Chuck Yeager, 1st To Break Sound Barrier, Dies At 97

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles “Chuck” Yeager, the World War II fighter pilot ace and quintessential test pilot who showed he had the “right stuff” when in 1947 he became the first person to fly faster than sound, has died. He was 97.

Yeager died Monday, his wife, Victoria Yeager, said on his Twitter account.

“It is w/ profound sorrow, I must tell you that my life love General Chuck Yeager passed just before 9pm ET. An incredible life well lived, America’s greatest Pilot, & a legacy of strength, adventure, & patriotism will be remembered forever.”

Read more at: ABC news

Samples Of Asteroid Ryugu Arrive In Japan After Successful Hayabusa2 Capsule Landing

Japanese scientists are thrilled to finally have asteroid samples arrive Monday (Dec. 7) after a long flight from Australia — and a much longer journey through the solar system.

Those rocks originate on a near-Earth asteroid called Ryugu; the Hayabusa2 spacecraft snagged them in 2019 before a yearlong journey to deliver them to Earth in a small sample-return capsule. The capsule landed on Dec. 5 in the Woomera Prohibited Area in South Australia, creating a stunning fireball in the pre-dawn skies.

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Read more at: free press journal

NASA, Boeing Targeting March 2021 For Next Starliner Test Flight

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule will launch toward the International Space Station (ISS) in March 2021, if all goes according to plan.

Boeing and NASA announced on Wednesday (Dec. 9) that they’re targeting March 29 for the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2), Starliner’s second attempt to meet up with the orbiting lab. On the first try, in December 2019, Starliner suffered a glitch with its onboard timing system, got stranded in the wrong orbit and came back down to Earth without achieving the planned rendezvous.

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A Rocket From 1966 Has Found Its Way Back to Earth’s Orbit

Fifty-four years ago, NASA launched the Surveyor 2, an uncrewed mission to explore the surface of the moon. Alas, the spacecraft went into a tumble en route, after a failed course-correction burn, and it slammed into the lunar surface at 2.7 kilometers per second. But the rocket booster used during its launch followed a different trajectory into space and has now begun orbiting Earth. That’s the conclusion of astronomers who have been studying 2020 SO, an unusual object first spotted this past August.

Read more at: Wired

Aerospace Corp. Raises Questions About Pollutants Produced During Satellite And Rocket Reentry

As the combined mass of satellites in orbit climbs, research is needed to better understand the environmental impact of the portions of satellites and launch vehicles that eventually reenter Earth’s atmosphere, according to an Aerospace Corp. poster presented at the virtual American Geophysical Union fall meeting.

The Aerospace Corp. conducted a preliminary study to assess potential environmental impacts as the population of satellites in orbit continues to grow.

Read more at: Spacenews

Space Weather Researchers Need Detailed Impact Data

Researchers seeking to improve space weather forecasting need detailed information on the impact of previous space weather events from airplane, power grid and satellite operators, according to a panel of experts speaking at the virtual American Geophysical Union fall meeting.

“One of the impediments to being able to do good space weather is to know what the impacts are,” said Alexa Jean Halford, a space weather physicist working at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Read more at: Spacenews


Would You Take a 19-Mile-High Balloon Ride to the Edge of Space?

Billionaire visionaries like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are promising to ferry paying passengers into space over the next few years. But, even after commercial space tourism becomes a reality, it’ll be a while before the common man can afford a ticket to an orbiting resort. Until then, edge-of-space balloon rides might be the next best thing. One pioneering company is promising just that.

Space Perspective is touting flights to the edge of space in a one-of-a-kind “high-performance balloon and pressurized capsule.”

Read more at: manual

Virgin Orbit Will Carry 10 Cubesats On Its Launcherone Demo 2 Flight This Month

Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket will perform in its second demonstration flight later this year, according to a company announcement.

Virgin Orbit is designed to deliver about 1,100 lbs. (500 kilograms) of small-satellite payloads into low Earth orbit using an air-launch strategy. During operational flights, a modified Boeing 747 carrier plane carries LauncherOne up to an altitude of 35,000 feet (10,700 meters); the rocket then travels on its own into space. Virgin Orbit is part of billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.

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Elon Musk’s Starship Launches Successfully But Lands Hard, Explodes In What Spacex Calls An ‘Awesome Test’

A prototype of the massive spacecraft Elon Musk’s SpaceX is building to take people to the moon and Mars exploded upon landing Wednesday after a seemingly successful launch and flight. Still, the company called it “an awesome test,” and Musk said the company “got all the data we needed.”

The Starship rocket has been Musk’s passion for years, a vehicle that has gone through multiple design changes as SpaceX has worked to develop a craft that could eventually fly people to deep space.

Read more at: Washington post

Virgin Galactic Aborts First Powered Spaceflight From New Mexico Spaceport

This morning, Richard Branson’s space tourism company Virgin Galactic had to abort its first powered test flight of its spaceplane from the company’s home in New Mexico, bringing the vehicle home before it could reach space. During the flight, the spaceplane’s engine cut out too early and the vehicle’s two pilots had to glide back down to the ground early.

The aborted engine ignition was caught live by a Twitch livestream provided by the outlet NASASpaceflight. The video showed the spaceplane, called VSS Unity, dropping away from its carrier aircraft in mid-air as planned. The vehicle then briefly ignited its main engine, according to the video, but the ignition cut out after just a moment. On a typical flight, the spaceplane’s engine will stay ignited for a full minute, propelling the vehicle to the edge of space.

Read more at: Verge

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