Chinese Space Enterprise Gears Up For Record-Breaking 40-Plus Launches In 2021

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the leading force of the country’s space industry, has released a plan for more than 40 space launches for 2021, a new high following the already busy and fruitful 2020.

The construction of China’s space station, the key space mission in the year, will enter a crucial stage, according to the CASC.

The country plans to launch the core module of its manned space station in the first half of 2021. Subsequent space missions include the launches of the Tianzhou-2 cargo craft and the Shenzhou-12 manned craft.

Read more at: Spacedaily

DARPA Satellites Damaged At Processing Facility Ahead Of SpaceX Launch

Two satellites from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that were part of an upcoming SpaceX rideshare mission have been damaged at the payload processing facility, the agency confirmed Jan. 6.

The mishap happened on Jan. 4 at SpaceX’s launch processing facility at Cape Canaveral, Florida. DARPA’s satellites were scheduled to fly to orbit on a Falcon 9 rocket as part of the Transporter-1 mission, SpaceX’s first dedicated rideshare mission scheduled to launch Jan. 14.

Read more at: Spacenews

SpaceX Dragon Capsule To Make First Of Its Kind Science Splashdown

By capsule, helicopter, boat, plane, and car, space station science experiments are about to make a first of a kind journey back to researchers on Earth.

On Jan. 11, the SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft carrying out the company’s 21st commercial resupply services (CRS-21) mission for NASA undocks from the International Space Station, heading for splashdown off the coast of Florida about 12 hours later. This upgraded Dragon transports significantly more science back to Earth than possible in previous Dragon capsules and is the first space station cargo capsule to splash down off the coast of Florida.

Read more at: Spacedaily

NASA Sets Mid-January Target For SLS Hot Fire Test

NASA is moving forward with a crucial test-firing of the core stage of the first Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket as soon as Jan. 17 after engineers were satisfied with the results of a fueling test last month.

The hot fire test is the culmination of the SLS Green Run, a year-long series of checkouts of the program’s first flight-ready core stage on the B-2 test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

The core stage will fly on the Artemis 1 mission, the first full-up test flight of the Space Launch System and the Orion crew capsule. Artemis 1, which will fly to the moon and back without astronauts, is officially targeted for launch in late 2021, but that schedule may be in doubt after delays in the Green Run campaign at Stennis.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

European Gateway Module To Be Built In France As Thomas Pesquet Readies For Second Spaceflight

ESA signed a contract with Thales Alenia Space to start building the European module for the lunar Gateway that will provide the new human exploration facility with communications and refuelling.

The Gateway is being built by the partners of the International Space Station and will enable sustainable exploration around – and on – the Moon, while allowing for space research and demonstrating the technologies and processes necessary to conduct a future mission to Mars.

Read more at: Space daily

Northrop Grumman’s NG-14 Cygnus Spacecraft Completes Primary Mission to the International Space Station

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced today that the company has completed the first phase of its 14th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Mission (CRS-2) contract. Cygnus was released by the station’s robotic arm at 10:11 a.m. ET, carrying more than 4,000 pounds of disposable cargo and will remain in orbit for approximately two weeks for the secondary phase of its mission.

“For more than six years, Northrop Grumman has supported human spaceflight by delivering critical cargo to astronauts aboard the International Space Station and acting as a host to a number of science experiments and technology demonstrations,”

Read more at: parabolic arc

China Plans To Launch Core Module Of Space Station This Year

The milestones are coming fast and furious for China’s space program.

The robotic Chang’e 5 mission successfully returned pristine moon samples to Earth in mid-December, something that hadn’t been done since 1976. China’s first fully homegrown Mars mission, Tianwen-1, is scheduled to arrive at the Red Planet on Feb. 10. And shortly after that, the nation plans to begin assembling its space station in Earth orbit.

Read more at:


Virgin Galactic Says It Identified The Problem During Its Test Flight Over New Mexico

Virgin Galactic said Thursday it has completed analysis of why its spacecraft’s rocket failed to ignite during a test flight over New Mexico last month and work to fix the problem has begun.

“Once the corrective work has been implemented and verified, we will confirm our pre-flight timeline for the next test flight and share expected dates for when the flight window will open,” the company said in a brief statement.

The statement did not detail what went wrong. At the time of the incident, Virgin Galactic said the onboard computer monitoring the rocket motor lost connection, triggering a fail-safe scenario that halted ignition.

Read more at: lcsun

Rocket Lab’s To Launch Communications Satellite For OHB Group In First 2021 Mission

Rocket Lab, the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has announced its first Electron launch of the new year will be a dedicated mission for European space technology company OHB Group.

This dedicated mission, named ‘Another One Leaves the Crust,’ is scheduled for lift-off during a 10-day launch window opening on January 16th NZT/UTC. Encapsulated inside Electron’s fairing will be a single communication microsatellite that will enable specific frequencies to support future services from orbit.

Read more at: Spacedaily

This Startup Plans to Build a Space Hotel and Replace the International Space Station

The International Space Station is aging. According to one estimate, the ISS has only ten years left, at best, before it has to retire or undergo a major renovation in order to continue service. With monumental change now in sight, an entire industry has cropped up around providing the possibilities.

Future-minded space entrepreneurs are dreaming big to find a solution to this problem, floating creative proposals such as 3D-printing tools in space to do repair work, modifying dead rocket stages into space labs, and building a new space station from scratch.

Read more at: Observer

Los Angeles Rocket Startup ABL Space Aims For First Launch As Early As March

Rocket building startup ABL Space, founded by veterans of SpaceX and Morgan Stanley, is in the final stretch of preparations for its inaugural launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

“We’re tracking toward vehicle readiness in March,” ABL president and CFO Dan Piemont told CNBC on Monday during a tour of the company’s Los Angeles-area facilities.

“We’re working on the last bits of scheduling with the [Vandenberg launch] range. We do think that could push us into Q2, so right now no earlier than March but no later than June is the plan,” Piemont added.

Read more at: CNBC

Momentus And The Business Of Space

Ask the average person to think about space, and they’ll envision moonwalks, missions to Mars and science fiction movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey or Star Wars.

One aspect of space travel that has not exactly captured the public’s imagination is the grunt work required to transport payloads between orbits. Vessels handling this essential task are known as space tugs, the “tow trucks” of outer space (fun fact: the ship Nostromo from the film Alien was a space tug).

Read more at: Forbes


Defending Earth Against Dangerous Asteroids: Q&A With NASA’s Lindley Johnson

It’s a cosmic roll of the dice. There’s no doubt that a major asteroid or comet strike could cause extensive devastation and profoundly affect life on Earth.

The largest hit in recent times was the object that exploded over Tunguska, Siberia, in June 1908 with an energy impact of five to 15 megatons. Then there was that spectacular and destructive airburst in February 2013 over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. The Chelyabinsk explosion generated a shock wave that shattered windows on the ground, and the resulting flying glass shards injured more than 1,000 people.

Read more at:

FCC Grants Permission For Polar Launch Of Starlink Satellites

The Federal Communications Commission will allow SpaceX to launch 10 Starlink satellites into polar orbit on an upcoming mission, but deferred a decision on a much broader modification of SpaceX’s license.

In an order published Jan. 8, the FCC granted SpaceX permission to launch 10 Starlink satellites into a 560-kilometer orbit with an inclination of 97.6 degrees. Those satellites will launch on a Falcon 9 no earlier than Jan. 14 as part of Transporter-1, a dedicated smallsat rideshare mission.

Read more at: Spacenews

Smallsat Launch Providers Readying For First Missions Of 2021

Virgin Orbit and Rocket Lab teams are gearing up for their first missions of the year in the coming days, with Virgin’s air-launched rocket set for its second demonstration flight and Rocket Lab’s Electron booster poised to launch a small German-owned communications satellite.

The second test flight of Virgin Orbit’s air-dropped LauncherOne vehicle is scheduled no earlier than Wednesday, Jan. 13. Ten CubeSats from U.S. universities and a NASA research center are aboard the rocket, which will be released from Virgin Orbit’s Boeing 747 carrier aircraft over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Momentus Delays First Vigoride Launch

In-space transportation provider Momentus is delaying its first operational mission, which was to fly on a SpaceX Falcon 9 later this month, because of delays completing an interagency review.

In a Jan. 4 statement, Momentus said the flight of its first Vigoride tug, which was to be part of the payloads on a Falcon 9 dedicated rideshare mission launching as soon as Jan. 14, will be delayed to later in the year because it was unable to get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for the mission.

Read more at: Spacenews

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