Two NASA Astronauts Will Conduct The First All-Female Spacewalk In History

An all-female crew will perform a spacewalk at the International Space Station for the first time in history, according to NASA.

Astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch are set to conduct the walk on March 29, and Canadian Space Agency flight controller Kristen Facciol will provide support from the ground. In addition to two space walkers and the flight controller, Mary Lawrence will take the helm as lead flight director and Jackie Kagey will be the lead flight controller, NASA confirmed.

The walk marks 35 years since Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to walk in space in 1963. Since then, 59 different women have flown to space as of 2017, including cosmonauts, astronauts, payload specialists and foreign national, according to NASA.

Read more at: CNBC

SpaceX Dragon Capsule Splashes Down In Atlantic Ocean: NASA

The SpaceX Dragon capsule successfully splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean on Friday after more than six days in space, completing its demonstration mission for US space agency NASA.

“Good splashdown of Dragon confirmed!” the SpaceX account tweeted along with an image of the capsule showing its four main white and orange parachutes deployed as two boats sped toward it.

Live footage from NASA showed the capsule’s main parachutes opened without a hitch, and it splashed down at 8:45 am (1345 GMT), completing a mission to demonstrate that it could reliably and safely carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

Read more at: Spacedaily

China Preparing For Space Station Missions

The China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) announced Monday that the core module of the country’s space station, the Long March-5B carrier rocket and its payloads will be sent to the launch site in the second half of this year, to make preparations for the space station missions.

China is scheduled to complete the construction of the space station around 2022. It will be the country’s space lab in long-term stable in-orbit operation.

The space station will have a core module and experiment modules, which are under development and will be launched into space by the Long March-5B.

Read more at: Xinhuanet

Oneweb Of 600 Internet Satellites In Space

The idea is simple: Get everyone on the planet on the internet. And there’s a US-based company called OneWeb, which, along with European aerospace firm Airbus, hopes to achieve just that. It’s not the first or even the only one to try it. But OneWeb is the first to get so far.

After starting up seven years ago, the company is finally starting to launch a fleet of about 600 satellites into a low-Earth orbit. That’s closer to Earth than most communications satellites and one reason why the network might actually work, with “better web performance,” as the company puts it.

Low-Earth orbit (LEO) is typically up to an altitude of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles). For comparison, the International Space Station orbits at about 400 km, while other satellites in LEO tend to be for Earth observation and military purposes. Most telecommunications satellites fly twice as high in medium low-Earth orbit (MEO), or even higher at geostationary Earth orbit (GEO).

Read more at: DW

Russia’s Passive-Aggressive Reaction To Spacex May Mask A Deeper Truth

One of the big questions surrounding the first launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft was how the Russians would react. They have held considerable sway in the International Space Station partnership by controlling access to the orbiting laboratory since the 2011 retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle. So far, the Russian response has been one of throwing small bits of shade here and there but trying not to be too obvious about it.

On Sunday, when SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft docked with the International Space Station, the Russian space corporation sequestered cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko in the Russian segment of the station. This was, Roscosmos said, so that Kononenko could take emergency action in case the Dragon became uncontrollable and crashed into the space station.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Boeing Preps for Upcoming Starliner Test Flight to Space Station

As SpaceX’s first crew-carrying vehicle wraps up its maiden test flight to the International Space Station (ISS), Boeing is prepping for its own moment in the sun.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule launched early Saturday morning (March 2) on an uncrewed shakeout cruise called Demo-1. The spacecraft arrived at the orbiting lab 27 hours later, and it’s scheduled to return to Earth Friday (March 8).

Boeing will soon fly a similar mission to the ISS, called Orbital Flight Test (OFT), with its CST-100 Starliner capsule. OFT will lift off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket; the launch could take place as early as next month.

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Effects Of Spaceflight On Heart Cell Formation From Stem Cells

Researchers used time-lapse imaging to show that mouse induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) grown during spaceflight differentiated into cardiomyocytes significantly faster than similar cells grown at Earth’s gravity.

The robust cardiomyocyte formation at microgravity, which lasted for 10 days, is described in an article published in Stem Cells and Development, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. Click here to read the full-text article free on the Stem Cells and Development website through April 6, 2019.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Planetary Researchers Map Potential Sources of Martian Water

The challenges associated with delivering humans to Mars and returning them safely to Earth cannot be overstated. Within the parameters of current propulsion technology, mass will be the ultimate premium, and thus leveraging all available on-site resources will be essential.

The most valuable Martian resource for living off the land is water, which offers fuel to sustain an outpost and for the return to Earth, in addition to the most important ingredients of life support, namely liquid water and a means to breathe.

“Water ice will be a critical resource for human explorers on Mars, not only for life support but also for generating fuel to power equipment on the ground and rockets for the return journey to Earth,” said Dr. Nathaniel Putzig, a senior scientist at Planetary Science Institute.

Read more at: sci-news

NASA Reassessing EM-1 Launch Date

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) Director Jody Singer said today that the agency is reassessing the 2020 launch readiness date for Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the first launch of Space Launch System (SLS) with an uncrewed Orion capsule.  SLS was an excepted activity during the 35-day partial government shutdown so work did not stop and significant progress is being made, but NASA wants to ensure the system is ready before attempting the first launch.

Speaking at a Space Transportation Association (STA) meeting on Capitol Hill today, Singer outlined how much has been accomplished to date.  All the segments for EM-1 are ready except the core stage, which is “almost ready,” but much testing remains.   The “Green Run” all-up system test at Stennis Space Center will take place late this year or early next, she said.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

China Opens Its First Mars Simulation Base In Qinghai Province

China has opened its first Mars simulation base to the public to encourage young people to get involved in space exploration. The Mars simulation base, which opened on Friday, is located in Mangai city, in Northwest China’s Qinghai Province.

The red rock area in the Qaidam Basin in Qinghai has been called the most “Martian” place on Earth, with its natural features, landscape and climate all similar to those on the red planet, said Gao Junling, the project founder. The region has the country’s largest Yardang landform. The temperatures here vary greatly between day and night, similar to those on Mars, according to Gao.

He said that participants could immerse themselves in the environment and try to solve problems they might face on Mars, such as planting potatoes on Mars for food supply and solar power generation.

Read more at: Global times

Exclusive Interview: Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides

Ten years ago, no one would have imagined space ranger Buzz Lightyear’s activities becoming a reality, but late last year Virgin Galactic’s supersonic, rocket-powered spaceplane, VSS Unity, flew into space.

“It’s a wonderful, liberating experience,” says George Whitesides, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, referring to an earlier zero gravity experience. “You have spent your whole life at 1G and to be freed from that is incredible; I found learning how to move in a new environment turned on bits of my brain I probably hadn’t used since I was a toddler.”

Read more at: buyingbusinesstravel

China’s Commercial Carrier Rocket To Make Maiden Flight In H1

China’s first carrier rocket for commercial use is scheduled to make its maiden flight in the first half of 2019, according to the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALVT).

The rocket, named Smart Dragon-1 (SD-1), is the first member of the Dragon series commercial carrier rockets family to be produced by CALVT, as China accelerates the development of commercial space industry.

China’s current carrier rockets all belong to the Long March family.

Read more at: Xinhuanet

ESA’s Space Weather Mission To Be Protected Against Stormy Sun

ESA is planning Earth’s first dedicated space weather observatory to warn of potentially harmful turbulence in our parent star. Like a referee at a sports game, the Lagrange spacecraft will be able to observe both the sun and Earth as well as the space in between – but will itself be in the space weather line of fire.

“This will be an operational rather a scientific mission, meaning it has to keep on working because people will be depending on it,” explains ESA space environment specialist Piers Jiggens.

“On Earth it wouldn’t be acceptable to have weather forecasting infrastructure that stops working when a hurricane is coming, because coverage would be lost at the point when an extreme weather event impacts our lives the most.

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An Asteroid the Size of a Jumbo Jet Just Buzzed Safely By Earth

An asteroid as big as a jumbo jet made a close flyby of Earth today (March 4).

The space rock, named asteroid 2015 EG, posed no threat during the encounter as it passed by at a safe distance of about 274,400 miles (441,600 kilometers), or 1.1 times the average distance between Earth and the moon, at 4:03 p.m. EST (2103 GMT).

As its name implies, asteroid 2015 EG was discovered in 2015. NASA estimates that the space rock measures between 63 and 141 feet (19 to 43 meters) across and is currently barrelling through the solar system at 21,545 mph (9.63 km/s). It’s actually one of five near-Earth asteroids on NASA’s radar today, but asteroid 2015 EG made the closest approach of them all, according to NASA’s Asteroid Watch.

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Think We Can Nuke Away An Incoming Asteroid? Think Again

Asteroids are much harder to destroy than previously thought, new modelling shows.

The research, published in the journal Icarus, shows that an asteroid damaged in a collision – by another asteroid, for instance, or a nuclear missile fired at it in the blind hope that doing so will prevent it from smacking into the planet with catastrophic consequences – will substantially reconstruct itself because of the strong gravitational pull of its still-intact core.

The modelling, funded by NASA, substantially updates and contradicts earlier research that showed that a collision between a small asteroid and a large one would completely demolish the latter, the destruction facilitated by the rapid transit of cracks right through it.

Read more at: Cosmos magazine

Are Small Satellites The Solution For Space Weather Monitoring?

With key space weather satellites expected to fail before U.S. and European agencies launch replacements, “small satellites may be the only way of averting a bleak future,” said Daniel Baker, director of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.

Many of the instruments the U.S. relies on to monitor solar flares, coronal mass ejections and other phenomena that pose a threat to satellites in orbit and technology on the ground are well beyond their anticipated life spans. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is sending new instruments into orbit on its latest generation of geostationary weather satellites but other updates to the space weather constellation are likely to fly years after current instruments fail.

Read more at: Spacenews

The US Air Force’s X-60A Hypersonic Research Vehicle Completed Its Critical Design Review

The programme is now moving into the fabrication phase, with the initial flight of the vehicle scheduled to take place in about a year at Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville, Florida, says the USAF. The liquid-rocket powered vehicle is designed to be launched after being dropped from under the belly of a NASA C-20A, a military version of the Gulfstream III business jet.

The vehicle is being developed by the USAF Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wight-Patterson Air Force Base, in Ohio in partnership with Generation Orbit Launch Services.

Read more at: Flight global

German Engineers Produce And Test 3D-Printed Rocket Engine

The new method will allow the weight and production cost of a rocket to be reduced, while increasing payload and implementing more sophisticated cooling systems.

German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in collaboration with SLM Solutions, have successfully created a rocket engine, called BERTA, fully assembled using 3D-printing technology. The engine, which will be used in an Ariane 6 modular rocket developed by the ArianeGroup for the European Space Agency (ESA), is capable of delivering satellites to geostationary transfer or sun-synchronous orbits.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Illinois Native Uses Experience On Farm To Build Deep Space Rocket

Milking cows and baling hay might have more to do with rocket science than you think.

Growing up on a working dairy farm in rural Breese, Illinois, NASA engineer Julie Bassler watched planes fly overhead as she worked in the fields.

“As a child, the closest I ever got to seeing big cities was watching the airplanes that flew over our farm headed to their destinations,” Bassler said. “I would think, ‘I want to do that,’ and so my first dream was to be an airline pilot.”

Read more at: Spacedaily

NASA Captures Unprecedented Images Of Supersonic Shockwaves

NASA has captured unprecedented photos of the interaction of shockwaves from two supersonic aircraft, part of its research into developing planes that can fly faster than sound without thunderous “sonic booms”.

When an aircraft crosses that threshold—around 1,225 kilometers (760 miles) per hour at sea level—it produces waves from the pressure it puts on the air around it, which merge to cause the ear-splitting sound.

In an intricate maneuver by “rock star” pilots at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, two supersonic T-38 jets flew just 30 feet (nine meters) apart below another plane waiting to photograph them with an advanced, high-speed camera, the agency said.

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Magnonic Devices Can Replace Electronics Without Much Noise

Electronic devices such as transistors are getting smaller and will soon hit the limits of conventional performance based on electrical currents.

Devices based on magnonic currents – quasi-particles associated with waves of magnetization, or spin waves, in certain magnetic materials – would transform the industry, though scientists need to better understand how to control them.

Engineers at the University of California, Riverside, have made an important step toward the development of practical magnonic devices by studying, for the first time, the level of noise associated with propagation of magnon current.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Space Power Plant And A Mission To Mars: China’s New Plans To Conquer The Final Frontier

China says it is working to develop a solar energy plant in space that could one day beam enough power back to Earth to light up an entire city.

If scientists can overcome the formidable technical challenges, the project would represent a monumental leap in combating the Earth’s addiction to dirty power sources which worsen air pollution and global warming. A space-based solar power station could also provide an alternative to the current generation of earthbound and relatively ineffective renewable energy sources.
Scientists had previously thought space solar plants (SSPs) would be prohibitively expensive.

Read more at: CNN

House Space Subcommittee Chair Weighs In On America’s Future In Space

With space tourism and commercial astronaut flights coming soon in the United States, Congress and the public need a better understanding of the risks of spaceflight, says the freshman chair of the House space subcommittee .

“We don’t want to put humans at risk,” Kendra Horn (D-Okla.) said in an interview. “We don’t want to take unnecessary risk, but going into space in and of itself, it is critical that we do it. It impacts our live in so many ways, including the tech we rely on today. That means a willingness to take on risk … so I think that we have to have a broader conversation about what those levels of risk look like, and when it is acceptable to take some of those risks.”

Read more at: Forbes

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to step down

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson informed President Trump on Friday that she will be stepping down May 31 to become president of the University of Texas El Paso.

“Upon a favorable final vote by the Regents, I will resign my position as Secretary of the Air Force effective May 31, 2019,” Wilson wrote March 8 in a resignation letter. “This should allow sufficient time for a smooth transition and ensure effective advocacy during upcoming Congressional hearings.”

She noted in the letter that she decided to move to academia because “American higher education needs strong leaders to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Read more at: Spacenews

US Positive On N. Korea Denuclearization Despite ‘Operational’ Rocket Site

The US still believes the “fully verified denuclearization” of North Korea is possible by the end of President Donald Trump’s “first term,” a senior official said Thursday, despite warnings a key rocket launch site appears to have resumed operations.

The specialized website 38 North and the Center for Strategic and International Studies used commercial satellite imagery to track construction at the site — which they said began before last week’s aborted summit in Hanoi between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

Images taken on March 6 showed that a rail-mounted structure to transfer rockets to the launching pad appeared to have been completed and “may now be operational.”

Read more at: Spacedaily

EELV Is No More. It Is Now ‘National Security Space Launch’

In keeping with a mandate from Congress, the Air Force on Friday officially renamed the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program. It is now the National Security Space Launch program.

The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act directed the name change effective March 1. The 25-year-old EELV program was created long before the advent of reusable rockets. Congress in renaming the program noted that this is a new era when both reusable and expendable launch vehicles should be considered in future solicitations.

“The Secretary of Defense shall pursue a strategy that includes fully or partially reusable launch systems,” the NDAA says. Congress also directs DoD to continue to work on a process to evaluate and certify launch vehicles using previously flown components or systems.

Read more at: Spacenews

EELV Isn’t What It Used To Be: Air Force Changes Launch Program Name

Even before the space shuttle Challenger accident in 1986, the US military wanted access to space independent of the civilian space agency. But that accident spurred the Reagan administration to devise a National Space Launch Strategy that directed the military to develop a “mixed fleet” policy and ensure access to space by way of multiple vehicles.

By 1994, as the military sought to develop a stable of rockets for the 21st century, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Thomas Moorman urged development of an “evolved expendable launch vehicle,” or EELV approach. The goal of the Moorman plan was to “evolve” the aging Atlas and Delta rockets by improving their reliability and lowering their cost. This grew into the Atlas V and Delta IV rockets presently built and flown by United Launch Alliance.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Former JSC Director George Abbey: Education, Leadership Key To Human Spaceflight

If NASA wants to get its human spaceflight program back on track, former Johnson Space Center Director George Abbey says the U.S. needs to redouble its education efforts.

“If you’re going to be successful, you have to have the people with the background and education is part of it,” Abbey said Monday. “This nation has a major problem with education and we need to address it.”

Abbey spoke at an event Monday night discussing a new biography about him, “The Astronaut Maker: How One Mysterious Engineer Ran Human Spaceflight for a Generation,” by Michael Cassutt. Cassutt was also in attendance.

Read more at: Chron

Chinese Space Exploration Needs Female Astronauts: Chinese Expert

Chinese women are playing a more significant role in the country’s aerospace programs, working as astronauts, helping develop aeromedicine and Mars exploration, according to an expert.

Two women, Liu Yang and Wang Yaping, are members of the seventh team of Chinese astronauts. They were selected from a group of married female transport plane pilots, and are among China’s fist 10 astronauts who have been in space.

Both Liu and Wang worked in space as mission specialists and were shown to have excellent physical and psychological attributers, Pang Zhihao, national chief science communication expert of space exploration technology, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Read more at: ecns

‘What Do You Eat in Space? Shrimp!’: Former NASA Chief Narrates Stories from Orbit

“What does it feel like going into space?” was the question many of the hundreds of students seated inside the Kondajji Basappa auditorium in Bengaluru had thought of during the interaction with former NASA chief Major General Charles Frank Bolden Jr.

Not many were prepared for the response. “When the famous countdown of 10, 9, 8, 7 begins, you hear the sound of a giant explosion (mimics explosion noise). Those are your thrusters kicking in and within seconds, you lean back and while the first 7 minutes and 45 seconds of the journey are quite comfortable, it is when you are exiting the atmosphere that you feel like there is a gorilla beating your chest, when you are travelling at 18,000 miles per hour,” explained Maj. Gen Bolden Jr in a calm, succinct demeanour as he soaked up the adulation of the students of Bharat Scouts and Guides he was addressing in Bengaluru on Wednesday.

Read more at: News Minute

The Cosmic Vision Of Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos is not a man of little dreams. The world’s richest person, with an estimated net worth of more than $130 billion, is spending some of his wealth on his space startup, Blue Origin. Much of the attention that the company has received has focused on the billions he’s invested into the company, its plans to fly tourists on its suborbital New Shepard vehicle and its entry into the orbital launch market with its New Glenn rocket.

But those vehicles are just the start of a much grander vision about the future of humanity. Speaking to an audience primarily of aviation industry executives at a Wings Club luncheon in New York Feb. 20, Bezos made the case those vehicles are the first step toward a future where humanity expands beyond Earth to harness the energy and other resources of the solar system.

Read more at: Spacenews

Brexit Britain Will Be ‘Lost In Space’

Will Marshall’s Planet company operates the world’s largest satellite imaging network, with 150 spacecraft able to fully picture Earth on a daily basis.

He warns EU withdrawal will do immense harm to Britain’s space industry. The UK will be “lost in space”, he says. The UK Space Agency responded by saying home businesses had a positive outlook.

The most recent survey of confidence across the sector found that three-quarters of organisations expected growth over the next three years, it added. Dr Marshall, a Nasa employee before founding Planet, airs his concerns in a blog posting.

Read more at: BBC

Five Years On, Five Theories About MH370’s Disappearance

On March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, triggering the biggest hunt in aviation history.

Only a few fragments of the jet have been found, all on western Indian Ocean shores, and search efforts ended last year.

The disappearance has spawned a host of theories — some credible, some outlandish.

Read more at: Spacedaily