Rocket Lab Loses Electron Booster, Five Small Satellites In Launch Failure

The second stage of a Rocket Lab Electron rocket carrying seven small satellites malfunctioned after launch from New Zealand on Saturday, suddenly slowing down and losing altitude. The company confirmed the vehicle and its payloads were lost, but no indication of what went wrong was immediately available.

“We lost the flight late into the mission,” company CEO Peter Beck tweeted. “I am incredibly sorry that we failed to deliver our customers satellites today. Rest assured we will find the issue, correct it and be back on the pad soon.”

Read more at: CBS news

Progress To Aid Benzene Investigation On ISS

A replacement Air Quality Monitor will be launched on the next Progress resupply mission to aid the investigation into increased levels of benzene in the International Space Station’s atmosphere.

The first detection of off-nominal levels occurred on April 13, when Air Quality Monitor-1 – or AQM-1 – detected benzene in the atmosphere that was slightly above the reporting limit. At the time, AQM-1 was located inside the US Lab, otherwise known as the “Destiny” module.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

Boeing Gives Starliner Crew Capsule’s Parachutes A Workout In Drop Test (Video)

The parachute system that helps bring Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule safely back to Earth just passed another test.

Starliner’s chutes performed well during a drop test over New Mexico’s White Sands Space Harbor last week that was designed to simulate an abort shortly after launch, Boeing representatives said Monday (June 29).

“Parachutes like clean air flow,” Boeing flight conductor Jim Harder said in a statement.

Read more at:

India’s First Human Space Mission Not To Be Affected By COVID: Minister

India’s first manned space mission “Gaganyaan,” planned for 2022, will take place on schedule and won’t be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister for Atomic Energy and Space Jitendra Singh said.

According to a statement issued by the Department of Space on Monday evening, the minister said though the training of four Indian astronauts in Russia had to be halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there had been kept a “cushion” both in the training program and the launch deadline.

The training of astronauts has been resumed, and the launch is scheduled to take place as planned before the 75th anniversary of India’s independence in August 2022, he said.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Blue Origin Delivers The First BE-4 Engine To United Launch Alliance

Blue Origin this week delivered a BE-4 rocket engine to United Launch Alliance. ULA will use two BE-4s in the main stage of its future Vulcan Centaur rocket

In a celebratory tweet July 1 with the hashtag #CountdowntoVulcan ULA announced that a BE-4 engine arrived at its rocket factory in Decatur, Alabama.

“The engine delivered is the first pathfinder engine to be mated with the Vulcan Centaur and will support ULA’s testing,” a Blue Origin spokesperson told SpaceNews. “We are planning on delivering the second engine in July.”

A pathfinder is a development engine.  Blue Origin has not said when a flight-qualified engine will be delivered.

Read more at: Spacenews

As Structural Testing Concludes, Orion and SLS Look Ahead to Artemis-1

Last week’s completion of parallel structural testing campaigns for Orion and the Space Launch System (SLS) is a critical step towards the maiden voyage of the first human-capable vehicle to visit the Moon since December 1972 and the initial launch of the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V era. Late next year, four shuttle-era RS-25 core-stage engines and a pair of five-segment Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) will ignite with a staccato crackle and a propulsive yield in excess of 8.8 million pounds (3.9 million kg) to deliver the Artemis-1 Orion spacecraft towards the Moon. With the conclusion of structural testing, the route is clear for the completion of the SLS “Green Run” campaign at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Miss., later this fall. And the actual Orion for Artemis-1 is deep into processing at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

Read more at: Americaspace

EGS, Jacobs Begin SLS Booster Build Up For Artemis 1

NASA Exploration Ground Systems and prime test and operations contractor Jacobs mated the first of two Space Launch System (SLS) aft motor segments for the Artemis 1 launch with its aft skirt on June 24.

The connection of two of the major elements of the right-hand aft booster assembly continues preparations of Northrop Grumman booster hardware for the first SLS launch tentatively scheduled for late next year.

The two aft motors and two aft skirts were delivered to the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility (RPSF) in mid-June to begin readying them for eventual stacking on Mobile Launcher-1 in the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center later this year. Following rail transportation from Utah, Jacobs and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) removed the aft motors from their railcars, rotated them to a vertical orientation, and mated them to the aft skirts in build up stands in the RPSF.

Read more at: NASAspaceflight

Advanced Rockets Corporation Granted Space Vehicle System Patents

Advanced Rockets Corporation (ARC) report it has been granted a Space Vehicle Systems patent featuring a unique architecture for multiple applications, including space launch, national defense, and high-speed civil aviation.

The patent also addresses critical factors for reducing the cost of access to space, including, high-utilization, Continuous Intact Abort Capability (CIAC), and reusability.

It also further increases the total number of patent protected systems and design details and effectively extends the protection period for ARC’s vehicle systems, allowing ARC to maintain a key market advantage in launch and the hypersonic arenas.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Roscosmos Says US Crew Dragon Spacecraft’s Safety Raises ‘Some Questions’

Russia’s federal space agency Roscosmos will agree to the delivery of its cosmonauts to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a US Crew Dragon spacecraft only after it is certified, Roscosmos First Deputy Head for the Orbital Grouping Development and Priority Projects Yuri Urlichich said on Thursday.

“The spaceship has not passed its certification and the Americans are offering us to make swaps as was the case during the period when their shuttles made flights: our cosmonauts flew in their shuttles and their astronauts on our Soyuz spacecraft. We agree to that but only inasmuch as their spaceship is certified,” Urlichich said in the upper house of Russia’s parliament.

Read more at: TASS

NASA Astronauts Conduct Second Spacewalk For Space Station Power Upgrades

Early Wednesday, NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Robert Behnken conducted a spacewalk outside of the International Space Station to replace lithium ion batteries for one of the station’s power channels.

Wednesday’s spacewalk began at 7:13 a.m. ET and concluded at 1:14 p.m. ET. It lasted for six hours and one minute. Both astronauts are veteran spacewalkers. This was the eighth venture outside for both Cassidy and Behnken, according to NASA.

Read more at: CNN

Russia’s Blue Bird Search And Rescue Vehicles For Spacemen Undergo Upgrades

The Blue Bird search and rescue amphibious off-road vehicles, used for recovery of landing spacemen, underwent upgrades in the Moscow Region, the Central Military District’s press service announced Friday.

“Three PEM-1 and PEM-2 trucks and the special screw-propelled vehicle, equipped with the evacuation crane, underwent upgrades. In particular, engines and transmission, as well as the interior, were upgraded,” says Yevgeniy Solntsev, head of the Central Military District’s 14th Air and Air Defense Army’s search and rescue service.

Read more at: TASS

Final Frontier Design Awarded Multiple NASA Lunar xEMU Space Suit Contracts

Final Frontier Design (FFD) is pleased to announce the award of multiple contracts for components of NASA’s next generation xEMU Lunar space suit.

The xEMU Lunar space suit will be used in the Artemis mission, the first US planetary space mission since Apollo.

The development awards include the Lunar xEMU space suit boot, hip, and waist joints, and will culminate with hardware deliveries to NASA in 2020.

Read more at: Moondaily


An Asteroid’s Moon Got A Name So NASA Can Bump It Off Its Course

Newly christened “Dimorphos” is a tiny space rock with a big target on its back.

The International Astronomical Union gave the rock an official name on June 23 for a unique reason: It has been marked for the first-ever asteroid deflection mission. A NASA spacecraft will ram into Dimorphos — on purpose — to alter its path through space. Although Dimorphos is not at risk of striking Earth, its nearness to the planet makes it a prime testing ground for a technique to ward off dangerous asteroids in the future.

Read more at: Sciencenews

Calculating The Speed Of Coronal Mass Ejections Could Avoid Unneeded Satellite Shutdown

Satellite operators could be doing more harm than good by shutting down their systems whenever a coronal mass ejection (CME) from the Sun is forecast to arrive at Earth, UK researchers have suggested. Mathew Owens, Mike Lockwood and Luke Barnard at the University of Reading show that the speeds and magnetic field intensities of the bursts could be just as important to consider as their arrival times when deciding when to turn satellite systems off. If applied, their ideas could significantly improve the efficiency of many satellite operations.

Read more at: Physicsworld

Gaia Revolutionises Asteroid Tracking

Gaia charts the galaxy by repeatedly scanning the entire sky. Over the course of its planned mission, it observed each of its more than one billion target stars around 70 times to study how their position and brightness change over time.

The stars are so far from Earth that their movements between images are very small, hence why Gaia has to measure their positions so accurately to even notice a difference. However, sometimes Gaia spots faint light sources that move considerably from one image of a certain region of the sky to the next, or are even only spotted in a single image before disappearing.

Read more at: ESA

One Of SpaceX’s Most Ambitious Projects Remains Tethered To The Ground — For Now

To fund its Martian ambitions, SpaceX intends to transform the Earth — blanketing the planet in ubiquitous internet coverage beamed down from a tight-fitting mesh of thousands of satellites. CEO Elon Musk expects this “Starlink” service to eventually generate $30 billion per year.

In space, construction is advancing smoothly. SpaceX has already become the world’s largest satellite operator, managing more than 500 satellites and counting. That’s a fraction of the thousands it intends to launch, but enough for the system to reach Air Force cockpits and connect Musk to Twitter. The company intends to start beta testing in North America this summer.

Read more at: CNBC

Stronger Materials Vital For Lunar Plans

As the Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky once said, Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot stay in a cradle forever.

With sporadic political interest in space development and research throughout history, new breakthroughs in the field are a welcome relief to a sector that is often stagnated by funding difficulties, as well as sheer technological barriers.

A research team in the west of China has said it has developed a material from artificial lunar dust that could be strong enough to build a solid base on the moon.

Read more at: Moondaily


SpaceX Starship Prototype Kicks Off Gauntlet Of Tests For The Fifth Time

Hours after a successful Falcon 9 launch, a SpaceX Starship prototype has kicked off a challenging gauntlet of tests for the fifth time in hopes of becoming the first to take flight.

Five days after the ~30m (~100 ft) tall steel rocket was transported from the factory to the launch pad, SpaceX has fully integrated it with a brand new launch mount – built from scratch after operator error caused Starship SN4 to explode and destroy the prior mount. Assembled and outfitted with great haste, the new mount was completed just a day or two before Starship SN5 was moved to the pad and installed on top of it.

Read more at: Teslarati

Amazon’s AWS Establishes New Aerospace Cloud Unit As Jeff Bezos Increases Bets On Outer Space

Amazon Web Services, the cloud-computing branch of the e-commerce giant, is further expanding its services in the growing space industry.

The company announced on Tuesday that AWS is establishing a new unit called Aerospace and Satellite Solutions, led by former U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Clint Crosier — who most recently directed the establishment of the U.S. Space Force.

“We find ourselves in the most exciting time in space since the Apollo missions,” Crosier said in a statement.

Read more at: CNBC

Rocket Lab Plans Next Launch Saturday, Closes In On First Mission From Virginia

Rocket Lab is readying for a launch from its New Zealand spaceport Saturday (U.S. time) with seven commercial satellites from Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom, while teams at Wallops Island, Virginia, move closer to Rocket Lab’s first launch there as soon as August.

The mission Sunday will take off from Rocket Lab’s primary privately-run spaceport on Mahia Peninsula, located on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island. The 50-minute launch window Saturday opens at 2113 GMT (5:13 p.m. EDT), or at 9:13 a.m. Sunday in New Zealand.

A forecast for high winds and heavy rain caused Rocket Lab to delay the mission from Friday to Sunday, but the company later said it would attempt a launch Saturday.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

China’s Commercial Space Industry Charges Ahead

China’s commercial space ambitions stretch far beyond the industry’s current domestic focus, with plans to use private space capabilities to help bring Chinese influence to the world.

Why it matters: Space is a cornerstone of the global race for tech supremacy, and China wants to dominate from both a governmental and commercial standpoint. China’s future in space could be, in part, defined by private companies that help to wield the country’s soft power and influence on Earth.

Read more at: Axios

Chennai Start-Up Building India’s First Private Smallsat Rocket Seeks ISRO Help

Chennai start-up Agnikul Cosmos is building India’s first private small satellite rocket and will be seeking the help of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for conducting ground tests. The IIT-Madras incubated start-up received a much-needed boost with the announcement of Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), an autonomous body under the Department of Space, which would help private prayers gain access to ISRO infrastructure.

Named ‘Agnibaan’, the rocket will be a two-stage LOX/Kerosene vehicle with a third “baby stage.” The launch vehicle will be capable of carrying up to 100 kg of payload to low-Earth orbits up to 700 km with a plug-and-play engine configuration.

Read more at: New Indian Express

Space Startup Momentus Provides ‘Last Mile Delivery’ For Satellites Launched On Any Rocket

A space startup offering a “last mile delivery” service for spacecraft is continuing its deal spree this year, becoming an increasingly important player in the growing small satellite market.

Momentus, a Santa Clara, California-based company, has so far struck $40 million worth of customer contracts this year and announced on Thursday its latest deal with Dutch small satellite specialist ISILaunch. Its the eighth such deal Momentus has unveiled in 2020, with the company providing its orbit transfer services for ISILaunch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch in December.

Read more at: CNBC

Commercial Launch Industry Off To Slow Start In 2020

The first half of 2020 has been sluggish for the commercial launch industry, but its problems can’t be explained solely by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to statistics compiled by SpaceNews, there were 45 orbital launch attempts in first six months of 2020, including four failed launches. That would put the overall launch industry on a pace for 90 launches in the year, somewhat less than the 102 launches attempted in 2019.

Read more at: Spacenews

The Right Tool To Go To The Moon

Like many people worldwide, I celebrated the May 30 launch of NASA and SpaceX’s Demo 2 mission returning NASA astronauts to the International Space Station from the Kennedy Space Center.

For me, it was personal. Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are my NASA Astronaut Office classmates (Class of 2000, Go Bugs!). When they arrived safely in low-Earth orbit and later successfully docked to the station, I was excited and relieved.

Then I read the Washington Post guest opinion article “Send the SpaceX Dragon to the Moon.” I was disappointed to see that even experienced space enthusiasts missed the mark on such a fundamental concept – picking the right tool for the job.

Read more at: Politico

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