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.

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NASA Forced To Pause Work On SpaceX’s Moon Landing System Until Jeff Bezos’ Lawsuit Reviewed

NASA has temporarily stopped work on the development of its new lunar landing system, after Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin sued the US government over the decision to award the contract for the project to SpaceX.

The space agency said it had agreed to pause the project until November pending the outcome of the claim, which was filed with the US Federal Claims Court earlier this week.

Blue Origin alleges that NASA unfairly awarded a single $2.9 billion contract for the lunar lander to SpaceX, and is asking for the process to be rerun to give Bezos’ space company the chance to develop its own system.

Read more at: Unilad

Exclusive: Pentagon Poised To Unveil, Demonstrate Classified Space Weapon

For months, top officials at the Defense Department have been working toward declassifying the existence of a secret space weapon program and providing a real-world demonstration of its capabilities, Breaking Defense has learned.

The effort — which sources say is being championed by Gen. John Hyten, the vice-chairman of the joint chiefs of staff — is close enough to completion that there was a belief the anti-satellite technology might have been revealed at this year’s National Space Symposium, which kicks off next week.

Read more at: Breaking defense

Chinese Astronauts Conduct Second Space Walk Outside New Space Station Module

The China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) says two of the three crew members on board the Chinese space station module Tianhe have conducted their second spacewalk since the crew arrived there in June.

Chinese state television broadcast the six-hour spacewalk live, showing astronauts Nie Haisheng and Liu Boming hard at work fixing a robotic arm, installing thermal control equipment and adjusting a camera.

The third astronaut, Tang Hongbo, carried out the team’s first spacewalk July 4, and he assisted Friday’s event from inside the module’s control room. The spacewalk was the third ever in China’s space program.

Read more at: voanews

Vibration Tests For Moon Rocket Help Ensure Safe Travels On Road To Space

Driving down a bumpy gravel road, even an off-road vehicle experiences bumps and vibrations, partly because of the car’s natural frequency. An object’s natural frequency is the frequency or rate that it vibrates naturally when struck. When forces like speed and the smoothness of the road are just right, the car will vibrate in tune with that same frequency.

Rockets flying through the atmosphere to space, including NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), are no different. They have natural frequencies and experience dynamic forces during launch and ascent. Understanding those frequencies and what they look like is critical to steering SLS and the Orion spacecraft safely through the atmospheric “road” to space.

Read more at: Spacedaily


Engineer Studies Net-Shooting Robots That Corral Space Debris

University at Buffalo researcher Eleonora Botta studies how to prevent space debris from crashing into each other or from falling uncontrollably down to Earth.

An assistant professor of aerospace engineering, she was recently awarded a $175,000 National Science Foundation grant to examine how to best utilize robot tether systems to corral some of the 27,000 pieces of debris that NASA tracks. Many of these space-cleaning-systems call for using nets – imagine a satellite shooting a web, like Spiderman – to capture and control debris.

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Only Slight Chance Of Asteroid Bennu Hitting Earth: NASA

An asteroid known as Bennu will pass within half the distance of the Earth to the Moon in the year 2135 but the probability of an impact with our planet in the coming centuries is very slight, scientists said Wednesday.

OSIRIS-REx, a NASA spacecraft, spent two years near Bennu, an asteroid that is about 1,650 feet (500 meters) wide, observing its size, shape, mass and composition and monitoring its orbital trajectory around the sun.

Using its robotic arm, the spacecraft also collected a sample from the surface of the asteroid that will help researchers determine the future trajectory of Bennu.

Read more at: Spacedaily

SpaceX Starlink Satellites Responsible For Over Half Of Close Encounters In Orbit, Scientist Says

Operators of satellite constellations are constantly forced to move their satellites because of encounters with other spacecraft and pieces of space junk. And, thanks to SpaceX’s Starlink satellites, the number of such dangerous approaches will continue to grow, according to estimates based on available data.

SpaceX’s Starlink satellites alone are involved in about 1,600 close encounters between two spacecraft every week, that’s about 50 % of all such incidents, according to Hugh Lewis, the head of the Astronautics Research Group at the University of Southampton, U.K. These encounters include situations when two spacecraft pass within a distance of 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) from each other.

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Musk Says Starship Orbital Stack To Be Ready For Flight In Few Weeks

SpaceX founder Elon Musk said on Saturday the first orbital stack of the Starship rocket should be ready for flight in the coming weeks, taking the unorthodox billionaire a step closer to his dream of orbital and then interplanetary travel.

SpaceX in May successfully landed its Starship prototype, SN15, a reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle that could eventually carry astronauts and large cargo payloads to the moon and Mars. 

The touchdown came after four prototype landing attempts had ended in explosions.

Read more at: Reuters

Elon Musk says SpaceX’s Orbital Starship Debut Headed for FAA Faceoff in a Few Weeks

CEO Elon Musk says that SpaceX’s first completed Starship rocket could be ready for its orbital launch debut just “a few weeks” from now – far sooner than most expected.

On August 6th, SpaceX very stacked that same vehicle – Starship 20 (S20) and Super Heavy Booster 4 (B4) – to its full height for the first time ever, briefly creating the largest rocket ever assembled. However, the feat was equally a symbolic photo opportunity. SpaceX did install an unprecedented number of Raptor engines on Booster 4 and Ship 20 in a spectacularly short timeframe and both stages are technically meant for flight, but Starship S20 was demated less than an hour later and shipped back to the factory shortly thereafter.

Read more at: Teslarati

Firefly Aerospace Conducts Successful Static Fire Test, Reveals Launch Date

A new rocket passed a key milestone with a successful test at Vandenberg Space Force Base this week en route to its maiden launch in two weeks. Firefly Aerospace announced on Thursday that the firm had performed a static fire test of the Alpha launch vehicle, which stands 95 feet tall, at Space Launch Complex 2. “The fully-fueled, flight-ready vehicle fired its first stage engines for 15 seconds,” Firefly announced on Twitter. A video posted online shows the static fire test with one crew member saying, “Burn, baby, burn.” Another crew member asked for the “plus count,” leading to someone else to report the tally “14, 15.”

Read more at: noozhawk

Astra Given Regulatory Green Light for its First Commercial Orbital Launch at the End of the Month

Rocket launch startup Astra has received a key license from the Federal Aviation Administration, giving the green light for the company’s first commercial orbital launch at the end of the month.

Astra CEO Chris Kemp tweeted the news on Thursday, adding that the launch operator license through the FAA is valid through 2026. The new license is a modification of the company’s previous launch license and applicable to the current version of the company’s rocket, a company spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Read more at: Techcrunch

Judge Rules Sutherland Spaceport Project Can Go Ahead

SPACE Hub Sutherland, the world’s first carbon-neutral spaceport on A’ Mhoine peninsula, has been given the go-ahead by Lord Doherty after he ruled in a judicial review instigated by Danish ASOS billionaire Anders Povlsen.

It is now hoped the inaugural space flight from land on the Melness Crofters’ Estate could happen late next year.

In a 30-page decision, in which he said “none of the grounds of challenge is well founded”, the judge rejected every one brought by Wildland to block the development.

Read more at: National

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