minerals on the Moon could help humanity travel to space’s distant planets and asteroids.
Now, entrepreneurs and experts say lunar resources could speed future space travel and change life on earth.
“Helium-3 on the moon is worth $4 billion per ton. It’s the most valuable thing in space,” Gerald Kulcinski, professor emeritus of nuclear engineering at the University of Wisconsin and former director of the Fusion Technology Institute, says.
But which countries, which companies, would get the right to extract those resources?
Read more at: wbur
Building In Zero Gravity: The Race To Create Factories In Space
So far, the public faces of the new space race have been billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson joyriding around in rockets, having maybe the most expensive midlife crises ever. But behind the scenes, big tech is thinking more seriously about the first non-Earth production lines.
For some startups, the most pressing questions in manufacturing right now are: how do you build computer parts, harvest stem cells or produce pharmaceuticals while in space?
Read more at: Guardian