DEAD SATELLITES COULD BE BLASTED OUT OF ORBIT WITH POWERFUL MAGNETIC BEAMS - One scientist is working on a novel solution for knocking dead, broken satellites out of orbit so they can't cause any damage to other spacecraft: a magnetic grappling beam.
The same technology could also be used to keep groups of new satellites in orbit, according to experts, which might one day enable us to combine packs of satellites flying in formation to create giant telescopes. More
(Source: ScienceAlert - Jun 22)
LAUNCH OF MILITARY’S NEW SPACE-BASED SATELLITE TRACKER DELAYED TWO MONTHS - The launch from Cape Canaveral of a small U.S. military satellite built to track objects in geosynchronous orbit has been delayed from mid-July until September, an Air Force spokesperson said.
The Air Force did not disclose a reason for the two-month delay, or a new target launch date for the SensorSat mission. The spokesperson said the launch is now scheduled some time between the end of August and mid-September. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Jun 22)
RUSSIA STUDYING DEDICATED SPACE TOURISM MISSIONS USING ITS SOYUZ SPACECRAFT - Glavkosmos Director General Denis Lyskov said at the Paris Air Show Tuesday that future missions could fly two tourists and one professional cosmonaut, possibly visiting the ISS.
The head of RSC Energia, meanwhile, said he thought Soyuz missions could continue to fly even after the introduction of Russia’s new Federation crew vehicle, with the Soyuz being devoted to tourism missions and possibly, with upgrades, circumlunar flights. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Jun 22)
ARISS SSTV COMMEMORATIVE ACTIVITY COMING SOON - In commemoration of our 20th anniversary, the ARISS team is planning to transmit a set of 12 SSTV images that capture the accomplishments of ARISS over that time. While still to be scheduled, we anticipate the SSTV operation to occur around the weekend of July 15. We are planning for at least a 2 day operation, but are working for a potential longer operation. Note that all of this tentative and may change based on crew scheduling and
ISS operations. More
(Source: AMSAT - Jun 20)
UPPER STAGE MALFUNCTION LEAVES CHINESE SATELLITE IN LOWER-THAN-PLANNED ORBIT - An upper stage malfunction has left a Chinese satellite in a lower-than-planned orbit after a launch Sunday.
The Long March 3B lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 12:12 p.m. Eastern carrying the Chinasat-9A satellite.
It was not until early Monday, though, that Chinese officials announced that the third stage of the rocket malfunctioned, leaving the satellite in a lower orbit than planned.
(Source: SpaceNews - Jun 20)
SES’S AMC-9 SATELLITE DRIFTING AFTER ANOMALY - SES is moving customers off a 14-year-old geostationary communications satellite that’s drifting in orbit following a “significant anomaly” discovered over the weekend.
“SES has taken immediate action in contacting all customers and is working to transfer services to alternative satellite capacity in order to minimize disruption,” the company said in a June 19 statement.
Most of that traffic is being switched to other SES satellites, according to SES spokesperson Markus Payer, but might involve teaming up with other satellite operators where an SES substitute won’t fit. He declined to say how much of AMC-9’s capacity was in use at the time of the anomaly. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Jun 20)
LONG MARCH 3B LOFTS CHINASAT 9A – MISSION SUCCESS UNKNOWN - Three days after the successful launch of the Huiyan (HXMT) X-ray space telescope, China was back in action with the launch of a new communications satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. Launch of Zhongxing-9A (also designated ChinaSat-9A) took place at 16:08 UTC using a Long March-3B/G2 (Chang Zheng-3B/G2) launch vehicle from the LC2 launch complex. However, there wasn’t any official Chinese statement of mission success raising questions on the status of the spacecraft. More
(Source: NASASpaceFlight.com - Jun 19)
NASA SCRAPS ROCKET LAUNCH ON FATHER’S DAY - The NASA Wallops Flight Facility scheduled a rocket launch Sunday night that would have been visible in the D.C. region, but it has been postponed once again. It was canceled due to high winds. The launch has been postponed eight times before this due to vessels in the impact hazard area and weather. Updates can be obtained online at NASA’s website and NASA Wallops Flight Facility’s Twitter feed. More
(Source: WTOP - Jun 19)
HOW LONG WOULD A FIDGET SPINNER SPIN IN SPACE? - Like most parents of young children, I've been forcibly made aware of the "fidget spinner" fad. Despite FiveThirtyEight declaring them "over," my kids brought home two new ones from a birthday party on Saturday, adding to three others that we currently own, plus a couple more that were lost at school. Inevitably, bloggers have used fidget spinners as a jumping-off point to talk about science, notably Rhett Allain's two posts measuring the spin time and measuring the moment of inertia. More
(Source: Forbes - Jun 19)
FALCON 9 LAUNCH DELAY SETS UP POTENTIAL SPACEX ‘DOUBLEHEADER’ NEXT WEEKEND - SpaceX has pushed back the liftoff of a Bulgarian television broadcast satellite on the company’s second previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket until at least Friday, giving ground crews time to replace a valve on the launcher inside a hangar at its Florida launch pad.
The schedule slip sets up a potential SpaceX “doubleheader” with another Falcon 9 rocket being prepared for launch next Sunday, June 25, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Jun 19)
EXCLUSIVE: MEET THE WORLD’S FIRST SUICIDE SATELLITE
- The world’s first “suicide” satellite, whose destruction will help prevent the spread of more damaging belts of space debris, will launch later this month.
The Italian company D-Orbit will launch a mission June 23 to test out a self-decommissioning satellite called D-Sat, a first for the satellite industry. After the satellite’s mission is complete, it will use a rocket system to lower itself back into Earth’s atmosphere so it can self-destruct. D-Orbit hopes that a similar system could help prevent future satellites from becoming new space debris. More
(Source: The Daily Caller - Jun 19)
CHINA'S ROBOTIC CARGO SHIP COMPLETES 2ND AUTO-REFUELING TEST IN SPACE - China's Tiangong-2 space lab and Tianzhou-1 vehicle have completed a second refueling test, Chinese space officials said.
This second robotic refueling trial wrapped up Thursday (June 15) after about two days "and cemented technical results from the first refueling," according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.
Tianzhou-1, China's first cargo spacecraft, was lofted into Earth orbit on April 20 from the Wenchang spaceport in south China’s Hainan Province. More
(Source: Space.com - Jun 18)
SPACE STATION WELCOMES FOOD AND SUPPLIES FROM RUSSIAN SHIP - A robotic Russian cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station Friday (June 16), delivering tons of fresh food and other supplies for the orbiting lab's crew. The Progress 67 spacecraft linked up with the space station in a smooth docking at 7:37 a.m. EDT (1137 GMT) as both vehicles sailed 258 miles (415 kilometers) over the Philippine Sea.
"Progress completes as smooth a journey as you can imagine," NASA spokesman Rob Navias said during live commentary. More
(Source: Space.com - Jun 18)
PROGRESS CARGO FREIGHTER DOCKS WITH INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION - A Russian Progress supply ship sailed to an automated docking Friday with the International Space Station two days after departing the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, delivering approximately three tons of fuel, spare parts and water to the orbiting outpost and its three-person crew.
Docking of the Progress MS-06 cargo craft to the station’s Zvezda service module occurred 1137 GMT (7:37 a.m. EDT) after a radar-guided autopilot approach as the vehicles soared 258 miles (415 kilometers) over the Philippine Sea. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Jun 17)
ISRO SET TO LAUNCH BACK-UP SATELLITE - In an attempt to keep India’s regional navigation satellite system fully operational, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is preparing to launch a back-up for IRNSS-1A, one of the seven satellites in the constellation, that has been hobbled by the failure of the atomic clocks on board.
The PSLV C39 mission, scheduled for late July or early August, will carry the new satellite named IRNSS-1H into orbit, K. Sivan, Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, told The Hindu. More
(Source: The Hindu - Jun 17)
AALTO-2 NO LONGER RESPONDS TO COMMANDS - Astronauts at the International Space Station released Aalto-2 into orbit on 25 May. The first satellite signal was detected from Japan on the same day, and later that evening the satellite had already made contact with the Otaniemi ground station. During the first days, the satellite team confirmed that Aalto-2's antennae and sensors had opened and the energy system charged its batteries. Since Aalto-2 follows the path of the International Space Station, there is only about 10 minutes of control time from Otaniemi each day. Four days after the release, disturbances began to appear in the satellite's signal. More
(Source: Phys.org - Jun 16)
RUSSIAN ROCKET SPARKS DEADLY FIRE: HOW IT HAPPENED - After a successful launch of Russia's Progress cargo spacecraft headed to the International Space Station, falling fragments caused a fire on Kazakhstan's steppes, killing one and injuring another who tried to extinguish the fire. The uncrewed Progress spacecraft launched toward the International Space Station yesterday (June 14) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where the craft deployed its solar arrays and began its long series of orbits to rendezvous with the space station. More
(Source: Space.com - Jun 16)
CHINA SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHES X-RAY SATELLITE - China’s first astronomical satellite, an x-ray telescope that will search the sky for black holes, neutron stars, and other extremely energetic phenomena, raced into orbit today after a morning launch from the Gobi Desert.
The 2.5-ton Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT), dubbed Insight according to the official Xinhua news agency, was carried aloft by a Long March-4B rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The newest of several x-ray telescope in space, the HXMT will observe some of the most turbulent processes in the universe. More
(Source: Science Magazine - Jun 16)
A SPY SATELLITE BUZZED THE SPACE STATION THIS MONTH, AND NO ONE KNOWS WHY - About six weeks ago, SpaceX launched a spy satellite into low Earth orbit from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. As is normal for National Reconnaissance Office launches, not much information was divulged about the satellite's final orbit or its specific purpose in space. However, a dedicated group of ground-based observers continued to track the satellite after it reached outer space. More
(Source: Ars Technica - Jun 15)