To All The Rockets We Lost In 2020 And What We Learned From Them

Launching rockets is hard. Most of the time we get it right, but sometimes unexpected things happen. Perhaps it’s because of a stage failure or perhaps it’s because of using a daring prototype, like SpaceX’s Starship. But, as devastating as a failure can feel, it can help the teams behind these launches to learn and grow, helping them to continue to improve spaceflight.

Below is a list of the craziest rocket explosions and failures of 2020 (not including situations where a rocket had an anomaly en route but was still able to reach orbit

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The Year Ahead: 2021 Poses Risks, Challenges, Rewards (Part 1)

SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA) will headline an aggressive campaign of launches by their Falcon 9, Atlas V and Delta IV Heavy fleets in 2021 to deliver a multitude of scientific, military and commercial payloads aloft for a range of customers. Up to three flights of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy and two missions by ULA’s Delta IV Heavy are manifested, together with the inaugural test flight of the new Vulcan-Centaur heavylifter and NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) at some stage in the second half of the year.

Additionally, other launch providers in the form of Rocket Lab’s Electron booster, Northrop Grumman Corp.’s Antares and Minotaur vehicles, Astra’s Rocket-3 and Virgin Orbit’s air-launched LauncherOne have an equally ambitious plate of missions scheduled for 2021.

Read more at: America space

Record Year for FAA Commercial Space Activity

A record number of launches, new streamlined launch and reentry licensing regulations, and a historic licensed crewed mission are some of the noteworthy commercial space transportation achievements of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2020. The FAA will build on these accomplishments in the coming year.

“This record-setting year in launches, and the new streamlined launch and reentry licensing regulations, bode well for continued rapid growth of America’s commercial space sector,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Is SpaceX Versus China The Only Space Race That Matters?

The private capital fueling the space race in the US still hasn’t produced a competitor to pressure SpaceX, whose primary rival may be China’s space program, not other businesses in the US and Europe, or Russia’s space program.

As the year closes, Elon Musk’s space company has flown 26 missions into space, only topped by the 34 sent into orbit by China’s space agencies.

Read more at: QZ

China’s Space Achievements Out Of This World

China’s space industry has produced a remarkable scorecard this year: characterized by the nation’s first independent Mars mission, the completion of a global navigation satellite network and a landmark adventure that retrieved rocks and soil from the moon.

The most significant event in China’s space field, and also one of the most notable space activities globally, this year-the Chang’e 5 robotic mission-returned 1,731 grams of lunar rock and soil to Earth, marking a historic accomplishment 44 years after the last lunar substances were retrieved.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Roscosmos Head Reveals Likely Cause of Crack in ISS Hull

The crack discovered in the hull of the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS) in October might have been caused by a micrometeorite impact, head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin said.

During an interview on Rossiya 24 TV channel, he suggested that the damage may also be “technological” in nature, though he did not elaborate on this.

Read more at: Sputniknews

Russia To Send Equipment For Investigating Air Leak To ISS In February — Roscosmos

Equipment for a detailed study of a pressure leak aboard the International Space Station (ISS) will be delivered by Russia’s Progress space freighter in February 2021, Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin said on Tuesday.

“In February, we will send a Progress space freighter to deliver vital supplies, first of all equipment for a more detailed study into causes of the air leak aboard the station,” the space official said in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda radio station on Tuesday.

Read more at: TASS


The Year of the Four Spaceships: Final Report

Back in February, I went out on a limb and predicted that 2020 could be the Year of the Four Spaceships, with SpaceX, Boeing, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic and reaching major milestones in human spaceflight.

With the disruption and deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it wasn’t the easiest year to get things done. Keeping that in mind, let’s see how the companies did in 2020

Read more at: Parabolic arc

Will Axiom Space Provide A Commercial Space Station Replacement For NASA’s ISS?

Axiom Space has announced that it is creating an office park and manufacturing center at the Houston SpacePort at Ellington Field.

The development is a hopeful sign that, despite foot dragging by Congress, a commercial replacement for the International Space Station (ISS) may well happen. The United States has a chance to avoid a “space gap” when the ISS reaches the end of its operational life, like the one that happened between the end of the space shuttle program and the first launch of the SpaceX commercial crew Dragon mission.

Read more at: Hill

Ten Companies Bid For NASA Small Launch Vehicle Contract

A NASA small launch vehicle competition attracted bids from 10 companies, but half of them were effectively disqualified because of deficiencies or other problems.

NASA announced Dec. 11 it was awarding contracts to Astra Space, Firefly Aerospace and Relativity Space for its Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) Demo 2 program. The contracts, with a combined value of $16.7 million, include one launch by each company carrying clusters of cubesats as part of a NASA effort to help demonstrate new small launch vehicles.

Read more at: Spacenews

Firefly Aerospace and Adaptive Launch Solutions Sign Multi-Launch Agreement

Firefly Aerospace, Inc., a leading provider of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft, and in-space services, and Adaptive Launch Solutions (ALS), a designer of multi-manifest hardware, avionics and sequencers, and an integrator of single and multiple satellites, today announced they have signed a multi-year Launch Services Agreement (LSA) which includes four Alpha launches beginning in 2021.

“Small launch provides small satellite owners right sized, right priced access to space meeting their program and business goals,” said Phil Smith, CEO of ALS.

Read more at: yahoo news


Fireballs, Spaceships And … Iguanas? 7 Strange Things That Fell From The Sky In 2020

Space rocks crash to Earth carrying compounds that were formed billions of years ago. Spaceships perform fancy flips in the air but explode when they touch back down too quickly. And sometimes, iguanas fall from trees and land belly-up, frozen on the ground.

Here’s a list of seven intriguing objects — and a few reptiles — that made headlines for falling from the sky.

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NASA Approves Two New Missions To Study Space Weather

NASA has given the go-ahead to a pair of heliophysics missions designed to aid the study of space weather.

Both the Extreme Ultraviolent High-Throughput Spectroscopic Telescope Epsilon Mission, or EUVST, and the Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer mission, or EZIE, aim to illuminate the physics of solar wind, solar flares and coronal mass ejections, the phenomena that produce electromagnetic storms and propel them toward Earth.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Knowledge Of Asteroid Composition To Help Avert Collisions

The European Space Agency ESA and NASA are working together to determine how the Earth might be protected against the threat posed by asteroids by altering their trajectory. VTT is taking part in the project by determining the mineral composition of the asteroids. This is happening for the first time with a nanosatellite mounted hyperspectral camera.

The joint ESA and NASA mission will test deflecting asteroids using a kinetic impactor – a probe that is steered to collide with an asteroid.

Read more at: Spacedaily

White House Releases Implementing Strategy for Planetary Protection

The White House today released a strategy for implementing the section of U.S. National Space Policy regarding planetary protection — protecting Earth from harmful contamination by microbes from elsewhere in the solar system and vice versa. The topic has gained new prominence in recent years as not only more countries, but companies, make plans to send probes into deep space.

The new strategy was developed by an Interagency Working Group led by the White’s House National Space Council and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) established in July 2020 while the Trump Administration’s updated National Space Policy was still in development.

Read more at: space policy online

Russia’s Constellation Of Civilian Satellites Now Has 99 Spacecraft

The number of Russian satellites that are used for social, economic and scientific purposes, as well for research and navigation, was increased to 99 in 2020, Russia’s state-run space corporation Roscosmos said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The Russian orbital constellation used for social, economic, scientific and navigational purposes now comprises 99 spacecraft,” the statement says.

Read more at: TASS

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