Ariane 5 Rocket Launches Robotic Space Tug Into Orbit Alongside 2 Communications Satellites

A new space tug, only the second-ever to extend the life of older satellites, launched into orbit Saturday on a European rocket after weeks of delays due to weather and rocket checks.

An Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket hefted the Mission Extension Vehicle-2 (MEV-2) into space Sunday (July 31), putting the vehicle en route to an Intelsat satellite waiting for a boost into a higher orbit. Riding along on the rocket were two satellites for broadband communications.

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Simulations Show Lunar Lander Exhaust Could Contaminate Scientifically Vital Moon Ice

A new study led by scientists at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, shows that exhaust from a mid-sized lunar lander can quickly spread around the Moon and potentially contaminate scientifically vital ices at the lunar poles.

Computer simulations of water vapor emitted by a 2,650-pound (1,200-kilogram) lander — about a quarter of the dry mass of the Apollo Lunar Module — touching down near the Moon’s south pole showed exhaust takes only a few hours to disperse around the entire Moon. From 30% to 40% of the vapor persisted in the lunar atmosphere and surface two months later, and roughly 20% would ultimately freeze out near the poles a few months after that.

Read more at: scitechdaily

Four Down, Four to Go: Artemis I Rocket Moves Closer to Hot Fire Test

The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage for the Artemis I lunar mission has successfully completed its first four Green Run tests and is building on those tests for the next phase of checkout as engineers require more capability of the hardware before hot-firing the stage and its four powerful engines.Green Run is a demanding series of eight tests and nearly 30 firsts: first loading of the propellant tanks, first flow through the propellant feed systems, first firing of all four engines, and first exposure of the stage to the vibrations and temperatures of launch.

Read more at: NASA

NASA Sets Late October Launch Date For First Operational Crew Dragon Mission

NASA announced Aug. 14 that the first operational SpaceX commercial crew mission to the International Space Station will launch in late October, a delay to accommodate other spacecraft flying to the station.

The agency said it has set a date of no earlier than Oct. 23 for the Crew-1 launch, which will send three NASA astronauts and one astronaut from the Japanese space agency JAXA on a Crew Dragon spacecraft to the ISS for a six-month mission.

Read more at: Spacenews

SpaceX Launches 58 Starlink Satellites And 3 Skysats, Sticks Rocket Landing

SpaceX successfully launched a new Starlink rideshare mission into orbit today (Aug. 18), lofting a bevy of Starlink internet satellites along with three small Earth-observation satellites before sticking a rocket landing at sea.

The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carrying 58 SpaceX Starlink satellites, and a trio of small SkySat satellites for the California-based imaging company, Planet, lifted off at 10:31 a.m. EDT (1431 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

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ISS Crew Looks For Source Of Small Cabin Air Leak: NASA

Three crew members on board the International Space Station will spend the weekend in the vessel’s Russian segment while they search for the source of a cabin air leak, NASA and Russian space agency Roscosmos said on Thursday.

“In September 2019, NASA and its international partners first saw indications of a slight increase above the standard cabin air leak rate,” NASA said in a statement.

It said the crew, composed of NASA’s Chris Cassidy and Russia’s Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin, would close the station’s hatches this weekend to monitor air pressure and find the source of the leak.

Read more at: Reuters


Rocket Lab Aims To Recover Electron Booster On Upcoming Flight

Rocket Lab is gearing up to take a big step toward rocket reusability.

The California-based company plans to recover and inspect the first stage of its two-stage Electron booster during a mission later this year, Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said earlier this month.

Rocket Lab has earmarked Electron’s 17th launch for this milestone, which isn’t too far off. The most recent Electron launch, dubbed “Pics Or It Didn’t Happen,” was the booster’s 13th mission.

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First Rocket Launch in Iceland in Fifty Years

Iceland had its first rocket launch in fifty years this weekend, RÚV reports. Space Iceland, an organization that seeks to “foster the creation of a National Space Plan” successfully fired off a rocket from Langanes peninsula in Northeast Iceland on Saturday.

The rocket was launched in two parts, or stages, in front of a crowd of onlookers. The first stage launch reached a height of six kilometres, the second, a height of 30 kilometres. Both parts landed in the sea, not far from shore, and were easily retrieved by Search and Rescue volunteers, thanks to GPS equipment inside each piece.

Read more at: Iceland review

DLR Spinoff Hyimpulse Plans Small Launcher Debut In 2022

A startup formed by rocket engineers from the German space agency DLR is targeting late 2022 for the first flight of a small launch vehicle designed around hybrid engines.

HyImpulse is developing a three-stage rocket capable of sending 500 kilograms to a 400-kilometer low Earth orbit. The 40-person company is bankrolled by Rudolf Schwarz, chairman of German technology company IABG, and has a 2.5 million-euro ($3 million) grant from the European Commission to advance its launcher technology, Christian Schmierer HyImpulse co-CEO, said in an interview.

Read more at: Spacenews

Sierra Nevada Makes Progress on LIFE Inflatable Habitat for Lunar, Mars Missions

Sierra Nevada Corp. continues to press ahead with its Large Inflatable Fabric Environment (LIFE) Habitat for potential use on the lunar surface—including as part of the recent Human Landing System (HLS) crew cabin contract awards—and as an integral element of a future Mars transportation vehicle, which may be tested later this decade at the Lunar Gateway.

Under the language of Phase 3 of NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP-2) Appendix A, SNC will continue to work through the remainder of 2020 on reducing risks and enhancing the technical maturity of its habitat concept to reach System Definition Review (SDR) level.

Read more at: Americaspace

Skyroot Aerospace First Private Company To Test Upper Stage Rocket Engine

Spacetech startup Skyroot Aerospace has successfully test fired an upper stage rocket engine, becoming the first Indian private company to demonstrate the capability to build a homegrown rocket engine.

Meanwhile, the company is planning to raise around Rs 90 crore.

Founded by Pawan Kumar Chandana and Naga Bharath Daka, both former scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), Skyroot plans to build a family of rockets.

Read more at: Business standard

Firefly Aims To Debut Its Alpha Rocket For Small Satellites This Fall

Firefly Aerospace’s advanced rocket for small satellites should be ready to launch for the first time this fall, company representatives said.

The two-stage rocket, known as Alpha, was originally scheduled to debut in early 2020. But the coronavirus pandemic intervened and delayed things at Firefly, as well as at other space companies around the world. Some suppliers had to delay shipments, and work slowed due to necessary physical distancing measures.

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Not Everyone Is Thrilled About Proposed Rocket Launch Site In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Mary Little had just finished making a batch of thimbleberry jam, and she had a few things to say about a proposed vertical rocket launch site in the wilds of the Upper Peninsula.

“Anything that close to Lake Superior is concerning. It should be concerning to everybody, and fuels and heat and water usage … anybody who cares about this lake should be concerned about this,” said Little, 69, who moved to the area from downstate in 1976.

Read more at: freep

Altius Space Machines To Support On-Orbit Servicing For The Dynetics Human Landing System

Voyager Space Holdings, Inc. (Voyager), a global leader in integrated space services, has announced that its subsidiary, Altius Space Machines, Inc. (Altius), was selected as a subcontractor to Dynetics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leidos, to support the development of a human landing system for NASA’s Artemis program. With Altius support, Dynetics aims to enable the Artemis program that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.

Leveraging its deep expertise in space robotics, Altius develops on-orbit servicing technology, specializing in on-orbit assembly and manufacturing, orbital rendezvous and capture robotics, as well as in-space refueling.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Private Space Industrialization is Here

The universal glee that surrounded the launch of the crewed Dragon spacecraft made it easy to overlook that the Falcon rocket’s red glare marked the advent of a new era — that of private space industrialization. For the first time in human history, we are not merely exploring a new landmass. We, as a biological species, are advancing to a new element — the cosmos.

The whole history of humanity is the story of our struggle with space and time. Mastering new horizons, moving ever farther; driven by the desire for a better life or for profit, out of fear or out of sheer curiosity, people found ever faster, easier, cheaper and safer ways to conquer the space between here and there.

Read more at: Techcrunch

Trump Administration Urges More Commercial Activities In Space

The Trump administration has taken another small step towards its larger leap to commercialize space laboratory activities, even as NASA struggles to put current commercialization plans into place.A new White House memo released Friday (Aug. 14) said that low Earth orbit research “on new platforms” — commercial facilities that could succeed the International Space Station — should be a priority. It was published as part of the yearly joint initiative to figure out budget priorities in research and development, between the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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Full Approval Granted For Spaceport In The Scottish Highlands

The £17.3 million plan to launch satellites from the A’ Mhòine peninsula in Sutherland “represents a significant step forward,” according to Innovation Minister Ivan McKee.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has approved the budget to develop Space Hub Sutherland, which includes funding from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the UK Space Agency.

Final approval was granted by the Highlands Council today after the Scottish Government said the proposals do not require a decision at a national level on August 3.

Read more at: National


NASA Watches As Weird ‘Dent’ In Earth’s Magnetic Field Splits In Two

There’s something very strange happening high above South America and the nearby Atlantic Ocean, and NASA is on the case.

Meet the South Atlantic Anomaly, a strange dent in Earth’s magnetic field that is growing and splitting. It’s been there for decades, but over time the anomaly has slowly changed. Although you’d never notice anything was wrong from the ground, for satellites, changes to the magnetic field that envelopes Earth can be a big deal — hence NASA’s interest in the anomaly and its activities.

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A Car-Sized Asteroid Made The Closest Earth Flyby A Space Rock Has Ever Survived

A newly discovered car-sized asteroid just made the closest-known flyby to Earth without hitting our planet.

On Sunday (Aug. 16), the asteroid, initially labeled ZTF0DxQ and now formally known to astronomers as 2020 QG, swooped by Earth at a mere 1,830 miles (2,950 kilometers) away. That gives 2020 QG the title of closest asteroid flyby ever recorded that didn’t end with the space rock’s demise. It’s the closest known, non-impacting asteroid, NASA officials told

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Moving Forward With Satellite Servicing Standards

Satellite servicing is going from the realm of, I wish we could do this, to becoming a reality. That reality includes creating satellite servicing standards.

Today on the SpaceQ podcast we’re starting our annual Summer Series with a podcast on satellite servicing standards.

Tomorrow will see the first launch of a communication satellite with a satellite Mission Extension Vehicle attached to it. The customer is Intelsat and the Mission Extension Vehicle, known as MEV, is built by Northrop Grumman. An MEV has previously flown as a separate demonstration mission.

Read more at: SpaceQ

A Method Has Been Developed To Study Extreme Space Weather Events

Scientists at Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), together with colleagues from the Karl-Franzens University of Graz & the Kanzelhöhe Observatory (Austria), Jet Propulsion Laboratory of California Institute of Technology (USA), Helioresearch (USA) and Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Russia) developed a method to study fast Coronal Mass Ejections, powerful ejections of magnetized matter from the outer atmosphere of the Sun. The results can help to better understand and predict the most extreme space weather events and their potential to cause strong geomagnetic storms that directly affect the operation of engineering systems in space and on Earth.

Read more at: Skoltech

An Unusual Meteorite, More Valuable Than Gold, May Hold The Building Blocks Of Life

As the fiery emissary streaked across the skies of Costa Rica, an unearthly mix of orange and green, Marcia Campos Muñoz was in her pajamas, watching TV on the couch. It was 23 April 2019, a bit past 9 p.m., when she heard a foreboding rumble. Heart racing, she tiptoed outside to calm her barking dog, Perry, and to check on the cow pastures ringing her small house in Aguas Zarcas, a village carved out of Costa Rica’s tropical rainforest. Nothing. She ducked back inside, just before a blast on the back terrace rattled the house to its bones.

Read more at: Sciencemag

Amazon’s Project Kuiper is More Than the Company’s Response to SpaceX

Amazon cleared an important hurdle when the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced on 30 July that the company was authorized to deploy and operate its Kuiper satellite constellation. The authorization came with the caveat that Amazon would still have to demonstrate that Kuiper would not interfere with previously authorized satellite projects, such as SpaceX’s Starlink.

Read more at: IEEE Spectrum

Northrop Grumman Just Launched Its Second Satellite Rescue Mission

On Saturday, a Northrop Grumman spacecraft, designed to give a dying satellite a new lease on life, launched into space. Its objective is to latch onto an aging satellite that’s been in space for 16 years and prolong the old robot’s life in orbit by giving it a new set of engines and fuel.

The spacecraft is named MEV-2, for Mission Extension Vehicle 2. MEV-2’s predecessor was the groundbreaking MEV-1 satellite, which launched in October 2019. MEV-1 made history in February when it successfully grabbed hold of another satellite already in orbit, marking the first time that two commercial satellites had docked in space.

Read more at: Verge

Companies Are Flying Old Satellites Longer, Study Finds

Nearly a third of commercial geostationary communications satellites in orbit are operating beyond their design lives, a far higher figure than in previous years, according to a study.

Research firm TelAstra of Los Angeles found that in 2020, some 31% of commercial geostationary comsats remained in service past their expected retirement, more than double the number of satellites putting in extra time in 2009.

Read more at: Spacenews

Report Endorses Giving Commerce Department Responsibility For Space Traffic Management

A report commissioned by Congress agreed with the administration that the Commerce Department is the best agency to handle civil space traffic management (STM) responsibilities.

The report by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), published Aug. 20, was requested by Congress in fiscal year 2020 appropriations legislation. Some members were skeptical that the department, specifically its Office of Space Commerce (OSC), was the right agency to handle space traffic management, as directed by the White House in Space Policy Directive (SPD) 3 in 2018.

Read more at: Spacenews

Research Team Develops The First Physics-Based Method For Predicting Large Solar Flares

Solar flares emit sudden, strong bursts of electromagnetic radiation from the Sun’s surface and its atmosphere, and eject plasma and energetic particles into inter-planetary space. Since large solar flares can cause severe space weather disturbances affecting Earth, to mitigate their impact their occurrence needs to be predicted. However, as the onset mechanism of solar flares is unclear, most flare prediction methods so far have relied on empirical methods.

Read more at: Nagoya university

Managing Space Traffic in an Increasingly Congested Orbit

The nation recently watched an historic event when SpaceX, a private “New Space” commercial company in the business of launching and managing assets in orbit, successfully returned astronauts to Earth. The mission launch, however, had not gone as smoothly, as overcast weather forced SpaceX to reschedule, but not just to the next clear day.

Instead, the next available date was determined by two key factors: the physics of efficiently reaching the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral and, importantly, conducting a preflight analysis to ensure there were no conjunctions–a close approach of two or more space objects that might result in a collision­–for the Crew Dragon on its ascent to dock with the space station.

Read more at: govexec

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