Dr S Somnath Being Considered For Chairmanship of ISRO; P Kunhikrishnan In Race For IN-SPACe

Two scientists from Kerala are likely to head two space research institutes in India. While VSSC director and Alappuzha native Dr S Somnath is being considered for the chairmanship of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Payyannur native P Kunhikrishnan is in the race for the chairmanship of the newly formed Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe).The appointment will be made by a three-member central cabinet committee chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A decision will be made next month.

Read more at: Indian defense news

Huge Puerto Rico Radio Telescope, Already Damaged, Collapses

The telescope’s 900-ton receiver platform and the Gregorian dome — a structure as tall as a four-story building that houses secondary reflectors — fell onto the northern portion of the vast reflector dish more than 400 feet below.

The U.S. National Science Foundation had earlier announced that it would close the radio telescope.

Read more at: ABC news

Chinese Spacecraft Carrying Lunar Rocks Lifts Off From Moon

A Chinese spacecraft lifted off from the moon Thursday night with a load of lunar rocks, the first stage of its return to Earth, the government space agency reported.

Chang’e 5, the third Chinese spacecraft to land on the moon and the first to take off from it again, is the latest in a series of increasingly ambitious missions for Beijing’s space program, which also has a orbiter and rover headed to Mars.

Read more at: ABC news

Japan’s Asteroid Sample Return Capsule is Back on Earth

Japan’s Hayabusa2 asteroid sample return capsule landed near Woomera, Australia this afternoon Eastern Standard Time, ending a 6-year quest. Returning samples of asteroid Ryugu was Hayabusa2’s primary purpose, but now that it has dropped off the capsule, the main spacecraft is continuing on to rendezvous with another asteroid in 2031.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) tweeted that the capsule was located at 2:47 pm Eastern Standard Time today (December 6, 4:47 am Japan Standard Time) after a helicopter search, ending this phase of the mission.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online


The Space Weather Experts Who Give The Go-Ahead On When To Launch And Avoid Disaster

On March 26, 1987, NASA launched Atlas/Centaur AC-26 from Cape Canaveral. Just 49 seconds after liftoff, it was struck by lightning.

The electrical charge of the lightning strike sent an erroneous message to the engines, causing them to overfire and the rocket to break up, leading to the break up of the launch vehicle.

Luckily, no astronauts were on board, but a multimillion-dollar Navy satellite that required years to manufacture was lost.

Read more at: Washington examiner

The Sun Fires Off Its Biggest Solar Flare In More Than 3 Years

The sun unleashed its most powerful solar eruption in more than three years on Sunday (Nov. 29). 


The solar flare, which is a sudden, bright explosion of electromagnetic energy, measured as an M4.4 on the scale astronomers use for sun storms. M-class flares are medium-sized eruptions (compared to small C-class flares and large X-class flares) and rank on a scale from 1 to 9, with larger numbers representing stronger flares. 

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Losing Arecibo’s Giant Dish Leaves Humans More Vulnerable To Space Rocks, Scientists Say

Ignorance may feel like bliss, but preparedness offers better odds of surviving what is to come. And when it comes to planetary defense, ignorance just became a bit more inevitable.


Planetary defense is the art of identifying and mitigating threats to Earth from asteroid impacts. And among its tools is planetary radar, an unusual capability that can give scientists a much better look at a nearby object. Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico was one of only a couple such systems on the planet, and that instrument’s long tenure is over now after two failed cables made the telescope so unstable that there was no way to even evaluate its status without risking workers’ lives, according to the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), which owns the site. Instead, it will be decommissioned.

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Solar Superstorms of the Past Help NASA Scientists Understand Risks for Satellites

At the edge of space, the ever-growing fleet of satellites in low-Earth orbit are locked in a constant, precarious battle with friction. 

These satellites orbit in a normally quiet region hundreds of miles above the surface, at the edge of Earth’s atmosphere. Usually, the satellites only feel a gentle push due to the headwinds of the rarified air there, but extreme storms from the Sun can change Earth’s atmosphere enough to pull a satellite farther off orbit in one day than they’d normally experience in a year.

Read more at: NASA

Taking Out The Trash: One Man’s Mission To Tidy Up The Space Environment

Earth is encircled by derelict spacecraft, the remains of exploded rocket stages, and myriad bits of orbiting debris — from tiny chips of paint to the lingering leftovers of past but purposeful anti-satellite tests. Collectively, such high-speed clutter and other litter-causing activities heighten the risk of damaging or short-circuiting the performance of functional spacecraft.

The debris threat is a recognized reality. Outer space has already been termed a “tragedy of the commons” in the making. What avenues need to be taken to curb creation of orbiting rubble, help pinpoint the prospect of space collisions, and — above all — become better stewards of sustaining a quality space environment?

Read more at: Spacenews

ESA Signs Contract For First Space Debris Removal Mission

The European Space Agency (ESA) has finalized an 86 million euro ($104 million) contract with Swiss start-up ClearSpace SA to complete the world’s first space debris removal mission. 

ClearSpace-1 represents the first space debris removal that is not a demonstration mission, ESA Director General, Jan Wörner, said during a Dec. 1 media briefing. The payload adapter ClearSpace-1 intends to retrieve is an active piece of space debris, something that is far more challenging to retrieve than a stable target, he added.

Read more at: Spacenews


Radian Aerospace Pursues A Stealthy And Unorthodox Plan For Orbital Space Plane

For years, Renton, Wash.-based Radian Aerospace has been working on a rocket project while holding its cards close to the vest. Now several of the big puzzle pieces have been put together to reveal what Radian’s executives and backers have in mind: a rail-launched space plane that could carry passengers to orbit and back.

The key piece, as reported by Business Insider, is a presentation that Radian CEO Richard Humphrey delivered to potential investors during a virtual conference in June.

Read more at: Geekwire

Rocket Lab Says Recovered Booster In “Good Condition,” Some Parts Will Re-Fly

Rocket Lab successfully launched its “Return to Sender” mission 10 days ago. Then, for the first time, the company attempted to recover the Electron booster’s first stage from the ocean after this launch, and now Rocket Lab has provided a preliminary assessment of the vehicle’s condition.

In summary, the company said in an update on its website, “We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome of our first recovery attempt and the team is thrilled.” The rocket came back in such good condition, the company added, “We will re-qualify and re-fly some components.”

Read more at: Arstechnica

Meet Ravn X—A Fully Autonomous, Air-Launched Rocket For Small Satellites

An Alabama-based startup unveiled a launch system unlike any other on Thursday in Jacksonville, Florida.

The company is named Aevum, and until now it has largely operated in the background. But now, it’s ready to show off some hardware, and it’s starting with the “Ravn X” launch system’s first stage. This autonomous aircraft and launch vehicle measures 24 meters long and has a wingspan of 18 meters. It has a gross takeoff mass of 25,000kg—massive for an uncrewed aerial vehicle.

Read more at: Arstechnica

FAA Approves SpaceX’s Starship Launch in South Texas

A 17-story-tall silver spacecraft is testing patience and capturing imaginations in South Texas.

At the SpaceX launch facility in  Boca Chica  — near the mouth of the Rio Grande — Starship SN8 stands in the coastal breeze, ready to blastoff to roughly 50,000 feet sometime soon.

The craft’s planned flight, its first above 500 feet, will also test its ability to glide and land vertically on a pad near its launch site.

Read more at: govtech

Rocket Report: Billionaire Backs Scottish Spaceport, Relativity Bags a Bundle

Welcome to Edition 3.24 of the Rocket Report! It’s December, and we could see a number of big smallsat launches this month, including from Virgin Orbit and Astra. But in the immediate future, our eyes are on South Texas, where a Starship prototype is due to make a high leap early next week.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Stratospheric Ballooning Company Space Perspective Raises $7 Million

Space Perspective, a startup planning to offer tourists trips to the edge of space in a high-altitude balloon, has raised $7 million in a seed round that will allow the company to test its technologies.

Space Perspective announced Dec. 2 it closed the seed round, led by funds Prime Movers Lab and Base Ventures. Others participating in the round included Kirenaga Partners’ Central Florida Tech Fund, 1517 Fund, Schox, E2MC Ventures and SpaceFund Venture Capital, as well as entrepreneur and author Tony Robbins.

Read more at: Spacenews

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