Trio’s Arrival Boosts Space Station’s Population To Nine, Including First Emirati

Three more spacefliers arrived at the International Space Station today in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, increasing the orbital outpost’s population from its usual six to a crowded nine.

One of the new arrivals is Hazzaa Ali Almansoori, the first citizen of the United Arab Emirates to fly in space.

The 35-year-old fighter jet pilot was sent to the final frontier under the terms of a contract with the Russian Space Agency, and will be returning to Earth on a different Soyuz in just eight days. The cost to the UAE hasn’t been reported, but for what it’s worth, NASA has been paying the Russians more than $80 million for a ride.

Read more at: Geekwire

Fresh Batteries, Experiments On The Way To The International Space Station

A Japanese H-2B rocket fired into orbit Tuesday from the Tanegashima Space Center with an automated cargo freighter loaded with more than 4.1 tons of batteries, experiments, spacewalk equipment, water and provisions for the International Space Station.

The unpiloted cargo ship lifted off at 1605:05 GMT (12:05:05 p.m. EDT) Tuesday from Launch Pad No. 2 at Tanegashima, an oceanfront spaceport on an island in southern Japan.

Read more at: SpaceflightNow

Virgin Orbit Moves Closer To First Launch

Virgin Orbit has shipped the LauncherOne rocket for its inaugural mission from the factory, setting up a launch attempt some time this fall.

The company announced Sept. 24 that it transported the LauncherOne rocket for its first orbital flight from the company’s factory in Long Beach, California, to the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

The air-launched rocket will eventually be mated to the company’s modified Boeing 747 aircraft, first for a captive-carry test flight and then for the first orbital launch attempt for the vehicle. Prior to the test, the company said it will put the vehicle on a new test stand in Mojave for “a number of critical exercises,” such as fueling the vehicle.

Read more at: Spacenews

In ‘Ad Astra,’ Brad Pitt Portrays the Psychological Stress on Astronauts in Space

“Ad Astra,” the hit new sci-fi film starring Brad Pitt as U.S. Space Command astronaut Roy McBride, highlights a side of human spaceflight not often seen — the gritty reality of how spaceflight can affect a person’s mental health.

Space can be isolating. Today, astronauts spend months aboard the International Space Station, where they’re away from family, friends and the familiar comforts of life on Earth. Future astronauts may spend years away from their life on Earth. 

Read more at:

NTSB Issues 7 Safety Recommendations to FAA related to Ongoing Lion Air, Ethiopian Airlines Crash Investigations

The National Transportation Safety Board issued seven safety recommendations Thursday to the Federal Aviation Administration, calling upon the agency to address concerns about how multiple alerts and indications are considered when making assumptions as part of design safety assessments. 

Aviation Safety Recommendation Report 19-01 was issued Thursday stemming from the  NTSB’s ongoing support under International Civil Aviation Organization Annex 13 to Indonesia’s Komite Nasional Keselamatan Transportasi (KNKT) investigation of the Oct. 29, 2018, crash of Lion Air flight 610 in the Java Sea and the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau of Ethiopia’s investigation of the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 near Ejere, Ethiopia. All passengers and crew  on board both aircraft – 346 people in all – died in the accidents. Both crashes involved a Boeing 737 MAX airplane.


Read more at: NTSB

Understanding Asthma from Space

Help may be on the way for the millions of people around the world who suffer from asthma. Pioneering research in orbit is opening new avenues to understanding what goes wrong in patients with airway inflammation. The results have contributed to the development of quick lung tests for an improved quality of life––both on Earth and in space.

With each lungful of air, our bodies absorb oxygen and exhale waste products. In people with asthma, inflammation in the lung adds nitric oxide to exhaled air. Doctors measure the amount of nitric oxide exhaled by patients to help diagnose inflamed lungs and asthma.

Read more at: Technology

Luca Takes Leading Role for Europe in Space

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is set to become the third European and first Italian commander of the International Space Station, following an official change of command ceremony on Wednesday 2 October 2019.

He will take over from departing Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin. This marks the start of Expedition 61 and the second part of Luca’s second space mission known as Beyond.

Read more at: ESA

Keeping Satellites From Going Bump In The Night

The controversy started, like so many these days, with a tweet.

On September 2, the European Space Agency’s operations account announced that ESA’s Aeolus spacecraft, an Earth science mission launched a year earlier, had performed a collision avoidance maneuver earlier that day to avoid a SpaceX Starlink satellite. This was, ESA said, the first such maneuver to avoid a “megaconstellation” satellite.

Read more at: Spacereview

New Studies Warn of Cataclysmic Solar Superstorms

A powerful disaster-inducing geomagnetic storm is an inevitability in the near future, likely causing blackouts, satellite failures, and more. Unlike other threats to our planet, such as supervolcanoes or asteroids, the time frame for a cataclysmic geomagnetic storm—caused by eruptions from our sun playing havoc with Earth’s magnetic field—is comparatively short. It could happen in the next decade—or in the next century. All we know is, based on previous events, our planet will almost definitely be hit relatively soon, probably within 100 years.

Read more at: Scientific American

Do Satellite Mega-Constellations Really Have To Be So Big?

“There are no rules in space,” Greg Wyler said at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference last Thursday. His company, OneWeb, wants to launch 2,000 satellites into space—practically doubling the number of satellites currently orbiting Earth—in order to deliver internet connectivity to unconnected places. As long as he has permission to access the radio frequency spectrum he’s requested, there’s no one to really stop him. Nor is there anyone to stop SpaceX from launching a whopping 12,000 satellites over the next several years in order to operate its Starlink internet service.

Read more at: Technology review

The Coming Surge of Rocket Emissions

The global space industry is on the verge of a great increase in the number of rockets launched into Earth orbit. The global launch rate has already more than doubled in the past decade. Transformational innovations such as rocket reusability, thousand-satellite constellations, space tourism, global surveillance, tracking of the Internet of Things, proliferated low-Earth-orbit constellations, and other emerging technologies are expected to further supercharge launch demand in coming decades. The space industry, already an indispensable part of the global economy, is preparing for a surge in growth of a kind not seen since the birth of the space age.

Read more at: EOS

NASA Is Finally Planning To Launch A Space Telescope To Detect Deadly Asteroids Before They Hit Earth. Here’s How It Could Work.

NASA is finally getting serious about a major threat to life on Earth.

Administrators announced on Monday that the agency is planning to launch a space telescope to watch for hazardous asteroids as part of its planetary defense strategy.

The telescope will use infrared radiation to detect the heat of rocks hurtling through space. For now, NASA administrators are calling it the Near-Earth Object Surveillance Mission (NEOSM).

Read more at: Business insider

Musk Unveils Spacex Rocket Designed To Get To Mars And Back

Elon Musk has unveiled a SpaceX spacecraft designed to carry a crew and cargo to the moon, Mars or anywhere else in the solar system and land back on Earth perpendicularly.

In a livestreamed speech from SpaceX’s launch facility near the southern tip of Texas, Musk said Saturday that the space venture’s Starship is expected to take off for the first time in about one or two months and reach 65,000 feet (19,800 meters) before landing back on Earth.

He says it’s essential for the viability of space travel to be able to reuse spacecraft and that it’s important to take steps to extend consciousness beyond our planet.

Read more at:

Stratolaunch Rebuilds Team For The World’s Biggest Plane After Paul Allen’s Death

Stratolaunch is hiring — nearly a year after the death of its billionaire backer, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and five months after the company’s monster plane took its first and only test flight.

Allen founded the venture in 2011, with the goal of using what is now the world’s largest airplane as a flying launch pad for orbital-class rockets and space planes. But after his death at the age of 65, Stratolaunch trimmed its staff dramatically. Some saw April’s test flight at California’s Mojave Air and Space Port as primarily a tribute to Allen, and as the prelude to either a sale or a shutdown.

Read more at: Geekwire

Blue Origin Says A New Era Of Space Tourism Will Probably Launch In 2020

Jeff Bezos’ rocket company says it probably won’t send anyone to space before the new year. 

When last we heard from Blue Origin, as it launched its New Shepard rocket in May, Sales Director Ariane Cornell reminded us repeatedly that the company was planning to send humans to space by the end of 2019. But now, with little more than a quarter of this calendar turn to go, Blue Origin is revising its timeline a bit. 

Read more at: CNET

Spaceport America and Virgin Galactic: The Numbers Never Added Up

When they announced in December 2005 that Virgin Galactic would locate its space tourism business in New Mexico, Virgin Founder Richard Branson and Gov. Bill Richardson made a number of eye-popping claims about why taxpayers should back a plan to build the Southwest Regional Spaceport to serve as the space tourism company’s home base: $331 million in total construction revenues in 2007;2,460 construction-related jobs;$1 billion in total spending, payroll of $300 million and 2,300 jobs by the fifth year of operation; and,$750 million in total revenues and more than 3,500 jobs by 2020.

Read more at: Parabolic arc

Thoughts on the “Hype” about China’s NewSpace Launcher Startups – (Part 1/2)

When discussing the rapid development of China’s private space sector and notably launch vehicles, many observers hint at a bubble: an unhealthy number of startups all pursuing the same scope of activities with similar technical solutions, and unsustainable growth not correlated with market demand. Is this justified? In this blogpost I offer some thoughts and engage in a comparison between Chinese and US NewSpace, discussing market size and Sino-foreign space “ecosystem decoupling”.

Read more at: China-aerospace blog

Thoughts on the “Hype” about China’s NewSpace Launcher Startups – (Part 2/2)

This blogpost is a follow-up of a previous article (part 1/2) discussing the hype about Chinese private launchers. While we previously essentially put emphasis on investment and launch vehicles from an offer standpoint, this second and final post focuses on the demand for launchers, in other words to what extent the small sat market will be able to sustain Chinese launchers.

Read more at: China-aerospace blog

A Short Review of Virgin Galactic’s Long History

Today, Sept. 27, marks the 15th anniversary of Richard Branson announcing the launch of Virgin Galactic Airways. It’s been a long, winding road between that day and today, filled with many broken promises, missed deadlines, fatal accidents and a pair of spaceflights.

This year actually marks a double anniversary: it’s been 20 years since Branson registered the company and began searching for a vehicle the company could use to fly tourists into suborbital space.

Below is a timeline of the important events over that period.

Read more at: Parabolic arc

Fly Your Experiment To The Space Station With Bioreactor Express Service

ESA is partnering with Kayser Italia to offer the Kubik facility on the International Space Station to commercial customers. The new Bioreactor Express Service allows users to conduct experiments in weightlessness.

Customers can use existing experiment containers, customise them, or develop an entirely new container to match their requirements. The starting price is euro 160 000 and covers the flight using an existing experiment container – from conception to launch and returning scientific data within a year.

Read more at: Spacedaily

NASA Wants to Send Nuclear Rockets to the Moon and Mars

Just north of the Tennessee River near Huntsville, Alabama, there’s a six-story rocket test stand in a small clearing of loblolly pines. It’s here, in a secluded corner of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, that the US Army and NASA performed critical tests during the development of the Redstone rocket. In 1958, this rocket became the first to detonate a nuclear weapon; three years later, it carried the first American into space.

The tangled history of nukes and space is again resurfacing, just up the road from the Redstone test stand. This time NASA engineers want to create something deceptively simple: a rocket engine powered by nuclear fission.

Read more at: Wired

The Gut in Space: How Bacteria Change in Astronauts’ Digestive Systems

A new tool developed by researchers at Northwestern University shows spaceflight consistently alters the diversity of bacteria in astronauts’ guts. 

The tool, called Similarity Test for Accordant and Reproducible Microbiome Abundance Patterns (STARMAPS), was used to analyze data from various experiments, including samples collected from mice sent to the space shuttle and International Space Station, NASA’s Twins Study and Earth-based studies on the effects of radiation on the gut.

Read more at:

Ariane 6’s Core Engine Completes Qualification Tests

Ariane 6, Europe’s next-generation launch vehicle, has passed another key development milestone. Its Vulcain 2.1 liquid-fuelled engine has now completed its qualification testing, which means combined tests can now begin.

The main stage Vulcain 2.1 engine will deliver 135 t of thrust to propel Ariane 6 in the first eight minutes of flight up to an altitude of 200 km.

Read more at: ESA

Momentus Reports Success In Testing Water Plasma Propulsion

Silicon Valley startup Momentus’ is reporting success in on-orbit testing of water plasma propulsion and other key elements of its Vigoride in-space transportation vehicle.

“The on-orbit testing has demonstrated for the first time that microwave electrothermal plasma technology has the potential to achieve high specific impulse using water propellant,” Momentus CEO Mikhail Kokorich told SpaceNews. “Water plasma propulsion is now technologically mature enough to be baselined for operational in-space transportation missions.”

Read more at: Spacenews

NASA, Lockheed Martin Ink Deal For More Deep Space Capsules

NASA has finalized a contract with Lockheed Martin to order six more Orion space capsules. It’s part of the agency’s new moon-shot: Artemis.

NASA already has space capsules for the Artemis I and Artemis II missions — an uncrewed and crewed mission around the moon that stops short of landing on the surface.

Under new contract valued at more than $4.6 billion, Lockheed Martin will start work on the first capsule designed to carry humans on a trip to the surface of the moon. The Artemis III Orion capsule will take the astronauts to Gateway, a small space station orbiting around the moon, where they will get in a lander and head to the surface. Once they return, the Orion capsule will take them back to Earth.

Read more at: wmfe

How ESA Helps Connect Industry and Spark 5G Innovation

Connecting people and machines to everything, everywhere and at all times through 5G networks promises to transform society. People will be able to access information and services developed to meet their immediate needs but, for this to happen seamlessly, satellite networks are needed alongside terrestrial ones.

The European Space Agency is working with companies keen to develop and use space-enabled seamless 5G connectivity to develop ubiquitous services. At the UK Space Conference, held from 24 to 26 September in Newport, ESA is showcasing its work with several British-based companies, supported by the UK Space Agency.

Read more at: ESA

Could Humans Ever Really Relocate To The The Moon? We’re Exploring The Likelihood Here

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, which saw humans walk on the moon for the first time. Since then, the idea of conquering the moon has captivated humans’ imaginations, and the concept of civilians relocating there has long been bandied about as a possibility.

We’re regularly confronted with news in the media of potential commercial flights to the moon, or discoveries of new life-sustaining molecules, making it seem as though it will eventually be a destination we can all add to our bucket lists.

But how realistic is the idea of humans actually relocating to the moon? Is it something we’ll see in our lifetimes – or is it a total no-go? Let’s find out.

Read more at: Journal

Chinese Scientists Reconstruct Chang’e-4 Probe’s Landing On Moon’s Far Side

Chinese scientists have reconstructed the descent trajectory of the Chang’e-4 lunar probe and determined its precise landing site on the far side of the moon in a move that could bolster further deep space exploration.

China’s Chang’e-4, launched on Dec. 8, 2018, made the first-ever soft landing on the moon’s far side in the Von Karman Crater in the South Pole-Aitken on Jan. 3.

Using high-resolution topographic data obtained by the Chang’e-2 lunar probe and images taken by Chang’e-4 during its descent and exploration, researchers reconstructed the landing process including how it avoided obstacles autonomously.

Read more at: Xinhuanet

Going Underground In Slovenia … To Prepare For Outer Space

In Slovenia’s dramatically beautiful Karst region, six astronauts have been put through their paces for future missions—not in a flashy futuristic space centre but deep underground in the area’s network of cold, dark and muddy caves.

This Wednesday they emerged blinking into the light after swapping their for caving gear and spending six full days underground in the UNESCO-listed Skocjan cave system.

All in all they completed six weeks of training organised by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) CAVES programme.

Read more at:

Senate Appropriators Nix Bureau of Space Commerce Until They Get Answers

The Senate Appropriations Committee rejected the Trump Administration’s request to elevate the Office of Space Commerce (OSC) to a higher level in the Department of Commerce (DOC) until they get answers to their questions. The committee criticized DOC for refusing to provide witnesses to explain the proposal, especially that DOC take over responsibility from DOD for providing satellite positional data to civil and commercial satellite operators.  The Senate bill requires a study by the National Academy of Public Administration and keeps OSC where it is, within NOAA, at its current funding level until it has the results.

Read more at: Spacepolicyonline

UNOOSA, Avio United Collaborate On Providing Free CubeSat Launch For Emerging Space Programs

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and Avio S.p.A. (Avio) have joined forces at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly to announce an agreement to cooperate on providing institutions from UN Member States, in particular developing countries, with the opportunity to apply to use, free of charge, satellite slots for 1UCubesat or aggregates on a planned launch vehicle scheduled for October 2020.

Read more at: Africanews

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.


Read more at: Spacenews

NASA Chief Says Security Needed To Explore Space Safely

The head of NASA said Wednesday that space security is necessary so that the United States, Japan and others can safely explore the moon and Mars.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine also said during his Tokyo visit that he wants to take the U.S. space partnership with Japan to a new level by stepping up cooperation by going to the moon and eventually to Mars together.

But he said that will be possible only if space is kept a safe place.

Read more at: ABCnews

Lawmakers, NASA Skeptical About Returning to Moon by 2024

President Donald Trump reinvigorated enthusiasm for NASA after announcing a plan to put Americans back on the moon by 2024. Now, that ambitious goal is under the microscope.

Lawmakers and even NASA officials have recently expressed skepticism that the agency will be able to meet that deadline. The development of the Space Launch System (SLS) and the new crew capsule Orion are way behind schedule and over budget. The agency is also still waiting on additional funding from Congress.

Read more at: Mynews13

Could Ties With Kiribati Be A Boost To China’s Space Ambitions?

The return of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati to Beijing’s diplomatic fold could give a lift to the Asian giant’s space ambitions.

The islands and atolls that make up Kiribati sprawl across the equator and are just south of the Marshall Islands, an important missile testing ground for the United States.

Because of its location, Kiribati was home to Beijing’s first overseas space tracking station, which played an important role in the Shenzhou manned space missions and the BeiDou navigation systems.

Read more at: SCMP

Australian Government Commits To Join NASA In Lunar Exploration And Beyond

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced his nation’s intention to join the United States’ Moon to Mars exploration approach, including NASA’s Artemis lunar program.

The announcement took place at a ceremony Saturday at NASA Headquarters in Washington during which NASA Deputy Administrator, Jim Morhard, and Head of the Australian Space Agency, Megan Clark, signed a joint statement of intent. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Australian Ambassador to the United States Joe Hockey and U.S. Ambassador to Australia Arthur Culvahouse Jr. also participated in the ceremony.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Russia Launches Missile Warning Satellite

A Russian military satellite designed to detect missile launches arrived in orbit Thursday following a successful liftoff aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

The Russian Defense Ministry said a Soyuz-2.1b rocket, topped with a Fregat upper stage, launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia at 0746 GMT (3:46 a.m. EDT) Thursday carrying a military payload.

A statement from the Russian Defense Ministry did not identify the payload, but information about the mission’s trajectory released in warning notices to pilots and mariners suggested the satellite was likely the third EKS, or Tundra, missile warning satellites for the Russian military.

Read more at: SpaceflightNow

Britain Needs A ‘Space Force’ To Stop Enemy Forces Destroying Its Satellites, Industry Leaders Warn

Britain urgently needs a ‘space force’ to stop enemy forces destroying its satellites, industry leaders have warned.

Threats could include jamming satellites, or using lasers, nets or missiles to disable or destroy them.

Will Whitehorn, the incoming president of UK Space, the space industry’s trade association, said the military needed to help protect Britain’s increasing interests outside of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Read more at: Dailymail

Blue Origin Steps Up Call For Change In Air Force Launch Procurement Plan

Just weeks after filing a protest over the Air Force’s plan to select two companies in its next procurement of launch services, Blue Origin is further pressing its case that the Air Force is stifling competition in the national security launch program.

To back up its claim, Blue Origin  released a market study Sept. 24 that projects growing demand for launch services and estimates that at least three, if not four, U.S. launch suppliers would be needed to fill that demand.

Read more at: Spacenews

The Space Development Agency’s Plans Have Changed. Here Are The Revisions.

When the Space Development Agency formally launched in March, it was billed as a major step forward for the Pentagon’s growth in space, with an ambitious plan to launch hundreds of small satellites into orbit.

But just four months into the job, Fred Kennedy, the group’s first director, quit, leading to questions about whether the strategy for which he advocated would last — or if the group itself had a future.

Read more at: Defensenews

Was the FBI Right to Hound One of America’s Foremost Rocket Pioneers?

Fraser MacDonald, a writer and a lecturer in human geography at the University of Edinburgh, is the author of Escape From Earth: A Secret History of the Space Rocket, a new book that illuminates the life of Frank Malina, co-founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Though Malina was an accomplished scientist who made significant contributions to the field of rocketry in the 1930s and ’40s, he remains a relatively obscure figure in the history of aerospace. MacDonald’s thorough book explains why he isn’t better known. He spoke with Air & Space senior associate editor Diane Tedeschi in August.

Read more at: Air and Space

To Save A Space Station: The Unrealized Rescue of Skylab, 40 Years On

Visiting space stations is, and always has been, a complex and challenging endeavor; yet to the layman in the street it carries an element of the “ordinary” these days, as the world sees crews of astronauts and cosmonauts launched periodically throughout the year to begin multi-month increments aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Late in 2019, if all goes well, the first crews will rise from U.S. soil aboard the long-awaited Commercial Crew vehicles. But a very definitive line exists between “visiting” a space station and “rescuing” one from potential, impending disaster. The Soviets did it triumphantly to salvage their out-of-control Salyut 7 in June 1985. And 40 years ago, this fall, had history played out more kindly, the Space Shuttle might have carried out a daring and dramatic rescue of the ailing Skylab space station. Had it flown as intended, a whole new history of the shuttle program could have unfolded.

Read more at: Americaspace

Helen Sharman: First British Astronaut Speaks Out On Science, Climate

IN 1989, Helen Sharman answered a radio advertisement that would change her life. She applied to be an astronaut aboard the Soviet space station Mir, competing against 13,000 other candidates for the chance to be the first British citizen in space. She got the job. The privately funded mission, called Project Juno, almost didn’t happen because of money problems but the Soviet Union eventually picked up the bill. In 1991, aged 27, she became a household name, spending eight days in space performing scientific experiments.

Read more at: Newscientist

Russian Cosmonaut Gennady Manakov Dies At The Age Of 69, Tweets Fellow Cosmonaut

Cosmonaut Gennady Manakov, credited with two space flights, has died at the age of 69, cosmonaut Maxim Surayev blogged in Twitter on Thursday.

“Gennady Mikhailovich Manakov died today. I am sad to say this. We cherish the memory of him,” wrote Surayev, a legislator from the State Duma lower house of parliament.

Gennady Manakov was born in 1950 in the Chkalovsk (now Orenburg) Region. He was a military pilot, and in 1985 he was selected to work within the framework of the Buran program.

Read more at: TASS

Sigmund Jähn, whose distinction as the first German to travel into space made him a Cold War symbol of socialist unity at a time when East and West Germany competed for national achievements, died on Saturday in Strausberg, Germany, outside Berlin. He was 82.

The German Aerospace Center confirmed the death but did not specify a cause.

Read more at: Nytimes

Hermann Koelle, the Most Important German Rocket Scientist You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

By any measure, Wernher von Braun was the leading figure in the history of rocket development in pre-World War II and wartime Germany. And at the war’s end, von Braun and his talented team of engineers and scientists were transplanted as a group to the United States. In fact, it was that cadre of German rocketeers who deserve the most credit for conceiving and building the mighty Saturn V that carried the first people to the Moon.

Read more at: Air and Space


11th IAASS conference