Vega Flight VV15: Findings of the Independent Inquiry Commission’s Investigations

The Independent Inquiry Commission, tasked with analyzing the failure of Vega Flight VV15, submitted its findings on Wednesday, September 4, 2019.

Co-chaired by the Inspector General of the European Space Agency (ESA); and the Senior Vice President, Technical and Quality of Arianespace; the Commission was appointed on Thursday, July 11, 2019. According to its assigned task, after having analyzed the flight data, the Commission identified possible causes for the anomaly and drew up recommendations for Vega to resume launches under the requisite conditions of safety, security and reliability.

The Commission identified the anomaly’s most likely cause as a thermo-structural failure in the forward dome area of the Z23 motor.

Read more at: Spacenewsfeed

Safety Panel Pleased With Artemis Project But Concerned About Leadership

Members of a NASA safety panel praised the agency for moving ahead quickly with aspects of its Artemis program to return humans to the moon, but warned about perceptions of a leadership vacuum for that effort.

At a Sept. 6 meeting at the Johnson Space Center, the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) largely complemented NASA for implementing aspects of the Artemis program in recent months, from selecting companies to provide the first elements of the lunar Gateway to plans to solicit proposals for lunar landers.

Read more at: Spacenews

ISRO Receives Setback as it Loses Contact with Chandrayaan 2 Lander

Indian Space Research Organisation’s(ISRO) ambitious Chandrayaan-2 Moon landing Mission which carried a lander and rover to be placed on the Moon surface received a setback as mission control ground station at ISTRAC in the city lost control of the lander ‘Vikram’ during the last few seconds of its scheduled landing on the southern polar region of the Moon.

The landing of the rover was most eagerly awaited with Prime Minister Narendra Modi arriving at the ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) located in the city and everything went well till the last few seconds.

Read more at: uniindia

Russia’s Humanoid Robot Skybot Is On Its Way Home After A Two-Week Stay In Space

After a short stay aboard the International Space Station, Russia’s humanoid robot, Skybot F850, is on its way home, stuffed inside a Soyuz spacecraft with no crew. Skybot, originally known as FEDOR, was put through a litany of tests by the Russian cosmonaut crew during its two-week stay on the station, to see if it could help free up time for the people aboard the orbiting lab.

Skybot’s trip to the space station was also a kind of test. The robot launched alone in a passenger version of the Soyuz spacecraft atop a new kind of rocket. Soon, Russia will use this rocket to launch human crews to space, and it wanted to make sure the capsule and booster worked well together first, without people on board.

Read more at: Verge

Japanese Cargo Ship To Launch To Space Station

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) unpiloted H-II Transport Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) will launch on a Japanese H-IIB rocket on the tenth anniversary of the first HTV cargo spacecraft launch.

The spacecraft will arrive at the station Friday, Sept. 14. Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA, backed up by her NASA crewmate Andrew Morgan, will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola to capture the 12-ton spacecraft as it approaches from below. Robotics flight controllers will then take over the operation of the arm to install HTV-8 to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module where it will spend a month attached. Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will monitor HTV-8 systems during its approach to the station.

Read more at: Spacenewsfeed

Space Gets More Crowded: ESA Satellite Veers To Avoid Hitting Spacex Satellite

Three months after Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched the first set of satellites for a constellation that will eventually contain more than 1,000, another satellite operator already has had to veer to keep its spacecraft out of harm’s way.

The European Space Agency tweeted Monday that it fired the thrusters on its Earth-observation satellite Aeolus to avoid a potential collision with one of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites, which are intended to eventually provide broadband internet service to rural and semirural areas.

Read more at: LATimes

Traffic Jams From Satellite Fleets Are Imminent—What It Means for Earth

Like your local freeway, low-Earth orbit is becoming more congested each year. But unlike the highways on Earth, there aren’t many rules of the road in space, and with the number of active satellites set to increase exponentially in the coming years, experts are concerned about the risk of collisions.

On Monday, the European Space Agency (ESA) took action to prevent one such collision. The agency tweeted that it moved one of its satellites, an Earth-observing craft named Aeolus, aside in an effort to avoid a potential collision with a SpaceX Starlink satellite.

Read more at: Observer

It’s Time to Regulate Outer Space

Last week, the European Space Agency reached out to to warn Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. that one of its satellites might collide with a SpaceX communications satellite. When ESA first raised such concerns in late August, the chances of a crash were 1 in 50,000; SpaceX had said then that it didn’t think the risk was high enough to justify action. Now the odds had narrowed to 1 in 1,000. Yet ESA received no reply.

Eventually the space agency unilaterally moved its satellite out of the way when it was barely half an orbit away from SpaceX’s. Company officials later explained that they’d failed to respond because of “a bug in our on-call paging system.” In short, they’d missed the message.

Read more at: bnnbloomberg

SpaceX Says More Starlink Orbits Will Speed Service, Reduce Launch Needs

SpaceX is asking federal regulators to allow it to spread out satellites in more rings around the Earth, saying the tweak to its orbital plans could bring coverage to the southern United States in time for next year’s hurricane season.

In a filing to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, SpaceX said it wants to triple the number of orbital planes at 550 kilometers, the altitude where its lowest layer of Ku- and Ka-band Starlink satellites are to operate.

SpaceX launched its first 60 Starlink satellites May 23 on a Falcon 9 rocket. The company needs another six Starlink launches before it will have enough satellites to start partial service, but by splitting satellites into 72 rings instead of 24 as originally envisioned, Starlink will be more spread out, enabling greater launch efficiency, SpaceX said.

Read more at: Spacenews

ESA Urges Automated Satellite Collision Avoidance Systems After Aeolus/Starlink Maneuver

The European Space Agency (ESA) is urging development of automated collision avoidance systems to replace “archaic” email exchanges between satellite operators to prevent satellites from running into each other in Earth orbit.  Yesterday ESA had to maneuver its Aeolus earth science satellite to ensure it did not collide with SpaceX’s Starlink 44.  SpaceX acknowledged today that a “bug” in its on-call paging system prevented its Starlink operator from realizing the risk of collision had increased.

ESA announced yesterday that it had moved Aeolus to a higher orbit to avoid Starlink 44, the 44th of SpaceX’s first set of 60 Starlink satellites launched in May.  Three of the 60 did not work properly. SpaceX said they will “passively deorbit.”  Another two are being intentionally deorbited to simulate end-of-life disposal.  The satellite in question, Starlink 44, reportedly is one of the latter.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Europe and US Teaming Up for Asteroid Deflection

Asteroid researchers and spacecraft engineers from the US, Europe and around the world will gather in Rome next week to discuss the latest progress in their common goal: an ambitious double-spacecraft collaboration to deflect an asteroid in space, to prove the technique as a viable method of planetary defence.

This combined endeavour is known as the Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment, or AIDA for short. Its purpose is to deflect the orbit of the smaller body of the double Didymos asteroids between Earth and Mars through an impact by one spacecraft.

Read more at: ESA

NASA Turned a Blind Eye to Car-Sized Asteroid That Exploded Over Caribbean

NASA has detected but not taken measures against an asteroid that entered the Earth’s atmosphere and exploded over the Caribbean.

The space agency admitted in a statement that the rock, measuring about 5 meters in size and designated 2019 MO, was first spotted when it was about 500,000 kilometres from Earth, just before it hit the atmosphere.

Read more at: Sputnik news

The Commercialization of Low Earth Orbit Space Station Habitats – Part 1

What is the real world Low Earth Orbit (LEO) space station habitat marketplace? That’s a central question in this weeks SpaceQ podcast, the first of Season 3.

We’ve got an exciting season planned where we’ll interview the people pushing the boundaries of the space economy, making discoveries in space science, observing the Earth to better understanding our planet and manage our resources, and so much more.

Read more at: Spaceq

New Documents Reveal SpaceX’s Plans For Launching Mars-Rocket Prototypes From South Texas

New regulatory documents sent to Business Insider provide a glimpse into SpaceX’s plan to develop a disruptive new rocket system over the next two to three years.

Every day at Boca Chica – a hot, humid, narrow, and sandy strip of clay at the southernmost tip of Texas – SpaceX workers toil over the rocket company’s big project, called Starship.

Elon Musk, the company’s founder and CEO, envisions the vehicle as a shiny steel two-stage launch system that may stand nearly 400 feet tall and reduce the cost of access to space by a factor of 100 to 1,000 by having fully reusable hardware.

Read more at: Business insider

Plans For Britain’s First Spaceport In Scotland Are Running Out Of Money

Plans for Britain’s first spaceport are running out of money, the public spending watchdog has warned.

Costs for the launch facility on the A’Mhoine peninsula, Sutherland, are rising, said Audit Scotland. Its report on the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), which is leading the project, said: “Recent indications are the costs of the project are increasing, and it is not yet clear how these will be funded. HIE recognises this project is high risk and is in active discussions with key stakeholders including the Scottish government and the UK Space Agency (UKSA).”

Read more at: Times

Two Satellites Launch Aboard Chinese Kuaizhou 1A Rocket

Two experimental Chinese satellites have launched on a Kuaizhou 1A rocket from the Jiuquan space base in northwestern China.

The Kuaizhou 1A light-class launcher lifted off at 2341 GMT (7:41 p.m. EDT) on Aug. 30 from Jiuquan, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Two small satellites were aboard the Kuaizhou 1A rocket — one for the Chinese Academy of Sciences and another for the commercial smallsat builder Spacety Co. Ltd.

Read more at: Spaceflight now

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Faces First Investor Vote Of Confidence On Stock Market Listing

Sir Richard Branson’s space tourism venture Virgin Galactic faces its first test of investor confidence in a proposed stock market float tomorrow.

Would-be shareholders will vote on whether to back the entry via investment vehicle Social Capital Hedosophia (SCH), or whether to withdraw their cash entirely.

Read more at: Cityam

How Nine Days Underwater Helps Scientists Understand What Life On A Moon Base Will Be Like

As NASA prepares to return to the Moon in the next couple of years and possibly even establish bases, it needs a better understanding of how the human body performs in such an inhospitable habitat.

To that end, two astronauts, two researchers (including me) and two technicians participated in a program called NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operation (NEEMO) in which we descended 62 feet below the ocean’s surface this past June, to spend nine days living in a tiny capsule that mimics what life might be like in the tight quarters of a Moon base.

Read more at: Conversation

KULR Technology Group partners with Leidos to supply NASA with Lithium-Ion battery storage solution for International Space Station

KULR Technology Group has announced its Thermal Runaway Shield (TRS) storage solution is to be used to safely store laptop lithium-ion batteries on the International Space Station (ISS), in partnership with Leidos for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Leidos—in a $159 million, single-award cost-plus fixed-fee contract with NASA—is applying multiple technology innovations such as KULR’s Thermal Runaway Shield (TRS) to improve capabilities for cargo planning, processes and packing that provide the ISS with cost-effective solutions in a dynamic and challenging operating environment.

Read more at: Spacenewsfeed

Can Spaceflight Save the Planet?

The planet is warming, the oceans are acidifying, the Amazon is burning down, and plastic is snowing on the Arctic. Humanity’s environmental devastation is so severe, experts say, that a global-scale ecological catastrophe is already underway. Even those holding sunnier views would be hard-pressed to deny that our global footprint is presently less a light touch and more a boot stamping on Earth’s face. Against this dark background, one might ask if spending lavish sums to send humans to other worlds is a foolhardy distraction—or a cynical hedge against life’s downward spiral on this one.

Read more at: Scientific American

UN Offers Use of ESA Hypergravity Centrifuge to Researchers Worldwide

Imagine being able to increase the force of gravity simply by turning a dial. A United Nations fellowship is offering this opportunity to researchers all over the world, through access to ESA’s hypergravity-generating Large Diameter Centrifuge.

Manipulate gravity and a lot of other factors shift too: bubbles in liquid alter their behaviour, convection currents accelerate and metal alloys form in unprecedented ways. Electrical plasmas alter and test animals lose fat – even fire burns differently.

Read more at: ESA

Extraterrestrial Mineral Never Before Seen on Earth Found Inside a Famous Meteorite

A never-before-seen extraterrestrial mineral was lurking inside a meteorite found nearly 70 years ago.

According to a new study first reported by the Australian news site, The Age, the mineral doesn’t naturally occur anywhere on our planet; as such, it’s been seen only as a man-made version.

The Wedderburn meteorite was first discovered in 1951 near Wedderburn in Victoria, Australia, and is now part of the Museums Victoria collection. When it was first found, the rock was “lemon-sized” and weighed 210 grams (7.4 ounces), according to the Museums Victoria Collections.

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How Space Tourism Will Push Space Medicine to New Heights

More than 560 specially trained astronauts have flown into space since 1961. Before traveling, all were closely monitored and pushed to physical fitness by an elite crew of physicians trained in space medicine. But as billions of dollars pour into space tourism and other extraterrestrial endeavors, hundreds, if not thousands, of space travelers of various ages and physical conditions will enter the frontier above Earth’s atmosphere. The strong gravitational forces of a rocket launch followed by microgravity, cosmic radiation, isolation and other environmental factors could give rise to new medical conditions or exacerbate existing ones.

Read more at: Northrop Grumman

SpaceX Fires Up Rocket in Prep for 1st Astronaut Launch with Crew Dragon (Photo)

SpaceX has fired up the rocket that will launch the first crewed mission in the company’s history.

The company conducted a static-fire test Thursday (Aug. 29) of a Falcon 9 rocket at the SpaceX testing ground in McGregor, Texas, company representatives said. That booster will send a Crew Dragon capsule carrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS) in the near future.

Behnken and Hurley were excited to see their rocket ride strut its stuff.

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Malaysia Interested in Having Access to Russian Space Tech, Prime Minister Says

Malaysia is interested in receiving access to Russian technologies, including those in the space industry, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

Malaysia, on its part, could help Russia boost its presence in South East Asia, the prime minister added.

The Russian president, in his turn, said that Malaysia was a priority partner of Russia in Asia.

Read more at: Sputnik news

Australia Updates Commercial Launch Regulations

The Australian government has enacted new regulations regarding the launch and reentry of commercial vehicles as part of an effort to help promote development of a domestic launch industry.

The revised regulations, which took effect Aug. 31, update regulations first put into place two decades ago for licensing launches and launch sites, streamlining the licensing process while also reducing insurance requirements.

“By updating the regulatory framework, we are improving Australians’ access to space, while continuing to uphold our strong values to ensure safety of activities on Earth and in space,” said Megan Clark, head of the Australian Space Agency.

Read more at: Spacenews

Report: The Future of Space 2060 and Implications for U.S. Strategy: Report on the Space Futures Workshop

This report provides a long-term perspective on possible space futures to inform strategic decision- making. Economic, political, technological, and military space trends indicate that we have passed the tipping point for space as a vastly increased domain of human endeavor and a key element of national power. Other countries recognize the advantages of U.S. space leadership, as well as the value space capabilities provide, and are moving aggressively to challenge the U.S. To ensure continued U.S. space leadership, a coordinated, short-, mid-, and long-term national strategy is required.


Read more at: Spaceref

US Air Force Begins 2019 Space Wargame

The United States Air Force Space Command began conducting the 13th Schriever Wargame at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama yesterday (Sept. 4).

The wargame scenario is set in the year 2029. It explores critical space issues and examines the integration activities of multiple agencies associated with space systems and services, Air Force officials said.

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The Next Battlefield: Robots & AI In Cislunar Space

The Intelligence Community (IC) and the Pentagon are rushing to rapidly incorporate machine learning to leverage an ever-expanding pool of space data. Current efforts range from the NRO’s initiative to map which tasks can be moved to machines to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s AI, Automation and Augmentation (AAA) initiative to DoD’s consideration of how intelligent robotics could underpin future power projection into cislunar space.

Read more at: Breakingdefense

Sleuths Find the Top-Secret (and Classified) Satellite Behind Trump’s Tweeted Photo

It was only a matter of time: Amateur sleuths think they’ve tracked down the satellite that took a high-resolution image of the aftermath of an Iranian missile disaster.

President Donald Trump tweeted out the photograph on Aug. 30, writing, “The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir SLV launch at Semnan Launch Site One in Iran. I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened at Site One.”

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Russian Satellite Creeps Up To Intelsat Satellite – Again

A Russian satellite has sidled up to yet another satellite in geostationary orbit, reigniting concerns that it could be stealing data or could cause a collision.

Since launching in September 2014, a Russian satellite known as Luch or Olymp has caused friction in the national security space community as it traverses across geostationary orbit. Geosynchronous satellites are separated into wide segments of space in order to avoid interference with each other, but Russian operators have ignored that setup with Luch, preferring instead to travel through the orbit, creeping up on other commercial and government satellites.

Read more at: c4isrnet

How The Space Development Agency Can Succeed

The future of the Space Development Agency (SDA) is in question. Its original mandate, as laid out in 2018 memo by the then-acting Secretary of Defense, has not been matched by support from Congress or within the Pentagon. The recent sudden departure of its first director has solidified perceptions that the SDA lacks a clear value proposition in an increasingly fragmented acquisition landscape. For the SDA to succeed—and, more important, for the DoD to successfully build the space capabilities needed in the future—the new SDA needs to apply best practices from industry for standing up new companies and business units.

Read more at: Breakingdefense

AIAA Statement on Establishment of U.S. Space Command

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) applauds the establishment of the U.S. Space Command. The new combatant command prioritizes the protection of our assets and sustains our advantages in space.

AIAA Executive Director Daniel L. Dumbacher made the following statement after the official ceremony to stand up U.S. Space Command:

“Space is essential to each and every one of us. Not only is it critical to U.S. military operations, but it is vital for civilian and commercial applications as well. Perhaps no one better understands that than AIAA’s members and community. With the reality that space is a contested environment, we welcome the U.S. government’s establishment of U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) as the entity responsible for ensuring free and open access to space.

Read more at: AIAA

Iran Shows Off Undamaged Satellite After Failed Launch

Iran showed off an undamaged satellite on Saturday, days after a rocket exploded on its launchpad in the third failed launch of the year, which U.S. President Donald Trump had tweeted about hours earlier.

The United States has warned Iran against rocket launches, fearing the technology used to put satellites into orbit could help it develop the ballistic missile capability needed to launch nuclear warheads, though Tehran denies its activity is a cover for such development.

Read more at: Reuters

Who Should Take The Lead On The Military’s Space-Based Sensor Layer?

The White House is concerned that the Senate’s version of the annual defense policy bill could place undue limitations on the Pentagon as it works to build a space-based sensor layer capable of detecting and tracking hypersonic weapons.

The Senate bill would put responsibility for development and deployment of the space-based sensor layer squarely in the hands of the Missile Defense Agency. Furthermore, it would require on-orbit testing of hypersonic and ballistic tracking space sensors to begin by December 31, 2021.

Read more at: c4isrnet

Opinion: Trump’s Blind Spot

At the January release of his administration’s new missile defense policy review, President Donald Trump announced the beginning of a “new era” for missile defense. To be sure, a new period of missile threats has already arrived, consisting of a spectrum of advanced ballistic and cruise missiles as well as hypersonic glide vehicles. A variety of efforts are underway to counter these threats, including a next-generation interceptor for the defense of the American homeland.

Read more at: Politico

Increasing Allied Role In Space A ‘Priority’ For Space Command Head

The newly installed head of the reborn U.S. Space Command, doesn’t want to go it alone anymore.

“Historically, we haven’t needed to have allies in space,” Gen. Jay Raymond said Aug. 29 at the Pentagon. But now, as space becomes a full-on war-fighting domain, working with allies is “a big growth area for us. And I think it’s going to provide our country a big advantage. We’re stronger together.”

Read more at: Defensenews

Saber Astronautics Supporting Space Operations For USAF As Part Of A Joint Exercise

Saber Astronautics was one of 19 commercial companies and nine US Military organizations joining the “Sprint Advanced Concept Training for Space Situational Awareness” (SACT-SSA) event. During the event, Saber provided real-time operational support from their Mission Control Centers in Sydney and Colorado.

SACT is a United States Air Force run event to test the combat readiness of its space forces. The event draws upon a combination of real-world, commercial, and defense assets to sense and retrieve data of space threats and to conduct orbital maneuvers. This was a live event using both commercial and defense sensors to detect and locate spacecraft in flight.

Read more at: Spacenewsfeed

The National Archives Needs YOU to Watch a Ton of Vintage NASA Footage Online

Spoiler alert: The man who cracks into the package of space-ready, bite-size cheese sandwiches does not taste one of the sickly, orange-and-white delicacies. Nor does he brave a “strawberry cube.” Whatever that is.

It’s hard to blame him, but it’s still fascinating to watch his meditative process laying out a complete space meal. (Also included: “orange drink,” potato salad, beef with vegetables and chewing gum that, incredibly, looks even less appetizing than the strawberry cubes.)

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11th IAASS conference