US Astronauts Enter Space Station In Milestone Mission
NASA astronauts entered the International Space Station on Sunday after a landmark 19-hour journey on the first crewed US spacecraft in nearly a decade, a triumph for SpaceX and private enterprise.
The arrival completed the first leg of the trip, designed to test the capabilities of the Crew Dragon capsule. But the mission will only be declared a success when the astronauts return safely to Earth in a few months’ time.
The spaceship’s hatch opened at 1:02 pm Eastern Time (1702 GMT) as Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley carried out final procedures before crossing the threshold about 20 minutes later.
Read more at: Spacedaily
HTV Supply Ship Successfully Berthed At Space Station
The last of Japan’s current series of HTV cargo freighters arrived at the International Space Station Monday with a fresh set of lithium-ion batteries, ready for installation on the research lab’s solar power truss after the scheduled docking of a two-man crew on a SpaceX Dragon spaceship later this week.
The automated supply ship was captured by the station’s Canadian-built robotic arm at 8:13 a.m. EDT (1213 GMT) Monday, while the vehicles soared some 260 miles (418 kilometers) over Tanzania.
Read more at: Spaceflightnow
SpaceX Astronaut Launch Marks The Dawn Of The Commercial Human Spaceflight Industry
SpaceX on Saturday launched two NASA astronauts aboard its Crew Dragon spacecraft, and the accomplishment is a tremendous one for both the company and the U.S. space agency. At a fundamental level, it means that the U.S. will have continued access to the International Space Station, without having to rely on continuing to buy tickets aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to do so. But it also means the beginning of a new era for the commercial space industry – one in which private companies and individual buying tickets for passenger trips to space is a consistent and active reality.
Read more at: Techcrunch
Tradition, Tragedy, Tribute: The Story of Doug Hurley, Bob Behnken, Columbia, and Endeavour
On Saturday, May 30, Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken became the first astronauts to launch to orbit from the United States in almost nine years. Demo-2 was the first crewed launch for SpaceX, and the culmination of a decade of hard work in NASA’s Commercial Crew program.
20 years ago, Hurley and Behnken were just Bugs. That was the nickname given to the NASA Astronaut class of 2000, of which both Doug and Bob were members. Also in their class were Karen Nyberg and K. Megan McArthur, whom Doug and Bob would marry.
Read more at: NASA Spaceflight
Trump Takes Victory Lap After Crew Dragon Launch
President Donald Trump used a speech after the successful SpaceX Crew Dragon launch May 30 to tout his administration’s accomplishments in space, some of which predate his time in office, rather than announce any new initiatives.
Trump spoke inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the Kennedy Space Center a little more than 90 minutes after the Crew Dragon spacecraft, with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board, reached orbit in the first human orbital spaceflight from the United States in nearly nine years.
Read more at: Spacenews
Behind The Scenes As FAA Prepares For SpaceX Launch
“It’s a very exciting day for us,” Duane Freer, manager of space operations at the FAA, said in an interview on Wednesday, just hours before the mission’s scheduled launch, which was later postponed because of weather. “This has been a long time in the makinghttps://tass.com/science/1161949. There’s a lot on the line for the country.”
Read more at: Washington post
SpaceX Prototype Starship Rocket Explodes After Test In Texas
A fourth prototype of SpaceX’s next-generation Starship rocket exploded Friday after a test at the company’s development facility in Texas.
The company was conducting a trial of the rocket’s engine, in a test on the ground known as a static fire. A few minutes after the test, which initially appeared successful, the Starship prototype identified as Serial Number 4 ruptured in a fiery explosion.
Read more at: CNBC
Russian Specialists To Check Fregat Booster At Kourou Space Site For Oxidizer Leaks
French specialists have detected systematic signals from the alarm system indicating the presence of oxidizer vapors at the storage facility of the booster Fregat at the Kourou space site, the press-service of Roscosmos corporation told TASS on Friday.
“On May 21, 2020 the French side said that the alarm system repeatedly identified the presence of oxidizer vapors at the storage facility of the booster Fregat,” Roscosmos said.
Read more at: TASS
Virgin Orbit Analyzing Data To Find Cause Of Rocket Failure
Virgin Orbit engineers were analyzing data Tuesday to find out what caused the maiden flight of its air-launched satellite booster to fail.
The problem occurred soon after the LauncherOne rocket was released Monday from a Boeing 747 jetliner off the Southern California coast and its first stage motor ignited.
The launch was not terminated by the autonomous flight safety system, which would have been triggered if the rocket left its flight corridor, said Kendall Russell, Virgin Orbit’s spokesman.
Read more at: ABCnews
Airbus Wins ESA Contract To Construct Third European Service Module For NASA’s Orion Spacecraft
The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed a contract with Airbus for the construction of the third European Service Module (ESM) for Orion, the American crewed spacecraft. The contract is worth around euro 250 million.
By ordering this additional service module, ESA ensures the necessary continuity in NASA’s Artemis programme. The third European Service Module (Artemis III Mission) will be used to fly astronauts to Earth’s neighbour in space in 2024 – the first to land on the Moon since Apollo 17 following a hiatus of more than 50 years.
Read more at: Spacedaily
Long March 11 Launches Out Of Xichang For The First Time.
China has conducted the first launch of its solid-fuelled quick-reaction Long March-11 launch vehicle from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Thursday. Carrying two new technology test satellites, Xinjishu Shiyan-G and Xinjishu Shiyan-H, the launch took place at 20:13 UTC.
The new technology test satellites were developed by the Shanghai Institute of Microsatellite Innovation, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Xinjishu Shiyan-G), and the National University of Defence Technology (Xinjishu Shiyan-H).
As with the previous satellites, the new satellites will be used to carry out inter-satellite link networking and new ground observation technology tests in orbit.
Read more at: NASAspaceflight
SPACE HAZARDS & STM
Russian Military Satellite Launch Spawns Space-Junk Fireball Over Australia (Video)
Russia launched a military satellite to orbit on Friday (May 22), and the mission generated plenty of action in the downward direction as well.
A four-stage Soyuz-2 rocket lifted off from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northwestern Russia early Friday morning, carrying a classified payload that’s believed to be the fourth satellite for the country’s EKS OiBU missile-warning network, according to RussianSpaceWeb.com.
The Soyuz successfully delivered the satellite to its intended orbit, the Russian space agency Roscosmos announced Friday afternoon.
Read more at: Space.com
New Observatory Will Track Near-Earth Satellites and Space Debris
With the construction of a new research observatory, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum fuer Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is taking the next step in determining the nature and trajectory of objects in low-Earth orbit as quickly, precisely and reliably as possible. This is fundamental for the future of spaceflight as it is the only way to prevent collisions between objects such as space debris and active satellites.
One of the research and development objectives of the DLR Institute of Technical Physics is the high-precision distance measurement of orbiting objects using specialised lasers.
Read more at: Spacedaily
UK Commits New Funding To Combat Space Debris
There are an estimated 900,000 pieces of space debris larger than 1 cm orbiting the Earth, with only a small proportion of them tracked.
The UK Space Agency is providing up to £1 million for organisations to come up with smart solutions to this problem by using cost effective ways to monitor objects in low Earth Orbit, or applying artificial intelligence to make better use of existing orbital data.
Read more at: UK gov
Solving the Space Junk Problem
Space is getting crowded. Aging satellites and space debris crowd low-Earth orbit, and launching new satellites adds to the collision risk. The most effective way to solve the space junk problem, according to a new study, is not to capture debris or deorbit old satellites: it’s an international agreement to charge operators “orbital-use fees” for every satellite put into orbit.
Orbital use fees would also increase the long-run value of the space industry, said economist Matthew Burgess, a CIRES Fellow and co-author of the new paper.
Read more at: cires
Study Explores Space’s Impact On Our Daily Lives
Satellites surveying the environmental and economic impacts of COVID-19, rocket launches, and plans for the next lunar landing have been featured in the news recently. Despite this, it is still easy to miss all of the ways in which satellites contribute to daily life.
A new study released by The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Space Policy and Strategy (CSPS) discusses the value and use of space-based capabilities and our reliance on space, sector by sector.
Read more at: Spacedaily
The Two Solitudes of Space – New and Traditional
Anyone who has been working in or following the space business over the last decade is familiar with the dichotomy that has grown up between “new” or entrepreneurial space ventures and traditional space programs.
Often these sectors seem to be a model of the classic two solitudes, existing side by side but embodying two different world views and without a lot of (constructive) interaction. But is that really true – and is that all about to change?
Read more at: SpaceQ
India’s Space Programme: A Role For The Private Sector, Finally?
India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced last week that India’s private sector will play a key role in augmenting India’s space programme, and that the government intends to share the facilities of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) with the private sector. This announcement was part of the Narendra Modi government’s call for new and bold reforms in an effort to promote its ‘self-reliant India’ mission. It is the fourth segment of the Rs 20 lakh crore Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan special economic stimulus.
Sitharaman’s announcement entails a role for the private sector, possibly with the goal of greater investments in technology development and acquisition, capacity-building and space exploration, including planetary exploration.
Read more at: orfonline
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Going Nuclear On The Moon And Mars
It might sound like science fiction, but scientists are preparing to build colonies on the moon and, eventually, Mars. With NASA planning its next human mission to the moon in 2024, researchers are looking for options to power settlements on the lunar surface.
According to a new article in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, nuclear fission reactors have emerged as top candidates to generate electricity in space.
Read more at: Technology
Terrestrial Bacteria Can Grow On Nutrients From Space
Interest in space exploration is increasing again. In the past decade, there has been renewed thinking about missions to the moon, perhaps even to Mars. As inevitable fellow travellers on the bodies of astronauts, spaceships, or equipment, terrestrial microorganisms will undoubtedly come into contact with extraterrestrial environments. Researchers from the Radboudumc describe in an article in Astrobiology that bacteria can survive on an ‘extraterrestrial diet’, which affected their pathogenic potential.
Read more at: radboud
Fiber-Optic “Nerves” Enable Sensitive Surgery Tools
Can you make a robot feel? That was the question posed to Johnson Space Center engineer Toby Martin.
It wasn’t a heart that NASA wanted to give its Robonaut, though—it was tactile sensing for the robot’s hands.
“It didn’t have an autonomous grasping capability,” Martin says of the first version of NASA’s robot astronaut. A control systems specialist, he was tasked in 2004 with looking for a way to give it that ability. “First we had to figure out how to sense when it’s grasping something,” he says. “We wanted the hand to be able to grab an object and adjust finger forces and positions and tensions to pick up irregular objects.”
Read more at: Technology
DARPA Selects Teams to Increase Security of Semiconductor Supply Chain
As Internet of Things (IoT) devices rapidly increase in popularity and deployment, economic attackers and nation-states alike are shifting their attention to the vulnerabilities of digital integrated circuit (IC) chips.
Threats to IC chips are well known, and despite various measures designed to mitigate them, hardware developers have largely been slow to implement security solutions due to limited expertise, high cost and complexity, and lack of security-oriented design tools integrated with supporting semiconductor intellectual property (IP).
Read more at: Spacedaily
At Cosmic Distances, Even The Speed Of Light Is Really Slow
The speed of light is the absolute fastest thing in the universe, clocking in at a whopping 299,792,458 meters per second. At that speed, a beam of light could travel around the Earth’s entire equator in a mere 0.13 seconds. That’s…fast. And yet, when it comes to cosmic distances, it’s incredibly, frustratingly, boringly slow.
A new video posted on YouTube by creator and scientist Dr. James O’Donoghue shows the whole scale of interplanetary space – and just how insanely long it takes to get anywhere.
Read more at: Technology
For Russia, SpaceX Success Is ‘Wakeup Call’
Russia has lost its long-held monopoly as the only country able to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station following the flawless manned launch by US company SpaceX.
The Russian space agency congratulated the United States and Elon Musk’s SpaceX on the first crewed flight ever by a private company, but experts said the launch should be a wakeup call for Roscosmos.
“The success of the mission will provide us with additional opportunities that will benefit the whole international programme,” cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, Roscosmos executive director for crewed space programmes, said in a brief video address.
Read more at: Spacedaily
Will US Attempt to Introduce New Moon Mining Rules Trigger New Space Race?
The US announced the Artemis Accord on 15 May and asked countries to join the treaty to explore the Moon with a new framework, while opposing the 1979 Moon Agreement. The US claimed that the new agreement will ensure space activities will be conducted solely for peaceful purposes with transparency as a key principle.
US President Donald Trump’s administration has created new rules through an executive order following a 2015 law change for how private companies might profit from operations on the Moon, asteroids and other planets.
However, the new rules are in sharp contrast with the 1979 Moon Agreement, which the US has generally followed but never formally joined.
Read more at: Moondaily
After Plundering Earth, The Moon’s Next In Our Post-Covid Plan?
Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order that would enable the United States to mine the moon. The purpose was to mine minerals and water, and eventually set up a lunar colony. But, it was also on a first-come-first-serve, winner-gets-all basis. Vice President Mike Pence stressed the importance of the U.S. making the first stake for mining, stating: “NASA already knows that the lunar south pole holds great scientific, economic and strategic value, but now it’s time to commit to go there.”
Experts say the question is not just of mining but the idea that one country can brashly go ahead with a damaging exercise without securing an international sustainability regime.
Read more at: Bloomberg quint
Forty-Five Years Of The ESA Convention
After celebrating the 50th anniversary of the European space cooperation in 2014, we now mark 45 years since the signing of the Convention for the creation of a single European Space Agency on 30 May 1975.
The idea of building an independent space capability in Europe dated back to the early 1960s when six European countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) formed the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO) to develop a heavy launcher, later called ‘Europa’.
Read more at: ESA
US, Peru Expand Space Data Sharing Partnership
U.S. Space Command took another step in expanding its international space data sharing network; this time with the nation of Peru.
Maj. Gen. Javier Tuesta Marquez, National Commission on Aerospace Research and Development (CONIDA), Republic of Peru, and Rear Adm. Marcus A. Hitchcock, USSPACECOM Director of Strategy, Plans and Policy, co-signed the Memorandum of Understanding between the two entities.
“Peru has taken an important step today in advancing space domain awareness as a whole,” Hitchcock said. “USSPACECOM looks forward to this great new relationship with the Republic of Peru and CONIDA. It will provide essential inputs to our expanding network of space-faring nations, ensuring sustainability of the domain and the continued safety and security to all on-orbit assets.”
Read more at: AF safety
Space-Based Early Warning Sensor Design Passes Critical Milestone
Raytheon Intelligence & Space’s competitive sensor payload design passed its Preliminary Design Review for the U.S. Space Force’s Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Block 0 GEO missile warning satellites being designed and built by spacecraft prime contractor Lockheed Martin Space.
“Detecting missile launches early starts in space,” said Wallis Laughrey, vice president of Space Systems for RI&S. “Each layer, or orbit, provides a necessary and unique view of the Earth to initially detect and then track a missile. Passing the Preliminary Design Review shows that our approach meets mission requirements, putting this ‘Go Fast’ program one step closer to launch.”
Read more at: raytheon
Galileo Crisis: Mod Clashes With UK Space Agency Over Whether To Make EU Rival
A £92million feasibility study launched in August 2018, is looking at ways to deliver a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) capable of operating in a similar way to Galileo, at a projected cost of £5billion. Despite having spend an estimated £1.2 billion on the EU project, as well as being instrumental in developing much of the technology, the UK has effectively been excluded as a result of Brexit.
Read more at: Express UK
What’s a Space Weapon? The Answer Can Be Complicated.
The Pentagon has declared space a warfighting domain. A new Space Force is preparing to defend its assets from attack, and hit others if needed. But what, exactly, is a space weapon?
A new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, published May 27, tries to answer that question.
“Nations use phrases such as space weapons, the militarization of space, and the weaponization of space to mean different things at different times, often to suit their own geopolitical agendas,” the report said. “A common framework for discussion [of ]space weapons could be useful to establish and clarify thresholds among like-minded nations for what constitutes conflict and escalation in space.”
Read more at: Airforce mag
FCC: DoD Did NOT Offer Classified Info On Ligado’s GPS Harm
The FCC is shooting back at congressional criticism that it failed to review classified evidence of GPS jamming by Ligado’s planned 5G wireless network, saying: the Pentagon did not offer any such information.
In a statement to Breaking D today, a spokesperson for the beleaguered FCC said:
“The FCC is required by law to make its decision based on the facts in the record, and federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, were provided with multiple opportunities to put whatever facts they believed to be relevant into the record, including classified information, which the Commission has a process in place to protect.“
Read more at: Breaking defense
Army’s Evaluation Of Starlink Broadband To Focus On Reliability, Vulnerability
The upcoming evaluation of SpaceX’s Starlink broadband by the U.S. Army will look primarily at the reliability of the service and potential vulnerabilities of the satellites to hostile attacks, a senior Army official said May 27.
The Army on May 20 signed a three-year agreement with SpaceX to experiment using Starlink broadband to move data across military networks.
“I would view this as exploratory,” Gen. John Murray, commander of the U.S. Army Futures Command, told reporters on Wednesday on a Defense Writers Group conference call.
Read more at: Spacenews
Editorial: Japan Defense Forces’ New Space Unit Runs Risk Of Violating Pacifist Principles
Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) have their first ever space unit, the Space Operations Squadron. Its core mission will be to track space garbage and other countries’ satellites to prevent damage to Japan’s own orbital assets.Satellites are a foundational part of everyday life here on Earth, from GPS to weather observation to wireless communications during disasters. If these were to be damaged, the impact would be felt far and wide.
Read more at: Mainichi
Hey, SpaceX: We Deserved a Cooler Space Suit
This week, SpaceX and NASA are set to launch the first piloted flight to orbit from U.S. soil in nearly nine years. (Inclement weather pushed the launch from Wednesday to this weekend.) It’s also the first space trip featuring a privately owned and operated spaceship. That owner, of course, is tech wizard, and Twitter power user, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. The brash businessman is known for his showy antics—selling futurist flamethrowers is one of his more well-received publicity stunts, somehow—so it is a little surprising to see that the official SpaceX suits are…well, relatively tame.
Read more at: GQ
An Astronaut Wore an Omega X-33 Watch Aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9
SpaceX’s first manned mission into space may have been thwarted by undesirable weather, but its crew managed to go through the process in style thanks to a special timepiece.
The Elon Musk-owned company was set to jettison its Falcon 9 craft to the International Space Station on Wednesday––an event which would have been the first time NASA astronauts did so using a commercially built craft––carrying astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. During pre-launch checks, Behnken was spotted wearing the Omega X-33 with its recognizable (and pragmatic) velcro strap.
Read more at: robbreport
Woodpecker Attack: Remembering STS-70, 25 Years On
Over its 30-year career, many things attacked the Space Shuttle, from lawmakers keen to cut NASA’s budget to anti-nuclear protesters anxious not to launch the plutonium-fueled Galileo mission to Jupiter and from poor weather to dropped tools and near-catastrophic technical maladies. That is not to forget, of course, two appalling tragedies which claimed not only shuttles Challenger and Columbia, but also their heroic final crews, and several other missions which came within a hair’s breadth of disaster.
But of all the lethal things which bedeviled the shuttles over those three decades, none could possibly be as strange as the one which hit fleet leader Discovery 25 years ago. In fact, when he learned that a woodpecker had just scrubbed his mission, veteran astronaut Don Thomas thought someone was playing a prank on him. They couldn’t be serious. Could they?
Read more at: Americaspace
NASA’s Skylab Met Its Demise In Australia More Than 40 Years Ago — But Was It Really An Accident?
Under the cover of darkness, the flares were certainly a sight to behold.
Almost kaleidoscopic, they hurtled through the air in a green and red hue, illuminating the barren West Australian landscape below.
In what some would recount as “a spectacular fireworks show”, the peculiar scene engulfing the otherwise arid backdrop would have been beautiful — if it weren’t for just one minor detail.
These weren’t shooting stars or a “huge meteorite”.
Read more at: ABC
Doug Liman To Direct Tom Cruise Film Shot In Space
Doug Liman will direct Tom Cruise in the first narrative feature film to be shot in space.
The Hollywood Reporter confirmed Tuesday that Liman, 54, will direct Cruise, 57, in the new movie filmed aboard the International Space Station.
Liman will also write the script, although plot details are being kept under wraps. The project does not currently have a studio or a financier.
Liman and Cruise previously collaborated on the films American Made and Edge of Tomorrow. Liman is also known for directing Mr. and Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Identity.
Read more at: Spacedaily