ROCKET LAB’S DISCO BALL SATELLITE HAS PLUNGED BACK TO EARTH — AND SOME AREN’T SAD TO SEE IT GO - In January, US spaceflight startup Rocket Lab stealthily launched a small “disco ball” satellite into orbit as part of a cosmic art project aimed at inspiring people to come together and look up at the sky. But after just two months in space, the satellite — called the Humanity Star — has fallen back to Earth and burned up in the planet’s atmosphere. It brings a premature end to the probe’s life, which turned out to be more controversial than the company had hoped.
No satellite in lower Earth orbit lasts forever. More
(Source: The Verge - Mar 23)
SOYUZ TAKES OFF WITH THREE BOUND FOR SPACE STATION - A Russian Soyuz rocket blasted off and shot into orbit Wednesday, carrying a Russian cosmonaut and two NASA astronauts, all veteran space fliers, on a two-day flight to the International Space Station.
With Soyuz MS-08/54S commander Oleg Artemyev at the controls in the spacecraft’s center seat, flanked on the left by flight engineer Drew Feustel and on the right by Ricky Arnold, the workhorse booster’s main engines ignited with a crackling roar at 1:44 p.m. EDT (GMT-4; 11:44 p.m. local time) and quickly throttled up to full thrust. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Mar 22)
60 YEARS IN ORBIT FOR ‘GRAPEFRUIT SATELLITE’ – THE OLDEST HUMAN OBJECT IN SPACE - Sixty years ago, a grapefruit-sized aluminium sphere with six antennas and some tiny solar cells was launched into Earth orbit. The Vanguard 1 satellite is still up there and is the oldest human-made object in space. It’s our first piece of space archaeology.
Other early satellites – such as Sputnik 1, the first satellite to leave Earth in 1957, and Explorer 1, the first US satellite – have long since re-entered the atmosphere and burnt up. More
(Source: The Conversation AU - Mar 22)
ESA TO INVESTIGATE LINKS BETWEEN DEBRIS REMOVAL AND SATELLITE SERVICING - The European Space Agency is no longer proceeding full speed ahead with its campaign to send a 1,600-kilogram satellite into low Earth orbit to grab its defunct Earth observing Envisat and bring it back into the atmosphere around 2023. Instead, the agency has revised its e.Deorbit program plan to study the synergies between the mission and satellite servicing vehicles.
“What we are implementing at the moment is a study to find out whether we should modify the mission design to make the vehicle more flexible and able to perform a variety of servicing missions including removing objects from orbit,” said Luisa Innocenti, head of EASA’s Clean Space Office. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Mar 22)
NASA’S ON-AGAIN, OFF-AGAIN SATELLITE - A satellite lost 13 years ago was just, briefly, found. Now a group of optimistic technicians may have a chance to bring it back into the fold. In January, amateur astronomer Scott Tilley of British Columbia sat in his home, scanning radio frequencies for the U.S. Air Force satellite lost after a January 7 SpaceX launch. Tilley indeed found a lost satellite, but not the one he intended. Using a satellite catalog, he looked up its transmitter frequency and spin rate, and realized he had to alert NASA.
(Source: Air & Space Magazine - Mar 22)
RUSSIAN SOYUZ SET TO CARRY CREW TO SPACE STATION - Engineers readied a Russian Soyuz rocket for launch Wednesday to ferry a veteran cosmonaut and two NASA shuttle fliers to the International Space Station for a five-month stay.
Soyuz commander Oleg Artemyev, flight engineer Andrew "Drew" Feustel and Richard "Ricky" Arnold are scheduled for launch aboard the Soyuz MS-08/54S spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1:44 p.m. EDT (GMT-4; 11:44 p.m. local time). More
(Source: CBS News - Mar 21)
THE CONTROVERSIAL ‘HUMANITY STAR’ IS COMING BACK TO EARTH EARLY - Humanity will come crashing down earlier than expected.
The Humanity Star, a satellite launched into space in January, will reenter Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrate sometime this week, according to websites that track the movement of objects in orbit around the planet. The satellite was always going to come back down. But it was supposed to remain in orbit for nine months, according to Rocket Lab, the U.S. spaceflight company, based in New Zealand, that built the satellite. More
(Source: The Atlantic - Mar 21)
VERNAL EQUINOX 2018: SATELLITE SEES FIRST DAY OF SPRING - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) celebrated a crisp start to spring today (March 20) in the Northern Hemisphere with a stunning view of Earth from sunset to sunrise.
NOAA officials tweeted the view of sunset on March 19 through sunrise March 20, taken with the agency's GOES-East weather satellite.
"Happy Spring #Equinox and happy #firstdayofspring!" NOAA officials wrote. "Today the length of night and day are nearly equal. The days will now become longer at the higher latitudes because it takes the sun longer to rise and set." More
(Source: Space.com - Mar 21)
SPACE AGENCY PROVIDES UPDATE ON WHERE, WHEN SPACE STATION WILL FALL TO EARTH - Thanks to the European Space Agency, we have a slightly better idea of where and when China's 8.5-ton falling space station will re-enter the atmosphere and crash into Earth.
Although the agency clarifies that "at no time will a precise time/location prediction from ESA be possible" it provides a new estimated timeline and location Tiangong-1 will return to Earth. The ESA's timeline -- posted Thursday, March 15 -- puts the space station's return between March 30 and April 6, and between 43 degrees north and 43 degrees south. More
(Source: MLive.com - Mar 20)
NASA FIGURES OUT A NEW WAY TO BRING SATELLITE DATA BACK DOWN TO EARTH - NASA may be one of the best at launching all sorts of aircraft into space but bringing the data they gather back down to Earth for analysis can be surprisingly tricky.
Currently, a satellite would have to move to be within the range of a dedicated station on the ground to transmit data or simply come back down to Earth.
That may change, the space agency announced Wednesday it is beginning testing a portable space communications system from ATLAS Space Operations. More
(Source: Nextgov - Mar 20)
GOVSAT-1 SATELLITE GOES OPERATIONAL - GovSat-1 enters operational service today, to provide secure communications to governmental and institutional users. GovSat-1 is the first satellite of GovSat, a public private partnership between the Government of Luxembourg and the world-leading satellite operator SES. The satellite was launched into space on 31 January on board a flight-proven SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and has since undergone extensive testing. More
(Source: Business Wire - Mar 20)
AIRBUS WANTS TO BRING DOWN A DEFUNCT SPACE STATION WITH A GIANT HARPOON - Junk in orbit around the Earth is becoming a bigger problem every year. Space agencies are tracking some 7,000 tons of debris, adding up to more than 20,000 pieces larger than 10 centimeters. European space agencies and private companies, in a joint effort called RemoveDebris, plan to test a variety of different possible solutions next month with a satellite launched aboard a SpaceX rocket to the International Space Station.
“The problem with so much junk up there now is it is actually starting to prove a real issue, and the chance of collisions is increasing all the time,” Jason Forshaw of RemoveDebris told The Guardian. More
(Source: Digital Trends - Mar 19)
LONG MARCH 2D LAUNCHES LKW-4 - Returning to orbital launch activity after the traditional festivities of the Spring Festival, China launched a new remote sensing satellite on Saturday. Launch took place at 07:10 UTC via a Long March 2D launch vehicle orbiting a new satellite in the Ludikancha Weixing (LKW) series, also known as ‘Land Surveying’. The launch of Ludikancha Weixing-4 took place from the 94 Launch Platform at the LC43 Launch Complex from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (JSLC).
As per usual for the Chinese media, this spacecraft is once again classed as a new remote sensing bird that will be used for remote sensing exploration of land resources. More
(Source: NASASpaceFlight.com - Mar 17)
WE MAY NOT GET TRUMP'S 'SPACE FORCE,' BUT THE MILITARY'S ALWAYS BEEN INVOLVED IN SPACE - Space was never guaranteed to be a non-militarized zone, and we are lucky that it is explicitly seen as a peaceful, cooperative domain, even if reality suggests that it might not remain so forever. After all, the United States rejected a treaty that offered some guarantees that could preserved that peace — a formal, international prohibition of weapons in space, the development of ground-based anti-satellite weapons, and a robust verification regime — in 2014.
So when President Trump floated the idea of a "Space Force" before a crowd at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, Calif., this week, it's probably a good thing that the defense world greeted it with uncomfortable laughter. More
(Source: NBCNews.com - Mar 17)
NASA MULLS A MINI SPACE STATION FOR THE MOON - NASA is considering a new space station that would act as a halfway house for astronauts near the moon, which could be completed as soon as 2025. Dubbed the NASA Lunar Orbiting Platform-Gateway, it would offer future missions a point from which to observe the moon, in addition to acting as a waypoint for space exploration further afield. Indeed, it could eventually be a stepping stone to travel to Mars. It would not, of course, be the first such orbiting platform... More
(Source: SlashGear - Mar 17)
AIRBUS BUILDING ‘SPACE HARPOON’ TO CAPTURE ROGUE SATELLITES ORBITING EARTH - Humans have totally messed up Earth and are already getting started on ruining the heavens.
Now the European firm Airbus has unveiled a ‘harpoon’ designed to tackle the growing problem of space junk. The projectile is designed to be attached to a ‘chase spacecraft’ and used to capture runaway satellites and other objects orbiting Earth. More
(Source: Metro - Mar 17)
STAR WARS? PRESIDENT TRUMP PROPOSES MILITARY SPACE FORCE - America should create its own separate military space force, President Donald Trump mentioned in an offhand remark Tuesday that would change the course of U.S. space policy.
But don’t expect Captain Kirk ordering phasers set on stun, “Battlestar Galactica” or ray guns blazing in orbit in the near future, space experts said. And some said a military space force may make it harder to keep Earth’s orbit a place of peace.
Saying his national security strategy “recognizes that space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air and sea,” Trump said at a San Diego Marine Corps base that he’s considering “a space force” that would be the equivalent of the Air Force, Army and Navy.
(Source: Military Times - Mar 16)
SHOEBOX-SIZED CUBE SATELLITE TO STUDY EARTH'S INNER RADIATION BELT - A NASA-funded cube satellite built and operated by CU Boulder researchers will study the inner radiation belt of Earth's magnetosphere, providing new insight into the energetic particles that can disrupt satellites and threaten spacewalking astronauts.
The $4 million Cubesat: Inner Radiation Belt Experiment (CIRBE) mission, tentatively slated for a 2021 launch, will provide some of the first advanced resolution of one of Earth's two Van Allen belts, a zone that traps energetic particles in the planet's magnetic field. More
(Source: Phys.org - Mar 16)
ORBITAL ATK UNVEILS NEW VERSION OF SATELLITE SERVICING VEHICLE - Orbital ATK announced March 13 it is developing a new version of a satellite life extension vehicle intended to provide more flexibility to customers while also moving the company closer to more advanced in-space servicing.
During a presentation at the Satellite 2018 conference here, company executives announced plans to develop the Mission Robotic Vehicle and Mission Extension Pods, which would handle stationkeeping for geostationary satellites that are running out of fuel. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Mar 16)