NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover Provides Front-Row Seat to Landing, First Audio Recording of Red Planet

New video from NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover chronicles major milestones during the final minutes of its entry, descent, and landing (EDL) on the Red Planet on Feb. 18 as the spacecraft plummeted, parachuted, and rocketed toward the surface of Mars. A microphone on the rover also has provided the first audio recording of sounds from Mars.

From the moment of parachute inflation, the camera system covers the entirety of the descent process, showing some of the rover’s intense ride to Mars’ Jezero Crater. The footage from high-definition cameras aboard the spacecraft starts 7 miles (11 kilometers) above the surface, showing the supersonic deployment of the most massive parachute ever sent to another world, and ends with the rover’s touchdown in the crater.

Read more at: NASA

Size Of Crack Aboard Space Station Unchanged, Says Russian Cosmonaut

The size of a crack in the intermediate chamber of the Russian Zvezda module aboard the International Space Station (ISS) remains unchanged, cosmonaut Sergei Ryzhikov reported to Russia’s Flight Control Center on Wednesday.

“It [the length] has not changed. As in the previous measurements, I do not see any changes,” Ryzhikov said during his talks with Mission Control broadcast on NASA’s website.

Read more at: TASS


Here’s What We Know About Planetary Protection On China’s Tianwen-1 Mars Mission

This spring, China will attempt its first Mars landing. But in anticipation of that milestone, scientists are wondering whether the Tianwen-1 rover may carry Earthly contamination with it to the surface.

Because scientists have high hopes of someday discovering traces of life on Mars, spacecraft that will land on the planet are kept as immaculately free of Earthly life as possible. These days, that means a complicated cleaning procedure throughout the spacecraft’s assembly and frequent testing for spores, an inactive form of bacteria that are particularly hardy.

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Imaging Space Debris in High Resolution

Litter is not only a problem on Earth. According to NASA, there are currently millions of pieces of space junk in the range of altitudes from 200 to 2,000 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, which is known as low Earth orbit (LEO). Most of the junk is comprised of objects created by humans, like pieces of old spacecraft or defunct satellites. This space debris can reach speeds of up to 18,000 miles per hour, posing a major danger to the 2,612 satellites that currently operate at LEO. Without effective tools for tracking space debris, parts of LEO may even become too hazardous for satellites.

Read more at: sinews

For Military Superiority in Space, Start with Safety

The U.S. military has worked in space for decades, providing GPS to the masses and bouncing combat messages through satellites to troops around the world. In some ways, though, the Space Force feels like it’s starting from scratch.

The Space Force was created to ward off Chinese anti-satellite weapons and Russian satellites stalking U.S. spy systems across the cosmos, among other concerns. Still, officials are looking for ways to keep space safe and maintain an upper hand while the Pentagon learns how to treat space as it does air, land, and sea.

Read more at: airforce mag


Korean Space Companies Set To Benefit From Launch Of Rocket

There is a less-covered stock segment that has gained a significant boost entering this year: aerospace.

With 2021 set to become a defining moment for Korea’s aerospace industry thanks to the planned launch of a rocket developed with homegrown technology, investors became bullish about private space companies linked with the project and with the industry in general.

The upturn coincides with a big round of investments into big global players like SpaceX and Blue Origin, highlighting expectations for space exploration and satellite launches at lower cost.

Read more at: koreajoongangdaily

Space Tourism From Cornwall ‘Would Send Wrong Message’

The leader of Cornwall Council has poured cold water on the suggestion that space tourism could operate from Spaceport Cornwall. There had been reports in national media recently that Sir Richard Branson could use the base at Cornwall Airport for his Virgin Galactic enterprise which will offer space flights for tourists.

Virgin is already a partner for Spaceport Cornwall which is to be used as a base for Virgin Orbit which uses horizontal launches to send small satellites into orbit.

Read more at: cornishstuff

Space Enthusiasts In Japan Ready To Launch Their Own Satellite

Interest in commercial aerospace is growing among amateurs in Japan, with enthusiasts assembling rockets and satellites by trial and error. As the space business grows around the world, amateur builders and launchers, including office workers and students, are challenging the idea that outer space is the sole domain of professionals.

“Let’s disassemble it and replace the component,” says a voice at a small workshop in Tokyo’s Edogawa Ward. Spread out on a table are several components. In the center is a satellite, one side of which measures about 10 cm. The person who suggests replacing the part is working away in a sweatsuit.

Read more at: Nikkei asia


NASA Postpones Second SLS Green Run Test

Just days after NASA said it was ready to perform a second static-fire test of the Space Launch System core stage, the agency announced Feb. 22 that the test would be delayed because of a valve problem.

NASA said it was postponing the Green Run static-fire test, which had been scheduled for Feb. 25, after discovering a problem with one of eight valves called “prevalves” in the core stage that supply propellant to the stage’s four RS-25 main engines. The valve, which supplies liquid oxygen, was “not working properly,” NASA said in a statement, but didn’t elaborate on the problem.

Read more at: Spacenews

Relativity Space Readies For Its First Launch Of 3D-Printed Rocket Later This Year

Could Relativity Space be the next SpaceX?


As the Los Angeles-based startup plans to launch its 3D-printed Terran 1 rocket late this year, key market indicators show a company growing so quickly that it’s attracting massive investor attention. 

The company’s debut launch was originally slated for 2020, but preparations now appear to be going smoothly after that initial delay, with some important milestones coming up soon.

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India Revises Gaganyaan Human Spaceflight Plan, Delays Chandrayaan-3

India has revised target dates for launches of its human spaceflight missions and the Chandrayaan-3 lunar landing following COVID-19-related delays.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was targeting August 2022 for the launch to mark the 75th anniversary of Indian independence. However the first human spaceflight demonstration will now follow after a second uncrewed test flight now planned for 2022-23, chairman K Sivan has said.

ISRO is targeting a first uncrewed test flight in December this year. The mission will involve human-rated Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III rocket with a modified upper stage compatible with a crew module and crew escape system, according to Times of India.

Read more at: Spacenews

Futuristic Space Technology Concepts Selected by NASA for Initial Study

Early-stage research into futuristic space ideas – a lunar levitation track system, light bending lunar power system, method for making soil from asteroid material, and more – could help revolutionize NASA’s technology toolbox and pioneer new kinds of missions. More than a dozen researchers from within the agency, industry, and academia will receive grants from the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program to study their concepts’ feasibility.

Read more at: NASA JPL

Experts Ponder Nuclear Rockets To Send Humans To Mars

When NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on the Martian surface last week, humans cheered from the confines of planet Earth.

But if the space agency or others hope to leave and send astronauts to Mars, experts say they need to consider a technology that was studied decades ago but never fully developed: nuclear-powered rockets.

“If we decide to send humans to Mars, nuclear propulsion is likely to be central to that journey,” says Roger Myers, an independent aerospace consultant and co-chair of a panel convened by the National Academies to study nuclear propulsion.

Read more at: NPR

Testing Proves Its Worth With Successful Mars Parachute Deployment

Test. Test again. Test again. Testing spacecraft components prior to flight is vital for a successful mission.

Rarely do you get a do-over with a spacecraft after it launches, especially those bound for another planet. You need to do everything possible to get it right the first time.

Three successful sounding rocket missions from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia in 2017 and 2018 to test a supersonic parachute proved their worth with the successful landing of the Perseverance mission on the Red Planet.

Read more at: NASA JPL


Safety Panel Recommends NASA Develop Strategy For Workforce And Infrastructure

As NASA’s management of its human spaceflight programs evolves to incorporate greater roles for companies, the agency needs to take a strategic look at its workforce and infrastructure requirements, a safety panel advised.

At the Feb. 18 meeting of NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), members reiterated concerns cited in its annual report published last month that NASA needs to more carefully consider its personnel and facilities needs as it adopts a more diverse set of approaches to managing human spaceflight programs.

Read more at: Spacenews

Eastern Range Discusses Drive Toward “Airport Model” Operations, Eyes Increased Launch Demand

At the 47th Spaceport Summit, formerly known as Space Congress, the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Kennedy Space Center/45th Space Wing of the Space Force, and the FAA provided an overview and update on the Florida spaceport’s status and how it is preparing for an even busier schedule than it’s already looking at in 2021.

Part of this discussion surrounded expansion possibilities and restrictions at the Florida launch site and how the spaceport would adopt a more airport-like approach to launch operations.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight


JUST IN: Space Force Focused on Commercial Industry, International Partnerships

This year, the Space Force will prioritize collaboration with the commercial space industry and partners around the world, the service’s chief of operations said Feb. 25.

These types of partnerships have and will continue to allow the United States to lead the world in space, Gen. John “Jay” Raymond said at the Air Force Association’s Virtual Aerospace Warfare Symposium. The service — the newest branch of the military — was stood up 14 months ago.

Read more at: National defense magazine

Report: Space Weapons Are A Fact Of Life, But There Are Many Ways To Counter Them

Nations around the world — notably China and Russia — are building arsenals of weapons that can destroy or disrupt satellites in orbit. Not much can be done to slow that trend down, but these threats can be countered with technologies and tactics, says a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies released Feb. 26.

“If space is to remain a source of economic and strategic advantage, the United States must prioritize and expedite its efforts to improve space defenses,” states the report titled Defense Against the Dark Arts in Space: Protecting Space Systems from Counterspace Weapons, written by CSIS analysts Todd Harrison, Kaitlyn Johnson and Makena Young.

Read more at: Spacenews


White House — No News on NASA Administrator

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tamped down, but did not reject, rumors that former Florida Senator Bill Nelson (D) will be the next NASA Administrator. The rumor started circulating on Twitter yesterday. Asked about it today, she said the White House has nothing to report about who will be asked to serve or when an announcement will be made.

The Biden Administration has been in office for four weeks and the space community is eager to find out what Biden’s space priorities are and who will serve in key positions such as NASA Administrator. Biden has been singing NASA’s praises since the successful landing of the Mars Perseverance rover last Thursday, fueling hopes that a NASA Administrator announcement might be near.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

SpaceX And The Importance Of Security In The New Space Race

There aren’t many things Americans agree on, but one remaining point of unanimity is that we don’t like aviation disasters. 

Two weeks ago, NASA held its annual Day of Remembrance, honoring those who lost their lives in the pursuit of man’s exploration of space. This year’s ceremony marked in particular the 1986 loss of Challenger and its valiant crew of seven astronauts. 

Read more at: Washingtontimes

Bloomberg Assails NASA Space Launch System With Misconceptions And Faulty Logic

The editorial board at Bloomberg News launched a nonsensical attack on NASA’s human spaceflight program last week. It was full of dubious assertions about alternatives to the Space Launch System, the first deep-space rocket NASA has built for human transport since Saturn V lofted Apollo missions to the Moon half a century ago.

I don’t normally call attention to arguments that I think are wrong, but since Bloomberg’s screed was explicitly aimed at the Biden administration, I thought it might be useful to rebut some of the questionable claims advanced by the editorial board.

Ref: “Scrap the Space Launch System”, Bloomberg

Read more at: Forbes

Op-ed | Why the National Space Council matters

 NASA marked another milestone last week with the successful landing of the Perseverance rover on Mars. Perseverance is now the fifth and most technologically advanced rover to reach the surface of the red planet.

Perseverance’s main objectives are to search Mars for signs of ancient life and collect soil samples that will eventually be brought back to Earth. Yet the mission will also have broader implications for space policy. The discovery of ancient life, for example, could influence policy regarding planetary protection, future human missions, and international norms for exploration. The fact that Perseverance could be joined by a Chinese rover later this year highlights the growing space competition between the U.S. and strategic rivals.

Read more at: Spacenews

‘Who Was In NASA 901?’: Remembering Project Gemini’s Worst Day, 55 Years On

At 7:41 a.m. CST on 28 February 1966—55 years ago on Sunday—a pair of sleek T-38 Talon jets took off from Ellington Field, not far from the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) in Houston, Texas, bound for Lambert Field in St. Louis, Miss. Aboard the lead jet, tailnumbered “NASA 901”, were astronauts Elliot See and Charlie Bassett, prime crew for the forthcoming Gemini IX mission, targeted to launch in May of that year.And following them in the second T-38, tailnumbered “NASA 907”, were their backups, Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan. Flight rules forbade a member of a prime crew to fly with his counterpart on the backup crew, lest an accident wipe out the entire specialty for one seat on the mission. Tragically, those rules held firm on the fateful morning of 28 February 1966.

Read more at: Americaspace