European Vega Rocket Lost Minutes After Lift-Off

A European Vega rocket has been lost shortly after blast off, the commercial space company Arianespace says. It is the first time in 15 launches that a Vega rocket has failed.

The rocket had been carrying a military satellite for the United Arab Emirates when it took off from the European spaceport in French Guiana on Wednesday evening.

It is believed to have crashed into the Atlantic Ocean north of the space centre.

Luce Fabreguettes, Arianespace’s executive vice president of missions, said a “major anomaly” had occurred about two minutes after liftoff at the time of the second stage ignition.

Read more at: BBC

European Mars Lander Suffers Parachute Damage In Test

Development of a European-Russian Mars lander hit a setback when the spacecraft’s parachutes malfunctioned in a recent test, but project officials said they still have time to correct the problem before its launch in a year.

In a June 28 statement, the European Space Agency said that two parachutes suffered “unexpected damage” during a high-altitude test a month earlier in Sweden of the system that will slow down the ExoMars 2020 lander.

Read more at: Spacenews

Ensuring Astronaut Safety: Lockheed Martin And NASA Successfully Demonstrate Orion Launch Abort System In Flight Test

The critical launch abort system for NASA’s Orion spacecraft was put to its hardest test today, and it demonstrated its capability to pull the crew module and future astronauts to safety during a launch if there is an emergency. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) designed and built the launch abort system for the test and is also the prime contractor building the Orion spacecraft for NASA.

The Ascent Abort-2 flight test is a major test milestone that is enabling the safe passage of astronauts aboard Orion on the Artemis missions to the Moon and then Mars.

Read more at: Lockheed Martin

NASA’s Orion Flight Recorders Recovered, So Don’t Expect To See Them On The Beach

The bright orange, NASA-branded boxes that could have washed up on Space Coast beaches in the wake of Tuesday’s Orion ascent abort test have all been recovered, the agency confirmed after the mission.

Twelve flight data recorders, or FDRs, were installed in a mock version of NASA’s Orion capsule that was vaulted on a ballistic missile at 7 a.m. Tuesday, a test designed to stress the launch abort system. In the event of an emergency, the system can pull the capsule and its astronauts away from the rocket and back to safety.

After the abort system performed its duties and separated from Orion, the capsule plunged toward the ocean and eventually broke apart before sinking – but not before ejecting the bright orange data recorders through a shotgun-like mechanism.

Read more at: Florida today

3 Astronauts Under 40 Years Will Man Gaganyaan To Space

The first set of astronauts India is planning to put in space as part of Gaganyaan are likely to be aged between 28 and 38 years. The first Indian crew in space will be “Test Pilots”, making it improbable for a woman to go to space in 2022 given that India does not have a woman test pilot as on date.
However, the process to shortlist candidates has not been completed, and there are no probable names at this stage. Although Isro was initially looking at all probable candidates for the first mission, TOI has now learnt that the space agency has agreed to go with test pilots for the first mission in 2022 given the short timeline for the programme, and look for others in subsequent missions.

Read more at: Times of India

Despite NASA’s successful Apollo landings, humans have spent very little time on the moon.

In total, 12 Apollo astronauts lived on the lunar surface for roughly 10 days, and traveled outside their lander for only 80 hours. With such a short sojourn, they caught merely a glimpse of the risks associated with survival there.

The prospect of humans staying on the moon for longer stretches has grown, with the Trump administration pledging an American return there by 2024, and China planning its first crewed trip to the lunar surface the following decade. That will require work by scientists to further assess the challenges. Here are the most serious risks.

Read more at: NYTimes

Space Radiation Doesn’t Seem to Be Causing Astronauts to Die from Cancer, Study Finds

Outer space is a notoriously harsh environment, exposing astronauts to high levels of radiation. And radiation exposure can increase cancer and heart disease rates in earthbound humans.

But a new study has some good news: Space radiation doesn’t seem to increase astronauts’ risk of death from cancer or heart disease, at least not at the doses they experienced during historical missions. Still, longer missions — such a mission to Mars — will likely come with much greater radiation doses that could pose larger health risks, the authors said.

Read more at:

Proton Rocket And Astronomy Satellite Back On The Launch Pad After Battery Replacement

Poised to loft a Russian-German X-ray astronomy observatory into space Friday, a Proton rocket returned to its launch pad Tuesday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan after a three-week delay to replace a drained battery on the vehicle.

The Proton rocket departed its assembly building at Baikonur early Tuesday and rode a specialized rail car to its launch pad at Complex 81, where a hydraulic lift raised the launcher vertical and a mobile gantry moved into position around the vehicle for final checkouts.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

FCC To Introduce New Simplified Licensing Regulations For Smallsats

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will release the draft text of new regulations this week meant to streamline licensing procedures for small satellites.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, speaking at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event here, said the regulations will make licensing small satellites cheaper and faster in order to better match cost and pace at which smallsat operators often function.

“If operators want to launch satellites with certain characteristics, such as short orbital lifetimes, they would no longer be forced to comply with the longer and more expensive approval processes required for larger-scale missions,” Pai said July 9. “I see no reason why a satellite the size of a shoe box, with the life expectancy of a guinea pig, should be regulated the same way as a spacecraft the size of a school bus that will stay in orbit for centuries.”

Read more at: Spacenews

First Flight Of Recoverable Rocket Stage Scheduled For 2021-2022

The first flight of the Russian recoverable stage of the Krylo-SV launch vehicle is scheduled for 2021-2022, Director-General of the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects Andrei Grigoryev told TASS on Tuesday.

“The flights are scheduled for 2021-2022,” he said.

According to Grigoryev, it is planned to create several demonstrators of the stage. During the flight along the trajectory, in a controlled mode the stage will first accelerate from zero to hypersonic speed, and then perform a deceleration in the atmosphere and complete the flight by landing on an airfield.

Read more at: TASS

Russian Federatsiya Spacecraft Crew Could Be Killed in Case of Water Landing – RSC Energia

A crew of Russia’s Federatsiya (Federation) spacecraft could be killed in case of a carrier’s failure and subsequent splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, as Russia doesn’t have high-speed rescue vessels in that region, Igor Verkhovsky, the senior official at Russia’s Energia Rocket and Space Corporation (RSC) said on Saturday.

“There is now a huge problem in case of an emergency situation while launching the manned Federatsiya spacecraft from the Vostochny cosmodrome. We will enter the Pacific Ocean waters, where we do not have any high-speed vessels belonging to the Navy or civil fleet. We will lose several days and could lose a crew before emergency rescue forces arrive at a place where an emergency landing is made,” Verkhovsky said, addressing the eighth International Youth Industrial Forum “Engineers of the Future” in the Orenburg region.

Read more at: Sputnik news

Soyuz Rocket And Fregat Upper Stage Deliver 33 Satellites To Three Different Orbits

A new Russian weather satellite, a CubeSat to test a Silicon Valley startup’s water-based propulsion system, and eight more members of Spire’s commercial fleet of nanosatellites were among 33 spacecraft that rode a Soyuz rocket into orbit Friday from Russia’s Far East.

The mission took off at 0541:46 GMT (1:41:46 a.m. EDT) Friday from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, located in Amur Oblast tin Russia’s Far East.

Heading north from Vostochny, the Soyuz-2.1b rocket gave the 33 satellites a ride to space in the first 10 minutes of the mission, then deployed a Fregat upper stage to conduct a series in burns to inject the payloads into three distinct near-polar orbits at different altitudes.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Russia Pressing Forward On ISS Expansion

Russia is working towards the future expansion of its segment of the International Space Station. Although major additions to the United States’ segment have mostly ceased following the end of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011, Russian segment expansion is set to restart as early as the middle of next year.

Since the International Space Station (ISS) program started in the 1990s, Russia has intended to expand its segment of the ISS from its current configuration. The first proposed module was the Science Power Platform – also known as the NEP – designed for the canceled Mir 2 space station.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

Cleaning Up The Cosmic Neighborhood: NASA Grant To Advance Technology, Help Remove Space Debris From Orbit

A Purdue University-affiliated startup that is developing technology to help remove debris from Earth orbit has received an award from NASA.

Vestigo Aerospace LLC will receive $125,000 from a NASA Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant. Vestigo was founded by David Spencer, a Purdue alumnus and associate professor in Purdue’s College of Engineering.

“Through the six-month study, we will advance drag sail technology for the deorbit of small satellites and launch vehicle stages,” Spencer said. “The safe disposal of space objects upon mission completion is necessary to preserve the utility of high-value orbits.”

Read more at: Purdue

Report Makes Case For Space-Based Asteroid Tracking Telescope

A report last month has buoyed the efforts of scientists seeking a dedicated mission to search for near Earth objects, although NASA has yet to commit to funding that mission.

The June 19 report by a National Academies committee concluded that a space-based infrared telescope is the best way to meet a goal established by Congress more than a decade ago of identifying all the potentially hazardous near Earth objects (NEOs) at least 140 meters in diameter.

“After hearing from representatives of different organizations, including persons who had sought to develop alternative proposals for both ground- and space-based NEO detection systems, the committee concluded that a space-based thermal-infrared telescope designed for discovering NEOs is the most effective option for meeting the George E. Brown Act completeness and size requirements in a timely fashion (i.e., approximately 10 years),” the report stated. The George E. Brown Act is a section of the 2005 NASA authorization act that directed NASA to detect at least 90 percent of NEOs at least 140 meters across by the end of 2020.

Read more at: Spacenews

Collision Course: Amateur Astronomers Play a Part in Efforts to Keep Space Safe

Heavy traffic is commonplace on Earth but now congestion is becoming an increasing problem in space. With over 22,000 artificial satellites in orbit it is essential to keep track of their positions in order to avoid unexpected collisions. Amateur astronomers from the Basingstoke Astronomical Society have been helping the Ministry of Defence explore what is possible using high-end consumer equipment to track objects in space.

Grant Privett, of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), will talk about this surprising collaboration on Thursday 4 July at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting in Lancaster.

Read more at: NAM2019

Orange Fireball Lighting Florida Sky Was Chinese Space Junk

Conspiracy theorists took to social media in a flurry of excitement Wednesday after a mysterious flying object resembling an orange fireball streaked across the Florida sky.

The American Meteor Society reported two dozen sightings from Jacksonville to Key West after midnight and tweeted there’s “no real explanation yet.”

Even the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office joined in on the fun after receiving reports about the mysterious lights, posting on social media that “we were not invaded last night by Martians, but we appreciate the level of confidence you have of us to stop intergalactic invaders.”

Read more at: APnews

Houston’s ‘Garbage Collection’ Space Technology Could Help Astronauts Get To Mars

Humans are littering space. Debris from old missions, dead satellites and various parts that fall off of satellites and rockets are cluttering the lanes of space travel.

Space junk is more than just an eyesore among the stars. It also poses both safety and financial risks if it collides into a rocket or space shuttle carrying astronauts.

But one Houston company thinks it can solve the problem. And if it’s right, the company’s technology would do much more than power the garbage trucks of the cosmos. It could revolutionize space travel.

Read more at: Houston chronicle

Radiation Sensitive

There is little known about the effects of space radiation on the human body. Astronauts cannot see or feel it, yet the high doses they are exposed to outside Earth’s cocoon pose health hazards for trips to the Moon and Mars. To help investigate and find out more, European scientists can now accelerate atoms at close to the speed of light to learn how to protect astronauts.

Space radiation passes through matter and penetrates the human body. Energetic particles impact living tissues, impairing normal function of cells and even killing them. An astronaut on a mission to Mars could receive radiation doses up to 700 times higher than on our planet.

Read more at: ESA

Space Weather Causes Years Of Radiation Damage To Satellites Using Electric Propulsion

The use of electric propulsion for raising satellites into geostationary orbit can result in significant solar cell degradation according to a new study. The extended journey time results in greater exposure to the damaging effects of space weather. Understanding the size of this risk is essential for commercial operators to take steps to mitigate the effects and protect their assets.

The new research by British Antarctic Survey, University of Cambridge, and DH Consultancy – published this month in the journal Space Weather – is being presented at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting today (1 July 2019).

Read more at: RAS

Chinese Commercial Launch Sector Regulations Released, New Launch Vehicle Plans Unveiled

China has released a set of rules to guide the development of launch vehicles in the growing commercial sector as companies continue to progress and new actors emerge.

The document outlines rules for the research, development, testing of launch vehicles, safety, confidentiality and export control, interaction with launch sites, dealing with propellants, as well as listing supporting laws and regulations for China’s space activities.

The rules also clarify what qualifications are required by commercial aerospace enterprises, the scope of business, as well as what support may be obtained from the government, and underlines the role of the civil-military integration national strategy in fostering development in the sector.

Read more at: Spacenews

Chinese Rocket Start-Up Aims At ‘Spacex Dominance’

Beijing-based private rocket start-up Galactic Energy Aerospace Technology Co has made a breakthrough in its “Pallas” medium liquid-propellant rocket, a step closer to the firm’s goal of forging a Chinese version of the Falcon 9 rocket manufactured by U.S. spaceflight company SpaceX.

China’s innovative private rocket start-ups have injected new impetus into the domestic space industry, but more efforts are needed for them to catch up with their U.S. counterparts that have been growing for nearly two decades, industry analysts told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Read more at: ECNS

German Lunar Lander Company Files For Bankruptcy Protection

A German company that is developing a lunar lander has filed for insolvency, citing a shortfall in funding, but vows to continue development of its spacecraft.

Berlin-based PTScientists announced July 8 that it had filed for “preliminary insolvency” under the German Insolvency Code in a local court July 5. That court has appointed an insolvency manager, Sascha Feies, to oversee the company.

PTScientists said in a statement that it was forced to file for insolvency because “unplanned delays had occurred in the acquisition of further investor and promotion funds” needed to develop its first lunar lander. The company didn’t specify how much funding it was seeking or other financial information that triggered the court filing.

Read more at: Spacenews

US Rocket With Russian Engine to Launch 1st Dream Chaser Spaceship to ISS in 2021 – Source

The US Atlas V launch vehicle, the first stage of which is powered by the Russian-made RD-180 engine, is expected to launch the first US Dream Chaser cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) in September 2021, a source in the rocket and space industry told Sputnik on Wednesday.

“The launch of the first Dream Chaser spaceship is planned for September 2021,” the source said.

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser will be launched from Cape Canaveral Spaceport.

Read more at: Sputnik news

New Commercial Arm To Boost Isro In Industry

A public sector enterprise called New Space India Limited (NSIL) will be set up in Bengaluru “to tap the benefits of research and development” carried out by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said presenting the Union Budget 2019-20 on Friday.

The role of the organisation will be similar to that of the existing Antrix Corporation, which develops satellites and provides commercial launches. NSIL, which will be wholly owned by the department of space, will coordinate with the industry for production and transfer of technologies developed by Isro.

Read more at: Hindustan times

Organic Solar Cells Will Last 10 Years In Space

When the Soviet Union launched the first-ever satellite some 60 years ago, its radio signal transmitted at three frequencies that could be captured anywhere on Earth. However, three weeks later the transmitter went silent, having consumed all the power provided by the onboard batteries, which accounted for the larger part of the satellite’s weight. A lesson was learned from the first launch and all satellites that followed carried solar cells that convert the light energy into electricity to power the onboard electronic systems. Silicon solar cells and photoelectric converters based on the elements from groups 3 and 5 of the periodic table (A3B5) are the most common varieties despite their multiple drawbacks, including heavy weight and, therefore, a low energy-to-weight ratio. To top it off, they are fragile and easily affected by ionizing radiation: unlike high-energy particle flows that can be fended off by encapsulation, gamma rays have a high penetrating capability and are more difficult to manage.

Read more at: Skoltech

Tungsten As Interstellar Radiation Shielding?

Metallophilic microorganisms could benefit from the heavy metal in harsh survival conditions A boiling point of 5900 degrees Celsius and diamond-like hardness in combination with carbon: tungsten is the heaviest metal, yet has biological functions – especially in heat-loving microorganisms. A team led by Tetyana Milojevic from the Faculty of Chemistry at the University of Vienna report for the first time rare microbial-tungsten interactions at the nanometer range. Based on these findings, not only the tungsten biogeochemistry, but also the survivability of microorganisms in outer space conditions can be investigated. The results appeared recently in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.

Read more at: Medienportal

Scientists Make Breakthrough That Enables Rockets To Orbit Longer

Chinese scientists have made a breakthrough in cryogenic rocket engine technology that can extend the orbital period of rockets from a few hours to 30 days, providing support for China’s future deep space exploration.

Cryogenic rocket engines are specially designed to work at extremely low temperatures. They use non-toxic and non-polluting propellants, such as liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, which are more cost-efficient than others.

The engine has been widely used in domestic and foreign launch vehicles, including China’s Long March-5 and Long March-7 carrier rockets.

Read more at: Xinhuanet

Test For Cocoa Company’s 3D-Printed Rocket Engine Ends In Misfire

A demonstration ended with a pair of misfires as a Space Coast-based startup showed off a rocket engine that uses 3D-printed fuel.

During a media event on Tuesday, Rocket Crafters conducted two test fires of its STAR-3D Hybrid Rocket Engine. During both attempts, there was a hang fire as the fuel in the engine failed to ignite.

“We’re used to things in a (research and development) environment being somewhat difficult,” Board member Sean Mirsky said.

Read more at: Clickorlando

Companies Eye Space Station for Retinal Implants, Organs-on-Chips & More

NASA is funding projects that will use the microgravity of the International Space Station (ISS) to improve sight-restoring retinal implants, produce high-value optical materials, and conduct research using organs-on-chips (OOCs).

These are three of seven proposals the space agency selected for funding last month under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program that utilize ISS or demonstrate technologies in low Earth orbit (LEO). Each phase 1 award is worth up to $125,000 over six months.

Other selected projects are focused on improving water recycling on crewed vehicles, facilitating on-orbit spacecraft refueling and storage, hosting payloads on satellite constellations, and automating the watering of plants on ISS.

Read more at: Parabolicarc

White House Challenges HASC Space Corps Language, Strongly Objects To Space Launch Provisions In NDAA

The White House on Tuesday issued a long list of objections to the House Armed Services Committee’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. The bill is headed for a debate on the House floor this week amid concerns that there might not be enough votes to pass it.

The Senate already passed its version the NDAA June 27. The biggest difference between the House and Senate versions is the top line funding for defense. The HASC is proposing $733 billion while the Senate wants $750 billion.

Read more at: Spacenews

Report Makes Case For Space-Based Asteroid Tracking Telescope

A report last month has buoyed the efforts of scientists seeking a dedicated mission to search for near Earth objects, although NASA has yet to commit to funding that mission.

The June 19 report by a National Academies committee concluded that a space-based infrared telescope is the best way to meet a goal established by Congress more than a decade ago of identifying all the potentially hazardous near Earth objects (NEOs) at least 140 meters in diameter.

“After hearing from representatives of different organizations, including persons who had sought to develop alternative proposals for both ground- and space-based NEO detection systems, the committee concluded that a space-based thermal-infrared telescope designed for discovering NEOs is the most effective option for meeting the George E. Brown Act completeness and size requirements in a timely fashion (i.e., approximately 10 years),” the report stated.

Read more at: Spacenews

Mysterious X-37B Military Space Plane Caught on Camera (Photo)

Skywatcher and satellite tracker Ralf Vandebergh of the Netherlands recently caught a rare glimpse of the U.S. Air Force’s secretive X-37B space plane.

Vandebergh said he’d been hunting for the robotic spacecraft for months and finally managed to track it down in May. But it took a bit longer to get photos of the vehicle.

“When I tried to observe it again [in] mid-June, it didn’t meet the predicted time and path,” Vandebergh explained. “It turned out to have maneuvered to another orbit. Thanks to the amateur satellite observers’ network, it was rapidly found in orbit again, and I was able to take some images on June 30 and July 2.”

Read more at:

Pentagon Eyes Military Space Station

The Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit wants options for an unmanned orbital outpost to support space experiments and operations — a logistics hub that might even grow, DIU’s solicitation suggests, to a larger manned space station.

DIU, which is charged with tapping non-traditional commercial companies for innovative technologies to meet Pentagon needs, issued a solicitation last week that gives interested vendors until July 9 to propose a “solution… for a self-contained and free flying orbital outpost.” The platform is to support “space assembly, microgravity experimentation, logistics and storage, manufacturing, training, test and evaluation, hosting payloads, and other functions.”

Read more at: Breaking defense

Babin Reintroduces Commercial Space Bill

Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) has reintroduced the American Free Enterprise Space Commerce Act.  It is identical to a bill he introduced in the last Congress that passed the House by voice vote, but was never voted on by the Senate.  Instead the Senate passed a different bill, the Space Frontier Act, but it was defeated in the House.  That has left congressional action on a range of commercial space issues such as modernizing existing regulations and deciding which Cabinet Department should be assigned new regulatory responsibilities in limbo.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Commerce Getting Ready For Space Traffic Mission

Congress has not yet approved President Donald Trump’s 2018 directive placing the Commerce Department in charge of sharing data with the public about the locations of orbiting spacecraft and debris.

But that’s not stopping the Commerce Department from taking over parts of the nation’s space traffic management mission, says Kevin O’Connell, the agency’s director of the Office of Space Commerce.

Read more at: Politico

Senate Committee Working On New, Bold NASA Authorization Bill

Key members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee are working on a new NASA authorization bill that will spell out a “bold” vision for the agency’s future.  Aviation and Space Subcommittee chairman Ted Cruz (R-TX) made clear that his goal is for America to continue to lead in exploring space and make sure the “first boot to set foot on the surface of Mars will be that of an American astronaut.”

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is Going Public

Richard Branson’s space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, is going public, which will make it the first publicly listed human spaceflight company.

First reported by the Wall Street Journal and confirmed by VG, a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) called Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. is investing a mighty $800 million in the spaceflight company, which would give it a 49 percent holding.

To sweeten the deal, Social Capital Hedosophia Founder and CEO, Chamath Palihapitiya, will invest an extra $100 million and will become chairman of the merged company.

Read more at: Mashable

No One Hurt After Fire At Spacex Starship Site In Cocoa Ceases Operations

A fire at the Cocoa industrial facility Monday where SpaceX is constructing a prototype of its interplanetary rocket ship Starship was quickly put out, according to a SpaceX spokesperson and Cocoa city officials.

The Starship mockup will be used to fire the rocket engines on brief “hops” to test out systems and hardware. A second prototype of the SpaceX interplanetary spaceship is also being assembled and tested in Boca Chica, Texas, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

Read more at: Clickorlando

‘We Could Have Lost The Apollo 11 Crew:’ A Once-Classified Anomaly Nearly Killed NASA’s First Moon Astronauts, A New Book Reveals

Apollo 11 is rightfully hailed as an extraordinary success for the US. After all, NASA rocketed humans to the moon’s surface for the first time and brought them home alive.

But there were quite a few close calls during the historic mission that could have ended it in tragedy.

Minutes ahead of the moon landing, for instance, alarms blared inside the lunar-landing spacecraft, indicating that the flight computer was overloaded and might quit. Then a surprise crater threatened to botch the landing, so Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (the two moonwalkers) used up nearly all of their fuel navigating to safer lunar pastures.

Read more at: Business insider