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)
ISS ORBIT RAISED BY 400 METERS BEFORE MANNED SPACEFLIGHT LAUNCH
- The Russian Mission Control Center has raised the International Space Station’s flight orbit before manned spaceflight takeoffs from Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan.
"At 00:25, Moscow time, the ISS orbit was adjusted as scheduled to create ballistic conditions before the flight of manned transport spacecraft under the program of the Russian segment of the ISS," the Mission Control Center in the Moscow suburbs said.
(Source: TASS - Mar 15)
CHINA’S LONG MARCH 5 HEAVY-LIFT ROCKET TO FLY AGAIN AROUND NOVEMBER IN CRUCIAL TEST - The return-to-flight mission will carry an experimental, 300 Gbps telecommunications satellite based on a new, large DFH-5 satellite platform. Future DFH-5's will deliver 1 terabit per second, up from the current 20 Gbps with DFH-4.
China’s most powerful rocket will fly for the third time late this year, with success of the launch to be crucial to upcoming projects including a lunar sample return, space station module launch and a 2020 mission to Mars. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Mar 15)
ON-ORBIT SERVICING OF AGING SATELLITES POSSIBLE BY END OF YEAR - Orbital ATK is moving out aggressively to introduce on-orbit satellite servicing to the space industry, which its says will be a first step toward more advanced concepts such as on-orbit repairs and the assembly of satellites while in space.
The company’s Mission Extension Vehicle 1 recently passed a critical design review and is scheduled for launch by the end of 2018. It will dock with a commercial communications satellite owned by Intelsat. The satellite communications giant — with some 50 spacecraft in orbit — is the system’s first customer. Intelsat also recently signed up to lease MEV 2, which is expected to be completed by mid-2020. The company ultimately would like to build five such space vehicles. More
(Source: National Defense Magazine - Mar 15)
STEPHEN HAWKING, RENOWNED SCIENTIST, DIES AT 76 - Stephen Hawking, the brilliant British theoretical physicist who overcame a debilitating disease to publish wildly popular books probing the mysteries of the universe, has died, according to a family spokesman. He was 76.
Considered by many to be the world's greatest living scientist, Hawking was also a cosmologist, astronomer, mathematician and author of numerous books including the landmark "A Brief History of Time," which has sold more than 10 million copies. More
(Source: CNN - Mar 14)
NASA’S NEXT STOP: A SPACE STATION ORBITING THE MOON - The International Space Station is entering its twilight years. As such, NASA is making plans for the space station of the future — one that would orbit the moon.
This new lunar outpost will be smaller and more remote than the ISS — orbing beyond Earth’s protective magnetic field. And the station’s goal would be to serve as a transit hub for deep space missions and exploration past low-Earth orbit, while continuing all the science that can be done in zero gravity. It would also be within easy reach of the lunar surface. More
(Source: Discover Magazine - Mar 14)
SPACEX’S MOST RECENT LAUNCH CARRIED A SECRET MILITARY-FUNDED EXPERIMENT - A previously-undisclosed payload funded by a U.S. military research agency rode into orbit with a Spanish communications satellite on SpaceX’s most recent Falcon 9 rocket launch March 6, officials said Friday.
The small spacecraft was fastened inside the Hispasat 30W-6 communications satellite, then ejected soon after the Falcon 9’s primary payload deployed in orbit following liftoff from Cape Canaveral. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Mar 14)
SATELLITE STARTUP PROMISES COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK THAT CAN’T BE HACKED - LeoSat has not even built a single satellite but has already booked $500 million worth of orders, its executives claim. In a crowded market for low-earth-orbit satellite communications, the company believes it has found its niche selling premium services to secrecy-obsessed clients, including the U.S. military.
“We’ve had a lot of interaction with DoD and combatant commands,” Michael Abad-Santos, senior vice president of LeoSat, told SpaceNews at the Satellite 2018 exposition. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Mar 14)
NEW NOAA WEATHER SATELLITE REACHES GEOSTATIONARY ORBIT - Less than two weeks after its launch from Cape Canaveral, a new NOAA weather observatory has boosted itself into a circular orbit more than 22,000 miles over the equator, and officials have renamed it GOES-17 ahead of a test series before it enters service later this year.
NOAA traditionally switches from a letter to a number designation for its weather satellites after they reach their operational geostationary orbit. This time, the GOES-S satellite became GOES-17. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Mar 14)
THE OWNER’S GUIDE TO YOUR NEW SPACE STATION - The White House made headlines recently by pushing the idea of privatizing the International Space Station after federal funding runs out in 2024. But anyone who'd consider owning and operating their own outpost in orbit should know this: It's not as easy as opening a Motel 6.
For deep, detailed proof of this fact, look no further than the Deep Space Exploration Standards. Drafted in secret by representatives from Canada, Japan, Russia, the European Union, and United States, and released publicly just two weeks ago, these rules amount to an owner's manual for a space station, outlining how to build so that all the parts connect and all the systems talk to each other. More
(Source: Popular Mechanics - Mar 13)