Space Collision: Chinese Satellite Got Whacked By Hunk Of Russian Rocket In March

Yunhai 1-02’s wounds are not self-inflicted.

In March, the U.S. Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron (18SPCS) reported the breakup of Yunhai 1-02, a Chinese military satellite that launched in September 2019. It was unclear at the time whether the spacecraft had suffered some sort of failure — an explosion in its propulsion system, perhaps — or if it had collided with something in orbit.

We now know that the latter explanation is correct, thanks to some sleuthing by astrophysicist and satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell, who’s based at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Read more at:

Boeing’s Starliner Launch, A Critical Test Flight For NASA, Delayed Indefinitely As Capsule Heads Back To Factory

A crucial test flight of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is on hold indefinitely following a valve issue in the vehicle’s propulsion system, NASA and Boeing officials announced Friday (Aug. 13).

“This is obviously a disappointing day,” Kathy Lueders, NASA’s head of human spaceflight said Friday in a news conference with reporters. “But I want to emphasize that this is another example of why these demo missions are so very important to us.”

Lueders added that Starliner will fly “when we are ready.”

Read more at:

Lunar Spacesuits Won’t Be Ready In Time For 2024 Landing

Spacesuits that NASA astronauts will need to walk on the moon won’t be ready in time to meet a 2024 lunar landing goal, NASA’s inspector general concluded.

In an Aug. 10 report, NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) said the next-generation spacesuit the agency is developing for the Artemis program, known as the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU), won’t be ready for flight until at least April 2025, and may be subject to further delays.

“Given these anticipated delays in spacesuit development, a lunar landing in late 2024 as NASA currently plans is not feasible,” OIG stated in its report. It added, though, that other factors, such as delays in the development of the Space Launch System, Orion and Human Landing System (HLS), “will also preclude a 2024 landing.”

Read more at: Spacenews

Jeff Bezos’ Rocket Company Sues, Creates Additional Delay For Moon Landing

Jeff Bezos’ rocket company, Blue Origin, has sued the U.S. government in federal court to overturn NASA’s decision awarding SpaceX a contract for a lunar lander — an action likely to further delay a U.S. return to the moon.

Bezos’ company asked permission to file the suit under seal Friday, and U.S. Federal Claims Court Judge Richard Hertling approved that motion Monday morning.

The suit is about “NASA’s improper award of the [Human Landing System] Option A contract to SpaceX,” according to Blue Origin’s motion to seal.

Read more at: Moondaily

Chinese Rocket For Tianzhou-3 Mission Arrives At Launch Site

China’s Long March-7 Y4 rocket, which will launch the new cargo craft of China’s space station, on Monday arrived at its launch site in southern China’s Hainan Province.

The rocket, alongside the Tianzhou-3 cargo craft that has already been transported to the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site, will be assembled and tested at the launch site, the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) said on Monday.

The manned spacecraft and carrier rocket for the Shenzhou-13 manned space mission are also undergoing preparations as scheduled at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, according to the CMSEO.

Read more at: Spacedaily


Solving Solar Puzzle Could Help Save Earth From Planet-Wide Blackouts

Could solar storms knock out the global internet? Yes, but we don’t know when or how it could happen. Mathematician Dr Geoffrey Vasil has proposed a new understanding of the Sun’s convection zone to help. Scientists at the University of Sydney and in the USA have solved a long-standing mystery about the Sun that could help astronomers predict space weather and help us prepare for potentially devastating geomagnetic storms if they were to hit Earth.

The Sun’s internal magnetic field is directly responsible for space weather – streams of high-energy particles from the Sun that can be triggered by solar flares, sunspots or coronal mass ejections that produce geomagnetic storms. Yet it is unclear how these happen and it has been impossible to predict when these events will occur.

Read more at: Spacedaily

The Explosive Growth Of The Satellite Business

If you have any doubt about the meteoric growth of the satellite industry, consider this:

  • In 2019, there were ~2k high-tech devices orbiting the planet
  • Today, there are more than 6k
  • By 2030, there will be an estimated 50k

For decades, these extraterrestrial bodies were the preserve of governments and multi-billion-dollar firms like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and AT&T. Then, 3 things changed:

  1. Rocket launches got cheaper
  2. Satellites got smaller
  3. Data analysis software became more advanced

Read more at: hustle

Space Debris Is Blocking Our Path Off The Planet – And Legal Loopholes Mean Earth’s Governments Don’t Have To Care

Floating in the North Pacific Ocean is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a huge vortex of waste made of approximately 1.8 trillion plastic pieces. The island of rubbish is a stark reminder, in the face of climate change, that humanity needs to improve how it looks after the planet.

Floating around Earth are the remains of rockets, shuttles and other remnants of humanity’s off-world developments.

Read more at: Independent

The World Must Cooperate To Avoid A Catastrophic Space Collision

There’s an awful lot of stuff orbiting Earth, with more arriving all the time. More than 29,000 satellites, pieces of rockets and other bits of debris large enough to track from the ground are circling the planet. Smaller items number in the millions. The Californian company SpaceX alone has launched some 1,700 satellites over the past 2 years as part of its Starlink network, which provides broadband Internet, with thousands more planned. Other companies are also planning such megaconstellations, and more and more nations are launching or plan to launch satellites.

Read more at: Nature

NASA Mulls How To Dispose Of International Space Station

A plan to use a Russian spacecraft to deorbit the International Space Station as early as 2028 remains in question because the United States does not know Russia’s intentions for using the orbiting laboratory, NASA and other parties involved in the decision say.

A NASA safety panel approved a plan in 2019 that relies on Russia to modify and launch a Progress spacecraft to guide the structure into the atmosphere, where most of it would melt and the rest break up over the Pacific Ocean.

Read more at: UPI

Electrodynamic Tethers Speed Up Satellite Reentry Timelines

Tethers Unlimited’s Terminator Tape lowered a cubesat into Earth’s atmosphere in eight months, while a nearly identical satellite without a 70-meter conductive tail is expected to remain in orbit for more than a decade.

A paper presented at the virtual Small Satellite Conference described three Terminator Tape deployments and offered convincing evidence that the technology can dramatically speed up satellite reentry, said Rob Hoyt, Tethers Unlimited founder and president.

Hoyt’s hope is that people will employ tethers to help clean up the low Earth orbit (LEO) environment.

Read more at: Spacenews

Satellite Operators To Test A New Collaboration Tool Designed To Help Prevent Collisions

OneWeb, Spire Global and Orbit Fab will test a new collaboration platform developed by Slingshot Aerospace to help satellite operators share space traffic information.

The system, called Slingshot Beacon, “will be used as a centralized communication and coordination platform to resolve on-orbit conjunctions and notify others about planned maneuvers,” the company announced Aug. 12.

John Guiney, OneWeb’s vice president of fleet management systems, said tools like Slingshot Beacon “can help enhance space safety by creating additional avenues for communication.”

Read more at: Spacenews

Roscosmos To Involve Astronomic Scientific Center In Creating Equipment To Track Asteroids

Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos plans to involve the Astronomic Scientific Center in the creation of equipment to be installed at the lunar research base for monitoring asteroids, a source in the aerospace industry told TASS.

“The Astronomic Scientific Center will be involved in the creation of equipment of the automated system for prevention of dangerous situations in the near-Earth space environment for monitoring asteroids, which will be installed at the lunar research base,” the source said.

Read more at: TASS


No Pressure Suits? Bezos, Branson Spark Alarm Over Safety in Space

The billionaires who blasted into space in recent weeks did so with style. Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos sported a cowboy hat after landing and Richard Branson wore a blue Virgin Galactic jumpsuit he’d called “sexy.”

To some of the world’s leading experts in space-travel safety, something else stood out: Neither company equipped the passengers of their spacecraft with pressure suits to protect them from a rapid decompression outside Earth’s atmosphere.

Read more at: Bloomberg

Rocket Lab Plans BlackSky, NASA Missions

Rocket Lab USA Inc. has a busy docket for the rest of the year.

The Long Beach-based aerospace company in recent weeks announced four launches for two upcoming missions — including its first into lunar orbit on behalf of NASA.

Rocket Lab is bulking up its schedule after going more than two months without a lift off.

The company paused its launch plans earlier this summer after a failed mission in May in which a rocket’s stage two engine shut down three minutes after takeoff from Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula. Rocket Lab then staged a successful launch on July 28 for the U.S. Space Force.

Read more at: LAbusiness journal

Here’s Why Blue Origin Thinks It Is Justified In Continuing To Protest NASA

Blue Origin has chosen to continue fighting NASA’s selection of SpaceX to build a Human Landing System as part of the Artemis Moon program.

The company filed suit in the US Court of Federal Claims on Friday and received a protective order to seal the documents on Monday. The lawsuit follows a decision in late July by the US Government Accountability Office that rejected a protest by Blue Origin and Dynetics over NASA’s $2.9 billion award to SpaceX to further development of its Starship program.

Read more at: Arstechnica

In-Space Missions Wins Contract For British Military Smallsat

British smallsat developer In-Space Missions has won a contract from the U.K. Ministry of Defence to build a satellite to test optical communications.

The Ministry of Defence and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) announced Aug. 9 that it awarded In-Space Missions a contract valued at 9.5 million pounds ($13.2 million) for the Titania Operational Concept Demonstrator. The small satellite will test space-to-ground laser communications, which offers the potential for transferring data at rates of several gigabits per second.

Read more at: Spacenews

IHI Aerospace To Offer Epsilon Rocket Commercially

Japanese company IHI Aerospace plans to market a version of the little-used Epsilon small launch vehicle to commercial customers, although at prices significantly higher than similar vehicles in development.

The Japanese space agency JAXA developed the solid-fuel Epsilon as a successor to the M-V small launch vehicle. The rocket made its debut in September 2013 and has launched four times, most recently in January 2019. All four launches were successful.

Read more at: Spacenews

Supply Of Small Launch Vehicles Continues To Grow

The number of small launch vehicle projects continues to grow despite the pandemic and the widespread belief of there is a significant oversupply of such vehicles, but that growth may be showing signs of slowing.

In a presentation at 35th Annual Small Satellite Conference, Carlos Niederstrasser of Northrop Grumman provided an update to an annual survey of the small launch industry that he has produced since 2015, tracking the growth of small launch vehicle development efforts worldwide. The survey includes those vehicles with payload capacities no greater than 1,000 kilograms and available to commercial or U.S. government customers.

Read more at: Spacenews

Exponential Growth Of Cubesats May Be Tapering Off

The use of cubesats has grown dramatically in recent years, but some are wondering if the form factor has reached the limits of its usefulness.

In a presentation at the 35th Annual Small Satellite Conference Aug. 10, Siegfried Janson, a retired Aerospace Corporation engineer who is now a consultant, reviewed the history of smallsat usage, dividing the Space Age into three eras: the early years when small satellites were often the only option, a later era dominated by large satellites and a “New Space” era that started in the late 1990s.

Read more at: Spacenews

The complete coverage of IAASS Weekly Press Clips is only available to IAASS Members. Become an IAASS Member today.