Farewell, Pirs; ISS Module Decommissioned, Destructively Reentered

After nearly 20 years in orbit serving as a docking port and airlock for the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS), the Pirs module — also called Stykovochny Otsek 1, or Docking Compartment 1 (DC-1) — has become the first habitable element of the station to be decommissioned and permanently removed from the orbital complex.

Pirs was undocked from the nadir port of the Zvezda service module at 06:55 EDT / 10:55 UTC on Monday, July 26 ahead of a fiery destruction in Earth’s atmosphere at 10:51 EDT / 14:51 UTC later that day.

Pirs’ time at the ISS came to a close after the successful launch of the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module which, after some initial issues post-launch, is on its way to a docking on Thursday, July 29.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

Russia Launches Nauka Module To International Space Station

Russia launched a long-delayed module for its segment of the International Space Station July 21, but that module reportedly suffered technical problems after reaching orbit.

A Proton-M rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 10:58 a.m. Eastern carrying the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, or Nauka. The module separated from the rocket’s upper stage about nine and a half minutes after launch. Both Roscosmos and NASA said that Nauka deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas shortly after separation.

Read more at: Spacenews

Hubble Returns To Science Operations On Backup Payload Computer

NASA teams have successfully resurrected the iconic Hubble Space Telescope after it first experienced problems with an onboard computer on June 13 and suspended all science operations. The telescope is now fully operational and the switch to the backup hardware — which included powering on the backup payload computer — was performed successfully on July 16. With all its science instruments back online, the collection of science data resumed on July 17.

“Hubble is an icon, giving us incredible insight into the cosmos over the past three decades,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “I’m proud of the Hubble team, from current members to Hubble alumni who stepped in to lend their support and expertise. Thanks to their dedication and thoughtful work, Hubble will continue to build on its 31-year legacy, broadening our horizons with its view of the universe.”

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

Starliner Stacked Atop Rocket for Launch of Boeing’s 2nd Orbital Flight Test July 30

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is ready to launch again, following a busy weekend where crews transported it from a the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at neighboring Kennedy Space Center to Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 41 Vertical Integration Facility (VIF), where the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket tasked with launching the capsule on its second Orbital Flight Test has been waiting.

“Seeing the Starliner atop the Atlas V just days away from launch is symbolic of how proud our team feels about executing this mission,” said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Crew Program. “OFT-2 is a critical milestone on our path to crewed flights, and we’re all ready to see our hard work come to life with a successful mission from beginning to end.”

Read more at: Americaspace

Dodging Debris

On Christmas Day 1996, a mysterious object, probably no bigger than a marble, smacked into the cockpit windshield of a Boeing 757 as it cruised at 31,500 feet en route from Beijing to Wuhan. The impact cracked the outer pane of the three-ply windshield, Reuters reported, threatening a cockpit depressurization and forcing the crew of the China Southern Airlines-operated jet to return to Beijing’s Capital International Airport for an emergency landing.

“That report could well have been describing a fragment from a piece of a reentered space object,” says William Ailor, a technical fellow at the Aerospace Corp.’s Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies in California.

Read more at: Aerospace america

Boeing’s Starliner Capsule Is ‘Go’ For July 30 Test Launch For NASA

Boeing’s astronaut taxi has cleared a big hurdle on the road to its July 30 launch to the International Space Station.

The CST-100 Starliner capsule has passed its flight readiness review (FRR) for the upcoming liftoff, which will kick off the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2) mission to the station, NASA and Boeing representatives announced Thursday (July 22).

“After reviewing the teams’ data and the readiness of all the parties, everybody said ‘go’ for the launch today and moving out for the mission,” Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, said during a call with reporters Thursday.

Read more at:

SLS Engineering Tests To Accompany Pre-Launch Checkouts For Artemis 1

The launch campaign for NASA’s Artemis 1 test flight will be punctuated by critical and unique tests to support both pre-launch checkouts of this first-flight vehicle and long-term design objectives. Launch preparations are progressing towards the first power-up of the Artemis 1 Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which will allow the Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) launch team to begin digital diagnostics.

The Integrated Test and Checkout (ITCO) of the flight and ground systems will include special engineering tests for the Orion and SLS Programs. Up to this point, mathematical models were used to analyze and predict how the different systems would work when assembled on the launch platform; over the next few months, some of the tests will help calibrate those analytical models while others verify that the vehicle is ready to launch for the first time.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight


High Radiation, Low Gravitation: The Perils Of A Trip To Mars

But while it’s one thing to send a rocket to Mars, it’s another to send people there alive. And it’s yet another thing to make sure the people can be as healthy as they were when they left Earth.

Read more at: ABC news

How Has Traffic Been Managed In The Sky, On Waterways, And On The Road? Comparisons For Space Situational Awareness (Part 1)

Most casual observers likely would agree that as the complex space operating environment becomes more crowded with more operating satellites and debris, the topics of space situational awareness (SSA) and space traffic management (STM) deserve more concerted attention. While we’ve had over 60 years of satellites in the large expanse of near-Earth space with only a handful of collisions, this likely will change as space becomes more crowded. To understand what kind of overall STM framework might be both useful and practical, we will examine some of the complexities of current SSA operations. For historical points of comparison, we then will look at literal and figurative “rules of the road” paradigms for traveling on land, sea, and in the air. Curiously, norms and procedures for managing the flights of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), aka “drones”, are evolving faster than those for STM, even though modern drones have flown effectively for fewer years than spacecraft.

Read more at: Spacereview

Why The U.S. Once Set Off A Nuclear Bomb In Space

It was pitch black when Greg Spriggs’ father brought his family to the highest point on Midway Atoll on July 8, 1962. That night on another atoll a thousand miles away, the U.S. military was scheduled to launch a rocket into space to test a fusion bomb.

“He was trying to figure out which direction to look,” Spriggs recalls. “He thought there was going to be this little flicker, so he wanted to make sure everybody was going to see it.”

Read more at: National geographic

Read more at: Globe and mail

Senators Fret Shift Of Civil Space Tracking From DoD Lagging

The Commerce Department has come under fire from the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee for foot-dragging on taking over responsibility for warning civil, commercial and foreign satellite operators about potential on-orbit collisions.

In a Thursday hearing, senators expressly raised concerns that Commerce now seems to want to rid itself of the mission entirely — a mission that the Defense Department has been eager to offload, so that its space tracking sensors can be dedicated to watching for threats from adversary space assets.

Read more at: Breaking defense

Rumbling Meteor Lights Up Norway, Prompting Search For Meteorites

An “unusually large meteor” briefly lit up southern Norway on Sunday, creating a spectacular sound and light display as it rumbled across the sky, and a part of it may have hit Earth, possibly not far from the capital, Oslo, experts said.

Reports of sightings started arriving at around 1am, and the phenomenon was seen as far north as Trondheim. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

A web camera in Holmestrand, south of Oslo, captured a fireball falling from the sky and erupting into a bright flash that lit up a marina.

Read more at: Guardian


How Bad Is Space Tourism For The Environment? And Other Space Travel Questions, Answered.

For many, the rise of commercial space tourism is a vulgar display of wealth and power. Amid several global crises, including climate change and a pandemic, billionaires are spending their cash on launching themselves into space for fun. When Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told reporters after his first space tourism trip on Tuesday that Amazon customers and employees had “paid” for his flight, that only intensified that criticism.

But critics won’t deter Bezos and the other superrich. Space tourism is now a reality for the people who can afford it — and it will have repercussions for everyone on Earth.

Read more at: Vox

Green Light For Rocket Lab Return

Rocket Lab has concluded an extensive review into the cause of the anomaly that resulted in the loss of its Running Out Of Toes launch in May.

With the root cause of the issue identified and corrective measures in place, Electron will be back on the pad for the next mission from Launch Complex 1 later this month, a company statement said.

“The May 15 anomaly occurred after 17 successful orbital flights of the Electron launch vehicle, which has deployed more than 100 satellites to orbit since 2018.

Read more at: gisborneherald

ESA’s Boost! Fosters New Launch And In-Orbit Services

Companies with small satellites are set to benefit from a new end-to-end space transportation service offering additional in-orbit flexibility proposed by D-Orbit and supported through ESA’s Boost! programme.

This commercial service proposal is the first within ESA’s Boost! programme to enable in-orbit transportation services.

D-Orbit UK will offer an end-to-end service. This will include customer payload integration on its range of satellite dispensers, D-Orbit’s own ION satellite carrier or third-party dispensers, launch and deployment into orbit using primarily UK-based launch services.

Read more at: ESA

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