Press Clips Week 39-2022


NASA Updates Exploration Objectives

NASA has revised and expanded a set of objectives it will use to guide its architecture for lunar and Mars exploration after receiving volumes of feedback from commercial and international partners. The agency released the revised list of 63 objectives to coincide with a presentation by the agency’s deputy administrator, Pam Melroy, at the International Astronautical Congress here Sept. 20. The document is an updated version of 50 objectives for transportation and habitation, lunar and Martian infrastructure, operations and science that the agency released in May for public comment.

Read more at: Spacenews

‘Guess Who’s Still on the Ground?’: NASA Administrator Taunts Boeing’s Failure to Launch Starliner

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson seems to have come around to the private space industry. In an interview with Newsweek, Nelson praised SpaceX for its progress in the spacefaring realm while criticizing Boeing for its much-delayed Starliner spacecraft.

“I think the private space industry is extremely beneficial,” Nelson told Newsweek in an article published last week. “Just look at what SpaceX has already accomplished.”

Read more at: Gizmodo

NASA Chief Says Cooperation With China In Space Is Up To China

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told a major international space conference being held here that the possibility of cooperating with China in space is “up to China.” 

Nelson was asked about the potential of cooperation with China the moon during a Heads of Agencies press conference on Sunday (Sept. 18), the opening day of the 73rd International Astronautical Congress (IAC).

Read more at:

This Reusable Space Freighter Would ‘Open the Door’ to European Space Exploration

French aerospace company ArianeGroup has revealed a concept for a reusable upper stage spacecraft that would be capable of delivering heavy payloads to space and carry out crewed missions before landing vertically back on Earth.

SUSIE, short for Smart Upper Stage for Innovative Exploration, was introduced to the world at the International Astronautical Congress held in Paris from September 18 to 22. The fully reusable upper stage could eventually serve as an automated freighter and payload transporter, as well as a spacecraft for crewed missions carrying a crew of up to five astronauts.

Read more at: Gizmodo

NASA Declares Tanking Test of SLS Megarocket a Success

A demonstration to confirm a repaired hydrogen leak appears to have gone well, with NASA declaring Wednesday’s cryogenic tanking test a success. Engineers still need to review the results, but the space agency could be on track to perform its third launch attempt of its SLS megarocket in just six days—a mission that would officially kick off the Artemis lunar program.

Launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson declared a “go” for tanking at 7:30 a.m. (all times Eastern), around 30 minutes after the intended start time. Ground teams began the process of loading more than 700,000 gallons of propellant into the megarocket, beginning with the core stage. Today’s cryogenic tanking test, as it was called, happened as the 321-foot-tall (98-meter) rocket stood at Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Read more at: Gizmodo


NASA Reportedly Concerned That Astronauts Will Get Pregnant in Space

Sex in space is a fascinating topic — but the boffins at NASA are apparently more concerned about reproduction. In interviews with The Daily Beast, space health experts discussed NASA’s official space sex and conception policies, which forbid astronauts from getting it on.

Read more at: Futurism

Mars is Littered With 15,694 Pounds of Human Trash From 50 Years of Robotic Exploration

People have been exploring the surface of Mars for over 50 years. According to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, nations have sent 18 human-made objects to Mars over 14 separate missions. Many of these missions are still ongoing, but over the decades of Martian exploration, humankind has left behind many pieces of debris on the planet’s surface.

Read more at: Snopes

NASA’s DART Spacecraft Is About To Slam Into An Asteroid

Move over, Bruce Willis. Your asteroid-deflecting services — dramatically portrayed in Armageddon — are no longer needed. At least, we hope so.

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft is set to impact the tiny asteroid Dimorphos on Monday (Sept. 26) at 7:14 P.M. EDT.

This has never been done before, and the results of DART will help humans learn how to prevent asteroids from slamming into the Earth, potentially causing local, regional, or even global devastation.

Read more at: Astronomy

Mystery Solved For What The 3 ‘Fireballs’ Were Spotted From Colorado This Week

Multiple people started reaching out to KKTV 11 News on Tuesday after they witnessed three objects in the sky that were visible from areas of Colorado.

One viewer, who shared photos with KKTV 11 News, explained he could see three “huge fireballs” in the sky from Hartsel while he was looking east toward Colorado Springs at about 6:38 in the morning. He added that he was able to watch the objects for about 10 minutes before they were out of sight. Video and pictures of the objects from a distance can be viewed at the top of this article.

Read more at: kktv

Can We Live Long And Prosper In Space? The Astronaut Health Dilemma

Space medical scientists are pushing for the development of an international database on long-term health effects of spaceflight. 

This is essential for protecting the health and performance of current and future crew members of all nationalities, as well as defining the long-term health consequences for retired crew members across the globe. That said, there are thorny legal and privacy challenges ahead. 

Read more at:

A Massive Solar Flare Knocked Out Radio In Africa And The Middle East Friday

An active sunspot that is just about to exit the visible disk of the sun shot its parting flare at Earth, causing a radio blackout in Africa and the Middle East Friday morning (Sept. 16).

The solar flare, classified as M8 in the second-most energetic category of flares, departed from the sun at 5:49 a.m. EDT (0949 GMT) on Friday, disrupting shortwave radio communications in the sun-facing parts of the world. According to (opens in new tab), amateur radio operators in Africa and the Middle East could have experienced signal distortion for up to one hour after the flare. 

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Phantom Space: A New Rocket Startup Says It Can Launch At Half The Cost Of Spacex

New rocket startups will invariably have to face comparisons to SpaceX — the company’s successful pioneering of reusable rocket technologies has positioned it as a reference point for all private space firms.

The trouble is that, given SpaceX’s achievements, it’s a high bar to live up to, and the comparisons will increasingly become unfavorable the longer a company goes without bringing something new and substantial to the table

Read more at: interesting engineering

The UK Is Rejoining the Space Race

As early as next month, a modified Boeing 747 jet will fly from Cornwall, the southwestern tip of the United Kingdom, out over the Atlantic Ocean. Tucked under the wing of this plane will be LauncherOne, a 70-foot-long rocket packed full of satellites. The rocket will be flown to high altitude, dropped, and ignited before flying into space.

This outlandish procedure heralds an exciting new era in British spaceflight. “We feel tremendously honored to have this role—there’s a real joy in doing a launch for the first time from the UK,” says Dan Hart, president and CEO of Virgin Orbit, a US firm that’s part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. This will be the first ever orbital launch conducted from British soil.

Read more at: Wired

Open Cosmos Unveils Openconstellation, Shared Space Infrastructure

British small satellite startup Open Cosmos announced plans Sept. 21 for OpenConstellation, shared space infrastructure that offers partners access to satellite data.

At the International Astronautical Congress here, Open Cosmos invited countries, institutions or companies around the world to contribute their satellites to OpenConstellation. Eventually, Open Cosmos hopes OpenConstellation expands to include 25 satellites with sensors offering varying spatial and spectral resolutions.

Read more at: Spacenews

Maxar Offering New Space-Monitoring Service To Help Track Objects In Orbit

Maxar Technologies, an operator of high-resolution Earth imaging satellites, has received regulatory approval to use its satellites to monitor the space environment and sell that data commercially.

Having a license to offer non-Earth imagery allows commercial remote sensing satellites to observe objects such as other satellites and orbital debris. 

Maxar is looking to use this capability to fill growing commercial and government demand for debris monitoring and space domain awareness data, the company’s CEO Daniel Jablonsky told SpaceNews Sept. 20 at the Air, Space & Cyber conference.

Read more at: Spacenews

Saudi Arabia Buys Two Tickets to the ISS Aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket

Saudi Arabia has reportedly signed a deal with private space company Axiom Space to fly two of its astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the second privately funded trip to the orbital lab.

The two Saudi astronauts will fly aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, becoming the first Gulf country to ride on board a private spacecraft, sources told Reuters. The sources added that the deal between Saudi Arabia and Axiom was signed privately earlier this year.

Read more at: Gizmodo

After Three Delays, Firefly Announces New Launch Date For Alpha Rocket Out Of VSFB

Firefly Aerospace announced Monday a new launch window for its Alpha rocket out of Vandenberg Space Force Base.

The launch window is Friday, Sept. 30, from 12:01 a.m. – 2 a.m. If that launch does not take off a backup window is set for Saturday, Oct. 1, at the same time.

The launch has already been scrubbed three times.

On Sunday, Sept. 11, the launch was scrubbed because of a drop in the rocket’s helium pressure. On Monday, Sept. 12, it was scrubbed due to wind. On Friday, Sept. 16, the launch was delayed because of the rain storm.

Read more at: ksby

Astrobotic Announces Plans For Lunar Power Service

Astrobotic unveiled plans Sept. 19 to develop a commercial power service for the moon that the company argues is essential for creating long-term infrastructure on the lunar surface.

At the International Astronautical Congress here, Astrobotic announced its LunaGrid project, which will combine solar arrays the company is developing with tethered rovers that will deliver uninterrupted power to customers on the lunar surface.

Read more at: Spacenews


For The First Time, Stainless Steel Can Be 3D-Printed While Maintaining Its Characteristics

esearchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Argonne National Laboratory have churned out particular 17-4 steel compositions. When printed, they match the properties of the conventionally manufactured version. The results of the research were published in Additive Manufacturing’s November issue. They used high-energy X-rays from a particle accelerator to acquire the data.

Read more at: interesting engineering

NASA Seems To Be In Full “Send It” Mode For The Artemis I Mission

On Friday afternoon, senior officials at NASA joined a teleconference to speak with reporters about the current plan to launch the Artemis I mission from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This will be the third attempt to get the massive Space Launch System rocket off the ground and boost the Orion spacecraft into lunar orbit for an approximately 40-day uncrewed test flight before returning to Earth.

The rocket is ready, officials said. During fueling tests and launch attempts NASA has been bedeviled by hydrogen propellant leaks, as the tiny molecule is difficult to handle and constrain at super-chilled temperatures. However, following a longer-than-expected, but ultimately successful propellant loading test on Wednesday, NASA engineers expressed confidence in their revamped fueling procedures.

Read more at: arstechnica

China Has Returned Helium-3 From The Moon, Opening Door To Future Technology

The Chinese Chang’e 5 mission has returned a new mineral from the lunar surface. Chinese scientists call the mineral “Changesite-(Y).” The mineral has been described by the state-operated news agency Xinhau as a “kind-of colorless transparent columnar crystal.” Also, the Chinese claim that the new mineral contains helium-3, an isotope that many scientists have touted as a potential fuel for future fusion reactors.

Read more at: Hill

Shanghai Rocket Maker Considering Developing Huge Methane-Fueled Rockets

A major arm of China’s state-owned space contractor is looking at developing a series of partially and fully-reusable launch vehicles apparently in response to SpaceX’s Starship.

A paper published in the journal Aerospace Technology outlines plans under consideration by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST) for a number of launch vehicles with varying diameters and clusters of methalox engines.

Read more at: Spacenews

Astronauts Could Use Mars Soil For 3D-Printing On The Red Planet

Martian soil could serve as a 3D-printing material, researchers have shown, meaning it could be used to manufacture items on the Red Planet. 

In a series of tests, Amit Bandyopadhyay, a professor at the Washington State University School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and his team used simulated crushed Martian regolith to demonstrate its capabilities as a 3D-printing material.

The results may be crucial for future crewed missions to Mars.

Read more at:

NASA Requests Proposals For 2nd Moon Lander For Artemis Astronauts

NASA is asking private industry to come up with ideas for another astronaut moon lander. The space agency is working to establish a long-term human presence on and around the moon by the end of the 2020s, via a program called Artemis. In 2021, NASA announced that it had selected SpaceX’s Starship as the lander for the program’s first crewed surface mission, Artemis 3, which is scheduled to touch down near the lunar south pole in 2025 or 2026.

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Scientists Find Extra-Terrestrial Water For The First Time In Meteorite That Landed In UK Last Year

Extra-terrestrial water has been found for the first time in a meteorite that landed in the United Kingdom last year. The meteorite crashed into a driveway in Gloucestershire town in February 2021, and it is believed to hold clues about where the water in the Earth’s vast oceans came from. 

According to The Independent, Ashley King, a researcher in the planetary materials group at the Natural History Museum, informed that around 12% of the sample was made up of water and it is also the least contaminated specimen to be collected to date.

Read more at: NDTV

Why NASA Blew Up A Space Habitat In Texas

When a future house for astronauts explodes, a celebration might seem inappropriate, but engineers at a commercial space company couldn’t be prouder of their shredded outer space house. Sierra Space, working on one of three NASA contracts to develop commercial space stations, just completed something called the “Ultimate Burst Pressure” test on a mockup of its low-Earth orbit space dwelling. The LIFE habitat, short for Large Inflatable Flexible Environment, could one day serve as rooms on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space station, Orbital Reef. If all goes well, the companies hope to start building the station in 2026.

Read more at: Mashable


FCC Denies Spacex $900 Million In Starlink Funding

SpaceX has a beef with satellite funding. In a rare media release, SpaceX said it will appeal a funding decision related to its Starlink broadband satellite constellation, which aims to send internet service to rural areas across the world. The space launch services giant was recently rejected for nearly $900 million dollars in rural connectivity funding from the Wireline Competition Bureau (a branch of the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC). SpaceX characterized that decision (opens in new tab) as “grossly unfair” in its Sept. 9 appeal to the regulator, which is under review.

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Senate Subcommittee Looks At Airspace Integration

A Senate subcommittee hearing scheduled for Sept. 28 will help to lay the groundwork for integration of advanced air mobility (AAM) aircraft, drones and other new technology into the National Airspace System. The Subcommittee on Aviation Safety, Operations and Innovation will hear from five aviation industry witnesses, four from drone and AAM organizations and Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation Association. It’s the first of a series of hearings leading up to the 2023 reauthorization of the FAA.

Read more at: avweb

Who’s Responsible for Space Junk?

It turns out that, after polluting our planet, we are now polluting space. Thousands of pieces of debris from broken down satellites, rocket boosters and weapons tests that we’ve launched over the years have got stuck in orbit, creating clutter, which could not only crash into the active satellites we need for monitoring the Earth but also release harmful chemicals into the atmosphere as they burn up on re-entry, depleting the ozone layer, as well as potentially creating problems for future launches and space exploration.

Read more at: statista

Artemis Accords Signatories Hold First Meeting

Nations that have signed the U.S.-led Artemis Accords met in person for the first time Sept. 19 as an initial step to elaborate on the principles for safe and sustainable space exploration.

Representatives from the 21 countries that have signed the Accords met on the sidelines of the International Astronautical Congress here. The meeting was primarily an organizational one, with no major announcements or other findings emerging from it.

Read more at: spacenews

France To Increase Space Spending By 25%

France will increase spending on national and European space programs as the European Space Agency works to secure commitments for its own significant budget increase.

In a speech at the opening ceremony of the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) here Sept. 18, French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne announced the government planned to allocate more than 9 billion euros ($9 billion) to space activities over the next three years, an increase of about 25% over the past three years.

Read more at: spacenews

Congress Wants Transparency On Blue Origin Launch Failure Investigation By FAA

The failure of a Blue Origin rocket during an uncrewed launch this month has members of Congress urging for more transparency of the FAA’s investigation into the accident.

One of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rockets was destroyed in a failed launch on Sept. 12 during while carrying an uncrewed capsule on the NS-23 science flight from the company’s West Texas launch site.

Read more at:


Raytheon ‘Beats’ Lockheed Martin & Boeing To Win Contract To Develop ‘One Of Its Kind’ Hypersonic Cruise Missile

On September 22, the US Air Force announced that Raytheon Technologies, a US-based defense giant, had been awarded a $1 billion contract to continue the development of the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM). 

Raytheon Technologies, which outbid Lockheed Martin and Boeing to win the contract, is now well-positioned to become the leading supplier of hypersonic cruise missiles for the USAF. 

Read more at: eurasiantimes

Getting Serious about the Threat of High Altitude Nuclear Detonations

Aurora Borealis is the scientific term given to the natural light phenomenon of the Northern Lights. On July 9, 1962, the light phenomenon that Hawaiians watched was anything but natural. On that day, the Atomic Energy Commission, in collaboration with the Defense Atomic Support Agency, detonated a thermonuclear device in low Earth orbit. The test was codenamed Starfish Prime and it revealed an unfortunate lesson: Even one high altitude nuclear detonation is particularly effective at destroying satellites.

Read more at: warontherocks

Private Industry Aims To Fill Demand For Space Threat Intelligence

Nearly 300 space executives from 195 companies filled a University of Colorado auditorium in late July to hear the U.S. Space Force talk about its needs for space domain awareness. Known as SDA, space domain awareness is the military term for space situational awareness, which means knowledge of the space environment. The Air Force Space Command in a 2019 memo said the Defense Department would use the term SDA to convey the message that the military now views space as a domain of war, like sea, air and land.

Read more at: spacenews

L3Harris’ Missile-Tracking Satellites Will Use A Newly Designed Maxar Bus

Under a $700 million contract from the U.S. Space Development Agency, L3Harris will build 14 satellites using a new Maxar bus. 

The satellites will be part of a missile-detecting and tracking network being developed by the agency.

Maxar Technologies CEO Daniel Jablonsky said the bus selected by L3Harris is a new product the company designed for low Earth orbit constellations. The new bus is slightly smaller than the Legion model the company designed for its next-generation imaging satellites. 

Read more at: spacenews


N° 47–2022: ESA Highlights In The Last Quarter Of 2022

A very busy end of the year 2022 lies ahead for ESA: the ESA Ministerial Council in Paris will take critical decisions for fostering the European space sector and bringing the benefits of space and its applications to citizens in Europe and worldwide. Furthermore, the results of ESA’s astronaut selection will be announced at the end of the Council.

Read more at: ESA

How Irrational Fear of Nuclear Power Jeopardized Apollo 13

After experiencing a catastrophic explosion in the service module, after swinging around the Moon without landing, after jerry-rigging a device to prevent a deadly buildup of carbon dioxide in the lunar module, after being rationed to less than a cup of water per day, Apollo 13 astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise were almost back to Earth. But they needed to make a final course correction, not for their own safety, but to address concerns from the Atomic Energy Commission, concerns many at NASA believed were entirely unfounded.

Read more at: realclearscience

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 Astronauts Ready For Historic Mission

SpaceX’s next Crew Dragon astronaut launch for NASA will see a new country represented in one of the sleek white spacesuits. Russia’s Anna Kikina will take a seat on SpaceX with two American astronauts and a Japanese astronaut on the mission. The foursome will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) no earlier than Oct. 3, 2022 at 12:45 p.m. EDT (1645 GMT) on SpaceX’s Dragon Endurance spacecraft. The SpaceX craft will be lifted to the ISS atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket after launching from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. You can watch it live here at when the time comes, courtesy of SpaceX and NASA.

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Soyuz Rocket Launch Spotted From Space Station In Amazing Astronaut Photos

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) saw their newest set of crewmates depart Earth today (Sept. 21). A Russian Soyuz rocket launched cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin and NASA’s Frank Rubio to orbit from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan this morning. The spaceflight action was spotted by ISS astronauts zooming about 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Earth.

Read more at:

China Performs Second EVA In Two Weeks, Chang Zheng 2D Launch

China conducted another EVA outside of their Tiangong Space Station, preparing the station for the future and practicing safety mechanisms for upcoming EVAs. They also launched the Yunhai-1-03 payload from Jiuquan on board a Chang Zheng 2D rocket.

On Sept. 17, Chinese taikonauts Chen Dong and Cai Xuzhe started the second spacewalk of the Shenzhou-14 mission, just two weeks after the first. Taikonaut Liu Yang operated the robotic arm from inside the Tianhe Core module. 

Read more at: nasaspaceflight

Einstein Wins Again: Space Satellite Confirms Weak Equivalence Principle

One of the most counter-intuitive notions in physics is that all objects fall at the same rate, regardless of mass, aka the equivalence principle. This was memorably illustrated in 1971 by NASA Apollo 15 astronaut David Scott during a moonwalk. He dropped a falcon feather and a hammer at the same time via a live television feed, and the two objects hit the dirt simultaneously.

Read more at: arstechnica

Valery Polyakov: Record-Breaking Russian Cosmonaut Dies Aged 80

A Russian cosmonaut who holds the record for the longest-ever trip to space has died aged 80. Valery Polyakov spent 437 full days orbiting the Earth between 1994 and 1995 on the Mir space station. He worked on experiments to see whether people could maintain their mental health if they were to make a long journey to Mars. Tests found that there was no impairment of his cognitive function as a result of his 14-month expedition.

Read more at: BBC

Goodyear To Produce Airless Tires For Moon Rovers Of Artemis Program

Goodyear rolled up its sleeves to produce lunar vehicle tires in collaboration with Lockheed Martin and General Motors.

The project is expected to be ready in 2025.

The companies hope to be the first to establish long-term commercial vehicle operations on the Moon. Goodyear offers its vast expertise in tires, a mission-critical component for traversing the lunar surface.

Read more at: interesting engineering

Hilton To Design Astronaut Suites, Facilities For Voyager’s Private Space Station Starlab

Hotel giant Hilton has signed on to design astronaut facilities for the private space station Starlab currently under development by Voyager Space Holdings and Lockheed Martin, the companies told CNBC on Monday.

In addition to designing hospitality suites and sleeping arrangements, Hilton will also work with Voyager to examine opportunities for the marketing of the space station and astronaut experiences onboard.

Read more at: CNBC