THIS IS WHAT AMERICA’S NEW SPACE SHUTTLES LOOK LIKE - US astronauts haven’t had their own ride into orbit since the space shuttle was retired in 2011. Two private companies are racing to replace it and become the first to fly astronauts for NASA.
Boeing and SpaceX are being paid billions of dollars to build and operate crewed space capsules that will take humans to the International Space Station. NASA and the two companies recently shared new pictures of the astronauts and their custom spacesuits training for their flights with simulated missions in mock-up capsules. More
(Source: Quartz - May 22)
ANTARES ROCKET LAUNCHES NASA CARGO TO SPACE STATION IN DAZZLING PREDAWN LIFTOFF - An Orbital ATK Antares rocket pierced the clouds in the predawn sky over Virginia this morning (May 21) with a dazzling predawn launch to deliver more than 3 tons of vital supplies to the International Space Station.
The Antares rocket launched an uncrewed Cygnus cargo ship at 4:44 a.m. EDT (0844 GMT) from Pad-0A of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility here, and successfully reached orbit 9 minutes later. The Cygnus, also built by Orbital ATK, is expected to arrive at the space station on Thursday (May 24). More
(Source: Space.com - May 22)
ORBITAL ATK READIES CARGO SHIP FOR LAUNCH TO SPACE STATION - Orbital ATK readied an upgraded Antares rocket for launch Monday from Wallops Island, Va., to deliver more than 3 tons of crew supplies, science gear, spare parts and three small satellites to the International Space Station to test miniaturized, low-cost technologies for Earth observation applications.
The experiments headed for orbit include a quantum physics study that will attempt to cool atoms to a billionth of a degree above absolute zero, another to test a novel technique for separating liquids and one devoted to learning more about how concrete sets up in the absence of gravity. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - May 21)
QUEQIAO RELAY SATELLITE LAUNCHED AHEAD OF CHANG’E-4 LUNAR MISSION - A Chinese Long March 4C has launched the Queqiao spacecraft – a relay satellite for the upcoming Chang’e-4 lunar mission. Launch occurred from the LC-3 pad at the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre (XSLC) at 21:25 UTC.
This latest launch is part of China’s growing ambitions for lunar exploration, which has already achieved numerous successes. Chang’e-1 was launched in 2007 and and Chang’e-2 in 2010.
The previous mission involved the Chang’e-3 probe and Yutu lunar rover. Chang’e is the name of the Chinese moon goddess. More
(Source: NASASpaceFlight.com - May 21)
CHINA’S FIRST PRIVATE ROCKET LAUNCH KICKS OFF THE COUNTRY’S COMMERCIAL SPACE RACE - China celebrated the country’s first rocket launch by a private spaceflight company this week. OneSpace Technologies, based out of Beijing, launched its OS-X rocket from an undisclosed location on a suborbital trajectory on Wednesday, reaching a reported altitude of 25 miles and traveling about 170 miles before falling back to Earth. It’s the first demonstration of what the company says will become a scalable business built around sending small satellites into space. More
(Source: The Verge - May 20)
ANTARES ROCKET ROLLS TO VIRGINIA LAUNCH PAD, LIFTOFF DELAYED TO MONDAY - Orbital ATK transferred an Antares rocket and Cygnus supply ship to their launch pad on Virginia’s Eastern Shore late Thursday for a liftoff now targeted for Monday with more than 7,200 pounds of cargo heading for the International Space Station. Riding a self-propelled transporter, the two-stage booster rolled out of Orbital ATK’s Horizontal Integration Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, after nightfall Thursday for the mile-long journey south to pad 0A, where crews planned to hoist the 139-foot-tall (42.5-meter) launcher vertical for final preflight checkouts. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - May 20)
SPACEX LAUNCH OF NASA AND IRIDIUM SATELLITES DELAYED UNTIL MAY 22 - Two NASA Earth-observation satellites will have to wait a bit longer to get off the ground.
NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission and five Iridium Next commercial communications satellites were scheduled to launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday (May 19) from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California. But the seven-satellite liftoff has now been delayed to next Tuesday (May 22). More
(Source: Space.com - May 19)
RUSSIA TO LAUNCH UNMANNED SPACECRAFT TO SPACE STATION FOR FIRST TIME IN AUGUST 2019 - The launch of a Soyuz MS unmanned spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) is planned for August 2019, Russia’s Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, the spaceship’s developer, said on Friday.
This will be the first launch of an unmanned spacecraft to the ISS: previously all Soyuz space vehicles were manned and were used to deliver the crews of new expeditions to the world’s sole orbiter.
Limescale behind yellow water surfacing on International Space Station
"The launch of the Soyuz MS resupply ship aboard a Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket is planned for August 2019.
(Source: TASS - May 19)
STUDY OFFERS PESSIMISTIC OUTLOOK FOR COMMERCIAL SPACE STATIONS - As NASA formally requests proposals for studies on the commercialization of low Earth orbit, another study presented at a congressional hearing May 17 concludes commercial space stations are unlikely to be financially viable in the mid-2020s.
In testimony at a House Science Committee hearing on America’s future in low Earth orbit, Bhavya Lal of the Institute for Defense Analysis’ Science and Technology Policy Institute said a study performed by her organization found it unlikely that a commercial space station could generate a profit in 2025, the year NASA plans to end federal funding of the International Space Station. More
(Source: SpaceNews - May 19)
HERE'S THE WEIRD SCIENCE LAUNCHING TO THE SPACE STATION ON MONDAY - On Monday, a cargo delivery to the International Space Station will carry old-fashioned sextants, E. colibacteria and lasers that will create a temperature 10 billion times colder than the vacuum of space.
These unusual science experiments are scheduled to launch Monday morning (May 21) at 4:39 a.m. EDT (0839 GMT) from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. They will launch on the commercial spaceflight company Orbital ATK's Antares rocket, packed in the company's Cygnus spacecraft as part of 7,385 lbs. (3,350 kilograms) of scientific equipment, food, clothing and other supplies for the Expedition 55 space station crew. More
(Source: Space.com - May 19)
NEXT FLORIDA LAUNCH: SPACEX TO PUT SES 12 SATELLITE INTO ORBIT - Nothing’s ever 100 percent certain about launch schedules, but the next launch on the horizon for Florida is another SpaceX rocket carrying a satellite for one of the world’s biggest satellite companies.
It will be a previously flown first-stage rocket booster, according to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex launch page. SES, Luxembourg’s biggest public company, plans to mount its SES 12 satellite SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket to reach orbit. Launch could happen on May 31, according to SpaceFlightNow.com. More
(Source: Orlando Sentinel - May 18)
SENATORS OPPOSE CUTTING FEDERAL FUNDING FOR SPACE STATION - Senators Ted Cruz and Bill Nelson say a timetable to transition the station to commercial operations in 2025 is premature, arbitrary, and political. The top Republican and Democratic senators on a key congressional subcommittee forcefully opposed on Wednesday a Trump administration proposal to end direct federal funding for the International Space Station (ISS) in 2025. More
(Source: Eos - May 18)
OHIO STATE’S FIRST SATELLITE PREPARES FOR LAUNCH - Its name may playfully give homage to a 1980s video arcade game, but the technology on board The Ohio State University’s first satellite -- the CubeRRT -- could be vital for Earth science missions into the future. It is scheduled for launch on May 20.
Project leader Joel Johnson, professor and chair of electrical and computer engineering (ECE) at Ohio State, said the CubeSat Radiometer Radio Frequency Interference Technology Validation mission (CubeRRT) contains advanced sensors for observing Earth’s environment from space. More
(Source: The Ohio State University News - May 17)
ASTRONAUTS ARE TAKING A SPACEWALK OUTSIDE THE SPACE STATION TODAY: WATCH LIVE - Two NASA astronauts will work in space today (May 16) outside the International Space Station (ISS), and you can watch their 6.5-hour spacewalk, or extra-vehicular activity (EVA), live online.
Expedition 55 flight engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold will exit the station through the Quest airlock at around 8:10 a.m. EDT (1210 GMT). NASA will provide live coverage starting at 6:30 a.m. EDT (1030 GMT), when the astronauts are getting ready for their work and putting on their spacesuits. You can watch it live here and on the Space.com homepage, courtesy of NASA TV. More
(Source: Space.com - May 17)
A PIONEERING NASA SATELLITE JUST FELL TO EARTH AFTER 2 DECADES IN SPACE - On April 30, after more than 20 years in space, NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellite re-entered and burned up in Earth's atmosphere. Decommissioned in 2012, the instrument spent its lifetime probing the environments of black holes and neutron stars in X-ray wavelengths, revealing new insight into these dense gravitational objects.
"Observing these X-ray phenomena with precise high-resolution timing was RXTE's specialty," Jean Swank, an astrophysicist emeritus at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who served as the mission's project scientist until 2010, said in a statement. "During RXTE's run, no other observatory could provide these measurements." More
(Source: Space.com - May 16)
HERE'S WHAT THE HAWAII VOLCANO ERUPTION LOOKS LIKE FROM SPACE - The first pictures are emerging of what Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano eruption looks like from space.
Two astronauts aboard the International Space Station shared photos of their view of the massive smoke plume on Hawaii’s big island.
The rolling eruptions of Kilauea, which have caused hundreds of earthquakes, forced thousands of people in the nearby communities to evacuate. “We hope those in the vicinity of the eruption can stay out of harm’s way,” tweeted Drew Feustel, a NASA flight engineer aboard the ISS, on Monday. More
(Source: TIME - May 16)
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER LAUNCH: TWO NASA EDUCATIONAL CUBESATS - A small group of students recently got to experience a rare, spaceflight thrill: seeing if the tiny satellite, called a CubeSat, they designed and built not only survived a rocket launch to space but also successfully gathered and transmitted data once on orbit.
The educational CubeSat missions were selected through the CubeSat Launch Initiative as part of the 14th installment of NASA's Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) missions. More
(Source: Space Daily - May 15)
CHINA PREPARING TO LAUNCH CHANG’E-4 RELAY SATELLITE MAY 21 - China is set to launch a relay satellite to the second Earth-moon Lagrange point May 21, in a necessary precursor to the planned Chang’e-4 soft-landing on the lunar far side late in the year.
Chang’e-4 is the backup to the Chang’e-3 mission which put a lander and rover on Mare Imbrium in late 2013. Following that success, the lunar craft have been repurposed for a pioneering landing on the moon’s far side.
The lunar far side does not face the Earth as the moon’s orbital period matches its rotational period, thus requiring a relay satellite to facilitate communications. More
(Source: SpaceNews - May 15)
EVER WONDERED WHAT’S FLOATING AROUND IN SPACE? - The night sky is full of stars, but it’s also full of garbage.
Humans put lots of satellites up there — about 1,700 working spacecraft are in orbit around our planet — and not every piece of machinery comes right back when its job is done. Many keep speeding through the sky long after scientists have lost touch, leaving them liable to crash into one another and break into small pieces. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) estimates that there are about 23,000 pieces of space debris larger than 10 centimeters (or about four inches), about 500,000 larger than one centimeter, and about 100,000,000 larger than one millimeter. More
(Source: Washington Post - May 14)