NASA and Boeing Complete Orbital Flight Test Reviews

NASA and Boeing have completed major reviews of the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test in December 2019 and are continuing with preparations to refly the test, designated Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

“NASA and Boeing have completed a tremendous amount of work reviewing the issues experienced during the uncrewed flight test of Starliner,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator at NASA. “Ultimately, everything we’ve found will help us improve as we move forward in the development and testing of Starliner, and in our future work with commercial industry as a whole.”

The joint NASA-Boeing Independent Review team completed the final assessment into the intermittent space-to-ground communication issue detected during the first uncrewed Orbital Flight Test of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft. The review team previously completed its investigation into the two other primary anomalies experienced during the test.

Read more at: NASA

NASA Adds Software Experts To Work Toward New Boeing Capsule Flight

NASA added software experts to work with Boeing and SpaceX on their space capsule programs following the failure of Boeing’s Starliner test flight in December, the agency announced via a teleconference from Florida on Wednesday.

The software oversight changes were outlined in NASA’s release of its final review of the Starliner failure.

The space agency said Boeing remains on track for a second test flight in the last half of this year. Competitor SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule successfully delivered astronauts to the International Space Station on May 31.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Kuaizhou-11 Fails During Maiden Launch

China’s new solid rocket motor Kuaizhou-11 launch vehicle has failed on its first mission. China conducted the inaugural launch of the long-delayed Kuaizhou-11 (KZ-11) rocket at 04:17 UTC from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Friday, carrying two satellites, before confirming the failure of the mission in the latter stages of flight, although specifics are not yet forthcoming.

This was the third launch failure for China in 2020. This follows the loss of Xinjishu Yanzheng-6 satellite on the inaugural launch of the Chang Zheng-7A launch vehicle out of Wenchang on March 16 and the loss of the Indonesian Palapa-N1 communications satellite due to a problem with its Long March-3B/G2 launcher out of Xichang on April 9.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

Russia’s Progress MS-13 Cargo Spacecraft Buried In Pacific — Roscosmos

Russia’s Progress MS-13 cargo spacecraft, which undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, splashed down in the non-navigational area of the Pacific Ocean, known as the ‘spacecraft cemetery,’ Russia’s state-run space corporation Roscosmos said in a statement on Thursday.

“In accordance with the Mission Control Center’s calculations <…> the Progress MS-13 space freighter re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere at 01:05 Moscow time. The fall of the spacecraft’s indestructible debris occurred at the non-navigational area of the Pacific Ocean, some 1,800 kilometers southeast of Wellington, New Zealand,” the statement says.

Read more at: TASS

NASA Assembles Artemis II Orion Stage Adapter

Technicians at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, have moved panels for the Artemis II Orion stage adapter to a large robotic, welding machine. Three panels were built by AMRO Fabricating Corp. in South El Monte, California and shipped to Marshall where engineers and technicians from NASA are joining them using a sophisticated friction-stir welding process to form the Orion stage adapter. This critical part of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will send the Artemis II crew into lunar orbit. AMRO also built panels for the Artemis II launch vehicle stage adapter also currently being built at Marshall and the SLS core stage and the Orion crew module built at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. All panels where joined with the same friction-stir welding process.

Read more at: NASA

ESA Delays Ariane 6 Launch To The Second Half Of 2021

The European Space Agency (ESA) has delayed the first launch of their upcoming heavy-medium rocket: the Ariane 6. Arianespace – the prime contractor for Ariane 6 – and ESA now expect it to launch NET (no earlier than) the second half of 2021, with at least six months of delay.

Ariane 6 is a medium-heavy launch vehicle developed and manufactured by Arianespace, working under European Space Agency. Its first stage is powered by Vulcain 2.1 hydrolox engine.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

Russia’s Research Module For Orbital Outpost Passes Final Trials

The Nauka (Science) multi-functional laboratory module that Russia is planning to send to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2021 has successfully passed trials in a vacuum chamber and will be dispatched to the Baikonur spaceport on July 21-23, the State Space Corporation Roscosmos reported on Friday.

“Important and long-awaited news: the Nauka orbital module has successfully passed final tests in a vacuum chamber of the Khrunichev Center. There are no faults as all of them were removed in the process of the work,” Roscosmos announced on its Twitter.

Read more at: TASS


Asteroid Deflection Planetary Defense Mission Target: “Dimorphos”

The destination of ESA’s Hera mission for planetary defense – a tiny asteroid moonlet – has finally received its official name. After years of informal nicknames and temporary designations, the smaller of the Didymos asteroid pair has been formally christened ‘Dimorphos’ by the International Astronomical Union.

A near-Earth binary asteroid system, named after the Greek word for ‘twin’, Didymos’s main body measures about 780 m across, with its previously nameless moonlet about 160 m in diameter, approximately the size of Egypt’s Great Pyramid.

Read more at: scitech daily

NASA Implements Changes To Planetary Protection Policies For Moon And Mars Missions

NASA announced July 9 two new directives regarding planetary protection for missions to the moon and Mars that implement recommendations of an independent review board last year.

The two directives, announced by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine during a “Moon Dialogs” webinar, are part of an effort by NASA to modernize guidelines that are decades old and which the agency believes could hinder its long-term human exploration plans.

Read more at: Spacenews

FCC Chief Seeks Conditional Approval For Amazon’s Project Kuiper Broadband Satellite Network

The Federal Communications Commission’s chairman, Ajit Pai, says he’s proposing approval of Amazon’s plan to put more than 3,200 satellites into low Earth orbit for a broadband internet constellation known as Project Kuiper … with conditions.

The full commission would have to vote to approve the Project Kuiper application, which has been in the works for the past year. But support from Pai, who was chosen by President Donald Trump to lead the five-member commission in 2017, serves as a strong sign that conditional approval will ultimately be granted.

Read more at: geekwire

Comet Streaking Past Earth, Providing Spectacular Show

A newly discovered comet is streaking past Earth, providing a stunning nighttime show after buzzing the sun and expanding its tail.

Comet Neowise — the brightest comet visible from the Northern Hemisphere in a quarter-century — swept within Mercury’s orbit a week ago. Its close proximity to the sun caused dust and gas to burn off its surface and create an even bigger debris tail. Now the comet is headed our way, with closest approach in two weeks.

Read more at: ABC news


Satellite Industry Grows at Record-Setting Pace and Dominates Global Space Economy

The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) today announced the release of the 2020 State of the Satellite Industry Report (SSIR), a global summary of the commercial satellite industry, revealing record-setting growth and economic impact.  The 23rd annual report shows that for the second straight year a record number of satellites were launched into space with 386 commercial satellites being deployed into orbit during 2019.  By the end of last year, the total number of satellites circling the earth increased by 17 percent to an astounding total of 2460 satellites.  This year’s SSIR also contains a special section on the global impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the current state of the satellite industry.

Read more at: Sia

Destination Space

Have you ever looked up at the night sky to admire the stars to find a constellation, look at the moon, observe one of the planets in our solar system through a telescope—and wondered what it would be like to go to space yourself? If you have tens of millions of dollars to spare, you can potentially make that dream a reality.

Though a vacation to outer space might seem like something out of a science fiction novel, space tourism has been around since the first private astronaut traveled to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 28, 2001.

Read more at: politic

Elon Musk And Other Competitors Rushed To Support Rocket Lab After The Startup’s Founder Apologized For Losing 7 Satellites In A Launch Failure

If Apple or Google ever launched a gadget product that failed, the last thing you might expect to see is either tech company publicly consoling the other.

When it comes to the orbital rocket industry, though, the atmosphere is far more collegial.

Over the weekend, the small-launch firm Rocket Lab experienced a ruinous setback: the total loss of an operational space mission worth months of time and millions of dollars. But instead of staying silent about the failure or gloating, leaders of space companies competing for business with the roughly $1.4 billion startup stepped up to offer their public support.

Read more at: Business insider

SpaceX Starship Prototype Bears Down On First Raptor Engine Tests

SpaceX’s fifth full-scale Starship prototype is fast approaching its first Raptor static fire tests after the company recently delivered one of the newest engines to the launch site.

Known as Starship SN5, the ship is the fifth SpaceX has built since full-scale prototype development began in early 2019, as well as the fourth full-scale ship the company has completed since it began producing upgraded hardware in January 2020. SN5 rolled from SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas rocket factory to nearby test and launch facilities on June 24th, less than a month after Starship SN4 was destroyed by operator error minutes after completing its fourth Raptor static fire in four weeks.

Read more at: Teslarati

Details About the First-Ever Tourist Walk in Outer Space Revealed

The first-ever tourist walk in outer space will last between 90 to 100 minutes, a representative from the US company Space Adventures told RIA Novosti. “This is approximately how long it takes the International Space Station to orbit the Earth”, the company’s representative said, adding that space tourists can’t spend six or seven hours outside the International Space Station like professional astronauts due to lack of experience and training.

During the spacewalk, the tourists will be able to observe the Earth from different angles. Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov previously said the first space tourist to walk outside the station might conduct certain experiments, as well as take photos of the planet.

Read more at: Sputniknews

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