AIR FORCE REQUIREMENTS WILL KEEP SPACEX FROM LANDING FALCON 9 BOOSTER AFTER GPS LAUNCH - The demands of launching the first in an upgraded line of U.S. Air Force GPS navigation satellites, including a late load of extra fuel for the spacecraft and a military policy of reserving fuel to eliminate space junk, will keep SpaceX from recovering the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket following liftoff Tuesday from Cape Canaveral, according to mission managers. The mission set for launch during a 26-minute window opening at 9:11 a.m. EST (1411 GMT) Tuesday will mark the first time SpaceX has launched one of its new Falcon 9 “Block 5” boosters in an expendable configuration since the latest Falcon 9 variant debuted in May, with modifications aimed at making the first stage easier to recover and reuse. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Dec 18)
HERE ARE THE ODDS THAT ONE OF SPACEX’S INTERNET SATELLITES WILL HIT SOMEONE - The chance that SpaceX’s planned Starlink satellite constellation will cause an injury or death is 45 percent every six years, according to an IEEE Spectrum analysis of figures submitted by the company to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
Elon Musk hopes the nearly 12,000 satellites in the constellation will eventually carry half of all Internet traffic. The satellites will use laser and radio links to provide fast, cheap Internet access to people all over the world—and the associated service fees could help Musk fund his dream of colonizing Mars. More
(Source: IEEE Spectrum - Dec 18)
DESPITE CONCERNS, SPACE JUNK CONTINUES TO CLUTTER EARTH ORBIT - Humans have a tendency to litter wherever we go. Whether it’s the local park, a music festival, or Mt. Everest, we’re just not good at cleaning up after ourselves. And space is no exception.
Space is pretty big. Infinite, in fact. But the same can’t be said of low-Earth orbit (LEO) and, in particular, the most popular orbital lanes used by Earth-sensing and communications satellites. We’re launching more objects skyward every year and not, in many cases, cleaning up when we’re done with them. So the space around us is starting to fill up. More
(Source: Astronomy Magazine - Dec 18)
LASER-POINTING SYSTEM COULD HELP TINY SATELLITES TRANSMIT DATA TO EARTH - A new laser-pointing platform developed at MIT may help launch miniature satellites into the high-rate data game.
Since 1998, almost 2,000 shoebox-sized satellites known as CubeSats have been launched into space. Due to their petite frame and the fact that they can be made from off-the-shelf parts, CubeSats are significantly more affordable to build and launch than traditional behemoths that cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
(Source: Phys.org - Dec 17)
US AIR FORCE SET TO LAUNCH 1ST NEXT-GENERATION GPS SATELLITE - After months of delays, the U.S. Air Force is about to launch the first of a new generation of GPS satellites, designed to be more accurate, secure and versatile.
But some of their most highly touted features will not be fully available until 2022 or later because of problems in a companion program to develop a new ground control system for the satellites, government auditors said.
The satellite is scheduled to lift off Tuesday from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It’s the first of 32 planned GPS III satellites that will replace older ones now in orbit. Lockheed Martin is building the new satellites outside Denver.
(Source: AirForceTimes.com - Dec 17)
ROCKET LAB LAUNCHES 13 CUBESATS ON 1ST MISSION FOR NASA - A Rocket Lab Electron booster lifted off from the company's launch site on New Zealand's Mahia Peninsula at 1:33 a.m. EST today (0633 GMT and 7:33 p.m. local New Zealand time), kicking off the ELaNa-19 mission for NASA. [In Photos: Rocket Lab and Its Electron Booster]
Fifty-three minutes later, all of the payloads had separated from the Electron's "kick stage" and settled successfully into a circular orbit about 310 miles (500 kilometers) above Earth. The little satellites will do a variety of work up there. For example, one will measure radiation levels in the Van Allen belts, to help researchers better understand possible effects on spacecraft. Another aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of compact, 3D-printed robotic arms; and yet another will help prove out technology for a new solar-sailing system that could allow small spacecraft to explore deep space, Rocket Lab representatives said. More
(Source: Space.com - Dec 16)
SOYUZ RAISED ON LAUNCH PAD IN FRENCH GUIANA FOR ARIANESPACE’S LAST FLIGHT OF 2018 - A Russian-made Soyuz booster rolled out to its launch pad in French Guiana on Friday, and hydraulic lifts rotated the launcher vertical in preparation for liftoff Tuesday with the first in a new series of French military spy satellites. The three-stage rocket emerged from its assembly hangar Friday morning for the 2,300-foot (700-meter) rollout to the launch zone. Russian ground crews deployed on temporary duty in the jungle of French Guiana oversaw the rocket’s transfer on rail car along dual tracks leading from the hangar to the launch pad. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Dec 16)
VIRGIN GALACTIC ROCKET SHIP REACHES SPACE, A MILESTONE IN SPACE TOURISM - A Virgin Galactic spacecraft flew more than 50 miles above the Mojave Desert in California on Thursday morning, climbing into the edge of space for about a minute, a crucial milestone in the race to make big-business space tourism a reality.
The craft, SpaceShipTwo, soared at speeds topping out at 2.9 times the speed of sound — around 2,200 miles per hour — through nearly three layers of Earth’s atmosphere to reach space, the company said. SpaceShipTwo topped out at an altitude of 51.4 miles, just surpassing the Federal Aviation Administration’s definition of where space begins but lower than the widely accepted boundary of 62 miles. More
(Source: New York Times - Dec 15)
ASTRONAUTS TAKE ELF ON THE SHELF TO OUTER SPACE - If you’re a parent with young kids, you’ve probably struggled with the nightly dilemma of where to put the Elf on the Shelf.
Here’s an idea — how about putting it up in space? The popular children’s book and toy is currently living on the International Space Station, according to a tweet from NASA astronaut Anne McClain.
“Well, look who showed up on @Space_Station!” Lt Col McClain tweeted on Tuesday. More
(Source: NEWS.com.au - Dec 15)
USAF’S FIRST GPS III SV01 SATELLITE ENCAPSULATED FOR LAUNCH - The US Air Force’s (USAF) first advanced Global Positioning System III space vehicle (GPS III SV01) satellite has been encapsulated for launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
Built by Lockheed Martin, the satellite was enclosed and sealed in an aerodynamic, nose-cone shell launch fairing, which will be mounted on to the rocket for liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US, on 18 December.
GPS III SV01 is the first of ten GPS III satellites currently under full production at the company’s advanced $128m GPS III processing facility near Denver. More
(Source: Airforce Technology - Dec 14)
THE PENTAGON IS DECLASSIFYING LOTS OF INFO ABOUT WHAT'S IN ORBIT - Not many people need direct access to what the U.S. military calls “space situational awareness,” a fancy term for knowing what man-made objects are in space, and where. But those with an eye on Earth’s orbit now have access to a trove of never-before-seen data about space objects that before now the government has kept secret.
The declassification effort, announced in October, yielded another release of data last week. “This is us being transparent, leaning forward and trying to enhance that spaceflight safety through data sharing,” Col. Scott Brodeur, the director of the Combined Space Operation Center, tells Popular Mechanics. More
(Source: - Dec 14)
JAPAN SPACE VENTURE TO LAUNCH SATELLITE FOR ARTIFICIAL METEOR SHOWER - A Japanese space venture said Thursday it will launch a small satellite next month for delivering the world's first artificial meteor shower over Hiroshima and its vicinity in the spring of 2020. Tokyo-based ALE Co., which has been developing the shooting star technology as an entertainment tool, is loading the satellite carrying 400 metal pieces which will replicate meteors on the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's rocket slated for launch on Jan. 17, it said. More
(Source: The Mainichi - Dec 14)
SYRIA WANTS TO LAUNCH FIRST DOMESTICALLY-PRODUCED SATELLITE INTO ORBIT - Syrian Minister of Communications and Technology Iyad Khatib stated the need to develop the country's space programme and launch its first satellite into orbit, the ministry said on Tuesday.
The minister visited the Syrian space research agency GORS (General Organisation of Remote Sensing) and met with its management and staff, who presented their projects to Khatib. More
(Source: Sputnik International - Dec 14)
ONEWEB SCALES BACK BASELINE CONSTELLATION BY 300 SATELLITES - Satellite broadband startup OneWeb, now three months from the launch of its first satellites, is reducing the size of its initial low Earth orbit constellation by a third.
Greg Wyler, OneWeb’s founder, said the company will need only 600 satellites or so instead of 900 after ground tests of the first satellites demonstrated better than expected performance.
“What it does is it lowers the cost structure to reach that first phase of global coverage,” Wyler said in a Dec. 13 interview. “Rarely do you see costs go down, so it’s a pretty big deal.” More
(Source: SpaceNews - Dec 14)
ROCKET LAB SCRUBS TODAY'S LAUNCH - Rocket Lab has scrubbed today's launch, citing poor weather.
"Happy to launch in most weather but got to draw the line at a storm," founder Peter Beck tweeted shortly after 4pm.
A launch window had been due to open at 5.07pm.
"The current weather has violated FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] flight rules, so this one is kind of out of our hands. Some good weather is on its way soon however," Beck said. More
(Source: New Zealand Herald - Dec 13)
RUSSIAN SPACEWALKERS CUT INTO SOYUZ SPACESHIP TO INSPECT LEAK REPAIR - Clad in pressurized spacesuits, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev used knives and scissors Tuesday to slice through insulation and a debris shield on a Soyuz spaceship set to return to Earth next week, finally reaching the capsule’s metallic hull to examine the site of an air leak plugged in August. Wearing Russian Orlan spacesuits, Kononenko and Prokopyev opened the hatch to the Pirs airlock at 10:59 a.m. EST (1559 GMT) to officially begin the unusual excursion, the 213th spacewalk since 1998 in support of space station assembly and maintenance. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Dec 12)
FIRST GPS III SATELLITE ENCAPSULATED FOR DEC. 18 SPACEX LAUNCH - The U.S. Air Force’s first Lockheed Martin-built GPS III satellite is now encapsulated for its planned Dec. 18 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
GPS III Space Vehicle 01 (GPS III SV01) underwent pre-launch processing, fueling and encapsulation at Astrotech Space Operations, in Titusville, Florida. During encapsulation, GPS III SV01 was sealed in its launch fairing — an aerodynamic, nose-cone shell that protects the satellite during launch. More
(Source: GPS World magazine - Dec 12)
IT’S A BRIEFCASE! IT’S A PIZZA BOX! NO, IT’S A MINI SATELLITE - Recently, officials in California announced that the Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history, had been fully contained. The achievement was made possible through the hard work of firefighters on the ground, with some help from above: a swarm of tiny, orbiting satellites that represent the next phase of the space age.
The satellites are operated by Planet Labs, a company in San Francisco that runs the world’s largest fleet of Earth-observing satellites. Its craft number around 140. All of them carry cameras and telescopes. In size, most rival a loaf of bread. More
(Source: New York Times - Dec 12)
FOX-1CLIFF/AO-95 RECEIVER SUFFERS APPARENT FAILURE - The receiver on the newly launched Fox-1Cliff/AO-95 CubeSat seems to have suffered a receiver failure that could render the satellite unusable, AMSAT said over the weekend. Efforts continue by AMSAT Engineering to establish the cause of the problem and determine if a fix is possible. AMSAT Vice President-Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, reported over the weekend that the issue cropped up during efforts to commission Fox-1Cliff/AO-95.
“After a few days of tests, analysis, and discussion, it appears that Fox-1Cliff/AO-95 will not be commissioned as our fourth Fox-1 Amateur Radio satellite,” Buxton said. Commissioning began on December 4, right after the CubeSat’s successful launch a day earlier. More
(Source: ARRL - Dec 12)