NASA Investigation Finds 61 Corrective Actions For Boeing After Failed Starliner Spacecraft Mission

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s investigation into Boeing’s failed December spaceflight came up with a long list of corrections needed before the company flies again.

Boeing said Friday that the investigation found about 61 “corrective actions” for the company’s Starliner spacecraft, which it has been developing to fly NASA astronauts. NASA associate administrator Doug Loverro told reporters on a conference call that he expects it “will take several months” for Boeing to work through the list.

“This was a close call. We could have lost a spacecraft twice during this mission,” Loverro said.

Read more at: CNBC

NASA Launches New Investigation Into Troubled Boeing Spacecraft

The US space agency will conduct a new, formal investigation into the troubled flight test of a Boeing spacecraft intended to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

The investigation means additional scrutiny of the aerospace giant as it tries to restore its reputation as a leader in advanced engineering, and months of additional delay before Boeing is able to resume tests on the Starliner vehicle and bring it into service. Officials said today that they aren’t sure whether a second uncrewed flight will be necessary, or when they will know.

Read more at: QZ

Inside Elon Musk’s Plan To Build One Starship A Week—And Settle Mars

How badly does Elon Musk want to get to Mars? Let me tell you a story. On Sunday, February 23, Musk called an all-hands meeting at the South Texas site where SpaceX is building his Starship spacecraft.

It was 1am.

At an hour when most Americans were throwing down their last shots before closing time, at home in bed, or binge-watching The Office before it leaves Netflix, Musk brought his team together. He wanted to know why the Starship factory wasn’t humming at all hours. Why steel sheets weren’t getting welded into domes and fuel tanks, why tanks were not being stacked into rockets, why things weren’t going as fast as he wanted.

Read more at: Arstechnica

DSCOVR Resumes Operations After Eight-Month Outage

The Deep Space Climate Observatory has resumed regular observations after NOAA and NASA engineers uplinked a software patch to the spacecraft a million miles from Earth, restoring data on space weather and a daily series views of the sunlit side of our home planet.

The NOAA-led mission launched from Cape Canaveral in February 2015 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with instrument contributions from NASA and a rocket funded by U.S. Air Force.

DSCOVR was designed for a two-year mission, but carried enough fuel for at least five years of operations. NOAA officials hope the mission can continue for several more years because DSCOVR gathers critical data to forecast geomagnetic storms that could disrupt communications, air travel, electrical grids, satellite operations and human spaceflight.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Rocket Issue Delays Launch Of UAE’s Falcon Eye 2 Satellite For A Month: Report

A sharp-eyed satellite’s launch has been pushed back from its expected Thursday (March 5) launch date until no earlier than April due to a rocket problem, according to a media report.

Arianespace, which will be providing the launch from French Guiana, has not disclosed a reason for the delay. Nor did it release a new launch date for Falcon Eye 2, which is a high-performance optical observation satellite for commercial and military users in the United Arab Emirates. 

Read more at:

India Postpones Powerful Earth-Imaging Satellite Launch For ‘Technical Reasons’

A powerful imaging satellite from India that was set to launch Thursday (March 5) is delayed indefinitely due to an undisclosed technical problem, according to multiple reports.

The Indian Space Research Organisation announced that the launch of Gisat-1 was “postponed due to technical reasons. [The] revised launch date will be informed in due course,” according to a brief press release,

The satellite was supposed to launch on the Indian Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, on the east coast of India. This was to be the first launch of the GSLV series in 2020. A new launch date has not yet been announced, and no more details about the technical issue were available in ISRO or media reports.

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Russia Completes Firing Tests Of Propulsion Unit For Exomars Lander

The propulsion unit of the ExoMars lander module has passed firing tests, the Lavochkin Research and Production Association said in a statement on Tuesday.

“As part of implementing the ExoMars international project, the firing tests of the propulsion unit of the ExoMars spacecraft’s lander were completed on February 27, 2020,” the statement runs.

According to the preliminary analysis, the assignments were fulfilled with positive results, the Lavochkin press office reported.

Read more at: TASS


Op-Ed | Proliferated LEO Is Risky But Necessary

Once a safe haven, the space above Earth’s atmosphere is congested and contested — and the problem is getting worse. A determined adversary can disable or eliminate a satellite it views as a threat. As the national security of the United States and its allies becomes increasingly reliant on space-based capabilities, we need to move toward resilient constellations that can absorb satellite losses without losing the mission. Proliferated LEO — the building of large constellations of small satellites in low Earth orbit — is an essential strategy for achieving this resilience. But it does come with its own challenges.

Read more at: Spacenews

Space Weather Model Gives Earlier Warning Of Satellite-Killing Radiation Storms

A new machine-learning computer model accurately predicts damaging radiation storms caused by the Van Allen belts two days prior to the storm, the most advanced notice to date, according to a new paper in the journal Space Weather.

“Radiation storms from the Van Allen belts can damage or even knock out satellites orbiting in medium and high altitudes above the Earth, but predicting these storms has always been a challenge,” said Yue Chen, a space scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and principal investigator on the project jointly funded by NASA and NOAA.

Read more at: lanl

Fire from the Sky

Before the Taqba Dam impounded the Euphrates River in northern Syria in the 1970s, an archaeological site named Abu Hureyra bore witness to the moment ancient nomadic people first settled down and started cultivating crops. A large mound marks the settlement, which now lies under Lake Assad.

But before the lake formed, archaeologists were able to carefully extract and describe much material, including parts of houses, food and tools — an abundance of evidence that allowed them to identify the transition to agriculture nearly 12,800 years ago.

Read more at: UCSB

Tenacious Bacteria Flourish On Space Station, But They’re No More Dangerous Than Earth Bugs

It turns out that bacteria contaminating the drinking water on the International Space Station aren’t any more dangerous than bacteria here on Earth. 

Bacteria have flourished in space, growing in the potable water dispenser on the space station. But the two species of bacteria thriving in this dispenser aren’t any more harmful  than closely related microbes here on Earth, a new study has found. 

In 2009, NASA installed the water dispenser on the space station, but soon after, samples taken from the device showed that bacteria had taken up residence in the water. The two strains of bacteria — Burkholderia cepacia and Burkholderia contaminans — contaminated not only the dispenser, but the drinking water itself. 

Read more at:


NASA Exploring Ways To Fly Astronauts On Commercial Suborbital Vehicles

With NASA now allowing researchers to fly with experiments on commercial suborbital spacecraft, the agency is beginning a certification process that would allow its astronauts to also fly on such vehicles.

NASA issued Feb. 28 a call for proposals for its Flight Opportunities program, seeking payloads that could be flown on suborbital vehicles. As with a draft version issued in January, the final solicitation will, for the first time, permit researchers to propose “human-tended” payloads on commercial suborbital vehicles, a capability long sought by many researchers interested in flying experiments, and themselves, on those vehicles.

Read more at: Spacenews

DARPA Picks Northrop Grumman As Its Commercial Partner For Satellite Servicing Program

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency selected Northrop Grumman as its commercial partner for the Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites program, the company announced March 4.

The announcement comes on the heels of Northrop Grumman’s successful operation of its first satellite servicing Mission Extension Vehicle. The MEV-1 launched in October 2019 and last month docked in-orbit with an Intelsat communications satellite in an effort to keep the spacecraft in operation for an additional five years.

Read more at: Spacenews

Megaconstellation Startup Raises $110 Million To Connect Smartphones Via Satellite

Japanese online shopping giant Rakuten and global telecom leader Vodafone led a $110 million investment in a U.S. startup planning to create a cellular broadband network with a constellation of hundreds of satellites that would link directly to people’s smartphones. 

Midland, Texas-based AST & Science has raised $128 million in total for its constellation, called SpaceMobile. The company will need several hundred million additional dollars to get to revenue, according to AST & Science founder Abel Avellan, a veteran satellite telecom entrepreneur who invested some of his own money in the Series B round announced March 3.

Read more at: Spacenews

Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl 747 Conducts Taxi Test with Launcher One

Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl 747 taxis down runway 12-30 at the Mojave Air and Space Port with the LauncherOne booster under its wing. Northrop Grumman’s Stargazer L-1011 aircraft, which also air launches the Pegasus XL rocket, can be seen in the background.

Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl 747 aircraft conducted a low-speed taxi test down runway 12-30 at the Mojave Air and Space Port on Thursday afternoon.

Read more at: Parabolic arc

Zero-G Plans International Expansion

Zero Gravity Corporation, which provides reduced gravity aircraft flights for tourists and researchers, plans to expand its services outside the United States in the next year.

At a press conference during the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference here March 3, Matt Gohd, who became chief executive of the company about three months ago, said global interest in the company’s flights prompted him to examine the possibility of doing flights in other countries.

Read more at: Spacenews

Bartolomeo Heading For Space To Join Columbus

Europe’s external commercial experiment-hosting facility is headed for the International Space Station on Saturday morning, hitching a ride on the SpaceX Dragon 20 cargo vessel. Named after Christopher Columbus’ younger brother, Bartolomeo will provide room for experiments from commercial and institutional organisations that want to capitalise on access to space as well as experiments from ESA, NASA and more.

Bartolomeo is built and operated by Airbus but hosted by ESA on the International Space Station. The facility will be installed on the outside of the European Columbus laboratory with a clear view of Earth.

Read more at: ESA

Stratolaunch To Resume Test Flights In September

Stratolaunch plans to resume test flights of its giant aircraft later this year as the company continues its shift from a launch services company to a provider of high-speed flight test services.

Mark Bitterman, vice president for government relations and business development at Stratolaunch, said in a March 4 presentation at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference here that the company’s one-of-a-kind plane would start flying again in September.

“We are working to get certified by the FAA, so beginning in September we’ll fly at least once a month,” he said. Those tests would last for about eight months in order to get the plane certified by the FAA.

Read more at: Spacenews

Xplore Forges Partnerships For Spacecraft Propulsion System And In-Space Refueling

Seattle-based Xplore has selected two new technologies for propelling and refueling its Xcraft spacecraft as it makes its way to the moon and beyond.Xplore is designing Xcraft to serve as a “space as a service” platform for payloads heading beyond Earth orbit, to the moon, Mars, Venus and other deep-space destinations. Founded by veteran investors Jeff and Lisa Rich, the company aims to have its first mission to the moon launched as early as next year.

Read more at: Geekwire

Relativity Space Has Big Dreams. Is The Company For Real?

David Giger bounded up 26 steel steps and emerged onto a rocket engine test platform. Off to his left, an unbroken stand of stately pine trees spread out over the Mississippi lowlands. Straight ahead, Giger had a clear view of two Apollo-era test stands through the trees. “It’s quite a view,” he said.

Here, the past meets the future. Giger and his company, Relativity Space, seek to create the most futuristic of rockets. To do so, they have come to the NASA center where rocket scientists tested the mighty engines that carried humans to the Moon half a century ago. Relativity has, over the last two years, steadily occupied more buildings and test stands here as part of its quest to build a rocket made almost entirely of 3D-printed parts.

Read more at: Arstechnica


New DNA Origami Motor Breaks Speed Record For Nano Machines

Through a technique known as DNA origami, scientists have created the fastest, most persistent DNA nano motor yet. Angewandte Chemie published the findings, which provide a blueprint for how to optimize the design of motors at the nanoscale – hundreds of times smaller than the typical human cell.

“Nanoscale motors have tremendous potential for applications in biosensing, in building synthetic cells and also for molecular robotics,” says Khalid Salaita, a senior author of the paper and a professor of chemistry at Emory University. “DNA origami allowed us to tinker with the structure of the motor and tease out the design parameters that control its properties.”

Read more at: nanodaily

Have We Really Found An Alien Protein Inside A Meteorite?

A team of researchers claim to have found a protein inside a meteorite. It would be the first protein ever discovered from beyond Earth, though not an indication of alien life – and other scientists are sceptical the analysis really found anything at all.

We know that amino acids, which are organic compounds that act as the building blocks of life, can form on meteors and other space rocks. But the extent of prebiotic chemistry beyond Earth is still unknown, and how that chemistry turns into life is even more mysterious.

Read more at: Newscientist

3D-Printed Thrust Chamber Passes First Tests For Vega Evolutions

The 3D-printed thrust chamber assembly of the methane-fuelled M10 rocket engine has passed its first series of hot firing tests. The M10 engine will power the upper stage of future Vega evolutions from 2025.

“These test results are encouraging, confirming that our propulsion teams are right on track along the development path identified for such novel technology for Vega evolutions,” commented Giorgio Tumino, managing ESA’s Vega and Space Rider development programmes.

Read more at: Spacedaily


Office of Space Commerce Funding Needed “Urgently,” Says Ross, But Senate Appropriators Reticent

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross told a Senate appropriations subcommittee today that boosting funding for the Office of Space Commerce and elevating it within the Department is “urgently” needed. The subcommittee’s top Republican and Democrat expressed reticence, however, because the Senate has not yet passed authorization legislation to make such organizational changes.

Ross testified to the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee chaired by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) about the Department’s overall request for FY2021. Much of the discussion was about trade and the census, but in his opening remarks Ross characterized the Office of Space Commerce as his second highest priority and one that “urgently needs funding in FY2021.”

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Surprise! Plans For A Brexit Version Of The EU’s Galileo Have Been Delayed

Hopes of an on-time delivery of a report into how the UK’s Galileo replacement might work have been dealt a blow as, yup, it’s running late.

According to the Financial Times, the wholly unsurprising news is that squabbles over cost and scope have led to a delay of at least six months in the publication of the plan.

Back in 2018, as it finally dawned on politicos that the UK was not going to keep its status in the navigation system after its departure from the EU club, Brits did an expensive version of the playground “my bat, my ball” and stomped off to spank £92m on a feasibility study.

Read more at: Register


Space Force Holds Inaugural ISR-Focused Conference

U.S. Space Force held its first Senior Intelligence Officer Conference here in February.

Originally planned as a MAJCOM-level conference, the recent establishment of USSF changed the focus of the event to Service-level issues. The focus expanded beyond individual unit needs to discussing the future of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance within the USSF, to include training and exercises, defensive cyber operations for space, and future organizational structures.

Maj. Gen. Stephen Whiting, HQ USSF deputy commander, whose mantra has long been “Intel drives Ops,” expressed his optimism about the ability of the ISR community to transform how we address emerging and expanding threats in the space domain during his conference keynote speech.

Read more at: Spaceforce

US Accuses Russia Of Breaking ‘Open Skies’ Treaty

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper accused Russia Wednesday of violating the Open Skies Treaty designed to improve transparency and confidence between the militaries of the two superpowers.

Esper told a congressional hearing Russia had been blocking the United States from conducting flights over the Baltic Sea city of Kaliningrad and near Georgia that are permitted by the 18-year-old agreement.

“We’ve also been denied access to military exercise overflights,” he said. “I have a lot of concerns about the treaty as it stands now.”

Read more at: Spacewar

US May Deploy Weapons In Outer Space Soon, Russian Diplomat Says

Russia does not rule out that the United States and its NATO allies may shortly deploy weapon components in outer space, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Vladimir Yermakov said at a news conference on Wednesday.

“It is not ruled out that we may soon witness the emergence of already weapon components of the US potential and, perhaps, the potential of other states that are US NATO allies, in outer space. We will continue taking all efforts to prevent this scenario,” the Russian diplomat said.

Read more at: TASS

AF To HASC: Space War Doctrine Near; SPACECOM HQ Pick Delayed

The Space Force will wrap up a new space doctrine to reflect the increased threat to US assets from Russia and China “in the next couple of months,” Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond told the House Armed Services Committee today.

Raymond, in his first budget hearing as head of the new service, said that US adversaries building counterspace capabilities to attack US satellites.

Read more at: Breaking defense

Pentagon Widening Search for SPACECOM, Space Force Bases

Space Force Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David Thompson indicated the military will add new locations to the list of bases under consideration for U.S. Space Command headquarters, saying some unexpected places could become home to parts of the new Space Force as well.

“We’re now going to take a holistic look at all of the potential options, all the potential locations,” Thompson said at a March 3 House Armed Services readiness subcommittee hearing.

Read more at: Airforcemag

Gen. Charles Q. Brown Nominated To Be Next Air Force Chief Of Staff

Gen. Charles Q. (CQ) Brown, Jr., the commander of Pacific Air Forces, a decorated pilot who has held key commands and served as a military advisor at the highest levels, has been nominated to serve as the Air Force’s 22nd Chief of Staff, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper announced March 2.

If confirmed by the Senate, Brown would assume one of the two highest positions in the Air Force from Gen. David L. Goldfein, who is retiring June 30 after four years as Chief of Staff. Brown would be the first African-American to serve as a service chief.

“I am truly honored and humbled by the nomination to serve as the Air Force’s 22nd Chief of Staff,” he said. “If confirmed, Sharene and I look forward to building upon the legacy of Gen. Dave and Dawn Goldfein and the many airpower giants before who have served our Air Force and our nation with such dedication.”

Read more at: Spaceforce

Researchers Identify Novel Cybersecurity Approach To Protect Army Systems

Researchers at the Army’s corporate laboratory in collaboration with the University of California, Riverside have identified an approach to network security that will enhance the effectiveness and timeliness of protection against adversarial intrusion and evasion strategies.

Networked devices and infrastructure are becoming increasingly complex, making it nearly impossible to verify an entire system, and new attacks are continuously being developed.

To rapidly protect Army systems from attack in ways that don’t require massive amounts of manual intervention, the researchers have developed and approach called SymTCP.

Read more at: Spacewar


Who Got America To The Moon? An Unlikely Collaboration Of Jewish And Former Nazi Scientists And Engineers

In early days of America’s space program, two men met over a bottle of Jack Daniel’s at the Hay-Adams hotel across the street from the White House.

It was roughly 1959, when the future of America’s young space program was clouded by technological disagreements.

On one side of the bottle was Wernher von Braun, the engineering genius who had developed the world’s first ballistic missile for Adolf Hitler during World War II. He had once been a member of Hitler’s Schutzstaffel, or SS, but now ran NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Read more at: LATimes

The Story of the Vanishing Satellite: Remembering Top-Secret STS-36, 30 Years On

In many minds, STS-36—a top-secret Department of Defense mission, flown 30 years ago this month—was one of the greatest flights ever undertaken in the three decades of Space Shuttle operations. In his memoir Man On A Mission, astronaut Dave Hilmers recalled that Flight Director Rob Kelso made this remark to a reporter, although STS-36’s classified nature meant the reality of what the crew did during their four days in space in early 1990 will never be widely known. 

Hilmers hinted that shuttle Atlantis’ exceptionally low altitude “gave us the best views of Earth I would ever have while in space”, and indeed STS-36 flew much lower than many other shuttle missions, achieved a unique orbital inclination and deployed a satellite which seemingly “disappeared” shortly after its launch. 

Read more at: Americaspace

Despite Coronavirus Worries, Some Space Industry Events To Continue As Planned

Concerns about the coronavirus outbreak have resulted in some cancellations and restrictions in the space industry, but many events will continue as planned.More than 94,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported worldwide; about 80,000 of those cases were in mainland China, according to data from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The United States has had 128 known cases, including one death, reported in Washington state. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said the virus, known as SARS-CoV-2, poses a high risk of spread and impact. However, WHO has not classified the outbreak as a pandemic and has said that most of the reported cases have come from known contacts or clusters of cases.

Read more at:

Coronavirus Identified Near Kourou, Arianspace Personnel Leave Space Center

The personnel of the French company Arianespace, the operator of the Kourou space center in French Guiana, has left the facility after several cases of the new coronavirus-related disease have been identified in a community nearby, two sources in the space rocket industry have told TASS.

“Almost all personnel of the French company Arianespace have left the Kourou Space Center after coronavirus cases have been identified among Asian tourists in a community nearby,” one source said.

Read more at: TASS

UPDATE 1-Abu Dhabi Aerospace Conference Postponed Due To Coronavirus

An aerospace conference in Abu Dhabi this month, where Saab President Micael Johansson and Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides were due to attend, has been postponed until June because of the coronavirus, an email sent to participants and seen by Reuters said.

The Global Aerospace Summit, which was expected to be attended by around 1,000 industry executives, will now take place from June 8 to 10 instead of March 17 to 19.

Read more at: Reuters

Hunters’ Nazi NASA Scientists Are Based on the True Story of Operation Paperclip

Amazon’s new series, Hunters, tells the story of a group of 1970s New Yorkers who spend their time tracking down Nazis hiding in America and bringing them to bloody justice. It’s only based on real history in the loosest possible sense—real Nazi hunters pursue legal justice, not extrajudicial vengeance.

But that doesn’t mean that everything in the series springs purely from the imagination of its writers. In the show’s first episode, we see FBI agent Detective Millie Malone investigating the murder of German-American NASA scientist Gretel Fischer, only to find a photo of a young Fischer posing alongside Adolph Hitler. Gretel Fischer isn’t real—but it’s very true that NASA hired former Nazis.

Read more at: esquire

Charles Berry, An Early NASA Flight Surgeon, Dies At 96

Dr. Charles “Chuck” A. Berry, a NASA flight surgeon who helped select the country’s first astronauts and devised tests to see if they could survive the demands of space, died in his sleep over the weekend in his Houston home. He was 96.

Berry is considered a pioneer in aerospace medicine, with a 68-year career in which he served as a flight surgeon for the U.S. Air Force, director of life sciences for NASA, an aviation medical examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration and an aerospace medicine consultant.

Read more at: Houston chronicle

Rocketman’s Idea Abruptly Stunted

An attempt at space travel ends in death

As far as I know, I’ve gotten exactly one piece of snail mail at The Pulse in the ten years I’ve been writing for the paper. After my review of the Coen Brothers film Hail, Caesar!, I had a man from Rossville write me about how the Earth is flat. 

In my article, I had said something to the effect of “the world will continue spinning” and the gentleman, in a very friendly way, explained that the Earth will not continue spinning because, in fact, it never has.

Read more at: chattanooga pulse

11th IAASS conference