NASA Asks Industry For Input On ISS Deorbit Capabilities

NASA is requesting information from industry on its capabilities and interest in developing a spacecraft that would deorbit the International Space Station at the end of its life.

NASA issued the request for information (RFI) late Aug. 19, asking companies to supply information about how they could develop a spacecraft that would be used to perform the final reentry maneuvers at the end of the station’s life, pushing it into the atmosphere to break up over the South Pacific Ocean.

Read more at: Spacenews

Europe Is Seriously Considering A Major Investment In Space-Based Solar Power

Europe is seriously considering developing space-based solar power to increase its energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the leader of the European Space Agency said this week.

“It will be up to Europe, ESA and its Member States to push the envelope of technology to solve one of the most pressing problems for people on Earth of this generation,” said Josef Aschbacher, director general of the space agency, an intergovernmental organization of 22 member states.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Russia Unveils Plans For Space Station to Rival ISS After Leaving Program

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, has announced plans for a new space station in the wake of Moscow pulling out of the International Space Station (ISS).

According to state-affiliated news agency Tass, Roskosmos’s Energia Rocket and Space Corporation unveiled a model of a Russian orbital station at the Army-2022 forum, which included multiple research modules, a service platform, and a docked prospective Oryol spacecraft.

Read more at: Newsweek

NASA to Announce Candidate Landing Regions for Artemis III Moon Mission

NASA will hold a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 19, to announce regions near the lunar South Pole the agency has identified as potential areas for astronauts to land as part of the Artemis III mission, targeted for 2025. This will be the first time astronauts will set foot on the Moon since NASA’s Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

Audio of the briefing will livestream on NASA’s website.

Read more at: NASA


‘Cannibal’ Coronal Mass Ejection From ‘Dark Plasma Plume’ Will Slam Into Earth Tomorrow (Aug. 18)

A plume of “dark plasma” hurled from the sun will be engulfed to form a “cannibal” coronal mass ejection which will sideswipe the Earth on Thursday (Aug. 18), causing a strong G3 geomagnetic storm.

The “dark plasma explosion” was first spotted by solar observers on Sunday (Aug. 14) as it erupted from a sunspot on the sun’s surface at a speed of roughly 1.3 million mph (2.1 million km/h), tearing “through the sun’s atmosphere, creating a coronal mass ejection (CME),” or explosive jets of solar material, wrote in an update (opens in new tab). Then, on Monday (Aug. 15), another CME, created by the collapse of a gigantic magnetic filament, was launched from the sun.

Read more at: Livescience

Pulsed Light Technology Effectively Kills Harmful Pathogens In New Study

A light-based, food sanitization technique successfully eliminated multiple harmful pathogens in a new study carried out by Penn State researchers.

The pulsed light technique shows promise as an effective alternative to the chemical, heat and water-based antimicrobial technologies commonly used in the food industry—and could be applicable more generally in sanitized environments such as hospitals, water treatment facilities and pharmaceutical plants, according to the researchers.

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Northern Lights May Be Visible As Low As Iowa, Thanks To G3 Geomagnetic Storm

Calling all northerners and Midwesterners! There’s a potential for a particularly spectacular light show in the night sky in the next few days after multiple coronal mass ejections (CME) produced by the sun on August 14 head toward Earth.  

A category G3 geomagnetic storm watch was predicted for August 18 which is considered a moderate storm, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

Read more at: Fox9

Hackers Took Over a Commercial Satellite to Broadcast Hacker Movies

A group of hackers was able to take control of a decommissioned satellite and use it to stream a hacking conference’s talks and hacker movies. 

On Saturday, at the DEF CON hacking conference in Las Vegas, Karl Koscher, one of the members of a hacking enthusiasts group called Shadytel, explained how he and his friends were able to legally stream from a satellite in geostationary orbit—35,786 km or 22,236 miles from the surface of the planet. 

Read more at: vice

Mars Astronauts Would Get Horrifying Dose of Radiation, Study Finds

So, uh, there might be a serious wrench in Elon Musk’s plans to colonize Mars. According to an alarming — though yet-to-be-peer-reviewed — new study, astronauts who underwent a crewed mission to the Red Planet would likely face devastating levels of radiation — even when wearing protective metal shields.

In order to realistically examine how much cumulative radiation the astronauts would face, the scientists based their research on a 1,000-day crewed mission — 600 days of travel time, 400 days on the Martian surface — to our neighboring planet.

Read more at: futurism

Floating in Space Might Seem Exciting, but It Has Serious Consequences

Have you ever wondered whether you have anything in common with an astronaut? It turns out that there are 206 of them – your bones. A study on bone loss in astronauts and the crucial issue of whether bone can be regained after returning to Earth focuses on these parts of our bodies.

Dr. Steven Boyd, Ph.D., director of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health and professor at the Cumming School of Medicine, launched the TBone study in 2015. In order to determine if bone recovers after “long-duration” spaceflight, the researchers monitored 17 astronauts before and after spaceflight over the course of seven years. The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Read more at: scitechdaily

Spacesuit Power Problem Cuts Russian Spacewalk Short Outside Space Station

A Russian spacewalk outside the International Space Station was cut short Wednesday (Aug. 17) after a cosmonaut experienced an electrical problem with his spacesuit.

Moscow Mission Control ordered Expedition 67 commander Oleg Artemyev back to the airlock after he reported a voltage fluctuation in the battery power for his Orlan spacesuit. 

“Drop everything and start going back right away!” Vladimir Solovyov, a former cosmonaut and the flight director for the space station’s Russian segment, radioed to Artemyev during the spacewalk. “Oleg, go back and connect to station power.”

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Intelsat Working To Regain Control Of Galaxy 15 Satellite

Intelsat said Aug. 19 it has lost control of its Galaxy 15 broadcast satellite after it was likely hit by a geomagnetic storm.

High space weather activity likely knocked out onboard electronics needed to communicate with the satellite, Intelsat said, and keep it locked in its geostationary orbit slot at 133 degrees West.

“The satellite is otherwise operating nominally, keeping earth pointing with all payload operations nominal,” Intelsat spokesperson Melissa Longo said.

Read more at: Spacenews

Spacex’s Giant Starship Rocket To Launch Japanese Satellite In 2024

Another customer has signed up to use SpaceX’s giant Starship rocket.

Sky Perfect JSat has chosen Starship to launch its Superbird-9 communications satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit in 2024, the Japanese company announced Thursday (Aug. 18). Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Starship is SpaceX’s next-generation transportation system, which the company believes will make Mars colonization and other ambitious exploration feats economically feasible. The vehicle consists of a huge first-stage booster called Super Heavy and a 165-foot-tall (50 meters) upper-stage spacecraft known as Starship.

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Software-Defined Satellite Enters Commercial Service

Satellite operator Eutelsat has sold six of its eight beams – used for data and mobile communications – to organisations including governments and other users. It is expected that the entire satellite capacity will be sold in the coming months.

The satellite – called Eutelsat Quantum – was launched on 30 July 2021 by an Ariane 5 from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana.

The satellite offers unprecedented mission reconfiguration capacity. Its beams can be reshaped and redirected to provide information to people on moving planes, trucks and cars in close to real time.

Read more at: ESA

Op-ed | Taking the Number 8 Wire Mindset to Space: New Zealand’s Approach to the Space Economy

There is a Maori proverb: We are all in this canoe together. It’s a fitting saying for New Zealand. Thousands of miles from the nearest continent and at the edge of the yawning Pacific Ocean, the island nation embraces a certain self-reliance, expressed locally as a “Number 8 wire” mentality. It is a reference to the steel wire that was once used widely on farms but was also used creatively to make or keep up any number of things, leading to a broader can-do ethos of innovating solutions with whatever tools are on hand. It is this culture of sharing the canoe and cutting one’s own path that shaped New Zealand’s space story in unique ways. Indeed, no other country does space quite like New Zealand.

Read more at: Spacenews

New Rockets From ABL, Firefly And Relativity Are Ready To Rumble

Most of the enthusiasm about small launch vehicles has focused on the very smallest ones, those capable of placing a few hundred, and in some cases just a few dozen, kilograms into low Earth orbit. Some of them have been quite successful, like Rocket Lab’s Electron, which has launched five times in the first seven months of the year. Others, less so: Astra’s Rocket 3 has failed in five of its seven orbital launch attempts, including its most recent launch in June with two NASA Earth science cubesats on board.

Read more at: Spacenews


NASA Spends $50 Million to Develop Next-Gen Processor for Space Exploration

NASA has been using the same spaceflight computers for almost 30 years, but it won’t be much longer. The agency has awarded a $50 million contract to Arizona-based Microchip Technology Inc. to “architect, design, and deliver” a next-generation space-optimized processor. NASA expects the new chip, which will be used in future lunar and planetary missions, will be 100 times faster than the chips currently in use. 

Read more at: Extreme tech

Inside NASA’s Mission to Snatch Pieces of Mars and Bring Them Back to Earth

Since it landed on Mars in 2021, NASA’s Perseverance Rover has been pottering around the red planet, doing what Dad does at Costco: quietly hoovering up samples. And just like Dad does with those tasters of jumbo shrimp, Perseverance is already preparing to get those samples home. It is part of the Mars Sample Return Program, a years-long mission between NASA and the European Space Agency that will bring to Earth the first-ever specimens of rock and dust collected from the Martian surface, as well as (hopefully) a vial of Martian atmosphere. The goal is to bring the samples back by 2033, with many interim steps along the way

Read more at: CNET

Vulcan Centaur Rocket: The Space Workhorse Of Tomorrow

The Vulcan Centaur rocket — due to launch in late 2022 — is a new methane-fueled rocket from one of America’s most experienced space launch operators, United Launch Alliance (ULA). The Vulcan Centaur rocket will join ULA’s well-established workhorses Atlas V and Delta IV in launching payloads into space.  

As with its predecessors, this will be able to launch satellites into a variety of orbits, including geosynchronous ones, for NASA and other U.S. government customers. But it’s hoped that the new rocket will be able to do this more cheaply, thanks to an initiative the company refers to as SMART — for “Sensible, Modular, Autonomous Return Technology”.

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China Prepares To Launch Yet Another New Solid Rocket, The Smart Dragon 3

China is continuing to boost its options for launching small satellites with a new rocket called the Smart Dragon 3, which is expected to fly for the first time soon.

Smart Dragon 3, also known as Jielong 3, last week successfully passed payload fairing separation tests and has now entered the flight test phase for its first mission, according to its developer (opens in new tab), China Rocket Co. Ltd.

Smart Dragon 3 will be capable of sending 3,300 pounds (1,500 kilograms) of payload to a 310-mile-high (500 kilometers) sun-synchronous orbit.

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Artemis I Will Get 3 Launch Attempts After Termination System Extension Agreed

NASA’s huge Space Launch System (SLS) will get its three launch attempts in the coming weeks after officials approved an extension to validation of the Flight Termination System from 20 to 25 days.

Depending on when it launches, the mission could last anywhere from four to six weeks during which the spacecraft will be placed into orbit around the Moon before returning to Earth and a splashdown off the coast of California.

At present, NASA is aiming to launch Artemis I on August 29. It has backup attempts available on September 2 and 5.

Read more at: Register

Plasma Reactors Could Create Oxygen On Mars

Last year, NASA achieved something science fiction writers have been dreaming about for decades: It created oxygen on Mars. A microwave-size device attached to the agency’s Perseverance rover converted carbon dioxide into 10 minutes of breathable oxygen. Now, physicists say they’ve come up with a way to use electron beams in a plasma reactor to create far more oxygen, potentially in a smaller package.

Read more at: Science

China’s Spaceplane Remains In Orbit But Clues Emerge From Recovered Launch Debris

A Chinese reusable experimental spacecraft remains in orbit nearly two weeks after launch, despite passing directly over its expected landing site early Monday.

The “reusable experiment spacecraft” launched from Jiuquan in the Gobi Desert atop of a Long March 2F rocket Aug. 4 and has remained in 346 by 593 kilometer orbit inclined by 50 degrees since launch, according to tracking by the U.S. Space Force’s 18th Space Defense Squadron (18 SDS).

Read more at: Spacenews

The Airbus Zephyr Comes Crashing Down In Arizona

On August 19th, the infamous solar-powered drone Zephyr was lost over Arizona, following an extended flight that had lasted for 64 days straight. It came within hours of breaking the record for the longest flight in history. Despite the aircraft being lost, the developers and the US Army gathered critical data from the aircraft during its flight, which will help the military further its high-altitude operational goals.

On August 19th, ground controllers directing the Airbus drone Zephyr lost contact with the vessel. The Airbus Defense and Space team had previously flown the drone on several long-distance flights, many of which lasted over two weeks. This flight had lasted for more than 64 days.

Read more at: simpleflying


Seeking Regulatory Mercy: The Case For Extending Constellation Deployment Deadlines

When international regulators adopted deployment milestones in late 2019 to rein in a flood of proposed satellite constellations, they could not have foreseen the havoc a pandemic was about to wreak across the industry.

COVID-19 jammed up satellite manufacturing supply chains, disrupted workforces and shook financial markets, piling on extra burdens and delays for satellite projects.

Even as the pandemic loosens its grip on the industry two-and-a-half years later, space companies face fierce macroeconomic headwinds and a looming launch capacity crunch.

Read more at: Spacenews

New Development Is Extremely Bad News for SpaceX

SpaceX could be in deep trouble. The Federal Communications Commission announced this week that Elon Musk’s space venture won’t receive almost $900 million in promised subsidies for its Starlink satellite internet business after all — a substantial setback that couldn’t have come at a worse time for the billionaire entrepreneur.

Read more at: Futurism

‘Soon Government Will Release India’s Space Policy With Focus On Private Sector Participation’

Two-and-a-half years ago, when Lieutenant General (retd) A K Bhatt retired as the Military Secretary in the army, he had made up his mind that his next frontier was space. Just about a year later, he became the first Director General of the new Indian Space Association (ISpA) formed in October 2021. He had previously served a year as the commander of the Srinagar-based XV Corps and was the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) at the time of the India-China Doklam stand-off.

Read more at: Newindian express


Op-Ed | Why A ‘Hybrid’ Space Architecture Makes Sense For Economic And National Security

Policy makers are right to expect the national security establishment to find ways to fully leverage the innovations and investment in commercial space capabilities like launch and imagery.  

But far less obvious and yet more profound is a very real revolution that is well underway: the wholesale overhaul of our national security space architecture into a “hybrid” design that effectively integrates the best of commercial and government investments.  

Read more at: Spacenews

Space Force Wargame Challenges Satellite Operators To Think Critically

As satellites become military targets, the U.S. Space Force is training its operators to think on their feet, said officials who participated in a two-week exercise focused on space operations.

“The threats have grown in both scope and complexity over the years,” said Lt. Col. Albert Harris, commander of the Space Training and Readiness Command’s 392nd Combat Training Squadron. 

Read more at: Spacenews

As DoD Shifts To Smaller Satellites, Rideshare Questions Emerge

The Space Development Agency, a defense organization building a mesh network of satellites in low Earth orbit, plans to start launching payloads this fall, and by 2024 as many as 176 spacecraft will be ready to go to orbit.

SDA’s constellation  will be launched by National Security Space Launch providers SpaceX and United Launch Alliance, and Space Force officials said they would be ready to support SDA launches. However, these will not be traditional NSSL missions that fly a large primary satellite and occasionally a smallsat rideshare payload. SDA’s smaller satellites are expected to launch in batches of between 14 to 21 spacecraft in a single rocket.

Read more at: Spacenews

Commercial Geospatial Technologies That Detect GPS Disruptions To Be Tested In Military Exercises

U.S. military and allied forces in upcoming exercises will put to the test commercial technologies that could help detect GPS jamming or other activities that disrupt satellite-based navigation.  

The project is led by the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), a Pentagon organization focused on commercial technology. DIU is working with vendors to develop prototype systems that use data from satellites and other sources, artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to locate intentional interference to GNSS signals. 

Read more at: Spacenews

Ukraine Gains Enhanced Access To Iceye Imagery And Data

Within weeks, Iceye will transfer the full capability of one synthetic aperture radar satellite collecting imagery and data over Ukraine plus access to other satellites in its constellation to the Ukrainian government under a contract with a charitable organization.

Iceye announced an agreement Aug. 18 with the Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation, an organization established by a Ukrainian actor to provide drones, armored vehicles and humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian Armed Forces in response to the Russian invasion.

Read more at: Spacenews


Scientists Discover A 5-Mile Wide Undersea Crater Created As The Dinosaurs Disappeared

An asteroid from space slammed into the Earth’s surface 66 million years ago, leaving a massive crater underneath the sea and wreaking havoc with the planet.

No, it’s not that asteroid, the one that doomed the dinosaurs to extinction, but a previously unknown crater 248 miles off the coast of West Africa that was created right around the same time. Further study of the Nadir crater, as it’s called, could shake up what we know about that cataclysmic moment in natural history.

Read more at: CNN

From Early Satellites to Moon Mission And Future Human Spaceflight, How ISRO Has Shaped India’s Space Programme

In the years since Independence, India has made major strides in its space programme, spearheaded by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). From its earliest satellites to upcoming missions, we look at the evolution of ISRO and its space programme.

Space research activities were initiated in India during the early 1960s. In 1962, the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was set up under the Department of Atomic Energy, to spearhead space research activities.

Read more at: ABPlive

‘STEVE’ Descends On North America After Surprise Solar Storm

In the dark of Sunday night and Monday morning (Aug. 7 and 8), a surprise solar storm slammed into Earth, showering our planet in a rapid stream of charged particles from the sun. The resulting clash of solar and terrestrial particles in Earth’s atmosphere caused stunning auroras to appear at much lower latitudes than usual — and, in southern Canada, triggered a surprise cameo from the mysterious sky phenomenon known as STEVE.

Read more at: livescience

Scientists Discover That Cellulose-Producing Bacteria Can Survive on Mars

The possibility of kombucha cultures surviving under Martian-like environments has been studied by an international research team that includes the University of Göttingen. Kombucha, also known as tea fungus or mushroom tea, is a popular beverage that is made by fermenting sugared tea using kombucha cultures, a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.

Read more at: scitechdaily