A Rocket Booster And A Dead Satellite Avoided A Collision Thursday, Illustrating The ‘Ticking Time Bomb’ Of Space Debris

It appears that a dead Soviet satellite narrowly missed a Chinese rocket stage Thursday night as they sped hundreds of miles above the Earth’s surface, another in a series of close calls for junk whizzing around in orbit.

Throughout the space community there was widespread concern over a worst-case scenario — that shortly before 9 p.m. Eastern the objects would collide, creating a massive debris field, adding even more pollution to space that could last decades, according to LeoLabs, a California-based company that tracks debris for satellite companies.

Read more at: Washington post

FAA Cuts The Red Tape For Commercial Rocket Launches (And Landings, Too)

Commercial space is about to become more accessible than ever before.

Today (Oct. 15), the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) announced that it has published a new launch and re-entry rule known as the Streamlined Launch and Re-entry Licensing Regulation-2 (SLR2). The new rule aims to increase launch and reentry access for commercial space companies while maintaining safety.

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Cosmonauts Patch Small Air Leak On International Space Station: Reports

Cosmonauts are making progress in the fight against the small air leak that has beleaguered the International Space Station for months, according to Russian reports.

The leak was first detected in September 2019 but was too low a priority for NASA and Roscosmos to address until August of this year given the short staffing and high activity rates at the orbiting laboratory, according to a previous statement from the U.S. space agency.

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Soyuz Launch Marks End Of An Era For NASA

A Soyuz spacecraft launched to the International Space Station Oct. 14 on what will likely be the last mission where NASA pays Russia for a seat, but not necessarily the last time NASA astronauts fly on the spacecraft.

The Soyuz-2.1a rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 1:45 a.m. Eastern, placing the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft into orbit nine minutes later. The spacecraft, making an “ultra-fast” two-orbit approach, docked with the station’s Rassvet module at 4:48 a.m. Eastern.

Read more at: Spacenews


Inside Sierra Nevada Corp’s Space Plans, From The Reusable ‘Dream Chaser’ To Inflatable Habitats

Sierra Nevada Corporation is best known as a private aerospace and national security contractor – but the company is investing heavily in its space systems division, especially as it sees NASA and other companies building infrastructure in orbit.

“Our view of the future is a vibrant, commercial low Earth orbit economy,” Steve Lindsey, SNC’s senior vice president of strategy space systems, told CNBC. “We want to be the logistics and crew providers in that future, so we’re really playing the long game.”

Read more at: CNBC

Brands are Changing Space

Space — once the purview of only the wealthiest and most technologically advanced nations — is now open to brands, private citizens and commercial companies, all at NASA’s urging.

The big picture: The commercialization of spaceflight has flung open the door to branding and marketing in space that will change everyone’s relationship with the cosmos.

Soon, space may no longer be a relatively pristine environment where only specially trained individuals with a particular skill set can live and work.

Read more at: Axios

Branson’s Virgin Orbit Aims To Redo Launch Demo In December, As It Seeks $150 Million In New Capital

Sir Richard Branson’s small satellite launch specialist Virgin Orbit is looking to bounce back from the failure of its first demonstration launch in May, aiming to fly its next demo mission in December.

Virgin Orbit, which uses a modified Boeing 747 aircraft to launch its rockets, diagnosed the failure to a high-pressure fuel line in the engine, which caused the rocket to shut down shortly after launching. But the company is nearly finished testing the rocket that will fly the second demo mission with a modified engine.

Read more at: CNBC

A Spanish Startup Wants To Challenge Blue Origin, SpaceX, And Virgin Galactic By Taking Tourists To The Edge Of Space In Balloons

From Virgin Galactic to Blue Origin and SpaceX, a number of aerospace businesses want to break into space tourism. But British and American companies aren’t the only ones on the scene.

EOS-X Space, a Spanish startup, wants to take 10,000 people to the frontier of space within the next 10 years.

With EOS-X Space, the journeys won’t be in rockets or ultrasonic planes. They’ll instead take place in a pressurized capsule propelled by a balloon that will rise to an altitude of up to 40 kilometers, or nearly 25 miles.

Read more at: Business Insider


The Current State Of Space Debris

Since the beginning of the space age in 1957, tonnes of rockets, spacecraft and instruments have been launched to space. Initially, there was no plan for what to do with them at the end of their lives. Since then, numbers have continued to increase and explosions and collisions in space have created hundreds of thousands of shards of dangerous debris.

“The biggest contributor to the current space debris problem is explosions in orbit, caused by left-over energy – fuel and batteries – onboard spacecraft and rockets. Despite measures being in place for years to prevent this, we see no decline in the number of such events. Trends towards end-of-mission disposal are improving, but at a slow pace,” explains Holger Krag, Head of the Space Safety Programme.

Read more at: ESA

Upper Stages Top List Of Most Dangerous Space Debris

While launch providers are doing a better job at disposing of upper stages left behind in orbit, rocket bodies still constitute the most dangerous pieces of orbital debris.

The European Space Agency released Oct. 12 its annual Space Environment Report, the agency’s assessment of orbital debris. The report identifies more than 25,000 tracked objects, including satellites, upper stages and debris.

Read more at: Spacenews

Could A Superflare Happen On Our Sun?

In recent years, astronomers probing the edges of the Milky Way have observed very strong explosions on stars, which they’ve dubbed “superflares,” that have energies up to 10,000 times that of typical solar flares.

Superflares happen when stars – for reasons that scientists still don’t understand- eject huge bursts of energy that can be seen from hundreds of light years away. Until recently, researchers assumed that such explosions occurred mostly on stars that, unlike Earth’s sun, were young and active.

Read more at: Earthsky


Successful Final Test Firing Of The P120C Solid Rocket Motor For Ariane 6 And Vega-C

The P120C was successfully tested for the third time on October 7, at Europe’s Spaceport solid rocket motor test bench operated by the French Space Agency (CNES). This third successful test, carried out in the Ariane 6 configuration, paves the way for final qualification by the European Space Agency (ESA). The first and second tests on July 16, 2018, and January 28, 2019 were also successful.

The P120C motor is co-developed by ArianeGroup and Avio, through their 50/50 joint venture Europropulsion. The P120C program is managed and funded by the European Space Agency

Read more at: Ariane

‘Self-Eating’ Rocket Whets Funders’ Appetite For Development

A ‘self-eating’ rocket engine which aims to put small payloads into orbit by burning its own structure as propellant has won financial support from the UK Government.

The Defence & Security Accelerator (DASA), part of the Ministry of Defence, has pledged £90,000 for further development of the autophage engine, which is being built at the University of Glasgow’s James Watt School of Engineering. The development team hope that this new rocket could create launch opportunities at the spaceports emerging across the northern regions of the UK.

Read more at: Uni of Glasgow

NASA Makes A Significant Investment In On-Orbit Spacecraft Refueling

NASA has reached an agreement with 14 US companies to develop technologies that will enable future modes of exploration in space and on the surface of the Moon. NASA says the value of these awards for “Tipping Point” technologies is more than $370 million.

With these awards, the space agency is leaning heavily into technologies related to the collection, storage, and transfer of cryogenic propellants in space. Four of the awards, totaling more than $250 million, will go to companies specifically for “cryogenic fluid management” tech demonstrations

Read more at: Arstechnica

All Engines For Ariane 6 Complete Qualification Tests

All three engines developed to power Europe’s future Ariane 6 rocket have completed extensive tests – the P120C solid rocket motor for the boosters, the Vulcain 2.1 engine for the core stage and the Vinci for the upper stage. Ariane 6 in the four-booster version will stand 63m tall, will weigh 900 tonnes and have the liftoff power equivalent to 12 Airbus A380 engines roaring at takeoff.

Read more at: ESA

Researchers Synthesize Room Temperature Superconducting Material

Compressing simple molecular solids with hydrogen at extremely high pressures, University of Rochester engineers and physicists have, for the first time, created material that is superconducting at room temperature.

Featured as the cover story in the journal Nature, the work was conducted by the lab of Ranga Dias, an assistant professor of physics and mechanical engineering.

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NASA Selects Proposals To Demonstrate In-Space Refueling And Propellant Depot Tech

NASA has selected 14 companies for contracts of more than $370 million to advance technology for human missions to the moon and Mars. Most of the money will support flight demonstrations by SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, and other companies that could lead to in-space refueling and propellant depots for reusable lunar landers and deep space transportation vehicles.

The bulk of “Tipping Point” awards announced Wednesday will allow NASA to pay companies to perform technology demonstrations in space, following similar awards in previous years that focused on component development and ground testing.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Demonstrator Masters Flight Sequences For Reusable Rocket Stages

This 60 kg platform has landing legs and is powered by a turbo jet 0.9 kN-class engine. It is capable of carrying payloads totalling 5 kg.

The demonstrator technology vehicle (DTV) was tested this summer at INCAS in Bucharest. Tethers were used as a safety measure and to protect it from damage in case of an equipment failure during flight. Manoeuvres lasted ten seconds to a couple of minutes.

Read more at: ESA


NASA Advances Plan To Commercialize International Space Station

The planned launch of a private commercial airlock to the International Space Station in November will accelerate NASA’s plan to turn the station into a hub of private industry, space agency officials said.

The commercialization plan also includes the launch of a private habitat and laboratory by 2024 and a project NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced on Twitter in May in which actor Tom Cruise will film a movie in space.

Read more at: UPI

FAA, DoD To Harmonize Safety Rules For Commercial Space Launch

The Transportation and Defense departments are close to finalizing a new memorandum of understanding to ensure consistency between safety regulations at military and civil space launch ranges, says Wayne Monteith, FAA’s associate administrator for commercial space transportation.

The agreement, he told reporters today, will be incorporated in a new FAA ground facility safety policy that is nearing completion as well.

Read more at: Breaking defense

The Space Treaty Project

Welcome to The Space Treaty Project. The mission of the Project is to give people Hope and Inspiration by helping the nations of the Earth to build a Common Future.

At this moment in history, the best way to do that is by building an international framework of laws that will support public and private activity in outer space. By extending the rule of law into space, we can achieve the twin goals of peaceful cooperation and sustainable development.

Read more at: Space treaty

Legal Standards Of Space Tourism: Clarifying The Status Of Space Tourists As Astronauts

Space tourism may as well be rocket science. This article recognize the inherent complexities and limitations of commercial space travel as well as the contemporary interest of civilians in exploring outer space for recreational purposes. It interrogate the laws vis-a-vis imperative measures needed to regulate orbital, suborbital and lunar flights which are the basic types of space tourism. This article further juxtaposes and analyzes the status of space tourists as well as the disparities in affiliating space tourists as astronauts and envoys of mankind within the meaning of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty (OST).

Read more at: spacelegal issues

Imagining Safety Zones: Implications And Open Questions

In May, NASA announced its intent to “establish a common set of principles to govern the civil exploration and use of outer space” referred to as the Artemis Accords.[1,2] The Accords were released initially as draft principles, to be developed and implemented through a series of bilateral agreements with international partners.

The Accords offer the possibility to advance practical implementations of long-held principles in the Outer Space Treaty (OST). They raise a rich set of policy questions as we begin to take the law into new levels of resolution. This bold pursuit of uncharted territories is to be applauded, and yet, there is also the risk of diverging from 53 years of international law.

Read more at: Spacereview

8 Nations Sign US-Led Artemis Accords For Moon Exploration And Beyond

NASA’s moon-exploring coalition is starting to come together.

Eight nations have signed the Artemis Accords, a set of principles outlining the responsible exploration of Earth’s nearest neighbor, NASA officials announced today (Oct. 13). 

The path is now clear for those eight nations — Australia, Canada, Japan, Luxembourg, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and (unsurprisingly) the U.S. — to participate in NASA’s Artemis program of crewed lunar exploration.

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This Is What “War In Space” Probably Would Look Like In The Near Future

The creation of the US Space Force has conjured up all manner of fanciful notions about combat in space. Will military satellites act like X-wings and Tie Fighters, zipping around and shooting at one another? Or perhaps will larger ships akin to the USS Enterprise fire photon torpedoes at enemy warbirds?

Hardly. But even those with more realistic expectations for what could happen if nations went to war in space—perhaps satellites using orbital kinetic weapons to attack other satellites?—may not fully appreciate the physics of space combat. That’s the conclusion of a new report that investigates what is physically and practically possible when it comes to space combat.

Read more at: Arstechnica

A Second Life for a Defunct Billion-Dollar Weather Satellite

Weather satellites provide more than just a pretty animating backdrop behind the forecaster during a weather broadcast.

These multi-billion dollar complex pieces of machinery are over-engineered to overcome many obstacles once in orbit. Because once they’re in orbit 23,000 miles away, there’s no way to fix or upgrade them.

Read more at: spectrumlocalnews


Long March 3B lofts Gaofen-13

China launched a new geostationary remote sensing satellite from the renovated Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Sunday. A Long March-3B/G3 (Y3) – Chang Zheng-3B/G3 – rocket orbited the Gaofen-13 satellite, lifting off from the LC2 pad at 16:57 UTC.

The new satellite, possibly an improved version of the CAST developed Gaofen-4 orbited on December 28, 2015, is being designated as a high-orbit optical remote sensing satellite to be mainly used for land survey, crop yield estimation, environmental management, weather warning and forecast, and comprehensive disaster prevention and mitigation, providing information services for national economic development.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

Japan, India Set To Resume Launch Activities In November

Japan and India are preparing for a resumption of launch activities in a year heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Speaking during a Heads of Agencies panel at the International Astronautical Congress Oct. 12,K. Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C49 (PSLV C49) is being prepared for launch in early November. 

Read more at: Spacenews

Blue Origin’s New Shepard Rocket Aces Record 7th Launch, Landing In Test Flight

Blue Origin successfully launched its New Shepard rocket on an uncrewed test flight over West Texas today (Oct. 13).

The uncrewed New Shepard launch vehicle, which consists of a reusable rocket and space capsule, lifted off from the company’s West Texas launch facility at 8:36 a.m. CDT (9:36 a.m. EDT; 1336 GMT). After separating from the rocket booster, the capsule gently parachuted back down to Earth while the booster executed a flawless vertical landing. 

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Inmarsat Government’s Rebecca Cowen-Hirsch elected to Space Enterprise Consortium Executive Committee

Inmarsat, the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications, today announced that Rebecca Cowen-Hirsch, Senior Vice President for Government Strategy and Policy, was named to the Space Enterprise Consortium’s Executive Committee. Cowen-Hirsch will serve a two-year term on the Executive Committee, beginning on October 1, 2020.

The Space Enterprise Consortium is a collection of industry leaders, academic research institutions and innovative early-stage and non-traditional companies working together to build partnerships between the commercial industry, the civil space sector and the U.S. government.

Read more at: Inmarsat

AAS Announces 2020 Ordway Award Recipients

The American Astronautical Society (AAS) is pleased to announce the winners of its 2020 Ordway Award. The Ordway Award is named in memory of Frederick I. Ordway III (1927-2014), human spaceflight advocate and chronicler of the history of rocketry and space travel. The award recognizes exceptional, sustained efforts to inform and educate on spaceflight and its history through one or more media. The award is managed by the History Committee of the AAS. 

Read more at: astronautical


New Space Research, Exploration Certificate For Undergraduates

Design and construction of launch vehicles, spacecrafts, space stations, rovers, landers and planning mission operations, are potential careers offered in Earth and space exploration fields. To equip undergraduate students in the basic principles of space research and exploration, faculty at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa developed a new certificate in earth and planetary exploration technology (EPET).

Inspiration for the new certificate came from faculty at Hawaiʻi Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) and the Hawaiʻi Space Flight Laboratory teaching in other undergraduate departments at UH Mānoa.

Read more at: Hawaii