Satellite’s Solar Panel Glitch Disrupts Alaskan Broadband Plans

A satellite in geostationary orbit ran into some trouble when the device meant to position its solar arrays towards the Sun malfunctioned, preventing it from being fully charged. As a result, the internet satellite will not be able to fulfill its primary goal of providing continuous connectivity to Alaska.

The Arcturus satellite, built by California-based company Astranis, launched in April onboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket and was successfully deployed in geostationary space (a higher altitude than low Earth orbit). Since its launch, Astranis managed to commission the satellite and began demonstrating end-to-end connectivity to remote sites in Alaska in preparation for active service.

Read more at: gizmodo

Boeing Records More Losses From Starliner Delays

Boeing took another loss on its CST-100 Starliner commercial crew program as the first crewed flight of that vehicle remains in limbo.

In its fiscal second quarter financial results released July 26, the company said it took a $257 million loss on the Starliner program, citing the delay in the vehicle’s first flight with astronauts on board that Boeing and NASA announced June 1. That loss was the biggest single factor in a $527 million loss the company reported for its Defense, Space and Security business unit in the quarter.

Read more at: spacenews


Another Technique To Identify “Unknown” Satellites

A long-time interest of mine has been to look at satellite catalogs and see what is in them—and what is not.

The (default world official) satellite catalog is maintained by the US Space Force. They assign numbers to each known satellite and they assign the “COSPAR” designator (see below for a little more about that), which is one way that the international community labels satellites. They normally do an adequate job; the satellite catalog is at Space Track and many organizations and people use it.

read more at: spacereview

Mission Possible: Steering Aeolus Through Earth’s Fiery Welcome

The European Space Agency is orchestrating its first-ever satellite reentry with the Aeolus satellite, aiming to direct it towards an ocean reentry. Despite the challenges posed by fluctuating atmospheric conditions due to heightened solar activity, the ESA team is utilizing simulations, innovative maneuvers, and continual adjustments to ensure a safe and successful mission completion.

In a first at ESA’s Main Control Room in Germany, simulations are under way as teams prepare not for a launch, but a satellite’s assisted return through Earth’s atmosphere. Mission successful, fuel running out, Aeolus is now naturally descending.

The Flight Control Team at mission control will soon command the wind-mapping satellite for the last time, targeting its reentry towards the ocean to reduce the already very small risk from its return. In simulations, however, things aren’t going to plan.

Read more at: scitechdaily

Massive Fireball Brings People To Tears While Some Fear It Might Mean ‘Armageddon’

A huge fireball sparked fear among Americans when it was spotted hurtling over a number of states and lighting up the night sky.

As if we don’t have enough to worry about in life, the huge fireball made an appearance over a number of southern states, with some residents even managing to catch footage of the sight on camera.

The American Meteor Society, where people can report sightings of fireballs, recorded more than 50 reports after the blazing object lit up the sky over Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida.

Read more at: Unilad


NASA Offers Details On Commercial Space Capabilities Agreements

A NASA procurement document provides details about the plans of several companies that received unfunded Space Act Agreements for commercial space capabilities in June, as well as those who failed to make the cut.

NASA selected seven companies June 15 for its Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities-2 (CCSC-2) initiative. Those companies will have access to NASA expertise and data, but not funding, to support development of commercial space capabilities.

Read more at: spacenews

SpaceX Teases Another Application For Starship

You’ve probably heard about SpaceX’s plans to use its giant new Starship vehicle to land people on the Moon and Mars, send numerous Starlink satellites or large telescopes into space, or perhaps even serve as a high-speed point-to-point terrestrial transport for equipment or people.

There’s another application for SpaceX’s Starship architecture that the company is studying, and NASA is on board to lend expertise. Though still in a nascent phase of tech development, the effort could result in repurposing Starship into a commercial space station, something NASA has a keen interest in because there are no plans for a government-owned research lab in low-Earth orbit after the International Space Station is decommissioned after 2030.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Startup Impulse Space Raises $45 Million In Series A Round

In-space transportation services startup Impulse Space announced July 24 it has closed a $45 million Series A funding led by RTX Ventures, the venture capital arm of Raytheon Technologies.

Impulse Space is led by rocket engine designer Tom Mueller, a founding employee of SpaceX. The startup develops orbital transportation vehicles.

“With the support from RTX Ventures, Impulse Space continues on the path toward its mission to provide agile, economic logistics services in any orbit,” Mueller said in a news release.

Read more at: spacenews

Eutelsat Expects To Return To Growth Next Year With Onewebv

Eutelsat expects to return to growth next year as its pivot to connectivity starts to bear fruit, the French satellite operator said July 28 after a waning video business helped annual sales decline for the seventh year in a row.

Total revenues fell to 1.31 billion euros ($1.4 billion) for the company’s fiscal year ending June 30, a 5.5% year-on-year drop when adjusted for currency changes on a like-for-like basis.

Video revenues, representing about 62% of the operator’s business, were down by 8.3% to 705 million euros as sanctions against Russian and Iranian channels dragged on a market in gradual decline.

Read more at: spacenews

Geospatial Intelligence Startup Kleos Space Files For Bankruptcy

Kleos Space, a Luxembourg based startup that operates signals-intelligence satellites, has run out of cash and will file for bankruptcy.

The company’s financier on July 25 informed Kleos Space that it will no longer extend additional credit, a spokesman for Kleos Space, Lou Weis, said July 26 in a statement to SpaceNews.

Kleos Space’s financing has been run by Pure Asset Management, an Australian investment firm. Kleos Space today notified the Australian Securities Exchange it plans to file for bankruptcy after failing to raise more money.

Read more at: spacenews

SpaceX Edges Closer to Next Launch With High-Power Test of Starship’s Water Deluge System

Earlier today, SpaceX performed the second test of its newly installed Starship deluge system. This test was considerably more powerful than the first one, which the company conducted on July 17.

The demo took place at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, with the test commencing at 2:10 p.m. ET. Water shot upwards from beneath the orbital launch mount (OLM) for roughly 40 seconds, and it was accompanied by a voluminous blast of sound. No booster was present for this test. NASASpaceflight captured the dramatic—and very wet—moment

Read more at: Gizmodo


Major Test For New Type Of Rocket Engine Completed

China’s rocket scientists and engineers carried out a major test on Saturday on a new type of engine, which will be the most important component in the nation’s attempt to land astronauts on the moon.

The multiple-ignition test, which took place at an engine testing facility in Fengxian county in Shaanxi province, successfully verified the engine’s operating procedures, according to the Xi’an, Shaanxi-based Academy of Aerospace Propulsion Technology, China’s major manufacturer of liquid-propellant rocket engines.

Read more at: chinadaily

Goodbye Documents, Hello Models: A Model-based Approach to System Engineering

The space industry is entering a new era of digital engineering and information management. New methods need to be found to manage information and projects as they move between different engineering disciplines. Often, these disciplines are linked by data models, to ensure that engineering data stays consistent across different projects and activities. This model-centric approach is known as Model Based System Engineering (MBSE).

MBSE provides a powerful digital framework for representing complex systems. Improvements in both time and cost can be achieved by placing digital models at the centre of the engineering process, providing a common understanding of the system engineering design, and thus reducing inefficiencies and mistakes due to inconsistent information in disjointed documentation.

Read more at: ESA

After Bopping An Asteroid 3 Years Ago, NASA Will Finally See The Results

Christmas Day for scientists who study asteroids is coming in just two months when a small spacecraft carrying material from a distant rubble pile will land in a Utah desert.

The return of the OSIRIS-REx sample container on September 24 will cap the primary mission to capture material from an asteroid—in this case, the carbonaceous near-Earth asteroid Bennu—and return some of its pebbles and dust to Earth.

It has been a long time coming. This mission launched seven years ago and has been in the planning and development phase for over a decade. To say the scientists who have fought for and executed this mission are anxious and excited is an understatement. But there is an additional frisson with OSIRIS-REx, as scientists are not entirely sure what they’ve been able to pull away from the asteroid.

Read more at: Arstechnica

NASA Briefly Loses Contact With ISS After Power Outage And Relies On Backup Systems For First Time

A power outage at Nasa’s building in Houston disrupted communication between mission control and the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday, forcing the space agency to rely on backup control systems for the first time.

The outage meant mission control lost command, telemetry and voice communications with the station in orbit. The power outage hit as upgrade work was under way in the building at Houston’s Johnson Space Center.

The crew was notified of the problem through Russian communication systems, within 20 minutes of the outage.

Read more at: Guardian

NASA, DARPA Partner with Industry on Mars Rocket Engine

NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced Wednesday Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colorado, as the prime contractor for the design, build, and testing of NASA and DARPA’s nuclear-powered rocket demonstration, in collaboration with other industry partners.

The Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program will test a nuclear-powered rocket in space as soon as 2027.

“Working with DARPA and companies across the commercial space industry will enable us to accelerate the technology development we need to send humans to Mars,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. “This demonstration will be a crucial step in meeting our Moon to Mars objectives for crew transportation into deep space.”

Read more at: NASA


Russia Offers BRICS Partners A Module On Its Planned Space Station

The head of Russia’s space agency on Monday suggested Moscow’s partners in the BRICS group – Brazil, India, China and South Africa – could build a module for its planned orbital station, the Interfax news agency reported.

Reporting from a BRICS meeting on space cooperation in Hermanus, South Africa, Interfax said it was “assumed” that the first module of the Russian Orbital Station (ROS) would be launched in 2027, with construction completed by 2032.

By then, the International Space Station – one of the last forums of cooperation between Washington and Moscow as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent relations to a post-Cold War low – is likely to have been decommissioned.

Read more at: reuters

House Rejects Satellite Spectrum Licensing Bill Because Of Space Safety Provisions

A bill intended to reform satellite spectrum licensing regulations failed to pass the House July 25 after some members objected to provisions they claimed gave the Federal Communications Commission authority to regulate space safety.

The House debated H.R. 1338, the Satellite and Telecommunications Streamlining Act, under suspension of the rules, a procedure that limits debates and amendments but requires a two-thirds majority for passage. The bill, though, fell short of that threshold, with 250 votes in favor versus 163 votes against. One member voted present.

Read more at: spacenews

FAA Throws Cold Water on SpaceX’s Next Starship Orbital Launch

It’s been three long months since SpaceX launched its gigantic Starship prototype spacecraft and Super Heavy booster at its testing facilities in South Texas, resulting in a spectacular explosion. The launch obliterated the rocket’s pad, sending huge chunks of steel and concrete flying, and covering the coastal region in a layer of debris.

Shortly after the launch attempt, the Federal Aviation Administration announced it was grounding the rocket until SpaceX completes additional “environmental mitigations” and ensures future mishaps don’t “affect public safety.”

Read more at: futurism

A Nearly 20-Year Ban On Human Spaceflight Regulations Is Set To Expire

In 2004, Congress passed a law that established a moratorium on federal safety regulations for commercial astronauts and space tourists riding to space on new privately owned rockets and spacecraft. The idea was to allow time for new space companies to establish themselves before falling under the burden of regulations, an eventuality that spaceflight startups argued could impede the industry’s development.

The moratorium is also known as a “learning period,” a term that describes the purpose of the provision. It’s supposed to give companies and the Federal Aviation Administration—the agency tasked with overseeing commercial human spaceflight, launch, and re-entry operations—time to learn how to safely fly in space and develop smart regulations, those that make spaceflight safer but don’t restrict innovation.

Read more at: arstechnica

Argentina Signs Artemis Accords

Argentina signed the U.S.-led Artemis Accords outlining best practices for space exploration, part of a recent surge of countries joining the agreement.

Daniel Filmus, Argentina’s minister for science, technology and innovation, signed the Artemis Accords in a ceremony July 27 at Casa Rosada, Argentina’s presidential office in Buenos Aires. Argentine President Alberto Fernández attended the ceremony along with NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

Read more at: spacenews

SpaceX ‘Flame Deflector’ System For Starship Launches May Breach Environmental Regulations, Report Says

SpaceX failed to apply for the permits needed to use its “flame deflector” system used in rocket launches, potentially breaking environmental law, CNBC reported.

The company tweeted Friday that it ran a full pressure test of the water deluge system aimed at combatting the “immense heat and force” of a Starship launch, per CEO Elon Musk.

Read more at: business insider


Maxar To Begin Production Of New Small Satellite Bus 

Maxar Technologies announced July 24 that its new satellite bus designed for low Earth orbit constellations passed a critical design review.

The company will produce 16 of the Maxar 300 series buses for L3Harris Technologies. Each bus is about the width of a conventional oven. These will be used to build missile-detecting sensor satellites for the Space Development Agency’s Tranche 1 Tracking Layer program.

L3Harris in July won a $700 million contract from SDA to produce 14 satellites for the Tracking Layer Tranche 1, plus two additional satellites for a missile-tracking demonstration.

Read more at: spacenews

Space Force Selects Vendors For Low Earth Orbit Satellite Services

The U.S. Space Force announced July 24 it selected 16 companies that will compete for low Earth orbit satellite services contracts.

Under an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract, vendors will compete for up to $900 million worth of task orders over the next five years. Each contractor is guaranteed $2,000.

The 16 selected vendors are ARINC Inc.; Artel LLC; Capella Federal; BlackSky; SES Space & Defense; Hughes Network Systems; Inmarsat Government; KGS LLC; Intelsat General Communications; OneWeb; PAR Government; RiteNet Corp.; Satcom Direct Government Inc.; SpaceX; Trace Systems Inc.; and UltiSat Inc.

Read more at: spacenews

L3Harris’ Acquisition Of Aerojet Rocketdyne Nears Completion

L3Harris told investors July 26 that federal regulators will not challenge the company’s acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne, clearing the way for the deal to close as early as July 28.

“We were advised today that the Federal Trade Commission will not block our acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne; therefore, we are moving forward to close the transaction on or about July 28,” Christopher Kubasik, chair and chief executive of L3Harris, said in a letter to investors.

Read more at: spacenews

ULA Has Concerns About A Third Competitor In National Security Space Launch

United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno said he has “a bunch of questions” about the latest changes announced by the Space Force for the procurement of national security space launch services.

Speaking on the CNBC “Manifest Space with Morgan Brennan” podcast that aired July 27, Bruno was asked to comment on the Space Force’s decision to add a third heavy-lift launch provider in the next round of contracts, known as National Security Space Launch Phase 3.

Read more at: spacenews


Reliable Robotics Gets FAA Approval To Test Remote Piloting System

The FAA has approved Reliable Robotics process to certify a system designed to turn a variety of aircraft into remotely piloted vehicles. Rather than concentrate on the airframe, the company is instead working on the technology to apply remotely operated flight systems to existing aircraft. Its initial testbed has been a Cessna Caravan but the company is proposing making the tech scalable to the point where the Air Force wants them to design a system for its ancient fleet of steam guage KC-135 tanker/cargo aircraft.

Read more at: avweb

Pioneering NASA ‘Hidden Figure’ Evelyn Boyd Granville Dies at Age 99

Trailblazing NASA “Hidden Figure” and Black mathematician, Evelyn Boyd Granville, has died at the age of 99. Granville was one of the first two Black women in the United States to earn a Ph.D in mathematics. Her degree, despite hardships, led to positions working on NASA’s early human spaceflight missions and a long career in education. As shown in the group of Black women featured in the book and 2016 film “Hidden Figures,” Granville rose up, despite racial adversity, to contribute significantly to NASA’s early human spaceflight missions, including the Mercury and Apollo programs. Her death was publicized in a Washington Post obituary, published July 7.

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Archaeology On The Moon: How To Preserve Spaceflight Artifacts From Apollo Era

What do we do with the pieces of Apollo moon missions, or other bits of human technology scattered around the solar system?

As NASA and other entities plan to put humans on the moon again later in the 2020s, a new study suggests we should see what changes the lunar environment causes on human artifacts left on the surface, with an eye to preserving what is possible: Spacecraft, experiments, trash and other things.

“The material record that currently exists on the moon is rapidly becoming at risk of being destroyed if proper attention isn’t paid during the new space era,” lead author Justin Holcomb, postdoctoral researcher at the Kansas Geological Survey (based at the University of Kansas), said in a July 21 statement.

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Boeing Has Now Lost $1.1 Billion On Starliner, With No Crew Flight In Sight

A difficult summer for the Starliner program continued this week, with Boeing reporting additional losses on the vehicle’s development and NASA saying it’s too early to discuss potential launch dates for the crewed spacecraft.

Throughout this spring, NASA and Boeing had been working toward a July launch date of the spacecraft, which will carry two astronauts for the first time. However, just weeks before this launch was due to occur, Boeing announced on June 1 that there were two serious issues with Starliner. One of these involved the “soft links” in the lines that connect the Starliner capsule to its parachutes, and the second problem came with hundreds of feet of P-213 glass cloth tape inside the spacecraft found to be flammable.

Read more at: Arstechnica

A Physicist Says It’s ‘Quite Possible’ A Spacex Launch Punched A Hole In Parts Of The Earth’s Atmosphere

A space physicist has said it’s “quite possible” that a SpaceX rocket launched earlier this month made a hole in the Earth’s ionosphere.

The ionosphere is where Earth’s atmosphere meets space and stretches roughly 50 to 400 miles above Earth’s surface, Nasa said.

Jeff Baumgardner, a senior research scientist from Boston University, made the comments to Spaceweather. Ionospheric holes have become more common as record numbers of rockets are launched, the report said. The holes are temporary as reionization occurs when the sun rises.

Read more at: business insider

Next NASA New Frontiers Mission Could Face Extended Delay

The next competition for a NASA line of planetary science missions could suffer a multi-year delay because of constrained budgets, an agency official said July 27.

NASA has planned to release the announcement of opportunity, or AO, for the fifth New Frontiers mission in November, after releasing a draft version for public comment early this year. The release of the final AO would have kicked off a competition ending with the selection of a mission in the fall of 2026 for launch in the early 2030s.

Read more at: spacenews

How Will Space Tourism Be Impacted By The Titan Submersible Tragedy?

That ill-fated dive of the Titan submersible and loss of its deep ocean exploring occupants has sparked conversation and debate in the world of public space travel.

There are similarities between the Titan submersible and space tourism, some of which offer lessons learned as access to commercial suborbital and orbital spaceflight continues to expand.

George Nield has taken it to the limit … of Earth’s atmosphere. He flew onboard Blue Origin’s suborbital New Shepard rocket on March 31, 2022. He is president of Commercial Space Technologies and previously served as associate administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation.

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How China Is Threatening U.S. GPS Dominance With Beidou

GPS, or the Global Positioning System, is the oldest and most widely used satellite navigation system in the world with 6 billion users. GPS is owned by the U.S. government and run by the Space Force, an independent military branch that’s organized under the U.S. Air Force. GPS was initially designed as a military tool and is used for things like missile guidance and drone operation. But the technology has also become indispensable to the lives of civilians.

“If we had an attack on the system, you know, it could really bring so many areas of our logistics and our supply chain, even farming, our transportation system, our airplane system to a grinding halt,” says Rep. Mikie Sherill (D-N.J.), who is also a co-chair on the House GPS Caucus.

Read more at: CNBC