5 Russian Nuclear Scientists Buried After Rocket Explosion

Thousands of people on Monday attended a funeral for five Russian nuclear engineers killed by an explosion during tests of a new rocket at the country’s main nuclear weapons test center.

The deadly explosion occurred on Thursday during a test of a liquid-propellant jet engine near the small town of Nyonoksa in Russia’s northwestern Arkhangelsk region. 

Initial reports said the explosion killed two people and injured a further six. Russia’s Rosatom nuclear agency later acknowledged that the blast also killed five of its workers and injured three others.

Read more at: DW

Orion Service Module Completes Critical Propulsion Test

NASA is building a system to send astronauts to the Moon for Artemis missions, and that includes tests to make sure the Orion spacecraft is prepared to safely carry crew on an alternate mission profile in the face of unexpected problems. That capability was most recently demonstrated with a successful, continuous 12-minute firing of Orion’s propulsion system that simulated a possible alternate mission scenario.

“Inserting Orion into lunar orbit and returning the crew on a trajectory back home to Earth requires extreme precision in both plotting the course and firing the engines to execute that plan,” said Mark Kirasich, program manager for Orion at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “With each testing campaign we conduct like this one, we’re getting closer to accomplishing our missions to the Moon and beyond.”

Read more at: Space Daily

Watch Spacex Dragon Launch Pad Escape System Testing

A slide wire escape system has been undergoing tests at launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in readiness for the first SpaceX Crew Dragon flight to carry astronauts to the International Space Station. The system could be used by astronauts and ground crews to evacuate the launch pad in an emergency and is based on the one fitted during the Space Shuttle era but has been relocated further up the tower. The ride in the slide wire’s basket from the 265-foot level of the launch pad tower takes approximately 20 seconds to reach a landing zone about 1,200 feet (366 meters) away. From there crews could escape the pad area in an armored vehicle or seek shelter in a bunker.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Take a Wild Ride on NASA’s Orion Abort Test with This Stunning Video

Wanna fly like Superman? With an incredible new camera view, you can get a rare mid-air perspective and watch a spacecraft streaking through the atmosphere.

The camera hitched a ride on a test version of NASA’s Orion spacecraft as it completed a successful abort test, Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2), high above Earth on July 2. NASA hopes to one day use Orion for crewed missions across the solar system, including Artemis missions to the moon and possible future flights to Mars.

Read more at: Space.com

Cygnus Spacecraft Departs Space Station, Begins New Mission in Orbit

This afternoon (Aug. 6), over three months after it arrived in orbit, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft successfully undocked from the International Space Station and proceeded to drift off into the vacuum of space to begin the second part of its mission.

NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch used the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to undock the spacecraft and send it on its way. The Cygnus separated from Canadarm2 at 12:15 p.m. EDT (1615 GMT).

Read more at: Space.com

Arianespace Press Onward With Dual-Passenger Ariane 5 Launch

Despite an unfortunate launch failure that occurred last month, Arianespace successfully conducted its next flight of their Ariane 5 launch vehicle with two geostationary telecommunications/data relay satellites in EDRS-C and Intelsat 39. Tuesday’s launch took place from Ariane Launch Complex No. 3 (ELA-3) at the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The 47-minute launch occurred at the opening of the window at 19:30 UTC.

This mission (known as Ariane Flight VA249) was the third flight for the Ariane 5 rocket this year following two successful launches that occurred on February 5 and June 20, respectively.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

Space Radiation Will Damage Mars Astronauts’ Brains

Space radiation will take a toll on astronauts’ brains during the long journey to Mars, a new study suggests.

Mice exposed for six months to the radiation levels prevalent in interplanetary space exhibited serious memory and learning impairments, and they became more anxious and fearful as well, the study reports.

The trip to Mars takes six to nine months one way with current propulsion technology. So, these results should ring a cautionary bell for NASA and other organizations that aim to send people to the Red Planet, study team members said.

Read more at: Space.com

China’s Lunar Rover Travels 271 Meters On Moon’s Far Side

China’s lunar rover Yutu-2 has driven 271 meters on the far side of the moon to conduct scientific exploration on the virgin territory.

Both the lander and the rover of the Chang’e-4 probe switched to its dormant mode for the lunar night on Wednesday (Beijing time), according to the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration.

China’s Chang’e-4 probe, launched on Dec. 8, 2018, made the first-ever soft landing on the Von Karman Crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the far side of the moon on Jan. 3.

Read more at: Xinhuanet

A Crashed Israeli Lunar Lander Spilled Tardigrades On The Moon

IT WAS JUST before midnight on April 11 and everyone at the Israel Aerospace Industries mission control center in Yehud, Israel, had their eyes fixed on two large projector screens. On the left screen was a stream of data being sent back to Earth by Beresheet, its lunar lander, which was about to become the first private spacecraft to land on the moon. The right screen featured a crude animation of Beresheet firing its engines as it prepared for a soft landing in the Sea of Serenity. But only seconds before the scheduled landing, the numbers on the left screen stopped. Mission control had lost contact with the spacecraft, and it crashed into the moon shortly thereafter.

Read more at: Wired

To the Moon by 2024: Here’s the Plan

The vice president did his best to sound stirring. The podium, the flag, the ringing cadences—all were meant to convey that this moment in the spring of 2019 was a significant one, a turning point in the history of space exploration. “It is the stated policy of this administration and the United States of America to return American astronauts to the moon within the next…five…years.”

Hardly had Mike Pence concluded his March 26 speech to the National Space Council in Huntsville, Alabama, when the doubts and second-guessing began. Even at NASA headquarters, where Administrator Jim Bridenstine took questions from his troops at a televised town hall a few days later, the applause was tepid, and the questions had mostly to do with money and political commitment—and whether the plan will fall apart again, just as it always has.

Read more at: Air and Space

More Than 50 Pieces Of Debris Remain In Space After India Destroyed Its Own Satellite In March

More than four months after India destroyed one of its own satellites in space, dozens of pieces of debris from the cataclysmic event still circulate in orbit, posing a small but potential threat to other functioning spacecraft that might pass close by. It’s possible that some of this debris could stay in orbit for a full year before falling back down to Earth, according to space trackers.

On March 27th, India fired a ground-based missile at a test satellite the country had launched in January, demonstrating the capability to take out a spacecraft in Earth orbit. Destroying an orbiting satellite is no easy feat, as these vehicles are relatively small and zoom above our planet at thousands of miles per hour. Hitting one directly with a missile takes a lot of precision, and it sends a message that a country can take out a perceived hostile satellite if necessary.

Read more at: Verge

Oneweb Founder Wyler Calls For Responsible Smallsat Operations

The founder of broadband megaconstellation company OneWeb urged the smallsat industry to operate responsibly in orbit, warning that failed satellites and collisions could result in stifling government regulation.

In an Aug. 5 keynote address at the Conference on Small Satellites here, Greg Wyler contrasted OneWeb’s emphasis on building reliable satellites and avoiding the creation of orbital debris with unnamed companies that he fears may sacrifice reliability in a rush to get their satellites launched.

“I’m really not a fan of just launching stuff in space to raise money, and launching stuff in space that’s not finished or not ready or vetted,” he said. “You should not be throwing up hundreds and hundreds of kilograms of mass that just becomes a missile.”

Read more at: Spacenews

Why Low-Earth Orbit Satellites Are the New Space Race

Elon Musk made headlines in 2018 when he launched his old car toward Mars aboard one of his Space Exploration Technologies Corp. rockets. He got less attention in May for his first step toward a potentially far more lucrative venture, when SpaceX launched the first 60 of a planned 12,000 satellites into low-Earth orbit (LEO). And Musk isn’t the only one pouring money into the sector: Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is one of several competitors with plans to send thousands of their own devices into the space just above our atmosphere. Nonetheless, doubts remain over whether these new satellite constellations will provide returns on their substantial initial investments — and even whether there’s space in our sky for so many new devices.

Read more at: Bloomberg

From Apollo to Artemis — How Astronaut Food May Change When We Return to the Moon

Apollo astronauts had to deal with questionable flavors and lackluster options while dining in space. When humans return to the moon with NASA’s Artemis program, the menu might be very different, including packaged foods that are many years old alongside fresh fruits and vegetables.

In the earliest days of spaceflight, trips were so short that food was almost an afterthought: “The first food was basically tubes and cubes,” Michele Perchonok, a food scientist who previously worked at NASA as the HRP advanced food technology project manager and the shuttle food system manager, told Space.com.

Read more at: Space.com

Stennis Ready To Begin Green Run Rocket Testing

Stennis Space Center Director Dr. Rick Gilbrech says ever since NASA’s announcement last month that the South Mississippi site will test the first Space Launch System core stage, Stennis employees have been busy preparing.

That prep work includes upgrades and modifications to the B-2 Test Stand, high pressure industrial water system, and gas facility. Gilbrech says those modifications are now complete, and Stennis is ready for testing.

That news is part of an op-ed written by Dr. Gilbrech, and just released by Stennis Space Center.

Read more at: wlox

OneWeb Secures Global Spectrum Further Enabling Global Connectivity Services

OneWeb, whose mission is to connect everyone everywhere, is pleased to announce it has succeeded in bringing into use its spectrum rights in the Ku- and Ka-band spectrum.

To achieve this milestone, OneWeb’s satellites have been transmitting at the designated frequencies in the correct orbit for more than 90 days, enabling OneWeb to meet the requirements to secure spectrum bands over which it has priority rights under ITU rules and regulations.

These rights will now be confirmed as the UK administration, which has filed our satellite system with the ITU, will complete the required Notification and Registration process of the company’s LEO network.

Read more at: oneweb

Spacex’s Falcon 9 May Soon Have Company As Rocket Lab Reveals Plans For Electron Rocket Reuse

The most prominent launcher of small carbon composite rockets, Rocket Lab, announced plans on Tuesday to recover the first stage of their Electron rocket and eventually reuse the boosters on future launches.

In short, CEO Peter Beck very humbly stated that he would have to eat his hat during the ~30-minute presentation, owing to the fact that he has vocally and repeatedly stated that Rocket Lab would never attempt to reuse Electron. If Rocket Lab makes it happen, the California and New Zealand-based startup will become the second entity on Earth (public or private) to reuse the boost stage of an orbital-class rocket, following SpaceX’s spectacularly successful program of Falcon 9 (and Heavy) recovery and reuse.

Read more at: Teslarati

The Surprisingly Cozy Truths Of Sleeping In Space

A GOOD NIGHT’S sleep is a key aspect of human health, and this is especially true for astronauts working in the ultra-demanding environment of space. After a long day of floating around in microgravity doing experiments, astronauts on the International Space Station retire to their sleep station, which is little more than a closet, for some shuteye. Inside the sleep station is a sleeping bag and laptop strapped to the wall, as well as some personal effects, like photos of an astronaut’s family or memorabilia from a favorite sports team. If the astronauts were hoping for a comfy down pillow, they’re out of luck. In space, they don’t need them because their head holds itself up.

Read more at: Wired

This Next-Gen Spacesuit Could Protect Astronauts on the Moon and Mars

The same company that helped to design and supply spacesuits for NASA’s Apollo program has unveiled a Next Generation Spacesuit system prototype nicknamed Astro.

ILC Dover and Collins Aerospace, which has worked with ILC Dover to produce spacesuits currently in use aboard the International Space Station, revealed this next-gen spacesuit at a July 25 event on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The event simultaneously celebrated the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing.

The new suit system consists of both an extravehicular activity (EVA) suit and a life-support backpack that regulates pressure and provides oxygen and cooling.

Read more at: Space.com

How NASA Will Protect Astronauts From Space Radiation At The Moon

August 1972, as NASA scientist Ian Richardson remembers it, was hot. In Surrey, England, where he grew up, the fields were brown and dry, and people tried to stay indoors – out of the Sun, televisions on. But for several days that month, his TV picture kept breaking up. “Do not adjust your set,” he recalls the BBC announcing. “Heat isn’t causing the interference. It’s sunspots.”

The same sunspots that disrupted the television signals led to enormous solar flares – powerful bursts of energy from the Sun – Aug. 4-7 that year.

Read more at: Space daily

Martian Merlot? How a Red Wine Compound May Help Us Cope with Mars’ Gravity

A plant compound found in chocolate, peanuts, blueberries, grapes and wine may be a great supplement for future spacefarers wanting to maintain their bone and muscle health after leaving Earth — and its gravity — behind to reach Mars.

Marie Mortreux is the lead researcher of a new study looking at the effects of this antioxidant, known as resveratrol, on rats exposed to simulated Martian gravity.

While there’s been quite a bit of research conducted over the last five decades about the effects that microgravity can have on the human body, the potential effects of Martian gravity, roughly 40% of Earth’s gravity, on terrestrial lifeforms like the human body “remain less well understood,” according to Mortreux and her colleagues in a recent paper.

Read more at: Space.com

See China’s Cool New Rocket Fins in Action!

They may look like waffle-makers, but China’s new rocket fins are cooking up something even more special: the ability to guide rockets to a safe zone after launch.

The country’s latest launch of a Long March 2C rocket, from Xichang, China, on July 26 local time (July 25 EDT), included grid fins designed to do a better job of protecting populated areas away from the launch site. The fins appear similar to those that SpaceX rockets use to steer themselves down for landing and later reuse, although the Chinese fins aren’t intended to make the rocket reusable.

Read more at: Space.com

Embry-Riddle Plans Expansion Of Its Research Park Through Partnership With Space Square

With a goal to promote high-paying jobs, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University on Tuesday, Aug. 6, announced plans to expand its successful Research Park and advance innovation in Volusia County by establishing a presence within the new Space Square aerospace hub.

The plan sprang from the highly collaborative economic development efforts of Embry-Riddle, Space Square, Team Volusia, Space Florida and the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, said University President P. Barry Butler, Ph.D.

“As the northern gateway to Florida’s Space Triangle, Volusia County is poised to become a major player in the $348 billion global space economy,” Butler said. “The expansion of Embry-Riddle’s Research Park and our partnership with Space Square are positive signs that Volusia is well on its way to becoming a strong strategic lever for economic development along the I-4 corridor.”

Read more at: Space daily

Op-Ed | India-China Space Collaboration Is Worth A Try

On July 23, the day after India launched Chandrayaan-2 on the nation’s second mission to the moon, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry said China would like to work with India on space exploration.

For many, the idea of India-China space collaboration is difficult to fathom. For the last two decades, India and China have been engaged in an undeclared space race marked more by regional rivalry than neighborly competition.

India and China are nuclear powers that went to war briefly in 1962 over a border dispute that continues to this day.  In 2017, India and China engaged in a military standoff on the Doklam plateau, which lies at the junction between India, China and Bhutan.

Read more at: Spacenews

Europe Struggles To Keep Up With Global Arms Race In Space

European Union officials are certainly ambitious, even against long odds.

The EU has still not created its joint army, despite decades of talking about the subject. It may also face a blow to the continent’s economy if, as now seems probable, Britain leaves the EU later this year with no trade arrangements in place.

Still, that has not prevented some of the EU’s senior officials from daydreaming. One has gone as far as to call for the creation of a “European Space Force” to rival those being created by global powers such as the United States, China and Russia.

Read more at: Straitstimes

FCC’s Streamlined Licensing Rules Seen As Boon For Smallsat Industry

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s streamlined licensing rules for small satellites sailed through a vote Aug. 1, establishing a path for companies to secure spectrum rights much faster and cheaper than current regulations allow. 

Under the optional licensing regime, which stands to take effect this year, smallsat operators with spacecraft that meet certain criteria will be able to obtain a spectrum license about twice as fast and pay only $30,000 instead of nearly $500,000. A maximum of 10 satellites at a time can be licensed under the streamline process.

Read more at: Spacenews

With Gerstenmaier Gone, Decision To Fly NASA Astronauts May Be More Contentious

William Gerstenmaier may not have been not particularly well-known to the general public, but as the associate administrator for human spaceflight at NASA he carried considerable influence in the space community. So when he was effectively terminated from his position on July 10, it reverberated both throughout the domestic as well as the international spaceflight community.

NASA chief Jim Bridenstine, who moved Gerstenmaier aside because of ongoing delays with the Space Launch System rocket and a concern that the senior official was not moving ahead quickly enough with the Artemis Moon program, has said new leadership will be in place “soon.”

Read more at: Arstechnica

The Role Of The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights In Supporting Space Property Rights

A long-discussed issue has been the absence of provisions pertaining to private entities under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Interpretations in favor of private property rights hold that the purpose of Article II’s ban on “national appropriation” was to place a limitation on member nations’ attempts to exercise territorial and political sovereignty over any part of outer space: to restrict territorial disputes between countries from extending beyond Earth. Without an explicit prohibition of private property rights in the treaty, their development with respect to private entities is unencumbered.

Read more at: Spacereview

China’s Grand Strategy In Outer Space: To Establish Compelling Standards Of Behavior

Invoking Sun Tzu’s The Art of War to understand China—notwithstanding the fact that the China of today is a polity inspired by German philosopher Karl Marx and his political ideology of Marxism—offers significant insights. Sun Tzu’s advice to the Commander during the Warring Period (476–221 BC) was to imbibe the spirit of a comprehensive grand strategy for success. These includes an understanding of the power of norms (moral legitimacy), heaven, earth (physical conditions), leadership, and finally, method and discipline (assessment of military capability, context, relative power potential/difference, logistics, resources). Once all elements come together, a state can benefit from a grand strategy for success.

Read more at: Spacereview

The Space Race Is Now, And America Can’t Afford Delays

For the past few years the national security discussion rightly looked beyond our atmosphere to the next battleground. The latest threat assessment by the U.S. Department of Defense should dispel any myth that there is no space race. There is, and the U.S. is far behind.

The proliferation of laser and cyber weapons as well as counter-space technology by our adversaries is deeply troubling. Fortunately, we are on the precipice of action to further U.S. space interests, unless that effort gets bogged down by personal agendas.

As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee for more than a decade, I received countless briefings from military and intelligence officials solely focused on the upcoming international struggle for space. China and Russia have long set their goals above us — literally — and new players such as India are looking to expand their reach.

Read more at: Defensenews

US, Japan To Ink Hosted Payload Pact to Monitor Sats

The United States and Japan plan to sign a significant new agreement to place American space monitoring payloads on Japanese satellites for the first time, according to US defense officials. The US space situational awareness (SSA) sensors will hitch a ride on Japan’s regional equivalent of GPS.

Both the US and Japan in recent years have become increasingly concerned about on-orbit testing by China and Russia of maneuverable satellites that, while also having peaceful uses such as satellite servicing, eventually could be designed to attack allied satellites. 

Read more at: Breakingdefense

Air Force Space Modernization Starts From The Ground Up

Fair or not, rockets and satellites generally overshadow the ground systems they need to do their missions. But as the U.S. military looks for faster and cheaper ways to get data from satellites, ground systems are attracting growing attention.

The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), based in Los Angeles, is placing greater focus on the modernization of ground systems, says Col. Rhet Turnbull, the head of a new organization within SMC called Cross Mission Ground and Communications Enterprise. This new office was created as part of a major reorganization known as SMC 2.0 that started more than a year ago.

Read more at: Spacenews

USAF X-37b Military Space Plane’s Mystery Mission Circling Earth Hits 700 Days

The robotic X-37B launched its fifth and latest mission, known as Orbital Test Vehicle 5 (OTV-5), hitting the 700-day mark, and is just a few weeks short of breaking the vehicle’s spaceflight-duration record.

The reusable spacecraft, which looks like a miniature version of NASA’s space shuttle, is on a mission that has been a topic of speculation since its start on September 7, 2017, as the solar-powered spacecraft’s missions, and most of its payloads, remain classified. The US Air Force keeps stressing that the space plane tests technologies for future reusable spacecraft and takes experiments up to space and back.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Pompeo: Nkorea Missiles Don’t Impact Negotiations

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday downplayed North Korea’s latest missile launches, saying they won’t alter the prospects for negotiations on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons.

One day after North Korea called a new round of short-range missiles a “warning” against joint US-South Korea military exercises, Pompeo told reporters that it didn’t impact Washington’s approach to the region.

The latest launches were the fourth pair of projectiles fired in less than two weeks by the North. They came after the South Korean and US militaries began mainly computer-simulated joint exercises on Monday to test Seoul’s ability to take operational control in wartime.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Here’s How The US Army’s Missiles And Space Program Office Is Being Reorganized

The U.S. Army is reorganizing its Program Executive Office Missiles and Space to focus on the integrated fires mission, the office’s chief said.

“This is the construct that we need to have within the PEO to be agile, to be flexible, and not just meet those requirements that we see today, but to be able to bend as needed for those requirements that are coming tomorrow,” Maj. Gen. Robert Rasch said Aug. 8 at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.

The PEO is moving from having eight program managers to five that all fall under an integrated fires-focused portfolio.

Read more at: Defensenews

Hail Félicette! French Space Cat Memorial Beginning to Take Shape

Fifty-six years after a cat named Félicette became the first feline to launch into space, plans to build the cosmic cat’s first proper memorial are beginning to take shape.

In 2017, a Kickstarter campaign raised more than $57,000 to build a statue of Félicette commemorating her historic mission. After a long search, the campaign’s organizers have finally found a permanent home for the memorial. And last week, they shared the first photos of the statue’s new design, featuring an out-of-this-world (literally) replica of Félicette.

Read more at: Space.com

NASA Warns Employees That Using CBD Products Could Get Them Fired

CBD doesn’t get you high, but it could also keep you grounded if you’re an astronaut. That’s the message the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sent in a memo to its workers on Wednesday, warning that consuming products containing the cannabis-derived substance puts them at risk of losing their jobs.

The substance has “increased in popularity as a result of the claims that it is a natural remedy for common ailments such as chronic pain and anxiety,” the NASA bulletin says.

Read more at: Forbes

Inside Apollo Mission Control, From The Eyes Of The First Woman On The Job

POPPY NORTHCUTT WAS serious, preoccupied by the lunar landing plans she checked over and over again for good measure. As an engineer for NASA’s mission planning and analysis support team, she was responsible for getting astronauts home from orbit and the moon during multiple Apollo missions.

Creating and perfecting that return trajectory was no easy feat—especially in the scramble to fulfill President John F. Kennedy’s famous 1961 mandate to land humans on the moon by the end of the decade, which accelerated NASA’s lunar ambitions.

“The control centre really had not had adequate time to train,” she recalls. “[They had] no time at all, to be honest.”

Read more at: National Geographic

Canadian Space Pioneer Bruce Aikenhead Passes Away

Bruce Aikenhead, an Officer of the Order of Canada, who worked for 40 years in the aerospace field, has passed away Monday at the age of 95.

SpaceQ learned of the news through a Tweet by formed Canadian astronaut Robert who said “the first group of CSA astronauts did not have a deep background in aerospace. But our program manager did. Bruce Aikenhead became our go-to guy for information. To say thank you, I sent a photo of Shuswap Lake from ISS to Bruce. Bruce passed away yesterday. He will be missed.”

Read more at: SpaceQ

11th IAASS conference