Press Clips Week 47-2022


NASA Calls Test Of Inflatable Heat Shield A Success

A NASA demonstration of an inflatable heat shield showed the technology worked and can be scaled up for missions on Earth and Mars, project leaders said Nov. 17.

NASA flew the Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) as a secondary payload on the Atlas 5 launch of a weather satellite Nov. 10. The payload inflated a heat shield six meters in diameter that separated from the rocket’s Centaur upper stage and reentered over the Pacific, splashing down east of Hawaii.

Read more at: Spacenews

ClearSpace Announces Life Extension Collaboration With Intelsat

ClearSpace, the Swiss orbital debris removal startup, said Nov. 14 it is planning a mission to extend the life of an Intelsat satellite before it runs out of fuel around 2026-2028.

The four-year-old company’s announcement gave no further details about its “collaboration” with Intelsat, which marks an expansion for ClearSpace out of plans to clean up debris in low Earth orbit (LEO) to servicing geostationary spacecraft.

Read more at: Spacenews

NASA Taps SpaceX For Second Crewed Starship Demonstration Mission To The Moon

NASA tapped SpaceX to provide a second crewed demonstration landing on the moon as part of its Artemis lunar exploration program, a huge win for SpaceX and a possible gesture at improving the relative lack of existing competition for such services.

The award is a modification to an existing Human Landing System (HLS) contract between the two entities, which established the agreement for the first lunar demonstration landing.

Read more at: Techcrunch

Space Safety Programme at Ministerial Council

Europe is increasingly reliant on deeply connected infrastructure in space and on the ground. Our growing economy depends on services and data provided by satellites, but space hazards, human-made and natural in origin, are a risk to these vulnerable systems.

ESA’s Space Safety Programme is dedicated to the protection of Europe and its economies from disruption to this critical infrastructure and fostering new commercial opportunities in the European space sector.

Read more at: ESA

NASA Launches Artemis I Moon Mission After Years Of Delay

NASA’s giant Space Launch System the Orion spacecraft lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 1:47 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday, propelling the autonomous spacecraft, without any astronauts on board, on a test flight scheduled to last 25 days, 11 hours and 36 minutes, ending with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego.

The launch came 43 minutes into a two-hour launch window that opened at 1:04 a.m.

Read more at: Washington post


Scary! 48-Foot Asteroid Hurtling Towards Earth, Says NASA; Will Come Terrifyingly Close

Planet-killer asteroids careen around the solar system, in the neighbourhood of the Earth, almost on a daily basis. To determine the potential danger from these space wanderers, scientists constantly hunt for any sizable ones that may pose a threat to Earth. Already, NASA has built up a massive database of thee asteroids called near-Earth objects (NEOs). The idea is to find the asteroid that may be heading straight for a collision course with the Earth. And the endeavour is to keep a constant eye on all these asteroids in order to quickly find out if any one of them has had a slight deviation from its orbit and is now getting dangerously close to Earth. NASA hopes to provide an early warning for any such asteroid. And now, NASA has warned of a potentially hazardous asteroid today.

Read more at: Hindustan times

Chinese Rocket Body Breaks Up In Orbit After Successful Satellite Launch

China sent the Yunhai 3 environmental monitoring satellite into orbit on Friday (Nov. 11), on the second launch of the nation’s new Long March 6A rocket. 

The Long March 6A lifted off from the hilly Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north China at 5:52 p.m. EST on Nov. 11 (2252 GMT; 6:52 a.m. Beijing time on Nov. 12), just hours before China launched its latest cargo mission to the Tiangong space station.

The satellite entered its intended orbit, the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight (SAST), the state-owned manufacturer of the launch vehicle, announced (opens in new tab) within an hour of launch.

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Surviving The Lunar Night Can Be A Challenge For Astronauts On The Moon

As multiple nations plot out their moon exploration strategies, how best to survive the lunar night gives space engineers the cold sweats.

The moon’s lunar day/night cycle at most locations on the surface includes fourteen Earth days of continuous sunlight followed by fourteen days of constant darkness and intense cold.

Due to the lack of a moderating atmosphere, temperatures on the lunar surface can range from 248 degrees Fahrenheit (120 Celsius) during the day to minus 292 F (minus 180 C) during the night. Permanently shadowed regions (PSRs) on the moon can be even colder, plunging down to minus 400 F (minus 240 C). 

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NASA War-Games An Asteroid Impact Disaster And It Goes Badly

NASA and a number of other federal, state and local organizations war-gamed an asteroid impact on Winston-Salem, North Carolina, according to Scientific American. The scenario depicted an asteroid measuring 70 meters in diameter being detected shortly before it entered the Earth’s atmosphere. The asteroid would explode eight miles above the city with a force of a 10-megaton nuclear bomb. The explosion would lay the city and surrounding areas waste, with casualties in the thousands.

Read more at: Hill

Better Space Weather Forecast Could Have Saved Spacex Starlink Satellites From Solar Storm

Even small solar outbursts can have massive consequences for the environment around Earth, space weather experts have learned after SpaceX lost 40 brand-new satellites in February after launching them into a “mild” geomagnetic storm. In a new study, a team of researchers outlines how to fix space weather forecasts in the future, to prevent companies from sending their craft into such “treacherous waters.”

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NASA has a Plan to Minimize Future Micrometeoroid Impacts on JWST

Micrometeoroid strikes are an unavoidable part of operating a spacecraft. But after the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was hit with a larger than expected piece of space dust earlier this year, engineers are making changes to the way the telescope will be pointed in an attempt to avoid excess or larger impacts from space dust. “We have experienced 14 measurable micrometeoroid hits on our primary mirror, and are averaging one to two per month, as anticipated,” said Mike Menzel, Webb lead mission systems engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in a JWST blog post.

Read more at: universe today

A Solar Sail Spacecraft Is About to Come Down Through Earth’s Atmosphere in a Fiery Flame

A tiny spacecraft is about to sail into its demise, burning up as it reenters Earth’s atmosphere for the end of its mission. The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 has been getting dragged down by the pull of Earth’s atmosphere, and is expected to reenter the atmosphere within the next few days, the organization announced on Monday. When it does, the spacecraft will burn up, bringing its three and a half year journey of orbiting Earth to a fiery end.

Read more at: gizmodo


ABL Space Systems On Verge Of First Orbital Launch Attempt

ABL Space Systems could launch the first test flight of its one-ton class RS1 rocket from Alaska as soon as this week, after securing a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration, the company said Sunday.

The California-based startup company has daily launch windows this week, beginning Monday, opening at 5 p.m. EST and closing at 7:30 p.m. EST (1:00-3:30 p.m. AKST; 2200-0030 GMT). In the final hours before liftoff, the RS1 rocket will be raised vertical on its launch pad at the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska, and loaded with kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants.

Read more at: spaceflight now

Booster 7 Resumes Static Fire Testing As SpaceX Ramps Up Starship Production

Booster 7 resumed its static fire test campaign Monday with a full-duration firing of 14 Raptor engines in a significant event before the long-awaited 33-engine static fire test. This milestone puts the Super Heavy booster one step closer to being ready for Starship’s first orbital flight.

While this flight is currently targeting no earlier than December 2022, the remaining work on both the booster and the ship, as well as the ground systems and infrastructure at the launch site, will likely push the debut of Starship into next year although. However, vehicle production is accelerating, allowing the company to have a quick cadence of flights once the first flight is completed.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

China Launches CERES-1 Y4 Commercial Rocket With Five Satellites

China on Wednesday launched a CERES-1 Y4 carrier rocket placing a commercial satellite group in space.

The rocket blasted off at 2:20 p.m. (Beijing Time) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, sending five Jilin-1 Gaofen 03D satellites into the planned orbit.

The payloads lifted by the rocket will be used to provide commercial remote sensing services.

Developed by the Beijing-based rocket maker Galactic Energy, the CERES-1 is a small-scale solid-propellant carrier rocket capable of sending micro-satellites into low-Earth orbit.

Read more at: CN news

Starfish Books Launch For In-Orbit Satellite Docking Mission Next Fall

Starfish Space said Nov. 9 it plans to perform the first satellite docking test using electric propulsion next fall, when its Otter Pup demonstrator will attempt to rendezvous with another spacecraft in low Earth orbit.

An orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) from Launcher, a small rocket developer, aims to drop the demonstrator off at an initial altitude after riding together on a Falcon 9 in the summer. The OTV will also serve as its docking target.

Read more at: spacenews

Mission Prarambh: What It Means When India Inc Rides A Rocket

India’s first private space mission christened Prarambh—by Skyroot Aerospace based in Hyderabad—is set for a 11:30 am launch today from Indian Space Research Organization’s (Isro’s) Satish Dhawan Launch Centre at Sriharikota. Mint explains the significance of the mission.

Read more at: livemint

Companies Have Diverging Views On The Future Of European Launch

Arianespace and German launch startups Isar Aerospace and Rocket Factory Augsburg are moving towards first launches next year but have mixed views on how the European launch sector has and should develop.

Speakers from an established, institutional player in Arianespace and a pair of new companies from Europe’s emerging commercial launch arena appeared together on a panel on “Aligning European Launch Development for Mission Success,” at the Space Tech Expo Europe in Bremen, Germany, Nov. 16.

Read more at: spacenews

Spaceryde Announces Multiple Launches With Isilaunch

Canadian launch startup SpaceRyde revealed plans Nov. 15 to launch four private commercial flights for ISILaunch, a subsidiary of Innovative Solutions In Space B.V. of the Netherlands.

Customers will pay $250,000 to launch 25-kilogram payloads on SpaceRyde’s Ryder rocket and Flying Spider balloon. The flights are scheduled to begin in 2024.

For the SpaceRyde flights, ISILaunch will offer customization including scheduling weeks prior to launch, access to custom orbits and various fairing configurations.

Read more at: spacenews

Skyrora Working Towards 2023 Orbital Launch After Suborbital Failure

Scotland-based launch startup Skyrora are focused on making a first orbital launch attempt late next year, building on experience from a suborbital attempt in Iceland.

Skyrora’s team took their 11-meter-long Skylark L single-stage suborbital launch vehicle to Iceland’s Langanes peninsula in October to attempt to reach above the Karman line.

The rocket however reached an altitude of only around 300 meters, due an anomaly now discovered to be a software issue, and crashed into the Norwegian Sea. Skyrora plans to have divers locate and retrieve the rocket for further research, including how the engines scale up for reusability. 

Read more at: spacenews

Space Perspective Acquires Ship For Ocean-Based Balloon Launch Platform

Space Perspective, a company offering tourist flights into the stratosphere, is buying a ship it plans to use as an oceangoing launch platform for its balloons.

The Florida-based company announced Nov. 15 it acquired a ship called MS Voyager that it is converting to serve as a launch platform for its Spaceship Neptune balloon system, taking people into the stratosphere to offer views like those experienced from space.

Jane Poynter, co-chief executive of Space Perspective, said in an interview that the ship, the first of several the company plans to acquire, will augment its original plans to launch its balloon from land on Florida’s Space Coast.

Read more at: spacenews


Chinese Astronauts Enter Newly Arrived Cargo Spacecraft At Tiangong Space Station

China’s Shenzhou 14 astronauts have opened up and entered the Tianzhou 5 cargo spacecraft after its docking at the country’s newly completed space station. Tianzhou 5 launched on Saturday (Nov. 12) atop a Long March 7 rocket and arrived at the Tiangong space station just over two hours later, setting a new record for shortest rendezvous and docking time. Previous Tianzhou freighters took about 6.5 hours from launch until docking.

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Arianespace To Ramp Up To Full Ariane 6 Rocket Launch Rate In 2026 – CEO

Europe’s Arianespace expects to launch its first Ariane 6 rocket by the end of the fourth quarter of 2023, but it will take until 2026 to ramp up to the full rate of nine to 11 per year, the company’s chief executive said on Wednesday. Arianespace, a rival to Elon Musk’s SpaceX that is majority-owned by a joint venture of (AIR.PA) and Safran (SAF.PA), has secured 29 launches for the delayed Ariane 6 programme, 18 of them for an (AMZN.O) project to beam broadband internet.

Read more at: reuters

5 Things On Board NASA’s Artemis I Mission

The Artemis I mission, scheduled to launch from Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday, November 16, at 1:04 am ET, is an uncrewed test flight of NASA’s new Moon rocket – the Space Launch System, aka SLS – and the Orion crew capsule that will take Artemis astronauts to the Moon and back starting with Artemis II.

Although this mission won’t have any astronauts riding along, there are other items on board to commemorate the occasion and conduct research to further the Artemis program and other projects being worked on at NASA and other research institutions around the world. Read on for five things hitching a ride on the Artemis I mission.

Read more at: Air and space

Communication With Japan’s Moon Lander Unstable: JAXA

Japan’s space agency said Thursday it has been unable to establish stable communication with the country’s mini moon lander launched on a U.S. rocket the previous day along with a mini satellite.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said it is now trying to control the position of the Omotenashi lander, adding its system of automatically turning to the Sun to gain solar power appears to be not functioning.

Read more at: kyodonews

Artemis Launch Delay Is The Latest Of Many NASA Scrubs And Comes From Hard Lessons On Crew Safety

I love a good space launch, and I have been eagerly awaiting NASA’s powerful new Space Launch System rocket to take off as the first part of NASA’s ambitious Artemis program to put U.S. astronauts back on the moon. But this launch has already been pushed back four times this year (opens in new tab) — twice due to technical issues and once apiece for a tropical storm (opens in new tab) and a hurricane (opens in new tab).

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Will Physics Prevent Spinlaunch From Succeeding?

It’s long been the dream of humanity to escape the bonds of Earth’s gravitational pull, paving the way for us to explore the vast reaches of space that lie beyond our world. Beginning in the 20th century, we started to achieve this dream by leveraging the power of rocket technology, where we’d burn fuel to provide a large and constant acceleration to a payload, eventually taking it above Earth’s atmosphere and either into orbit around our planet or — more ambitiously — to escape from our planet’s gravity entirely.

Read more at: bigthink


The Kármán Line: Where does Space Begin?

The Kármán line is a boundary 62 miles (100 kilometers) above mean sea level that borders Earth’s atmosphere and the beginning of space. However, defining exactly where space begins can be rather tricky and depends on who you ask. This is because Earth’s atmosphere doesn’t end abruptly but instead gets thinner and thinner at higher altitudes, which means there’s no definitive upper boundary. International law states that “outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all” according to NOAA.

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From Space Regulator to Astronaut: Q&A With George Nield

For the first time ever, more people will go to space as commercial astronauts than as government astronauts in 2022. Admittedly, the government astronauts spent more total time off-world this year than their private counterparts—stints on the International Space Station (ISS) are long and space tourism hops are short—but given the state of the industry, those trends are unlikely to reverse anytime soon.

Read more at: reason-com

AST Spacemobile Searching For Funds To Accelerate Constellation

A year and a half after netting around $417 million through its IPO, AST SpaceMobile is seeking more funds to accelerate a direct-to-smartphone constellation that has fallen behind a key regulatory deadline.

Despite successfully deploying its gigantic phased array antenna this week, AST SpaceMobile’s BlueWalker-3 prototype satellite will miss a Nov. 22 deadline for securing frequencies that have been provisionally assigned to the constellation.

Read more at: spacenews

Europeans Want A Strong Space Policy

“European citizens strongly support investment in space to improve life on Earth and there is a growing appetite for greater space ambition in Europe. As world leaders gather for the 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27), European citizens want to see space used even more to monitor and mitigate climate change. We must act now to increase Europe’s autonomy, leadership and responsibility in space,” said ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher on Tuesday 15 November.

Read more at: delano

Spaceport Cornwall Granted Operating Licence

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the site in Newquay could be used for sending satellites into space.

Its first mission is expected to be conducted by the Virgin Orbit company in the coming weeks.

The mission has been given the title Start Me Up in tribute to The Rolling Stones. The authority said it was in “very advanced stages” with Virgin Orbit on other applications for launch and range licences, as well as discussions with the satellite operators.

Read more at: BBC

Europe Seeks Greater Autonomy And Independence In Space

European space officials are stressing a need for greater autonomy and sovereign capabilities going forward in the wake of geopolitical trends and developments.

“Europe is already a very large space power, but it can even become better in the sense that Europe has strong capabilities in every sector but lacks autonomy independence in some parts,” said Gerldine Naja, the European Space Agency’s Director of Commercialization, Industry and Procurement, a keynote speaker at the opening of the industry conference at the Space Tech Expo Europe in Bremen, Germany, Nov. 15.

Read more at: spacenews


Boeing’s Anti-Jam Satellite Communications Payload On Track For 2024 Launch

A satellite communications payload Boeing developed for the U.S. Space Force successfully demonstrated it can prevent jamming attacks, the company said Nov. 15.

The anti-jam test, conducted at Boeing’s facility in El Segundo, California, is a key step toward the planned 2024 launch of the Protected Tactical Satcom Prototype, or PTS-P, a payload that the Space Force will test in orbit to assess whether it can provide secure communications in potential war scenarios when U.S. networks would be targets of electronic and cyber attacks.

Read more at: spacenews

Advanced Space Awarded Contract to Deliver Air Force Research Laboratory’s Mission to the Moon

Advanced Space LLC., a leading space tech solutions company, announced that the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate, as part of a collaborative effort with AFRL’s Transformational Capabilities Office, has awarded the company a $72 million contract to deliver AFRL’s Oracle spacecraft program, previously called the Cislunar Highway Patrol System, or CHPS. Oracle will demonstrate space situational awareness, object detection, and tracking in the regions around the Moon. Advanced Space is the prime contractor for Oracle, designing the mission approach, along with advanced navigation, tracking, and communication solutions for this challenging mission.

Read more at: yahoo finance

Boeing Reorganises Defence And Space Division, Cutting Executives

Aerospace giant Boeing has consolidated its financially struggling defence division to four from eight units, a move intended to improve quality and stabilise production.

In revealing the changes on 17 November, the company also disclosed executive leadership changes “aimed at accelerating operational discipline, first-time quality and performance while streamlining senior leadership roles and responsibilities”.

Read more at: flight global

U.S. Space Command Creates New Task Force To Coordinate Space Operations

U.S. Space Command announced Nov. 15 it is adding a new component to its organization to help coordinate operations and speed up the delivery of satellite-based services to military forces in the field. 

The new organization, called Combined Joint Task Force-Space Operations (CJTF-SO), marks another step in the evolution of the U.S. military’s space enterprise, officials said. 

Read more at: spacenews

NASA War-Games An Asteroid Impact Disaster And It Goes Badly

NASA and a number of other federal, state and local organizations war-gamed an asteroid impact on Winston-Salem, North Carolina, according to Scientific American. The scenario depicted an asteroid measuring 70 meters in diameter being detected shortly before it entered the Earth’s atmosphere. The asteroid would explode eight miles above the city with a force of a 10-megaton nuclear bomb. The explosion would lay the city and surrounding areas waste, with casualties in the thousands.

Read more at: Hill


‘Like the Moon’: Astronauts Flock to Spanish Isle to Train

Kneeling on the edge of a deep crater, astronaut Alexander Gerst uses a chisel to collect a sample of volcanic rock which he carefully puts inside a white plastic bag.

Gerst is not on the Moon, even if it looks like it. He is in the middle of Los Volcanes Natural Park on the island of Lanzarote in Spain’s Canary Islands, off the northwest coast of Africa.

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NASA Artemis Moon Rocket Launch Countdown Begins

The countdown for NASA’s Artemis I launch is underway for an anticipated liftoff from Florida’s space coast on Wednesday, though damage sustained during Hurricane Nicole could delay the rocket’s voyage a little longer.

As Hurricane Nicole made landfall in Florida last Thursday, the high winds caused a 10-foot section of caulking to peel away near the crew capsule on top of the rocket, the Associated Press reported.

Read more at: foxbusiness

Perseverance has Found a Nice Patch of Sandstone on Mars

NASA’s rolling geology robot shared a great image of sandstone that it found on Mars in Jezero Crater. It’s in a region called “Yori Pass”, which is part of an ancient river delta. Perseverance will take rock samples there for the upcoming Sample Return Mission. They should tell more about what happened with water in this region. And maybe they’ll show evidence of life.

Most of us have run across sandstone at one time or another here on Earth. It’s a rock formed when water carries sand from one place to another and deposits it. This could be in a lake or ocean environment, on an ancient beach, or along the edges of rivers. Some sandstones are also created when the wind blows sand into dunes. Over time, all these sand layers harden into solid rock. That rock tells a chemical and physical story about the conditions at the time it was laid down.

Read more at: universe today

The Case For Reducing Existential Risks

In 1939, Einstein wrote to Roosevelt:

It may be possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium…and it is conceivable — though much less certain — that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed.

Just a few years later, these bombs were created. In little more than a decade, enough had been produced that, for the first time in history, a handful of decision-makers could destroy civilisation.

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NASA’s Rules For Astronaut Posting: No Tiktok, Don’t Embarrass Us

When NASA sent Mike Massimino back to low-Earth orbit to service the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009, agency staffers asked him if he’d mind doing another chore while he was up there: draft the first tweet sent from space.

Massimino said yes and didn’t think too much else about it. The New York native did remember that when he was a younger astronaut, Neil Armstrong had told him that he hadn’t planned what he was going to say when he first landed on the moon during the Apollo missions far in advance. Massimino figured he could take the same approach.

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A New Look For The ESA Astronaut Patch

In October 2022, an updated ESA astronaut patch celebrated the joining of ESA’s newest Associate Member, Slovakia. The new patch adds the Slovakian flag to a design that has evolved over the decades to represent ESA’s growing space family.

This means that ESA now has 22 Member States and four Associate Members, as well as Cooperation Agreements with four more EU states and Canada. Slovakia’s membership affirms ESA’s strong commitment to making space for everyone.

Read more at: ESA

Why Go Back to the Moon?

On September 12, 1962, then US president John F. Kennedy informed the public of his plan to put a man on the Moon by the end of the decade.

It was the height of the Cold War and America needed a big victory to demonstrate its space superiority after the Soviet Union had launched the first satellite and put the first man in orbit.

“We choose to go to the Moon,” Kennedy told 40,000 people at Rice University, “because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

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Japanese Lunar Lander Slated To Launch Nov. 28 At The Earliest

Japan’s ispace expects SpaceX to launch its lunar lander Nov. 28 at the earliest for a mission to the moon’s surface roughly five months later. 

The company said Nov. 17 its HAKUTO-R M1 lander is slated to fly on a Falcon 9 at 3:46 a.m Eastern from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, subject to weather and other conditions.

Read more at: spacenews

More Accurate Than GPS: New Navigation System With 10 Centimeter Accuracy

An alternative positioning system that is more robust and accurate than GPS, especially in urban settings has been developed by researchers of Delft University of Technology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and VSL. The working prototype that demonstrated this new mobile network infrastructure achieved an accuracy of 10 centimeters. This new technology is important for the implementation of a wide range of advanced location-based applications, including autonomous vehicles, quantum communication, and next-generation mobile communication systems. The results will be published today (November 16) in the journal Nature.

Read more at: scitechdaily

Artemis 1 Orion Spacecraft Sees The Moon For 1st Time In Stunning Video

NASA’s Orion spacecraft has spotted the destination of its Artemis 1 test flight the moon and captured a stunning video to mark the moment. In a video released Friday (Nov. 18), the half-lit moon is visible in the distance with the Orion spacecraft in the foreground, complete with NASA’s “worm” logo, as seen from a camera on the tip of one of the capsule’s four solar wings. At the time, Orion was about halfway to the moon, NASA said in a statement.

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