CHINA APPEARS TO BE PREPARING TO DEORBIT ITS TIANGONG-2 SPACE LAB - China has lowered the orbit of its Tiangong-2 space lab, likely in preparation for deorbiting the orbital facility and thus averting a similar scenario to the uncontrolled re-entry of Tiangong-1 earlier this year.
Tiangong-2 was launched in September 2016 to test advanced life support and refueling and resupply capabilities via the crewed Shenzhou-11 and uncrewed Tianzhou-1 cargo missions, in preparation for constructing a large, modular space station in low Earth orbit.
Orbital information published by the U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Force Space Component Command, through the Joint Space Operations Center, indicates that Tiangong-2 has moved from an altitude of around 380 by 386 kilometers down to 292 by 297 kilometers. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Jun 23)
1ST SATELLITE BUILT TO HARPOON SPACE JUNK FOR DISPOSAL BEGINS TEST FLIGHT - The first spacecraft to demonstrate active space debris-removal technologies — such as a harpoon, a net and a drag sail — in orbit has been released from the International Space Station to commence its mission.
Astronauts at the space station sent the 100-kilogram (220 lbs.) RemoveDebris spacecraft off for its pioneering mission using Canadarm2, the 17.6-meter-long (57.7 feet) robotic arm used for servicing and capturing cargo ships. More
(Source: Space.com - Jun 23)
IT'S BUSINESS TIME: ROCKET LAB PREPARES FOR LAUNCH OUT OF NEW ZEALAND - New Zealand-based Rocket Lab will on Saturday make another bid to send its first fully commercial payload into orbit.
Since testing began, the company has put four satellites into orbit, and from June 23 has a fortnight to get its first fully-fledged business mission -- aptly named "It's Business Time" -- off the ground.
Rocket Lab will open the launch window from June 23 through July 6, with launch attempts scheduled for daily four-hour slots, beginning at 12:30pm NZST.
The company will open a live-stream 15 minutes before launch, viewable on a launch day here and via Rocket Lab's YouTube channel. More
(Source: ZDNet - Jun 22)
SOYUZ SPACECRAFT: BACKBONE OF RUSSIAN SPACE PROGRAM - The Soyuz is a type of spacecraft that the Soviet Union, and then Russia, has used for decades to launch cosmonauts into space. Today's Soyuz missions are best known for trips to the International Space Station; however, the spacecraft has a long operational history dating back to the 1960s, starting with its first uncrewed mission on Nov. 28, 1966. Over the years, Soyuz spacecraft have sent cosmonauts to several types of space stations — the Almaz series, Salyut series, Mir and today's ISS.
Soyuz had two fatal missions. In 1967, the first crewed Soyuz mission, Soyuz 1, ended in tragedy due to a parachute failure that killed its sole cosmonaut, Vladimir Komarov. More
(Source: Space.com - Jun 22)
WATCH AS A BORG-LIKE SATELLITE ZIPS BY THE ISS - Space isn't always so spacious. Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev gave us a reminder of the existence of space traffic with a video tweeted Wednesday showing a satellite flying by the ISS. The satellite shows up well against the background of Earth's blue water and white clouds. Artemyev zooms in to give a better look at the blocky machine. You even make out details of its solar panels. It looks like a mini version of a Borg cube spaceship from Star Trek. More
(Source: CNET - Jun 21)
INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION MISSION TO LAUNCH IN OCTOBER - Two decades ago, Nick Hague was a wide-eyed, 20-something Air Force second lieutenant from Kansas. Russian Alexey Ovchinin was another 20-something who had harbored cosmonaut dreams since he was 7 years old.
Now, NASA astronaut Hague, 42, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Ovchinin, 46, are heading to the International Space Station together in October and will be aboard to observe the station’s 20th anniversary. While the men have no celebration planned yet, the significance of the station and how much their countries have achieved are not lost on them. More
(Source: Houston Chronicle - Jun 21)
CHECKING CHINA'S POLLUTION BY SATELLITE - Air pollution has smothered China's cities in recent decades. In response, the Chinese government has implemented measures to clean up its skies. But are those policies effective? Now an innovative study co-authored by an MIT scholar shows that one of China's key antipollution laws is indeed working—but unevenly, with one particular set of polluters most readily adapting to it.
The study examines a Chinese law that has required coal-fired power plants to significantly reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, a pollutant associated with respiratory illnesses, starting in July 2014.
(Source: Phys.org - Jun 19)
TRUMP CALLS FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF U.S. “SPACE FORCE” - Catching observers off guard, President Trump, in remarks before a National Space Council Meeting at the White House Monday, officially directed to Pentagon to establish a sixth branch of the military, a “space force,” to ensure American dominance on the high frontier. Trump also signed his administration’s third Space Policy Directive, calling for establishment of new protocols and procedures to manage and monitor the increasing numbers of satellites in low-Earth orbit and the tens of thousands of pieces of space junk and debris that pose an increasing threat to costly spacecraft. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Jun 19)
4 OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD DADS CELEBRATE FATHER'S DAY IN SPACE - As dads around the world celebrate Father's Day today (June 17), four far-out fathers will spend the holiday floating 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the Earth at the International Space Station.
NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev (four of the six crewmembers currently aboard the space station for Expedition 56) all have kids back on Earth. More
(Source: Space.com - Jun 18)
ISRO CLEARS GSAT-11 FOR LAUNCH - The ISRO has cleared for launch GSAT-11, the satellite which was recalled from Kourou in French Guinea for thorough checks, after losing contact with its another satellite that was launched from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.in March this year, an official said.
The 5,700-kg GSAT-11 satellite was slated for launch on May 26 from Kourou, a site in South America which India uses to launch its heavy-weight satellite. More
(Source: Times of India - Jun 18)
RUSSIA LAUNCHES SOYUZ-2.1B CARRIER ROCKET WITH GLONASS-M NAVIGATION SATELLITE - Russia launched a Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket from the Plesetsk space center on Sunday to orbit a Glonass-M satellite, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
"On Sunday, at 00:46 Moscow time [21:46 GMT]… the Space Forces of the Aerospace Forces successfully launched a middle-class Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with a navigation Glonass-M spacecraft," the ministry said in a statement. Hours later the ministry reported that the satellite reached the designated orbit. More
(Source: Sputnik International - Jun 17)
SPACEX HOPES TO LAUNCH 4,000 SATELLITES, MOSTLY FROM FLORIDA, NASA REPORT SAYS - SpaceX has plans to launch more than 4,000 satellites, the majority of which will head into space from the Space Coast, according to an environmental impact study done by the Elon Musk-led company and NASA.
If it comes to fruition, the work would further solidify Cape Canaveral as the world’s busiest private launch center.
Buried in a 73-page study released in April was a reference to a project SpaceX has been pursuing that would establish a constellation of small, Internet-beaming satellites for the company. More
(Source: Orlando Sentinel - Jun 16)
SPACE STATION DIGITAL AMATEUR RADIO TV SYSTEM TRANSMITTER DETERMINED TO BE DEFECTIVE - The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) “Ham Video” digital Amateur Radio TV (DATV) transmitter on the International Space Station (ISS) is reported to be defective, with onboard repair not possible. Also known as HamTV, the DATV system stopped working in mid-April, and a subsequent test on June 1 using a second L/S band patch antenna on the Columbus module had failed. ARISS-EU Mentor Gaston Bertels, More
(Source: ARRL - Jun 15)
STATION ASTRONAUTS INSTALL NEW CAMERAS ON SUCCESSFUL SPACEWALK - Two astronauts floated outside the International Space Station Thursday and installed two new cameras on the front of the lab complex that will provide views of commercial crew ships during final approach and docking. The spacewalkers also replaced a faulty high-definition camera and closed a door that was jammed open on an external instrument.
Floating in the Quest airlock, Expedition 56 commander Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold switched their spacesuits to battery power at 8:06 a.m. EDT (GMT-4)... More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Jun 15)
RUSSIA WANTS TO ZAP SPACE JUNK WITH A HUGE FRICKIN’ LASER - Space junk is a big problem. The amount of trash floating around in Earth orbit has gradually piled up over the decades and we’ve now reached a point where NASA and other space agencies around the world are forced to plan for the likelihood that anything they shoot into space might end up crashing into some random piece of litter.
NASA even went so far as to install a special sensor on the International Space Station to track the number of times it is hit by tiny bits of space junk. More
(Source: BGR - Jun 14)
JAPANESE INTELLIGENCE-GATHERING SATELLITE SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHED - An all-weather spy satellite for the Japanese government launched Tuesday on top of an H-2A rocket, extending the country’s surveillance reach with coverage of North Korea and other strategic locations worldwide.
The radar-equipped reconnaissance craft lifted off at 0420 GMT (12:20 a.m. EDT) Tuesday from the Tanegashima Space Center, Japan’s primary launch base, located on an island in the southern part of the country.
Liftoff occurred at 1:20 p.m. Japan Standard Time, marking the 39th launch of an H-2A rocket, and the second H-2A launch of the year. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Jun 14)
VACATION ON THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION, FOR THE PERSON WHO HAS EVERYTHING - Are you tired of Lake Como? Bored by your round-the-world cruise on the Queen Elizabeth? Well cheer up, because there's finally a way to really get away from it all.
Axiom Space, which bills itself as the first commercial space station, said Wednesday it'll offer seven- to 10-day vacations on the International Space Station as early as 2020, according to The New York Times. At $55 million a person, the cost is equally out of this world. The company plans to launch its habitation pods connected to the ISS in 2022. More
(Source: CNET - Jun 14)
THE 2018 WORLD CUP BALL IS NAMED AFTER A 1960S SATELLITE - Over the course of the month-long World Cup, fans will cheer for every “golazo” and groan over every near miss, or defensive miscue. One thing most people outside of the pitch won’t lose sleep over, however, is the sport’s most important object: the ball.
This year’s ball, the Telstar 18, is named as a tribute to Adidas’ first official World Cup ball from Mexico 1970, but the name has an even richer history than that—one that goes back more than 50 years to a tiny satellite that changed the world. More
(Source: History - Jun 14)
PHOTOS: RUSSIA’S WORLD CUP STADIUMS, AS SEEN FROM THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION - After spending roughly $11 billion to host the World Cup, Russia will kick off the competition on Thursday (June 14) with matches being played at 12 stadiums around the country.
Along with much-needed transportation and security infrastructure, a massive chunk of Russia’s spending was on the stadiums themselves. Russia commissioned several new ones, while expanding and updating a clutch of existing venues, with sometimes terrifying outcomes. Overall, around $4 billon was spent on stadium construction and renovations over the past several years. More
(Source: Quartz - Jun 12)