The Quiet, Public Failure Of China’s New Long March Rocket

China’s space launch activities are usually something of a riddle. Launches from remote launch sites come with little warning, or even sometimes none, sending civilian, science, and military satellites to a range of different orbits and destinations. The recent launch — and failure — of a new rocket from a new, coastal spaceport was much more public, but ultimately still tightly controlled.

China has used launch complexes deep inland at Jiuquan in the Gobi Desert, Taiyuan in Shanxi Province, and Xichang in Sichuan Province for decades. While many spaceports around the world are coastal, which means that spent rocket stages fall into the sea, during the Cold War, China decided to position its sites deep inland due to security concerns.

Read more at: supchina

Starship SN3 Failure Due To Bad Commanding. SN4 Already Under Construction

SpaceX Starship SN3, the latest iteration of Starship test vehicles, was lost during testing at the launch site in Boca Chica, Texas. The incident occurred during proof testing on Friday morning. However, Elon Musk has since clarified the issue was the result of incorrect commanding resulting in the loss of pressure, as opposed to any material issue with the Starship build. As a result, SN4 will not require alternations to its structure, with construction work on the next Starship already taking place.

The SN3 (Serial Number 3) vehicle incorporated lessons learned from previous vehicles and test articles and took advantage of improved manufacturing techniques and expanded facilities at SpaceX’s South Texas launch facility.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

Parachutes Guide China’s Rocket Debris Safely To Earth

China has been testing high-tech parachutes to control rocket debris and make space launches safer, according to the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT).

During the March 9 launch of a Long March-3B rocket carrying a satellite of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, a booster was equipped with parachutes and control devices.

After the booster separated from the rocket, the parachutes opened in a sequence to control its attitude and direction, and data of the fall trajectory and landing site were sent to ground control in Xichang, southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

Read more at: Xinhuanet

Video: Slidewire Basket Crew Egress System Tested At Pad 39A

SpaceX tested astronaut slidewire escape baskets and fire suppression capabilities Friday at launch pad 39A in Florida, demonstrating rescue systems that would be activated in the event of an emergency before liftoff of a crewed mission.

This video shows emergency escape baskets sliding down a cable on the west side of pad 39A. The baskets could be used by astronauts and ground teams to quickly get away from dangerous conditions on the launch pad in case of a pre-launch accident with the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Crew Training Continues For SpaceX’s First Launch With Astronauts

During a visit to Cape Canaveral this week, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken strapped in to the SpaceX crew capsule they will ride into orbit as soon as mid-to-late May. Next week, the astronauts will be in Houston to continue training for an extended stay on the International Space Station that could last two-to-three months.

The two-man team is continuing with their training amid the coronavirus pandemic. Their launch remains scheduled for mid-to-late May, although the schedule could slip amid uncertainties about future impacts from the virus, upcoming parachute testing and an investigation into an engine failure on the most recent SpaceX launch.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Last SpaceX Dragon 1 Capsule Set For ISS Departure, Pacific Ocean Splashdown

A SpaceX Dragon capsule packed with science experiments and cargo is set for its departure from the International Space Station on Monday, marking the last time that version of the capsule ever leaves the orbiting outpost.

At 9:52 a.m. Eastern, flight controllers will command the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release Cargo Dragon, setting the stage for a Pacific Ocean splashdown nearly six hours later. The capsule will bring more than 4,000 pounds of experiments, return samples, unneeded supplies, and other cargo.

Read more at: Florida today

More Than 12,000 Apply To Become An Astronaut For NASA’s ‘Artemis Generation’

The results are in and, no surprise, a lot of people want to be a NASA astronaut. 

More than 12,000 people have applied to join what NASA is calling the “Artemis Generation,” a new class of astronauts to help the agency return humans to the moon and reach outward to Mars. It’s the second highest number of applications the agency’s astronaut corps has ever received, NASA officials said. 

Read more at:

SpaceX, NASA Enter Final Phase Of Training For Imminent Astronaut Launch Debut

SpaceX and NASA are working together to make sure they’re ready to start flying crews to the space station. Two astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are preparing to launch on a Crew Dragon capsule, with a scheduled date of mid to late May for the historic launch.

As the world deals with the coronavirus, essential personnel at both NASA and SpaceX are continuing to progress to a crew flight. Since the final shuttle flight in 2011, NASA and other space agencies around the world have been forced to rely on Russian rockets as their sole means of transporting astronauts to and from space.

Read more at: Teslarati

NASA Has Good News After Spacex Crew Dragon Parachute Test Accident

NASA has good news after SpaceX suffered an accident that destroyed a Crew Dragon mockup before it could complete a parachute test, indicating that the anomaly could have minimal impact on the spacecraft’s Demo-2 astronaut launch debut.

According to NASA, SpaceX and the space agency are still working to launch astronauts on Crew Dragon as early as “mid-to-late May”. While two recent challenges – the loss of the spacecraft’s most important parachute testing mockup and an unrelated in-flight rocket engine failure – could both singlehandedly delay Demo-2 in certain scenarios, NASA continues to state that a May timeframe is still in the cards. This is an excellent sign that both issues – as previously speculated on Teslarati – are probably much less of a problem than they otherwise could be.

Read more at: Teslarati


Radiation Poses Major Obstacle To Future Deep-Space Astronauts Bound For Mars

Mars seems to be on everybody’s mind in the space industry. There are already several robotic missions to the Red Planet underway, and companies and space agencies are already working to one day send humans there. 

But a crewed mission would present many more challenges. One of these obstacles is radiation, and so researchers are working to find a way to protect a crew against the dangerous radiation of deep space.

Read more at:

An Urgent Call For Action On Space Traffic Management

The need to better manage traffic in space is growing more urgent as companies start launching constellations that will eventually include hundreds of satellites, says Dean Bellamy, the senior director of space strategies and development at Peraton, the government services firm spun off of Harris Corporation in 2017.

Lawmakers have begun to turn their attention to low-Earth orbit as it gets more congested and held a pair of hearings this year on the subject. But more is warranted as companies like SpaceX and Amazon prepare to launch thousands of satellites into orbit, according to Bellamy, a retired Air Force officer who was chief of the National Reconnaissance Office’s policy and strategy group.

Read more at: Politico

Huge Asteroid 1998 OR2 Will Zip Harmlessly By Earth April 29. See The Latest Telescope Photos.

The huge “potentially hazardous” asteroid 1998 OR2 is just a few weeks away from its close encounter with Earth, and you can watch the giant space rock’s approach online or with a small telescope.

While asteroid 1998 OR2 is large enough to wreak havoc on Earth if it were to strike our planet, it won’t come anywhere near a collision when it flies by on April 29. 

“On April 29, asteroid 1998 OR2 will safely pass by 3.9 million miles/6.2 million kilometers,” scientists with NASA’s Asteroid Watch program said in a Twitter update as they debunked a Daily Express report warning of the flyby.

Read more at:

The Sun May Kick Off A New Solar Weather Cycle This Month

The sun has been awfully quiet lately, but that could change starting this month, scientists say.

You wouldn’t know it without taking a good look at the sun (which, reminder, you should only do with proper eye protection), but our local star goes through cycles of activity, each lasting about 11 years. Right now, the sun is fairly calm as it wraps up what scientists dub solar cycle 24 and begins solar cycle 25.

Read more at:


SpaceX Wins NASA Contract To Deliver Cargo To Lunar Gateway Moon Outpost

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft has delivered cargo to the International Space Station, but soon it will carry goods to an orbit higher than the International Space Station: the lunar Gateway.

Agency officials announced Friday (March 27) that NASA selected SpaceX as the first commercial company to be contracted to deliver cargo to the upcoming Gateway. The California-based aerospace company will deliver cargo to lunar orbit, including research experiments, astronaut supplies, sample collection hardware, and more.

Read more at: Teslarati

Virgin Orbit Selects Japanese Airport as Launch Site

Virgin Orbit announced April 2 it has identified an airport in Japan as a potential site for launch operations, joining airports in the United States and Great Britain as hosts for the air-launch company.

Virgin Orbit said that, working with ANA Holdings and Space Port Japan Association, it selected Oita Airport on the island Kyushu as its preferred site. The company and Oita Prefecture, the local government, will work together on a technical study to confirm the feasibility of carrying out launch operations from the airport starting as soon as 2022.

Read more at: Spacenews

The World’s Largest Plane Will Soon Be Used To Launch Hypersonic Aircraft Capable Of Traveling 6 Times The Speed Of Sound

The world’s largest aircraft has a new mission, facilitating hypersonic travel.

Spaceflight-oriented aerospace company Stratolaunch Systems announced that its flagship aircraft, a six-engine carrier ship with two fuselages, will be a launch and test pad for the hypersonic vehicles of the future.

“Our hypersonic testbeds will serve as a catalyst in sparking a renaissance in hypersonic technologies for our government, the commercial sector, and academia,” said Jean Ford, Stratolaunch’s CEO, in a statement on the company’s website.

Read more at: Business insider

Jeff Bezos’ Space Company Is Pressuring Employees To Launch A Tourist Rocket During The Pandemic

Employees at Jeff Bezos’ aerospace firm Blue Origin are outraged that senior leadership is pressuring workers to conduct a test launch of the company’s New Shepard rocket — designed to take wealthy tourists into space — while the COVID-19 pandemic devastates the United States.

To conduct the flight, Blue Origin officials are considering transporting employees from the company’s main headquarters in Kent, Washington — a town near Seattle where COVID-19 cases have surged — to a small town in West Texas called Van Horn. The town, which has a population of just over 2,000, is home to Blue Origin’s test launch facility where the company has conducted all past flights of the New Shepard rocket.

Read more at: Verge


NASA Unveils Plan For Artemis ‘Base Camp’ On The Moon Beyond 2024

NASA is forging ahead with its Artemis program to land humans on the moon by 2024, but the agency has also just offered its first plan for what a U.S. lunar presence may look like after that milestone.

The new plan comes from a 13-page report submitted on April 2 to the National Space Council, an advisory group to President Donald Trump chaired by Vice President Mike Pence. Much of the report, titled “NASA’s Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development,” summarizes the vision NASA has laid out for justifying and accomplishing the 2024 moon landing.

Read more at:

NASA’s Mars Helicopter Is Ready For Launch

NASA’s next Mars rover, recently dubbed Perseverance, is currently undergoing launch preparations at its launch site, the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. To that end, a key piece of hardware — the Mars helicopter — was just tested for the last time on Earth.

Weighing in at just under 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms), the helicopter’s fuselage is about the same size as a softball, and its dual blades will slice through the tenuous Martian atmosphere, rotating at nearly 3,000 rpm — roughly ten times that of its terrestrial counterparts.

Read more at: Teslarati

Unusual Ozone Hole Opens Over The Arctic

Scientists using data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite have noticed a strong reduction of ozone concentrations over the Arctic. Unusual atmospheric conditions, including freezing temperatures in the stratosphere, have led ozone levels to plummet – causing a ‘mini-hole’ in the ozone layer.

The ozone layer is a natural, protective layer of gas in the stratosphere that shields life from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation – which is associated with skin cancer and cataracts, as well as other environmental issues.

Read more at: ESA


Here Are 10 Alternative Ideas For What NASA Could Do With Its Moon Budget

One year ago, NASA embarked upon a journey to send humans back to the Moon for the first time since the Apollo Program. At the direction of the White House, NASA seeks to land astronauts at the South Pole of the Moon by 2024. Only recently, in February, did the space agency put a price on this Artemis Moon plan—$35 billion over the next five years above its existing budget.

Since then, of course, the world has turned upside down. In the weeks after NASA released this cost estimate, the threat posed by COVID-19 has swamped space budget debates or policy concerns.

Read more at: Arstechnica

NASA Planning Reorganization Of Human Spaceflight Directorate

NASA is planning to implement changes in the structure of its human spaceflight directorate in the coming weeks, including moving a scientific research program to another part of the agency.

During an April 1 presentation at an online meeting of the National Academies’ Committee on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space, Craig Kundrot, director of NASA’s Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Applications Division, said a reorganization of the agency’s Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate would soon be announced.

Read more at: Spacenews


New Studies Show Growing Proliferation Of Anti-Satellite Weapons

Only a handful of countries — notably the United States’ military rivals China and Russia — are developing space weapons that could physically take down U.S. military satellites. But many nations and non-state actors increasingly are able to interfere with satellite signals using low-cost technologies, experts warn in a study released March 30.

Satellite jamming and spoofing devices that broadcast fake GPS signals from the ground are “becoming part of the every-day arsenal of many countries,” says a new report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Read more at: Spacenews

Satellite Attack Potential Increases: CSIS, SWF

While China seems to have taken a breather over the past year in testing of a maneuverable satellite that has demonstrated potential anti-satellite (ASAT) capabilities, Russia seems to have stepped up its self-declared efforts aimed at attacking US satellites, say a pair of new studies.

At the same time, the US used its mysterious X-37B spaceplane to covertly launch several cubesats that could be demonstrating ASAT capabilities, and practiced extensive GPS jamming during several naval exercises.

Read more at: Breakingdefense

Space Force Identifies USAF Missions For Transfer To Newest Service

In a significant step that enhances the U.S. Space Force’s capabilities and development, the Department of the Air Force has identified 23 U.S. Air Force organizations whose space-related missions will soon transfer to the Space Force.
Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett, in conjunction with Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein, directed the transfer which entails shifting space missions from Air Force organizations into the newest military branch.
Currently, Space Force is comprised primarily of units which previously fell under the former Air Force Space Command prior to the service’s establishment on Dec. 20, 2019.  

Read more at: Spaceforce

Space Force Moving Ahead “Full Speed” Despite the Coronavirus

Gen. Jay Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, told reporters last week that establishing the U.S. Space Force is moving forward at “full speed” despite the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, the Secretary of the Air Force has now announced 23 Air Force organizations whose space-related missions will transfer to the Space Force in the next three to six months.

Raymond, who is dual-hatted as CSO and Commander of U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM), briefed reporters on Friday at the Pentagon.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Air Force Will Transfer 23 Missions, 1,840 Billets To Space Force

Twenty-three Air Force organizations and 1,840 billets with space-related missions are slated to transfer to the Space Force within the next three to six months, service officials announced Tuesday.

The Space Force is currently made up of units that previously fell under Air Force Space Command before the new service was officially established in December.

Transferring services doesn’t involve any physical movement for either units or their billets, officials said in a media release. Unit missions will simply transfer to the Space Force while remaining in their same geographic locations.

Read more at: Airforce times

One Small Step For Japan’s Space Security Strategy

In April 2020, Japan will establish the Space Domain Mission Unit (SDMU) within the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, with the unit dedicated to protecting satellites vital to national security. Although the move has attracted much interest, the establishment of the SDMU was no surprise given the current National Defense Program Guidelines’ emphasis on space and Japan’s long-standing interest in securing assets in the domain.

The use of the space domain for national defence is not new for Japan, having utilised satellites for information-gathering, communication and navigation in the past.

Read more at: eastasia forum

Space Force Awards Contracts Worth As Much As $1B For New Modems

The Space Force awarded L3 Technologies and Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems contracts worth as much as $1 billion for the development and production of new modems that would help with protected satellite communications.

The indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts, each worth as much as $500 million, are part of the Air Force and Army Anti-Jam Modem program, which is also known as A3M. The modems would be capable of handling the new Protected Tactical Waveform, which provides anti-jamming communications for warfighters on the battlefield.

Read more at: c4isrnet


Elon Musk’s SpaceX Bans Zoom Over Privacy Concerns -Memo

Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX has banned its employees from using video conferencing app Zoom, citing “significant privacy and security concerns,” according to a memo seen by Reuters, days after U.S. law enforcement warned users about the security of the popular app.

Use of Zoom and other digital communications has soared as many Americans have been ordered to stay home to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Read more at: Reuters

Professor Reimar Lüst (1923-2020)

Professor Reimar Lüst, one of Europe’s great space pioneers, passed away on 31 March 2020 aged 97. Prof. Lüst was ESA’s third Director General, serving from 1984 until 1990, and was one of the greatest visionaries behind the initiation and then promotion of the European space endeavour.

Prof. Lüst was involved with the administration of European space science from the days of COPERS (Commission Préparatoire Européenne de Recherches Spatiales). First as Secretary of the Scientific and Technical Working Group and, from 1962 to 1964, as Scientific Director, he helped to draw up the scientific programme for ESRO, a forerunner of ESA, and an ambitious plan of launches and experiments known as the ‘Blue Book’.

Read more at: ESA

With more than 250 artworks sourced from cold war-era Russian magazines, Alexandra Sankova’s book Soviet Space Graphics: Cosmic Visions from the USSR (Phaidon £24.95), produced with the Moscow Design Museum, explores “the dream of conquering space”.One of the most vibrant publications was Tekhnika Molodezhi (Technology for the Youth) its “unearthly palettes of pink-violet and ochre-scarlet colours”, says Sankova, pulling readers into stories of “inventions and innovations, the mysterious and unknown”.

Read more at: Guardian

Airbus To Pause Majority Of Production In Spain Until 9 April In COVID-19 Environment

The Spanish Government announced new measures on 29 March in the fight against COVID-19. These measures are taking effect between Monday 30 March and Thursday 9 April inclusive and restrict all non-essential activities across the country.

Some key activities in Commercial Aircraft, Helicopters and Defence and Space remain essential. Minimum activity in these areas for necessary support functions such as Security, IT, Engineering, will remain under the stringent health and safety measures implemented by Airbus to protect its employees against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more at: Airbus

Commercial Interest In Space Is High, And The Technology To Get Us There Is Nearly Ready

“To go boldly, if prudently” would be a terrible tagline for a Star Trek spin-off, but it is the most sensible way to colonize space. Space settlements, Moon bases, and Mars colonies—no matter how futuristic—all require a business plan, explains science journalist Christopher Wanjek in his new book, Spacefarers.

Wanjek’s book is an optimistic treatise on commercial endeavors that seek to increase the number of people in space by employing more efficient and cheaper launch vehicles and systems. “The market is there; the technology is almost there,” he writes.

Read more at: Sciencemag


11th IAASS Conference – Poster A2