US SPY SATELLITE LAUNCHES INTO SPACE ALONG WITH 13 TINY CUBESATS - An American spy satellite and 13 tiny "cubesats" shared a rocket ride to orbit this morning, lighting up the predawn sky over their California launchpad.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket blasted off today (Oct. 8) from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base at 5:49 a.m. EDT (0949 GMT; 8:49 a.m. local California time), lofting the secret NROL-55 payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency that operates the United States' spy satellites. You can watch a video replay of the dazzling rocket launch here.
The 13 cubesats tagged along as part of the NRO's GRACE (Government Rideshare Advanced Concepts Experiment) secondary payload. Nine of the tiny spacecraft were sponsored by the NRO, while NASA sponsored the other four. More
(Source: Space.com - Oct 9)
INDIA'S GREAT WALL CAN BE SEEN FROM SPACE - A nighttime picture taken from the International Space Station of the boundary between India and Pakistan-visible because of a string of Indian floodlights erected in an effort to prevent militants from crossing into its territory-went viral this week.
The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration said the frontier was one of only a few visible from space at night. Among the others are the dividing lines between South Africa and Zimbabwe and North and South Korea - both marked by sharp differences in the prevalence of electric lighting on the two sides.
In the case of estranged neighbors India and Pakistan, the Indian floodlights, which extend for more than 1,900 kilometers, limn a boundary that is disputed in places. Fences extend along much of the 3,323-kilometerfrontier as well. More
(Source: Wall Street Journal - Oct 9)
ULA LAUNCHES ATLAS V ROCKET IN CALIFORNIA - The 19-story-tall Atlas V rocket carried a National Reconnasiance Office spacecraft for a mission labeled NROL-55. The miniature spacecraft, sponsored by the NRO and NASA, will test assorted technology and is in support of national defense, ULA officials said.
Thirteen CubeSats also launched aboard the Atlas V rocket aboard the NRO's Government Rideshare Advanced Concepts Experience auxiliary payload. Nine of the CubeSats are sponsored by the NRO, and four are sponsored by NASA. More
(Source: Central Florida News 13 - Oct 8)
CHINA LAUNCHES JILIN-1 MISSION VIA LONG MARCH 2D - China launched four satellites to provide photographs to commercial clients while helping with harvest assessment, geological disaster prevention and resource surveys. The launch of the Jilin-1 mission took place at 04:13 UTC on Wednesday, using a Long March-2D launch vehicle from the 603 Launch Pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center's LC43. The Jilin-1 mission was developed on the China's Jilin Province and is the country's first self-developed remote sensing satellite for commercial use. More
(Source: NASASpaceFlight.com - Oct 8)
INDIA LAUNCHES FIRST ASTRONOMY SATELLITE - Indian astrophysics got a boost recently when an Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) PSLV rocket launched from Satish Dhawan Space Center on September 28th, placing Astrosat in a low-Earth orbit inclined 6° to the equator. The multi-purpose observatory is equipped to observe the Universe across the X-ray spectrum, accompanied by simultaneous visible and ultraviolet light observations.
Previously, India has lofted X-ray detectors aboard high-altitude balloons and sub-orbital sounding rockets, but this is India's first astronomical satellite. Data from AstroSat will be available to the Indian astronomy community via proposals for observations. More
(Source: SkyandTelescope.com - Oct 7)
EXPERTS: NORTH KOREA'S NOT PREPARING FOR A SATELLITE LAUNCH - Despite recent rumors, North Korea is not preparing for a satellite launch on October 10, when Pyongyang will celebrate the 70th anniversary of its Korean Workers' Party. Recent satellite imagery does not show any launch preparations underway at the Sohae launch facility, said analysts with 38 North, a website providing analysis of North Korean affairs and a program of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced Internationals Studies.
A bit of background first: the idea that North Korea would conduct a satellite launch - regarded by the United States and South Korea as an excuse to test ballistic missile technology - on October 10 emerged in the aftermath of North-South tensions this August. More
(Source: The Diplomat - Oct 6)
FACEBOOK PLANS TO LAUNCH AN INTERNET-BEAMING SATELLITE NEXT YEAR - Facebook plans to launch an Internet beaming satellite into space next year that will bring online access to people in Sub-Saharan Africa.
"Over the last year Facebook has been exploring ways to use aircraft and satellites to beam internet access down into communities from the sky. To connect people living in remote regions, traditional connectivity infrastructure is often difficult and inefficient, so we need to invent new technologies," CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page. Facebook and Eutelsat, a satellite operator, announced their collaboration today on a new satellite called the Amos-6, which will launch into a geostationary orbit next year, beaming Internet into communities that do not otherwise have access. More
(Source: ABC News - Oct 6)
SPACEX PROPOSING COST-EFFECTIVE REUSABLE ROCKETS - As India launches its first observatory in space and Europe places a probe on a comet, SpaceX is hoping to help the U.S. lead the space race with reusable rockets and the kind of raw power not seen since the glory days of the Saturn V.
Earlier this year California-based enterprise SpaceX launched the Dragon, a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carrying unmanned cargo to the International Space Station. The company has hoped to land the rocket on a floating barge in the ocean but has yet to succeed. Aerospace sources told The Washington Times that SpaceX is aiming to launch again in November, but a representative for the company declined to comment. More
(Source: Washington Times - Oct 6)
REMEMBERING SPUTNIK - THE SATELLITE THAT BEGAN THE SPACE RACE - 58 years ago a tiny satellite was successfully lofted into orbit, firing the opening salvo in what would become the Space Race. Sputnik-1 became the first man-made satellite to orbit Earth, a trailblazer for thousands of spacecraft that have since ridden uphill while providing the initiator of technological advances that allowed humans to leave the confines of our planet.
The plan of chief Soviet rocket scientist Sergei Korolev, the concept for Sputnik-1 was presented in 1954, a year prior to President Eisenhower's plans for the United States to launch an artificial satellite during the International Geophysical Year (IGY). More
(Source: NASASpaceFlight.com - Oct 5)
AMSAT-NA VP-ENGINEERING ON NASA TV WEDNESDAY - VP-Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY will be on the panel at a NASA prelaunch briefing on Wednesday, October 7 at 1800 UT. The briefing will be shown live on NASA TV.
The amateur radio FM transponder CubeSat, AMSAT Fox-1A, will be among 13 CubeSats flying as secondary payloads on the NROL-55 mission which should launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on Thursday, October 8, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
NASA will be holding two briefings about the launch. The first on Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 1700 UT (1pm EDT) will highlight the growing importance of CubeSats in exploration and technology development. The second at 1800 UT (2pm EDT) will discuss five of the CubeSats. More
(Source: AMSAT-UK - Oct 4)
HURRICANE JOAQUIN EYED FROM SPACE STATION - Astronauts on the International Space Station spied powerful Hurricane Joaquin spinning in the Bahamas in a spectacular photo showing the eye of the storm Friday.
The cyclone was a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph when the picture was taken early Friday, according to NASA. As of 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT) Saturday, the storm is forecast to move northeast from the Bahamas and pass near Bermuda in the next few days. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Oct 4)
ATLAS 5 LAUNCHES MEXICOS MORELOS-3 L-BAND SATELLITE - A U.S. Atlas 5 rocket on Oct. 2 successfully placed Mexico's Morelos-3 mobile communications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit, a launch that will enable Mexico to deploy its MexSat system despite the loss of an identical satellite in May's failure of a Russian Proton rocket.
Operating from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, launch service provider United Launch Alliance notched its 100th mission since its 2006 founding from a merger of rocket operations of its two shareholders, Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.
Morelos-3 builder Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems of El Segundo, California, said the satellite was healthy in orbit and sending signals. More
(Source: Space News - Oct 3)
RUSSIAN CARGO SHIP ARRIVES AT SPACE STATION - A robotic Russian cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station this evening (Oct. 1), ending a brief orbital chase.
Russia's uncrewed Progress 61 freighter, also known as 61P, docked with the space station's Zvezda service module at 6:52 p.m. EDT (2252 GMT), while the two craft were zooming together over the North Atlantic Ocean. The cargo vessel, which is stocked with more than 3 tons of food and supplies for the astronauts aboard the orbiting lab, had launched atop a Russian Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan just 6 hours earlier. More
(Source: Space.com - Oct 3)
LQSAT LAUNCH MONDAY, OCTOBER 5 - Monday, October 5 should see the launch of LQSat which was developed by researchers and students at the Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics (CIOMP) and carries an amateur radio payload.
The launch will take place from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (JSLC) in Inner Mongolia on a Chang Zheng 2D (CZ-2D) rocket. More
(Source: AMSAT-UK - Oct 3)
ISS CUBESATS TO DEPLOY MONDAY, OCTOBER 5 - The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced that two Danish CubeSats carrying amateur radio payloads should be deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday, October 5. Originally launched to the ISS on August 19, 2015 the two CubeSats, AAUSat-5 and GomX-3, will be deployed from the ISS Japanese Kibo module airlock. An astronaut will manipulate the Kibo robotic arm to lift AAUSAT-5 from the airlock and place it in orbit. More
(Source: AMSAT-UK - Oct 3)
RUSSIA LAUNCHES PROGRESS SUPPLY SHIP TO SPACE STATION - An automated Russian Progress supply ship docked at the International Space Station Thursday evening six hours after launch from Kazakhstan, bringing 3.1 tons of supplies and equipment to the outpost after a problem-free rendezvous.
"A flawless journey of six hours three minutes for the Progress 61 cargo craft," reported Rob Navias, NASA's mission control commentator. "All the pre-programmed engine firings to increase its altitude and to begin the journey to catch up to the International Space Station went by the book, with no issues whatsoever."
The mission began at 12:49:40 p.m. EDT (GMT-4; 10:49 p.m. local time) when the cargo ship's Soyuz booster roared to life and climbed away from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, two minutes after the space station passed overhead. More
(Source: CBS News - Oct 2)
SKY MUSTER: ROCKET CARRYING NBN SATELLITE LAUNCHES AMID CONCERNS INTERNET SPEEDS OVERPROMISED - A rocket carrying the half-a-billion-dollar satellite, nicknamed Sky Muster and considered the great hope of the National Broadband Network (NBN), was launched in French Guiana about 6:30am (AEST). NBN said Sky Muster was designed to deliver broadband internet services to more than 400,000 rural and remote homes, including on Norfolk, Christmas, Macquarie and Cocos islands. The company said of the 400,000 premises in the total footprint for the satellite, it expected around 200,000 to take up a service. More
(Source: ABC Online - Oct 1)
CHINESE LONG MARCH 3B LOFTS NEXT BEIDOU-3 SATELLITE - The fifth Chinese launch in September took place at 23:13 UTC on Tuesday (Wednesday morning local time) with a Long March-3B/G2 rocket orbiting another Beidou-3 navigation satellite. The launch of BDS I2-S (or Beidou-20) took place from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center via the modified pad 3.
Tuesday's launch is another steady step in the completion of the Phase III of the Beidou program several years ahead of schedule - by as soon as 2017, rather than 2020.
However, the launch initially received a blackout in the Chinese media, with lift-off only confirmed by local observers. It took over an hour - once the spacecraft was successfully deployed - for the Chinese media to acknowledge the launch. More
(Source: NASASpaceflight.com - Sep 30)
HTV SUPPLY SHIP SETS COURSE FOR RE-ENTRY - Heading for a destructive re-entry over the South Pacific with several tons of trash, Japan's fifth HTV cargo craft departed the International Space Station on Monday after overcoming a last-minute snag in the lab's robotics system.
The space station's 58-foot-long robotic arm disengaged the HTV supply ship from a docking port on the outpost's Harmony module early Monday, then maneuvered the spacecraft to a departure point about 30 feet beneath the complex.
Astronauts Kimiya Yui and Kjell Lindgren were gearing up to release the H-2 Transfer Vehicle at 1520 GMT (11:20 a.m. EDT), but mission control instructed the crew to stand down after receiving an error message on the station's robotic arm. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Sep 30)