Boeing Discloses Cause Of Starliner Parachute Anomaly

NASA’s head of Commercial Crew Kathy Lueders and Boeing’s John Mulholland, V.P. and Program Manager, Commercial Crew Programs, Space Exploration, held a press conference on Nov. 7 to discuss the results of last Monday’s pad abort test of Boeing’s Starliner commercial spacecraft. While the test is nearly every respect was exactly as desired, or what is called “nominal” in aerospace circles, there was one anomaly–only two of Starliner’s three main parachutes deployed.

One issue that Boeing discussed the discharge of hydrazine from the Starliner service module, as seen in the orange cloud surrounding Starliner after it rotated into an aft-forward flight position.

Read more at: Americaspace

One Man’s Mistake, Missing Backups And Complete Reboot: The Tale Of Europe’s Galileo Satellites Going Dark

Key details about the failure of Europe’s Galileo satellite system over the summer have started to emerge – and it’s not pretty.

While one key official has sought to blame a single individual for the system going dark, insiders warn that organizational chaos, excessive secrecy and some unusual self-regulation is as much to blame.

Combined with those problems, a battle between European organizations over the satellite system, and a delayed independent report into the July cock-up, means things aren’t looking good for Europe’s answer to America’s GPS system.

Read more at: Register

NASA Warned Of Safety Risks In Delayed Private Crew Launches

NASA auditors warned Thursday the space agency faces “significant safety and technical challenges” that need to be solved before astronauts fly in private capsules.

In its report, NASA’s inspector general office noted Boeing and SpaceX are several years late in transporting crews to the International Space Station. The private capsules likely won’t be certified before next summer, according to the report, and NASA should set a realistic timetable to avoid compromising safety.

Read more at: ABC news

NASA/ESA Begin Challenging Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer Repair Spacewalks

In the first of at least four spacewalks, NASA astronaut Drew Morgan and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Luca Parmitano have begun a complicated and challenging series of work days to repair the Station’s Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer experiment. The first EVA was completed on Friday, which also achieved the completion of numerous tasks designated to the second EVA in the series.

Never designed to be serviceable after it was installed outside the Station in May 2011, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) will require the creation of sharp edges and other hazards in order to bring it back to full operational capacity.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

China Plans To Complete Space Station Construction Around 2022: Expert

China plans to complete the construction of a space station and have it put into operation around 2022, said Zhou Jianping, the chief designer of China’s manned space program, at a forum held in south China’s Guangdong Province.

The space station is designed to weigh 100 tonnes and accommodate three astronauts, which could be enlarged if needed, according to Zhou.

Read more at: XInhuanet

China Launches Second Kuaizhou-1A Rocket In Four Days

In just a little more than a four day period, from the very same pad, with the very same launch team and launch truck, China has launched yet another Kuaizhou-1A rocket carrying satellites into orbit.

This flight, fresh on the heels of yet another flight with the Jilin-1 Gaofen-2A satellite on November 13, lifted off from the mobile launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China today at 10:00 UTC. Chinese media has later declared the launch a success.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

SpaceX Executes Ground-Based Test Firing For Crew Dragon’s Launch Escape System

SpaceX went the distance today with a static-fire test of its Crew Dragon space taxi’s launch escape system — the same type of test that ended in a costly explosion when it was conducted in April.

A photo released after the firing shows the Crew Dragon’s SuperDraco thrusters blazing away on the test stand at SpaceX’s Florida facility. The full-duration firing brings the company one step closer to flying NASA astronauts to the International Space Station next year.

Read more at: Geekwire

Boeing Proposes SLS-Launched Lunar Lander

Boeing is touting a lunar lander concept that the company claims could launch in one piece on an upgraded version of NASA’s Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket — which Boeing largely builds — and deliver astronauts to the moon’s surface in 2024 without going through NASA’s planned Gateway mini-space station.

The lunar lander proposal submitted by Boeing to NASA is one of multiple concepts proposed by U.S. industry. Companies had to send in their lunar lander proposals to NASA by Tuesday, Nov. 5, on an accelerated timetable to meet the Trump administration’s goal of landing astronauts on the moon’s south pole by the end of 2024.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now


As SpaceX Launches Dozens Of Satellites At A Time, Some Fear An Orbital Traffic Jam

SpaceX successfully launched 60 communications satellites on Monday using a single rocket.

It’s the second time in less than a year that Elon Musk’s company has made such a launch, marking a dramatic increase in the number of satellites in orbit.

Over the next year, SpaceX and a rival company, OneWeb, plan to put hundreds of networked satellites in orbit to eventually provide high-speed Internet to any point on Earth. But critics worry that lax regulations, poor infrastructure and Musk’s go-fast ethos could lead to chaos.

Read more at: NPR

Why Tracking Space Junk Is Big Business

Tracking space junk whizzing around the Earth may be the next frontier for big business amid plans by a Canadian start-up to put a sophisticated monitoring system into orbit by 2021.

Using a network of 40 satellites equipped with high-tech sensors, NorthStar Earth and Space hopes to respond to growing demand by both companies and governments for real-time data that can predict collisions in space.

With almost 2,000 active satellites in orbit – not to mention thousands of other defunct satellites and 130 million pieces of debris – the ever-increasing chance of a mid-orbit crash are good reason for satellite owners to feel uneasy.

Read more at: rfi

Watch a Brilliant Fireball Flash Over St. Louis’ Historic Arch (Video)

A bright fireball meteor streaked across the night sky above Missouri Monday (Nov. 11), passing over St. Louis’ iconic Gateway Arch.The giant flash of light came from a meteor traveling east to west across the state. It was seen over Missouri around 8:52 p.m. local time (0252 GMT), according to the American Meteor Society (AMS). The meteor was clearly visible in this stunning video from EarthCam’s St. Louis location. You can see here on YouTube.

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Intense Meteor Outburst Expected from the Alpha Monocerotids

What’s rarer than seeing a unicorn? How about a unicorn spitting meteors at the rate of 400 per hour? You’ll have an opportunity to see it for yourself on Thursday night, November 21-22, when the obscure Alpha Monocerotid shower could produce upwards of 400 meteors per hour from a radiant near the star Procyon, a star near the constellation Monoceros, the unicorn. Even more amazing, the outburst is expected to last only a half-hour.

Read more at: Sky & Telescope

Long Space Missions Can Change Astronaut Brain Structure and Function

Spaceflight changes astronauts’ brain structure and function, a new study shows. 

Researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina looked at how the human brain adapts to the microgravity environment of space. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of NASA astronauts, the researchers found widespread structural changes in the brain, especially after long-duration space missions, according to a statement. 

Read more at:

Low Gravity In Space Made Some Astronauts’ Blood Flow Backwards

Being in microgravity can have strange effects on the body – now it has emerged that it can make people’s blood flow backwards.

The changes to circulation caused two astronauts to develop small blood clots, which could have been fatal. Fortunately, though, the man and woman affected came to no harm.

The blood changes happened in a vessel called the left internal jugular vein, one of two that normally move blood out of the head when we are lying down. When we are upright, they mostly collapse to stop too much blood from draining out of the head, with our circulation taking a different route through veins with more resistance instead.

Read more at: Newscientist

A Spacex Launch Puts Out As Much CO2 As Flying 341 People Across The Atlantic

Watching SpaceX nail the landing of two Falcon rockets is up there with watching a Saturn 5 launch and the first moon landing as a memorable image. Elon Musk has done such marvellous things here. And of course, as a TreeHugger, I love the idea of the 3Rs: Recover, Refill, Reuse.

But as companies like Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and SpaceX gear up for tourism, Jacob of Champion Traveler reminds me of the carbon footprint of rocket launches.

Read more at: Treehugger


Indonesia To Build Its First Spaceport

Indonesia plans to construct its first spaceport in Biak, Papua, to serve the country’s rocket test launches, the country’s National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN) has confirmed.

LAPAN flight and aerospace study centre head Robertus Heru Trijahyanto said Indonesia will build the spaceport following LAPAN’s existing rocket launch site in South Garut on West Java. However, it will be bigger so that it can be used for larger test launches.

Biak was chosen because the regency’s vast area was deemed ideal to support LAPAN’s plan to conduct larger tests in 2024, he added.

Read more at: Vietnamplus

Why Astronomers Worry About the Brightness of SpaceX’s Starlink Satellite Megaconstellation

SpaceX is planning to launch the second installment of its Starlink megaconstellation on Monday (Nov. 11), and astronomers are waiting to see — well, precisely what they will see.

When the company launched its first set of Starlink internet satellites in May, those with their eyes attuned to the night sky immediately realized that the objects were incredibly bright. Professional astronomers worried the satellites would interfere with scientific observations and amateur appreciation of the stars.

Read more at:

Exos Blames Suborbital Launch Accident On Structural Failure

Exos Aerospace said the failed launch of a reusable suborbital sounding rocket last month was caused by a structural failure of the rocket shortly after liftoff.

In a statement released by the Texas-based company Nov. 14, Exos said its Suborbital Autonomous Rocket with GuidancE, or SARGE, rocket was lost 48 seconds after its Oct. 26 liftoff from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

Read more at: Spacenews

NASA to Announce Additional Commercial Moon Delivery Providers

NASA will host a media teleconference at 4:30 p.m. EST Monday, Nov. 18, to announce additional American companies joining the competitive pool for delivery services to the surface of the Moon through the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS)  project.

The teleconference audio and supporting visuals will stream live on the agency’s website.

In July, NASA announced an opportunity for American companies to join the CLPS contract to deliver larger, heavier payloads to lunar surface. The newly selected companies, along with the original nine selected in November 2018, all will be eligible to bid on future lunar delivery services, including task orders for heavier payloads, as well as payload integration and operations.

Read more at: NASA


Space-Grade Cpus: How Do You Send More Computing Power Into Space?

Phobos-Grunt, perhaps the most ambitious deep space mission ever attempted by Russia, crashed down into the ocean at the beginning of 2012. The spacecraft was supposed to land on the battered Martian moon Phobos, gather soil samples, and get them back to Earth. Instead, it ended up helplessly drifting in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for a few weeks because its onboard computer crashed just before it could fire the engines to send the spacecraft on its way to Mars.

In the ensuing report, Russian authorities blamed heavy charged particles in galactic cosmic rays that hit the SRAM chips and led to a latch-up, a chip failure resulting from excessive current passing through.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Astro Assistance For Cancer?

During spaceflight, astronauts experience similar physical stress as cancer patients undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy.

This has led researchers to suggest that by mimicking a NASA astronaut’s schedule of exercising before, during and after a mission, cancer patients could reduce the long-term impact their treatments often have on their bodies.

Read more at: Cosmos

Hibernating Astronauts Would Need Smaller Spacecraft

Human hibernation has been the subject of initial research within the Discovery element of ESA’s Basic Activities, then recommended as a key ‘enabling technology’ for space by the Agency’s Future Technology Advisory Panel, resulting in a dedicated ‘Topical Team’ on hibernation.

Now the Agency’s SciSpacE team has called in ESA’s Concurrent Design Facility – a multimedia facility enabling expert teams to perform initial evaluations of proposed future missions – to assess the advantages of human hibernation for a trip to a neighbouring planet, such as Mars.

Read more at: ESA

UAH Modeling The Spacecraft For NASA’s Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Idea

Successful human spaceflight to Mars and back is bound by basic rules of physics that any home garage hot rodder knows: mass, power and fuel consumption. To complete the mission, there must be enough thrust to propel a spacecraft’s weight to the target destination and enough fuel economy to ensure there is adequate propellant.

Nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) can help achieve the goals of low weight, high power and good economy.

Read more at: UAH

Could Kennedy Space Center Launch Pads Be At Risk As Climate Changes? Experts Say Yes

Created to propel humankind beyond the limits of Earth, Kennedy Space Center is now facing a terrestrial threat — the warming of our home planet, leading to sea level rise, erosion and catastrophic flooding — that could hinder our push to deep space.

To protect the nation’s most historic launch pads and the only place in the United States capable of launching humans to orbit, NASA is building a massive dune along the coast but experts say that isn’t enough, leaving some to consider the unthinkable:

What if Kennedy Space Center had to move to higher ground?

Read more at: Florida today

The Best Place to Train Astronauts Exists on Earth, But Not Where You’d Think

Could heading deep into the bowels of the earth help train us for life on other planets? This is the idea behind the CAVES (Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behaviour and performance Skills – surely the furthest reach an acronym has made in decades) programme, led by the European Space Agency (ESA). The project sends astronauts to live in a cave for six days, with the task of exploring, mapping and conducting scientific experiments – and coming back in one piece.

Read more at: Vice

China Joins Race To Perfect Planes That Can Fly Into Space

The concept of aerospace planes has been around since the 1980s.

Fuelled by the technological boom of the Cold War, the vehicles are two-part planes that initially take payloads into the sky like conventional planes before a second compartment breaks off and flies into orbit.

Read more at: Chinadaily


Op-Ed | Launching Commercial Space Industry Takes Team Effort

When Americans think of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the first thought that comes to mind is commercial air travel. Everyone knows the FAA manages airspace and sets regulations that ensure passengers are kept safe on more than 44,000 flights daily. What is far less understood — and appreciated — is the safety role the FAA plays for those on the ground and in nearby airspace during rocket launches.

Read more at: Spacenews

House Committee Raises Doubts About Artemis

With growing bipartisan skepticism that NASA’s current plan to return humans to the moon by 2024 is achievable, members of the House Science Committee used a Nov. 13 hearing to advocate for a different, and arguably more conventional, approach.

In statements at a hearing of the committee’s space subcommittee on human exploration of the moon and Mars, both top Democratic and Republican members of the committee said they doubted NASA’s current approach to get back to the moon within five years under the Artemis program was achievable, but for different reasons.

Read more at: Spacenews

U.S. Space Command Eager To Hand Over Space Traffic Duties To Commerce Department

Military space operators at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, are working with the Department of Commerce to help ease the transfer of space traffic management responsibilities, Maj. Gen. Stephen Whiting said Nov. 15.

“We’re eager for that to happen,” Whiting said at a Mitchell Institute event on Capitol Hill.

Whiting is the commander of the 14th Air Force and the Combined Force Space Component Command under U.S. Space Command.

Read more at: Spacenews

NASA IG Worries About Commercial Crew Schedule, Says NASA “Overpaid” Boeing

In an illuminating report about the costs of NASA’s commercial crew program, NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) today criticized almost $300 million NASA paid to Boeing above the amount agreed to in a fixed price contract. It also calculated that NASA is paying Boeing substantially more per seat than SpaceX. But the report’s overall concern is that schedule delays in both systems will sharply limit U.S. presence on the International Space Station (ISS) beginning next spring.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Senate Committee Passes Bipartisan Bill That Would Extend U.S. Operation Of International Space Station

The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday unanimously passed a bipartisan bill that would fund NASA for the next fiscal year, moving the agency a step closer to a slight increase in funding in the long federal budget process.

The measure, the NASA Authorization Act of 2019, directs Congress to provide the space agency with $22.8 billion for fiscal year 2020. It is co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

Read more at: Houston chronicle


All Systems ‘Go’: How China Plans To Control Space

The nation’s top official for assessing the military capabilities of foreign powers believes China is playing a specific game in space in its efforts to become the premier power in space.

Go is a board game invented in China thousands of years ago where players strategically place stones on a board to capture the most territory.

“The object of Go is to block and deny territory to your opponent. Unlike chess, you’re not going after a king or a queen and there’s not a final move where you’re declared victor.”

Read more at: c4isrnet

US Must Adapt to Fight Growing Space-Based Threats, Air Force Officials Say

The U.S. Air Force must change the way it does business to fight the growing threat to the nation’s dominance of the final frontier, military officials say.

That long-held dominance, which helps establish U.S. supremacy on the battlefield via unmatched reconnaissance and communications capabilities, is being challenged like never before, Air Force officials stressed here last week during the first-ever Air Force Space Pitch Day.

Read more at:

Air Force, Allies Team To Find Space Startups

The US Air Force is encouraging commercial startups in allied countries to bring innovative space tech to its attention for possible funding.

Technology areas being explored include space situational awareness, space data analytics, space communication, artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite servicing.

The innovation hub Techstars has launched a new industry accelerator focused on space and allied connectivity, Techstars Allied Space Accelerator. The Ministries of Defense of the Netherlands and Norway, and the Norwegian Space Agency are co-sponsoring the initiative.

Read more at: Breaking defense

Air Force Funding Keeps Launcher Development On Track

Launcher won its first government funding when the U.S. Air Force awarded the the Brooklyn-based startup $1.5 million to accelerate development and testing of its E-2 rocket engine.

Launcher announced the Air Force funding Nov. 13. “It is extremely helpful and keeps us on track to conclude engine development by the end of next year,” Max Haot, Launcher founder and CEO, told SpaceNews.

Read more at: Spacenews

EU To Create Own Early Missile Warning System

The European Union member states adopted on Tuesday a joint defence project, aimed at strengthening their capacity of early missile threat warning and countering it.

The Council of the European Union adopted on Tuesday an updated list of 13 joint defence projects, covering both biological defence, chemical defence, space and cybersecurity. This brings the total number of projects undertaken under the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) framework to 47. Timely Warning and Interception with Space-based TheatER surveillance (TWISTER) is among these 13 projects.

Read more at: Spacewar


Ex-Astronaut Set For Trial In Wreck That Killed 2 Girls

A former space shuttle commander is set for trial next month in Alabama on reckless murder charges in a wreck that killed two girls.

Court records show the trial of one-time NASA astronaut James Halsell Jr. is scheduled for Dec. 9.

The 63-year-old Halsell was arrested after a wreck killed 11-year-old Niomi Deona James and 13-year-old Jayla Latrick Parler in rural Tuscaloosa County in 2016.

Read more at: ABCnews

50 Years Ago: NASA’s Apollo 12 Was Struck By Lightning Right After Launch … Twice! (Video)

Fifty years ago today, NASA’s Apollo 12 mission launched for the moon — and got struck twice by lightning just seconds after the rocket lifted off at 11:22 a.m. EDT on Nov. 14, 1969.Lightning struck the Saturn V launch vehicle at 6,400 feet (TKTK km) in the air, 36.5 seconds after launch and, at 14,400 feet (TKTK km), again at 52 seconds post-launch. The astronauts on board, which included commander Charles “Pete” Conrad, lunar module pilot Alan Bean and command module pilot Richard “Dick” Gordon, reported seeing a bright flash and later even said that they “felt” the lightning strike.

Read more at:

Proxima Puts European Space On Silver Screen

Award-winning French actress Eva Green stars as Sarah, an astrophysicist who is selected for a one-year spaceflight in preparation for a future mission to Mars. As a single mother, she struggles to balance spending time with her young daughter and the intense training schedule for her journey into space.

At the same time, she is working doubly hard to prove herself as the only woman in an all-male, mixed nationality crew, with a US astronaut played by Matt Dillon and a Russian cosmonaut played by Alexei Fateev. German actor Lars Eidinger plays Sarah’s semi-supportive ex-partner.

Read more at: ESA

‘Beyond the Known’ Reveals Exploration’s Role in Human History (and Our Future)

The complex history of humanity’s exploration helped forge our urge to head out to space, argues a new book.

Andrew Rader’s latest book, “Beyond the Known: How Exploration Created the Modern World and Will Take Us to the Stars” (Scribner, 2019) has been released today (Nov. 12). Rader is a mission manager for a large aerospace company, and holds a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Read more at:


11th IAASS conference