Space Station Mishap Caused Orbiting Lab To Rotate 1 1/2 Times, NASA Says

The International Space Station spun around 1 1/2 times on its main axis last week when a new Russian segment of the orbiting platform malfunctioned, a NASA spokesman said, as new details emerged about the incident.

“Mission control got alerts on the ground at the same time astronauts got an alert that the attitude [position] of the space station was changing,” Dan Huot, a NASA public affairs officer, told UPI on Tuesday.

“The astronauts didn’t even know they were moving, because the motion was very slow, until they looked out the window and saw the Earth and stars moving.”

Read more at: Spacedaily

Impact Of Space Station Spin Requires Study, Official Says

Space engineers will analyze whether a glitch that caused the International Space Station to spin out of its normal orientation could have impacted any of its systems, a Russian space official said Wednesday.

Sergei Krikalev, the director of crewed space programs at the Russian space corporation Roscosmos, emphasized that last week’s incident did not inflict any observable damage to the space station but he said that experts would need to study its potential implications.

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Boeing’s Starliner Heads Back To Hangar After Valve Issue Thwarts Test Launch For NASA

Boeing’s Starliner capsule will trudge back inside for more checks after skipping a Tuesday launch attempt when indications suggested a problem with a valve in the vehicle’s propulsion system. Ground teams will roll the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket back into the Vertical Integration Facility at Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Thursday (Aug. 5), NASA confirmed in a statement. The move allows engineers to directly access the Starliner capsule, which officials hope will help them track down the elusive valve issue.

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Starliner Investigation Continues

Boeing is continuing its investigation into the thruster issue that delayed the launch of its CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle but could soon run into schedule conflicts on both the International Space Station and with its launch vehicle. In an Aug. 6 statement, Boeing said it was continuing to study why several valves in the propulsion system of the spacecraft were unexpectedly in the closed position during the countdown to the Aug. 3 launch attempt of the Orbital Flight Test (OFT) 2 mission, an uncrewed test flight. Boeing scrubbed the launch about three hours before the scheduled liftoff because of the problem.

Read more at: Spacenews

SpaceX Stacks Starship Atop Massive Booster For 1st Time To Make The World’s Tallest Rocket

SpaceX’s newest Starship prototype was briefly placed atop of its massive booster for the first time on Friday (Aug. 6), setting a new record for the world’s tallest rocket ahead of a planned orbital test flight this year. Engineers performed the stacking test at the SpaceX Starbase facility in South Texas, near the village of Boca Chica, in view of livestreams from NASA Spaceflight and SpaceX has not commented on the stacking procedure yet on Twitter, although founder Elon Musk sent an update suggesting the company actually wanted to complete the stacking Thursday (Aug. 5), a few hours after Starship completed its rollout to the launch pad, but winds were too high.

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The Explosive Growth Of The Satellite Business

If you have any doubt about the meteoric growth of the satellite industry, consider this: In 2019, there were ~2k high-tech devices orbiting the planet. Today, there are more than 6k By 2030, there will be an estimated 50k For decades, these extraterrestrial bodies were the preserve of governments and multi-billion-dollar firms like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and AT&T. Then, 3 things changed: Rocket launches got cheaper, Satellites got smaller, Data analysis software became more advanced. These shifts shepherded in a host of private players and led to an explosion of readily available, high-resolution satellite imagery.

Read more at: hustle

New Technology For Space Weather Monitoring From The Ground

The Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) RAL Space have awarded £131,000 to Lancaster University to design a prototype network of radiation detectors which will help with predicting and understanding space weather events. Space weather refers to disturbances in the upper atmosphere and space environment around the Earth, caused by activity at the Sun which can disrupt technology, including causing risks to safe aircraft operation, power outages, and satellite navigation errors.

The first international network of ground-level neutron monitors were established in 1957 but there are now only around 50 active stations worldwide and none in the UK. The funding will kick off a 12-month design phase during which a team from Lancaster University will design smaller, cheaper monitors.

Read more at: Ralspace

New Zealand and LeoLabs Sign Multiyear Deal for Space Regulatory Platform

LeoLabs and the New Zealand Space Agency (NZSA) are working together to develop a cloud-based software platform for monitoring space activity. New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment announced the multiyear deal Aug. 5, saying it would lead to “the world’s most advanced Space Regulatory and Sustainability Platform.”

LeoLabs, a Silicon Valley startup focused on monitoring activity in low Earth orbit, began developing the platform with the NZSA in 2019. In the past two years, LeoLabs and NZSA have moved from a prototype platform that tracks objects in low Earth orbit and ensures satellite operators are fulfilling commitments made when applying for launch licenses to a working model.

Read more at: Spacenews

Who’s Going To Fix The Space Junk Problem?

There are over 20,000 known and tracked pieces of space debris orbiting Earth, each one traveling at about 15,000 mph (24,000 km/h). They pose a risk to future space missions, and nobody is bothering to clean it up. Why? Because it’s too hard.

In the early 1960s, the U.S. military wanted to devise a new way of communicating with its forces around the globe. If an enemy severed undersea cables, they could only rely on bouncing radio signals off of the ionosphere, which was an unreliable method. The Cold War-era solution? A program called Project West Ford, a plan to launch 480 million tiny slivers of copper needles into space, giving Earth an artificial ionosphere and a reliable way to communicate.

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The Magnificent Seven: The Main UK Rocket Launch Sites & Their Benefits

The UK is the leading satellite manufacturer in Europe, but the country lacks a cluster of space launch services and UK rocket launch sites. The vast majority of British spacecraft are launched from US sites and the ESA-operated Kourou in French Guiana, South America.

To fill the gap and enter a lucrative market, in 2018, the British government and UKSA announced their support for a programme to build multiple launch sites across the country. The UK launch market is predicted to give a powerful boost to the British economy and increase its share in the international space industry from 6% to 10%.

Read more at: Orbital today


German Startups Launch Mini-Rocket Challenge To Spacex And Co.

Car-manufacturing powerhouse Germany is rushing to join the private sector space race as it looks to ride a boom in mini-launchers for small satellites and compete with major US firms such as SpaceX.

Three projects in particular are making Germany a serious player in the race to provide mini-launchers for the increasing number of small satellites which observe the Earth and provide connectivity for the internet of things and smart vehicles.

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Mystery Surrounds Chinese Private Rocket Launch Attempt

Chinese private firm iSpace conducted a launch of a Hyperbola-1 solid rocket early Tuesday but status of the mission remained unclear for hours after liftoff.

The Hyperbola-1 four-stage solid rocket lifted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert at around 3:50 a.m. Eastern (15:50 local time) August 3.

The launch was tacitly revealed ahead of time via airspace closure notices. The first signs of an issue with the launch came with the early deletion of amateur footage from Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo.

Read more at: Spacenews

Rocket Startup Astra To Launch Satellite For US Space Force This Month

The small-launch startup Astra will get a satellite to orbit for the first time this month, if all goes according to plan. The U.S. Space Force has booked two missions with Astra, the Bay Area company announced today (Aug. 5). The first flight will launch a test payload for the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, Alaska, during a window that runs from Aug. 27 through Sept. 11.

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Virgin Galactic Restarting Space Tickets From $450,000

After flying its founder Richard Branson to space, Virgin Galactic is restarting ticket sales beginning at $450,000, the company announced Thursday.

The new price is about double the $200,000 to $250,000 paid by around 600 people who previously booked seats on Virgin’s spaceship between 2005 and 2014, as the company looks to cash in on the success of last month’s fully-crewed test flight.

“We are excited to announce the reopening of sales effective today,” said CEO Michael Colglazier in a statement, with first dibs going to people on a waiting list.

Read more at: Spacedaily


A Lunar Magnetic Field May Have Lasted For Only A Short Time

A lunar magnetic field may not have just been short-lived; it may have persisted for only a blip in geologic time, a new study finds. Shortly after the moon formed about 4.5 billion years ago, it may have begun generating a magnetic field, a protective sheath that can deflect away charged particles from the sun (SN: 1/11/17). Now, analyses of moon rocks suggest that any lunar magnetic field was gone by at least 4 billion years ago, researchers report August 4 in Science Advances

Read more at: Sciencenews

Experiment Bound For Space Station Turns Down The Heat

NASA’s future missions to explore the Moon and Mars will require enormous amounts of electrical power and hardware to support astronauts and drive new technologies. This increase in power, however, also increases the amount of heat generated—and then that heat needs to be removed so all the spacecraft systems can function.

To remove heat efficiently and reduce the mass of the cooling system, NASA is investigating new methods of transferring heat in space. One of the most effective methods for removing heat from its source is flow boiling, a two-phase process that uses the heat to boil a moving liquid until it changes it into a vapor and then flows that vapor away from the source.

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China Rolls Out Extra-Large Tank Parts And Liquid Booster Engine For New Heavy-Lift Carrier Rocket

Experts have hailed the development of China’s super-heavy-lift Long March-9 carrier rocket as a milestone, as the country’s first 9.5-meter-diameter rocket tank bottom and the liquid booster engine were rolled out in recent days.

The breakthrough was made in Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei Province, by research teams from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

It has filled the gap in extra-large rocket tank products in the country’s aerospace industry, according to the China Space News on Wednesday, which is co-published by CASC and another industry giant China Academy of Space Technology.

Read more at: Globaltimes

Blue Origin’s Powerful BE-4 Engine Is More Than Four Years Late—Here’s Why

After more than four years of frustrating delays, Blue Origin is finally making significant progress toward completing development of its powerful BE-4 rocket engine. At present, engineers and technicians with the company are assembling the first two flight engines at Blue Origin’s main factory in Kent, Washington.

The company aspires to deliver these two flight engines to United Launch Alliance before the end of this year, although that increasingly appears to be a “stretch” goal. Delivery may slip into early 2022. And in order to make this deadline, Blue Origin plans to take the somewhat risky step of shipping the engines to its customer before completing full qualification testing.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Rocket Lab Shifts CAPSTONE Launch To New Zealand

A NASA smallsat mission to test the orbit that will be used by the lunar Gateway will launch from New Zealand and not Virginia as originally planned.

Rocket Lab announced Aug. 6 that it will launch the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) mission on an Electron rocket from its Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand in the fourth quarter. When Rocket Lab won the NASA contract to launch CAPSTONE in February 2020, it planned to launch the mission from its Launch Complex 2 at Wallops Island, Virginia.

Read more at: Spacenews


Space Norms and U.S. National Security: Leading on Space Debris

It has been a busy few months for human activity in space. There is a new rover on Mars sending back jaw-dropping pictures and data. In May, a piece of debris from a Chinese rocket weighing 21 metric tons hurtled uncontrolled into the Indian Ocean. And Richard Branson just took matters into his own hands, flying to the edge of space on a Virgin Galactic spaceplane with Jeff Bezos hot on his heels.

Nearly 50 years after the end of the last space race, the competition is back. America’s well-known economic and military dependence on open access to space is being challenged.

Read more at: warontherocks

Harris Selection of Chirag Parikh to Lead Space Council Wins Wide Praise

Vice President Kamala Harris has chosen Chirag Parikh to be Executive Secretary of the White House National Space Council. Harris chairs the Space Council, which will hold its first meeting under her leadership this fall. Parikh is very well known and respected in the space policy community and the announcement is being met with wide praise.

Parikh was the space policy point person on the White House National Security Council (NSC) during most of President Obama’s term. Obama, like his two immediate predecessors, decided not to constitute a National Space Council. Instead, national space policy was coordinated jointly through the NSC and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Space Force Should Make Its Case For Legal Changes To Help Launch Ranges: Lawmakers

A provision in a House version of the fiscal 2022 defense policy bill could help fast-track infrastructure improvements at the Space Force’s launch ranges and even change the relationship between the military and the burgeoning commercial rocket industry.

Lawmakers are considering granting Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond’s plea for more freedom to overhaul facilities, IT systems and other infrastructure at the Florida and California sites that send rockets with commercial and national security payloads to space.

Read more at: Airforce times

New Zealand And LeoLabs Sign Multiyear Deal For Space Regulatory Platform

LeoLabs and the New Zealand Space Agency (NZSA) are working together to develop a cloud-based software platform for monitoring space activity. New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment announced the multiyear deal Aug. 5, saying it would lead to “the world’s most advanced Space Regulatory and Sustainability Platform.”

LeoLabs, a Silicon Valley startup focused on monitoring activity in low Earth orbit, began developing the platform with the NZSA in 2019. In the past two years, LeoLabs and NZSA have moved from a prototype platform that tracks objects in low Earth orbit and ensures satellite operators are fulfilling commitments made when applying for launch licenses to a working model.

Read more at: Spacenews


USAF Optimistic About Hypersonic Missile Despite Failed Test

Despite last week’s failed hypersonic missile test, the U.S. Air Force remains hopeful that it will begin production of the new weapon by the end of fiscal year 2022, officials said.

The USAF is still investigating what went wrong during the test of the rocket propelling the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon. The rocket was successfully released but failed to ignite.

The USAF needs to successfully complete flight testing of the ARRW booster before the service inks a contract with manufacturer Lockheed Martin, which is targeted for fiscal year 2022.

Read more at: Spacewar

Military Communications Payloads Could Hitchhike On Future GPS Satellites

The next generation of Global Positioning System satellites could host additional payloads to provide communications services, the U.S. Space Force said in a request for information.

The RFI issued last month by the Space and Missile Systems Center asks contractors to pitch ideas for hosting communications payloads on GPS 3F satellites, the newest version of GPS currently being developed by Lockheed Martin.

GPS satellites provide positioning, navigation and timing data. The Space Force is now deploying GPS 3 satellites. The first of the more advanced GPS 3F version is projected to launch in 2026. These new satellites will have more room and power to support hosted payloads.

Read more at: Spacenews

Milley: New Technologies Key To Deterring Aggressors, Winning Future Wars

Army Gen. Mark Milley said mastering emerging technologies is key to deterring aggressors and winning future wars.

The chairman of the Joints of Chiefs of Staff made the remarks at the Navy League of the United States’ Sea-Air-Space Global Maritime Exposition at National Harbor, Md., on Monday.

Milley cited emerging technologies as crucial to prevent or win wars if deterrence fails, including artificial intelligence, long-range precision fires, hypersonics, unmanned systems, biotechnology, 3-D printing and miniature electronic companies.

Read more at: Spacewar


The Nauka Incident: Deja Vu All Over Again In Space

“How close the station had come to disaster is an open question, and the flight director humorously alluded to it in a later tweet that he’d never been so happy as when he saw on external TV cameras that the solar arrays and radiators were still standing straight in place. And any excessive bending stress along docking interfaces between the Russian and American segments would have demanded quick leak checks. But even if the rotation was “simple,” the undeniably dramatic event has both short term and long-term significance for the future of the space station. And it has antecedents dating back to the very birth of the ISS in 1997.”

Read more at: NASA watch

Could We Really Terraform Mars?

Almost every sci-fi story begins (and sometimes ends) with the terraforming of Mars to turn it into a more hospitable world. But with its frigid temperatures, remoteness from the sun and general dustiness, changing Mars to be more Earth-like is more challenging than it seems (and it already seems pretty tough).

The thing is, Mars used to be cool. And by cool, I mean warm. Billions of years ago, Mars had a thick, carbon-rich atmosphere, lakes and oceans of liquid water, and probably even white fluffy clouds. And this was at a time when our sun was smaller and weaker, but occasionally much more violent than it is today — in other words, our solar system is a much more favorable place for life now than it was 3 billion years ago, and yet Mars is red and dead.

Read more at: Livescience

Want to Pretend to Live on Mars? For a Whole Year? Apply Now

Want to find your inner Matt Damon and spend a year pretending you are isolated on Mars? NASA has a job for you.

To prepare for eventually sending astronauts to Mars, NASA began taking applications Friday for four people to live for a year in Mars Dune Alpha. That’s a 1,700-square-foot Martian habitat, created by a 3D-printer, and inside a building at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The paid volunteers will work a simulated Martian exploration mission complete with spacewalks, limited communications back home, restricted food and resources and equipment failures.

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Ike Would Like the New Private Space Race

Dwight D. Eisenhower, the five-star general and 34th president who was honored in 2020 with a new memorial in Washington, would watch keenly the latest Space Race, which capitalizes on private enterprise’s ingenuity and financial heft.  Within just ten days, billionaires Richard Branson of Britain and Jeff Bezos of the U.S. launched themselves beyond the earth’s atmosphere, touching the fringes of outer space.  Their flirtations with space attracted worldwide attention and generated speculation that more commercial companies—including Elon Musk’s SpaceX—will hurl humans to the heavens. 

Read more at: hnn

Democratize Space? Not Oppressive Virgin Galactic

The Albuquerque Journal recently published spectacular photos of Sir Richard Branson’s historic flight to space from Spaceport America in southern New Mexico.

Journal photographer Roberto E. Rosales skillfully captured everything, using a telephoto lens to snap iconic photos of Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, as he waved to the crowd from the Land Rover that drove him across the tarmac to board the VSS Unity spaceship. He also photographed the moment that the Unity separated in midair from the mothership VMS Eve and fired its rockets to shoot into suborbit. And he captured the unbridled joy of the Unity flight team back on the tarmac waving bottles of Champagne.

Read more at: ABQjournal

Can the U.S. and China Cooperate in Space?

Will collaboration or competition define international space science and exploration in the 21st century? The answer could come down to how two spaceflight superpowers, the U.S. and China, choose to engage with each other in the next few years.

The U.S. remains the global leader in space by most metrics, but China is methodically advancing its own ambitious space agenda at a quickening pace, blueprinting and carrying out a succession of robotic interplanetary forays to destinations such as the asteroid belt and Jupiter, as well as a sample-return mission to Mars.

Read more at: Scientific American

Modern Civilization Would Be Lost Without GPS

Aircraft, cars, trucks, trains and ships rely on GPS for location data, while GPS timing signals underpin cellular communications and financial transactions.

A 2019 report sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology estimated the loss of GPS would cost the U.S. economy $1 billion a day, or $1.5 billion if the technology failed in the April-May planting season for farmers. Two years later, the costs could be even higher with the sharp rise in consumer solutions and location-based rideshare and delivery services.

Read more at: Spacenews

Blue Origin Has A New Publicity Strategy: Posting Salty Graphics That Trash Competitors Like SpaceX And Virgin Galactic

Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Jeff Bezos in 2000, is being salty online after NASA snubbed it for a contract to land astronauts on the moon. Instead, NASA chose SpaceX to put the first boots on the lunar surface since 1972. It awarded the company, which Elon Musk founded in 2002, an exclusive contract to turn its Starship vehicle into a lunar lander.

In response, Blue Origin called Starship “immensely complex and high-risk” and said NASA made the “wrong” decision. The company recently updated its website to include a graphic that compares Starship unfavorably to Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lunar lander.

Read more at: Business insider

Statements on Swearing in of Margaret Vo Schaus as NASA CFO

The following are statements from Margaret Vo Schaus, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy on Wednesday’s swearing in of Vo Schaus as NASA’s Chief Financial Officer:

“I am honored to be sworn in by Administrator Bill Nelson, and I am grateful to President Biden for the opportunity to oversee NASA’s budget and help carry out the agency’s groundbreaking missions,” Vo Schaus said. “The budget is more than just financial management – it is crucial to supporting the world’s most talented workforce and maintaining mission support. I will uphold the agency’s values in our efforts to create educational opportunities, combat climate change, build back better, and venture out farther into the cosmos than ever before. As a first-generation American, I am honored to join the Biden-Harris Administration and serve a country that has given my family so much. I am deeply grateful to my parents who, as Vietnamese refugees, overcame innumerable hurdles so their children could pursue the American dream. I wouldn’t be here today without their sacrifices.”

Read more at: Spaceref

Senior NASA Employee Sentenced for COVID-19 Related Loan Fraud

A Senior Executive Service (SES) employee of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for submitting fraudulent applications for over $350,000 in COVID-19 economic relief loans and benefits.

“While serving in a high-ranking position at NASA, this defendant used the identities of others to carry out a brazen scheme in which he exploited taxpayer-funded programs during the global pandemic for his own personal benefit,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This case serves as another example of EDVA’s commitment to pursuing justice against those who attempt to take advantage of essential programs that are intended for deserving community members.”

Read more at: Spaceref

NASA Investigates Renaming James Webb Telescope After Anti-LGBT+ Claims

NASA is considering whether to rename its flagship astronomical observatory, given reports alleging that James Webb, after whom it is named, was involved in persecuting gay and lesbian people during his career in government. Keeping his name on the US$8.8-billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) — set to launch later this year — would glorify bigotry and anti-LGBT+ sentiment, say some astronomers. But others say there is not yet enough evidence against Webb, who was head of NASA from 1961 to 1968, and they are withholding judgement until the agency has finished an internal investigation.

Read more at: Nature