‘Comm Check’: Remembering Columbia’s Final Flight Home, OTD in 2003

For 16 days in January 2003, the seven men and women of shuttle Columbia’s STS-107 crew—Commander Rick Husband, Pilot Willie McCool, Mission Specialists Dave Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Mike Anderson and Laurel Clark and Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon of Israel—worked around-the-clock to complete 80 scientific experiments spanning a variety of disciplines from life sciences to fluid physics and from materials research to Earth observations. Eighty-seven missions after Challenger, they had serviced the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) four times, docked nine times with Russia’s Mir orbital complex and had begun building the sprawling International Space Station (ISS) in low-Earth orbit.

Read more at: Americaspace

SpaceX Violated Launch License In Starship SN8 Launch

The Federal Aviation Administration said that SpaceX violated the conditions of a launch license for its Starship vehicle during a launch in December, prompting an investigation that delayed tests of another vehicle.

In a Feb. 2 statement, the FAA said that SpaceX had requested a waiver to its FAA license for suborbital test flights of its Starship vehicle before the Dec. 9 flight of the Starship SN8 vehicle. That waiver, the FAA said, would have allowed SpaceX to “exceed the maximum public risk allowed by federal safety regulations.”

Read more at: Spacenews

US Still Committed To Landing Artemis Astronauts On The Moon, White House Says

The Biden administration’s crucial first 100 days in office now includes a big human spaceflight pledge.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday (Feb. 4) that President Joe Biden will carry on the Artemis program to land humans on the moon in the coming years. Artemis began under Biden’s predecessor, then-President Donald Trump.

“Through the Artemis program, the United States government will work with industry and international partners to send astronauts to the surface of the moon — another man and a woman to the moon,” Psaki told reporters in a White House press briefing Thursday.

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UN And UK Sign Agreement To Promote Space Sustainability

The agreement will help nations ensure that outer space remains safe and sustainable for future generations.

The increasing complexity of space missions, the emergence of large constellations of satellites and the increased risks of collision all affect the long-term sustainability of space activities. And there are currently approximately 170 million objects in orbit – mainly debris – which could collide with satellites vital to services we use every day.

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Scottish Rocket Firm’s ‘Space Tug’ Gives Space Sustainability Dream A Lift

Scottish rocket development company Skyrora has conducted successful trials of a ‘space tug’ which it hopes can ensure the UK becomes a leader in tackling the issue of space junk.

The Orbit Transfer Vehicle – part of its Skyrora XL rocket due to launch in 2023 – could clear debris, reposition satellites and remove defunct satellites from orbit.

In the week that the UK and UN signed a historical agreement on space sustainability, Edinburgh-based Skyrora has thrown its support behind the initiative.

Read more at: Insider


China’s Surging Private Space Industry Is Out To Challenge The US

China’s space program might have been slowed by the pandemic in 2020, but it certainly didn’t stop. The year’s highlights included sending a rover to Mars, bringing moon rocks back to Earth, and testing out the next-generation crewed vehicle that should take taikonauts into orbit—and possibly to the moon—one day.

But there were a few achievements the rest of the world might not have noticed. One was the November 7 launch of Ceres-1, a new type of rocket that, at just 62 feet in height, is capable of taking 770 pounds of payload into low Earth orbit. The launch sent the Tianqi 11 communications satellite into space.

Read more at: Technology review

Virgin Galactic Ordered Safety Probe After Wing Of Spacecraft Was Damaged During 2019 Flight, Book Says

Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic had just had its second successful flight to the edge of space, a daring mission that it said put it one step closer to finally flying tourists and making it the “world’s first commercial spaceline.”

But when the ground crew wheeled the suborbital spacecraft back into the hangar, company officials discovered that a seal running along a stabilizer on the wing designed to keep the space plane flying straight had come undone — a potentially serious safety hazard.

Read more at: Washington post

China’s Ispace Fails To Reach Orbit In 2nd Launch Attempt

The first private Chinese company to reach orbit met with failure Monday (Feb. 1) during its second attempt to go to space.

iSpace’s four-stage Hyperbola-1 rocket failed after liftoff while attempting to carry the cubesat-sized Fangzhou-2 (Ark-2) satellite into space, which also never made it.

Media reports indicate the launch attempt happened around 4:15 p.m. local time (3:15 a.m. EST; 0815 GMT) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert, which covers north and northeastern China.

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