Roscosmos Says Premature To Blame External Impact For Crack Aboard Space Station

Specialists continue studying the fracture found in Russia’s Zvezda module of the International Space Station (ISS) but it is premature to blame a possible external impact for its emergence, the federal space agency Roscosmos told TASS on Friday.

“Specialists are currently considering various versions of the fracture’s origin and that is why it is premature to make conclusions about its causes, including an external impact on the module,” Roscosmos said.

Read more at: TASS

SpaceX Traces Engine Problem To Blocked Valve Ahead Of November Crew Launch

SpaceX is replacing two engines on the Falcon 9 booster set to launch four astronauts next month on the company’s first operational Crew Dragon flight to the International Space Station, following an investigation that revealed a subcontractor failed to adequately clean out narrow vent ports on multiple engines across the company’s fleet, officials said Wednesday.

NASA and SpaceX officials said they are working toward a target launch date of Nov. 14 for the Crew Dragon mission, which will take off on top of a Falcon 9 rocket from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Chinese Spacecraft Set For Mars Landing In May: State Media

A Chinese spacecraft is expected to land on Mars in May, state-run media reported on Thursday, citing a space agency official.

The spacecraft, which left Earth in July, is set to land in Utopia Planitia, a plain in the northern hemisphere of Mars, the China News Service reported, citing Liu Tongjie, spokesman for the Mars mission.

Separate spacecraft launched by the United States and the United Arab Emirates this year are also en route to Mars, though only the U.S. one will attempt a landing.

Read more at: Reuters

With Turbopump Issues “Sorted Out,” BE-4 Rocket Engine Moves Into Production

Blue Origin appears to have solved some development issues related to the turbopumps in its powerful BE-4 rocket engine.

United Launch Alliance Chief Executive Tory Bruno said Friday that the problem was “sorted out,” and that the full-scale, flight-configured BE-4 engine is now accumulating a lot of time on the test stand. Bruno made his comments about one hour into The Space Show with David Livingston.

Read more at: Arstechnica

China Focus: 18 Reserve Astronauts Selected For China’s Manned Space Program

China’s manned space program has entered the mission preparation stage with the selection of a new group of 18 reserve astronauts. According to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), the reserve astronauts, including one female, have been selected recently from 2,500 candidates. Among them are seven spacecraft pilots, seven space flight engineers and four payload experts.

Flight engineers and payload experts have been selected for the first time as reserve astronauts to meet China’s space station construction needs.

Read more at: Spacedaily


Spain’s Space Balloon Race Turns Ugly

Many people dream of going into space, but the $250,000 price tag for a Virgin Galactic flight and the risks associated with riding a rocket blast can be off-putting.

Luckily, there may be a more accessible way to experience space — a gentle 2-hour helium balloon ascent to 36km above the Earth, where you can already see the blue marble curvature of the Earth and enter the inky blackness of space.

Read more at: sifted

Rocket Lab Successfully Launches 15th Mission, Deploys Satellites for Planet, Canon Electronics Inc.

Rocket Lab, a space systems company and the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has successfully launched its 15th Electron mission and deployed Earth-imaging satellites for Planet and Spaceflight Inc. customer Canon Electronics. The mission was Rocket Lab’s fifth for this year, making Electron the second-most frequently flown U.S. launch vehicle in 2020.

The ‘In Focus’ mission launched from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula at 21:21 UTC, 28 October 2020.

Read more at: rocketlab usa

D-Orbit Satellite Carrier Delivers Planet SuperDoves to Desired Orbits

D-Orbit of Italy demonstrated the first commercial last-mile delivery service when it finished a two-month campaign Oct. 28, dropping off 12 Planet SuperDove Earth-imaging satellites in orbit.

“Many people talk about this upcoming market of in-orbit transportation or last-mile delivery, filling the gap between the drop off condition provided by the launch vehicle and the target orbit relevant for the operational or business purposes of the end users,” Renato Panesi, D-Orbit chief commercial officer,  told SpaceNews.

Read more at: Spacenews


Solar Cycle 25: the Sun Wakes Up

Experts on the Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel recently announced that the Sun has officially entered a new cycle, its 25th since we’ve had enough data to reliably recognise them. While we can expect space weather to get more exciting in the next few years, with peak sunspot activity expected in 2025, the panel came to the consensus that this next cycle will be very similar to the previous, both generally weaker than the average solar cycle.

Read more at: ESA

Launchspace to Test Debris Collection Payload on ISS Bartolomeo Platform

Launchspace Technologies Corp. announced a contract Oct. 28 with Airbus to test its Orbital Debris Collection and Spacecraft Shielding payload for 12 months on the International Space Station Bartolomeo platform.

For the test scheduled to begin in 2022, Launchspace plans to gather data from the Bartolomeo platform with Debris Impact Pads equipped with sensors to record the impact, force and orbital location of debris on the ISS.

Rad more at: Spacenews

SpaceX Executive Pitches Starship For Space Debris Cleanup

SpaceX could use its Starship vehicles to clear out space debris in Earth orbit, alongside the program’s more publicized purpose of ferrying people and cargo to the moon and Mars, a company executive said.

Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, said the company’s next-generation Starship program could help solve the problem of space junk.

“Starship is an extraordinary new vehicle capability,” Shotwell said in a discussion posted online Oct. 22 by Time. Shotwell was named as one of Time’s 100 most influential people of 2020.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Interview | FCC Chairman Pai On RDOF, Megaconstellations, Debris Rules And C-Band Auction

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s recent run of space-related regulatory actions has earned the agency both praise and scorn from the space industry.

Streamlined licensing procedures adopted earlier this year promise to make it cheaper for smallsat ventures to launch commercial operations, with at least one U.S. startup crediting the FCC’s regulatory relief for its decision to remain a domestic venture.

However, stricter orbital debris mitigation regulations drafted this spring met with stiff industry resistance, prompting the FCC to defer action on some of the more controversial rules.

Read more at: Spacenews

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