Soyuz Launch Marks End Of An Era For NASA

A Soyuz spacecraft launched to the International Space Station Oct. 14 on what will likely be the last mission where NASA pays Russia for a seat, but not necessarily the last time NASA astronauts fly on the spacecraft.

The Soyuz-2.1a rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 1:45 a.m. Eastern, placing the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft into orbit nine minutes later. The spacecraft, making an “ultra-fast” two-orbit approach, docked with the station’s Rassvet module at 4:48 a.m. Eastern.

Read more at: Spacenews

A Rocket Booster And A Dead Satellite Avoided A Collision Thursday, Illustrating The ‘Ticking Time Bomb’ Of Space Debris

It appears that a dead Soviet satellite narrowly missed a Chinese rocket stage Thursday night as they sped hundreds of miles above the Earth’s surface, another in a series of close calls for junk whizzing around in orbit.

Throughout the space community there was widespread concern over a worst-case scenario — that shortly before 9 p.m. Eastern the objects would collide, creating a massive debris field, adding even more pollution to space that could last decades, according to LeoLabs, a California-based company that tracks debris for satellite companies.

Read more at: Washington post

FAA Cuts The Red Tape For Commercial Rocket Launches (And Landings, Too)

Commercial space is about to become more accessible than ever before.

Today (Oct. 15), the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) announced that it has published a new launch and re-entry rule known as the Streamlined Launch and Re-entry Licensing Regulation-2 (SLR2). The new rule aims to increase launch and reentry access for commercial space companies while maintaining safety.

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Cosmonauts Patch Small Air Leak On International Space Station: Reports

Cosmonauts are making progress in the fight against the small air leak that has beleaguered the International Space Station for months, according to Russian reports.

The leak was first detected in September 2019 but was too low a priority for NASA and Roscosmos to address until August of this year given the short staffing and high activity rates at the orbiting laboratory, according to a previous statement from the U.S. space agency.

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Inside Sierra Nevada Corp’s Space Plans, From The Reusable ‘Dream Chaser’ To Inflatable Habitats

Sierra Nevada Corporation is best known as a private aerospace and national security contractor – but the company is investing heavily in its space systems division, especially as it sees NASA and other companies building infrastructure in orbit.

“Our view of the future is a vibrant, commercial low Earth orbit economy,” Steve Lindsey, SNC’s senior vice president of strategy space systems, told CNBC. “We want to be the logistics and crew providers in that future, so we’re really playing the long game.”

Read more at: CNBC

Brands are Changing Space

Space — once the purview of only the wealthiest and most technologically advanced nations — is now open to brands, private citizens and commercial companies, all at NASA’s urging.

The big picture: The commercialization of spaceflight has flung open the door to branding and marketing in space that will change everyone’s relationship with the cosmos.

Soon, space may no longer be a relatively pristine environment where only specially trained individuals with a particular skill set can live and work.

Read more at: Axios

Branson’s Virgin Orbit Aims To Redo Launch Demo In December, As It Seeks $150 Million In New Capital

Sir Richard Branson’s small satellite launch specialist Virgin Orbit is looking to bounce back from the failure of its first demonstration launch in May, aiming to fly its next demo mission in December.

Virgin Orbit, which uses a modified Boeing 747 aircraft to launch its rockets, diagnosed the failure to a high-pressure fuel line in the engine, which caused the rocket to shut down shortly after launching. But the company is nearly finished testing the rocket that will fly the second demo mission with a modified engine.

Read more at: CNBC

A Spanish Startup Wants To Challenge Blue Origin, Spacex, And Virgin Galactic By Taking Tourists To The Edge Of Space In Balloons

From Virgin Galactic to Blue Origin and SpaceX, a number of aerospace businesses want to break into space tourism. But British and American companies aren’t the only ones on the scene.

EOS-X Space, a Spanish startup, wants to take 10,000 people to the frontier of space within the next 10 years.

With EOS-X Space, the journeys won’t be in rockets or ultrasonic planes. They’ll instead take place in a pressurized capsule propelled by a balloon that will rise to an altitude of up to 40 kilometers, or nearly 25 miles.

Read more at: Business Insider


The Current State Of Space Debris

Since the beginning of the space age in 1957, tonnes of rockets, spacecraft and instruments have been launched to space. Initially, there was no plan for what to do with them at the end of their lives. Since then, numbers have continued to increase and explosions and collisions in space have created hundreds of thousands of shards of dangerous debris.

“The biggest contributor to the current space debris problem is explosions in orbit, caused by left-over energy – fuel and batteries – onboard spacecraft and rockets. Despite measures being in place for years to prevent this, we see no decline in the number of such events. Trends towards end-of-mission disposal are improving, but at a slow pace,” explains Holger Krag, Head of the Space Safety Programme.

Read more at: ESA

Upper Stages Top List Of Most Dangerous Space Debris

While launch providers are doing a better job at disposing of upper stages left behind in orbit, rocket bodies still constitute the most dangerous pieces of orbital debris.

The European Space Agency released Oct. 12 its annual Space Environment Report, the agency’s assessment of orbital debris. The report identifies more than 25,000 tracked objects, including satellites, upper stages and debris.

Read more at: Spacenews

Could A Superflare Happen On Our Sun?

In recent years, astronomers probing the edges of the Milky Way have observed very strong explosions on stars, which they’ve dubbed “superflares,” that have energies up to 10,000 times that of typical solar flares.

Superflares happen when stars – for reasons that scientists still don’t understand- eject huge bursts of energy that can be seen from hundreds of light years away. Until recently, researchers assumed that such explosions occurred mostly on stars that, unlike Earth’s sun, were young and active.

Read more at: Earthsky

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