Bright Meteor Fireball Explosions Filmed: Brazil, Spain and Manitoba Canada

This bright exploding meteor turned the night sky into day for a fraction of a second on 31 March 2016. The fireball was filmed over Spain at 2:36am UTC (4:36am local time).

The event was produced by the impact of a cometary fragment with the atmosphere at a velocity of about 90.000 km/h. The impacting rock got ten times brighter than the moon.

The fireball was recorded by cameras placed at the observatory of La Hita in Toledo, when the fireball flew across the sky of the province of Albacete. It has also been reported by skywatchers in Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha, Valencia, Murcia and Andalusia.

Read more at: Bended reality

NASA to Officially Unveil its Green Rocket Fuel Project in Colorado

Since 2012, the folks over at NASA have been working on developing a high performance “green” rocket propellant it hoped to one day use as an alternative to the incredibly toxic hydrazine fuel currently in use. According to a press release published in August of 2012, the Washington D.C.-based space agency selected Boulder, Colorado’s Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation to research the fuel alternative and as of this month, it appears it’s ready to show off its work. In an invite sent to media outlets late last week, Ball Aerospace will officially open its doors on March 31 to unveil NASA’s Green Propulsion Infusion Mission (GPIM).

Essentially a new spacecraft which is reportedly “safer on the ground and more efficient in space,” the GPIM is ready for public viewing after passing a series of functional and environmental tests of both its system and software. Currently, the craft is set for launch in early 2017 where it will have the ability to display its hydroxyl ammonium nitrate-based fuel and oxidizer propellant blend — known as AF-M315E.

Read more at: Fox News

NASA Announces the Science Experiments that will Ride on the Most Powerful Rocket Ever

In 2018 the Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket ever built, will blast off into deep space. The event will serve as an astronaut-readiness test, but 13 shoe-box-sized satellites—called CubeSats—will take advantage of the “free” ride off Earth. NASA recently announced a handful of these mini missions, and their goals are as different from one another as the moon is from an asteroid.

Read more at: Scientific American

Blue Origin Launches, Lands with UCF Experiment

Blue Origin launched and landed the same New Shepard rocket for a third time this morning in West Texas, completing a successful test flight that carried a University of Central Florida science experiment.

Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Blue Origin and Amazon.com, said the rocket’s BE-3 engine had fired properly to enable a soft touchdown by the booster, followed by an unmanned crew capsule’s landing under parachutes.

“Flawless BE-3 restart and perfect booster landing,” Bezos said on Twitter. “CC chutes deployed.”

Read more at: Florida Today

NASA: SpaceX, Boeing to Privately Launch Astronauts in Test Flights Next Year

The two companies NASA hired to carry astronauts from the United States to the International Space Station won’t be doing so officially until 2018 but are expected to have test flights with humans aboard next year, a top NASA official said Thursday.

NASA Chief Financial Officer David Radzanowski told the NASA Advisory Council that the space agency’s long-term budget projections anticipate both Boeing Space Exploration and Space Exploration Technologies beginning their space taxi service to and from the space station, in 2018. But that will require demonstration flights first, and those are expected late in 2017.

Both Boeing  and SpaceX plan to launch astronauts from Cape Canaveral in Florida, where there has not been a crewed launch since the last flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis in July, 2011.

Read more at: Florida Politics

XCOR Begins Testing Private Spaceflight Later This Year

End of this year XCOR Aerospace will begin the testing of space travel with the unit Lynx. At least that’s the plan.

Initially the company wanted the first one hundred people into space in 2015 from a launch site here on the island. But technical problems threw a spanner in the works.

Read more at: Curacao Chronicle

Atlas V OA-6 Anomaly Status

ULA successfully launched and deployed the OA-6 Cygnus spacecraft to its desired orbit on Tuesday, March 22. During the launch, the system experienced a premature first stage shutdown. The first stage cut-off occurred approximately 6 seconds early; however the Centaur automatically compensated by burning longer. The robustness of the system achieved mission success, delivering Cygnus to a precise orbit as planned. The ULA engineering team is continuing to review the data and has developed initial fault trees with our industry partners. The team has been successful in isolating the anomaly to the first stage fuel system and its associated components.

Read more at: ULA Launch

Cargo Space Vehicle Progress MS-02 Enters Orbit, Sets Course Toward ISS

Russia’s cargo space vehicle Progress MS-02 has separated from the third stage of the space rocket Soyuz-2.1a and set course towards the International Space Station, the space rocket corporation Roscosmos has told TASS.

“The vehicle’s separation from the rocket was normal,” a Roscosmos official said.

It was a second launch of the Soyuz-2.1a rocket with space vehicle of the Progress family since the April 2015 incident, when the unmanned cargo spacecraft was damaged and failed to enter the designated orbit. The first launch of a Progress vehicle with a Soyuz-2.1a rocket was held last December.

Read more at: TASS

DMSP F19 Military Weather Satellite Declared Lost After Communications Failure

The DMSP-19 military weather satellite has been declared a complete loss after it was unresponsive to commands sent from the ground for over a month, caused by a failure within both communication chains of the spacecraft. The onboard anomaly taking out communications to the satellite occurred back in February, two years into a planned five-year mission for the U.S. Air Force.

The 1,200-Kilogram satellite stopped responding to commands back on February 11, however, ground stations were still receiving telemetry from the spacecraft. Engineers began diagnosing the issue in the hopes of salvaging the mission and returning the newest member of the DMSP fleet to service in a timely manner.

Read more at: Spaceflight 101

U.S. Military Rules Out Collision as Cause of Hitomi Satellite’s Woes

As Japanese ground controllers struggle to restore communications with a tumbling space telescope in orbit, the U.S. military’s space surveillance experts have eliminated one cause for the satellite’s troubles.

A military spokesperson told Spaceflight Now in an email Tuesday that the Pentagon’s space surveillance network detected no sign of a high-speed collision between Japan’s Hitomi astronomy satellite and another object in orbit late Saturday, when debris blew off the newly-launched observatory and mission control lost contact with it.

“I can confirm that we have ruled out a collision as the cause of the debris event,” wrote U.S. Air Force Capt. Nicholas Mercurio, a spokesperson for the military’s Joint Functional Component Command for Space at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Nanosatellite and Microsatellite Market by Solution, by Mass, by Application, Vertical and Region – Global Forecast to 2020

The nanosatellite and microsatellite market size is estimated to grow from USD 889.8 million in 2015 to USD 2.52 billion by 2020, at an estimated compound annual growth rate of 23.2% from 2015 to 2020. The nanosatellite and microsatellite market is driven by factors, such as low cost of design, increasing demand for miniature satellites, and huge investment from Silicon Valley.

The technology demonstration and verification market is estimated to contribute the largest market share in application segment duing the forecast period. Furthermore, due to increase in demand for real-time high relolution Earth images among enterprises for analytics, Earth Observation and remote sensing application market is expected to gain traction and is expected to grow at the highest CAGR in the next five years.

Read more at: Spaceref

Water System Tested on Crew Access Arm at KSC

Engineers and technicians gathered at dusk recently at a construction site near Kennedy Space Center in Florida to test systems that will support Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.

The Crew Access Arm and White Room saw some of the most dynamic testing thus far, when hundreds of gallons of water were sprayed along the arm and beneath it for an evaluation of its water deluge system.

The system is a key safety feature for future launches on the Starliner, one of two commercial spacecraft in development to carry astronauts to the station.

Read more at: Space Daily

DARPA Program Aims to Facilitate Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites

With no prospects for assistance once in orbit, satellites destined for GEO today are loaded with backup systems and as much fuel as can be accommodated, adding to their complexity, weight and cost. But what if help was just a service call away?

DARPA’s new Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program intends to answer that question by developing technologies that would enable cooperative inspection and servicing in GEO and demonstrating those technologies on orbit within the next five years.

Under the RSGS vision, a DARPA-developed modular toolkit, including hardware and software, would be joined to a privately developed spacecraft to create a commercially owned and operated robotic servicing vehicle (RSV) that could make house calls in space.

Read more at: Spaceref

Boeing Starliner’s ‘Last Room on Earth’ for Astronauts

Last week, reporters got a chance to visit a service structure under construction for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft — including the “White Room,” the final place astronauts will wait before blasting off.

After a long ride from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center here through the wildlife refuge surrounding it, our bus full of space journalists pulled up at a construction site where engineers are putting together the Starliner’s Crew Access Arm, a 44-foot (13 meters) mobile arm that will touch the tip of the rocket to let astronauts board. The craft would ride on an Atlas V rocket built by United Launch Alliance (ULA). Boeing and SpaceX have both been funded by NASA to develop spacecraft to propel astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017.

Read more at: Space.com

Stressed in Space

Living in space is a wonderful experience but it can take its toll on an astronaut’s body – half of astronauts return with weaker immune systems from the International Space Station. ESA astronaut and medical doctor André Kuipers remembers his six-month mission: “Back on Earth, I felt a hundred years old for a few months.”

Many ESA experiments are looking into why this happens and the most recent – Immuno – reveals some striking changes in astronaut immune systems.

Stress is a response of the body as it adapts to hostile environments. This broad definition includes stress from speaking in front of an audience, stress from a wound or stress from living in weightlessness in a fragile spacecraft far from home.

The “feelings” are produced by the central nervous system working closely with our immune system. Stress in the central nervous system invariably influences the immune system and vice versa – people with stressful jobs seem more likely to get sick.

Read more at: ESA

Mars Colony will have to Wait, Say NASA Scientists

Establishing a human settlement on Mars has been the fevered dream of space agencies for some time. Long before NASA announced its “Journey to Mars” – a plan that outlined the steps that need to be taken to mount a manned mission by the 2030s – the agency’s was planning how a crewed mission could lead to the establishing of stations on the planet’s surface. And it seems that in the coming decades, this could finally become a reality.

But when it comes to establishing a permanent colony – another point of interest when it comes to Mars missions – the coming decades might be a bit too soon. Such was the message during a recent colloquium hosted by NASA’sFuture In-Space Operations (FISO) working group. Titled “Selecting a Landing Site for Humans on Mars”, this presentation set out the goals for NASA’s manned mission in the coming decades.

Read more at: Universe Today

XCOR Announces New Board of Directors and Advisory Board Members

The board of directors at XCOR Aerospace is seeing new additions, and with immediate effect the board welcomes 3 new members: Charles Thomas (Tom) Burbage, Michael Gass and Arthur Bozlee. Former board members Jeff Greason, Stephen Fleming and Michiel Mol gave up their board seats to allow for these new members. Michiel Mol, XCOR’s biggest shareholder, will remain actively involved in the company’s daily operations.

All new members have prominent previous experience in the air and space industry.

Read more at: XCOR

Pima County Balloon Launch Plan called Unconstitutional

Pima County violated the state Constitution when it approved a $15 million deal for a high-altitude balloon launch facility, a lawyer for the Goldwater Institute said Wednesday.

Goldwater, a constitutional watchdog and conservative think tank in Phoenix, issued a press release demanding the county rescind approval of what Goldwater lawyer Jim Manley called a “sweetheart deal.”

The county plans to borrow $15 million, to be paid back with interest by taxpayers, to build the launch pad for World View Enterprises headquarters near Tucson International Airport. The rationale was that the company will bring 400 high-paying jobs to the facility within five years.

“Sweetheart deals were outlawed by Arizona’s Constitution more than 100 years ago,” said Manley, Goldwater senior attorney. “Our state’s founders couldn’t have made it more clear: if a private company wants money from taxpayers, it has to give taxpayers something certain—and proportional—in return. This deal doesn’t meet that simple standard.”

Read more at: AZPM

FAA Backs Ban on U.S. Satellite Launches on Indian Rockets

Space News reports on disagreements within the U.S. government about whether to allow American companies to launch satellites aboard Indian rockets.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) endorsed an advisory committee’s recommendation that commercial U.S. satellites continue to be barred from using the PSLV.

In its Feb. 26 decision, the FAA said it agreed with its Commercial SpaceTransportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) that Indian launch services, owned and controlled by the Indian government, threaten to “distort the conditions of competition” in the launch-services market.

The FAA assured COMSTAC that the agency’s opinion would be part of the current review of whether India’s refusal to sign a Commercial Space Launch Agreement (CSLA) on rocket pricing still justifies the ban.

Read more at: Parabolic Arc

Russia to Unveil New Rockets; First Vostochny Launch Set for April

Russia will show the design of a super-heavy space launch vehicle before the end of 2016, the head of Roscosmos State Corporation said Wednesday.

By the end of the year Roscosmos will present our vision on creation of a carrier rocket of a super-heavy class, Igor Komarov told reporters.

In April 2015, the space agency abandoned plans to develop a super-heavy space launch vehicle after re-allocating funds. Instead, Russia focused on modifying a heavy Angara-A5 rocket to lift super-heavy loads. The first launch of the Angara super-heavy carrier rocket is set to take place in 2021, according to Roscosmos.

Read more at: Space Daily

Re-Entry: Long March 3C Rocket Body

A Long March 3C rocket stage re-entered the atmosphere on March 23, 2016 after one year in orbit, making a slow decay from a highly elliptical Geostationary Transfer Orbit. The Long March 3C rocket launched the first third generation Beidou Navigation Satellite on its way to a Geosynchronous Orbit.

Read more at: Spaceflight 101

China’s 1st Space Lab Tiangong-1 Ends Data Service

After an operational orbit of 1,630 days, China’s first space lab Tiangong-1 terminated its data service, the manned space engineering office said Monday.

The functions of the space laboratory and target orbiter have been disabled after an extended service period of about two and a half years, although it remains in designed orbit, according to the office.

Tiangong-1 was launched in September 2011 with a design life of two years. It had successfully docked with the Shenzhou-8, Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spacecraft and undertaken a series of experiments, contributing to the nation’s space program, the office said.

The lab had completed its main missions following Shenzhou-10’s return to earth in June 2013. During its extended flight, Tiangong-1 conducted experiments on space technology, space-earth remote sensing and space environment exploration, according to the office.

Read more at: Xinhuanet

Has Tiangong 1 Gone Rogue

China’s announcement in late March that telemetry to the Tiangong 1 space laboratory had ceased is disturbing. The language used in the original Xinhua story was vague, but strongly suggested that Tiangong 1 had malfunctioned. This analyst has waited more than a week for a correction, clarification, or resumption of telemetry to be announced by China. That hasn’t happened. We can safely conclude that Tiangong 1 has truly fallen silent.

Without telemetry, China will be unable to receive data from Tiangong’s scientific instruments. More disturbingly, it seems highly probable that China will be unable to control the laboratory. Tiangong 1 is now a rogue spacecraft. That’s no problem in the short term, but it could become a matter of concern when its orbit finally decays.

Read more at: Space Daily

Hanks, Howard Announce Plans for “Orphans of SpaceShipOne” Doc

Filmmaker Ron Howard and actor/producer Tom Hanks have announced plans for a new documentary titled, “Orphans of SpaceShipOne,” that will focus on the long gap in private spaceflight after the successful commercial flights of 2004.

“Nearly 12 years have passed since that historic breakthrough without a single privately funded commercial spaceflight,” Howard said. “Millions of people who thrilled at the exploits of Mike Melvill, Brian Binnie and Burt Rutan are wondering what went wrong.”

Hanks pointed out that on April 22, as much time will have passed — 4,225 days, or 11 years, 6 months and 22 days — since the announcement of Virgin Galactic and SpaceShipTwo as it took for NASA to complete the entire Apollo program starting from President John F. Kennedy’s moon landing proposal in May 1961.

Read more at: Parabolic Arc

Will We All go Bald in Space?

Living in outer space brings plenty of challenges from ensuring astronauts get enough air and water to having to survive on bland dehydrated food.

But it appears making a trip to the hair salon is not something they are going to need to add to their list of worries. A study of 10 astronauts who have spent time living aboard the International Space Station has revealed the zero gravity environment alters how the hair follicles grow.

But the study also suggests the hair follicles of men and women may react differently to the environment in space. They found the activities of some of the genes involved in hair growth were more stable in female astronauts than in their male colleagues, for example.

Read more at: Daily Mail

Last Existing Shuttle-Centaur Rocket Stage Moving to Cleveland for Display

A last-of-its-kind rocket stage that was left over from a cancelled, controversial chapter in NASA’s space shuttle history is hitting the road for Cleveland.

The Centaur-G Prime liquid-fueled upper stage, which was built in the 1980s to launch with a robotic probe inside the space shuttle’s payload bay, was hoisted by a large crane onto a wheeled trailer at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama on Wednesday (March 30). The 30-foot-long (9 meter) artifact had been on exhibit adjacent to the museum’s full-size space shuttle model, Pathfinder.

“The Centaur is being moved from here to [NASA’s] Glenn Research Center in Ohio, where it will be restored and put on display,” stated Tim Hall, the vice president for business and media initiatives at the rocket center. “Glenn managed the Shuttle-Centaur program.”

Read more at: Space.com

Stephen Hawking: I was impressed that Russia was Ahead of America in the Space Race

Stephen Hawking in an exclusive interview has told TASS of future colonization of Mars, prospects for Russia-US cooperation in space and the challenges the humanity may face.

Roscosmos and NASA are working on a manned flight to Mars project. What is your opinion about its practical importance considering that Mars is not suitable for human life? – NASA, and other space agencies around the world, are focused on Mars. It is our closest earth-like planet, with soil and an atmosphere. Although colonizing the Moon would be simpler, it is only 3 days away, Mars represents a more interesting challenge, and would require the colony to be truly self-sufficient. Within 100 years, I have no doubt, there will be humans living on Mars. To do this we need investment, allowing us to advance our knowledge, on how to survive the dangers of cosmic radiation, body deterioration, and how to deal with the lack of vital supplies beyond Earth.

Read more at: TASS

The Shifting Commercial Launch Landscape

When a SpaceX Falcon 9 lifted off from Cape Canaveral March 4, after several delays, most people appeared interested in the fate of the rocket’s first stage. As with three previous launches, SpaceX planned to attempt a landing of the first stage on a ship in the ocean downrange from the launch pad as part of efforts by the company to make the stage reusable.

But, like the previous three attempts, the stage didn’t survive the landing on the ship. Video from the “droneship” cut out just as the rocket appeared to be landing, but company CEO Elon Musk later relayed the bad news. “Rocket landed hard on the droneship,” he tweeted.

That unsuccessful landing didn’t affect the rocket’s primary mission, delivering the long-delayed SES-9 communications satellite for European satellite operator SES. With a mass of about 5,300 kilograms, SES-9 was the heaviest geostationary orbit (GEO) satellite yet launched by the Falcon 9, thanks to vehicle upgrades that increased the rocket’s performance.

Read more at: Space Review

US Air Force will Defend Civilian Space Assets, Official says

Space is for the use of all people, and the Air Force is prepared to defend any civilian or commercial assets that are threatened in orbit, just as it would on the ground, a top space official said.

“We have an obligation to provide, not just space resiliency capabilities for our defense space, but for this global commons,” said Winston Beauchamp, the Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for Space, and the director of the Principal Defense Department Space Advisor Staff.

“In the same way that we would take action to defend a commercial ship that is threatened by an adversary on the high seas, or a commercial airliner that was threatened by an adversary missile or fighter plane, we must do the same in space,” he told a breakfast hosted by the Air Force Association March 17.

Read more at: Airforce Times

Explore the International Space Station in This 360 Degree Video

What’s it like to go to the ISS? You can pay $20 million like Mark Shuttleworth did to go there, or you can take the easier route and watch this video. Better yet, the video is in startling 4K resolution, so it’ll look pretty authentic if you have a monitor that can show it off.

NASA, ESA, Roscosmos, and other stakeholders have called the International Space Station home since 2000. There’s still about eight years left up there before the hardware becomes inoperably outdated. It will have been a good run for the station, which you can see flying overhead at night when the sunset hits it just right. This tour, put together by the ISS, is a pretty impressive display made even better if you pair it with Google Cardboard and get the real first person view.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics