Soyuz MS-10 Abort: What Happened And How Will It Affect The International Space Station?

If NASA needed additional cause to accelerate the agency’s Commercial Crew Program – it received it this morning. As of this writing, none of the 16 nations involved in the International Space Station Program have a means of traveling to the lab.

After July of 2011 and prior to Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018; cosmonauts and astronauts have traveled to the ISS via the Russian Soyuz rocket and spacecraft duo. This morning that system encountered a failure that caused an abort resulting in Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague to touch down back on Earth – far earlier than expected.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

Soyuz Investigators Hone In On Booster Separation, Promise Conclusions Oct. 20

Details surrounding the dramatic abort of the Oct. 11 Soyuz MS-10 launch are coming into focus as accident investigators collect debris from the Kazakh steppe and begin work on analyzing the cause of the failure. Roscosmos now says one of the Soyuz rocket’s four strap-on boosters failed to properly separate and nicked the core stage.

Russia’s most famous living cosmonaut and director of manned spaceflight at Roscosmos, Sergei Krikalev, told reporters Oct. 12 that there are no final conclusions yet, but it is clear that “contact occurred when separating the first and second stages,” he said. “There was a deviation from nominal trajectory, and damage to the lower part of the second stage.”

Read more at: Spacenews

State Commission Tentatively Finds Malfunction Of Soyuz Fuel Dump Valve – Source

A valve malfunction may have caused the accident involving the first stage of the Soyuz-FG rocket that was launched from Baikonur on Thursday, an informed source told Interfax.

“The state commission has tentatively established a malfunction of the fuel dump valve of the rocket’s oxidizer tank: exhaust gas coming from the valve pushes a side section away from the center section. The valve appeared to be defective and failed to function,” the source said.

The valve passed the preflight check, he said. “It was opened before the launch, and closed afterwards consistent with the procedure,” the source said.

Once the rocket is fueled, the valve dumps redundant oxygen. “It is closed several minutes before the launch. It is supposed to open after the side section separates from the central section, but that did not happen,” the source said.

Read more at: Interfax

NASA Official: Tense Moments But Calm Crew In Aborted Launch

NASA’s chief heard one reassuring sound over the radio link after the aborted launch of a Soyuz capsule with an American and a Russian aboard.

It was U.S. astronaut Nick Hague calmly relaying information in Russian to flight controllers.

“My reaction was, ‘things aren’t going well and he’s not speaking English,'” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters Friday, after Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin returned to the Star City training center outside Moscow from their abruptly shortened mission.

Read more at: ABC news

Russia Opens Criminal Investigation Into Soyuz Ms-10 Failure, Crew Reunited With Families

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin were reunited with their families this morning (EDT) after returning to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan by airplane following an aborted launch to the International Space Station (ISS).  Investigations into what went wrong are underway and there is no estimate yet for when the Soyuz FG rocket will be ready to fly again.  The three crew members already aboard ISS are fine and ready to remain there as long as needed.

Soyuz MS-10 lifted off on time at 4:40 am EDT from Baikonur and all appeared fine during the first stage firing. But something when wrong shortly thereafter and the rocket automatically triggered an abort about 2 minutes into the flight at an altitude of about 50 kilometers.  The crew capsule separated from the rest of the rocket, Ovchinin, the Soyuz commander, manually initiated a ballistic descent mode, and the crew landed safely near the town of Zhezkazgan (formerly Dzhezkazgan).

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Ballistic Reentry: How Astronauts Survive a Failed Launch

Early this morning, a Russian Soyuz booster carrying two people to the International Space Station malfunctioned, forcing NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin to abort and make an emergency landing in their space capsule. Search and recovery crews boarded helicopters and reached the pair of astronauts, who are reportedly in good condition.

While explaining the mishap, NASA tossed around the term “ballistic reentry” and “ballistic mode” pretty freely. Here’s what that means and how it got the two men safely to the surface.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

Safety Panel Fears Soyuz Failure Could Exacerbate Commercial Crew Safety Concerns

Members of an independent NASA safety panel said they were worried that the Oct. 11 Soyuz launch failure could make safety concerns with the agency’s commercial crew program even worse.

The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), in a previously scheduled meeting at the Johnson Space Center Oct. 11 only hours after the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft suffered a launch vehicle failure and had to make an emergency landing, said the incident only deepened concerns about the ability of Boeing and SpaceX to adhere to their schedules without jeopardizing safety.

Read more at: Spacenews

Paul Allen’s Giant Stratolaunch Plane Gets Closer To First Flight With 80 Mph Taxi Test

The world’s biggest airplane, built by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch Systems, is one step closer to making its first flight after buzzing down the runway at California’s Mojave Air and Space Port this week at speeds as fast as 80 mph.

Stratolaunch’s latest round of taxi tests checked off another item on the seven-year-old company’s to-do list in advance of flight testing. Those test flights are expected to lead to in-the-air rocket launches by as early as 2020.

Based on a development plan laid out this spring, future rounds of taxi tests should reach on-the-ground speeds of roughly 100 mph, and then 140 mph. A speed of 140 mph, or 120 knots, is roughly what it’ll take for takeoff of the twin-fuselage plane, which has a record-setting wingspan of 385 feet.

Read more at: Geekwire

Russian Scientists Start Research on Impact of Zero-Gravity on Humans

The Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Biomedical Problems has initiated research on the influence of zero-G on the human body during flights to the Moon and back; around 20 people will engage in a two-year study, Elena Tomilovskaya, Head of the Laboratory of Gravitational Physiology of Sensory-Motor Systems, told Sputnik.

“The research program is set to last over two years. For a long time, we’ve been conducting so-called dry immersions, since the seventies, but these were mainly short-term experiments that could last from several hours to 10 days; [they] usually [lasted] from five to seven days,” she said. Dry immersion is a method of zero-gravity impact simulation during which the test subject lies on a layer of film immersed in water.

Read more at: Sputnik news

NASA’s First Manned Flight With a SpaceX Rocket Is Set For June 2019

It looks like we are unofficially in the middle of SpaceX season. After putting on a light show for the people of the West Coast with the first launch and landing of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the company is back in the headlines thanks to NASA’s announcement that the first manned flight to the International Space Station using a SpaceX rocket will take place in June of 2019: just 8 short months from now.

Over the summer, Elon Musk said that the crewed mission would happen some time between January and April if everything went smoothly. The updated timetable announcement comes as NASA’s Commercial Crew promises more regular updates to its launching and landing schedule. “As we get closer to launching human spacecraft from the U.S., we can be more precise in our schedules,” the director of Commercial Spaceflight Development at NASA, Phil McAlister, said in a statement.

Read more at: Outerplaces

Hubble Space Telescope In Safe Mode With Gyro Trouble

NASA has suspended science operations with the Hubble Space Telescope and put the observatory into protective “safe mode” while engineers troubleshoot problems with one of the spacecraft’s three remaining gyroscopes, used to help aim the telescope and keep it locked on target, officials said Monday.

Ken Sembach, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said the Hubble team is optimistic the problem can be resolved.

“I think people are just taking a wait-and-see attitude,” he told CBS News in a phone interview. “The one thing the Hubble team has shown time and again is it’s resilient, and the observatory is very robust to these kinds of things. We typically figure out what’s happening and figure out an appropriate course forward.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Another NASA Space Telescope Has Gone Offline

Last weekend, news broke that NASA’s Hubble Telescope was suffering from an equipment malfunction. Today, NASA is reporting that a second orbital telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, appears to be suffering from the same malfunction, making this the second of NASA’s Great Observatories to be shut down in less than a week.

The problem facing Hubble and Chandra is one that limits the lifespans of pretty much all space-based telescopes: Their gyroscopes are breaking down. The spacecrafts’ gyroscopes are small spinning wheels that work to rotate the telescope and keep it stable while observing. They’re crucial for the spacecraft’s work, but because they’re moving parts they tend to wear out over time.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

Latest Update on Opportunity Rover after Martian Dust Storm

A planet-encircling dust storm on Mars, which was first detected May 30 and halted operations for the Opportunity rover, continues to abate.

With clearing skies over Opportunity’s resting spot in Mars’ Perseverance Valley, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, believe the nearly 15-year-old, solar-powered rover will soon receive enough sunlight to automatically initiate recovery procedures — if the rover is able to do so. To prepare, the Opportunity mission team has developed a two-step plan to provide the highest probability of successfully communicating with the rover and bringing it back online.

Read more at: Scitech daily

Fireball Over Florida Caught On Dashboard Camera

The AMS has received over 70 reports so far about of a fireball event seen above Florida on October 6th, 2018 around 10:20pm EDT (October 7th 02:20 Universal Time). The fireball was seen primarily from Florida but was also seen from South Carolina and Georgia.

The event has been caught on tape by at least two witnesses that were kind enough to share their videos with the AMS:

Read more at: AMS meteors

Virgin Galactic Space Shot Is Go ‘Within Weeks, Not Months’

Virgin Galactic will take its first trip into space within weeks according to Richard Branson, the firm’s billionaire chief and founder.

The feat would mark a milestone for the company which is in a race against Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX to offer space flights to wealthy would-be astronauts.

In an interview with CNBC, Branson said his company was “more than tantalisingly close” to its first landmark flight beyond Earth’s atmosphere, stating: “we should be in space within weeks, not months.” The entrepreneur added that he hoped to be onboard an early Virgin Galactic flight “in months not years”, with passengers willing to part with $250,000 (£192,000) taking their seats “not too long after that.”

Read more at: Guardian

Virgin Galactic CEO Details Company’s Plans

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides answered a number of questions Wednesday from audience members at the 2018 International Symposium for Personal & Commercial Spaceflight, a yearly event held in Las Cruces.

But he avoided, as he has numerous times in the past, answering the question about when Virgin Galactic will begin its first suborbital spaceflight with passengers. Instead, he deferred to Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, who didn’t attend the symposium. Whitesides said he leaves the public statements about timelines to Branson.

Read more at: lcsun

Blue Origin Resets Schedule: First Crew To Space In 2019, First Orbital Launch In 2021

Blue Origin, the space venture founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, is now planning to send its first crew on a suborbital space trip during the first half of 2019, and launch its first orbital-class New Glenn rocket in 2021.

That’s the word from Bob Smith, CEO of the Kent, Wash.-based company, who spoke here today at the Aerospace Futures Alliance Summit.

The schedule represents a slight shift to the right for Blue Origin’s development plan, which had been targeting this year for the first crewed flight of its New Shepard suborbital spaceship and 2020 for New Glenn’s first flight. That’s not totally unexpected, considering the challenges involved.

Read more at: Geekwire

Lockheed Martin Unveils Design for Lunar Lander

NASA is still making plans for its next-generation space station, the Deep Space Gateway that will sit in orbit of the moon. As part of that initiative, NASA is asking its commercial partners to develop technologies to pair with the station. One of those potential partner technologies has just been unveiled by Lockheed Martin, which is developing a lunar lander to take future astronauts to the surface of the moon.

NASA’s Deep Space Gateway is still several years from beginning construction, and Lockheed’s lunar lander is still in a similar design stage. But someday, perhaps as early as next decade, this lander could be used to ferry astronauts between the Gateway and the lunar surface.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

Debating Reusability

It’s increasingly difficult for SpaceX to mark new firsts when it comes to reusability, but they managed Sunday night.

That evening, a Falcon 9 lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, carrying Argentina’s SAOCOM 1A radar imaging satellite. As the rocket’s upper stage send the spacecraft into orbit, the first stage returned to Earth—not to a drone ship downrange, but to a landing pad on the former site of Space Launch Complex 4W at Vandenberg, a short distance from SpaceX’s launch site at SLC-4E.

Read more at: Space review

Surgery in Space: Medicine’s Final Frontier

The concept of human space exploration has experienced something of a recent revival in the public consciousness. The private SpaceX and Virgin Galactic companies (and their eccentric front men) often make front-page news for their achievements and goals, which ultimately involve traveling to and colonizing distant planets. Though some decry these ambitions as extravagant fantasies, news pertaining to novel developments in extraterrestrial exploration often goes viral over digital media, reflecting genuine public interest in the topic.

Though we are technologically closer to realizing long-distance space travel than we were 50 years ago, significant engineering, financial and logistical obstacles remain. The health and well-being of participants on future exploratory or colonization missions encompasses all of the aforementioned.

Read more at: Scientific American

Big Discoveries About Tiny Particles

From photonics to pharmaceuticals, materials made with polymer nanoparticles hold promise for products of the future. However, there are still gaps in understanding the properties of these tiny plastic-like particles.

Now, Hojin Kim, a graduate student in chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Delaware, together with a team of collaborating scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Germany, Princeton University and the University of Trento, has uncovered new insights about polymer nanoparticles. The team’s findings, including properties such as surface mobility, glass transition temperature and elastic modulus, were published in Nature Communications.

Read more at: Space daily

Nasa IG Slams Nasa, Boeing For Poor SLS Management; EM-1 To Slip Past June 2020

NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a stern assessment today of the management of the Space Launch System (SLS) program by NASA and SLS prime contractor Boeing.  The OIG concludes that Boeing will spend twice what was planned through 2021 for building two core stages and an upper stage while delivery of the first core stage has slipped 2.5 years already and may be further delayed.  It concludes NASA will be “unable” to launch the first SLS by June 2020, the end of its current projected launch window.  Poor performance by Boeing and program management by NASA are blamed. The report makes seven recommendations to NASA; the agency concurred with six of them.

Read more at: Space policy online

Bill To Require Reusable Rockets Benefits SpaceX At Taxpayers’ Expense

Crony capitalism—a system where businesses thrive by winning favors from politicians and not by competing in the market—is a plague on this planet. If Congress has its way, that system may soon be making the jump from earth to space. New legislation will bias a military satellite program in favor of futuristic, unproven technology that could cost taxpayers billions.

The Department of Defense puts crucial military satellites into orbit using the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. One of the main companies that has contracts with the EELV to provide the necessary launch vehicles is SpaceX, run by Elon Musk.

Read more at: Federalist

Spacex Left Out Of Next Stage In Air Force’s Next-Generation Rocket Program

The Air Force on Wednesday awarded contracts to Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems — formerly known as Orbital ATK — and United Launch Alliance to continue developing next-generation rockets. The shocking decision leaves out SpaceX, although the company could rejoin the competition later.

Over the next year or so, the companies will create launch system prototypes: Blue Origin with its New Glenn launch system, Northrop with its OmegA rocket and ULA with its Vulcan Centaur system.

Ultimately, the Air Force will narrow the field from three to two developers, who will continually compete for national security rocket launch opportunities from fiscal year 2020 onward.

Read more at: Defense news

Boeing May Have Used A Lobbying Firm To Plant A Scathing Opinion Piece About Spacex In US News Outlets. At Stake Is Billions Of Dollars In NASA Contracts.

Boeing, the 102-year-old titan of the aerospace industry, is in a heated competition with SpaceX, Elon Musk’s rocket company, for billions of dollars in NASA contracts.

As Boeing is seeking to secure that taxpayer funding – and the prestige of launching astronauts into space – the company might be secretly placing an opinion article that criticizes SpaceX in newspapers around the US.

Both companies are trying to show NASA they can safely launch the agency’s astronauts to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, a roughly $8 billion competition the agency launched to spur private companies to build safe, cost-effective, American-made spaceships.

Read more at: Business Insider

Michigan Man Discovers His Barn Doorstop Is Actually a Meteorite Worth $100,000

A rock that had been used as a barn doorstop on a Michigan farm for more than 30 years is actually a massive meteorite worth over $100,000.

The 22-lb. (10 kilograms) meteorite is believed to have touched down in the 1930s on a farm in Edmore, Michigan. Earlier this year, the man who purchased the farm in 1988 and obtained the meteorite as part of the property brought the space rock to Central Michigan University (CMU) for examination.

Mona Sirbescu, a geology professor at CMU, took a closer look at the rock. Although many people had asked her to examine rocks in the past, she knew this time was different, she said. As it turns out, this meteorite is the sixth largest recorded find in Michigan and potentially worth $100,000, according to a statement from CMU.

Read more at: Space.com

The Team Behind First Man Aims to Demythologize the Space Program

Even for those of us born decades after the event itself, Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon remain among history’s most iconic and indelible images. Can a Hollywood movie tell us anything new about that moment?

With “First Man” (which opens today), “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle certainly tries. The film climaxes with an eerie and beautiful dramatization of Apollo 11, and with Armstrong’s famous words about a giant leap for mankind. But it’s what comes before that feels revelatory — the film’s fastidious attention to the training, the mistakes and the disasters that all led up to that moment.

Read more at: Tech crunch

Richard Branson Suspends $1 Billion Virgin Investment Talks With Saudi Arabia Over Missing Journalist

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson suspended discussions with Saudi Arabia about a proposed $1 billion investment in Virgin’s space companies following allegations that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the country’s consulate in Istanbul.

“What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi Government,” Branson said in a Thursday statement.

Khashoggi is a U.S. resident who had voluntarily exiled himself from Saudi Arabia and was often openly critical of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s government.

Read more at: CNBC

Airbus, Boeing and Uber partner with Amsterdam Drone Week

Aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing and passenger transporter Uber have become partners of the first Amsterdam Drone Week, which will take place in RAI Amsterdam from 26 to 30 November. The event will provide a stage for numerous world premieres linked to drones, and will revolve around two main themes: new European regulations and passenger transport by air in large cities, also known as ‘Urban Air Mobility’.

The Amsterdam Drone Week is a joint initiative between the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the European organization for aviation safety, and RAI Amsterdam. This event will bring together companies and institutes involved in technology, applications and regulations related to drones from 28 European countries. The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure will also be a partner.

Read more at: Space daily

“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