NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Releases 2020 Annual Report

The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), an advisory committee that reports to NASA and Congress, issued its 2020 annual report Tuesday examining the agency’s safety performance over the past year and highlighting accomplishments, issues, and concerns. 

The report highlights 2020 activities and includes observations on NASA’s: Human spaceflight evolution, Systems engineering and integration, Workforce.

Read more at: NASA

One Hull Crack Located In ISS, Another One Suspected

The specialists have discovered one more crack at the International Space Station and suspect that yet another one exists, ISS Russian Segment head Vladimir Solovyov told Rossiya-24.

“So far, we have found one place and suspect another, where as some kind of leak exists. We must bring a powerful microscope on a cargo spacecraft and use to examine this place. We are not totally certain so far,” Solovyov said.

He underscored that air loss due to the crack are insignificant.

Read more at: TASS

China’s Space Narrative

Both China and the United States have created separate parts of their military dedicated to space. Commercial, scientific, and military endeavors in space are all intimately linked, and one must understand how they are viewed to better understand how a nation might proceed in one or all of those fields. In accordance with our charter to support the Secretary of the Air Force, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the Chief of Space Operations, and other DoD and U.S. government leaders, the China Aerospace Studies Institute designed its 2020 CASI Conference around China’s space activities.

Read more at: Airuniversity


Outer Space Is A Mess That Moriba Jah Wants To Clean Up

With each new satellite that reaches orbit, the space above our heads gets a little more congested. There are about 3,000 active satellites in use today, but that number is changing quickly, especially as companies like Starlink send up 60 small satellites in a single launch. Add the 20,000 or so bits of orbital debris that authorities are actively tracking, and the image of a limitless expanse of space above the Earth starts to feel a little different.

Moriba Jah is a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin who’s on a mission to make the stakes of orbital congestion abundantly clear.

Read more at: Verge

Iodine Thruster Could Slow Space Junk Accumulation

For the first time ever, a telecommunications satellite has used an iodine propellant to change its orbit around Earth.

The small but potentially disruptive innovation could help to clear the skies of space junk, by enabling tiny satellites to self-destruct cheaply and easily at the end of their missions, by steering themselves into the atmosphere where they would burn up.

The technology could also be used to boost the mission lifetime of small CubeSats that monitor agricultural crops on Earth or entire mega-constellations of nanosats that provide global internet access, by raising their orbits when they begin to drift towards the planet.

Read more at: ESA


Virgin Orbit Launches 10 Satellites To Orbit In Landmark Test Flight

Virgin Orbit’s name isn’t purely aspirational anymore.


The California company’s LauncherOne rocket reached orbit today (Jan. 17) on its second powered test flight, a mission called Launch Demo 2. And that’s not all: The rocket also successfully deployed 10 tiny cubesats, which flew via NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites program. 

Read more at:

SpaceX Acquires Former Oil Rigs To Serve As Floating Starship Spaceports

SpaceX has acquired two former oil drilling rigs to serve as these floating spaceports. Named Phobos and Deimos, after the two moons of Mars, they are currently undergoing modifications to support Starship launch operations.

SpaceX has long been hinting at future floating launch and landing sites for their Starship launch system. The super heavy lift launch vehicle will have a large blast danger area and pose noise concerns if launched frequently near populated areas. Therefore, sea launch platforms will play a key role in the launch cadence SpaceX plans to reach with Starship, including on-orbit refueling flights for deep space missions and transportation from one place to another on Earth.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

To Orbit… And Beyond?

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall today announced a $6.5 million partnership with the growing South Australian space industry to send a locally made small satellite into low Earth orbit in 2022.

Marshall says SA is the first Australian state government to embark on such an undertaking.

Dubbed the SASAT1 Space Services Mission, the satellite will gather information designed to assist and improve such things as emergency services, environment and water-quality monitoring, and mining and bushfire mitigation.

Read more at: Cosmos magazine

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