Russian Node Module Docks With ISS

A node module billed as the final Russian element of the International Space Station docked with the station Nov. 26.

The Prichal, or “Pier,” module, propelled by a modified Progress cargo spacecraft, docked with the nadir port of the Nauka module at 10:19 a.m. Eastern, a little more than two days after its launch on a Soyuz-2.1b rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The four-ton spherical module serves as a node to allow other spacecraft to dock with the station. Prichal has six docking ports, one of which is used for its connection to Nauka. The others are available for use by Progress and Soyuz spacecraft, and potentially other vehicles in the future.

Read more at: Spacenews

Testing Confirms Webb Telescope on Track for Targeted Dec. 22 Launch

Engineering teams have completed additional testing confirming NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is ready for flight, and launch preparations are resuming toward Webb’s target launch date of Wednesday, Dec. 22, at 7:20 a.m. EST. Additional testing was conducted this week to ensure the observatory’s health following an incident that occurred when the release of a clamp band caused a vibration throughout the observatory.

On Wednesday, Nov. 24, engineering teams completed these tests, and a NASA-led anomaly review board concluded no observatory components were damaged in the incident. A “consent to fuel” review was held, and NASA gave approval to begin fueling the observatory. Fueling operations will begin Thursday, Nov. 25, and will take about 10 days.

Read more at: Arianespace


NASA Delays Astronauts’ Spacewalk Over Space Debris Approaching Orbital Outpost

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has decided to delay a spacewalk of two astronauts scheduled for November 30 over a debris notification received for the International Space Station (ISS), NASA announced on its Twitter on Tuesday.

“NASA received a debris notification for the space station. Due to the lack of opportunity to properly assess the risk it could pose to the astronauts, teams have decided to delay the Nov. 30 spacewalk until more information is available,” NASA tweeted.

Read more at: TASS

Could We Really Deflect An Asteroid Heading For Earth? An Expert Explains NASA’s Latest DART Mission

A NASA spacecraft the size of a golf cart has been directed to smash into an asteroid, with the intention of knocking it slightly off course. The test aims to demonstrate our technological readiness in case an actual asteroid threat is detected in the future.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) lifted off aboard a SpaceX rocket from California on November 23, and will arrive at the target asteroid system in September, next year.

The mission will travel to the asteroid Didymos, a member of the Amor group of asteroids. Every 12 hours Didymos is orbited by a mini-moon, or “moonlet”, Dimorphos. This smaller half of the pair will be DART’s target.

Read more at: Conversation

Expert On Space Junk: When Spacecraft Explode, Answers May Be In The Debris Left Behind

Much of the space junk orbiting Earth won’t clean up itself – or tell you how it got there. Purdue University’s Carolin Frueh and her team are investigating what causes spacecraft to become space junk. Their findings are revealing ways to prevent spacecraft from breaking apart into thousands of pieces of debris that pose a threat to space stations and satellites. Since 1957, there have been more than 570 incidents of spacecraft fragmenting in Earth’s orbit because they exploded, detonated or collided with each other.

Read more at: Purdue

NASA Ready To Launch DART Planetary Defense Demonstration Mission

NASA is ready to launch its first mission devoted to planetary defense, a spacecraft that will collide with the moon of a small asteroid to test the ability to deflect it.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft is scheduled to launch at 1:21 a.m. Eastern Nov. 24 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. At a Nov. 22 media briefing, project officials said the spacecraft and rocket are ready for launch, with a 90% chance of acceptable weather.

DART will fly to the near Earth asteroid Didymos, which has a moon called Dimorphos, about 160 meters across, orbiting it. DART will collide with Dimorphos at a speed of more than 24,000 kilometers per hour in September 2022, changing its orbital period by an estimated 10 minutes.

Read more at: Spacenews

Space Debris: More Storm Clouds Ahead In Orbit, Experts Say

Russia now admittedly carried out a direct-ascent anti-satellite missile mission that took out its own spacecraft, reducing to rubble Cosmos 1408 — a more-than-2-ton Tselina-D spysat that launched into orbit in 1982. On Nov. 15, the defunct spacecraft was shattered, generating a storm cloud of space debris that, according to some estimates, totals 1,500 chunks of junk big enough to be tracked. But the impact doubtless created many more pieces of space debris too tiny to detect from the ground. Who knows how much detritus from the Russian anti-satellite (ASAT) test is actually floating around up there?

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Russia’s Attack On Its Own Satellite Is Reckless And Endangers Us All

Earlier this week, astronauts onboard the International Space Station rushed to seek shelter. The near-evacuation was not caused by an unpredictable space weather event or the millions of pieces of remains of existing space objects and rocket launchers left there since the beginning of the Space Age.

The lives of astronauts were temporarily threatened by a cloud of orbital debris — space junk — created by the testing of anti-satellite (ASAT) capabilities by Russia. What is not temporary is the threat that space debris will pose to the thousands of other functioning satellites that form the backbone of modern economies and societies.

Read more at: Conversation

NASA Updates The Odds Of Asteroid Bennu Hitting Earth

NASA has just updated its predictions about the possibility of the asteroid Bennu slamming into Earth, even going so far as to pinpoint the exact date an impact is most probable: September 24, 2182. Spoiler alert: we’re probably fine. The background: Our solar system contains more than a million asteroids, and most are tiny and highly unlikely to come anywhere near Earth. If a large asteroid were to slam into Earth’s surface, though, the result could be devastating, so NASA established the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) in 2016 to detect and monitor any potentially dangerous asteroids and create a plan to prevent impacts, if possible.

Read more at: Bigthink


Spanish Startup PLD Space Gears Up For 2022 Suborbital Launch

Spanish launch startup PLD Space has debuted a fully assembled Miura 1 reusable suborbital rocket as a step towards its inaugural flight in 2022.

The Miura 1 was unveiled at the National Museum of Natural Science in Madrid Nov. 16. Next, it will be returned to the PLD Space base at Teruel Airport for combined qualification testing including a full mission duration hot fire test.

After testing the stage will be shipped to the launch base to perform a combined test with all the ground segment and ground infrastructure, before launch.

Read more at: Spacenews

India Orders Halt On Starlink Presales Until It Gives Regulatory Approval

India’s government has told SpaceX to stop taking preorders for Starlink broadband services in the country until it has a license to operate there.

India’s Ministry of Communications issued a Nov. 26 statement instructing SpaceX to “refrain from booking/rendering the satellite internet services in India with immediate effect.”

Citizens were also warned against pre-ordering Starlink because the “company has not obtained any license/authorization for rendering satellite based internet services” in India.

SpaceX, which appeared as of Nov. 29 to still be accepting $99 preorder deposits via Starlink’s website for addresses in India, did not respond to SpaceNews about the Indian government’s public advisory.

Read more at: Spacenews

Chinese Space Firms Present Big Ambitions At Commercial Space Forum

Players in China’s emerging commercial space sector have outlined big plans for the coming years at a space forum hosted in Wuhan, central China.

The seventh China Commercial Aerospace Forum (CCAF), held in Wuhan Nov. 25-26, saw state-owned defense and space giant China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp., (CASIC), and a variety of private and state-owned companies present updates and plans for the future.

CASIC and its subsidiaries are pushing ahead with an 80-satellite narrowband constellation named Xingyun, with plans to launch at least 12 Xingyun-2 satellites in 2022 to form the second stage of the three-state constellation.

Read more at: Spacenews

Babin, Lucas Challenge NTSB On Commercial Space Investigative Authority

The top two House Republicans who oversee commercial space activities are challenging a new action by the National Transportation Safety Board to exert more authority in investigating commercial space accidents. In a letter to the NTSB they asked for more information and Rep. Brian Babin introduced a resolution stating that commercial space launch is a developmental activity, not a mode of transportation.

In the letter to NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy, Babin and Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) said the Board’s “attempts to expand its authority would alter the long-standing commercial space accident investigation process and significantly impact the commercial space launch industry, U.S. economic competitiveness, scientific discovery, space exploration, international cooperation, national security, and safety.”

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Blue Origin Transfers ‘Pathfinder’ Rocket To Cape Canaveral Launch Pad

Blue Origin transferred a full-size mock-up of its reusable New Glenn booster through Kennedy Space Center on Nov. 11 from the company’s factory to its launch pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The mock-up, also known as a simulator or pathfinder, allows Blue Origin to practice rocket transport operations for future New Glenn missions. The 188-foot-long (57-meter) first stage simulator emerged from the company’s factory near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on a transporter for the slow, winding route to pad 36 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Blue Origin said the pathfinder will be used for several “mission operations tests” to prepare for future flight hardware. The tests include route verifications, recovery and refurbishment simulations, stage mate simulations, and vehicle rollout at the launch pad, the company said.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now


Pulsar Fusion Demonstrates Green Mach-7 rocket in Switzerland

On Saturday 26 November, In the sleepy mountain town of Gstaad – Switzerland, British company Pulsar Fusion demonstrated its latest green hybrid rocket engine.

An impressive visual plume effect of supersonic shock diamonds, typical of a high temperature high mass flow rate rocket exhaust, could be seen through the snowstorm as the team operated the engine in quickly changing conditions. The exhaust speeds of the engine were recorded at Mach 7. This engine would be capable of launching a small rocket to an altitude of several 10s of km, well above UK airspace, or powering the upper stage of a rocket with a larger booster stage into orbit.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Scientists: Space Travel Could Bring Alien Organisms to Earth

When we make forays into outer space, there is a chance we may bring back something harmful to Earth.

“In the face of increasing space missions (including those intended to return samples to Earth), it is crucial to reduce the risks of biological contamination in both directions,” said Anthony Ricciardi, a professor of invasion biology at McGill University in Montreal, according to The Independent.

Any invasive species encountered on an alien planet would probably be microbial and resemble bacteria on Earth, he explained.

Read more at: Newsmax

Creation Of Parachute For Russian Reusable Rocket Stages To Start In 2022, Says Designer

The research on the creation of a parachute system for reusable space rocket stages is planned to start as early as in 2022, a source in the press service of the Technodinamika holding (part of the Rostec state tech corporation) told TASS.

“The holding will start the research on the creation of the parachute system for reusable space rocket stages as early as in 2022. Following it a technical task will be drafted for the respective R&D work,” the press service said.

Russia is currently developing a new Amur methane-powered reusable rocket system. Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos and the Progress Space Rocket Center signed a contract last October on the conceptual design of a space rocket system with the Amur reusable methane-fueled first rocket stage.

Read more at: TASS

Eagle Professor’s Space Debris Removal Device Receives Patent

An Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University professor and his co-inventors patented a device that provides a workable strategy for combating the problem of debris accumulating in space from defunct satellites.

Known as the Drag De-Orbit Device, or D3, the invention can guide small satellites from low Earth orbit, maneuvering them through Earth’s atmosphere, where they burn up. Destruction of the satellites – known as CubeSats, which are increasingly used in low-cost research experiments – is necessary to prevent them from colliding with and damaging other orbiting systems, including manned spacecraft such as the International Space Station.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Pangea Aerospace Tests Aerospike Engine

A European small launch vehicle startup has successfully tested a small version of an aerospike engine powered by methane and liquid oxygen it plans to scale up for use in an orbital vehicle.

Barcelona-based Pangea Aerospace announced Nov. 16 that it completed a series of tests of the aerospike engine, called Demo P1, at a facility in Lampoldshausen, Germany, operated by the German space agency DLR. Those tests, performed over a month, included one test where the 20-kilonewton (4,500-pound-force) engine ran for two and a half minutes.

Read more at: Spacenews

DARPA To Launch Dod’s First In-Space Manufacturing Research Program

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in a new program will explore options to conduct biomanufacturing in space, using biological systems like microbes to construct materials for use in orbital operations.

The project, led by DARPA’s biological technologies office, is called B-SURE, short for biomanufacturing, survival, utility and reliability beyond Earth.

“The B-SURE program is a fundamental study that will explore adapting microbes to space conditions,” project manager Anne Cheever said in a news release. “The hope is that eventually this technology will enable in-space production of molecules relevant to space flight.”

Read more at: Spacenews

Six Ways Shoebox-Sized Satellites Are Trying To Change The World

The CubeSat is a small but mighty bit of tech. About the size of a shoebox, the tiny satellites were invented by Professor Bob Twiggs in 1999 as an educational tool for students.

“They couldn’t put very much in it, which was the real challenge. It forced them to quit adding things to their designs,” Bob says, laughing.

Quicker and cheaper to build and launch than conventional satellites, there are now hundreds of CubeSats orbiting Earth, made by universities, start-ups and governments.

Read more at: BBC

New Russian Prichal Node Module Heading To Space Station

The last planned Russian International Space Station module has launched toward the outpost for a scheduled docking in two days. Called Prichal, which is Russian for berth, this small node module launched atop a Soyuz 2.1b rocket at 8:06 a.m. EST (13:06 UTC) Nov. 24, 2021, from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It is being carried to the ISS via a modified Progress service module called Progress M-UM and is scheduled to dock with the Nauka module at 10:26 a.m. EST (15:26 UTC) Nov. 26. Prichal will be attached to the space-facing port of the Nauka module, which itself arrived at the ISS over the summer, replacing the two-decade-old Pirs docking compartment. This last Russian module launched 23 years and 4 days after the launch of the first module, Zarya.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

Skyroot Successfully Test Fires India’s First Privately Developed Cryogenic Rocket Engine

Spacetech start-up Skyroot Aerospace announced last week that it has successfully tested Dhawan-1, India’s first privately developed fully cryogenic rocket engine.

Named in honour of Indian rocket scientist Satish Dhawan, the rocket successfully demonstrates the technology that will power the upper stages of its upcoming Vikram-2 orbital launch vehicle, one of three launch vehicles Skyroot has designed specifically for the small satellite market.

Vikram-1 can carry a payload of up to 225 kilogrammes to a 500 kilometre sun synchronous polar orbit (SSPO), or 315 kilogrammes to 45 degree inclination 500 kilometre low Earth orbit (LEO). The largest rocket, Vikram-3 can transport 580 kilograms to SSPO, or 720 kilograms to LEO.

Read more at: Room journal


The Dangers Of Anarchy In Space

I can’t think of a more dramatic illustration of how reckless actions in space put all at grave risk than Russia’s recent anti-satellite (ASAT) test blowing up one of its own defunct satellites and creating a cloud of more than 1,500 pieces of space debris.

Even small pieces of debris, when traveling at some 17,000 miles per hour, can cause horrific damage to satellites, disrupting the space infrastructure that is the nervous system of modern life. Moscow’s test forced astronauts (including its own cosmonauts) on board the International Space Station (ISS) to take emergency safety measures for fear of collision. Moscow’s test followed a similarly dangerous Chinese ASAT test in 2007, and a U.S. ASAT test (though designed to minimize debris) in 2008.

Read more at: Hill

Space Force Official: Satellites In Orbit Have Become Pawns In Geopolitical Chess Games

China and Russia for decades have watched the United States display its military power, much of it enabled by satellites in space. China’s recent demonstration of an orbital hypersonic weapon and Russia blowing up a satellite in orbit are expected countermoves, said Space Force deputy chief of operations Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman.

What is happening in space is a “natural consequence” of how military powers historically behave as they try to gain a leg up on adversaries, Saltzman said Nov. 29 during a Mitchell Institute online event.

Read more at: Spacenews

How America Wins the Future

On December 1, Vice President Kamala Harris will convene the Biden Administration’s first meeting of the National Space Council in Washington. The gathering will provide an opportunity for Harris to refine the Biden Administration’s priorities for space, especially for NASA.

While military space priorities are often driven by the threats we face and commercial space is driven by markets, NASA—from its earliest days when President John F. Kennedy chose to go to the Moon—is most effective when strongly supported by a presidential administration.

Read more at: Spacereview

Europe’s Space Agency Dreams Of Launching Its Own Astronauts Amid Ambitious ‘Accelerator’ Plans

The European Space Agency (ESA) wants to push the pedal to the metal in its efforts to exploit the cosmos. Ministers from ESA’s 22 member states today put their names to a manifesto that calls for prioritizing three urgent initiatives, dubbed “Accelerators,” aimed at tackling the climate crisis, responding to natural disasters, and protecting spacecraft from orbital debris and damaging space weather. The manifesto aims to speed up plans for a “digital twin of our planet”—an all-encompassing computer model of the entire Earth system—to help figure out how to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“In times of unprecedented challenges facing Europe and the world at large, it is the moment to contribute with bold, shared ambitions to solutions enabled by space,” write the ministers, who met in Matosinhos, Portugal.

Read more at: Science

Space Law Hasn’t Been Changed Since 1967, But The UN Aims To Update Laws And Keep Space Peaceful

On November 15, Russia destroyed one of its own old satellites using a missile launched from the surface of the Earth, creating a massive debris cloud that threatens many space assets, including astronauts onboard the International Space Station (see “After another ASAT test, will governments finally take action?”, The Space Review, November 22, 2021). This happened only two weeks after the United Nations General Assembly First Committee formally recognized the vital role that space and space assets play in international efforts to better the human experience – and the risks military activities in space pose to those goals.

Read more at: Space review


A Space Force General Said US Hypersonic Missile Capabilities Are ‘Not As Advanced’ China And Russia’s

A Space Force general said the US’s hypersonic missile capabilities are “not as advanced” as Russia and China have. Gen. David Thompson, the vice chief of space operations, said on Saturday: “We’re not as advanced as the Chinese or the Russians in terms of hypersonic programs,” Politico reported. He was speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada. He said the US has “catching up to do very quickly,” Politico reported.

Read more at: Business Insider

EU Nations Add Air, Space And Drone Tech To Their Defense Cooperation Roster

European Union defense ministers this week approved new collaborative projects meant to boost the bloc’s military capabilities in air, space and drone operations.

The fourth wave of 14 initiatives boosts the slate of Permanent Structured Cooperation projects to 60 since late 2017. Collectively, they represent a key component of EU defense aspirations, though fielding any usable equipment as a result is still years away.

Read more at: Defense news

Russian Military Launches New Missile Warning Satellite

Russia’s military successfully deployed a spacecraft in orbit Nov. 25 to join a constellation of satellites circling the globe to monitor for missile launches.

A Soyuz-2.1b rocket and Fregat upper stage lifted the military payload into orbit from the snow-covered Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. Launch occurred at 0109 GMT on Nov. 25 (8:09 p.m. EST on Nov. 24), according to a statement issued by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

The Soyuz rocket’s four first stage boosters fired two minutes, followed by jettison of the rocket’s core stage at the five-minute mark. A third stage engine burned next to place the Fregat upper stage and the Russian military payload on a suborbital trajectory.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now


Virgin Orbit and NextGen Announce Director Nominees to Virgin Orbit Board of Directors

Virgin Orbit, a leading responsive launch and space solutions company and NextGen Acquisition Corp. II (“NextGen”) (NASDAQ: NGCA), a special purpose acquisition company that has announced a planned business combination with Virgin Orbit, has announced the nominees for the board of directors of the combined company Virgin Orbit Holdings, Inc. (“Virgin Orbit Holdings”).

The Virgin Orbit Holdings board will be convened upon the closing of the business combination, which is subject to shareholder approval and other customary closing conditions. Virgin Orbit Holdings will retain the Virgin Orbit name and its common stock is expected to trade on the NASDAQ exchange under the new ticker “VORB”.

Read more at: Spaceref

Rare Einstein Manuscript Sells For Record-Smashing $13 Million At Auction

A 54-page manuscript co-written by Albert Einstein and Swiss engineer Michele Besso has sold at auction on Tuesday (Nov 23) for a record-breaking $13 million. According to Christie’s auction house, which hosted the sale, the manuscript has set a new record for the most expensive autographed scientific document ever sold. The identity of the buyer has not been revealed, though Christie’s noted that the auction attracted the interest of buyers around the world. The manuscript in question was written by Einstein and Besso between June 1913 and early 1914, when the pair tested equations that would ultimately become the foundation of Einstein’s theory of relativity.

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Japan To Recruit First New Astronauts In 13 Years To Support Artemis Program

Japan’s space agency is set to recruit astronaut candidates for the first time in 13 years as part of efforts to support the NASA-led Artemis lunar exploration program. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced the recruitment plan Nov. 19, saying successful candidates would be assigned to work long-term at the International Space Station (ISS), the Japanese experiment module “Kibo” attached to ISS, or NASA’s lunar orbit outpost Gateway. JAXA, under an agreement with NASA, is set to provide several capabilities for the Gateway’s International Habitation module (I-Hab), which will provide the heart of Gateway life support capabilities and additional space where crew will live, work, and conduct research during Artemis missions.

Read more at: Spacenews

Apply Now To The Brand New ESA Junior Professional Programme!

Positions are now open for Junior Professionals! Do you have a strong interest in space? Do you aspire to channel your knowledge, interest and experience into a career in the space sector? Open to Master’s degree graduates with two to three years of professional experience, this programme offers a three-year placement with the opportunity to join ESA’s permanent workforce upon completion of the assignment.

Read more at: ESA

An Alabama Woman Became The Only Human In History Hit By A Meteorite

On November 30, 1954, Ann Hodges became the only known person in history to be struck by a meteorite.

You know how the saying goes, “if you get struck by a meteorite, go buy a lottery ticket.” Made up quotes aside, on November 30, 1954, Ann Hodges became the first person to get hit by a meteorite.

Let’s paint the picture. You’re at home, lying on your couch and enjoying an afternoon nap. You’re covered with quilts. Essentially the most quaint scene. Suddenly, a meteorite comes crashing through your roof, pinballs off of your radio and onto your hip.

Read more at: Weather network

Memorabilia Dealer To Fly Diamonds, Personal Photos On Space Station

“Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky.”

How do you make a diamond more precious than it already is? Like the nursery rhyme says, fly it high.

The Space Collective, a space memorabilia dealer that has previously launched clothing labels and name tags into Earth orbit, has announced its latest offering: “Space Diamonds.”

“Give the gift of the stars with a genuine Space Diamond that is scheduled to be launched into space up to the International Space Station in October 2022!” wrote Richard Garner, proprietor of The Space Collective.

More than just a quick trip to the space station and back, the diamonds will be mounted with science experiments on a platform outside of the orbital complex for at least six months. The diamonds will then be retrieved and packed on board a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for their return to Earth.

Read more at: Collectspace

Blue Origin To Fly 1st Astronaut’s Daughter, GMA Host On New Shepard

Sixty years after watching her father launch on the first American spaceflight, Laura Shepard Churchley is ready to follow in his footsteps.

The eldest daughter of the late Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, Churchley has been confirmed to fly on Blue Origin’s New Shepard launch vehicle as a member of its third human spaceflight and first six-person crew. Scheduled to take flight from the company’s West Texas launch site on Dec. 9, the NS-19 mission will also include former professional football player and “Good Morning America” (GMA) anchor Michael Strahan, who will become the first Black person to launch aboard a suborbital spaceflight.

The NS-19 crew, including four additional paying passengers — Dylan Taylor, Evan Dick and Lane and Cameron Bess — was announced by Blue Origin on Tuesday (Nov. 23).

Read more at: Collectspace