NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Releases 2019 Annual Report

The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), an advisory committee that reports to NASA and Congress, issued its 2019 annual report Tuesday examining the agency’s safety performance over the past year and highlighting accomplishments, issues and concerns.

The report highlights 2019 activities and includes assessments of NASA’s:International Space Station, Lunar and deep space exploration, Exploration Systems Development, Commercial Crew Program, Aeronautics and air operations, Safety culture, Enterprise protection.

Read more at: NASA

After Mishap With Boeing Spacecraft, NASA Faces A Dilemma

As it probes why Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft suffered a serious setback during a flight test last month that forced the cancellation of its planned docking with the International Space Station, NASA faces a high-stakes dilemma: Should the space agency require the company to repeat the uncrewed test flight or allow the next flight to proceed, as originally planned, with astronauts aboard?

The answer could have significant ramifications for the agency — and put astronauts’ lives on the line — at a time when NASA is struggling to resume human spaceflight from the United States, years after the space shuttle fleet was retired in 2011.

Read more at: Washington post

Boeing And NASA Are Forming An Investigation Team To Figure Out Cause Of Spacecraft Mishap

Boeing plans to work with NASA to figure out why the company’s newest passenger spacecraft, the CST-100 Starliner, suffered a mishap during its first uncrewed launch to space at the end of December. The two organizations will form a joint “independent investigation team,” according to a NASA blog post, which will spend about two months figuring out the root cause of the failure.

The Starliner is Boeing’s space capsule, designed to carry future astronauts to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Before any people fly on board the vehicle, Boeing hoped to perform a dress rehearsal mission with Starliner, sending the capsule to dock with the ISS without a crew. After years of development, the Starliner launched this debut mission on December 20th, successfully taking off on top of an Atlas V rocket from Florida.

Read more at: Verge

Dream Chaser on Track for 2021 Cargo Mission, Crew Within 5 Years

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is on track for the first cargo flight of its Dream Chaser spacecraft next year.  Looking like a small space shuttle, Dream Chaser lost out on a contract for NASA’s commercial crew program, but was selected in the second round of commercial cargo contracts.  SNC still plans to use Dream Chaser for crewed missions for other customers and expects the first within 5 years.  SNC also is bidding on contracts for NASA’s Artemis program, including as part of a Dynetics team for the Human Landing System.

Steve Lindsey, a former NASA astronaut who is now SNC’s Senior Vice President of Strategy for Space Systems, and other SNC officials gave updates on Dream Chaser and other space activities during a media telecon today.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Spacex’s Dragon Cargo Capsule Returns From The Space Station Loaded With Science Experiments

SpaceX has successfully completed its 19th commercial resupply (CRS) mission for the International Space Station, with the Dragon cargo spacecraft used for the mission splashing down in the Pacific Ocean early this morning. The Dragon used this time around has also actually made this round trip twice before on previous SpaceX CRS missions.

The Dragon launched for CRS-19 on December 5, and attached to the Space Station on December 8. It spent around a month docked at the ISS, while astronauts unloaded its contents, including around 5,700 lbs of supplies and experiments.

Read more at: Tech crunch

Arianespace Could Launch Record 22 Missions In 2020

Arianespace is poised to launch up to 22 missions this year, a number that would nearly double the company’s record. 

Half of the European launch provider’s 2020 manifest is comprised of OneWeb launches — 10 Soyuz missions and the inaugural launch of the Ariane 62 rocket. 

Arianespace also has two launches scheduled for its smallest rocket, Vega, and two for the larger next-generation Vega C, Stéphane Israël, Arianespace’s chief executive, said in a Jan. 7 interview. 

“Today we are are ready for a maximum record of launches,” Israël said. 

Read more at: Spacenews


Huge Fireballs From ‘Dead Comet’ Will Soar Across Sky TONIGHT – How To Spot The Quadrantid Meteor Shower

Up to 60 meteors an hour are expected to burn across the sky in a spectacular display.

The Quadrantid meteor shower usually starts in late December and lasts until early January but the best time to see it will be January 3 and 4.

This is because tonight is when the meteor shower will reach its peak. The celestial display occurs because the Earth passes through the trail of an asteroid or possible rock comet called 2003 EH1.

Read more at: Sun


Space Coast Regional Airport Wants To Launch And Land Spacecraft In Titusville

The airport closest to one of the busiest spaceports in the world wants to push beyond just general aviation – and it wants to start sooner rather than later.

Officials at Space Coast Regional Airport, located just west of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and often used for transporting personnel and spacecraft, want the facility to cater to a growing commercial spaceflight industry.

Environmental documents released by the Federal Aviation Administration in December show officials want to cater to horizontal takeoff and landing vehicles, which lift off and land like airplanes.

Read more at: Florida today

Bridenstine, NASA ASAP Provide Updates on Commercial Crew Program

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program has made significant progress in recent months towards its first crewed flights. The missions will be the first orbital crewed launches from the United States since the ending of the Space Shuttle program. In two separate statements released on Tuesday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (NASA ASAP) provided insight into the program’s status.

The Commercial Crew Program features two providers, Boeing and SpaceX, who are developing crew transportation vehicles.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

Space Station May Have Many Commercial Suitors in Its Final Years

How close is the International Space Station (ISS) to an endgame?

The orbiting complex has been continuously occupied by rotating astronaut crews since November 2000, and the international consortium that runs the ISS has committed to keeping the lights on at least through 2024. But the orbiting lab could keep going even longer than that.

“The extension of the station is being discussed between NASA and the international partners,” NASA spokesman Rob Navias told “No formal decision on a date for extension has yet been agreed upon, but it’s under discussion.”

Read more at:


Satellite Constellations Harvest Energy For Near-Total Global Coverage

Think of it as a celestial parlor game: What is the minimum number of satellites needed to see every point on Earth? And how might those satellites stay in orbit and maintain continuous 24/7 coverage while contending with Earth’s gravity field, its lumpy mass, the pull of the sun and moon, and pressure from solar radiation?

In the mid-1980s, researcher John E. Draim proposed what is generally considered to be the ideal solution: a four-satellite constellation. However, the amount of propellant needed to keep the satellites in place, and the ensuing cost, made the configuration unfeasible.

Read more at: Eurekalert

Meteorite Found In China Provides Clues To Earth’s Lower Mantle: Study

An international team of scientists analyzed a meteorite found in China and gained new insight into Earth’s lower mantle and how the planet evolved in the ancient time.

The study published in the latest edition of journal Science Advances showed that the metallic iron nanoparticles coexisted with the meteorite sample.

It represented the first direct evidence in nature of a chemical reaction called “disproportionation reaction” that help form metallic iron. This reaction had so far only been observed in high-pressure experiments.

Read more at: Xinhuanet

Mission Gaganyaan: From Idli To Egg Rolls, Here’s The Food That Astronauts Will Get

As the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is scheduled to send astronauts to space under its ‘Gaganyaan’ mission by December 2021, the Defence Food Research Laboratory in Mysore has prepared special food and liquid packages for them.

According to an ANI tweet, the menu for the astronauts includes egg rolls, veg rolls, idli, moong dal halwa and veg pulao. The ministry has also arranged special containers for water and juices to help astronauts drink liquids in space along with food heaters.

Read more at: Indian express


House Committee Approves Space Weather Legislation

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee approved a space weather bill this morning at its first meeting in the 2nd session of the 116th Congress. The Senate Commerce Committee approved its own version in April 2019, but filed a report on the bill only in December. Coupled with a significant boost in NOAA’s budget for a Space Weather Follow-On program in the FY2020 appropriations bill, it could be that after several years of trying, a space weather bill may finally clear Congress.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Rosy Future For Aussie Space Sector But Great Power Space Competition Looms

“Prospects are opening up for Australian companies to build and launch satellites on locally produced launch vehicles from Australian launch sites, supported by a vibrant but small Australian space agency,” he wrote in a recent analysis on the SpaceWatch Asia-Pacific website.

“Australia’s space sector is surging ahead from the days of passive dependency on foreign providers of space capability, and this is opening up new opportunities for Australia’s defence forces to exploit sovereign space capabilities in the coming decade and to burden-share in orbit.”

Dr Davis said Australia has demonstrated its desire to work with the US on the Artemis project to return humans to the moon, signing an important co-operative agreement.

Read more at: Defence connect


ESA And EDA Joint Research: Advancing Into The Unknown

ESA and the European Defence Agency (EDA) are embarking on new cooperative projects for exploring unknown or potentially hazardous environments: harnessing drones for the monitoring of disaster-stricken regions or toxic spill sites and making use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to navigate across the surface of asteroids or other terra incognita.

These two new joint projects have been authorised by the ESA Council and Steering Board of EDA. They are the latest in a long history of cooperation enabled by the ESA-EDA Administrative Arrangement, originally signed in 2011 and recently extended for a second time.

Read more at: ESA

The New U.S. Space Force Will Make Space More Dangerous, Not Less

When President Donald Trump signed the latest National Defense Authorization Act last month, he brought into existence the United States Space Force, the sixth branch of the country’s military. The name likely appeals to Trump for the same reasons that it appalls others: It is attention-grabbing and frames the issue of space in terms of American military dominance.

At least initially, the new Space Force represents only a modest organizational change, one that is essentially neutral in terms of personnel and budgetary impact. A skeptical Congress appropriated only $40 million of its $738 billion military budget for the new endeavor.

Read more at: World politics review

Space Force To Stand Up A Doctrine Hub

The Space Force is setting up a “space doctrine center” where the brand-new American armed service can begin to hammer out how to optimally operate in space, the head of Space Operations Command said Friday.

The Space Force was formally established on Dec. 20 as an independent military branch inside the Department of the Air Force. But much still needs to be done to get the fledgling service up on its feet, including laying out its organizational structure, creating a logo, potentially changing the name of bases and transferring airmen over to the Space Force.

Read more at: Defense news

U.S. Early Warning Satellites Helped Avert Casualties From Iran’s Missile Attack

In remarks at the White House on Wednesday, President Trump said no Americans were killed or harmed by Iranian ballistic missiles fired Jan. 7 at two U.S. military installations in Iraq.

Trump said the military’s “early warning system” was one of the reasons casualties were averted.

Iran fired 16 short-range ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. military and coalition personnel, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters at the Pentagon Jan. 8.

Read more at: Spacenews


NASA Contractor United Paradyne Corp. To Pay US To Settle Whistleblower Claims

NASA contractor United Paradyne Corp. has agreed to pay the United States $375,000 to settle whistleblower allegations after it lied about the condition of equipment it delivered to NASA.

Steven Walker, a former employee of United Paradyne, was the one who sued on behalf of the U.S. under the “whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act” that United Paradyne had failed to meet NASA’s requirements.

Read more at: Florida today

Former DARPA Director Walker Named Lockheed Martin’s Chief Technology Officer

Former director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Steven Walker has been named vice president and chief technology officer of Lockheed Martin Corp. effective Jan. 13.

Walker replaces Keoki Jackson, who will become Lockheed Martin’s chief engineer and vice president of engineering and program operations, the company said in a statement Jan. 9. Walker announced his resignation Dec. 17 and his last day at DARPA is Jan. 10.

Read more at: Spacenews

11th IAASS conference