Exos Aerospace Finds Cause of Launch Failure, Targets Next Liftoff for 2020

After refining its suborbital sounding rocket across multiple launches, Exos Aerospace has found the cause of its October launch failure, according to the company’s co-founder.

The Suborbital Autonomous Rocket with Guidance (SARGE) sounding rocket (which flies high in the atmosphere) crashed minutes after it lifted off from Spaceport America in New Mexico on Oct. 26. Now, we know what went wrong: A composite part just below the nose cone failed, causing the nose cone to slide down into the rocket, John Quinn, Exos Aerospace’s co-founder and chief operating officer, told The booster then flew nearly horizontally, beyond any hope of recovery, he said. 

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‘We Are Go For Launch!’ – Boeing To Fly Historic Starliner Mission To The International Space Station Next Week

Just in time for Christmas, NASA and Boeing have announced that the latter’s Starliner spacecraft will launch on an uncrewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, December 20 – and it’ll even have some presents for the astronauts on board.

The monumentous mission, the first time Boeing’s Starliner vehicle will have launched to space, follows years of development and $4.2 billion in funding as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program. Already this year, in March, SpaceX launch an uncrewed test flight of its Crew Dragon vehicle as part of the program.

Read more at: Forbes

Why China’s Next Long March 5 Rocket Mission Will Be About Restoring National Pride

A Long March 5 rocket is expected to blast off from a site in southern China this month carrying not only a next-generation communications satellite, but the hope that the mission will restore pride in the programme after a series of setbacks.

One of the sources who confirmed the plan said that the atmosphere at Wenchang Space Launch Centre on the northern tip of Hainan Island was “so tense there seems to be a shortage of oxygen”.

The Long March 5 – also known as the CZ-5 – is the largest launch vehicle in China’s space fleet. It can carry 25 tonnes into low Earth orbit, typically 645-1,610km (400-1,000 miles) from the surface.

Read more at: scmp

Boeing, NASA Clash Over Push For Congress To Fund New Stage For Moon Rocket

At a ceremony this week at NASA’s New Orleans assembly plant where Boeing is building what will be the most powerful rocket ever to fly, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine cheered the “beautiful, beautiful” progress its prime contractor had made on the gigantic and much maligned project. He declared the troubles that have long plagued the development of the rocket’s main section to be in the past.

What he did not mention was the fight brewing behind the scenes over Boeing’s effort to force NASA to fast-track the company’s next offering: a new, enhanced second stage that would give the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket dramatically more oomph than even the mighty Saturn V that sent astronauts to the moon during the Apollo era.

Read more at: Washington post

SpaceX Dragon Successfully Docks With The International Space Station

SpaceX made an early holiday delivery to the International Space Station on Sunday, dropping off super muscular “mighty mice,” pest-killing worms and a smart, empathetic robot.

The station commander, Italy’s Luca Parmitano, used a large robot arm to grab onto the Dragon three days after its launch from Cape Canaveral. The two spacecraft soared 260 miles (420 kilometers) above the South Pacific at the time of capture.

“Whenever we welcome a new vehicle on board, we take on board also a little bit of the soul of everybody that contributed to the project, so welcome on board,” Parmitano told Mission Control.

Read more at: CNBC

Russian Supply Ship Docks With International Space Station

An unmanned Russian ship carrying tons of supplies successfully docked Monday with the International Space Station.

The Progress MS-13 cargo ship had lifted off on Friday atop a Soyuz rocket from the Russian space complex in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

It successfully docked with the space outpost on Monday at 1035 GMT.

The Progress brought about 3 tons (2.7 metric tons) of food, fuel and supplies to the space station, which currently has six astronauts aboard — NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan, Jessica Meir and Christina Koch; Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency; and Russia’s Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka.

Read more at: ABC news

Preparing To Test Orion Spacecraft Requires A Big Plane, Huge Cranes And A Vacuum Cleaner

NASA’s Super Guppy flew low in the sky as it transported the Orion spacecraft to Ohio. After it touched down, a series of events began to unfold to transfer the Artemis I vehicle to NASA’s Plum Brook Station for testing.

The capsule was pulled out of the belly of the Super Guppy and lifted onto a 130-foot long, 38-wheel truck that maneuvered Ohio’s back roads to get to the facility in Sandusky. This spacecraft is the largest load ever driven through the state, and more than 700 utility lines along the route were raised or moved to accommodate its massive size.

Read more at: Spacedaily


US Tightens Space Debris Standards; Keeps 25-Year Cap

The long-awaited revision of the rules for managing dangerous space junk set new, more restrictive operational standards for US satellite operators — including the Pentagon. However, the new rules stop short of changing the central prohibition on the time post-mission debris can remain in orbit from the current 25 years.

The 25-year rule was the subject of fierce interagency debate, DoD and other agencies pushed NASA to lower the threshold for disposing of dead satellites by removing those in Low Earth Orit (LEO) or boosting those in Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO, 36,000 kilometers about the Earth) to a higher ‘graveyard’ orbit.

Orbital Debris Mitigation Standard Practices, November 2019 Update

Read more at: Breaking defense

Europe Is Launching a Suicide Robot to ‘Hug’ Space Trash Out of Orbit

The largest garbage dump on Earth might be in space.In low Earth orbit — the space around our planet up to about 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) in altitude — more than 3,000 defunct satellites and tens of millions of smaller pieces of debris clatter around the atmosphere. And each is moving at tens of thousands of miles per hour. Sometimes, two big pieces of this so-called “space junk” crash into each other, fragmenting into yet more junk, each one a tiny bullet of trash that could critically damage satellites and spacecraft.

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Near-Earth Asteroid Numbers Grow In Record Year

People using telescopes to stare at the night sky on December 20 or 26 might see a distant light traversing the heavens, but proclaiming it as a harbinger of a New Testament rerun would be unwise.

The European Space Agency’s Near-Earth Object Coordination Centre advises that on neither night will the Star of Bethlehem be visible, but an asteroid very likely will be.

On December 20 a 300-metre-wide rock known as (216258) 2006 WH1 will whizz by. Six days later, (310442) 2000 CH59 – a bit bigger, at 400 metres – will do the same.

Read more at: Cosmos

Oneweb And Oneweb Satellites Bolster Commitment To Responsible Space With Advanced Grappling Technology From Altius Space Machines

OneWeb, whose goal is to connect everyone everywhere, and OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between Airbus and OneWeb are coming together to advance the OneWeb Responsible Space program with a commitment to implement an advanced-technology grappling fixture, developed by Altius Space Machines, on OneWeb’s satellites.

Dedicated to the idea that Space is a shared natural resource and if used responsibly, can help transform the way we live, work, and connect, OneWeb and OneWeb Satellites are leading the satellite industry in ensuring that multiple types of removal technology are developed and embedded in every satellite launched to prevent the creation of Space debris.

Read more at: Oneweb


Blue Origin’s New Shepard Conducts 12th Test Launch

Blue Origin launched its suborbital New Shepard rocket and crew capsule on an uncrewed test flight from the company’s launch and landing facility in West Texas. The launch, with multiple scientific payloads serving as the passengers for the mission, moved to Wednesday, following poor weather forecasts for the opening launch attempt on Tuesday. The flight was successful.

This was the 12th total test flight of the New Shepard launch system, and the 3rd such flight in the year 2019.

New Shepard is the first in a line of vehicles that Blue Origin will potentially operate. The booster and capsule were built to serve the suborbital space tourism market, which allows paying customers to experience a few minutes of zero-G flight before safely returning to Earth via a parachute-assisted landing.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

Exclusive: Buyer Of Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch Space Venture Is Secretive Trump Ally

The new owner of Stratolaunch, the space venture started by late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, is Steve Feinberg, a secretive billionaire with close ties to President Donald Trump.

In October, Stratolaunch announced that it had transitioned ownership from Allen’s holding company, Vulcan Inc., but did not identify who had bought the company. Now business filings obtained by GeekWire show the new owner to be Cerberus Capital Management, a controversial private equity firm specializing in distressed companies.

Read more at: Geekwire

Rocket Lab To Debut Virginia Launch Pad With U.S. Air Force Mission Next Year

Rocket Lab plans to launch a research and development microsatellite mission for the U.S. Air Force in the first half of 2020 on the the first flight from the company’s new launch facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, officials announced Thursday.

Company officials announced the payload and launch schedule Thursday during a media briefing at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility to provide an update on Rocket Lab’s first U.S. launch pad.

Rocket Lab, a U.S.-New Zealand company, has launched all 10 of its Electron rocket missions from the privately-owned Launch Complex 1 on Mahia Peninsula, located on the eastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

German Launch Startup Raises $17 Million With Help From Airbus Ventures And An Ex-SpaceX Employee

Isar Aerospace, a German startup developing a small launch vehicle, has raised $17 million in a Series A round led by Airbus Ventures and Earlybird Venture Capital. 

Munich-based Isar Aerospace is developing Spectrum, a two-stage, liquid-fueled rocket designed to launch 1,000 kilograms to low Earth orbit. 

One of the company’s advisers and investors is Bulent Altan, the co-chief executive of German laser communications startup Mynaric who worked at SpaceX from 2004 to 2014 and returned in 2016 for two-year stint working on SpaceX’s Starlink broadband constellation.

Read more at: Spacenews

This Was The Decade The Commercial Spaceflight Industry Leapt Forward

Two years into the decade, on May 25th, 2012, a small teardrop-shaped capsule arrived at the International Space Station, packed with cargo and supplies for the crew living on board. Its resupply mission at the ISS wasn’t remarkable, but the vehicle itself was unique: it was a Dragon cargo capsule, owned and operated by a private company called SpaceX.

Before 2012, only vehicles operated by governments had ever visited the ISS. The Dragon was the first commercial vehicle to dock with the station. The milestone was a crowning achievement for the commercial industry, which has permanently altered the spaceflight sector over the last 10 years.

Read more at: Verge


Water Found An Inch Beneath The Martian Surface Could Help Future Astronauts

When the first astronauts land on Mars, they won’t be able to take everything they need with them. The logistics and weight of transporting so much material on one spacecraft, along with a crew, defies current technology. While scientists at NASA have discussed missions to deliver materials to the Red Planet ahead of a manned mission, there may be resources on Mars that can be used.

One of those key resources is water, but access to the water is just as crucial to determine. Knowing the location of accessible water on Mars could even help determine a landing site for a manned mission.

Read more at: CNN

Microsatellites Will Capture GPS Reflections To Sharpen Weather Forecasts

Earlier today, after a successful rocket launch from India, the beginnings of a new satellite constellation for Earth observation took place. An existing flotilla of more than 80 microsatellites owned by the startup Spire Global, based here, captures signals that have traversed the atmosphere from GPS satellites to measure key properties such as temperature and humidity. Now, two new microsatellites from the same company will collect GPS signals after they bounce off land or ocean to probe conditions at the surface.

Read more at: Science mag

Russian Astronauts Will Face Weight Restrictions For Moon Mission Program

For the past decade, Russia has been working on its “Oryol” (Eagle) space ship intended for a lunar mission. The landing of Russian astronauts on the Moon is scheduled for 2030.

Overweight Russian astronauts won’t be able to take part in the country’s lunar mission aboard the Oryol space ship due to restrictions on the total weight of cargo the spacecraft will deliver to our planet’s natural satellite.

According to data provided by the ‘Energia’ Rocket and Space Corporation to the RIA news agency, the space ship will be able to lift only 420 kg, including 4 crew members and 100 kg of cargo.

Read more at: Moondaily


Horn: “Getting Close” on NASA Authorization Bill, Commercial Space Legislation Must Wait

The chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology (SS&T) Committee’s Space Subcommittee, Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK), said today they are “getting close” to finalizing a draft of a new NASA authorization bill. A Senate bill already has been approved by committee, but she declined to say whether her bill will be similar. She also said legislation comparable to the Senate’s Space Frontier Act for commercial space issues will have to wait until after the NASA bill.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

POLITICO Pro Q&A: Vice President Mike Pence on Space Policy

Vice President Mike Pence is the Trump administration’s point person for revitalizing the space program, including leading the charge for a Space Force, reforming cumbersome regulations and accelerating plans to return American astronauts to the moon by 2024.

While Congress appears poised to establish the sixth branch of the military, the moon goal remains far from certain. Some Democrats, including the top House appropriator for NASA, do not support the estimated $30 billion plan, calling it a political ploy.

Read more at: Politico

NASA Looks For Ways To Keep Artemis On Track Regardless Of Budget Outcome

As the fiscal year 2020 appropriations process approaches its endgame, NASA leadership says it will find ways to keep efforts to return humans to the moon by 2024 on track even if the agency doesn’t get all the funding it’s requested.

Leaders of the appropriations committees in the House and Senate announced Dec. 12 what they called an agreement “in principle” on passing appropriations bills to fund the federal government through the rest of the 2020 fiscal year. The government is currently operating on a continuing resolution (CR), funding agencies at 2019 levels through Dec. 20.

Read more at: Spacenews


Air Force Seeking Commercial Technologies For Cislunar Space Operations

The Air Force Small Business Innovation Research program has released a new list of topics for companies to submit proposals. On the wish list for the next round of SBIR bids are technologies for operations far beyond geosynchronous Earth orbit, near the moon’s orbit.

Cislunar operations is one of three space-focused areas in the SBIR pre-solicitation notice released Dec. 10 by the Air Force technology accelerator known as AFWERX. Proposals are due Feb. 12. The full list includes 19 topics.

Read more at: Spacenews

Why Policymakers Must Birth The Right Culture For The Space Force

The House this week passed the National Defense Authorization Act, marking one of the final steps towards toward the creation of the Space Force as a new service. This will become a service within the Air Force, akin to the Marine Corps within the Navy. The signing of the bill into law will end the drama of creating a legal framework for the Space Force, but it is by no means the end and is certainly not the end of the beginning.

What happens on day two of the Space Force is as, if not more, important than its legal structure.

Read more at: Hill

U.S. Space Policy: The United States Space Force

The Trump Administration and United States Congress are currently in discussions regarding a proposal to create and fund a service branch within the U.S. Air Force that would assist in deterring conflict in space. Called the United States Space Force, the branch would be part of the U.S. Air Force much the way the Marine Corps are part of the U.S. Navy. Over time, the Space Force would evolve to become a stand-alone branch of the armed services. Scott Pace is Executive Secretary of the National Space Council. He explained why space is now considered what the Pentagon calls a “war-fighting domain”:

Read more at: voa

Sorry, President Trump: Scientist Says Space Force Makes Us Less Safe

U.S. lawmakers have given the U.S. Air Force the nod to establish a new, separate internal service for space operations. The 2020 defense budget, which Congress signed into law in early December 2019, authorized so-called “space force.”

The space force will be part of the Department of the Air Force in the same way that the U.S. Marine Corps is part of the Department of the Navy.

Read more at: National interest

North Korea Conducts ‘Crucial Test’ At Sohae Launch Site: KCNA

North Korea has conducted another “crucial test” at its Sohae satellite launch site, state media reported, as nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington remain stalled with a deadline approaching.

The announcement Saturday comes one day before US Special Envoy on North Korea Stephen Biegun is set to arrive in Seoul for a three-day visit, and after the United States tested a medium-range ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean on Thursday.

North Korea’s Chief of the General Staff Pak Jon Chon said his country was using recent tests to develop new technologies and strategic weapons.

Read more at: Spacedaily


Enormous Craters Blasted in Seafloor by Nuclear Bombs Mapped for the First Time

Today, all seems quiet in the remote Bikini Atoll, a chain of coral reef islands in the central Pacific. But more than 70 years ago, this region’s seafloor was rocked by powerful atomic bombs detonated by the U.S. Army.

For the first time, scientists have released remarkably detailed maps of this pockmarked seabed, revealing two truly massive craters. This new map shows that the seabed is still scarred by the 22 bombs detonated at Bikini Atoll between 1946 and 1958. 

The map was presented yesterday (Dec. 9) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. 

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Boeing: US Regulator Admits ‘Mistake’ Over Aircraft Crashes

Analysis after the first crash last year predicted there could be up to 15 disasters over the lifetime of the aircraft without design changes.

Despite this, the Federal Aviation Administration did not ground the Max until a second crash five months later.

FAA chief Steve Dickson, who started in August, said this was a mistake.

The FAA risk assessment was revealed during a US congressional hearing on Wednesday. Lawmakers are investigating Boeing following fatal 737 Max crashes in Indonesia in October 2018, and Ethiopia in March. The disasters killed 346 people in total.

Read more at: BBC

Boeing 737 Max – My visit to Seattle (December 2019)

We came to Seattle, a small group representing the industry, from different parts of the globe and embracing a broad of disciplines. Amongst our number were pilots, cabin crew union reps, analysts, former regulators and accident investigators, consumer advocacy, writers and a nuclear physicist. Invited by Boeing to engage and discuss with the company’s leadership on what it is doing to achieve the safe return to service of the Boeing 737 Max and more broadly to restore trust in its culture and business ethos. This is my personal account and impressions of the visit. It is by nature subjective and I will focus primarily on the issues on which my experience allows me to provide an informed view and less so on the technicalities of piloting which others are better able to comment on.

Read more at: jls consulting

11th IAASS conference