ESA Group Nominates Josef Aschbacher As Next ESA Director-General; Ratification Vote Set For Dec. 16-17

Josef Aschbacher of Austria, director of Earth observation at the 22-nation European Space Agency (ESA), has been nominated as the next ESA Director-General by a vote of ESA governments, a selection that’s expected to be ratified by these same governments in mid-December, government and industry officials said.

Aschbacher’s selection followed a five-month recruitment process by a committee led by Anna Rathsman of Sweden, chairman of ESA’s council and director-general of the Swedish National Space Agency.

Read more at: spaceintel report

Roscosmos Chief Confirms Detection of Faulty Detail in Russia’s Soyuz Rocket in Kourou

A faulty detail from suppliers was discovered in Russia’s Soyuz-ST-A rocket at Kourou spaceport, but emergencies were prevented thanks to the incorporated control system, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos, said on Tuesday.

“The ‘faulty valve’ would be launched with the rocket, and it would return to Earth being just a heap of mishap metal, that would be the problem. There are always some flaws, but in our case, they cost too much. Happily, the low-quality detail was timely detected by the quality control system. However, in general, I do note a sharp decline in our suppliers’ responsibility and quality of their work,” Rogozin wrote on Facebook.

Read more at: Sputnik news

Russia Should Look Again At Terms Of ISS Participation – Space Industry Official

Russia should consider revising the terms of its participation in the International Space Station, a Russian space industry executive said on Thursday, because it wants to focus on forming its own orbiting outpost after 2024.

The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, has said it will remain part of the ISS until 2024 and that it is open to extending its participation beyond then.

Read more at: Reuters


Lunar Gateway Instruments to Improve Weather Forecasting for Artemis Astronauts

One of the first things people want to know before taking a trip is what the weather will be like wherever they are headed. For Artemis astronauts traveling on missions to the Moon, two space weather instrument suites, NASA’s HERMES and ESA’s ERSA, will provide an early forecast. Weather in this case means energized, subatomic particles and electromagnetic fields hurtling through the solar system.

The instrument suites, named after two of Artemis’s half-siblings in Greek Mythology – Ersa, the goddess of dew, and Hermes, the messenger of the Olympian gods – will be pre-loaded on the Gateway before the first two components are launched: the Power and Propulsion Element and the Habitation and Logistics Outpost.

Read more at: NASA

Astroscale To Test Space Junk Cleanup Tech With ‘ELSA-D’ Launch In 2021

Technology that could help humanity get a handle on the growing space-junk problem will get an orbital test early next year.

The End-of-Life Services by Astroscale-demonstration (ELSA-d) mission will launch in March 2021 atop a Russian Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, representatives of the Japan-based company Astroscale announced last week.

“We now have the launch in our sights,” ELSA-d project manager Seita Iizuka said in a statement.

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New Insights on Health Effects of Long-Duration Space Flight – 30 Scientific Papers From More Than 200 Investigators

The historic NASA Twins Study investigated identical twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly and provided new information on the health effects of spending time in space.

Colorado State University Professor Susan Bailey was one of more than 80 scientists across 12 universities who conducted research on the textbook experiment; Mark remained on Earth while Scott orbited high above for nearly one year. The massive effort was coordinated by NASA’s Human Research Program.

Read more at: scitech daily

Europe Signs $102M Deal To Bring Space Trash Home

The European Space Agency says it is signing a 86 million-euro ($102 million) contract with a Swiss start-up company to bring a large piece of orbital trash back to Earth.

The agency said Thursday that the deal with ClearSpace SA will lead to the “first active debris removal mission” in 2025, in which a custom-made spacecraft will capture and bring down part of a rocket once used to deliver a satellite into orbit.

Read more at: ABC news

ISRO And Russian Satellites Barely Miss Collision; How Dangerous Is This?

India’s Cartosat 2F weighing over 700kg dangerously approached the Kanopus-V spacecraft at 1.49 UTC, on Friday, according to the Russian Space Agency. In a tweet, Roscosmos has said that the minimum distance between both Russian and foreign satellite was 224 meters. Both satellites are meant for Earth’s remote sensing.

According to a source that spoke to Zee Media, 1 kilometer is an ideal distance between satellites in orbit, whereas 224 meters is scary and can be counted as a near miss. Generally, when two satellites are predicted (based on calculations) to make a close pass, a decision is taken to manoeuvre one of them away in advance(usually days ahead).

Read more at: DNA India


Why Space Tourism From Dubai Could Be A Reality By 2023

Tourist flights into outer space could be departing from Dubai by the end of 2023, according to the CEO of EOS-X Space.

And Kemel Kharbachi, who has already had initial discussions with Dubai Tourism, told Arabian Business ambitious plans for the emirate include a 80 – 100 million Euros site to launch commercial operations as well as making the city the company’s global space hub.

He said: “This is the democratisation of space travel. In the next decade it will be more affordable and we will be there for that.”

Read more at: Arabian business

New FAA Documents Reveal Spacex’s Latest Plans For Launching Starship Prototypes On Suborbital Flights From South Texas — And Potential Hurdles To Orbit

The Federal Aviation Administration has published several key documents and a new website tied to SpaceX’s future in Boca Chica, Texas.

The aerospace company is moving briskly at the site to develop, build, and launch a nearly 400-foot-tall launcher called Starship-Super Heavy. If the system — a steel spaceship and rocket booster — is realized as founder Elon Musk has envisioned, it could reduce the cost of access to low-Earth orbit by about 1,000-fold, revolutionize travel, send people to the moon, and maybe help populate Mars.

Read more at: Business insider

Elon Musk Explains Cause Of SpaceX Starship SN8 Issue During Latest Test

Over the past couple of months, SpaceX teams at the South Texas Launch Facility located in Boca Chica Beach have been working on preparing the next Starship prototype for a higher altitude test flight. SpaceX is working towards creating a gigantic reusable spacecraft capable of transporting one hundred passengers on voyages to the Moon and Mars. Developing such ambitious spacecraft comes with challenges. Engineers are building multiple prototypes to test out. Starship SN8 (Serial No. 8) is a prototype that teams have been preparing for weeks, to launch it on a 15-kilometer test flight above Boca Chica’s sandy beach.

Read more at: tesmanian


The Physics of Materials at Minus 80 Degrees Celsius

It’s a hopeful sign. Pfizer announced that its Covid-19 vaccine could be 90 percent effective. That could really help us get past this darned pandemic. But there’s a catch. The vaccine is based on mRNA (messenger RNA)—this reads the DNA in the nucleus of a cell and transports the instructions to the cytoplasm where proteins are produced. The problem is that the mRNA is normally short lived. It either interacts with oxygen or folds onto itself and then doesn’t do its job. So if you want to use it in a vaccine, you need to make the mRNA last longer. That means you have to keep it cold. Really cold. The standard storage temperature for these types of vaccines is –80 degrees Celsius. Yup. So, that means we have to talk about cold stuff. Let’s do it.

Read more at: Wired

The Rocket Engine That Proves Solar Thermal Propulsion Isn’t Just a Crazy Theory

Engineers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory are prototyping a previously theoretical rocket design that could someday take spacecraft to interstellar space. Their plan? Use heat from the sun, rather than combustion, to power a rocket engine.

Unlike a traditional engine that’s mounted on the rear end of a rocket, the experimental solar-powered engine takes the shape of a flat shield made from black carbon foam.

Read more at: Popular mechanics

ISRO’s Venus Mission Attracts International Payload Proposals: 10 Things To Know

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has short-listed 20 space-based experiment proposals, including from France, for its proposed Venus orbiter mission ‘Shukrayaan’ to study the planet for more than four years.

These include “collaborative contributions” from Russia, France, Sweden and Germany, sources in the Bengaluru- headquartered space agency told news agency PTI.

Read more at: Livemint

NASA Simulations Validate Orion Safety Models for Artemis Astronauts

As part of the Artemis program, NASA’s Orion spacecraft will carry the first woman and next man to lunar orbit before they land on the Moon in 2024, and enable sustained presence on and around the Moon by the end of the decade. An integral part of ensuring safe spaceflight is Orion’s Launch Abort System, or LAS, shown here in gray. This state-of-the-art crew escape system is attached to the top of the spacecraft, which sits atop the agency’s powerful Space Launch System rocket. In case of emergency during takeoff, it can quickly separate from the speeding rocket and pull astronauts to safety.

To propel Orion away to safety, the LAS uses an abort motor that produces four large, high-speed exhaust plumes that flow along the sides of Orion, generating extremely strong vibrations.

Read more at: NASA

SLS Continuing Engine Upgrades, Tech Development To Support Launcher Evolution

The Liquid Engines Office for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Program is planning a busy schedule of test campaigns next year in parallel with efforts to complete preparations for the vehicle’s first launch. Existing Aerojet Rocketdyne hydrogen-oxygen engine designs and hardware will be used for the SLS core and upper stages, but both the space agency and the prime contractor for the RS-25 and RL10 engines are investing in upgrades and technology development to make the engines more cost-effective.

NASA contracted Aerojet Rocketdyne to restart production of uprated RS-25 engines for future SLS launches and supply the veteran RL10 engine that already powers existing commercial rocket upper stages.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

Japan’s New H3 Launcher Delayed By Rocket Engine Component Issues

The first launches of the new Japanese H3 launch vehicle are being delayed by issues with two components of the rocket’s main engine, the country’s space agency confirms.

The Japanese space agency JAXA told SpaceNews that problems were found with the new LE-9 engine’s combustion chamber and turbopump.

“Fatigue fracture surfaces were confirmed in the apertural area of the combustion chamber inner wall and the FTP blade of the turbo pump,” according to a JAXA spokesperson.

Read more at: Spacenews

This is What Moondust Looks Like When You Remove All the Oxygen. A Pile of Metal

The Moon has abundant oxygen and minerals, things that are indispensable to any space-faring civilization. The problem is they’re locked up together in the regolith. Separating the two will provide a wealth of critical resources, but separating them is a knotty problem.

The Moon’s regolith varies from 2 meters (6.5 ft.) deep in mare regions, to 20 meters (65 ft.) deep in highland regions. Unlike Earth, where the surface is shaped and built by both biological and geological processes, the Moon’s regolith is largely made up of pulverized, blasted fragments of the crust caused by impacts.

Read more at: Universe today

SPEAR Probe – An Ultra Lightweight Nuclear Electric Propulsion Probe for Deep Space Exploration

Nuclear electric propulsion (NEP) systems have the potential to provide a very effective transit mechanism to celestial bodies outside of the realm of solar power, yet the heavy power source and massive radiators required to justify a reactor core often push NEP spacecraft towards very large masses and major missions. If the total mass of an NEP system could be reduced to levels that were able to be launched on smaller vehicles, these devices could deliver scientific payloads to anywhere in the solar system. One major destination of recent importance is Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter, which may contain traces of extraterrestrial life deep beneath the surface of its icy crust.

Read more at: NASA


Outer Space Needs Private Law

The Cold War is back, and it’s headed into orbit. American tensions with China and Russia are escalating, especially since Russia’s suspected anti-satellite weapons test. The stakes are nothing less than a peaceful future in space. Operations in orbit and beyond require extraordinary precision and certainty. Any conflict can seriously hinder operational efficiency for both governments and businesses. Fortunately, there’s a solution that can benefit all parties: Giving private law a major role in ordering the cosmos.

Read more at: Spacereview

Op-Ed | Where Does Space Begin? The Decades-Long Legal Mission To Find The Border Between Air And Space

Although very few people have been to “outer space,” virtually everyone has some conception of what it is. We have seen TV reports of astronauts (or cosmonauts) in orbit. Our popular culture – in film, books, art and even music – is suffused with images of space. We conceive it as a place beyond the Earth’s physical limits, where there is no atmosphere, where things are “weightless” and where spacecraft operate (and where, according to the promoters of the 1979 film Alien, “no one can hear you scream”).

Read more at: Spacenews

The EU’s Space Sector And Space Policy

The beginning of the space race is usually placed on October 4, 1957, with the launch of the Soviet unmanned satellite Sputnik I. This launch took place in a context of tensions between two superpowers during the cold war, and outer space was incorporated into the dispute as an element of cultural and technological rivalry. Today we can no longer speak of a special race in the sense traditionally attributed to the term, the international scenario has mutated into something much more complex, and more and more international actors,  organizations, or private companies are turning their attention to outer space.

Read more at: esthinktank


Britain’s New Space Command Welcomed – ‘We Can Defend Ourselves In Space!’

On Wednesday Boris Johnson announced a “once in a generation modernisation” of Britain’s armed forces with an additional £16.5bn in funding over the next four years. This money will be invested in space and cyber capabilities as well as conventional forces.

As part of this programme a UK Space Command will be launched next year, potentially based at RAF High Wycombe.

The move was welcomed by UKSpace, an umbrella group which represents the British space industry.

Read more at: Express

New International Partnerships Could Spur Hosted Payloads: Gen. Thompson

Space Force and Space Command (SPACECOM) are moving quickly to expand cooperation with emerging space actors such as Brazil, Chile and Korea, says Gen. DT Thompson, Space Force vice chief.

“We’re expanding and accelerating partnerships … with partners and allies, not just our traditional partners that we’ve had with many years and the partners that you would expect,” he told the Air Force Association’s Schriever Forum on Friday. “We’re expanding to ensure that includes the French and the Germans and the Japanese, that it includes the Koreans, and frankly [we’re] looking into other regions, other nations who are looking to develop space capabilities.”

Read more at: Breaking defense

Spooks And Satellites: The Role Of Intelligence In Cold War American Space Policy

In 1978, Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) Admiral Stansfield Turner declared that the “Russians can kill us in space.” Shortly thereafter, President Carter approved the Pentagon’s request to test an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon to place greater pressure on the USSR over ASAT arms control. Reagan Administration officials regularly invoked intelligence on Soviet space activities to justify both the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) and the Miniature Homing Vehicle (MHV) ASAT program. The declassified intelligence record reveals that the US Intelligence Community was less alarmist in its assessments of Soviet military space capabilities than some public statements suggested. Intelligence did, nevertheless, play a direct role in the decisions to develop US ASATs, and later to justify space-based missile defense.

Read more at: Spacereview

Traditional Launch Services May Not Suit The Needs Of The Future Space Force

SpaceX and United Launch Alliance were selected as U.S. national security launch providers based on their ability to deliver spacecraft to specific Earth orbits. How the Pentagon buys launch services in the future could change, however, as the military considers using emerging technologies and services known as “space mobility and logistics.”

Col. Robert Bongiovi, the director of the Space Force’s launch enterprise, said his office is trying to gain better insight into the next wave of space innovation and figure out how the military could acquire those capabilities.

Read more at: Spacenews

The Evolution of Japan’s Space Strategy: Its Dual-Use Nature and Implications for the Japan-U.S. Alliance

In recent years Japan has begun to be considered as something of a “space power”, with its technological advancements in key areas such as robotics being a key contributing factor. Since 2008, the Japanese government has sought to develop its space policy as a national strategy. Its outer space aspirations are tied within the framework of “peaceful uses of outer space” in accordance with the 1967 Outer Space Treaty that stipulates exploration and use of outer space for “peaceful purposes”.

However, Japan’s space policy has long been restricted by the influence of its “peace clause”, or Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. Owing to the normative influence of the peace clause as well as so-called culture of “antimilitarism”, a “resolution on the development of outer space and its basic use” was adopted in the Plenary Session of the House of Representatives on May 9, 1969.

Read more at: isdp

A US Navy Destroyer Just Shot Down An Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Target For The First Time

A US Navy destroyer shot down an intercontinental ballistic missile target for the first time on Tuesday in a historic missile defense test, the Missile Defense Agency said.

Early Tuesday, an unarmed target missile simulating an enemy ICBM threat was launched from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands toward an area of open ocean near Hawaii.

Read more at: Business insider


Moon to Mars Overview

NASA’s human lunar exploration plans under the Artemis program call for sending the first woman and next man to the surface of the Moon by 2024 and establishing sustainable exploration by the end of the decade. The agency will use what we learn on the Moon to prepare for humanity’s next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.

Working with U.S. companies and international partners, NASA will push the boundaries of human exploration forward to the Moon and on to Mars. NASA is working to send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024 as part of the Artemis program and establish a permanent human presence there within the next decade to uncover new scientific discoveries and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy.

Read more at: NASA

The Infamous Launch Abort of NASA’s Mercury-Redstone 1

While launching crews into orbit has become routine with even commercial companies beginning to provide lift services for customers like the US government, it was far from routine decades ago during the opening years of the Space Age. At that time, teams of the best scientists and engineers in the US and the old Soviet Union struggled to develop and master the new technologies required to safely send people into space resulting in numerous failures. One of the most infamous of these failures was the launch abort of NASA’s Mercury-Redstone 1 which was meant to test the rocket and spacecraft which would send the first Americans into space.

Read more at: drewexmachina