SHOEBOX-SIZED CUBE SATELLITE TO STUDY EARTH'S INNER RADIATION BELT - A NASA-funded cube satellite built and operated by CU Boulder researchers will study the inner radiation belt of Earth's magnetosphere, providing new insight into the energetic particles that can disrupt satellites and threaten spacewalking astronauts.
The $4 million Cubesat: Inner Radiation Belt Experiment (CIRBE) mission, tentatively slated for a 2021 launch, will provide some of the first advanced resolution of one of Earth's two Van Allen belts, a zone that traps energetic particles in the planet's magnetic field. More
(Source: Phys.org - Mar 16)
ORBITAL ATK UNVEILS NEW VERSION OF SATELLITE SERVICING VEHICLE - Orbital ATK announced March 13 it is developing a new version of a satellite life extension vehicle intended to provide more flexibility to customers while also moving the company closer to more advanced in-space servicing.
During a presentation at the Satellite 2018 conference here, company executives announced plans to develop the Mission Robotic Vehicle and Mission Extension Pods, which would handle stationkeeping for geostationary satellites that are running out of fuel. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Mar 16)
ISS ORBIT RAISED BY 400 METERS BEFORE MANNED SPACEFLIGHT LAUNCH
- The Russian Mission Control Center has raised the International Space Station’s flight orbit before manned spaceflight takeoffs from Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan.
"At 00:25, Moscow time, the ISS orbit was adjusted as scheduled to create ballistic conditions before the flight of manned transport spacecraft under the program of the Russian segment of the ISS," the Mission Control Center in the Moscow suburbs said.
(Source: TASS - Mar 15)
CHINA’S LONG MARCH 5 HEAVY-LIFT ROCKET TO FLY AGAIN AROUND NOVEMBER IN CRUCIAL TEST - The return-to-flight mission will carry an experimental, 300 Gbps telecommunications satellite based on a new, large DFH-5 satellite platform. Future DFH-5's will deliver 1 terabit per second, up from the current 20 Gbps with DFH-4.
China’s most powerful rocket will fly for the third time late this year, with success of the launch to be crucial to upcoming projects including a lunar sample return, space station module launch and a 2020 mission to Mars. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Mar 15)
ON-ORBIT SERVICING OF AGING SATELLITES POSSIBLE BY END OF YEAR - Orbital ATK is moving out aggressively to introduce on-orbit satellite servicing to the space industry, which its says will be a first step toward more advanced concepts such as on-orbit repairs and the assembly of satellites while in space.
The company’s Mission Extension Vehicle 1 recently passed a critical design review and is scheduled for launch by the end of 2018. It will dock with a commercial communications satellite owned by Intelsat. The satellite communications giant — with some 50 spacecraft in orbit — is the system’s first customer. Intelsat also recently signed up to lease MEV 2, which is expected to be completed by mid-2020. The company ultimately would like to build five such space vehicles. More
(Source: National Defense Magazine - Mar 15)
STEPHEN HAWKING, RENOWNED SCIENTIST, DIES AT 76 - Stephen Hawking, the brilliant British theoretical physicist who overcame a debilitating disease to publish wildly popular books probing the mysteries of the universe, has died, according to a family spokesman. He was 76.
Considered by many to be the world's greatest living scientist, Hawking was also a cosmologist, astronomer, mathematician and author of numerous books including the landmark "A Brief History of Time," which has sold more than 10 million copies. More
(Source: CNN - Mar 14)
NASA’S NEXT STOP: A SPACE STATION ORBITING THE MOON - The International Space Station is entering its twilight years. As such, NASA is making plans for the space station of the future — one that would orbit the moon.
This new lunar outpost will be smaller and more remote than the ISS — orbing beyond Earth’s protective magnetic field. And the station’s goal would be to serve as a transit hub for deep space missions and exploration past low-Earth orbit, while continuing all the science that can be done in zero gravity. It would also be within easy reach of the lunar surface. More
(Source: Discover Magazine - Mar 14)
SPACEX’S MOST RECENT LAUNCH CARRIED A SECRET MILITARY-FUNDED EXPERIMENT - A previously-undisclosed payload funded by a U.S. military research agency rode into orbit with a Spanish communications satellite on SpaceX’s most recent Falcon 9 rocket launch March 6, officials said Friday.
The small spacecraft was fastened inside the Hispasat 30W-6 communications satellite, then ejected soon after the Falcon 9’s primary payload deployed in orbit following liftoff from Cape Canaveral. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Mar 14)
SATELLITE STARTUP PROMISES COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK THAT CAN’T BE HACKED - LeoSat has not even built a single satellite but has already booked $500 million worth of orders, its executives claim. In a crowded market for low-earth-orbit satellite communications, the company believes it has found its niche selling premium services to secrecy-obsessed clients, including the U.S. military.
“We’ve had a lot of interaction with DoD and combatant commands,” Michael Abad-Santos, senior vice president of LeoSat, told SpaceNews at the Satellite 2018 exposition. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Mar 14)
NEW NOAA WEATHER SATELLITE REACHES GEOSTATIONARY ORBIT - Less than two weeks after its launch from Cape Canaveral, a new NOAA weather observatory has boosted itself into a circular orbit more than 22,000 miles over the equator, and officials have renamed it GOES-17 ahead of a test series before it enters service later this year.
NOAA traditionally switches from a letter to a number designation for its weather satellites after they reach their operational geostationary orbit. This time, the GOES-S satellite became GOES-17. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Mar 14)
THE OWNER’S GUIDE TO YOUR NEW SPACE STATION - The White House made headlines recently by pushing the idea of privatizing the International Space Station after federal funding runs out in 2024. But anyone who'd consider owning and operating their own outpost in orbit should know this: It's not as easy as opening a Motel 6.
For deep, detailed proof of this fact, look no further than the Deep Space Exploration Standards. Drafted in secret by representatives from Canada, Japan, Russia, the European Union, and United States, and released publicly just two weeks ago, these rules amount to an owner's manual for a space station, outlining how to build so that all the parts connect and all the systems talk to each other. More
(Source: Popular Mechanics - Mar 13)
SATELLITE DESIGNED BY STUDENTS IN PRESCOTT CHOSEN BY NASA FOR LAUNCH - The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has invited a team of students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott campus to launch a cube satellite designed at the school.
According to a release, EagleSat-2 was one of 11 proposals selected by NASA to be apart of its CubeSat Launch Initiative, which provides opportunities for cube satellites to be launched in planned spaceflight missions. More
(Source: KTAR.com - Mar 13)
EFFECTIVE SPACE RESERVES ILS PROTON RIDESHARE FOR TWO SATELLITE SERVICERS - Effective Space Solutions, a company developing spacecraft that can extend the lives of telecommunications satellites, has arranged to launch its first two spacecraft on a Russian Proton rocket in 2020.
International Launch Services (ILS), the U.S.-based commercial arm of Proton’s manufacturer Khrunichev, is facilitating the launch, ILS announced March 12.
U.K.-based Effective Space is building life-extension spacecraft called Space Drones that have a mass of 400 kilograms each. The two Space Drones launching on Proton will reach orbit via rideshare, piggybacking on a mission with a larger customer, ILS spokesperson Karen Soriano told SpaceNews. She declined to name the primary payload for that mission. More
(Source: SapceNews - Mar 13)
WHY PEOPLE STILL WORRY ABOUT THE FALLING CHINESE SPACE STATION — DESPITE THE LOW ODDS - In 2016, China announced that its first human station, Tiangong-1, would make an uncontrolled reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, and given the module’s large size and density, some big pieces might survive all the way to the ground. It’s predictably garnered a lot of attention, and the panic just won’t go away.
Of course, there have been the standard frantic articles about the “doomed” station “spiraling out of control.” Some stories have insinuated that the station will fall in New Zealand’s backyard — though it’s far too early to know where it’s going to reenter. Others have hyped up the idea that toxic debris will rain down on Earth. It’s all hogwash. More
(Source: The Verge - Mar 12)
THE FCC SAYS A SPACE STARTUP LAUNCHED FOUR TINY SATELLITES INTO ORBIT WITHOUT PERMISSION - Earlier this year, a space startup from Silicon Valley launched four of its first prototype communications satellites on top of an Indian rocket. Except the FCC says that the company didn’t have authorization to send up those spacecraft from the US government, IEEE Spectrum reports. It would seemingly mark the first time a US private company launched un-licensed satellites into orbit — and these rogue spacecraft could pose a danger to other objects in space.
The four satellites reportedly belong to a fledgling company called Swarm Technologies, which was started by former Google and NASA JPL engineer Sara Spangelo in 2016. More
(Source: The Verge - Mar 11)
CUBECATS SATELLITE IS A GO FOR LAUNCH - NASA will launch a satellite produced by CubeCats — a student aerospace organization at the University of Cincinnati — as early as next year, the agency announced March 2.
LEOPARDSat-1 — the Low Earth Orbit Platform for Aerospace Research and Development — is a small research satellite, or “CubeSat,” developed by the CubeCats organization. The mission will “teach in-depth space mission and systems engineering to undergraduate and high school students,” according to the NASA website.
The LEOPARD satellite studies radiation mitigation. It should help NASA and aerospace researchers develop space suits and instruments that can withstand massive amounts of radiation, in hopes of one day enabling humans to travel to Mars. More
(Source: The News Record - Mar 10)
MANKIND'S FIRST SPACE HOTEL IS COMING IN 2021 - PROBABLY - So, where to for your next vacation? Somewhere exotic… far flung… remote, even? For the new few years you’ll have to be content with earthly offerings that tick these boxes, but come 2021 you should be able to look a little further afield. Or rather above, as 72-year-old billionaire hotel mogul Robert Bigelow has unveiled his plans for the first space hotel. While that all sounds very sci-fi, Bigelow’s credentials are actually sound and with the commercial private sector space race heating up to surface-of-the-sun levels, it would be foolish to dispel such ideas as folly. More
(Source: Forbes - Mar 10)
NASA'S AILING ROBONAUT 2 WILL RETURN FROM SPACE FOR LONG-OVERDUE REPAIRS - NASA's robotic astronaut, Robonaut 2, is headed home soon for a long-overdue repair.
A litany of problems has kept the robot offline since it was upgraded with legs in 2014, according to a report by IEEE Spectrum. After years of troubleshooting, NASA diagnosed the issue and is bringing Robonaut back from the International Space Station for upgrades and repairs. More
(Source: Space.com - Mar 10)
FOUR O3B SATELLITES LAUNCHED TO BEAM INTERNET TO DEVELOPING WORLD - Four satellites set to join O3b’s expanding broadband network successfully launched Friday on top of a Russian-built Soyuz booster from French Guiana, joining 12 other craft linking developing nations, far-flung islands, cruise ships and other hard-to-reach locales with the Internet.
Mounted on a carrying dispenser inside the Soyuz rocket’s nose cone, the four O3b spacecraft will grow the satellite-based broadband network’s reach and coverage, answering demand for more bandwidth from the initiative’s current and prospective customers. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Mar 10)