NASA Safety Panel: Second Starliner OFT Software Error Could Have Been “Catastrophic”

NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) revealed today that a second software error was discovered during the uncrewed Boeing Starliner flight test in December. Had it gone undetected during the flight, it had the potential to cause “catastrophic spacecraft failure” during reentry. The panel wants a complete review of Boeing’s software verification processes before NASA decides whether a second uncrewed flight test is needed. In an email this evening, Boeing said it appreciates the input and is working on a plan with NASA to address all the issues and decide what comes next

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Starliner Investigation Finds Numerous Problems In Boeing Software Development Process

Boeing will reverify all the software on its CST-100 Starliner commercial crew spacecraft after an ongoing investigation found “numerous” problems in the original development process that allowed at least two major problems to escape detection.

In a call with reporters Feb. 7, NASA and Boeing officials said they had made no decisions about whether a second uncrewed test flight, or Orbital Flight Test (OFT) of the spacecraft will be needed, but that there were significant issues with the spacecraft, in particular how its software was developed, that need to be corrected.

Read more at: Spacenews

First Manned Space Mission Will Be Launched In 2022: Isro Chief

We aim to launch the first unmanned space flight by the end of 2020 and the first manned space mission will be launched prior to 75th Independence Day in 2022,” said K Sivan, chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro).

Sivan was the HK Firodia Awards for Excellence in Science and Technology, held on Friday at Bal Gandharva Rangmandir in Pune.

“Four astronauts have been short-listed for the Gaganyaan mission who will go to Russia for 15 months training. The astronauts from the Indian Air Force were identified after months of rigorous medical check-ups. A series of tests pertaining to the design and engineering of the mission systems have been planned in 2020,” he further added.

Read more at: Hindustan times

China’s Space Industry Faces Impacts Of Coronavirus Outbreak

China’s space industry is suffering adverse effects from the coronavirus outbreak which has so far infected more than 30,000 in mainland China.

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the country’s state-owned main space contractor, has resumed a degree of launch vehicle production activities following the Chinese New Year holiday. However, the implementation of measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus have impacted production and research.

Read more at: Spacenews

European Crew Wraps Up Mock Moon Mission On Volcano In Hawaii

A crew of six scientists returned from “the moon” Saturday to wrap up two weeks exploring a mock lunar landscape on the side of a Hawaiian volcano. 

The scientists began their mission on Jan. 18 and have been working and living at the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS, habitat as part of the third EuroMoonMars mission (EMMIHS-III) — a series of analog missions run in collaboration with the European Space Agency, the International MoonBase Alliance and HI-SEAS.

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China May Have Over 40 Space Launches In 2020

China’s aerospace industry will see a busy year in 2020, with the number of space launches expected to exceed 40, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

The highlights of the space activities include the launch of China’s first Mars probe, the Chang’e-5 lunar probe, which is expected to bring moon samples back to Earth, the final step of China’s current lunar exploration program, as well as the completion of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System constellation.

Read more at: Spacedaily


UNH Researchers Find Clues to How Hazardous Space Radiation Begins

Scientists at the University of New Hampshire have unlocked one of the mysteries of how particles from flares on the sun accumulate at early stages in the energization of hazardous radiation that is harmful to astronauts, satellites and electronic equipment in space. Using data obtained by NASA’s Parker Solar Probe (PSP), researchers observed one of the largest events so far during the mission. These observations show how plasma that is released after a solar flare—a sudden flash of increased brightness—can accelerate and pile up energetic particles generating dangerous radiation conditions.

Read more at: UNH

Aurora To Test Deorbit Tether On Momentus Mission

Finnish startup Aurora Propulsion Technologies signed a contract at the SmallSat Symposium to fly a deorbiting technology demonstration on a Momentus Space Vigoride mission.

Aurora plans to send a 1.5-unit cubesat into orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in December 2020 before riding with Momentus’ Vigoride service to sun-synchronous orbit.

The Aurora cubesat will demonstrate water-fueled resistojet thrusters to provide attitude and altitude control as well as the Plasma Brake Module for deorbiting, Aurora CEO Roope Takala told SpaceNews.

Read more at: Spacenews

DND Selects Seven Engineering and Costing Proposals for Space-Based Surveillance System

In December of 2019 the Department of National Defence (DND) put a call for engineering and costing studies related to a space-based surveillance system.

Today DND published the companies selected to continue the process for the three streams.

The three space-based surveillance system streams are:

  • Stream 1 – Constellation Design concept.
  • Stream 2 – Data Exploitation concept.
  • Stream 3 -Alternate mission type design concept (non-SAR).

Read more at: SpaceQ

Oneweb Sends 34 Broadband Satellites Into Orbit On Arianespace Soyuz Rocket, Challenging SpaceX

Europe’s Arianespace launch consortium today used a Russian-made Soyuz rocket to send 34 satellites into a near-polar orbit for OneWeb’s broadband internet constellation, sharpening a rivalry with SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation.

The Soyuz lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:42 a.m. Feb. 7 (1:42 p.m. PT Feb. 6) and successfully deployed the dishwasher-sized satellites over the course of three hours and 45 minutes. This was the second OneWeb mission, following up on last year’s inaugural launch of six satellites.

Read more at: Geekwire

Government, Industry Officials Share Small Satellite Cybersecurity Concerns

Cybersecurity was a recurring theme at the SmallSat Symposium here.

Defense and intelligence agencies are eager “to leverage the capabilities that are coming out of small satellites and networks,” Fred Kennedy, former head of the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency, said Feb. 5. However, leaders of both classified and unclassified space programs are concerned about “cybersecurity and data integrity,” he added.

Read more at: Spacenews

Roscosmos To Rename Russia’s Asteroid Detection System To ‘Milky Way’

The Russian automated tool of monitoring hazardous situations in near-Earth space will be given a new name of “Milky Way,” the first deputy director of Russian space agency Roscosmos, Yury Urlichich, said on Tuesday.

“We have decided to rename the system to ‘Milky Way.’ As of today, it is called the NES ASPOS [Warning Automated System of Hazardous Situations in near-Earth Space]”, Urlichich said during the annual Academic Space Conference, named after Soviet rocket engineer Sergei Korolev.

Read more at: Spacedaily


NASA To Allow Researchers To Fly On Commercial Suborbital Vehicles

NASA plans for the first time to allow researchers to fly with their payloads on commercial suborbital vehicles, ending years of debate and deliberation.

NASA released Jan. 29 a draft solicitation seeking payloads for its Flight Opportunities program, which provides rides for such payloads on high-altitude balloons, parabolic aircraft flights and commercial suborbital vehicles. That includes reusable suborbital spacecraft currently being flight tested by Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic.

Read more at: Spacenews

LEO Satellites Fuel New Space Race

Start-up rocket and satellite companies are springing up across the globe with the promise of providing many different space services and endeavors. One of the leading markets these companies are looking to fill is the production and launching of small low-Earth orbit satellites, or LEOs, and they’re already taking up most of the satellite space.

As of September 30, 2019, there were over 2,200 satellites orbiting Earth, most of which are LEO. These satellites operate fairly close to the surface of the Earth, between 500 and 2000 kilometers. Companies like Space X and Blue Origin are investing heavily in the production of LEO satellites because they’re much better at transmitting data than satellites further away, while at the same time being smaller and easier to manufacture.

Read more at: Statista

Astra Unveils Plans For Frequent, Low-Cost Launches

A small launch vehicle company emerged from stealth mode this week, but is still keeping many details about its plans and capabilities behind closed doors.

Astra, a company based in Alameda, California, formally announced its plans Feb. 3, an unveiling timed to the publication of a profile of the company in Bloomberg Businessweek. That included the company’s first public website, complete with a two-minute video introducing the company.

Read more at: Spacenews

Virgin Orbit Nearing First Launch

Virgin Orbit says it is weeks away from the first orbital launch of its LauncherOne rocket as the company makes plans to move quickly into operations if that flight is successful.

The company said in a series of tweets Jan. 31 that is in final preparations for its test launch, with the LauncherOne rocket attached to its Boeing 747 aircraft for a final series of tests and dress rehearsals at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. That includes a captive carry flight, where the plane will take off with the rocket attached for the entire flight.

Read more at: Spacenews


Space Station To Forge Ultra-Fast Connections

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station plan to install a high-speed radio link to enable almost real-time connections with Earth.

The upgrade to the ESA Columbus laboratory will relay data from experiments on the Station back to Earth almost instantaneously.

The fridge-sized device will fly to the Station aboard Northrop Grumman’s 13th Cygnus supply ship on 9 February.

Read more at: ESA

A Scottish Launch Company Just Tested A ‘Green’ Rocket Engine That Uses Waste Plastic As Fuel

U.K. launch startup Skyrora has tested a new rocket engine that uses “greener” fuel in the form of waste plastic, as it moves towards its planned first orbital launch in 2022.

Edinburgh-based Skyrora said it had successfully tested its 3D-printed “eco liquid-fuel rocket engine” last week at a test site in Fife, Scotland. The 3.5kN Leo engine is designed to be used on the company’s planned Skyrora XL rocket.

Read more at: Forbes

Anti-Solar Cells: A Photovoltaic Cell That Works At Night

What if solar cells worked at night? That’s no joke, according to Jeremy Munday, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC Davis. In fact, a specially designed photovoltaic cell could generate up to 50 watts of power per square meter under ideal conditions at night, about a quarter of what a conventional solar panel can generate in daytime, according to a concept paper by Munday and graduate student Tristan Deppe. The article was published in, and featured on the cover of, the January 2020 issue of ACS Photonics.

Read more at: Solardaily


Federal Red Tape Hamstrings Florida’s Commercial Space Growth

The arm of the Florida state government tasked with revitalizing its space economy is facing years of delays in acquiring excess federal land and facilities to attract new commercial customers, says Frank DiBello, the CEO of Space Florida.

The public-private partnership established in 2006 has been buying up federal land and infrastructure on Florida’s space coast since 2011, when the space shuttle program was retired and the industry contracted dramatically, and leasing it to commercial customers like Boeing or Blue Origin.

Read more at: Politico

Legal Action Could Be Used To Stop Starlink Affecting Telescope Images

A group of astronomers has called for legal action to stop the launch of vast numbers of satellites designed to beam high-speed internet around the world until their impact on the night sky can be assessed.

US firm SpaceX has already launched 240 satellites as part of its planned Starlink constellation of up to 42,000 satellites. Others, such as the UK company OneWeb, plan to launch hundreds of their own. There are currently 1500 active satellites orbiting Earth.

Read more at: New scientist


India Proudly Showcases Its Anti-Satellite Weapon At An Arms Bazaar

This week, India’s Ministry of Defense is holding Defexpo 2020 in the northern part of the country. The event seeks to promote India as a “defense manufacturing hub.” In other words, it is essentially an arms bazaar.

One of the main exhibits of this week’s show is a large display showing off a copy of the hardware used during Mission Shakti, the successful anti-satellite test conducted by India in March, 2019. During this test, the country successfully fired a missile from the ground to shoot down a satellite at an altitude of 300km.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Kitay: Reducing Secrecy Critical to Space Force Success

Greater transparency about space budgets is needed to normalize Space Force as the sixth military service, Stephen Kitay, deputy assistant defense secretary for space policy, said Feb. 6.

“We … need to lower the classification of what we’re doing,” Kitay told an AFA Mitchell Institute audience on Capitol Hill. Leaders like Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Gen. John Hyten have been “clear that this needs to be updated” in order for the public and industry to “understand the threats we’re facing.”

Read more at: Airforce mag

Defense Department Drafting New Space Strategy

he Pentagon is working on an updated space strategy that would replace the 2011 version issued by the Obama administration.

“Our evolving defense space strategy is still in development and in coordination,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Steve Kitay said Feb. 6 at a Mitchell Institute event on Capitol Hill.

Kitay said the establishment of a U.S. Space Force as a separate military service is a major new development that has to be reflected in the DoD space strategy.

Read more at: Spacenews

SMC Wants To Take “Smart Risks” With Nontraditional Partners

In 2020, the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) will expand its campaign to draw on the innovation of companies that are not traditional government contractors, SMC Commander Lt. Gen. John Thompson said Feb. 4 at the SmallSat Symposium here.

“The Department of Defense space enterprise is less than one-fifth of the space investment currently going on in this country,” Thompson said. “The rest of it, the other 80 percent, comes from commercial investment. We must have structures, processes and the ability to reach out to the people doing the other 80 of innovation.”

Read more at: Spacenews

Where No Alliance Has Gone Before

With the United States’ Dec. 21 creation of a separate and sovereign branch of its military completely devoted to space, the U.S. Space Force, the global race to emancipate a portion of national military power from terrestrial shackles and place it firmly into orbit is on.

The announcement also unleashed a somewhat unexpected cascading effect: the increased attention paid to military space activities by U.S. allies and partners, who have no choice but to follow where the U.S. military moves its gravitational pull. In particular, Japan has indicated in recent days its intention to remain in lockstep with the U.S., at least in terms of defense.

Read more at: Japan times

Iran Preparing To Launch Satellite In ‘Coming Days’

Iran is preparing to launch a new scientific observation satellite in the “coming days,” according to AFP.

Development of the “Zafar” (Victory) satellite began three years ago, said Morteza Barari, head of the country’s national space agency, on Saturday. The 113-kilogram satellite will be launched by a Simorgh rocket.

Read more at: Jpost

France To Spell Out Post-Brexit Nuclear Weapons Strategy

France, the European Union’s sole nuclear power since Britain’s exit from the bloc, will unveil Friday how it intends to use its atomic arsenal as a deterrent in an increasingly unstable world.

President Emmanuel Macron, in an address to military officers graduating in Paris, is expected to recommit to upgrading France’s capacity, at a time when NATO allies, who would ordinarily look to the United States in a nuclear standoff, worry about Washington’s retreat from the multilateral stage.

Read more at: Spacedaily

US Tests ICBM As It Works To Overhaul Aging Weaponry

The United States on Wednesday tested an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile with a new kind of re-entry vehicle as it seeks to modernize aging surface-to-air weapons.

The missile was launched at 0830 GMT from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, soaring 4,200 miles (6,700 km) across the Pacific to the Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands, the air force said in a statement.

It said it was a “developmental test launch,” not a routine test launch like one carried out on October 2.

Read more at: Spacedaily


How to Die on Mars

How will we die on Mars?

Science fiction media has approached this question for decades. For those who die aboard spacecraft on the journey to Mars or some other cosmic destination (e.g., Spock’s death in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” and events in the recent film “Ad Astra”), the solution is always the same: toss ’em out of the airlock.

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European Space Agency Director Woerner Not Seeking Extension To Term

European Space Agency Director General Jan Woerner informed ESA personnel he is not seeking an extension to his current term ending June 2021. 

In a Feb. 1 email sent to ESA staff, Woerner said he does not want to face a repeat of the 2018 process, during which Woerner says he was targeted by campaign to erode his standing.

Woerner told ESA employees that he would leave the decision as to whether he continues in the role of director general through the end of his term in the hands of the ESA council.

Read more at: Spacenews

By Even A Centimeter: Remembering the Near-Mir Mission, 25 Years On (Part 1)

A quarter-century ago this month, in February 1995, the astronauts (and a single cosmonaut) of shuttle Discovery roared into the night on a mission which performed the first rendezvous with Russia’s Mir space station. During their eight days in space, the men and women of STS-63—Commander Jim Wetherbee, Pilot Eileen Collins and Mission Specialists Bernard Harris, Mike Foale, Vladimir Titov and the late Janice Voss—approached to within 33 feet (10 meters) of the iconic orbital outpost, which would host several U.S. long-duration residents and no fewer than nine visiting shuttle crews between 1995 and 1998.

Read more at: Americaspace

11th IAASS conference