Search for Benzene on Space Station to Resume in July – Source

The search for a source of toxic benzene in the atmosphere of the International Space Station will resume at the end of July after the delivery of the new US air quality monitor on board the Russian cargo spacecraft Progress, a source in the rocket and space industry said.

Earlier reports said the blastoff of the Progress MS-15 cargo spacecraft to the ISS by the Soyuz-2.1a launch vehicle from the Baikonur space centre was scheduled for 23 July.

Read more at: Sputnik news

Lucas Praises NASA Decision to Rename Headquarters after Hidden Figure Mary W. Jackson

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas released a statement today praising NASA’s decision to name its headquarters after Mary W. Jackson, the first African American female engineer at the Agency.

“I applaud the decision to name the NASA headquarters building after Mary Jackson.  During her career, she faced tremendous obstacles to success. She became the first female African American engineer at NASA, but to do so, she had to request special permission to attend classes at a segregated school. Along with the other Hidden Figures, Mary Jackson was not only a key part of America’s achievements in the space race, but she also paved the way for future women and people of color at NASA.”

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Astronauts Complete Opening Spacewalk To Complete Final ISS Battery Replacements

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have conducted the first in a series of four spacewalks to begin the process of replacing the final set of the station’s batteries – an effort which first began over three years ago. EV-1 Chris Cassidy and EV-2 Bob Behnken kicked off EVA-65 on Friday.

The ISS features expansive solar arrays that use sunlight to power the station’s many systems. However, since the ISS spends about half of every orbit in darkness, it also needs batteries to store that solar energy, which can then be used to power the ISS during periods of orbital darkness.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

NASA Studying Practice Rendezvous Options For Artemis 2 Orion

NASA is studying the addition of an Orion rendezvous demonstration to the Artemis 2 test flight to reduce overall mission risks to the subsequent Artemis 3 lunar landing from first-time operations. The Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) is working with its Artemis Programs to evaluate some of the trade-offs from a range of options for an early rendezvous test for the spacecraft on its first crewed mission, such as what the rendezvous target would be and where in the mission the demonstration would take place.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

NASA Inspector General Looking Into Boeing Moon Lander Bid After Input From Agency Official: Report

NASA’s inspector general is investigating Boeing, one of the two companies supplying commercial crew vehicles for astronaut flights to the International Space Station, in relation to a recent contract competition to land astronauts on the moon, according to a Washington Post report.

According to the June 20 report, a senior official at NASA spoke with a senior Boeing executive about the company’s bid for a commercial moon lander contract, and Boeing subsequently attempted to change its proposal after the deadline for submission had passed.

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Man Who Forged Inspections For NASA Mission Parts Gets Probation

A Yates County man who admitted that he forged inspection reports for aerospace parts used by NASA has been sentenced to probation.

James Smalley, 43, of Penn Yan, in February pleaded guilty to the 2017 falsification of inspection reports. U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Wolford last week sentenced him to three years of probation.

While working as a quality assurance engineer at the former PMI Industries in Gates, Smalley forged the signature of an inspector on reports for products that were sold to California-based SpaceX.  

Read more at: democratandchronicle


IAU Approves Name of Target of First NASA and ESA Planetary Defence Missions

The International Astronomical Union has just approved an official name for a tiny asteroid satellite set to become the first-ever target of an asteroid deflection mission. The satellite is the smaller of two bodies in the near-Earth asteroid system Didymos, and will now be distinguished from its primary object by the name Dimorphos.

In July 2021, just over a year from now, NASA will launch the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission. This first full-scale demonstration of asteroid deflection technology will target the smaller body in the binary asteroid system known as Didymos, and will be followed in 2024 by the ESA space probe Hera. In recognition of the asteroid moon’s significance in these pioneering missions, it has been given an official name: Dimorphos.

Read more at: IAU

The Looming Threats Posed By Space Junk

The threat posed by space junk is growing — and the window for mitigating it is closing. Experts say the U.S. hasn’t done enough to combat the growing problem.

Why it matters: Companies like SpaceX are working to launch hundreds of small satellites to already crowded orbits. Even if just a small percentage of them fail, it could put other satellites in danger, costing companies and governments millions of dollars and making parts of space unusable.

Read more at: Axios


NASA Moving Forward to Enable a Low-Earth Orbit Economy

One year ago, NASA announced the agency is opening the space station for business, enabling commercial and marketing opportunities on the station, and the agency has moved forward toward its ultimate goal in low-Earth orbit to partner with industry to achieve a strong ecosystem in which NASA is one of many customers purchasing services and capabilities at lower cost. Providing expanded opportunities at the International Space Station to manufacture, market and promote commercial products and services will help catalyze and expand space exploration markets for many businesses.

The new policy includes activities that can be as simple as a product pictured in space for use in marketing materials or a company flying and returning commemorative or other items to be sold after having been in space. NASA crew members on the station also can support these activities behind the scenes. The key is that the activity must require the unique microgravity environment, have a nexus to the NASA mission, or support the development of a sustainable low-Earth orbit economy.

Read more at: NASA

Virgin Galactic And NASA Make A Deal On Services For Private Orbital Astronauts

Virgin Galactic says it has signed an agreement with NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas to develop a new readiness program for private-sector astronauts heading to the International Space Station.

Theoretically, such astronauts could include the likes of Tom Cruise, who is looking into making a movie at the space station, according to NASA. “I’m all for that,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said last month. “We’re going to do what we can to make that happen.”

Read more at: Geekwire

Enthusiasm For Point-To-Point Travel May Be Premature, Space Official Says

Last October, the space tourism company Virgin Galactic, founded by Sir Richard Branson, became publicly traded. After opening at $11.75 a share, the SPCE stock value generally declined, briefly reaching a low just under $7 a share late in 2019.

At around the same time, the company’s chairman, venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya, began to talk about developing point-to-point suborbital travel. This advance, he said, would come after Virgin Galactic developed its space tourism business based upon a small rocket-powered spacecraft launched from a large airplane.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Kodiak Launch Site Hopes For Its First Space Tourism Launch

Human spaceflights are coming to Kodiak.

On Thursday the Alaska Aerospace Corporation, which runs the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, announced that a Florida-based space tourism company called Space Perspective is planning to bring human spaceflight operations to Kodiak Island.

These flights will take up to eight passengers and crew in a vehicle called the Neptune Spaceship.

Read more at: Alaskapublic

Commercial Human Spaceflight Making Strides

Commercial human spaceflight, often called space tourism, is making more strides with help from NASA.  The agency has announced plans to fly its own astronauts and other personnel on commercial suborbital space missions launched by Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin.  At the same time, Virgin Galactic signed a deal with the agency to train tourists who want to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) and make arrangements for the trip.

NASA’s embrace of public-private partnerships for human spaceflight began in the Obama Administration and is blossoming in the Trump Administration. 

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

NASA Developing a Plan to Fly Personnel on Suborbital Spacecraft

For the first time in the agency’s history, NASA has initiated a new effort to enable NASA personnel to fly on future commercial suborbital spaceflights. NASA’s Flight Opportunities program has successfully worked with emerging commercial suborbital transportation systems to fly research payloads to space for short periods of microgravity time. In addition, the Flight Opportunities program recently released a call that allows those non-NASA researchers to propose accompanying their payloads in suborbital space.

Now the Suborbital Crew (SubC) office within NASA’s Commercial Crew Program will lay the groundwork for flying NASA personnel on commercial suborbital space transportation systems.

Read more at: NASA

Dream Chaser Receives Thermal Protection System, On Track For 2021 Debut

The Sierra Nevada Corporation has announced its Louisville, Colorado production center has received the Thermal Protection System tiles for Tenacity, the first space-worthy Dream Chaser, and has started bonding them to the vehicle.

This is another major milestone Tenacity has reached as she walks down the path to her first launch to the International Space Station — which is right now slated to occur in 2021 with a launch on ULA’s Vulcan rocket.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

As The Price Of Space Flight Falls, More Runners Enter The Race

A new space race has begun; but this time, it’s not superpower-led. This one is led by industry, government bodies and research groups who have gained access to space thanks to the availability of far cheaper, smaller rocket launchers.

Think of a space rocket. Many might automatically think of “traditional rockets” like the giant Saturn V; almost twice as tall as Liberty Hall, spitting smoke and flames as it breaks free of the launchpad, carrying US astronauts to the moon. But, big, powerful rockets are expensive, even for the US federal government.

Read more at: Irish times

How Will Private Space Travel Change The Way We Explore The Solar System?

Gary Martin is the Vice President for North American operations for the International Space University, but before that he was a senior advisor to the Luxembourg Space Agency and spent more than 30 years at NASA, advising on space science missions, advanced technology development, and human spaceflight.

He explains the significance of the recent SpaceX launch, what private space travel can do that governments can’t, and why we need sci-fi to inspire our engineers.

Read more at: science focus

Russia, Space Adventures To Fly 2 Tourists To Space Station In 2023. (Spacewalk Included!)

Space Adventures, a U.S. space tourism company, has booked two passenger seats on a Russian Soyuz capsule headed to the International Space Station in 2023, and one of those tourists will take part in a spacewalk.

The flight will launch on a Russian Soyuz rocket in a deal with the Russian space agency, Roscosmos. It is the second upcoming Soyuz flight for Space Adventures — the company has booked two Soyuz seats for passengers on a launch in 2021, also to the International Space Station (ISS).

Read more at:

Axiom Space Picks Thales Alenia To Build Commercial Space Station Modules

Axiom Space, a company that aims to launch a private space station, has selected a builder for two critical modules for the commercial orbital platform. 

The new commercial agreement marks a step forward in Axiom Space’s quest to add a new module to the International Space Station (ISS) — one that will become an independent station of its own once the ISS is deorbited.

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The Rocket Motor of the Future Breathes Air Like a Jet Engine

There’s a small airfield about a two-hour drive north of Los Angeles that sits on the edge of a vast expanse of desert and attracts aerospace mavericks like moths to a flame. The Mojave Air & Space Port is home to companies like Scaled Composites, the first to send a private astronaut to space, and Masten Space Systems, which is in the business of building lunar landers. It’s the proving ground for America’s most audacious space projects, and when Aaron Davis and Scott Stegman arrived at the hallowed tarmac last July, they knew they were in the right place.

Read more at: Wired

Gilmour Space Achieves 45-Second Hybrid Rocket Engine Test Fire

Australia’s leading rocket company has reached another milestone in its mission to launch small satellites to space by 2022.

Rocket engineers at Gilmour Space Technologies in Queensland, Australia, have completed the first in a series of major technology demonstrations this year: a successful 45-second ‘hot fire’ of their upper-stage hybrid rocket engine.

“This was our longest and most efficient test fire to date,” said Gilmour Space CEO and co-founder, Adam Gilmour. “It’s a key demonstration of our ability to produce repeatable, stable, and high-performance combustion over a long duration burn; and a significant achievement in hybrid rocket development,” he added.

Read more at: gspacetech

Scientists Provide New Explanation For The Far Side Of The Moon’s Strange Asymmetry

Earth’s Moon has a ‘near side’ that is perpetually Earth-facing and a ‘far side’, which always faces away from Earth. The composition of the Moon’s near side is oddly different from its far side, and scientists think they finally understand why.

The Earth-Moon system’s history remains mysterious. Scientists believe the two formed when a Mars-sized body collided with the proto-Earth. Earth ended up being the larger daughter of this collision and retained enough heat to become tectonically active. The Moon, being smaller, likely cooled down faster and geologically ‘froze’. The apparent early dynamism of the Moon challenges this idea.

Read more at: ELSI

NASA Wants To Hear Your Ideas For Engineering The Best Toilet To Use On The Moon

When NASA sends astronauts back to the Moon, they’ll need a place to go to the bathroom when they reach the lunar surface. And in order to create the best Moon toilet the Solar System has to offer, NASA wants to hear from members of the public who might have ideas on the best way to manufacture an easy-to-use lunar restroom.

Today, NASA is announcing the “Lunar Loo Challenge,” a competition in partnership with HeroX to come up with the best space toilet for the agency’s future human lunar lander.

Read more at: Verge


Nonpartisan But Political

“There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all.”

I won’t dispute these words, uttered by President Kennedy in 1962. There is still no national conflict in space as of yet; while the militarization of space has been a concern since before the USSR launched the first successful satellite into space, international conflict in space is a discussion for another day—or, as it may be, another column.

Read more at: Politic

Dan Daren’t. Britain To Take Back Control In Space – By Not Building Its Own Satnav System

In another Brexit triumph it has emerged that the UK government is to spend upwards of half a billion pounds on taking a 20 per cent part share in the semi-defunct US-founded, London-headquartered low-earth-orbit satellite firm OneWeb, a company that filed for bankruptcy just three months ago. Having been included-out of participation in the EU’s Galileo satnav system, to which UK taxpayers have contributed £1.2 billion in what can best be described as “chump change” (within the literal meaning of the word “chump”).

Read more at: telecomtv

Scottish Spaceport Gets Go-Ahead

The first orbital spaceflight from the United Kingdom has come a step closer following the Highland Council’s decision to give the go-ahead for the Space Hub Sutherland spaceport.

Orbex, the UK-based space launch company, has said that Orbex Prime will be the first vertical launch vehicle to fly into orbit from the Space Hub, which will be constructed near Melness on the northern coast of Scotland.

The decision will now be referred to Scottish Government ministers for review.

Read more at: Herald Scotland

ESA Starts Search For Next Director General

The European Space Agency formally started the search for its next leader June 25, with the current head of the agency recommending it select a “dynamic young successor.”

ESA formally posted the job opening for director general a day after the conclusion of a meeting of the ESA Council, featuring representatives of its 22 member states. The agency will accept applications for the position through the end of August.

Job Description

Read more at: Spacenews

HASC Chairman Adds $150 Million In NDAA For Space Launch Technology Development

The House Armed Services Committee next week will mark up the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) in the draft bill known as the chairman’s mark directs the Air Force to create a $150 million program for the development of space launch technologies.

In other space related provisions, the chairman’s mark cuts funding for the Space Development Agency by $12 million and directs the establishment of an assistant secretary of defense for space and strategic deterrence policy to oversee DoD space, nuclear deterrence and missile defense.

Read more at: Spacenews

Prospects for Future US-Russia Space Cooperation

After nine years of the United States relying entirely on Russian Soyuz rockets to deliver astronauts into orbit, this dependency finally ended on May 30, 2020, with the successful launch of the private US company SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, bound for the International Space Station (ISS) (TASS, May 31). Combined with the looming termination of Moscow’s RD-180 rocket engine supply contract as well as ongoing negotiations on Russia’s role in the US’s planned orbital station “Lunar Gateway,” the commercial SpaceX manned launch symbolizes the ongoing uncoupling of the US-Russian partnership in outer space.

Read more at: jamestown


Trump Invokes Defense Production Act For Hypersonic Missile Production

US President Donald Trump has invoked a wartime executive power giving him the authority to mobilize US industry, saying that without presidential direction, US industry “cannot reasonably be expected” to provide the materials necessary for hypersonic weapons development “adequately and in a timely manner.”

On Wednesday, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act of 1950, using the measure to direct civilian industry’s production of hypersonic weapons components.

Read more at: Spacewar

China Threatens U.S. Space Power by Completing Satellite Network

A Long March-3B rocket took off from a launchpad in Sichuan province Tuesday to put a satellite in orbit, giving China a win in its intensifying rivalry with the U.S. and boosting its ability to be self-reliant in new technologies. The five-ton satellite is the final piece of the Beidou network, a collection of several dozen satellites that is China’s alternative to the U.S.-run Global Position System.

Read more at: Bloomberg Quint

USSF Commercial SATCOM Office Announces Development Of New Security Program

The U.S. Space Force Commercial Satellite Communications Office recently announced the development of its Infrastructure Asset Pre-Assessment Program.

The objective of the IA-PRE Program is to advance the security posture of current and future commercial satellite communications procurements for the Department of Defense. As the sole authority for procurement of COMSATCOM services for all of the DoD, the USSF must ensure the most secure space systems are available to support the U.S., its allies, and the joint warfighters.

“Cybersecurity is critical to the DoD and its missions,” said Jared Reece, COMSATCOM IA Policy and Compliance Lead, CSCO.

Read more at: Spaceforce

Space Force More Receptive To Reusable Rockets As It Continues To Review SpaceX Missions

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 to date has performed 86 launches, in 47 of which the rocket’s first stage landed back on earth.

While rocket landings have become the norm for SpaceX launches, none has been done yet in a national security mission.

SpaceX is about to make its first attempt to recover the booster after launching a military satellite. The company on June 30 is scheduled to launch a Global Positioning System satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Read more at: Spacenews

FCC Cracks Under Hill Pressure On Ligado 5G Network

As opposition mounts from Capitol Hill — as well as a wider swath of civil GPS users — to the FCC’s approval of Ligado’s controversial 5G network, at least one of the five commissioners now says she’d be willing to consider reversing the decision.

During a Senate oversight hearing today, Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said she would support a stay of the Federal Communications Commission’s decision — that would then allow reconsideration of the approval.

Read more at: Breaking defense

Griffin’s Departure Stirs Questions About The Future Of The Space Development Agency

Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin and his deputy Lisa Porter submitted letters of resignation to Defense Secretary Mark Esper on June 23 and plan to leave their posts by July 10.

Esper in a June 24 statement praised Griffin and Porter for advancing “critical work on the department’s modernization priorities” and for leaving behind a “legacy of excellence in the research and development of technology that ensures American military advantage on land, at sea, in the air and in space.”

Read more at: Spacenews

Missile Warning Satellite Completes Space Environment Testing

The Space Force’s next missile warning satellite has successfully completed two months of testing to ensure it will survive in the harsh environment of space, according to the program’s prime contractor Lockheed Martin.

The company said that the fifth geosynchronous Space Based Infrared System satellite completed its thermal vacuum (TVAC) testing June 9, bringing it one step closer to launch. During testing, the satellite was exposed to heat and cold in a depressurized atmosphere that mimics the environmental effects of space.

Read more at: c4isrnet


Head Of NASA International Space Station Program To Retire

The sun had yet to rise in Kazakhstan when Kirk Shireman laced up his running shoes on July 12, 2000. In a few hours, Russia would launch a module to house the International Space Station’s first crew.

But as he ran, Shireman’s feet led him toward a different launchpad, where Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human sent into space in 1961. He watched the sun rise over the historic place.

“I very distinctly remember that morning,” Shireman said, “and thinking these great thoughts about our future.”

Read more at: Houston chronicle

We Have Capture: Remembering STS-71 and Shuttle-Mir, 25 Years On

Twenty-five years ago, this summer, six U.S. astronauts and four Russian cosmonauts circled the Earth together in a remarkable exercise of co-operation between two former superpowers and ideological foes. In June 1995, Space Shuttle Atlantis and her crew of seven performed the first docking between an American spacecraft and a Russian space station, linking up smoothly with the sprawling Mir orbital outpost and its own three-man crew. And when the two ships parted company, each had different crew members, as Atlantis returned to Earth with an outgoing Mir crew and the most flight-experienced U.S. astronaut and the station continued its journey with fresh two-man crew. In many ways, STS-71 laid the cornerstone for the International Space Station (ISS).

Read more at: Americaspace

Space Station Stitch

This panorama of the International Space Station is a wider view of what ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano was capturing on camera during the first of a series of historic spacewalks that took place in November 2019.

Author, journalist and researcher Lee Brandon-Cremer created this photo by stitching together three images taken by Luca as he made his way to the worksite during the first Extravehicular Activity or EVA to service the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), the Station’s dark matter detector.

Read more at: Spacedaily

11th IAASS Conference – Poster A2