China To Send 3 Male Astronauts To Its Space Station In June

A three-man crew of astronauts will blast off in June for a three-month mission on China’s new space station, according to a space official who was the country’s first astronaut in orbit.

The plans for the station’s first crew were confirmed to state television by Yang Liwei, the manned space program’s deputy chief designer, as an automated spacecraft was launched with fuel and supplies for the Tianhe station.

The Tianhe, or Heavenly Harmony, is the third and largest space station launched by China’s increasingly ambitious space program. Its core module was launched into orbit April 29.

Read more at: ABCnews

Virgin Galactic Successfully Makes First Human Spaceflight From New Mexico

Virgin Galactic has successfully performed the first human spaceflight from Spaceport America, just south of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, today, using the VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo spacecraft. The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft VMS Eve climbed to an altitude of 44,000 feet before releasing VSS Unity for a rocket-powered flight to space.

Flight restrictions in the airspace above Spaceport America indicated a launch window that opened at 8:00 AM MDT (14:00 UTC) on Saturday May 22, continuing until 4:00 PM MDT (22:00 UTC) on Sunday May 23. VMS Eve and VSS unity took off at 8:34 AM MDT (14:34 UTC), and release occurred at 9:26 AM MDT (15:26 UTC). The flight achieved an apogee of 89.2 kilometers.

Read more at: NASAspaceflight

Chinese Rover Drives Onto Surface Of Mars

The Chinese solar-powered Zhurong rover has driven onto the surface of Mars, making China the second nation to operate a mobile robot on another planet.

The China National Space Administration said the Zhurong rover’s wheels reached the surface of Mars at 10:40 p.m. EDT Friday, May 21 (0240 GMT on May 22). The six-wheel rover rode to the Red Planet on a landing platform that successfully landed May 14, a few hours after detachment from China’s Tianwen 1 spacecraft in orbit around Mars.

Designed for a mission lasting at least three months, the Zhurong rover carries several scientific instruments to explore the mission’s landing site at Utopia Planitia, a broad plain in the northern hemisphere of Mars.

Read more at: SpaceflightNow

Chinese Cargo Spacecraft Docks With Orbital Station

An automated spacecraft docked with China’s new space station Sunday carrying fuel and supplies for its future crew, the Chinese space agency announced.

Tianzhou-2 spacecraft reached the Tianhe station eight hours after blasting off from Hainan, an island in the South China Sea, China Manned Space said. It carried space suits, living supplies and equipment and fuel for the station.

Tianhe, or Heavenly Harmony, is third and largest orbital station launched by China’s increasingly ambition space program.

Read more at: ABCnews


Will Space be the Next Waste Dump?

After land and oceans, will space become the new waste dump? The issue is not a new one, as it has been the focus of discussion for years, and has been regarded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for two decades as a crucial emerging challenge facing humanity. However, the panic that struck the world because of the unguided returning Chinese rocket, wandering uncontrolled in space before falling into the Indian Ocean, has renewed interest in space debris as a current problem, not limited to the future or science fiction.

Of course, we cannot compare the volume of current space waste to the solid waste produced around the world on a daily basis, which exceeds two billion tons annually according to World Bank estimates.

Read more at: aawsat

Mega-Satellite Constellations Could Lead To Chain-Reaction Spacecraft Pile-Ups In Orbit

A new report by two Canadian researchers is highlighting the growing hazard of space debris. It warns that the new mega-constellations of tens of thousands of communication satellites could pose a new kind of danger that could ultimately threaten other satellites, astronauts, our ability to use space and could even have an impact on the climate.  

Recently, the uncontrolled fall from space of a large Chinese rocket booster gained worldwide attention as no one could predict where it would come crashing to Earth. Fortunately, it came down in the Indian Ocean and no one was injured. That was just one booster.

Read more at: CBC

Space Debris Endangers GPS

GNSS satellites, especially GPS satellites, are critical to the well-being and smooth functioning of economies and national security. This is especially true in Europe and the United States, which do not have complementary terrestrial systems able to provide vital positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) services when signals from space are not available.

While the probability of debris damage to GNSS in medium Earth orbit (MEO) is much less than for satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), the consequences of such an event would be much, much higher. The loss of one satellite would be a concern; that of multiple satellites, a major problem.

Read more at: GPSworld

Commercial Space Clean-Up Service Could Be Ready In 2024

Japan-headquartered space services company Astroscale, which recently launched its ELSA-d space debris removal demonstrator, might be ready to start cleaning up the mess in Earth’s orbit by 2024. 

The company, which has offices in the U.K., U.S., Israel and Singapore, has signed a $3.5 million deal with would-be megaconstellation operator OneWeb to work together on advancing debris-removal technology. OneWeb currently operates over 180 satellites in a constellation meant to reach about 650 satellites, but has asked the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to approve over 6,300 satellites in its “Phase Two” strategy. OneWeb is partially owned by the British government.

Read more at:

As Space Junk Multiplies, Pentagon Is Stuck Tracking It for Civilians

It’s been nearly three years since the U.S. Commerce Department was ordered to start keeping tabs on satellites and orbital debris — and to relieve the Pentagon of its duty to warn the world’s space operators of impending collisions. But the effort has stalled, even as orbits fill up and the danger grows.

Then-President Trump’s 2018 directive was meant to allow the Defense Department’s orbital trackers to go back to their original mission: using their sensors to protect national security assets in space. Commerce was supposed to build a more comprehensive tracking system that combined the U.S. military data with information from commercial tracking services and other governments.

Read more at: Defenseone

Reliable Space Weather Forecasting

The auroras are beautiful manifestations of the stream of charged particles emitted by the Sun. But the Sun’s plasma eruptions are more than a natural spectacle in the polar regions; they can also interfere with satellites. In extreme cases, space weather may even affect infrastructure on Earth.

The Institute for Solar-Terrestrial Physics at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) studies space weather and conducts research to enable scientists to better understand and predict its effects. The DLR institute, which is located in Neustrelitz, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, was inaugurated on 26 May 2021.

Read more at: Spacedaily


British Spaceflight To Become Reality As Government Provides Launchpad For Spaceports

Another barrier to space exploration from UK soil is lifted today (24 May 2021), with spaceports expected to be in operation from next summer.

Developed with the UK Space Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority, new regulations being laid in Parliament today will mean satellites and rockets can launch from UK soil for the first time – with spaceports planned for Cornwall, Wales and Scotland.

Future satellite launches will improve our access to data and communications, and revolutionise services such as satellite navigation and earth observation – enhancing the way we live, work, travel and interact with our planet.

Read more at:

Ride Along With Virgin Galactic’s 1st Launch From Spaceport America In This Awesome Video

A dramatic video lets us all fly along on Virgin Galactic’s latest spaceflight, which occurred over the weekend.

The VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle aced its third flight to the final frontier on Saturday morning (May 22), a test mission that was the first to lift off from Virgin Galactic’s commercial hub, Spaceport America in New Mexico. 

Later that day, the company released a video featuring highlights of the flight captured by cameras on Unity, on its carrier aircraft VMS Eve, and on the ground. For example, there’s up-close footage of Unity separating from Eve and firing up its onboard rocket motor, which powers the winged vehicle to suborbital space. 

Read more at:

Nova Scotia Companies Chosen To Help Build Canada’s First Commercial Spaceport

The Nova Scotia company planning to build Canada’s first commercial spaceport announced on Wednesday some of the firms it has chosen to design and construct its proposed launch pad.

Maritime Launch Services says it picked Strum Consulting, Stantec, Nova Construction and St. Francis Xavier University, among other organizations, to help it launch satellites into orbit.

“We want to get to the ground breaking and the jobs associated with that as early as we can, this year if at all possible,” Stephen Matier, president and CEO of Maritime Launch Services, said in an interview Wednesday.

Read more at: peterborough examiner

The reindeer shepherd’s spring home route took him across four frozen lakes and countless snowy hills. Due to the light snow dust, the shepherd, Aslak Allas, stopped his snowmobile, and settled the heavy silence of the Arctic of Sweden.

His reindeer, thousands of them, were nowhere to be seen. “They are very afraid of noise,” Mr. Allas explained, pointing to his vehicle.

Then he proceeded to the distant hills laden with birch trees, his buds swollen with the hot spring sun. “Now, the noise coming from there will be something else,” Mr. Allas sighs.

Read more at: NY times

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