Soyuz Capsule Leak Could Strand 3 Astronauts On Space Station, Raising Safety Concern, Expert Says

Footage of the spectacular coolant leak from the Russian Soyuz spaceship that took place on Wednesday (Dec. 14) convinced a leading spaceflight safety expert that the craft is most likely no longer flightworthy. And that is a huge safety risk for the inhabitants of the International Space Station. 

Tommaso Sgobba is the executive director of the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS) and a former head of spaceflight safety at the European Space Agency (ESA).

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World’s First Space Battery Powered By ‘Game-Changing’ Nuclear Fuel Is Coming Soon

The world’s first space battery fueled by Americium-241, a nuclear-based fuel, will be developed in cooperation between the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) and the U.K. Space Agency.

This project will be carried out in a brand-new laboratory in Cumbria costing £19 million ($23 million) and outfitted with cutting-edge machinery and technology, according to a joint press release by NNL and the Space Agency on Friday. 

Read more at: interesting engineering


A Small Meteor May Be Responsible for the Coolant Leak from the Russian Soyuz MS-22

A tiny meteor could be to blame for the coolant leak from the Soyuz MS-22, which forced cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station to cancel a spacewalk just as they were in the process of depressurizing the airlock. The Russian spacecraft is currently still docked to the Rassvet module on the ISS.

The “fairly substantial” leak was identified by NASA as a coolant leak coming from the rear section of the Soyuz, and the Guardian reports that Roscosmos officials suspect it was caused by a micrometeoroid smashing into the craft’s radiator at a speed faster than that of a bullet.

Read more at: yahoo

Space Debris Expert: Orbits Will Be Lost—And People Will Die—Later This Decade

Up until about a decade ago, an average of 80 to 100 satellites per year were launched into varying orbits. Some reentered Earth’s atmosphere quickly, while others will remain in orbit for decades.

This now seems quaint. In the last five years, driven largely by the rise of communications networks such as SpaceX’s Starlink and a proliferation of small satellites, the number of objects launched into space has increased dramatically.

In 2017, according to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, the annual number exceeded 300. By 2020, the annual number of objects launched exceeded 1,000 for the first time. This year, the total has already surpassed 2,000. With more broadband-from-space networks like Amazon’s Project Kuiper on the way, further growth can be expected.

Read more at: Arstechnica

‘Rail Cars’ Of Material Released After NASA Spacecraft Hit Asteroid

When NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft slammed into the tiny asteroid Dimorphos, the impact certainly left a mark.

The intentional collision, which took place on September 26 as a test of asteroid deflection technology, displaced more than 2 million pounds (1 million kilograms) of rocks and dust from the asteroid into space. Scientists estimate it was enough material to fill about six or seven rail cars.

The insights gained from the collision are helping scientists learn how this planetary defense technique might be used in the fu

Read more at: CNN

A Fireball That Exploded Over Canada Has Been Traced to a Very Unexpected Origin

Earth is under constant bombardment from space. Dust, pebbles, and chunks of rock fall into our atmosphere on a daily basis, sometimes burning up spectacularly in a blazing streak across the sky.

These bolides, or fireballs, are typically larger pieces of asteroid or comet that have broken off their parent body and wound up falling into Earth’s gravity well.

Read more at: sciencealert

Sun Unleashes Barrage Of 8 Powerful Solar Flares

The sun unleashed at least eight solar flares on Wednesday (Dec. 14), and more are expected after a crackling sunspot emerged on the star’s face. One of the solar flares, a powerful M6, caused a brief radio blackout over the Atlantic Ocean Wednesday at 9:42 a.m. EST (1442 GMT), according to (opens in new tab). Solar flares are bursts of electromagnetic radiation that travel at the speed of light. Those directed at Earth reach our planet within eight minutes of emerging from the sun’s atmosphere.

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Rocket Report: Meet the Blue Origin Space Rangers; methane rocket fails in debut

Almost time to get charged up for Electron. After more than two years of delays, NASA and Rocket Lab are finally ready to conduct the first Electron launch from Wallops Island in Virginia on Friday, Space News reports. The latest delays were caused by a poor weather forecast for Thursday, and then a need to close out final documentation. The launch is now targeted for no earlier than Sunday, December 18. The mission will place into orbit three satellites for HawkEye 360, which operates a constellation of spacecraft that perform radio-frequency surveillance.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Private Space Firm Blows up Space Station Module—and That’s a Good Thing

Private space company Sierra Space announced yesterday that it successfully completed a stress test last month on an in-development astronaut habitat—a test that involved the pumping of gas into the inflatable module until it blew apart. This is the second successful test, following one earlier this year in July.

Sierra Space has been developing the Large Integrated Flexible Environment, or LIFE, habitat to continue its foray into long-term commercial spaceflight.

Read more at: Yahoo

Chinese Startup’s Rocket With Methane-Oxygen Fuel Mix Fails

A Chinese startup’s attempt to use a rocket fueled with liquid methane and oxygen to place a satellite in orbit failed in its mission on Wednesday, according to a statement on the company’s Weibo account. 

The brief statement on LandSpace Technology Corp.’s launch said the rocket’s main engines were performing normally, but that there was an abnormality in a supplementary second-stage engine.

Read more at: Bloomberg

Thinkorbital Designing Platform For In-Space Manufacturing, Debris Removal

ThinkOrbital, a space infrastructure startup, is designing an orbital platform aimed at commercial businesses, military and government agencies that want to manufacture products in orbit or recycle debris.

The Lafayette, Colorado-based company last year lost out in NASA’s competition to develop commercial space station concepts and is now working on a new product that it believes is more viable, said Lee Rosen, ThinkOrbital’s co-founder, president and chief strategy officer.

Read more at: Spacenews

Spacex Launches Lunar Lander For Japanese Venture Ispace, Which Aims To Create An Economy Around The Moon

Japanese lunar exploration company ispace began its long-anticipated first mission on Sunday, with a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching the venture’s lunar lander from Florida.

“This is the very, very beginning of a new era,” ispace founder and CEO Takeshi Hakamada told CNBC.

The Tokyo-based company’s Mission 1 is currently on its way to the moon, with a landing expected near the end of April.

Read more at: CNBC

Maxar Technologies Acquired By Private Equity Firm In $6.4 Billion Deal

Maxar Technologies, a space company that gained global attention with its high-resolution satellite images of the Ukraine war, is being acquired by the private equity firm Advent International for $6.4 billion.

Under the deal announced Dec. 16, Advent is acquiring all outstanding shares of Maxar common stock for $53.00 per share in cash, more than double Maxar’s stock price of $23.10 on December 15, the company’s last full trading day as a public company. The acquisition is expected to be completed in mid-2023.

Read more at: Spacenews

SpaceX Fires Up Starship Prototype Again Ahead Of Test Flight (Video)

SpaceX continues to gear up for the first-ever orbital test flight of its Starship Mars rocket. SpaceX performed another “static fire” test today (Dec. 15) at its South Texas facility, lighting up Ship 24, a prototype of Starship’s 165-foot-tall (50 meters) upper-stage spacecraft. One of Ship 24’s six Raptor engines ignited at 2:01 p.m. EST (1901 GMT; 1:01 p.m. local Texas time), firing for about seven seconds while the vehicle remained anchored to the ground. The brief test was captured on video by NASASpaceFlight (opens in new tab) and Rocket Ranch Boca Chica (opens in new tab).

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NASA Developing AI to Steer Using Landmarks – On the Moon

Much like how familiar landmarks can give travelers a sense of direction when their smart phones lose their lock on GPS signals, a NASA engineer is teaching a machine to use features on the Moon’s horizon to navigate across the lunar surface.

“For safety and science geotagging, it’s important for explorers to know exactly where they are as they explore the lunar landscape,” said Alvin Yew, a research engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Equipping an onboard device with a local map would support any mission, whether robotic or human.”

Read more at: NASA

NASA Starts Assessing Orion Capsule For Refurb

NASA’s Orion capsule – built to send the first woman and another man to the Moon – has arrived at a US naval base in San Diego, California, and will be dragged ashore for inspection.

The podule just returned from a relatively short trip in space. As part of the Artemis I mission, it was launched unmanned atop America’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket as a dress rehearsal of sorts. It’s hoped the Orion will in future missions ferry human crews to the Moon. For now, NASA is testing out the pod in the cold, unforgiving void beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

Read more at: Register

Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough: What Does It Mean For Space Exploration?

The announcement this week of fusion ignition is a major scientific advancement, one that is decades in the making. More energy was produced than the laser energy used to spark the first controlled fusion triumph. 

The result: replicating the fusion that powers the sun.

On Dec. 5, a team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) achieved the milestone. As noted by Kim Budil, director of the laboratory: “Crossing this threshold is the vision that has driven 60 years of dedicated pursuit — a continual process of learning, building, expanding knowledge and capability, and then finding ways to overcome the new challenges that emerged,” Budil said.

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NASA Keen On Sharing Its Expertise With ISRO For Gaganyaan

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is looking forward to sharing data and expertise with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for India’s upcoming Gaganyaan, human space flight programme.

Kathryn Lueders, Associate Administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate (SOMD) at NASA told reporters here on Tuesday after delivering a talk on Future of Human Space Exploration, that the US space agency will share its experience in the human space flight regime.

Read more at: Hindu

NASA Official “Very Confident” Artemis Spacesuits Will Be Ready On Time

With the successful conclusion of the Artemis I mission, NASA has taken a big step toward returning humans to the Moon. But a big rocket and a deep-space capable capsule are only the beginning of the new technologies needed for lunar surface operations.

Most notably, there’s the lander. Much attention has been given to this component of the program, especially after NASA selected SpaceX’s large Starship vehicle to fulfill that role in April 2021.

Read more at: Arstechica

The UAE Has Launched The First Arab-Built Moon Rover

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched on December 11 from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, carrying into space the first ever Arab-built lunar spacecraft.

The Rashid Rover was built by Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and is being delivered by the HAKUTO-R lander, engineered by Japanese lunar exploration company ispace. If the landing is successful, HAKUTO-R will also become the first commercial spacecraft ever to make a controlled landing on the moon.

Read more at: CNN

NASA Loses Contact With Another Spacecraft

Recently, it was reported that NASA lost contact with the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) spacecraft. Now, NASA says it has also lost contact with one of the eight CYGNSS spacecraft.

NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) team has not been able to make contact with FM06, one of the eight CYGNSS spacecraft, since November 26, 2022. The team is currently still working to acquire a signal and establish a connection. The other seven spacecraft continue to operate normally and have been collecting science measurements since the FM06 anomaly.

Read more at: scitech daily

NASA Rolls Artemis 1’s Huge Launch Tower Off Pad For Repairs, Upgrades

The huge tower that supported the epic liftoff of NASA’s Artemis 1 moon mission last month has left the launch pad. During that Nov. 16 liftoff, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket left some marks on the 355-foot-tall (108 meters) mobile tower — blowing off its elevator doors, for example, and damaging its crew access arm. So NASA has rolled the tower off Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and into the site’s huge Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) for repairs. The 4-mile (6.4 kilometers) move began early Thursday morning (Dec. 8) and ended about 29 hours later, at 11:26 a.m. EST (1626 GMT) on Friday (Dec. 9).

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First African Nations Sign Artemis Accords

Two African countries became the first from the continent to join the Artemis Accords as the United States works to bring more emerging space nations into the agreement.

During the Space Forum portion of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit here Dec. 13, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced that Rwanda and Nigeria would sign the Accords, making them the latest nations to sign the document that outlines best practices for safe and sustainable space exploration based on the Outer Space Treaty and other agreements.

Read more at: Spacenews

Space Launch Supply Chokepoint Puts U.S. In Vulnerable Spot, Expert Warns

The United States and Europe, at least in the immediate future, will be largely dependent on SpaceX for satellite launches and human spaceflight missions, creating a supply and demand imbalance that might not be sustainable, warned Casey Dreier, chief policy adviser for the Planetary Society, a nonprofit that promotes exploration of space.

“We’re in this strange new period of constriction of launch, not just because of Russia, but because of this transition period that we’ve been having,” Dreier said Dec. 13 on an online forum hosted by the Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress.

Read more at: spacenews

After Russia’s Exit From The Lunar Gateway, NASA Has Found A New Partner In UAE

Relations between NASA and Russia’s state-owned space corporation were fairly robust five years ago when the two parties signed a joint statement that discussed partnering on the development of a space station orbiting the Moon, called the Lunar Gateway. At the time, Russia’s Roscosmos was expected to provide an airlock for the facility.

Much has happened in the five years since then, of course. In 2020, as NASA began to more concretely formulate its plans for lunar exploration under the Artemis program, Russia started to pull away.

Read more at: arstechnica

The US Needs A New Immigrant Visa For The Space Industry

We are in a new golden age of space exploration. A time period defined by weekly commercial and government technological achievements, from the NASA-led Artemis return to the moon program to commercial space start-ups focused on tourism and trade. 

To promote innovation in the space industry, the United States must reform its immigration system and update archaic export regulations contained in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) that inhibit multinational cooperation, and there has never been a better time to do so than now. 

Read more at: Hill

White House Revamps Membership Of National Space Council Advisory Group

The White House announced the new membership of an advisory group of the National Space Council Dec. 16 with wholesale changes in the roster reflecting a new emphasis on climate change and workforce issues.

Vice President Kamala Harris, chair of the National Space Council, announced a roster of 30 members of the Users’ Advisory Committee (UAG), the advisory group that supports the council on various space topics. Their membership on the committee is pending a formal appointment by the NASA administrator, a formality linked to NASA’s role in hosting the UAG.

Read more at: spacenews

United Nations General Assembly Approves ASAT Test Ban Resolution

The United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution calling for a halt to one type of anti-satellite (ASAT) testing, a largely symbolic move intended to support broader space sustainability initiatives.

The resolution, introduced by the United States and several other nations, was approved by the U.N. General Assembly Dec. 7 among dozens of other resolutions on arms control and related topics with little discussion or debate. A total of 155 nations voted in favor of the resolution, with 9 voting against it and 9 others abstaining.

Read more at: spacenews


SpaceX to Launch SWOT Satellite from Vandenberg Space Force Base

An international satellite that will study the Earth’s oceans, rivers, and lakes is scheduled to be launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket early Thursday morning at Vandenberg Space Force Base.

The launch is scheduled to take place at 3:46 a.m. Live coverage of the launch will begin at 3 a.m. at

Approximately eight minutes after liftoff, SpaceX will aim to land the rocket’s booster back on land at Vandenberg. Base officials say this will create a sonic boom that may be heard across the Central Coast.

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US Air Force Launches 1st Operational Hypersonic Missile

The United States Air Force (USAF) has successfully tested its first prototype hypersonic missile. The service’s new AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW (“Arrow”) is expected to be the United States military’s first hypersonic weapon to reach operational status. The exact speed of the AGM-183A isn’t known, although the Lockheed Martin-designed weapon is said to be based on previous test vehicles built by DARPA (opens in new tab) that have an alleged maximum speed of Mach 20, or 15,000 mph (24,000 kph).

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Space Acquisition Chief: Dod Will Buy Small Satellites, At Fixed Prices

oon after his Senate confirmation hearing in February, Frank Calvelli, assistant secretary of the Air Force for space acquisitions and integration, started to put together a list of problems he saw in DoD’s space procurements and possible ways to fix them.

It turned out to be a really long list that eventually Calvelli boiled down to a three-page memo he released Oct. 31. “After I started actually working on this, I realized I was writing a novel and no one was ever going to read this,” he said Dec. 15 at a Washington Space Business Roundtable event near Capitol Hill. 

Read more at: spacenews

Venturescope Sets Up Accelerator For U.S. Air Force Personnel

VentureScope, a consulting and venture investment firm, won a contract to establish an internal accelerator as part of AFWERX, a U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory initiative to connect government, industry and academic innovators.

Under a $750,000 Air Force Small Business Innovation Research contract, VentureScope is setting up The Refinery, an accelerator to help innovators within the Air Force address problems and devise solutions that could be adopted throughout the Air Force and Defense Department.

Read more at: spacenews

U.S. National Security Space Strategy Emphasizes Resilient Systems, Responsible Behavior

A recently completed U.S. space strategy stresses the need to deploy resilient constellations that can operate under attack, and supports norms for responsible behavior in space, a senior Pentagon official said Dec. 14.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb said the strategic space review is a classified document and will not be publicly released. In general, “it’s about our overall space posture and where we should be headed from a national security standpoint,” he said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in a fireside chat with CSIS senior fellow Kari Bingen.

Read more at: spacenews


Snowy Lapland and the White Balloon

At this time of the year, the mention of Lapland conjures up visions of Santa getting his gift-laden sleigh and nine reindeer ready to take to the skies for the most important deliveries of all. However, the skies of Lapland have witnessed something rather different recently – a big white balloon, which may not provide the immediate gratification of a much-wanted Christmas present, but nonetheless plays a role in helping to safeguard our children’s future.

Read more at: ESA

Apple’s Satellite Emergency Services Lead to Another Rescue

Whatever your feelings are about wielding an iPhone, you can’t ignore the fact that calling for help via satellite connection is a genuinely helpful safety feature, and one that we’re starting to think everyone should have. That’s because we keep hearing about people getting saved thanks to their new phone.

The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro are the only phones from Apple that have satellite connectivity right now—the Apple Watch Ultra is the only other device with it.

Read more at: Gizmodo

How Aircraft Ground De-Icing And Anti-Icing Works

Aircraft performance, even those which are certified to fly into known icing, is based on a clean aircraft. What this means is that aircraft should never take off with ice on critical surfaces such as the wings. Research shows that ice formation on the wings with surface thickness and roughness similar to coarse sandpaper reduces lift by over 30 percent and at the same time it increases drag by 40 percent.

Read more at: simpleflying

Ariane 5 Launches Triple Satellite Mission To Geostationary Transfer Orbit

Arianespace launched Europe’s most advanced weather-tracking spacecraft Dec. 13 along with a pair of satellites Intelsat needs to clear C-band spectrum in the United States.

The triple payload totaling nearly 11,000 kilograms lifted off at 3:30 p.m. Eastern from Kourou, French Guiana, on a heavy-lift Ariane 5 rocket to geostationary transfer orbit.

Intelsat’s Galaxy 35 and Galaxy 36 satellites separated from the rocket about 30 minutes later, followed shortly by MTG-I1 for Eumetsat, Europe’s intergovernmental meteorological organization.

Read more at: spacenews

Tomorrow’s Technology Centre

Work has begun on the latest extension to ESA’s largest establishment, the European Space Technology and Research Centre, ESTEC, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. ESTEC’s new International Meeting Facility will serve as the main reception and focal point for the entire site, hosting a large conference room, meeting rooms, a large foyer and modern office working positions.

In operation since the 1960s, ESTEC is ESA’s technical heart and the hub of Europe’s space sector. The site has continuously been growing in its functions, technical infrastructure and occupancy, currently hosting some 3 100 personnel on site.

Read more at: ESA

Carbon Footprint of Space Travel: Launch, & Flight, Living in Space

The carbon footprint of space travel was not a big issue in previous years because of the minimal number of rocket launches and the fact that space travel was limited to a select few government agencies around the world.

However, that concern has grown because of how much the industry has grown, and more rockets are expected to launch in the future.

Read more at: 8billiontrees