SPACE STATION CREW RETURNS TO EARTH TONIGHT: HOW TO WATCH LIVE - Three space travelers will depart from the International Space Station (ISS) tonight after a six-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory.
Cramped inside a small Soyuz space capsule, NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli and Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy will undock from the ISS early tomorrow morning (Dec. 14) at 12:14 a.m. EST (0514 GMT). You can watch their journey home live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV. NASA TV will begin airing live coverage at 8:30 p.m. today (Dec. 13) as the members of the spacefaring trio bid farewell to the three remaining crewmembers, settle into the Soyuz capsule and close the hatch. More
(Source: Space.com - Dec 14)
VAN ALLEN BELT MYSTERY SOLVED WITH STUDENT-BUILT SATELLITE - Oh, that Van Allen Belt—online crackpots love to use Earth’s belt of radiation to bolster their Moon landing conspiracies, suggesting it could be too strong for an astronaut to travel through (not true). But the truth is, scientists do think about the Van Allen Belt and its mysteries. They’ve launched probes to study the region since they weren’t sure where some of that radiation came from. The belt consists of charged particles like protons and electrons trapped by Earth’s magnetic field between 300 miles and 25,000 miles above the Earth’s surface. More
(Source: Gizmodo - Dec 14)
ROCKET LAB BEGINS NEW COUNTDOWN WITH FIX FOR PROPULSION SYSTEM GLITCH - The Electron launch was scrubbed again Wednesday night (U.S. time), and liftoff has been rescheduled for Thursday night (U.S. time)... With a fix in place for a propulsion system alarm that cut short a countdown in the final seconds Monday, U.S. time, Rocket Lab is readying an Electron rocket for another try in a window opening at 8:30 p.m. EST Wednesday (0130 GMT Tuesday) to begin a test flight aiming to deliver three small commercial CubeSats to orbit from a remote New Zealand launch pad. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Dec 14)
FCC BEGINS APPROVAL OF ORBITAL ATK SATELLITE-SERVICING MISSION FOR INTELSAT-901 - The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Dec. 5 okayed the first part of a satellite-servicing mission Orbital ATK’s Space Logistic subsidiary has with Intelsat, saying the servicing vehicle can execute “rendezvous, proximity operations, and docking with the Intelsat-901” satellite while in a graveyard orbit.
Regulatory approvals for the first Mission Extension Vehicle-1 (MEV-1) are proceeding as planned, Joe Anderson, vice president of business development and operations for Space Logistics, told SpaceNews Dec. 12, though the FCC deferred on some of the company’s requests. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Dec 13)
TO FIX THE SPACE JUNK PROBLEM, ADD A SELF-DESTRUCT MODULE - Humans have gotten pretty good at launching stuff into space—but way less good at getting stuff back down. Up in lower Earth orbit, along with a thousand-plus productive satellites, there are many more slackers: space junk, cosmic trash, garbage of the highest-orbiting order. According to the European Space Agency’s latest statistics, there are about 29,000 pieces of such junk larger than 10 centimeters, 750,000 between 1 and 10 centimeters, and a 166 million between 1 mm and 1 centimeter. More
(Source: Wired - Dec 13)
NASA AND SPACEX NOW TARGET WEDNESDAY FOR DRAGON LAUNCH - NASA and SpaceX are now targeting no earlier than 11:24 a.m. EST Wednesday, Dec. 13th, for the company’s 13th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. SpaceX requested additional time for prelaunch ground systems checks.
A Dragon spacecraft will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Dragon is now scheduled to arrive at the space station on Saturday, Dec. 16. More
(Source: NASA - Dec 13)
ARIANE 5 ROCKET LAUNCHES 4 MORE SATELLITES FOR EUROPE'S GPS NETWORK - A European Ariane 5 rocket shot skyward from the small South American country of French Guiana this afternoon (Dec. 12), carrying four new navigation satellites into orbit for the European Space Agency.
The rocket, built by European launch provider Arianespace, lifted off from the Guiana Space Center in Korou at 1:36:07 p.m. EST (1836:07 GMT and 3:36:07 p.m. in Kourou) with the new Galileo navigation system satellites, which will join 18 already in orbit. The European Union is adding members to its own satellite-navigation system, the Galileo constellation, which will function much like the United States' Navstar GPS system. More
(Source: Space.com - Dec 12)
SPACEX READIES USED ROCKET FOR SPACE STATION FLIGHT - SpaceX is readying a previously flown Falcon 9 booster and an equally "used" Dragon cargo ship for launch Wednesday, one day later than planned, on a flight to deliver 4,800 pounds of equipment and supplies to the International Space Station. It will be the California rocket builder's 17th flight so far this year.
The launching will mark the fourth time SpaceX has reflown a recovered Falcon 9 first stage -- a first for NASA -- and the second time the California rocket builder has re-launched a Dragon supply ship. More
(Source: CBS News - Dec 12)
ROCKET LAB ABORTS TEST LAUNCH SECONDS BEFORE LIFTOFF - The private spaceflight company Rocket Lab aborted a scheduled test launch of its small-scale Electron rocket today (Dec. 11), just 2 seconds before liftoff.
At Rocket Lab's private launch facility in New Zealand, the countdown clock had nearly reached zero when a white puff of smoke erupted from the bottom of the Electron rocket — but then, the clock stopped, and the rocket failed to rise off the ground. The launch was abruptly halted at 10:50 p.m. EST on Dec. 11 (0350 GMT), which is 4:50 p.m. New Zealand Time on Dec. 12. More
(Source: Space.com - Dec 12)
ROCKET LAB LAUNCH CANCELLED SIX MINUTES INTO WINDOW - Rocket Lab postponed the launch of its second trial rocket until Tuesday after cancelling its launch on Monday afternoon.
Rocket Lab spokeswoman Morgan Bailey said the launch was cancelled due a mix of atmospheric conditions and space traffic.
The International Space Station flying through orbit coupled with the weather conditions gave a tight six minute window to attempt launch at 2.30pm, she said. More
(Source: Stuff.co.nz - Dec 11)
CHINESE LONG MARCH 3B LAUNCHES ALGERIA’S FIRST TELECOM SATELLITE - China Great Wall Industry Corp. launched Algeria’s first telecommunications satellite, Alcomsat-1, aboard a Long March 3B rocket at 11:40 a.m. Eastern to geostationary transfer orbit, the Algerian press agency APS said today.
The 5,225-kilogram satellite carries a 33-transponder payload comprised of 19 in Ku-band, 12 in Ka-band and two in L-band, according to a statement from China Great Wall Industry Corp. (CGWIC).
Similar to China’s other foreign satellite deals, CGWIC built the satellite and provided the launch vehicle, sidestepping manufacturing and rocket restrictions tied to U.S. components, which are in most other commercial telecom satellites. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Dec 11)
TINY SPACE-DEBRIS DETECTOR WILL FLY TO STATION THIS WEEK - How many tiny bits of space debris are pummeling the International Space Station day after day? A new experiment headed into orbit this week will find out.
NASA's Space Debris Sensor is scheduled to launch aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule on Tuesday (Dec 12). The sensor is designed to gather data on micrometeoroids and pieces of space debris, each about the size of a sand grain — far too small to be tracked from the ground. The sensor will reveal how frequently these bits of material collide with the station, how fast they are moving when they hit and the direction they came from. More
(Source: Space.com - Dec 11)
GALILEO NAVIGATION SATELLITES BUTTONED UP FOR LAUNCH ON ARIANE 5 ROCKET - Technicians working in the jungle of French Guiana have installed four new European Galileo navigation satellites on top of their Ariane 5 launcher, and filled the rocket’s upper stage with storable liquid propellants for liftoff Tuesday.
The satellite quartet will join 18 others already in space to build out Europe’s Galileo fleet, an independent civilian-run analog to the U.S. Air Force’s Global Positioning System and the Russian military’s Glonass network.
Liftoff of the Ariane 5 rocket is set for an instantaneous launch opportunity at 1836:07 GMT (1:36:07 p.m. EST; 3:36:07 p.m. French Guiana time) Tuesday. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Dec 10)
ROCKET LAB PUSHES BACK SECOND ELECTRON LAUNCH TO SUNDAY - Rocket Lab plans to roll out the company’s second light-class Electron rocket to its launch pad in New Zealand on Thursday for final countdown preparations, but officials have delayed liftoff to no earlier than Sunday night, U.S. time.
The Electron booster, standing roughly 55 feet (17 meters) tall, could blast off from Rocket Lab’s commercial launch pad as soon as 0130 GMT Monday (8:30 p.m. EST Sunday) at the opening of a four-hour launch window. The launch opportunity opens at 2:30 p.m. Monday in New Zealand. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Dec 9)
SPACEX SET TO LAUNCH MYSTERIOUS ZUMA SATELLITE NEXT MONTH - Zuma really isn't living up to its name, is it?
Expected to launch into orbit from NASA's Kennedy Space Center on the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 15, Zuma has kept space watchers waiting for nearly three weeks to see it zoom. Instead, SpaceX -- which will be using a Falcon 9 rocket to put the reportedly Northrop Grumman-built Zuma satellite in orbit -- canceled the Nov. 15 launch, then canceled another launch date on Nov. 16, postponing that one to Nov. 17, only to cancel the following day as well. The company had stayed mum on its status ever since -- until this week. More
(Source: Motley Fool - Dec 8)
NASA SATELLITE CAPTURES RAGING SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FIRES FROM SPACE - Thick blankets of smoke from wildfires burning in Southern California are visible from space.
An image captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Terra satellite shows large plumes of smoke streaming into the Pacific, illustrating the fires' scope and size.
The fast-moving blazes, centered in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, have been fueled by dry, gusty Santa Ana winds.
Three major fires are raging in Southern California. More
(Source: Los Angeles Times - Dec 7)
GOES-S WEATHER SATELLITE ARRIVES IN FLORIDA FOR LAUNCH PREPARATIONS - NOAA’s latest weather satellite, a new-generation geostationary observatory named GOES-S, landed at the Kennedy Space Center’s former space shuttle runway Monday aboard a U.S. Air Force transport jet, ready to begin final preparations for launch March 1 on top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.
Cocooned in a transport container, the GOES-S weather satellite left its Lockheed Martin factory in Denver early Monday, and crews loaded the spacecraft into the cavernous cargo hold of a C-5M Super Galaxy at Buckley Air Force Base to begin the cross-country journey. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Dec 6)
SPACEX CARGO LAUNCH TO SPACE STATION PUSHED TO TUESDAY - SpaceX's next robotic resupply mission to the International Space Station has been pushed from Friday (Dec. 8) to next Tuesday (Dec. 12) at the earliest.
"This new launch date takes into account pad readiness, requirements for science payloads, space station crew availability and orbital mechanics," NASA officials wrote in an update today (Dec. 5).
During the mission, SpaceX's two-stage Falcon 9 rocket will lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, sending the uncrewed Dragon capsule on its way to the orbiting lab. More
(Source: Space.com - Dec 6)
PRIVATE INFLATABLE HABITAT WILL STAY AT SPACE STATION FOR AT LEAST 3 MORE YEARS - The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) will stay attached to the International Space Station through at least 2020, NASA announced yesterday (Dec. 4).
BEAM, which is owned by the Las Vegas-based company Bigelow Aerospace, launched toward the orbiting lab in compact form aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule in April 2016. It was attached and expanded shortly thereafter, to test the performance of such inflatable habitats — which can provide more internal volume per unit launch mass than traditional metallic modules — in the space environment. More
(Source: Space.com - Dec 6)