Roscosmos Says Premature To Blame External Impact For Crack Aboard Space Station

Specialists continue studying the fracture found in Russia’s Zvezda module of the International Space Station (ISS) but it is premature to blame a possible external impact for its emergence, the federal space agency Roscosmos told TASS on Friday.

“Specialists are currently considering various versions of the fracture’s origin and that is why it is premature to make conclusions about its causes, including an external impact on the module,” Roscosmos said.

Read more at: TASS

SpaceX Traces Engine Problem To Blocked Valve Ahead Of November Crew Launch

SpaceX is replacing two engines on the Falcon 9 booster set to launch four astronauts next month on the company’s first operational Crew Dragon flight to the International Space Station, following an investigation that revealed a subcontractor failed to adequately clean out narrow vent ports on multiple engines across the company’s fleet, officials said Wednesday.

NASA and SpaceX officials said they are working toward a target launch date of Nov. 14 for the Crew Dragon mission, which will take off on top of a Falcon 9 rocket from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Chinese Spacecraft Set For Mars Landing In May: State Media

A Chinese spacecraft is expected to land on Mars in May, state-run media reported on Thursday, citing a space agency official.

The spacecraft, which left Earth in July, is set to land in Utopia Planitia, a plain in the northern hemisphere of Mars, the China News Service reported, citing Liu Tongjie, spokesman for the Mars mission.

Separate spacecraft launched by the United States and the United Arab Emirates this year are also en route to Mars, though only the U.S. one will attempt a landing.

Read more at: Reuters

With Turbopump Issues “Sorted Out,” BE-4 Rocket Engine Moves Into Production

Blue Origin appears to have solved some development issues related to the turbopumps in its powerful BE-4 rocket engine.

United Launch Alliance Chief Executive Tory Bruno said Friday that the problem was “sorted out,” and that the full-scale, flight-configured BE-4 engine is now accumulating a lot of time on the test stand. Bruno made his comments about one hour into The Space Show with David Livingston.

Read more at: Arstechnica

China Focus: 18 Reserve Astronauts Selected For China’s Manned Space Program

China’s manned space program has entered the mission preparation stage with the selection of a new group of 18 reserve astronauts. According to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), the reserve astronauts, including one female, have been selected recently from 2,500 candidates. Among them are seven spacecraft pilots, seven space flight engineers and four payload experts.

Flight engineers and payload experts have been selected for the first time as reserve astronauts to meet China’s space station construction needs.

Read more at: Spacedaily


Spain’s Space Balloon Race Turns Ugly

Many people dream of going into space, but the $250,000 price tag for a Virgin Galactic flight and the risks associated with riding a rocket blast can be off-putting.

Luckily, there may be a more accessible way to experience space — a gentle 2-hour helium balloon ascent to 36km above the Earth, where you can already see the blue marble curvature of the Earth and enter the inky blackness of space.

Read more at: sifted

D-Orbit Satellite Carrier Delivers Planet SuperDoves to Desired Orbits

D-Orbit of Italy demonstrated the first commercial last-mile delivery service when it finished a two-month campaign Oct. 28, dropping off 12 Planet SuperDove Earth-imaging satellites in orbit.

“Many people talk about this upcoming market of in-orbit transportation or last-mile delivery, filling the gap between the drop off condition provided by the launch vehicle and the target orbit relevant for the operational or business purposes of the end users,” Renato Panesi, D-Orbit chief commercial officer, told SpaceNews.

Read more at: Spacenews

Rocket Lab Successfully Launches 15th Mission, Deploys Satellites for Planet, Canon Electronics Inc.

Rocket Lab, a space systems company and the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has successfully launched its 15th Electron mission and deployed Earth-imaging satellites for Planet and Spaceflight Inc. customer Canon Electronics. The mission was Rocket Lab’s fifth for this year, making Electron the second-most frequently flown U.S. launch vehicle in 2020.

The ‘In Focus’ mission launched from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula at 21:21 UTC, 28 October 2020.

Read more at: rocketlab usa


Solar Cycle 25: the Sun Wakes Up

Experts on the Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel recently announced that the Sun has officially entered a new cycle, its 25th since we’ve had enough data to reliably recognise them. While we can expect space weather to get more exciting in the next few years, with peak sunspot activity expected in 2025, the panel came to the consensus that this next cycle will be very similar to the previous, both generally weaker than the average solar cycle.

Read more at: ESA

Launchspace to Test Debris Collection Payload on ISS Bartolomeo Platform

Launchspace Technologies Corp. announced a contract Oct. 28 with Airbus to test its Orbital Debris Collection and Spacecraft Shielding payload for 12 months on the International Space Station Bartolomeo platform.

For the test scheduled to begin in 2022, Launchspace plans to gather data from the Bartolomeo platform with Debris Impact Pads equipped with sensors to record the impact, force and orbital location of debris on the ISS.

Rad more at: Spacenews

Interview | FCC Chairman Pai On RDOF, Megaconstellations, Debris Rules And C-Band Auction

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s recent run of space-related regulatory actions has earned the agency both praise and scorn from the space industry.

Streamlined licensing procedures adopted earlier this year promise to make it cheaper for smallsat ventures to launch commercial operations, with at least one U.S. startup crediting the FCC’s regulatory relief for its decision to remain a domestic venture.

However, stricter orbital debris mitigation regulations drafted this spring met with stiff industry resistance, prompting the FCC to defer action on some of the more controversial rules.

Read more at: Spacenews

SpaceX Executive Pitches Starship For Space Debris Cleanup

SpaceX could use its Starship vehicles to clear out space debris in Earth orbit, alongside the program’s more publicized purpose of ferrying people and cargo to the moon and Mars, a company executive said.

Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, said the company’s next-generation Starship program could help solve the problem of space junk.

“Starship is an extraordinary new vehicle capability,” Shotwell said in a discussion posted online Oct. 22 by Time. Shotwell was named as one of Time’s 100 most influential people of 2020.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now


Rockets Need Intelligence Booster, Say Engineers

Chinese space engineers have begun to test technologies that they hope will help to make their carrier rockets smarter.

Cheng Xing, a designer at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in Beijing, said analyses on failed launch missions have shown that some of previous problems could have been prevented if the rockets involved had been more intelligent.

Currently, all rockets in China fly in accordance with a preset trajectory and maneuvers, and are unable to respond to emergencies.

Read more at: Spacedaily

China Outlines Architecture For Future Crewed Moon Landings

China has outlined a proposed architecture for getting astronauts to the moon and back as part of plans for long-term lunar exploration.

A presentation at the 2020 China Space Conference in September details infrastructure including a new launch vehicle, new-generation spacecraft and a lunar lander, along with a potential lunar orbit module and crewed roving vehicle.

Read more at: Spacenews

US Official Hints At Nuclear-Powered Rocket For NASA’s Mars Mission

Is the US space agency NASA planning a nuclear-powered rocket for its manned mission to Mars? Looks like it is, going by hints dropped by the US Energy Secretary, Dan Brouillette. (The US Office of Science is part of the US Department of Energy.)

“If we want to engage in outer space, or deep space as we call it, we have to rely upon nuclear fuels to get us there,” Brouillette said last week, in a conversation with Daniel Yergin, Vice-Chairman, IHS Markit, a consultancy.

Read more at: Hindu businessline

Russia Completes Concept Design Of Rocket For Flights To Mars

Russia’s Makeyev State Rocket Center, known for its prospective Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), has designed the concept of Leader, a super-heavy space rocket to be used for missions to the Moon and Mars, according to the company’s documents obtained by TASS.

In line with the document, the company registered “the concept of creating a family of super-heavy rockets on the basis of the Leader rocket.”

Read more at: TASS

Lunar Water Discovery May Have Limited Effect On NASA Exploration Plans

Water ice may be more prevalent on the surface of the moon that previously thought, but that discovery appears unlikely to have any near-term effect on NASA’s lunar exploration plans.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy Oct. 26, scientists reported detecting traces of water in the crater Clavius on the near side of the moon using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aircraft. SOFIA detected an infrared emission feature at a wavelength of 6 microns consistent with water on the surface in the vicinity of the crater.

Read more at: Spacenews

ESA Seeking Dust-Proof Materials For Lunar Return

When humans return to the Moon they’ll have formidable challenge lying in wait: lunar dust. The talcum-like lunar regolith is considered the biggest operational problem facing Moon colonists. Within a few days of dust exposure, Apollo spacesuits suffered obscured visors, clogged mechanisms and eroded suit layers. So an ESA team is looking into novel material options to serve as the basis of future spacesuits or protect rovers or fixed infrastructure.

Read more at: ESA

“Fireball” Meteorite Contains Pristine Extraterrestrial Organic Compounds

On the night of January 16, 2018, a fireball meteor streaked across the sky over the Midwest and Ontario before landing on a frozen lake in Michigan. Scientists used weather radar to find where the pieces landed and meteorite hunters were able to collect the meteorite quickly, before its chemical makeup got changed by exposure to liquid water. And, as a new paper in Meteoritics & Planetary Science shows, that gave scientists a glimpse of what space rocks are like when they’re still in outer space–including a look at pristine organic compounds that could tell us about the origins of life.

Read more at: Eurekalert

Aerospace Corp. Calls For Collaboration In Space Solar Power

The Aerospace Corp. is calling for the U.S. government to work with industry and international partners to develop space solar power technologies.

The concept of space solar power “evolved over a very long time and is probably a couple of generations away from being hooked into the terrestrial power grid,” James Vedda, senior policy analyst in the Aerospace Corp. Center for Space Policy and Strategy, said during an Oct. 27 media briefing.

Read more at: Spacenews

Geologists Simulate Soil Conditions To Help Grow Plants On Mars

Humankind’s next giant step may be onto Mars. But before those missions can begin, scientists need to make scores of breakthrough advances, including learning how to grow crops on the red planet.

Practically speaking, astronauts cannot haul an endless supply of topsoil through space. So University of Georgia geologists are figuring out how best to use the materials already on the planet’s surface.

To do that, they developed artificial soil mixtures that mimic materials found on Mars.

Read more at: Marsdaily


House Space Force Caucus Co-Chair Voices Concern About Orbital Debris, Supports Commerce Assuming Debris-Tracking Role

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), a co-chair of the recently established House Space Force Caucus, said Oct. 28 that orbital debris is a major threat to a prosperous space economy and that better space situational awareness is crucial to protecting the sector.

“I think space debris and situational awareness, the need to deconflict, is a huge thing,” said Lamborn, who is also a member of the House Armed Services Committee, when asked during a Politico Live webcast to name the biggest obstacles to a flourishing space economy.

Read more at: Spacenews

NASA-ESA Agreement A Milestone In Efforts To Develop Artemis International Partnerships

While NASA and the European Space Agency hailed an agreement this week to work together on the lunar Gateway, both agencies have work ahead to establish international cooperation on the overall Artemis program of human lunar exploration.

NASA and ESA announced Oct. 27 that they had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate on the lunar Gateway.

Read more at: Spacenews

India and the US are Expanding Their Space Cooperation

The third India-U.S. 2+2 strategic dialogue, with the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries, has just concluded. The joint statement issued at the end of the dialogue is a remarkable and significant one. Space cooperation has usually not featured prominently in discussions between the two sides, yet the joint statement noted the agreement among the four ministers to start cooperation on a specific agenda within the broad space domain – Space Situational Awareness (SSA). The importance of SSA cannot be overemphasized given its utility in ensuring safe, secure, and sustainable use of outer space.

Read more at: orfonline

Canada Decides It Wants To Be A Launching State

The Government of Canada has made the decision that it wants to be a launching state. The day that rockets carrying satellites to orbit and beyond from Canadian soil is now closer than its ever been.

On Tuesday, October 27, the CASI ASTRO 2020 virtual series continued with a panel discussion on regulatory modernization. The panel was originally scheduled for CASI ASTRO 2020 in-person conference which was scheduled for May but was postponed due to the pandemic.

Read more at: SpaceQ

Moon Mining Rush: Russia To Draw UN’s Attention To US Plans To Grab Lunar Resources

The issue of the US intention to extract mineral resources on the Moon will be discussed at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly at Russia’s request, the State Space Corporation Roscosmos told TASS on Tuesday.

“Yes, it [Roscosmos] is planning to,” the space agency said, responding to a question about Russia’s plans to raise this issue at the UN.

Read more at: TASS

FCC Approves Oneweb Sale As Starlink Begins Public Beta

The Federal Communications Commission approved the sale of OneWeb to the British government and Bharti Global Oct. 27, as rival SpaceX started a public beta test of its Starlink system.

In a public notice, the FCC announced it has approved the transfer of OneWeb’s satellite and ground station licenses to its new owners as the company seeks to exit its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. OneWeb requested the transfer Sept. 2, and there were no public comments on the request.

Read more at: Spacenews


Barrett, Raymond Highlight Space Force’s Achievements, Path Forward

Department of the Air Force Secretary, Barbara M. Barrett, offered an upbeat assessment Oct. 28 of the Space Force’s development while also describing in stark terms how the shifting security environment in space is validating the nation’s newest branch of the military.

“Increasingly, free and open access to space is under threat. Though the United States will not be the aggressor in space, we will, we must, build a Space Force to defend our space interests,” Barrett said in a virtual address at Space Symposium 365, an influential gathering of space advocates from government, commerce and defense sponsored by the Space Foundation.

Read more at: Spaceforce

Pentagon Creates New Top Civilian Job For Overseeing Space Policies And Planning

The Pentagon has created a new top civilian job to oversee all of the Defense Department’s space-related planning in a move that elevates the position of its senior space policy maker, defense officials announced Friday.

The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020 called for an assistant secretary of defense for space policy along with an office of the assistant secretary of defense for space policy, both of which were established Thursday, according to a Pentagon statement.

Read more at: Stripes

Space Industry Group Pushing For Change In Security Clearance Policies

The National Security Space Association, a group that represents U.S. defense and intelligence contractors, says outdated security clearance policies thwart the United States’ ability to outpace adversaries that seek to undermine U.S. space operations.

In a white paper Oct. 29, the NSSA calls for reforms in “space security policy, practices and governance structures.”

Read more at: Spacenews

China Launches Three Military Spy Satellites

Three mysterious payloads widely believed to be signals intelligence satellites for the Chinese military rocketed into orbit on top of a Long March 2C booster Monday from a launch base in southwestern China.

The three Yaogan 30-type satellites lifted off aboard the Long March 2C rocket at 11:19 a.m. EDT (1519 GMT) Monday from the Xichang space center in the Sichuan province of southwestern China. Liftoff occurred at 11:19 p.m. Beijing time, according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Pentagon Releases Electromagnetic Superiority Strategy

The Pentagon released its Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy Thursday.

Intended to align DoD electromagnetic spectrum activities with the objectives of the 2017 National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy and national and economy policy goals, the strategy outlines five goals which each have subordinate objectives.

Read more at: Spacewar

Air Force Launches Minuteman III Missile 4,200 Miles In Test

Experts from the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center launched an unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III missile at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base Thursday.

The launch, which took place at 12:27 a.m. Pacific time, was a test of the missile’s accuracy and reliability, according to the Air Force.

The missile traveled about 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Read more at: Spacewar


The Man Who Makes Swiss Watches From Fallen Rockets

Kazakhstan is a land of adventure. For Patrick Hohmann, the adventure is of a different kind: he scouts the trans-continental Central Asian country for fallen off Russian Soyuz rockets – and make Swiss watches out of it.

Read more at: Deccanherald

NASA Gave the Mercury 7 Astronauts This Impossible Choice

NASA did a lot to create the special operator myths when it created the Mercury 7 astronaut program in 1958. The new National Geographic series “The Right Stuff” (streaming now on Disney+) tracks that program — and the challenges faced by the men tasked with getting America into space.

We applaud anyone who’s got the drive, determination and fearlessness required to be a special operator, but it’s not like those talents come without their own share of personal baggage.

Read more at: Military

Vostochny Spaceport Scandals Continue: CEO Of Company Operating New Far Eastern Russian Cosmodrome Arrested On Corruption Charges

A high-ranking official at the helm of the new state-of-the-art Vostochny spaceport, in Russia’s Far East, has been arrested on charges of fraud in a high-profile scandal. The scheme reportedly cost the state over $6.5 million.

Roman Bobkov, the head of the state entity operating the cosmodrome, has been placed in pre-trial detention for two months by a local court, on Saturday, and faces several charges, including fraud, abuse of office, and incitement to abuse of office and forgery. He assumed the role of director at Vostochny in March 2019.

Read more at: RT

Read more at: CBC local

The NASA Console Used to Train Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Is Going Up for Auction

While space tourism is closer than ever before, we’ll never get to experience what the astronauts at the dawn of the space age went through. Be that as it may, an upcoming auction item will at least let you recreate Neil Armstrong and company’s training regimen.

Early next month, the actual training console that NASA used to train Project Gemini astronauts will go up for auction as part of Bonham’s upcoming “History of Science and Technology, including Air and Space” sale. And while the module may be a few decades out of date, it’s hard to think of a cooler memento for the space obsessed.

Read more at: robbreport

The One Thing Trump Got Right Is NASA Chief Jim Bridenstine. Should He Stay If Biden Wins?

When James Frederick Bridenstine was announced as Trump’s nominee for NASA Administrator in September 2017, there was an uproar.

Bridenstine’s apparent lack of qualifications for the post, coupled with his falsely-held views on climate change, made him seem an odd and controversial choice for an agency focused on science.

Read more at: Forbes

This Is The Astronaut’s Video Guide To Going To The Bathroom In Space

Have you ever wondered how astronauts use the bathroom? A lot of people do.


In fact, so many people have asked that NASA astronaut Commander Chris Cassidy, who recently completed a stint as Expedition 63 commander of the International Space Station, explained how it works in a new video from NASA. Cassidy not only went into detail about the process, but he even took his video camera on a tour of the space station’s commode.

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