FAA Clears Rocket Lab To Start Flying Again After Failed Launch

Rocket Lab has cleared a big hurdle on its road back to the launchpad.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has authorized Rocket Lab to resume launches, less than three weeks after its Electron booster suffered a major anomaly, representatives of the California-based company announced on Wednesday (June 2). But Rocket Lab still needs to finish its mishap investigation before it can start flying again.

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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: ABC news

Spacewalks Planned for Shenzhou Missions

Astronauts on the upcoming Shenzhou XII mission will engage in spacewalks outside the Tianhe core module of China’s Tiangong space station, a key figure in the nation’s manned space endeavor said.

Yang Liwei, the first Chinese in space and now deputy chief planner of the country’s manned space program, told China Central Television on Sunday in Wenchang, Hainan province, that during their three-month journey with Tianhe, two of the three-member crew, whose names have yet to be disclosed, will exit from the core module to examine, maintain or repair equipment.

The astronauts will be launched in June with the Shenzhou XII spacecraft from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China to dock with the currently unoccupied Tianhe module.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Space Station Robotic Arm Hit By Orbital Debris In ‘Lucky Strike’ (Video)

A piece of space junk smacked into the robotic arm on the International Space Station, but near-term operations should not be affected, according to the agencies involved.

Robotic operators noticed a hole in the station’s Canadarm2 provided by the Canadian Space Agency,  which has been in service in orbit since 2001, during a routine inspection on May 12, the CSA officials said in a blog post Friday (May 28). Officials called the hole a “lucky strike” given the relatively small size of the arm, which is 57.7 feet (17.6 meters) long and has a diameter of just 14 inches (35 cm).

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SpaceX Dragon Docks At Space Station To Deliver New Solar Arrays And Tons Of Supplies

A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station today (June 5) to deliver new solar arrays along with tons of fresh research experiments and NASA supplies as part of the company’s 22nd cargo resupply mission.

The uncrewed Dragon autonomously linked up with the orbiting laboratory at 5:09 a.m. EDT (0909 GMT), parking at the zenith, or space-facing, side of the station’s Harmony module. Docking occurred approximately 40 hours after the Dragon’s launch on a Falcon 9 rocket Thursday (June 3) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. At the time of docking, both spacecraft were sailing about 258 miles (415  kilometers) over the South Pacific Ocean.

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JWST Launch Slips to November

American and European officials acknowledged June 1 that the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope will likely slip from the end of October to at least mid-November because of delays linked to the Ariane 5.

At a European Space Agency briefing about the space telescope, representatives of the agency and Arianespace said they were finalizing reviews to correct a payload fairing problem found on two Ariane 5 launches last year that had grounded the rocket since August. Arianespace described the issue last month as “a less than fully nominal separation of the fairing” on those two launches.

Read more at: Spacenews


Air Pollution From Reentering Megaconstellation Satellites Could Cause Ozone Hole 2.0

Chemicals released as defunct satellites burn in the atmosphere could damage Earth’s protective ozone layer if plans to build megaconstellations of tens of thousands of satellites, such as SpaceX’s Starlink, go ahead as foreseen, scientists warn.

Researchers also caution that the poorly understood atmospheric processes triggered by those chemicals could lead to an uncontrolled geoengineering experiment, the consequences of which are unknown.

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Are We Doing Enough to Protect Earth from Asteroids?

In the first few seconds of video taken at the Arecibo radio telescope on December 1, 2020, everything looks normal. Sure, support cables had broken the previous August and November, damaging the 300-meter-wide dish. And sure, the National Science Foundation was already planning to decommission Arecibo, an instrument that began scanning the sky in 1963. So things weren’t great for the telescope. But it was at least still there.

That changed just before 8 A.M. when, as if on command, a bit of dust puffed out from a support pillar. That was, it turns out, a cable beginning to snap off. Left with extra load, other cables began to break, too. Soon the massive equipment platform, once suspended over the bowl-shaped observatory, began to tip. After an agonizing swing downward, the platform crashed. More cables snapped, and debris flew around like in a demolition.

Read more at: Scientific American

Germany Establishes Space Weather Service

It is particularly easy to recognize by the auroras: the particle radiation of the sun. But the sun’s plasma eruptions not only create the natural spectacle in the polar regions. They can also interfere with satellites. In extreme cases, space weather even affects the infrastructure on earth. The Institute for Solar-Terrestrial Physics at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) observes space weather and researches to better understand and predict the interactions. The DLR Institute in Neustrelitz (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) opened on May 26, 2021.

Read more at: Parabolicarc

Debris Worry: 50 Impact Tests At 5km/Sec To Test Gaganyaan Crew Module

Concerns about protecting payloads against orbital debris and micro-meteroids is not strange for any space agency, but they get amplified when humans are involved. And the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is preparing for the same with the crew module of Ganganyaan which will be carrying astronauts to space.

To test the module’s material against what the space agency calls MMOD , it plans to conduct at least 50 hyper velocity impact tests.

Read more at: TimesofIndia


Houston Spaceport Groundbreaking Launches 120,000-Square-Foot Collins Aerospace Campus

The Houston Spaceport is taking the next step in solidifying itself as a major player in American private space flight with a groundbreaking of a 120,000-square-foot complex that includes the city’s first “spaceflight incubator.”

Collins Aerospace, one of a handful of companies already committed to flying out of the facility at Ellington Field, broke ground on the complex Monday.

Read more at: abc13

Rocket Lab Continues To Study “Complex” Electron Failure

Rocket Lab said June 2 that it is continuing to study the “complex failure” on its most recent Electron launch, even after receiving approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to resume launches.

The company said in a statement that while the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation authorized the company to resume launches under its existing license, the company is continuing to investigate the cause of the May 15 launch failure of an Electron rocket carrying two BlackSky imaging satellites.

Read more at: Spacenews

Virgin Galactic Signs Contract For Suborbital Research Mission

Virgin Galactic has signed an agreement to fly a private researcher on a future suborbital flight, part of efforts diversify its business beyond space tourism.

Virgin Galactic announced June 3 that Kellie Gerardi, affiliated with the International Institute of Astronautical Sciences (IIAS), will fly on a future SpaceShipTwo dedicated research flight. Gerardi will conduct experiments and technology demonstrations on the flight, such as testing biomedical sensors and running a fluid configuration experiment.

Read more at: Spacenews

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos To Go To Space On Blue Origin Rocket

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced plans on Monday to fly into space next month on a rocket built by his company Blue Origin, fulfilling what he said was a lifelong dream.

The 57-year-old billionaire said he and his brother Mark will blast off from Earth on July 20 on the first crewed flight of the company’s New Shepard launch vehicle.

Blue Origin is auctioning off the third seat in the spacecraft and bidding is already at $3.2 million with thousands of participants from around the world.

“I want to go on this flight because it’s a thing I’ve wanted to do all my life,” Bezos said in a video statement. “It’s an adventure.”

Read more at: Spacedaily

Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson Aims to Fly to Space Before Jeff Bezos

It looks like Richard Branson could beat fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos to space next month.

Virgin Galactic is working on a plan to send Branson on a suborbital flight aboard the VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo rocket plane over the July 4 holiday weekend, according to a source who requested anonymity. The flight is contingent upon obtaining an operator’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Branson’s flight would take place about two weeks before Bezos, his brother Mark and the winner of an online auction are scheduled to board Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle for a suborbital flight on July 20. It will be the first crewed flight of New Shepard, which has flown 15 times with no one aboard.

Read more at: Parabolicarc

Medical Emergencies in Space: Is Private Space Tourism Ready for a Worst Case Scenario?

The age of commercial passenger space flight is upon us. Efforts by companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, Boeing and Virgin Galactic aim to put paying individuals in space. The International Space Station expects to receive its first private crew early next year during the Axiom Mission 1, with the three tourists paying a sum of $55 million each to stay at the space station for eight days. 

As the potential for private space travel grows, it’s only natural to wonder: What if something goes wrong?

Read more at: Discover magazine

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