Crew Dragon Splashes Down To End Crew-1 Mission

A SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico May 2, returning four astronauts from a five-and-a-half-month stay on the International Space Station.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft Resilience undocked from the station at 8:35 p.m. Eastern May 1. After departing the vicinity of the station and performing a 16-minute deborbit burn, the spacecraft splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast from Panama City, Florida, at 2:56 a.m. Eastern May 2. On board the spacecraft were NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi.

Read more at: Spacenews

China’s Falling Rocket: What Happens If Out-Of-Control Long March 5B Hits The Earth?

The Long March 5B rocket is falling back to Earth after launching part of China’s next space station.

The 30-meter long rocket entered orbital velocity, meaning it is now traveling around the world every 90 minutes – too fast for space agencies to tell where it is going to land.

Last year, a similar prototype craft came within 13 minutes of hitting New York City. The craft was eventually confirmed by the US Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron to have landed in the Atlantic Ocean.

Read more at: Independent

GT Exclusive: China’s First Integrated Base Supporting Rocket Building, Sea Launch To Be ‘Operational In May’

China’s new rocket base specially designed to support seaborne rocket launches, located in the coastal city of Haiyang, East China’s Shandong Province, will become operational in May, and it will be capable of general assembly and testing for at least 10 solid-propellant rockets per year, a project leader disclosed to the Global Times on Tuesday.

The base’s capacity will increase to 20 rockets per year by October 2022, Li Shaoning, deputy chief engineer with the project developer – rocket manufacturer China Rocket Co, under state-owned space giant China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) – told the Global Times during an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

Read more at: Globaltimes


False Alarm: No Space Junk Threat After All To SpaceX Crew

SpaceX’s four astronauts had barely settled into orbit last Friday when they were ordered back into their spacesuits because of a potential collision with orbiting junk.

It turns out there was no object and no threat, the U.S. Space Command acknowledged Monday. The false alarm is under review.

Read more at: ABCnews

China Launches Main Part Of Its 1st Permanent Space Station

China on Thursday launched the main module of its first permanent space station that will host astronauts long term, the latest success for a program that has realized a number of its growing ambitions in recent years.

The Tianhe, or “Heavenly Harmony,” module blasted into space atop a Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Launch Center on the southern island province of Hainan, marking another major advance for the country’s space exploration.

Read more at: ABCnews


Space Force Sees Need For Civilian Agency To Manage Congestion

The U.S. Space Force is not too worried at this point that the growth of commercial space activity is creating safety issues. But things could change if space traffic and debris are not managed, said Gen. David Thompson, vice chief of space operations of the U.S. Space Force.

Commercial ventures such as space internet constellations and civil activities in low Earth orbit are positive developments, Thompson said in an interview with SpaceNews. The military supports this growth, he said, but would like to see a civilian agency in charge of managing traffic and regulating unsafe activities.

Read more at: Spacenews

Space Junk Removal Is Not Going Smoothly

A Space Age “tragedy of the commons” is unfolding right under our nose—or, really, right over our head—and no consensus yet exists on how to stop it. For more than a half-century, humans have been hurling objects into low-Earth orbit in ever growing numbers. And with few meaningful limitations on further launches into that increasingly congested realm, the prevailing attitude has been persistently permissive: in orbit, it seems, there is always room for one more.

After so many decades of the buildup of high-speed clutter in the form of spent rocket stages, stray bolts and paint chips, solid-rocket-motor slag, dead or dying satellites and the scattered fragments from antisatellite tests—all of which could individually damage or destroy other assets—low-Earth orbit is finally on the verge of becoming too crowded for comfort.

Read more at: Scientific American

CSO: Space is the ‘Wild, Wild West,’ Requiring New Norms for Operating in Orbit

Space is “pretty much the wild, wild West” with more satellites going into orbit and a large increase in space junk threatening assets. Meanwhile, the growing Space Force is working to establish operating norms in orbit to avoid added danger.

The Space Force currently tracks about 30,000 pieces of debris, with “probably half a million other objects” in orbit “that are too small for us to track,” said Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond during a virtual Washington Post event April 30.

Read more at: Airforcemag

Europe’s Galileo Braces For More Emergency In-Orbit Maneuvers

Europe is preparing for more emergency in-orbit maneuvers in an increasingly crowded space environment, after its Galileo satellite navigation constellation had to dodge debris for the first time March 6.

The GSAT0219 satellite’s operations were suspended a day before the move, enabling it to steer clear of an inert Ariane 4 rocket fragment in medium Earth orbit (MEO).

The constellation’s navigational services were uninterrupted as it drew on 22 operational satellites in the network, according to Pierlugi Fedele, Galileo service provision manager at prime contractor Spaceopal.

Read more at: Spacenews


Space Industry In Midst Of Transformation Following Record Private And Public Investments

The space market is at a watershed moment as private and public investments continue to surge.

Boutique research and advisory firm Quilty Analytics recorded $5.7 billion in investments for the first quarter of 2021, a 356% increase from $1.2 billion in the same period last year.

Growing investor appetite in the public markets is mainly behind this eye-watering figure, bringing a paradigm shift for the industry.

Read more at: Spacenews

SNC’s Dream Chaser Spaceplane Cleared for Florida Runway Landing

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security leader, has entered into a Use Agreement for Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility (LLF) to land the Dream Chaser spaceplane in support of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services-2 (CRS-2) contract. Dream Chaser, America’s Spaceplane, will service the International Space Station (ISS) under the CRS-2 contract in 2022.

“This is a monumental step for both Dream Chaser and the future of space travel,” said SNC CEO Fatih Ozmen.

Read more at: Parabolic arc

Blue Origin Is Ready To Start Selling Suborbital Space Travel Tickets

Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin is about start selling seats for its New Shepard rocket. Prices have not yet been set, but with seats on Virgin Galactic’s suborbital flight costing $250,000, it’s safe to say it won’t be cheap.

Read more at: Mashable

Spaceflight Inc. Readies the Next of Four Dedicated Electron Launches for BlackSky

Global launch services provider Spaceflight Inc. recently secured four dedicated Rocket Lab launches on behalf of its customer, BlackSky, a leading provider of real-time geospatial intelligence and global monitoring services. Spaceflight will provide the integration and launch services for eight BlackSky smallsats across four dedicated Electron missions throughout 2021. The agreement also includes options for an additional two dedicated missions on Electron in Q4 2021.

Read more at: parabolic arc

China’s Commercial Sector Finds Funding And Direction

China has experienced an explosion of commercial space companies since 2014, driven by the government opening up the space sector to private capital.

According to Chinese publication Future Aerospace, there were 141 registered commercial aerospace companies in China by the end of 2018, in areas including launch, propulsion, satellite manufacturing, payloads and applications and ground stations. And investor enthusiasm for these space companies continues to rise.

Read more at: Spacenews

Germany’s Launch Startups Race To Grow Their Launch Manifests

Rocket Factory Augsburg has added two more customers to its launch manifest a week after rival German startup Isar Aerospace secured its first. 

Of the three German startups vying for ESA funding as they race to launch competing smallsat launchers next year, only HyImpulse Technologies has yet to announce a customer for its rocket. 

After securing its first contract with sister company OHB Sweden AB on March 31 for the launch of a single mission, Rocket Factory Augsburg announced April 27 that it had signed launch contracts with OHB Cosmos and LuxSpace for missions in mid-2024 and 2025.

Read more at: Spacenews

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