Spacex’s Crew Dragon Suffers Catastrophic Explosion During Static Fire Test

Six weeks after the spacecraft completed its orbital launch debut, SpaceX’s first flight-proven Crew Dragon capsule suffered a catastrophic explosion seconds before a planned SuperDraco test fire.

In the last nine years, SpaceX has successfully built, tested, launched, and recovered Cargo and Crew Dragons 18 times, including five instances of Cargo Dragon capsule reuse, all with minor or no issues. The April 20th event is the first time in the known history of SpaceX’s orbital spacecraft program that a vehicle – in this case, the first completed and flight-proven Crew Dragon capsule – has suffered a total failure. Regardless of the accident investigation’s ultimate conclusions, the road ahead of Crew Dragon’s first crewed test flight has become far more arduous.

Read more at: Teslarati

1st Manned Flight of Dragon 2 to ISS Postponed Due to Accident in Tests – Source

The first manned flight of Dragon 2 spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) has been put off due to an accident that occurred during the tests, a source in the aerospace industry told Sputnik.

“The SuperDraco engines of the emergency response systems of the Dragon 2 spacecraft were being tested. For this purpose, the return mechanism of the unmanned spacecraft Dragon 2, which made a test flight to the ISS in March, was used. As a result of an accident, an explosion occurred that led to the destruction of the return mechanism … It is necessary to deal with the causes of the accident that took place during the tests. All this would take a long time. Now, the launch of the Dragon 2 spacecraft in July is out of the question. [It can take place] not earlier than the end of the year”, the source said.

Read more at: Sputniknews

Spacex Confirms Anomaly During Crew Dragon Abort Engine Test

An accident Saturday during an abort engine test on a Crew Dragon test vehicle at Cape Canaveral sent a reddish-orange plume into the sky visible for miles around, a setback for SpaceX and NASA as teams prepare the capsule for its first mission with astronauts.

SpaceX is testing the Crew Dragon ahead of the capsule’s first test flight with astronauts later this year, following a successful Crew Dragon demonstration mission to the International Space Station in early March.

SpaceX confirmed the accident, first reported by Florida Today, in a statement Saturday evening. No injuries were reported.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Errant Command Doomed Israeli Moon Lander, Officials Vow To Try Again

A camera aboard the Israeli Beresheet lunar lander captured this picture of the moon from an altitude of 15 kilometers, or about 49,000 feet. Credit: SpaceILA command uplinked by mission control to resolve an error in the guidance system on the Israeli Beresheet moon lander inadvertently triggered a chain reaction that led to the shutdown of the probe’s main engine during descent to the lunar surface April 11, officials said this week.

An update Wednesday from SpaceIL, the Israeli non-profit organization that developed Beresheet, said engineers investigating the lander’s crash determined a manual command entered into the spacecraft’s computer sparked a series of events that doomed the mission.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Op-ed | Lunar Gateway or Moon Direct?

NASA has proposed to build a lunar orbiting space station, called the lunar Gateway, to use as a base for lunar exploration. This plan is severely defective.

The Gateway project may be compared to a deal in which you are offered a chance to rent an office in Thule, Greenland, on the following terms: 1. You pay to construct the building. 2. You accept a 30-year lease with high monthly rents and no exit clause. 3. You agree to spend one month per year there for the next 30 years. 4. You agree to fly through Thule whenever you travel anywhere from now on.

Read more at: Spacenews

NASA Astronaut Christina Koch’s First Space Mission Now Set To Break ISS Record

Today, NASA announced which astronauts will be traveling to and from the International Space Station through the end of the year, and the new schedule means one astronaut will now be breaking a big record while in orbit. Because of the new arrangement, NASA astronaut Christina Koch — who is already in space — will soon hold the title for longest single spaceflight by a woman, beating out the last titleholder, former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson.

Koch launched to the ISS on March 14th, along with NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. But rather than stay for six months, as most of NASA’s astronauts do, Koch is now slated to remain on the station through February 2020. That means she’ll spend 328 days, or nearly a full year, in orbit, which is one of the longest consecutive stays in space by any NASA astronaut.

Read more at: Verge

Lockheed Martin Wants To Take NASA To The Moon

Lockheed Martin has a plan to get NASA astronauts back to the surface of the moon by 2024, the company revealed during the National Space Symposium in Colorado last week.

The bottom line: The plan would take its Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle — which the government contractor has been developing for the better part of a decade for previous space exploration plans — and direct it to the moon.

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Details: The plan would require a test flight of the Orion with its European Service Module on NASA’s Space Launch System rocket in June 2020, with the first crewed test flight in late 2022.

Read more at: Axios

US Astronauts Have 15 Minutes to Evacuate to Russian Part of ISS If NH3 Leaks

Russian Rocket and Space Corporation (RSC) Energia has developed a system to purify air at the International Space Station (ISS) in the event of ammonia (NH3) leakage due to a possible decompression of the US thermal control system.

“In the event of a depressurization of the heat exchanger between the external and internal circuits… the US crew can be saved with a fairly quick evacuation to the service module of the Russian segment of the ISS (about 10-15 minutes),” the corporation’s experts said in an article published in the Space Engineering and Technologies magazine.

It is noted that the filtration system, consisting of the AFOT-M microcompressor and the FTD-A ammonia filter, was developed by RSC Energia under a contract with NASA.

Read more at: Space daily

A Communications Satellite Just Died in Orbit. It’s Potentially Dangerous Space Junk Now

Luxembourg-based Intelsat reports that its Intelsat 29E satellite (IS-29E) is now a total loss, after having reported earlier that the spacecraft suffered an anomaly.

Late on April 7, the Intelsat 29e propulsion system experienced damage that caused a leak of the propellant on board the satellite, resulting in a service disruption to customers..

That event caused a service outage on the Intelsat 29e satellite that affected maritime, aeronautical and wireless-operator customers in the Latin America, Caribbean and North Atlantic regions.

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NASA Is Working On A Camera That Could Save Humanity From Extinction

Astronomers tend to be patient people. When it comes to stars, much of what they examine happened millions of years ago, and when it comes to space probes, even pre-launch prep can take a decade or more.

But they are getting impatient about launching an infrared space telescope called NEOCam. It has a very specific mission: Spotting near-Earth objects—astronomical bodies, most commonly asteroids, whose orbits around the sun could pass close to Earth and potentially collide with our planet, some of which could damage or destroy civilization itself.

It’s not speculative; a major meteoric impact is inevitable, and we need to keep a better eye on the solar system.

Read more at: QZ

Tech Giants Spacex, Amazon And Oneweb Want To Launch Thousands Of Satellites. How Safe Are They From Space Junk?

This month, Amazon filed plans to send more than 3,000 broadband satellites into orbit. Dubbed “Project Kuiper”, it joins similar proposals from the likes of OneWeb and SpaceX, both of which recently launcheddemo hardware. Amazon’s vision is substantially larger than OneWeb’s 650-odd satellites, but dwarfed by SpaceX’s Starlink plan to launch a constellation of 12,000.

The thing is, there’s a whole lot of stuff in space already.

Aside from 5,000 or so satellites, there are also millions of bits of space junk or debris, like the remnants of defunct satellites or spent rocket stages. And most of this is in low Earth orbit — the airspace up to around 2,000 kilometres above our head, where the proposed internet satellites are designed to operate.

Read more at: ABC

India’s ASAT ‘Justified’

US Strategic Command chief General John E. Hyten defended India before members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying that the country had tested the anti-satellite missile because it needed the capability to defend itself in space. The general called for international norms of behaviour in space to curtail the dangerous debris issue.

According to Indian daily The Hindu, the Pentagon has defended India’s need for anti-satellite (ASAT) missile capabilities, arguing that India needs the technology as it is concerned about the “threats” it faces in space.

Top Pentagon commander General John E. Hyten, while speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, said, “The first lesson from the Indian ASAT is just the simple question of why did they do that. And the answer should be, I think to all the committee looking at it, is that they did that because they are concerned about threats to their nation from space”.

Read more at: Space daily

Remains Of Falcon Heavy Center Core Returned To Port

 A week after launching from nearby Kennedy Space Center, what remains of the Falcon Heavy center core that toppled over because of rough seas has been returned to port.

The stage, dubbed B1055, successfully landed on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” some nine minutes after it launched at 6:35 p.m. EDT (22:35 GMT) April 11, 2019. However, over the weekend (it is unclear exactly when) the core fell over as a result of rough seas.

According to SpaceX, the company was not able to safely send people over to the drone ship to secure the booster before the high swells caused it to topple. The two side boosters landed successfully at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Landing Zones 1 and 2. As such, they were not affected by the sea state.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

With A Simpler Rocket, Skyroot Is Eyeing The Space

Skyroot Aerospace, a Hyderabad-based startup backed by CureFit founders Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori, is developing a rocket which can be assembled and launched in a day that will be used to hurl small satellites into space, eyeing a slice of the global market for tiny satellite launches that is expected to grow over the next decade.

Skyroot, founded by former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists Pawan Kumar Chandana, Naga Bharath Daka and Vasudevan Gnanagandhi, expect to demonstrate its first rocket by 2021, which it says could potentially reduce launch costs by a third.

Read more at: Economic times

Europe Lagging in the Space Launch Arena

The space industry has long been a catalyst for innovations and further economic growth. Yet with the advent of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Europe’s space launch industry is struggling to respond.

In a broader context, the pursuit of innovation in space exploration and related fields has often led to the commercialisation of applications in other industries.  With that, it is important for Europe that it continues to play an active part in that industry.

Europe has a long history in the space launch segment of the aerospace industry.  Arianespace is a French multinational company which was founded in 1980.  The company has its roots in the European Space Agency’s Ariane space program that preceded its establishment in 1973.  With that, it became the world’s first commercial launch service provider.

Read more at: 150sec

Delayed Takeoff

The plane, at least, can fly, even if the business may not.

On Saturday, Stratolaunch’s giant aircraft finally took the skies above the Mojave Air and Space Port. Shortly before 7 am local time, the plane rolled down the runway, much as it had in a series of taxi tests dating back more than a year, most recently in January. This time, though, Scaled Composites test pilot Evan Thomas throttled up and pulled back on the stick, and the plane took to the skies for the first time.

Read more at: Spacereview

New Concept For Novel Fire Extinguisher In Space

A research team in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Toyohashi University of Technology has developed new concept of fire extinguisher optimized for space-use; named Vacuum Extinguish Method (VEM). VEM is based on the completely “reverse” operation of widely-used fire extinguisher, namely, spraying extinguisher agent(s) into the firing point. VEM is sucking the flame as well as combustion product, even fire source, by vacuum into the vacuum chamber to remove the firing matters from the space of interest. This reverse concept shall be suitable for the special environments that are highly enclosed (such as space vehicles or types of space transportation, submarines, and types of deep sea submersed vehicles) to prevent or suppress spreading the harmful combustion products such as fume, particulate matters, toxic gas component across the entire enclosed cabin. This is especially advantageous for space use, preferable in an extreme vacuum environment. This work is a collaborative research with the Hokkaido and Shinshu Universities. The results of our research were posted on-line in the special issue of Fire Technology; Spacecraft Fire Safety on April 16, 2019.

Read more at: Eurekalert

Air-Breathing Rocket Engine Gets Green Light for Major Tests

A new air-breathing rocket engine is ready for a major round of testing in the next 18 months after having passed a preliminary design review by the European Space Agency (ESA).

The Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE), which is being developed by the U.K. company Reaction Engines, can switch between two modes. In aircraft-engine mode, it uses oxygen from the atmosphere, and in rocket-engine mode, it burns an oxidizer carried onboard together with the fuel liquid hydrogen.

The technology, deemed particularly promising for suborbital spaceflight and supersonic intercontinental travel, could one day revolutionize space transportation, advocates say.

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From Spacesuits To Hiking Boots, It’s Time For Gendered Innovation

Sex and gender impact every aspect of our lives and it is more than spacesuits not fitting female astronauts — what recently cost NASA a historic all-women spacewalk.

We see the impact from the shoes and clothing we wear, the electronic devices we use, the cars we drive in, and even the medications we take. The “pink it-shrink it’ approach for gendered innovation will never work in any environment including space, battlefields, hot zones and our homes.

In my capacity as the senior medical advisor to NASA for over 18 years, I chaired two decadal reviews assessing the impact of gender/sex on adaptation to space, working with scientists and clinicians from within the space agency and academia. Space is an extraordinary platform to study sex/gender differences since small changes can have monumental impact on well-being and performance. Every system in the body changes in the microcosm of space.

Read more at: Hill

How Will Space Law Work When We Begin To Colonise Planets?

We are rapidly moving towards colonising other planets for human life: SpaceX, Blue Origin, and other smaller businesses in the space sector are all hoping to win lucrative contracts from the likes of NASA and other national space agencies to begin the colonisation process

Space travel is steadily becoming cheaper, easier, and more accessible thanks to advancements in technology, and some experts are claiming that we may be living on the moon by 2030. And while we haven’t even set foot on Mars, there are already plans in place to colonise our closest planetary neighbour.

VHR is a technical recruitment company that works in the space sector, and they’ve seen more enquiries into staffing solutions for space projects over the last three years than in the previous decade combined. Activity in the sector is only getting more competitive, and more and more engineers are looking at transitioning into the space market.

Read more at: openaccess government

Why Consensus On Standards & Performance Matters In Commercial Space

The development of standards may seem like a dry topic, but it also is crucial for any industry that wants to be safe and effective as it matures. 

Before the railroad industry implemented gauge standards, cargo traveling between regions would have to be unloaded and moved to different trains when they entered a new area because the distance between rails no longer matched the size of the wheels of the train. From steel, to clothing, to cars, to pharmaceuticals, standards are a vital part of the growth and development of industries across the globe. This is already true for the burgeoning industry of commercial space. 

Read more at: Spacenews

India’s Space Ambitions

On March 27, 2019 India has tested its first ever Anti-Satellite (ASAT) missile code named as ‘Mission Shakti’. India shot down one of its own Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite through a ballistic missile and became fourth country in the world after USA, Russia and China having the capability. ASAT weapons are the space weapons which allow a state to attack opponent space assets which disrupt communication channel. Indian ASAT test translates into New Delhi capability which can be used to destroy opponent satellites. The shooting down of its own low orbit satellite with a ground to space missile has made India a ‘space power’. This technology effects Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance (IRS) system of enemy state.

Read more at: Modern diplomacy

Op-Ed | Ensuring Peaceful Use Of Space An Important Goal For U.S. And Allies

Fifty years ago this summer, when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, space was the realm of peaceful human exploration, budding commercial development and growing but comparatively limited military use. Today, space is the engine of global commerce and vital to American military operations on land, sea and in the air.

So it is fitting that on April 11, for the first time ever, I met with 11 air chiefs from around the world to begin mapping out our future as space allies. The work was timely and vital. Many of them are riding the wave of commercial and military launches to position their nations for business growth and a military posture that will promote the peaceful use of space.

Read more at: Spacenews

China’s Plans to Dominate Space

Since the days of Jiang Zemin, Chinese military-strategic guidelines have emphasised the requirement for the People’s Liberation Army to focus on ‘informatisation’ as a key component of its modernisation efforts. The essential requirement for informatisation is not lost on Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is making a determined effort to ensure that PLA modernisation is complete by 2035 and that it results in a ‘world-class’ force capable of fighting and winning wars anywhere by 2050. Space capability and ‘space power’ are central components of PLA informatisation and China is developing sophisticated thinking and capability for waging war in space.

Read more at: National interest

Space Development Agency A Huge Win For Griffin In His War Against The Status Quo

During a speech to a room packed with Pentagon contractors last August, Mike Griffin, the recently appointed U.S. undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, openly fretted about how little time he had left in office and how much he wanted to get done.

At the top of his to-do list is what Griffin described as a “proliferated space sensor layer, possibly based off commercial space developments.” He insisted that space sensors must soon be deployed to fill gaps in the current missile defense system that make the United States and its allies vulnerable to Chinese and Russian hypersonic weapons.

“We know that this can be done,” said Griffin of the space sensor layer. But it could not be done fast. The Pentagon takes on average 16 years from “stating a need to initial operational capability.”

Read more at: Spacenews

SDA’s Kennedy: Cislunar Space The Next Military Frontier

Fred Kennedy, the energetic new chief of the Pentagon’s fledgling Space Development Agency (SDA), is boldly advocating to take routine U.S. military space operations where they have never gone before: to cislunar space. “Defense follows where commercial goes,” he told me in a phone interview today, echoing the old aphorism of ‘flag follows trade.’

As commercial activities (such as resource extraction) expand outward from Earth to the Moon, he explained, there will be “a need for the equivalent to a Navy or Air Force” to protect that region of space. “We haven’t specifically been told to go worry from GEO to the Moon” he said, “but we know emerging threats will drive us there.”

Read more at: Breaking defense

Why Space Tourism Is An Incredible Waste Of Money

Space tourism is here. It’s real. It’s not some outlandish vision of a distant future. Right now, if you have the money, you can pay to get in a spacecraft and fly around the moon and back.

Of course, you don’t have the money. That journey, with a company called SpaceX, costs somewhere in the region of US$100 million, which is not the sort of change many people have to throw around. There’s a Japanese man, Yusaku Maezawa, who does have that sort of change to throw around, and will undertake his interstellar journey sometime around 2023. For the rest of us, however, that will remain a dream.

But that isn’t where space tourism begins and ends. And for those looking for the next frontier, who are so obsessed with travel that they want to take this thing as far as it can go, the space travel experience is already possible.

Read more at: Traveller

Geraldyn “Jerrie” M. Cobb, First Woman To Pass Astronaut Testing In 1961 Passes Away At 88

When Geraldyn M. Cobb was born on March 5, 1931 in Norman, Oklahoma, no one would have imagined the heights to which she was destined to soar.  She was one of the most accomplished and honored women in aviation history, a pioneer of and lifelong advocate for women pilots in the space program, and a passionate humanitarian to indigenous tribes in the Amazon Jungle.

The second of two daughters to Lt. Col. William “Harvey” Cobb & Helena Stone Cobb, she was raised in a happy home where faith and education were valued.  It would serve her well.  Known to all as “Jerrie,” she was shy and humble, with her signature blonde ponytail and eyes as blue as the sky.

Read more at: Spaceref

Long-duration NASA Astronaut Owen Garriott, 88, Dies

Long-duration astronaut Owen Garriott, who spent 70 days in space in the 1970s and 80s, died at his Alabama home on Tuesday, according to NASA.

The Oklahoma-born Navy veteran, engineer and scientist was 88.

Garriott first took flight in July 1973 for a nearly two-month science stay aboard Skylab, the United States’ first space station that stayed in orbit until 1979. The agency considers lessons learned from Skylab to have paved the way for the International Space Station, which has now been in orbit for 20 years.

Read more at: Florida today

A Man Conned His NASA-Funded Lab Into Paying For Trips To See Prostitutes And Escorts, Feds Say

A former chief economist and consultant who worked for the United States’ lab at the International Space Station has been charged by federal authorities with wire fraud for a pattern of expensing visits to escorts and prostitutes in cities around the world, officials say.

Charles R. Resnick, who worked for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit that manages the International Space Station National Lab and is funded by NASA, was charged in an indictment filed on April 11 by federal prosecutors in central Florida.

Read more at: Washington post