Rocket Lab Loses Electron Booster, Five Small Satellites in Launch Failure

The second stage of a Rocket Lab Electron rocket carrying seven small satellites malfunctioned after launch from New Zealand on Saturday, suddenly slowing down and losing altitude. The company confirmed the vehicle and its payloads were lost, but no indication of what went wrong was immediately available.

“We lost the flight late into the mission,” company CEO Peter Beck tweeted. “I am incredibly sorry that we failed to deliver our customers satellites today. Rest assured we will find the issue, correct it and be back on the pad soon.”

Read more at: CBS news

Progress To Aid Benzene Investigation On ISS

A replacement Air Quality Monitor will be launched on the next Progress resupply mission to aid the investigation into increased levels of benzene in the International Space Station’s atmosphere.

The first detection of off-nominal levels occurred on April 13, when Air Quality Monitor-1 – or AQM-1 – detected benzene in the atmosphere that was slightly above the reporting limit. At the time, AQM-1 was located inside the US Lab, otherwise known as the “Destiny” module.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

Boeing Gives Starliner Crew Capsule’s Parachutes A Workout In Drop Test (Video)

The parachute system that helps bring Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule safely back to Earth just passed another test.

Starliner’s chutes performed well during a drop test over New Mexico’s White Sands Space Harbor last week that was designed to simulate an abort shortly after launch, Boeing representatives said Monday (June 29).

“Parachutes like clean air flow,” Boeing flight conductor Jim Harder said in a statement.

Read more at:

India’s First Human Space Mission Not To Be Affected By COVID: Minister

India’s first manned space mission “Gaganyaan,” planned for 2022, will take place on schedule and won’t be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister for Atomic Energy and Space Jitendra Singh said.

According to a statement issued by the Department of Space on Monday evening, the minister said though the training of four Indian astronauts in Russia had to be halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there had been kept a “cushion” both in the training program and the launch deadline.

The training of astronauts has been resumed, and the launch is scheduled to take place as planned before the 75th anniversary of India’s independence in August 2022, he said.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Blue Origin Delivers The First BE-4 Engine To United Launch Alliance

Blue Origin this week delivered a BE-4 rocket engine to United Launch Alliance. ULA will use two BE-4s in the main stage of its future Vulcan Centaur rocket

In a celebratory tweet July 1 with the hashtag #CountdowntoVulcan ULA announced that a BE-4 engine arrived at its rocket factory in Decatur, Alabama.

“The engine delivered is the first pathfinder engine to be mated with the Vulcan Centaur and will support ULA’s testing,” a Blue Origin spokesperson told SpaceNews. “We are planning on delivering the second engine in July.”

A pathfinder is a development engine. Blue Origin has not said when a flight-qualified engine will be delivered.

Read more at: Spacenews

As Structural Testing Concludes, Orion and SLS Look Ahead to Artemis-1

Last week’s completion of parallel structural testing campaigns for Orion and the Space Launch System (SLS) is a critical step towards the maiden voyage of the first human-capable vehicle to visit the Moon since December 1972 and the initial launch of the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V era. Late next year, four shuttle-era RS-25 core-stage engines and a pair of five-segment Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) will ignite with a staccato crackle and a propulsive yield in excess of 8.8 million pounds (3.9 million kg) to deliver the Artemis-1 Orion spacecraft towards the Moon. With the conclusion of structural testing, the route is clear for the completion of the SLS “Green Run” campaign at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Miss., later this fall. And the actual Orion for Artemis-1 is deep into processing at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

Read more at: Americaspace

EGS, Jacobs Begin SLS Booster Build Up For Artemis 1

NASA Exploration Ground Systems and prime test and operations contractor Jacobs mated the first of two Space Launch System (SLS) aft motor segments for the Artemis 1 launch with its aft skirt on June 24.

The connection of two of the major elements of the right-hand aft booster assembly continues preparations of Northrop Grumman booster hardware for the first SLS launch tentatively scheduled for late next year.

The two aft motors and two aft skirts were delivered to the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility (RPSF) in mid-June to begin readying them for eventual stacking on Mobile Launcher-1 in the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center later this year. Following rail transportation from Utah, Jacobs and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) removed the aft motors from their railcars, rotated them to a vertical orientation, and mated them to the aft skirts in build up stands in the RPSF.

Read more at: NASAspaceflight

Advanced Rockets Corporation Granted Space Vehicle System Patents

Advanced Rockets Corporation (ARC) report it has been granted a Space Vehicle Systems patent featuring a unique architecture for multiple applications, including space launch, national defense, and high-speed civil aviation.

The patent also addresses critical factors for reducing the cost of access to space, including, high-utilization, Continuous Intact Abort Capability (CIAC), and reusability.

It also further increases the total number of patent protected systems and design details and effectively extends the protection period for ARC’s vehicle systems, allowing ARC to maintain a key market advantage in launch and the hypersonic arenas.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Roscosmos Says US Crew Dragon Spacecraft’s Safety Raises ‘Some Questions’

Russia’s federal space agency Roscosmos will agree to the delivery of its cosmonauts to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a US Crew Dragon spacecraft only after it is certified, Roscosmos First Deputy Head for the Orbital Grouping Development and Priority Projects Yuri Urlichich said on Thursday.

“The spaceship has not passed its certification and the Americans are offering us to make swaps as was the case during the period when their shuttles made flights: our cosmonauts flew in their shuttles and their astronauts on our Soyuz spacecraft. We agree to that but only inasmuch as their spaceship is certified,” Urlichich said in the upper house of Russia’s parliament.

Read more at: TASS

NASA Astronauts Conduct Second Spacewalk For Space Station Power Upgrades

Early Wednesday, NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Robert Behnken conducted a spacewalk outside of the International Space Station to replace lithium ion batteries for one of the station’s power channels.

Wednesday’s spacewalk began at 7:13 a.m. ET and concluded at 1:14 p.m. ET. It lasted for six hours and one minute. Both astronauts are veteran spacewalkers. This was the eighth venture outside for both Cassidy and Behnken, according to NASA.

Read more at: CNN

Russia’s Blue Bird Search And Rescue Vehicles For Spacemen Undergo Upgrades

The Blue Bird search and rescue amphibious off-road vehicles, used for recovery of landing spacemen, underwent upgrades in the Moscow Region, the Central Military District’s press service announced Friday.

“Three PEM-1 and PEM-2 trucks and the special screw-propelled vehicle, equipped with the evacuation crane, underwent upgrades. In particular, engines and transmission, as well as the interior, were upgraded,” says Yevgeniy Solntsev, head of the Central Military District’s 14th Air and Air Defense Army’s search and rescue service.

Read more at: TASS

Final Frontier Design Awarded Multiple NASA Lunar xEMU Space Suit Contracts

Final Frontier Design (FFD) is pleased to announce the award of multiple contracts for components of NASA’s next generation xEMU Lunar space suit.

The xEMU Lunar space suit will be used in the Artemis mission, the first US planetary space mission since Apollo.

The development awards include the Lunar xEMU space suit boot, hip, and waist joints, and will culminate with hardware deliveries to NASA in 2020.

Read more at: Moondaily


An Asteroid’s Moon Got A Name So NASA Can Bump It Off Its Course

Newly christened “Dimorphos” is a tiny space rock with a big target on its back.

The International Astronomical Union gave the rock an official name on June 23 for a unique reason: It has been marked for the first-ever asteroid deflection mission. A NASA spacecraft will ram into Dimorphos — on purpose — to alter its path through space. Although Dimorphos is not at risk of striking Earth, its nearness to the planet makes it a prime testing ground for a technique to ward off dangerous asteroids in the future.

Read more at: Sciencenews

Calculating The Speed Of Coronal Mass Ejections Could Avoid Unneeded Satellite Shutdown

Satellite operators could be doing more harm than good by shutting down their systems whenever a coronal mass ejection (CME) from the Sun is forecast to arrive at Earth, UK researchers have suggested. Mathew Owens, Mike Lockwood and Luke Barnard at the University of Reading show that the speeds and magnetic field intensities of the bursts could be just as important to consider as their arrival times when deciding when to turn satellite systems off. If applied, their ideas could significantly improve the efficiency of many satellite operations.

Read more at: Physicsworld

Gaia Revolutionises Asteroid Tracking

Gaia charts the galaxy by repeatedly scanning the entire sky. Over the course of its planned mission, it observed each of its more than one billion target stars around 70 times to study how their position and brightness change over time.

The stars are so far from Earth that their movements between images are very small, hence why Gaia has to measure their positions so accurately to even notice a difference. However, sometimes Gaia spots faint light sources that move considerably from one image of a certain region of the sky to the next, or are even only spotted in a single image before disappearing.

Read more at: ESA

One Of SpaceX’s Most Ambitious Projects Remains Tethered To The Ground — For Now

To fund its Martian ambitions, SpaceX intends to transform the Earth — blanketing the planet in ubiquitous internet coverage beamed down from a tight-fitting mesh of thousands of satellites. CEO Elon Musk expects this “Starlink” service to eventually generate $30 billion per year.

In space, construction is advancing smoothly. SpaceX has already become the world’s largest satellite operator, managing more than 500 satellites and counting. That’s a fraction of the thousands it intends to launch, but enough for the system to reach Air Force cockpits and connect Musk to Twitter. The company intends to start beta testing in North America this summer.

Read more at: CNBC

Stronger Materials Vital For Lunar Plans

As the Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky once said, Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot stay in a cradle forever.

With sporadic political interest in space development and research throughout history, new breakthroughs in the field are a welcome relief to a sector that is often stagnated by funding difficulties, as well as sheer technological barriers.

A research team in the west of China has said it has developed a material from artificial lunar dust that could be strong enough to build a solid base on the moon.

Read more at: Moondaily


SpaceX Starship Prototype Kicks Off Gauntlet Of Tests For The Fifth Time

Hours after a successful Falcon 9 launch, a SpaceX Starship prototype has kicked off a challenging gauntlet of tests for the fifth time in hopes of becoming the first to take flight.

Five days after the ~30m (~100 ft) tall steel rocket was transported from the factory to the launch pad, SpaceX has fully integrated it with a brand new launch mount – built from scratch after operator error caused Starship SN4 to explode and destroy the prior mount. Assembled and outfitted with great haste, the new mount was completed just a day or two before Starship SN5 was moved to the pad and installed on top of it.

Read more at: Teslarati

Amazon’s AWS Establishes New Aerospace Cloud Unit As Jeff Bezos Increases Bets On Outer Space

Amazon Web Services, the cloud-computing branch of the e-commerce giant, is further expanding its services in the growing space industry.

The company announced on Tuesday that AWS is establishing a new unit called Aerospace and Satellite Solutions, led by former U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Clint Crosier — who most recently directed the establishment of the U.S. Space Force.

“We find ourselves in the most exciting time in space since the Apollo missions,” Crosier said in a statement.

Read more at: CNBC

Rocket Lab Plans Next Launch Saturday, Closes In On First Mission From Virginia

Rocket Lab is readying for a launch from its New Zealand spaceport Saturday (U.S. time) with seven commercial satellites from Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom, while teams at Wallops Island, Virginia, move closer to Rocket Lab’s first launch there as soon as August.

The mission Sunday will take off from Rocket Lab’s primary privately-run spaceport on Mahia Peninsula, located on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island. The 50-minute launch window Saturday opens at 2113 GMT (5:13 p.m. EDT), or at 9:13 a.m. Sunday in New Zealand.

A forecast for high winds and heavy rain caused Rocket Lab to delay the mission from Friday to Sunday, but the company later said it would attempt a launch Saturday.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

China’s Commercial Space Industry Charges Ahead

China’s commercial space ambitions stretch far beyond the industry’s current domestic focus, with plans to use private space capabilities to help bring Chinese influence to the world.

Why it matters: Space is a cornerstone of the global race for tech supremacy, and China wants to dominate from both a governmental and commercial standpoint. China’s future in space could be, in part, defined by private companies that help to wield the country’s soft power and influence on Earth.

Read more at: Axios

Chennai Start-Up Building India’s First Private Smallsat Rocket Seeks ISRO Help

Chennai start-up Agnikul Cosmos is building India’s first private small satellite rocket and will be seeking the help of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for conducting ground tests. The IIT-Madras incubated start-up received a much-needed boost with the announcement of Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), an autonomous body under the Department of Space, which would help private prayers gain access to ISRO infrastructure.

Named ‘Agnibaan’, the rocket will be a two-stage LOX/Kerosene vehicle with a third “baby stage.” The launch vehicle will be capable of carrying up to 100 kg of payload to low-Earth orbits up to 700 km with a plug-and-play engine configuration.

Read more at: New Indian Express

Space Startup Momentus Provides ‘Last Mile Delivery’ For Satellites Launched On Any Rocket

A space startup offering a “last mile delivery” service for spacecraft is continuing its deal spree this year, becoming an increasingly important player in the growing small satellite market.

Momentus, a Santa Clara, California-based company, has so far struck $40 million worth of customer contracts this year and announced on Thursday its latest deal with Dutch small satellite specialist ISILaunch. Its the eighth such deal Momentus has unveiled in 2020, with the company providing its orbit transfer services for ISILaunch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch in December.

Read more at: CNBC

Commercial Launch Industry Off To Slow Start In 2020

The first half of 2020 has been sluggish for the commercial launch industry, but its problems can’t be explained solely by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to statistics compiled by SpaceNews, there were 45 orbital launch attempts in first six months of 2020, including four failed launches. That would put the overall launch industry on a pace for 90 launches in the year, somewhat less than the 102 launches attempted in 2019.

Read more at: Spacenews

The Right Tool To Go To The Moon

Like many people worldwide, I celebrated the May 30 launch of NASA and SpaceX’s Demo 2 mission returning NASA astronauts to the International Space Station from the Kennedy Space Center.

For me, it was personal. Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are my NASA Astronaut Office classmates (Class of 2000, Go Bugs!). When they arrived safely in low-Earth orbit and later successfully docked to the station, I was excited and relieved.

Then I read the Washington Post guest opinion article “Send the SpaceX Dragon to the Moon.” I was disappointed to see that even experienced space enthusiasts missed the mark on such a fundamental concept – picking the right tool for the job.

Read more at: Politico


BAE Systems Delivers First Radiation-Hardened RAD5545 Radios

BAE Systems has delivered its first shipment of next-generation radiation-hardened software defined radios (SDR) enabled by its RAD5545 computer to Lockheed Martin Space. The radios provide spacecraft with the performance, availability, reliability and on-board signals processing capacity needed to support future space missions – from planetary exploration to communications, national security, surveillance, and weather missions.

“Our RAD5545 software defined radios are ideal for any mission requiring reconfigurable radio processing,” said Ricardo Gonzalez, director of Space Systems at BAE Systems. “The radios can be easily modified to address various reconfigurable processing solutions.”

Read more at: Spacedaily

Want To Learn How To Survive On Mars? Look To Antarctica.

One is blinding white and the other a dull, dusty red. But both are cold, barren worlds, difficult to reach and full of tantalizing scientific mysteries.

And lessons from the first world, Antarctica, may be vital for those who want to be the first humans on the second, Mars, according to Stan Love, a former NASA astronaut who now supports the agency’s astronaut office. Those lessons, Love said in a meeting last month, stem from a decades-long U.S. government-funded program to search for atmospherically toasted space rocks on the brilliant ice of Antarctica.

Read more at: 

Russia’s Kurchatov Research Center Develops Power Unit For Lunar Base

The Kurchatov Institute National Research Center has obtained a patent for the system capable of converting thermal energy into electric power, including for a lunar base, according to the invention’s description released by the Federal Institute of Industrial Property on Tuesday.

“The stated invention deals with the technical problem of providing the necessary power and energy for an autonomous life support system for equipment and personnel in the extreme conditions of a lunar base’s environment,” the description runs.

Read more at: TASS

NASA to Use Pulsar Navigation for Deep Space Missions

As long as explorers have traversed Earth’s surface, getting an accurate fix on location has been essential. Early explorers used a sextant and compass to gauge the position of the stars at sea, and modern travelers use satellite-enabled GPS technology. Now, future deep space missions may use a more exotic source to get a fix on their location: the beating hearts of dying stars, known as pulsars.

Pulsars, also referred to as neutron stars, are the swiftly spinning remnant cores of core-collapse supernovae. A famous example is the pulsar at the center of the Crab Nebula, or Messier 1, in Taurus. Discovered in the late 1960s, the ultra-precise signals from pulsars earned them the informal acronym LGM (for “Little Green Men”) for a short time after their discovery.

Read more at: Sky and Telescope

NASA Spacecraft Helps Identify Solar Radiation Patterns That Expose the Moon

Which way the wind blows in space has new importance for astronaut safety at the Moon. Using data from several NASA missions, scientists discovered that wind created by high-speed particles from the Sun can cause the tail of Earth’s protective magnetic bubble to flap like a windsock in a strong breeze. This movement can pull the tail so far out of line that it exposes the Moon to potentially damaging charged particles at times it was previously thought to be protected. The finding, which reveals a new challenge of predicting when solar activity exposes the Moon, will help scientists and engineers prepare for future lunar missions.

Read more at: NASA

Solar Sail Spacecraft Begins Extended Mission

A smallsat launched a year ago to demonstrate solar sail technologies continues to operate and is now beginning an extended mission.

LightSail 2, a cubesat launched in June 2019 to demonstrate that a solar sail could change the orbit of a spacecraft, formally started an extended mission June 25, the one-year anniversary of its launch on a Falcon Heavy as one of the payloads on the Space Test Program 2 mission.

Read more at: Spacenews

Just Add Nano-Materials For Stronger, Tougher Diving Fins

An idea originally championed by inventors from Leonard da Vinci to Benjamin Franklin, before finally reaching mass production during the last century, diving fins increase the efficiency of every move made in water. Generally speaking, the deeper you go, the more power you need from your fins.

“Cheap fins for swimming close to the beach are made from rubber or plastic”, explains Dimitris Pantazis of underwater equipment specialist Alchemy. “High-end fins for spearfishing or free-diving are made from tough carbon fibre composite, but these can be damaged in some circumstances, such as by hitting rocks or coral, or else accidentally impacted as people travel to dive sites.

Read more at: ESA

Higher Concentration Of Metal In Moon’s Craters Provides New Insights To Its Origin

Life on Earth would not be possible without the Moon; it keeps our planet’s axis of rotation stable, which controls seasons and regulates our climate. However, there has been considerable debate over how the Moon was formed. The popular hypothesis contends that the Moon was formed by a Mars-sized body colliding with Earth’s upper crust which is poor in metals. But new research suggests the Moon’s subsurface is more metal-rich than previously thought, providing new insights that could challenge our understanding of that process.

Read more at: Eurekalert

Upgradeable Birds: AF Taps Hypergiant For ‘Reconfigurable’ Satellites

The Air Force has launched a landmark effort with AI start-up Hypergiant to build prototypes of a network of small satellites in Low Earth Orbit, whose machine learning/artificial intelligence capabilities can be upgraded for different missions while on-orbit.

If successful, the “Chameleon Constellation” will represent an important breakthrough in military space capabilities. At a minimum, the ability to constantly upgrade software could allow near real-time protection of cybersecurity systems if a satellite detects hacking.

Read more at: breaking defense

Asteroid Impact, Not Volcanic Activity, Killed The Dinosaurs, Study Finds

An asteroid impact, not volcanic activity, killed the dinosaurs, a new study finds.

For decades, scientists have gone back and forth over exactly what caused a mass extinction event 66 million years ago, which destroyed about 75% of all life on Earth, including all of the large dinosaurs. Some have thought that volcanic activity could be to blame, but one new study shows that a giant asteroid impact was the prime culprit.

Read more at:

Russia’s Roscosmos To Consider Option Of Angara Carrier Rocket With Reusable Stages

The new version of the state contract on the ‘Amur’ experimental design work amended on Tuesday envisages upgrading the Angara carrier rocket and studying the option of developing reusable rocket stages, Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos announced on Tuesday.

“On June 30, changes were made to the state contract on the ‘Amur’ experimental design work that envisaged upgrading and further developing this series,” the statement says.

Read more at: TASS

How Will Astronauts Poop On The Moon? New NASA Challenge Aims To Flush This Mystery

It’s no secret that humans poop — even in space.

But the actual, physical act of going to the bathroom while floating in space can be tricky, to say the least. In a new contest, NASA is calling on innovators from around the world to develop a new space toilet that would work not just in microgravity such as aboard the International Space Station, but also in lunar gravity aboard a future lunar lander as part of NASA’s Artemis program which aims to return humans to the moon by 2024.

Read more at:

Are Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Weakened In Outer Space?

Israel’s Sheba Medical Center sent E. coli bacteria into space on June 18 to test its theory that microgravity in space affects how bacteria acquire resistance to antibiotics.

Prof. Ohad Gal-Mor, head of Sheba’s Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory, created the experiment in collaboration with his Sheba colleague Prof. Galia Rahav and two researchers from Italy.

Read more at: israel21c


House, Senate Continue Work On Space-Related Legislation

Key members of the House and Senate say they continue to work on space-related legislation, including a NASA authorization bill, but the two branches of Congress appear to remain far apart on their bills.

At the time the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, stopping most legislative activity other than relief measures and other critical legislation, the House Science Committee was considering a NASA authorization bill. A full committee markup of the bill, introduced in January, was expected in March but never scheduled.

Read more at: Spacenews

What Is Joe Biden’s Plan For Space?

Who cares what Joe Biden thinks about space policy?

It is safe to say that “moon or Mars” is not the defining issue of the 2020 presidential election. The former vice president’s campaign declined to talk to Quartz about Biden’s space policy or share who is advising him on what to do with NASA and the nascent US Space Force.

But the next president will face key decisions that will shape not just space exploration, but also American technological and economic superiority, and the topic deserves scrutiny.

Read more at: QZ

Privatisation in Space: Poor Prospects and the Inevitable Lurking Dangers

As part of the Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package announced by the government to supposedly boost a COVID-19-impacted economy, the Finance Minister (FM) declared that all sectors of the economy would henceforth be open for the private sector, and that public sector undertakings (PSUs) would work mainly in strategic sectors and be privatised in others. One of the areas thrown open to the private sector was space.

The FM’s telecast was followed by a Union Cabinet decision on June 24, 2020, which approved approved “far reaching reforms in the Space sector aimed at boosting private sector participation in the entire range of space activities,” including launch, satellites and even “space exploration”, through an “announcement of opportunity mechanism.”

Read more at: newsclick

It Is Rocket Science: EU To Speed Up Space Ambitions, Breton Says

The European Union will plough more money into rocket launches, satellite communication and space exploration to preserve its often unsung successes in space and keep up with US and Chinese ambitions, its space chief said on Sunday.

Over the past decades, Europe has sought to build independent access to space from U.S. and Russian pioneers to help its industry, with successes such as Ariane rockets or GPS-rival satnav Galileo.

Read more at: Reuters


Space Force Unveils Organizational Structure

Gen. Jay Raymond, Chief of Space Operations for the U.S. Space Force (USSF), unveiled the USSF’s organizational structure today. It will have three field commands and subordinate units designated “deltas” and “squadrons.” Activation of the new units will begin later this summer.

The USSF was created on December 20, 2019 as a new military service that is part of the U.S. Air Force. Raymond is Chief of Space Operations, a parallel position to the Air Force Chief of Staff, both of whom report directly to the Secretary of the Air Force (SecAF).

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Minotaur Rocket Launching July 15 from NASA Wallops

A Minotaur IV rocket carrying a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is scheduled for launch July 15, 2020, from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The U.S. Space Force (USSF) Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Enterprise Program is providing the launch services for this mission.

The launch vehicle, built and operated by Northrop Grumman, is scheduled for liftoff from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s (MARS) Pad 0B on Wallops Island.

The launch may be visible along the U.S. east coast. In addition, the mission will be streamed live beginning at 8:30 a.m. on the Wallops YouTube channel.

Read more at: NASA

House and Senate Make Progress on the FY2021 NDAA

The House and Senate both made progress on the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week.  The House version cleared committee and the Senate got pretty far along debating its version on the floor.  The two chambers have now recessed for the July 4 holiday. Action will resume when they return.

The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) passed the House bill, H.R. 6395, by a vote of 56-0 just before midnight last night. The last amendment adopted was to name the bill after Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), the top Republican on the committee who is retiring at the end of this Congress. He chaired the committee when Republicans controlled the House.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

GPS Committee Calls FCC Ligado Order A “Grave Error”

A committee charged with giving the U.S. government advice on space-based navigation services concluded that the Federal Communication Commission’s approval of Ligado’s 5G network is a “high-risk” decision that jeopardizes Global Positioning System services.

During a July 1 meeting of the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Advisory Board, held online, members discussed a report prepared for the committee about the April FCC decision to allow Ligado to operate a 5G terrestrial network on a spectrum band neighboring that used by GPS.

Read more at: Spacenews

DoD Withdraws Defense Production Act Small Launch Contract Awards

The Defense Department has reversed its decision to award contracts funded under the Defense Production Act to six small launch companies.

DoD announced on June 16 it selected Aevum, Astra, X-Bow, Rocket Lab, Space Vector and VOX Space to receive noncompetitive contracts to launch two rideshare missions for government customers over the next 24 months.

On July 1 DoD filed a “Notice of Contract Award (NOCA) Withdrawal” which was posted on

Read more at: Spacenews

Japan To Boost Space Cooperation With US In Revised Policy

Japan said Monday it will step up its defense capability in space and improve its ability to detect and track missiles, while cooperating with the United States in response to what it called a growing threat from North Korea and China.

A revised basic space policy adopted by the government’s strategic space development panel endorses plans for a number of small-scale intelligence-gathering satellites to quickly assess North Korean missile movements.

Read more at: ABC news

Senate Offers More Funding For Hypersonic Weapons Tracking

The U.S. Senate’s defense bill adds $120 million to the Defense Department’s space-based anti-hypersonic weapons program, despite no request for an increase.

The Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor, a constellation of satellites dedicated to locating the firing and direction of enemy missiles capable of achieving 5,000 miles-per-hour speeds, is a part of the Defense Department’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget request. Some senators believe the project’s urgency is growing.

Read more at: Spacewar

Japan Will Reorient Missile Defense Posture As Aegis Ashore Is Suspended

Japan’s announcement on the suspension of the deployment of Aegis Ashore missile defense systems marks a potential shift in the country’s security strategy. The turning point depends on the substitute for Aegis Ashore. The country is now considering pre-emptive strike capabilities as a possibility, targeting missile launchers in North Korea first instead of intercepting incoming missiles. Intercepting attacks and proactively neutralizing threats shows a substantial change in Japan’s defense posture, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Vera Lin, Associate Aerospace, Defense and Security Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Pre-emptive strike capabilities is a constitutional option as it is interpreted as an act of defense abiding Article 9, which formally forbids Japan from acts of war. Including first-strike options as possible Aegis Ashore substitutes falls within Japan’s shift towards a proactive defense posture to neutralize threats offshore.”

Read more at: Spacewar


Ten Years Of The Sun In One Hour – NASA Releases Mesmerising Space Film

NASA has released a mesmerising timelapse video of the sun that condenses an entire solar cycle into an hour of footage, using images of the star taken every hour continuously over a decade.

Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has gathered 425 million high-resolution images of the sun, from its launch in February 2010 until June this year, which have now been stitched together to form the video.

While the 20 million gigabytes of picture data captured over the decade have contributed to “countless new discoveries about the workings” of the sun, according to Nasa, the images have now been arranged into a 61-minute video showing events including transiting planets and eruptions.

Read more at: Guardian

NASA Names Joel Montalbano International Space Station Program Manager

Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, has named Joel Montalbano as manager of the International Space Station Program. The appointment was effective June 29 following the June 26 retirement of Kirk Shireman, who held the position since 2015.

“Joel has the experience and leadership we need to guide the station program during this exciting and dynamic time of human spaceflight,” said Lueders. “We look forward to seeing Joel continue to make great contributions to the International Space Station and know he’ll do a great job leading the program.”

Read more at: NASA

Spaceport America CEO Dan Hicks Placed On Administrative Leave

Dan Hicks, CEO of Spaceport America since 2016, has been placed on administrative leave, the Las Cruces Sun-News learned Thursday.

New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Alicia Keyes, who chairs the New Mexico Spaceport Authority’s board of directors, confirmed Thursday that Hicks was on leave pending an investigation, but did not provide further details.

Hicks did not immediately respond to a query from the Sun-News.

He succeeded Christine Anderson, who served as the spaceport’s CEO from 2011 until her retirement.

Read more at: lcsun news

Author Louis Friedman’s New Book “Planetary Adventures: From Moscow To Mars” Is A Spellbinding Account Of His Working Visits Beyond The Iron Curtain

Louis Friedman is an engineer who received his PhD in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT, led advanced projects missions at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and served as longtime executive director of The Planetary Society, which he cofounded with Carl Sagan and Bruce Murray. Together they made it the largest space advocacy group in the world and the first private organization to send a payload to Mars. Louis has published his new book “Planetary Adventures: From Moscow to Mars”: a riveting memoir of his more than fifty trips to the Soviet Union in pursuit of a cooperative mission to Mars and other scientific objectives for the exploration of space.

As the Cold War was ending and the Soviet Union collapsed, Louis Friedman traveled to Russia more than 50 times. Between 1984 and 2005, he worked to advance international space cooperation to explore Mars and other worlds in our solar system.

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