SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Docks with Space Station

SpaceX ’s first  Crew Dragon  spaceship to carry astronauts slid into a dock at the International Space Station Sunday (May 31), concluding a historic 19-hour voyage to for its veteran NASA crew.

The arrival marked a major feat: the first docking of a crewed U.S. spacecraft at the station since NASA ’s shuttle fleet retired in 2011. It ’s also the first docking of a commercial spacecraft carrying humans, in this case astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

“It ’s been a real honor to be just a small part of this nine-year year endeavor since the last time United States spaceship has docked with the International Space Station,” said Hurley, commander of the Dragon capsule, as he thanked the SpaceX and NASA teams. 

Read more at: Scientific American

Northrop Grumman Snags $187 Million To Design NASA’s Lunar Gateway Habitat For Astronauts

NASA has awarded Northrop Grumman $187 million to design the habitat module for the space agency’s lunar Gateway, a planned moon-orbiting space station for astronauts.

We learned last year that NASA had tapped Virginia-based Northrop Grumman to build Gateway’s pressurized crew cabin, called the habitation and logistics outpost (HALO). The company will base HALO on its Cygnus spacecraft, which has been flying contracted robotic cargo missions to the International Space Station for NASA since 2014.

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Roscosmos, NASA, Other Space Agencies To Discuss Moon Research On June 9

Director General of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin and heads of space agencies in the US, Europe, Canada, and Japan will discuss cooperation in the Moon research via video conference on June 9, a source in the rocket and space industry told TASS.

“On June 9, a video conference will be held with the participation of Head of Roscosmos and heads of space agencies of the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan on cooperation in the study of the Moon,” the source said.

Read more at: TASS


Asteroid To Miss Hitting Earth, 2020 Continues Apace

An asteroid reported to be heading near Earth’s orbit will safely pass by and not end life as we know it on Saturday, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has monitored the asteroid, dubbed 2002 NN4, as part of its surveillance of near-earth object close approach data. On Friday, NASA said the asteroid will not destroy the planet this weekend.

“Asteroid 2002 NN4 will safely pass by Earth on June 6 at a distance of approximately 3.2 million miles (5.1 million kilometers), about 13 times further away from the Earth than the Moon is,” NASA said on its website on Friday. “There is no danger the asteroid will hit the Earth.”

Read more at: Washington times


Space Force Rescue Units Prepare For ‘New Era’ Of Commercial Human Spaceflight

Three hours before the SpaceX Crew Dragon launch May 30, teams of combat rescue specialists staged at military bases in Florida, South Carolina and Hawaii went on alert status in the event of a mission abort.

The task force of about 150 personnel and eight aircraft is under the command of the U.S. Space Force’s 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. It is deployed to ensure that if astronauts abort the mission, they are recovered anywhere in the world where they might land.

Read more at: Spacenews

Astroscale Moving Into GEO Satellite Servicing Market

Astroscale announced June 3 it is acquiring the intellectual property of the satellite-servicing company Effective Space Solutions. The move positions Astroscale’s U.S. subsidiary to become a direct competitor to Northrop Grumman in the geostationary satellite servicing market.

Astroscale is a private orbital debris removal company headquartered in Tokyo. The agreement with Effective Space Solutions was signed by Astroscale U.S. Inc., based in Denver.

Effective Space Solutions, located in Israel, developed a satellite servicing vehicle known as Space Drone which is not yet in operation. Astroscale is acquiring the intellectual property associated with Space Drone and is hiring engineers and executives from the program.

Read more at: Spacenews

Chinese Private Launch Firms Advance With Methane Engines, Launch Preparations And New Funding

A number of Chinese private launch firms for the burgeoning commercial space sector have reported progress in efforts to develop a range of launch vehicles.

Landspace and iSpace are reporting progress with methane rocket engines, while Galactic Energy is moving closer to launch of its Ceres-1 launcher. Deep Blue Aerospace has meanwhile secured early funding for development of a liquid launch vehicle series.

Landspace completed three gimbaling hot fire tests of the SkyLark (Tianque-12) 80t-thrust-level cryogenic methane and liquid oxygen rocket engine early-mid May. Tianque-11, a smaller, 10-ton liquid oxygen methane engine, passed 2,000 seconds of testing June 5.

Read more at: Spacenews

Virgin Orbit Moving Ahead With U.K. Launch Plans

Virgin Orbit and the British government are continuing efforts to begin flights of the company’s air-launch system from an English airport by early 2022 despite challenges on both sides of the Atlantic.

Virgin Orbit and the U.K. Space Agency, along with Spaceport Cornwall, held an online suppliers conference June 4 to provide an update about the company’s plans to operate from the southwestern England spaceport, also known as Cornwall Airport Newquay, using its LauncherOne rocket and modified Boeing 747 carrier aircraft.

Read more at: Spacenews

Branson Weighs Selling More Virgin Galactic Shares to Aid Empire

Richard Branson is considering selling another chunk of his stake in Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc., a move that could provide about $200 million to support his broader Virgin business empire.

Holding company Vieco 10 may sell as many as 12.5 million shares in the space-travel firm, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday. Branson’s Virgin Group is the majority owner of Vieco 10, with the balance held by Aabar Space, an Abu Dhabi investment company. The British billionaire’s Virgin Galactic stake is worth around $1 billion, his biggest holding in a listed business. He sold 25 million shares last month worth more than $300 million.

Read more at: Bloomberg


Spacex’s Crew Dragon Has That ‘New Car Smell’ And Flies ‘Totally Different’ Than A NASA Shuttle

When the hatch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft opened up to let two NASA astronauts inside the International Space Station on Sunday (May 31), the astronaut who greeted them at the door got a strong whiff of “new car smell.”

“In fact, there was a little bit of space smell in the vestibule,” or the entryway, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy told reporters from the space station Monday (June 1). “When we got that hatch open, you could tell it was a brand new vehicle, with smiley faces on the other side, [a] smiley face on mine — just as if you had bought a new car, the same kind of reaction. Wonderful to see my friends and wonderful to see a brand new vehicle.”

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ESA’s Reusable Prometheus Rocket Engine Will Be Ground Tested In 2021

In 2017, the European Space Agency tapped ArianeGroup to develop Prometheus, a full-sized and liquid-fueled rocket engine demonstrator intended to pave the way for reusable rocket engines. At the time, the agency had said that its demonstrator would be ground tested in November 2020; this week, the ESA returned with an update on the project, including some new dates.

Reusable rockets are the future of space travel; they enable the systems to be used multiple times before they’re retired, reducing the cost of each mission and making it possible to launch multiple missions at a faster pace. SpaceX has pioneered this reusable rocket industry, giving the world a look at what is possible.

Read more at: Slashgear

Scientists Studied Two Twins After One Spent A Year In Space While The Other Was On Earth And This Is What They Found

Astronaut Scott Kelly was on board the International Space Station between March 2016 and March 2017. Meanwhile, his twin brother Mark remained on Earth.

The purpose of this was to understand the long-term effects that space travel can have on the human body, in preparation for a potential three-year trip to Mars.

It was part of the ‘A Year in Space’ study from Nasa and was conducted alongside the Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko.

Read more at: indy100

USRA and NASA Scientists Set Another Fire Inside the Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft

NASA has been conducting a series of space fire experiments called Spacecraft Fire Safety (Saffire) Experiments that investigate how fires grow and spread in space, especially aboard future spacecraft bound for Moon and Mars. Recently, another set of experiments were conducted when Saffire IV lit longer and stronger flames inside Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus Cargo spacecraft.

Just as in Saffire I, II, and III, the experiments were ignited in a Cygnus cargo vehicle after it had completed its primary International Space Station supply mission, departed the station, and before its planned destructive reentry to Earth.

Read more at: newsroom

Wool Mask to Fight Fires in Space Inspires Fire Equipment on Earth

A New Zealand-based company’s work to help astronauts fight fires in case of an anomaly on the Orion spacecraft is already informing its line of wool filters for firefighters on Earth. The work is poised to guide the company’s sheep-breeding program as well.

Astronauts on Orion, NASA’s first crew-carrying space vehicle since the space shuttle, will be equipped with emergency breathing devices that were designed to protect astronauts during a fire on the International Space Station. But fire procedures on the two vessels will differ, so the Space Agency is looking to improve the respirator for Orion—for instance, by making it last longer.

Read more at: Technology

If Transistors Can’t Get Smaller, Then Software Developers Have To Get Smarter

In 1965 Intel co-founder Gordon Moore predicted that the number of transistors that could fit on a computer chip would grow exponentially — and they did, doubling about every two years. For half a century Moore’s Law has endured: computers have gotten smaller, faster, cheaper, and more efficient, enabling the rapid worldwide adoption of PCs, smartphones, high-speed Internet, and more.

This miniaturization trend has led to silicon chips today that have almost unimaginably small circuitry. Transistors, the tiny switches that implement computer microprocessors, are so small that 1000 of them laid end-to-end are no wider than a human hair. For a long time, the smaller the transistors were, the faster they could switch.

Read more at: Technology

ArianeGroup Successfully Tests Combustion Chamber Produced Entirely By 3D Printing

The completely 3D-printed combustion chamber, designed by ArianeGroup in Germany, was successfully fire tested 14 times between 26.May and 2.June on the P8 test bench of the DLR German Aerospace Center’s Lampoldshausen testing facility. 

These tests were conducted jointly by ArianeGroup and DLR and follow on from the hot fire test campaign carried out last year, which validated 14 technological building blocks for future liquid propellant rocket engines. The results obtained represent a key step in the preparations for the future development of very-low-cost rocket engines.

Read more at: Arianegroup


Outer Space: A Victim of Power Competition?

While the world was grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order allowing Americans to have the right to engage in commercial exploration, recovery, and use of resources in outer space. This move by the US government has certainly marked a turning point in the development of international space law. It is the first time a nation has made an explicit statement that it doesn’t view space as a “global commons.” Space powers generally have not been comfortable with viewing space as a common heritage of mankind. With the increase in technology, commercial and political inclination towards space mining is growing. However, is outer space once again a victim of power politics? This article shall focus on the loopholes in existing space law treaties, the increasing competition between the space powers, and the reasons that space mining is attractive to the space powers. Finally, it shall highlight the potential risks of such power competition and the need for a common global governance framework.

Read more at: jurist

European Council Adopts Conclusions for Sustainable Space Policy

Space policy can play an important role in achieving a sustainable EU economy. The Council today adopted a set of conclusions acknowledging the important contribution of space activities to the development of skills, technologies and services needed to build a society that is capable of addressing global challenges in a changing world. These include climate change, ecosystem degradation, health crises, food security and migration.

The Council underlines that Earth science and European space data, services and technologies may contribute to the European Green Deal, enabling Europe to become a global leader in the transition to a sustainable world, solving societal challenges and preserving the functioning of natural ecosystems, for the benefit of future generations.

Read more at: Parabolic arc

In Space it will be America First and America Alone

“Let’s light this candle”, the final Earth-constrained words of NASA astronaut Doug Hurley on Saturday, referring to the imminent ignition of the SpaceX Falcon rocket underneath him. These same words, fittingly nostalgic, were used by astronaut Alan Shepherd on May 5, 1961, when he launched on Freedom 7 to become the first American in space.

The joint NASA and SpaceX Demos-2 launch at Cape Canaveral on Saturday marked the beginning of a new era of American Spaceflight. It is difficult to put into words the deeply meaningful nature of the launch to those involved in human spaceflight and exploration, but the meaning to those outside of the space program was clear.

Read more at: Irish times

Canada In Negotiations With NASA To Send A Rover To The Moon

In a presentation to the space community in late May, the Canadian Space Agency outlined some of its latest lunar plans, including announcing it was in negotiations with NASA to send a rover to the moon.

The news came as the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) updated the space community in two virtual webinars hosted by CASI and SatCan.

Erick Dupuis, the Director of Space Exploration Development at the CSA prefaced the news in his SatCan presentation by saying “So here’s the scoop, drumroll …” and went on to say, “so what we intend to do underneath, is to fly a micro rover on a NASA CLPS (Commercial Payload Services) mission.

Read more at: SpaceQ

Space Travel Should Be Taxed As Shareholder Benefit, Not As Business Trip: Federal Court Of Appeal

In Laliberté v. Canada, 2020 FCA 97, the Federal Court of Appeal found an excursion into outer space was primarily a shareholder benefit, not as a business trip.

Guy Laliberté, founder of a group of corporations doing business under the trademark “Cirque du Soleil,” embarked on a 12-day space trip in 2009 to fulfill his life-long dream to be a space tourist. While there, he also held a broadcast event, took photographs for a book and filmed a documentary all aiming to benefit the One Drop Foundation, a clean water charity he founded.

Read more at: canadian lawyer mag

Nigeria to Revise its National Space Policy and Strategy

The recently inaugurated leadership of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) led by Dr Francis Chizea has affirmed its commitment to reviewing the National Space Policy and Strategy. The new acting Director-General was appointed in May to consolidate the agency’s operations as well as drive the objectives for establishing the agency.

In an interview with Space in  Africa, the Acting Director-General said that one of his first duties would be to set up necessary committees with the approval of the agency’s board and legislative council.

Read more at: Africanews

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Initiates Section 232 Investigation into Imports of Vanadium

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has initiated an investigation into whether the present quantities or circumstances of vanadium imports into the United States threaten to impair the national security. This decision follows review of the petition filed by domestic producers, AMG Vanadium LLC (Cambridge, OH), and U.S. Vanadium LLC (Hot Springs, AR), on November 19, 2019, requesting that the Department of Commerce launch an investigation into vanadium imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended. Secretary Ross sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper informing him of the investigation.

Read more at: Commerce


Japan’s New Space Squadron Takes A Giant Leap Forward

Defense Minister Taro Kono officially inaugurated Japan’s first Space Operations Squadron during a May 18 ceremony in Tokyo. The squadron’s realization marks a large step forward for the nation’s space ambitions at a time when, due to an increased number of satellite launches, the Earth’s near space is more crowded than ever. Here’s a look at the squadron and its mission.

What is the structure and mission of the Space Operations Squadron?

The new squadron, located at Tokyo’s Fuchu Air Base, is part of the Air Self-Defense Force. It is made up of 20 members, which will gradually be expanded to 100 when it becomes operational in 2023.

Read more at: Japan times

UN Agency Says Iran Is Violating All Restrictions Of Nuclear Deal

Iran has continued to increase its stockpiles of enriched uranium and remains in violation of its deal with world powers, the United Nations’ atomic watchdog said Friday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported the finding in a confidential document distributed to member countries and seen by The Associated Press.

The agency said that as of May 20, Iran’s total stockpile of low-enriched uranium amounted to 1,571.6 kilograms (1.73 tons), up from 1,020.9 kilograms (1.1 tons) on Feb. 19.

Read more at: Defense news

Op-Ed | To Deter Attacks On Satellites, U.S. Needs A Strategy To Identify Bad Actors

What is often overlooked in today’s space strategies and policies is the need for a robust space attribution process. That is the ability to trace the origin of an action against space architectures. Without being able to determine the origin or source of a hostile or malicious action, the ability to respond appropriately seems doubtful.

A credible and trusted attribution process underpins a successful deterrence strategy.

Read more at: Spacenews

AFRL Centrifuge Part Of NASA’s Recent History-Making Launch

When NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken ascended into space on the afternoon of May 30, they were two of 10 astronauts to undergo centrifuge testing in early November 2018 in the Air Force Research Laboratory.

“It’s exciting that our centrifuge was one of several steps along the way to prepare these two astronauts for this upcoming launch,” said Brig. Gen. James Dienst, 711th Human Performance Wing commander. “AFRL’s experts and unique capabilities in human physiology seamlessly translate into the space domain, and we are honored to be part of our country’s historic moment.”

Read more at: dayton daily news

Space Force Thinking About NASA-Style Partnerships With Private Companies

The U.S. Space Force will be far smaller than the other military services but way more dependent on technology to do its job. While the Space Force will develop satellites and other technologies in-house, it also plans to follow the NASA playbook and team up with the private sector, said Col. Eric Felt, head of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate.

Speaking at a SpaceNews online event June 4, Felt said NASA’s commercial crew program is “super exciting” and one that the Space Force can learn from.

Read more at: Spacenews


An Astronaut’s View Of The SpaceX/NASA Partnership

Saturday’s launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sent two astronauts to the International Space Station or ISS. It was the first time in almost a decade that humans had left the Earth from U.S. soil, and it was also the first joint mission between NASA and a private company.

Christina Koch is a NASA astronaut who made four spacewalks and spent the longest amount of time on a single trip to space of any female astronaut. She told Texas standard host David Brown on Monday that the public-private partnership between NASA and SpaceX is likely going to become the norm for space exploration.

Read more at: Texas standard

At Flight Medicine Clinic, Astronauts Get Fixed Before They Go To Space

An average shuttle space suit, including the life-support system, weighs about 310 pounds.

Mike Foreman, a two-time space-mission astronaut, has gotten into and out of a space suit hundreds of times during years of training at the Johnson Space Center and for five space walks on International Space Station missions.

The outer part of the suit comes in two pieces: pants and a rigid fiberglass top with a heavy life-support backpack.

Read more at: Houston chronicle

Trump Campaign Makes ‘Disturbing’ Space Video That Breaks NASA Rules, Takes It Down 24 Hours Later

President Trump’s re-election campaign has come under fire for posting a promotional video titled “Make Space Great Again,” which was quickly removed after it was found to violate NASA regulations.

On Wednesday, June 3, the video was uploaded to YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook by Trump’s campaign. It focused on SpaceX and NASA’s historic Crew Dragon launch last weekend, the first launch of humans on a commercial rocket.

The video blended footage of the Apollo 11 lunar landing in 1969, along with Democratic President John F. Kennedy’s famous speech at Rice University in Texas in 1962, with footage of the recent launch.

Read more at: Forbes

Astronauts Often Describe A Powerful ‘Overview Effect’ When Gazing At Earth. Here’s What It Is And Why It May Be Essential To Space Missions.

Riding atop a pillar of flames, fumes, and dust, two NASA astronauts — Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley — ascended to space on Saturday with the help of a Falcon 9 rocket.

The launch by SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk in 2002, represents the rocket company’s first flight of humans to orbit. It’s also the first orbital spaceflight from American soil since NASA retired its space shuttle program in July 2011. 

Shortly after their launch, Behnken and Hurley floated out of their seats, slipped off their sleek new spacesuits, and peered out the atypically large windows of their Crew Dragon spaceship.

Read more at: Business insider

Arnie Aldrich (1936-2020)

Arnie Aldrich, a highly respected and warmly regarded member of the aerospace community, passed away on May 28 after a short battle with cancer. He was 83.

Born in Arlington, MA in 1936, Arnold Deane Aldrich received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Northeastern University in 1959.

A 35-year NASA veteran, Arnie worked on every NASA human spaceflight program from Mercury through the space shuttle. Among his many roles, he was deputy program manager of the Skylab program, America’s first space station; director of the Space Shuttle program following the 1986 Challenger tragedy; and Associate Administrator at NASA Headquarters for Aeronautics and Space Technology and for Space Systems Development.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

11th IAASS Conference – Poster A2