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)
JORDAN’S FIRST CUBESAT, JY1SAT, IS DESIGNATED AS JO-97 - JY1Sat, launched on December 3 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California as part of the SpaceX SSO-A: SmallSat Express launch, has been designated as Jordan OSCAR 97 (JO-97). The 1U CubeSat is a project of the Crown Prince Foundation of Jordan. Telemetry has been received and decoded around the world since the launch. More
(Source: ARRL - Dec 12)
THIS IMAGE OF SPAIN IS THE FIRST FROM AN ALL-SEEING SATELLITE CONSTELLATION BY STARTUP ICEYE - Satellite startup ICEYE is riding a wave of success this year. Just days after its launch, the company got back its first image from ICEYE-X2, its second satellite. The company gave CNBC an exclusive look at the image on Monday.
The first ICEYE-X2 image shows the mountainous areas of Spain's Basque Country at night. Forest, roads and agriculture are visible in the image, which contains over 500 square kilometers, captured at a resolution of 3 by 3 meters. That's the expected, medium resolution for a high-powered satellite, but ICEYE packed that power into a suitcase-sized satellite. The X2 satellite was launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket last week on the record-breaking "SmallSat Express" mission for Spaceflight Industries. More
(Source: CNBC - Dec 11)
SPACEX MAKES ANOTHER SPACE STATION CARGO DELIVERY - A commercial supply ship owned and operated by SpaceX arrived at the International Space Station on Saturday, delivering a pair of NASA experiments to demonstrate satellite refueling techniques and monitor changes in Earth’s forests, along with a special holiday menu of turkey, candied yams, cranberry sauce and shortbread cookies. The arrival of the Dragon cargo capsule Saturday marked another event in a busy schedule for the space station’s six-person crew, following the docking of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft with three fresh residents Dec. 3, and ahead of a spacewalk Tuesday to inspect the exterior of a different Soyuz capsule that developed a pressure leak in August. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Dec 11)
RUSSIANS PREPARE FOR SPACEWALK, AIMING TO SOLVE A SPACE STATION MYSTERY - The two men will spend six hours examining and repairing a tiny hole that roiled space relations between the United States and Russia. On Tuesday, Russian astronauts hope to gather clues in a whodunit at the International Space Station.
The astronauts, Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev, are to conduct a spacewalk to examine the outside of a Soyuz capsule currently docked at the space station and used for transporting astronauts. They, as well as officials at NASA and the Russian space agency, want to know why there is a hole in the Soyuz. That small cavity roiled space relations between the United States and Russia this summer, leading to speculation in Russian media about an act of sabotage aboard the station. More
(Source: New York Times - Dec 11)
RAAF FUNDS SATELLITE MISSIONS WITH SPACE TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT IN MIND - If all goes to plan, Mission 1 (M1), the first of two Royal Australian Air Force-funded small satellite efforts, will soon be placed into space by a US launch vehicle.
The M1 and later M2 missions are being funded by the air force and conducted in partnership with the University of NSW Canberra, with the aims of developing a cadre of expertise in satellite capabilities and demonstrating innovative space technologies and rapid small-satellite development. More
(Source: The Australian - Dec 10)
ISRO TO LAUNCH DEDICATED SATELLITE FOR IAF IN 3RD WEEK OF DECEMBER - After the heaviest satellite Gsat-11 mission, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is gearing up to launch a dedicated communication satellite for the Indian Air Force. Talking to TOI, Isro chairman K Sivan said, “Isro will launch a communication satellite Gsat-7A dedicated for the IAF in the third week of this month. In January, there will be a PSLV launch and then communication satellite Gsat-31 will be launched from French Guiana that will replace INSAT 4CR, whose end of life is expected soon. And then we have the Chandrayaan-2 mission in January, whose launch window is from January 3 to February 13.” More
(Source: Times of India - Dec 10)
RUSSIA'S CRUMBLING BAIKONUR SPACEPORT IS EARTH'S ONLY LAUNCH PAD FOR MANNED FLIGHTS - The landscape approaching Russia’s spaceport in Baikonur is otherworldly. The yellow steppe of southern Kazakhstan where it is located is effectively desert, unbroken flatlands for hundreds of miles covered by a layer of scrub. In December, the freezing winds that blow across it encase the scrub plants in ice, making them look like silver coral sprouting out of the sand. Established at the dawn of the Cold War space race in the 1950s, Baikonur is Russia’s chief spaceport and, for now, the only launchpad in the world sending manned flights into space. Since NASA retired the space shuttle in 2011, Russia’s Soyuz rockets -- launched from Baikonur -- are the only option for astronauts headed to the International Space Station. More
(Source: ABC News - Dec 10)
DELTA 4-HEAVY COUNTDOWN ABORTED MOMENTS BEFORE LAUNCH - A dramatic automatic abort 7.5 seconds before the planned liftoff of a United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket Saturday night kept the towering launcher on the pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, with a top secret spy payload for the National Reconnaissance Office.
The 233-foot-tall (71-meter) rocket was counting down to launch at 8:15 p.m. PST Saturday (11:15 p.m. PST; 0415 GMT Sunday), but an automated sequencer detected a technical issue and triggered an abort. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Dec 9)
ULA DELTA IV-HEAVY LAUNCH WITH NROL-71 SCRUBBED - United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy rocket will try again on Saturday to launch the mysterious NROL-71 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office. Ahead of Friday’s launch window – that was to open at 20:19 Pacific Time (04:19 UTC on Saturday) – ULA noted an issue with the holdfire circuitry required further work, scrubbing the launch attemot. The launch – after a 24 hour recycle – will take place from Space Launch Complex 6 at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Like most activities conducted by the United States National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), specifics of the NRO Launch 71 (NROL-71) mission are classified. The NRO is the organization that operates America’s fleet of reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering satellites, using a variety of spacecraft types and surveillance techniques to support national defense and security. More
(Source: NASASpaceFlight.com - Dec 8)
CHINA LAUNCHES SATELLITES FOR SAUDI ARABIA - Two Saudi Arabian Earth observation satellites and 10 small secondary payloads rode a Long March 2D rocket into orbit Friday from the Jiuquan space base in China’s northwestern Inner Mongolia region, hours before the launch of a Chinese lunar probe targeting the first soft landing on the far side of the moon.
The Long March 2D rocket lifted off at 0412 GMT Friday (11:12 p.m. EST Thursday) from Jiuquan, carrying the 12 satellites into a low Earth orbit a few hundred miles above the planet. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Dec 7)
TINY SATELLITES POSE A SWARM OF OPPORTUNITIES — AND THREATS - Spaceflight favors big rockets and small technology — but when technology gets small enough, it may act very differently from traditional satellites and spacecraft.
And that tipping point may not be all that far away, with engineers having already flown tiny satellites that stretch just 1.3 inches (3.5 centimeters) across. With these tiny satellites come the potential opportunity to produce hordes of them, turning one large device into a host of smaller, cheaper ones. More
(Source: Space.com - Dec 7)
SPACEX FALCON 9 BOOSTS DRAGON CARGO SHIP TO ORBIT, FIRST STAGE MISSES LANDING TARGET - Two days after a successful launch from California, SpaceX fired off another Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Wednesday, this one carrying a Dragon cargo ship loaded with 5,660 pounds of equipment and supplies bound for the International Space Station.
But an attempt to recover the booster’s first stage ended in failure when a hydraulic system malfunction caused the booster to rapidly spin and tilt about its long axis during its final descent. As a result, the rocket landed well off target, settling to a gentle, upright “landing” in the Atlantic Ocean just east of the launch site. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Dec 6)
SYNOPSIS: SATELLITE MISHAP PROVIDES CHANCE FOR RELATIVITY TEST - In 2014, two satellites of the Galileo European Global Navigation Satellite System were unintentionally launched on elliptical, rather than circular, orbits. This ellipticity created problems for their use in the global navigation network, but scientists turned this misfortune into an opportunity. Two independent teams, one led by Sven Herrmann at the University of Bremen in Germany and the other by Pacôme Delva, at both the Paris Sciences & Letters–PSL University and Sorbonne University in France, used clocks on the satellites to perform the most precise tests to date of one aspect of general relativity: the gravitational redshift of a clock’s frequency. More
(Source: Physics - Dec 6)
POLISH STUDENTS’ SATELLITE LAUNCHED INTO ORBIT - A satellite designed by Warsaw students to cut down on space junk has been launched into orbit. The satellite was designed by students from the Warsaw University of Technology. It was sent into space on Monday on board a Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US.
The satellite will be used to test a so-called deorbitation sail system, akin to a drag parachute, which it is carrying. The mechanism will be released after the satellite completes its mission.
By increasing drag, the sail slows the satellite, causing it to descend to earth and burn up in the atmosphere, rather than remaining in orbit and becoming another piece of junk floating around the planet. More
(Source: thenews.pl - Dec 6)
ASTROCAST SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHES ITS FIRST SATELLITE - Yesterday evening, Astrocast – a young start-up spun out of EPFL – launched its first demonstration satellite intended to test its Internet-of-Things system. It was put into orbit by a SpaceX rocket that took off from California.
This Monday December 3rd was a big day for Astrocast. At 7:34pm Swiss time, the first satellite produced by this EPFL start-up took off from California on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The launch, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County, went smoothly.
(Source: Phys.org - Dec 6)