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SPACE STATION GETS A NEW LASER, FRUIT FLIES AND WRIGGLY WORMS, TOO SPACE STATION GETS A NEW LASER, FRUIT FLIES AND WRIGGLY WORMS, TOO - Two robotic arms recently completed an unprecedented handoff in orbit, attaching a NASA laser-firing instrument to the exterior of the International Space Station. NASA's Cloud Aerosol Transport System (CATS) instrument arrived at the orbiting lab Jan. 12 inside the unpressurized trunk of SpaceX's unmanned Dragon cargo capsule. On Jan. 22, operators on the ground used a NASA-controlled robotic arm aboard the station to remove CATS from Dragon, then passed the experiment to a Japanese-controlled arm. "The Japanese-controlled arm installed the instrument to the Space Station's Japanese Experiment Module, making CATS the first NASA-developed payload to fly on the Japanese module," NASA officials wrote in a statement, adding that the maneuver marked "the first time one robotic arm on station has worked in concert with a second robotic arm."   More
(Source: Space.com - Jan 30)

JAPANESE ROCKET LAUNCH POSTPONED BY POOR WEATHER JAPANESE ROCKET LAUNCH POSTPONED BY POOR WEATHER - A threat of thick clouds kept a Japanese H-2A rocket from launching Thursday with a government-owned radar reconnaissance satellite. Japanese officials did not set a new target launch date, and said the liftoff would be rescheduled based on forecast weather conditions over the next few days. The H-2A rocket was supposed to take off from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwest Japan at 0121 GMT Thursday (8:21 p.m. EST Wednesday), the opening of a 13-minute launch window. Liftoff was scheduled for 10:21 a.m. local time in Japan. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries - owner of the Tanegashima launch pad and the commercial operator of the H-2A rocket - announced the launch's postponement before engineers began loading cryogenic hydrogen and oxygen propellants into the two-stage rocket.   More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Jan 29)

ULA DELTA II LAUNCH WITH SMAP SCRUBBED ULA DELTA II LAUNCH WITH SMAP SCRUBBED - United Launch Alliance (ULA) has been forced to scrub a rare Delta II launch on Thursday morning due to red upper level wind constraints. The venerable rocket will have to wait until Friday morning to orbit the Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite for NASA in a mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Soil Moisture Active Passive, or SMAP, is a NASA mission to produce a global map of the moisture content in the Earth's soil. During its planned three-year mission the spacecraft will take repeated measurements of the Earth's surface as it orbits the planet, allowing scientists to study the distribution of water in soil around the world and its role in the water cycle.   More
(Source: NASASpaceFlight.com - Jan 29)

SPACEX, BOEING WILL SEND ASTRONAUTS TO INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION IN 2017 SPACEX, BOEING WILL SEND ASTRONAUTS TO INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION IN 2017 - SpaceX and Boeing will start sending astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2017, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has confirmed. In 2014, under the Commercial Crew Program (CCP), NASA awarded contracts to SpaceX and Boeing to start sending astronauts to the ISS from U.S. soil. The contracts were a step forward for ending the reliance on Russia for sending astronauts to the space station. NASA revealed last year that the CCP contract to Boeing was worth up to $4.2 billion and up to $2.6 billion for SpaceX.   More
(Source: Tech Times - Jan 29)

LIGHTSAIL-1 LAUNCH ANNOUNCED LIGHTSAIL-1 LAUNCH ANNOUNCED - The first of The Planetary Society's two LightSail spacecraft will ride to space aboard an Atlas V rocket in May 2015 The mission is a shakedown cruise designed to test out the CubeSat's critical systems. The LightSail-1 entry on the IARU Satellite Frequency Coordination Panel status page lists a 9k6 GMSK AX25 amateur radio payload on 437.325 MHz. In 2016, the second LightSail spacecraft will piggyback into orbit aboard the first operational flight of SpaceX's new Falcon Heavy rocket for a full-fledged solar sailing demonstration.    More
(Source: Southgate - Jan 28)

RUSSIA TO PROPOSE BRICS SPACE STATION RUSSIA TO PROPOSE BRICS SPACE STATION - Russia has drawn up a proposal to create a new space station for the BRICS group of emerging economies that could be presented at the organization's five-nation summit this year, the TASS news agency reported Tuesday, citing a copy of the document. The proposal was crafted by Russia's Military-Industrial Commission, the government's primary interface with the aerospace and defense industries. In November, President Vladimir Putin took personal control of the commission. "It would be useful to explore the possibility of an international manned spaceflight project with the BRICS nations within an overall strategy of entering into technological alliances," TASS cited an expert panel on the commission as saying in the document.   More
(Source: The Moscow Times - Jan 28)

LAUNCH OF DELTA 2 ROCKET WITH NASA PROBE THURSDAY LAUNCH OF DELTA 2 ROCKET WITH NASA PROBE THURSDAY - From weather forecasting to agricultural benefits, a new NASA mission launching this week will provide unprecedented detail, accuracy and coverage of soil moisture from space on a world-wide basis every three days for the next three years. "Moist soil is far more interesting than you might have ever imagined," said Sam Thurman, SMAP deputy project manager. "Soil moisture is the bank account of water in the land," added Dara Entekhabi, SMAP science definition team lead. The $916 million Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission is one piece of a larger program of Earth science projects in space to answer questions about how our planet works.   More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Jan 26)

LAUNCH DELAYED FOR NOAA SOLAR CLIMATE OBSERVATION SATELLITE LAUNCH DELAYED FOR NOAA SOLAR CLIMATE OBSERVATION SATELLITE - The scheduled launch of the satellite that will serve as the orbiting eyes of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Climate Prediction Center in Boulder has been delayed. Previously, the earliest launch time for the satellite recognized as the Deep Space Climate Observatory had been set for Jan. 31. But currently, the U.S. Air Force, acting in its capacity as the launch services provider with SpaceX, and with concurrence from NOAA and NASA, announced it is now expected to launch no earlier than Feb. eight. If the satellite goes off that day, the scheduled launch time would be four:ten p.m. MST.   More
(Source: National Gazette - Jan 25)

INMARSAT GLOBAL XPRESS SATELLITE TO DELIVER HIGH-SPEED MOBILE BROADBAND INMARSAT GLOBAL XPRESS SATELLITE TO DELIVER HIGH-SPEED MOBILE BROADBAND - UK SATELLITE FIRM Inmarsat is to launch a "next generation satellite" to deliver its Global Xpress service, billed as the "world's first" high-speed mobile broadband service. The launch of the Inmarsat-5 F2 will take place on 1 February at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Inmarsat claims that investing $1.6bn into delivering Global Xpress will create the world's first globally available, high-speed mobile broadband service, delivered through a single network operator. Inmarsat's fifth-generation satellites were built by Boeing Satellite Systems International in California, and the launch is being undertaken by International Launch Services using a Proton launch vehicle.   More
(Source: Inquirer - Jan 24)

DID TWO MORE IRIDIUM SATELLITES COLLIDE WITH SPACE DEBRIS? DID TWO MORE IRIDIUM SATELLITES COLLIDE WITH SPACE DEBRIS? - Two mystifying incidents last year involving separate Iridium communications satellites have experts wondering whether the spacecraft collided with tiny fragments of space junk. Both satellites kept operating after inexplicably shedding debris, puzzling engineers who are concerned about the population of small objects in orbit that cannot be tracked by the U.S. Air Force's network of sensitive radars and cameras. Both events "illustrate how mysterious many of the debris phenomena in Earth orbit still remain," according to an article in a quarterly report published by NASA's Orbital Debris Program Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.   More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Jan 23)

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