Space Station Leak Confirmed And It’s Growing

The last thing you want on the International Space Station is a leak—and that’s precisely what the ISS is dealing with. Indeed, in a revelation underscoring the very real and ongoing challenges faced by the ISS, Russia’s space agency has announced two disquieting developments. One, there’s a leak inside its area of the orbiting laboratory. Two, the persistent leak is expanding.

Thankfully, the Russian agency assures us Earthlings that the situation does not pose a threat to the wellbeing of the station’s crew. Still, the situation contributes to a growing pile of technical challenges plaguing the ISS in recent years.

Read more at: giantfreakingrobot


Widespread Solar Storm Struck Spacecraft Near The Sun, Earth And Even Mars

Space weather may seem like a tale from a galaxy far, far away — but when solar storms impact us on Earth, we’re directly affected. These storms are what give rise to the Northern Lights, for instance. They can even lead to temporary disruptions in our communications systems and power grid. From these solar flares, we can learn so much — and a recent release from NASA shares how, back in 2021, one in particular had a brilliant story to go with it. As space agencies continue to send astronauts into our planet’s orbit, and start planning for journeys even beyond,  ways of monitoring solar storms and their impacts will become increasingly critical.

Read more at:

Satellites Are Burning Up In The Upper Atmosphere – And We Still Don’t Know What Impact This Will Have On The Earth’s Climate

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has announced it will dispose of 100 Starlink satellites over the next six months, after it discovered a design flaw that may cause them to fail. Rather than risk posing a threat to other spacecraft, SpaceX will “de-orbit” these satellites to burn up in the atmosphere.

But atmospheric scientists are increasingly concerned that this sort of apparent fly-tipping by the space sector will cause further climate change down on Earth. One team recently, and unexpectedly, found potential ozone-depleting metals from spacecraft in the stratosphere, the atmospheric layer where the ozone layer is formed.

Read more at:

They Thought It Was an Interstellar Meteorite Strike. Turns Out It Was a Truck.

The case for aliens in our galaxy is a strong one. Among the 100 billions of stars that make up our Milky Way, it’s statistically unlikely that Homo sapiens are the only ones who’ve figured out the whole civilization thing.

Because learning that intelligent life exists on other planets would be the most profound discovery in human history, astronomers, astrobiologists, organizations, space agencies, and even governments have rightly invested some serious time and money into answering the existential question of whether or not we’re alone out there. But sometimes, the quest for that world-changing knowledge can get a bit overzealous.

Read more at: popular mechanics

Multiple Spacecraft Tell The Story Of One Giant Solar Storm

April 17, 2021, was a day like any other day on the sun, until a brilliant flash erupted and an enormous cloud of solar material billowed away from our star. Such outbursts from the sun are not unusual, but this one was unusually widespread, hurling high-speed protons and electrons at velocities nearing the speed of light and striking several spacecraft across the inner solar system.

In fact, it was the first time such high-speed protons and electrons—called solar energetic particles (SEPs)—were observed by spacecraft at five different, well-separated locations between the sun and Earth as well as by spacecraft orbiting Mars. And now these diverse perspectives on the solar storm are revealing that different types of potentially dangerous SEPs can be blasted into space by different solar phenomena and in different directions, causing them to become widespread.

Read more at:

Multiple spacecraft tell the story of one giant solar storm


Will Jeff Bezos Buy America’s Most Venerable Space Company?

Call it the great cash out. Over just nine days in February, as Bloomberg reported on Feb. 20, founder Jeff Bezos unloaded a total of 50 million shares of Amazon stock, netting $8.5 billion in proceeds — nearly $1 billion per day of selling. Now inquiring minds want to know: What is Bezos planning to do with all the cash?

One possible answer: He’s going to buy himself another space company.

For the better part of a year now, rumors have swirled around the fate of United Launch Alliance, the rocket-launching joint venture formed by Boeing and Lockheed Martin in 2005 — and until SpaceX entered the national security launch market in 2016, America’s primary means of delivering government satellites to orbit.

Read more at: yahoo

Blue Origin Is Getting Serious About Developing A Human Spacecraft

The space company named Blue Origin is having a big year. New chief executive Dave Limp, who arrived in December, is working to instill a more productive culture at the firm owned by Jeff Bezos. In January, the company’s powerful BE-4 rocket engine performed very well on the debut launch of the Vulcan booster. And later this year, possibly as soon as August, Blue Origin’s own heavy-lift rocket, New Glenn, will take flight.

But wait, there’s more. The company has also been hard at work developing hardware that will fly on New Glenn, such as the Blue Ring transfer vehicle that will be used to ferry satellites into precise orbits. In addition, work continues on a private space station called Orbital Reef.

Read more at: arstechnica

Iridium To Take Over GPS Backup Provider For $115 Million

Iridium Communications announced plans March 4 to buy out Satelles, which provides a backup for GPS via the satellite operator’s L-band network, marking the first acquisition in the 36-year-old company’s history.

The operator is spending about $115 million to buy the 80% of Satelles it does not already own in a deal they expect to complete April 1.

Reston, Virginia-based Satelles has been broadcasting timing and location signals since 2016 through a channel Iridium’s satellites in low Earth orbit previously used for paging.

Read more at: spacenews

SpaceX Is Gearing Up For A Record-Breaking Rocket Flight

SpaceX is expected to launch one of its first-stage Falcon 9 boosters for a record 20th time in the coming weeks.

The feat will highlight the spaceflight company’s achievement in creating a reusable rocket system that’s helped to revolutionize orbital missions for NASA, various government agencies, and a host of private companies that never would have been able to afford access to orbit before SpaceX’s arrival.

Read more at: digitaltrends

Slingshot Aerospace Sets Up UK Base For Global Expansion

U.S.-based Slingshot Aerospace is opening offices in the United Kingdom to expand its space traffic coordination and analysis business globally.

Melissa Quinn, previously head of the company’s Seradata space data analysis team, will lead the new international business division out of the Space Systems Operations Facility at Spaceport Cornwall, in southwest England.

Quinn joined Slingshot in June after two and a half years as head of Spaceport Cornwall, a space business cluster that also provided the runway for Virgin Orbit’s failed launch from the U.K. in January 2023.

Read more at: spacenews


NASA Addresses The Crack In The Hatch Of The Crew-8 Spacecraft

NASA and SpaceX have sent off the latest batch of astronauts to visit the International Space Station, with the launch of the Crew-8 mission late last night. The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launched from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida just before 11 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 3, but there was a risk during that the launch might have been cancelled due to a crack discovered in the hatch seal of the spacecraft around 30 minutes before liftoff.

Read more at: digitaltrends

Space Photos From 5 Recent Moon-Landing Missions Show How Tiny Engineering Errors Can Cause Big Problems, Like Crashing Or Landing Sideways

Landing on the moon is so difficult that, until last year, only three nations had ever done it without crashing. Recently, India, Japan, and one private company — Intuitive Machines — have joined their ranks.Intuitive Machines’ moon landing on Thursday was particularly significant, returning the US to the lunar surface for the first time in nearly 52 years and softly landing the first commercial spacecraft on the moon.But the mission narrowly avoided the same fate as several lunar-landing attempts before it: death by small engineering error.

Read more at: business insider

Scientists Struggle to Explain Why Their Tall, Top-Heavy Moon Lander Fell Over

Over the last two months, two separate Moon landers have successfully survived the harrowing journey down to the lunar surface — but neither stuck the landing, each embarrassingly falling over as a result. Last month, NASA’s Odysseus lander, built and operated by Houston-based space company Intuitive Machines, kept moving sideways after making it down to the surface, scraping along the surface and eventually toppling over.

Read more at: futurism

Russia Says It Is Considering Putting A Nuclear Power Plant On The Moon With China

Russia and China are considering putting a nuclear power plant on the moon from 2033-35, Yuri Borisov, the head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said on Tuesday, something he said could one day allow lunar settlements to be built.
Borisov, a former deputy defence minister, said that Russia and China had been jointly working on a lunar programme and that Moscow was able to contribute with its expertise on “nuclear space energy”.

Read more at: reuters

This Little Rover Will Ride Shotgun On Japan’s Ambitious Mars Moon Sample-Return Mission

A small rover built in Europe has arrived in Japan in preparation for its voyage to Mars. The autonomous 55-pound (25-kilogram) rover is called IDEFIX and is part of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Martian Moon Exploration (MMX) probe that aims to collect samples of the Mars’ moon, Phobos. The little, four-wheeled rover recently arrived in Japan, according to a Feb. 26 post on X (formerly known as Twitter) written by the MMX mission account.

Read more at:

a four-wheeled black cartoon rover stands on the surface of a planet hued in light browns. A starry night space scape is seen above with a satellite in the upper left.

NASA, SpaceX Looking To Extend Lifespan Of Crew Dragon Spacecraft To 15 Flights

NASA and SpaceX are looking to extend the number of flights that each Crew Dragon capsule can make, from five to 15. On May 30, 2020, Crew Dragon became the first American spacecraft to carry astronauts to orbit since the space shuttle was retired in 2011, and the first private spacecraft to reach the International Space Station. Since then, Crew Dragon vehicles have flown 49 different astronauts (one of them twice) to space on 13 missions, nine of them for NASA and four of them private.

Read more at:

NASA Probe Finds Tons of Oxygen Spewing From Ocean Moon

In our top science stories this week, data from NASA’s Juno spacecraft helped scientists calculate how much oxygen is being produced on the intriguing Jovian moon Europa (enough for a million humans to breathe a day, according to the study). Back on Earth, a German man got 217 covid-19 shots and is apparently doing just fine.

Read more at: gizmodo

China To Debut Large Reusable Rockets In 2025 And 2026

China’s main state-owned contractor plans test flights for two new large diameter reusable rockets in the next couple of years, despite existing commercial reusability efforts.

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) plans to launch four-meter and five-meter-diameter reusable rockets for the first time in 2025 and 2026 respectively, Wang Wei, a deputy to the National People’s Congress, told China News Service March 4.

Read more at: spacenews

A Landspace Zhuque-3 prototype rocket stage, powered by a methane-liquid oxygen exhuast plume, in the skies above the desert at Jiuquan spaceport, Jan. 19, 2024.


Delays Trigger Concerns About NASA’s Plan To Return Astronauts To The Moon Ahead Of China

Decades after the U.S. began and won a space race with the Soviet Union, NASA is shooting for the moon once again – this time with China as a competitor.

NASA’s Artemis mission plans to send people back to the moon and establish an outpost at the moon’s south pole. China’s rapidly growing space program also has its sights set on the moon, with plans to send its taikonauts, or Chinese astronauts, there by the end of the decade.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has publicly expressed concern about China getting to the south pole first and staking a claim.

Read more at: CBSNews

NASA’s 2024 Budget Falls $2.3 Billion Below Requested Amount

House and Senate appropriators have released NASA’s final spending bill for the fiscal year 2024, focusing on the Artemis program’s goal of returning astronauts to the Moon. However, there’s still considerable uncertainty surrounding the agency’s plans for bringing back rocky samples from Mars.

NASA was allocated $24.875 billion for its budget this year, about half a billion less than what the space agency received in 2023 and some $2.31 billion short of what it was hoping to spend on its various programs in 2024.

Read more at: gizmodo

Is It Time For A New Outer Space Treaty? Reports Of Russian Nuclear Space Weapon Raise Questions

In February 2024, reports of a planned Russian nuclear space weapon renewed Cold War-era fears of the militarization of Earth’s orbit.The furor began when U.S. House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Turner (R-Ohio) issued a public statement asking President Biden to declassify all information relating to a space-based nuclear weapon that Russia is reportedly developing. The next day, White House National Security Communications Advisor John F. Kirby assured the public that “though Russia’s pursuit of this particular capability is troubling, there is no immediate threat to anyone’s safety.”

Read more at:

Office Of Space Commerce Considers Restoring Orbital Debris Regulations For Commercial Remote Sensing Licensees

The Commerce Department office that licenses commercial remote sensing systems is studying whether it should close a potential loophole in how companies comply with orbital debris mitigation rules.

The Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs (CRSRA) division of the Office of Space Commerce will formally publish a request for information (RFI) in the Federal Register March 8 on the issue of debris mitigation regulations for systems it licenses. The RFI was released for public inspection March 7.

Read more at: spacenews

Agreement Signed with ESA on Cooperation in Space Research Program

Hungary has signed a framework agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA) on cooperation in the national space research program, the Ministerial Commissioner for Space Research of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced in a video posted on Facebook.

Orsolya Ferencz said that the Hungarian to Orbit (HUNOR) program has reached another milestone. With the agreement, ESA will provide support not only for the training of astronauts, but also for the training of flight surgeons, the implementation of activities at the ground control center and the integration of the science program.

Read more at: hungarytoday

China Outlines Position On Use Of Space Resources

China holds a seemingly positive stance towards the use of space resources, according to a recent submission made by a Chinese delegation to the United Nations.

The delegation appears to state that China considers space resource utilization as permissible, but must be conducted in accordance with the Outer Space Treaty (OST) of 1967.

China’s submission treats the use of space resources as legal, but also calls for adherence to the existing frameworks of international space law, with the OST as the cornerstone.

Read more at: spacenews

A mosaic of Shackleton Crater near the luanr south pole, showing the depths of the crater. The illuminated rim area will be targeted by China's Chang'e-7 mission.


Space Force Eyes Smaller, Cheaper GPS Satellites To Augment Constellation

The U.S. Space Force is reviewing ideas from the private sector on how to augment the Global Positioning System constellation with smaller, lower-cost satellites.

The Space Force’s procurement arm, the Space Systems Command, last month issued a request for information probing the capabilities of the private sector to design a a more affordable GPS spacecraft that is also interoperable with existing GPS infrastructure.

A network of 31 GPS satellites 12,000 miles above Earth broadcast positioning, navigation and timing signals.

Read more at: spacenews

Putin’s High-Stakes Space Gamble Aims To Bring The US To The Table

Russian plans to deploy a new anti-satellite system in space — first revealed on Feb. 14 by House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and reiterated in another warning on Feb. 22 — sounds the alarm about Vladimir Putin’s preparations to detonate a nuclear weapon in space in violation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.More importantly, U.S. officials are also concerned that Russia intends to deploy an exo-atmospheric missile interceptor, which is a dual-capable missile that can possess either a conventional/kinetic explosive or a nuclear warhead.

Read more at: thehill

The Limits Of Space Power

In May 2022, the conflict in Ukraine was called the world’s first commercial space war. In January 2023, the head of the U.S. Space Force noted that Ukraine demonstrated space is critical to modern warfare.But has space proven to be catastrophically decisive?As the conflict enters its third year, it has become clear space power has limits. Based on experience in Ukraine, it’s worth examining what space can and cannot do to win wars. It’s also worth underlining that wars are still decided by weapons and manpower.

Read more at: spacenews

More Tetris Than Dune: Inside French Space Command’s War Game

It’s heating up on Earth as Mercury’s revanchist forces move to destabilize vulnerable Arnland by any means possible.

Luckily, the United Nations has approved a plan for the assailed state’s allies to launch a rescue mission — dubbed Celtica — to fend off Mercury’s assault. As ground forces move in, sequestered in the high-tech industrial hinterland of Toulouse are hundreds of military officers playing orbital chess using satellites to support the counterstrike.

This isn’t real — not least because the officers clock off at 8 p.m. — but French Space Command’s latest, and largest, exercise aimed at preparing for conflict in orbit.

Read more at: politico

Japan And South Korea Join France Space Force Drills For First Time

Japanese and South Korean troops joined the French space force in training sessions for the first time this week, along with teams from the European Union and NATO partners, as part of a large-scale exercise at the Toulouse base.

The two-week AsterX 2024 exercise began on Monday and simulates 23 scenarios, including attacks on military satellites, to train forces to collaborate and work as a joint space command. Japan has been an observer at the annual event since 2022, the year after France began organizing the series.

Read more at: asia nikkei

BlackSky Secures Back-To-Back U.S. Air Force Contracts

Earth imaging and analytics company BlackSky won a $3.5 million contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory to supply satellite imagery and analysis in support of “global moving target engagement,” the Air Force said March 8.

This award comes on the heels of a research contract last year, and a $2 million award announced March 4 to supply the Air Force satellite imagery data and access to the BlackSky data analytics platform. Under the $2 million contract, the AFRL will use the data for studies and to help train artificial intelligence models focused on detecting and tracking moving objects and targets from space.

Read more at: spacenews


From France To The Moon: Rocket Simulator Opens In Toulouse

The Cité de l’Espace centre is offering visitors the experience of space travel in a rocket and moon lander simulator.

In Toulouse, France, the Cité de l’Espace is launching a new immersive experience: Lune Xplorer, where you can take a seat in a rocket simulator.

You can climb aboard a spaceship similar to the one that will soon take man back to the Moon.

Every detail is realistic, including the number of passengers: four per capsule. The simulator is in fact a centrifuge that reproduces all the effects of acceleration.

Read more at: euronews

Navigating the Complexity of Space Operations

For decades, space-faring nations have been in constant development mode to find tools and resources that can identify, track, and analyze objects in space. Today, SDA is more imperative as space has grown 5 fold.

I recently spoke at the IAA UT/Austin STM conference and released a new paper that highlighted the pivotal inflection points shaping the global landscape and the profound impact on the new space economy, safety, and sustainability. Improving the SDA landscape is paramount in today’s new space environment.

Read more at: comspoc

Profile pic

China to Bring a Camera Surveillance System to the Moon

In a development that sounds straight out of a science fiction movie, China may bring its national surveillance system to its planned lunar base.

China has been known for its wide-reaching surveillance network, referred to as Skynet.

“The construction and operation of the optical surveillance system for the (International) Lunar Research Station can draw on the successful experience…of China’s Skynet project,” the Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Centre of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said in a paper published in the Chinese academic journal Acta Optica Sinica on February 22, according to the South China Morning Post reported.

Read more at: petapixel

Reentry of International Space Station (ISS) Batteries into Earth’s Atmosphere

The European Space Agency (ESA) Space Debris and Independent Safety Offices are closely monitoring the reentry of a pallet of used ISS batteries and calculating estimates for when and where the reentry will occur.

The batteries, nine in total, were released on 11 January 2021 and will undergo a natural reentry, which is now predicted for around 18:56 CET on 8 March +/- 0.4 days.

The total mass of the batteries is estimated at 2.6 metric tonnes, most of which may burn up during the reentry. While some parts may reach the ground, the casualty risk – the likelihood of a person being hit – is very low.

Read more at: ESA

A New Shape for Small Spacecraft

In 2025, the payload fairing of a small launch vehicle is scheduled to be jettisoned in low-Earth orbit to reveal a curious-looking cylinder. Inside that aluminum can, four flat, circular satellites — each a meter in diameter and only 2.5 centimeters thick — will be stacked like pancakes, separated by contact points between them. If all goes as planned, a geared mechanism will elevate each satellite to the top of the can and hurl it out into orbit.

Read more at: aerospace america