SPACE COMPANIES ARE RACING TO BEAM WEB ACCESS TO THE ENTIRE PLANET. BUT ‘SPACE JUNK’ IS A BIG WORRY - Space companies, from Elon Musk’s SpaceX to start-up OneWeb, are racing to launch satellites into space with the aim of creating global internet coverage on Earth. But there’s one big problem, experts say — the creation and threat from so-called “space junk.”
This debris floating in space could interfere with future space missions and satellite launches — and even send objects hurtling back to Earth. More
(Source: CNBC - Feb 18)
SPACEX LAUNCHES 60 STARLINK SATELLITES FOR NEW MEGACONSTELLATION, MISSES ROCKET LANDING - SpaceX successfully launched another batch of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit Monday (Feb. 17), but missed a milestone rocket landing on what was the company's fourth flight of the year.
Smoked billowed and flames erupted as the sooty Falcon 9 roared to life at 10:05 a.m. EST (1505 GMT), lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station here in Florida. More
(Source: Space.com - Feb 17)
COULD DRONES LAUNCH SATELLITES INTO SPACE BY CRACKING ONE GIANT WHIP? - Of all the ways we’ve found to sling stuff into space, a patented method that combines cutting-edge drone technology with good old-fashioned physics — the kind that even Indiana Jones would probably admire — may be the wildest one we’ve seen yet.
As first reported by GeekWire, Amazon has patented a satellite-launching process that, while untested at full scale, aims to summon the power of wave motion to catapult a payload into orbit... More
(Source: SYFY WIRE - Feb 17)
CHINA QUIETLY ROLLS OUT NEW ROCKET TO LAUNCH MYSTERY SATELLITE - China has quietly rolled out a new Long March 7A rocket at a coastal launch site in preparation for launch of a ‘technology verification satellite’.
Official acknowledgement of an mission involving the new launcher came on Feb. 12 (Chinese), but with no indication of its timeline.
However images shared by Chinese space program watchers in China suggest the Long March 7A has already been rolled out to its launch pad at the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Feb 17)
NEXT GPS SATELLITE LANDS IN FLORIDA FOR APRIL LAUNCH - The U.S. Space Force’s third new-generation GPS 3-series navigation satellite has arrived in Florida for final processing and fueling ahead of a launch currently targeted for April 29 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The GPS 3 SV03 spacecraft landed Feb. 5 at Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Florida, after a ride aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo plane from Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, near the satellite’s Denver-area Lockheed Martin factory. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Feb 17)
SPACEX TEST-FIRES FALCON 9 ROCKET; STARLINK LAUNCH DELAYED TO MONDAY - SpaceX test-fired its next Falcon 9 rocket Friday ahead of a planned launch Monday from Cape Canaveral with 60 more Starlink Internet satellites, days after an international group sounded another warning about the effects of large satellite fleets on astronomy.
The hold-down firing Friday at Cape Canaveral signaled a milestone in SpaceX’s preparations for the next Starlink launch Monday.
That represents a two-day delay from the mission’s first public target launch date. The mission was delayed to Sunday due to poor weather in the Falcon 9’s first stage recovery zone in the Atlantic Ocean. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Feb 16)
SPACEX CREW DRAGON ARRIVES AT LAUNCH SITE FOR THE 1ST ORBITAL CREW FLIGHT FROM US SOIL SINCE 2011 - The spacecraft that will fly SpaceX's first-ever crewed mission has made it to Florida.
A SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule arrived on Florida's Space Coast on Thursday (Feb. 13), NASA officials said, completing a cross-country trek from the company's California headquarters. "The spacecraft now will undergo final testing and prelaunch processing in a SpaceX facility on nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station," NASA officials said in an update. More
(Source: Space.com - Feb 16)
ANTARES ROCKET LIFTS OFF FROM VIRGINIA ON SPACE STATION CARGO MISSION - A twin-engine Northrop Grumman Antares rocket climbed into orbit Saturday from Virginia’s Eastern Shore carrying a Cygnus supply ship bound for the International Space Station with a compact electron microscope, a flame combustion experiment, a range of biological investigations, fresh cheese, fruit and vegetables for the research lab’s three-person crew.
The 139-foot-tall (42.5-meter) Antares launcher lifted off from pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at 3:21:04 p.m. EST (2021:04 GMT) Saturday after Northrop Grumman scrubbed two previous launch attempts due to an issue with ground support equipment and unfavorable winds aloft. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Feb 16)
NORTHROP GRUMMAN AIMS FOR VALENTINE'S DAY LAUNCH OF NASA CARGO ON CYGNUS SPACECRAFT - Northrop Grumman is now aiming for a Valentine's Day launch of its next Cygnus cargo ship filled with NASA supplies bound for the International Space Station.
The resupply mission, which has been delayed since Sunday (Feb. 9), is now scheduled to launch an Antares rocket and uncrewed Cygnus spacecraft on Friday (Feb. 14) from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. Liftoff is set for 3:43 p.m. EST (2043 GMT). More
(Source: Space.com - Feb 14)
NORTHROP GRUMMAN TO DEVELOP JAM-RESISTANT PAYLOAD FOR U.S. MILITARY COMMUNICATIONS SATELLITES - Northrop Grumman was awarded a $253.5 million contract by the U.S. Space Force to develop a cyber-secure communications payload that could be deployed on a military or commercial satellite.
The U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center announced Feb. 12 that Northrop Grumman was the first vendor selected to build a prototype payload under the Protected Tactical Satellite Communications (PTS) program that the U.S. Air Force started in 2018. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Feb 14)
WEEKEND PLANS? TRY SPACEX'S NEXT STARLINK LAUNCH FROM CAPE CANAVERAL - The window for SpaceX's next launch from Cape Canaveral, slated for Saturday, should embody wintertime Florida: nearly 70 degrees, a healthy breeze, and the possibility of offshore showers.
And unlike many late-night or early morning missions, the 10:47 a.m. liftoff from Launch Complex 40 is ideal for Space Coast visitors and residents to catch a glimpse of the 230-foot-tall Falcon 9 rocket.
Air Force weather forecasters are anticipating 70% "go" conditions. More
(Source: Florida Today - Feb 14)
ASTRONOMERS HAVE SERIOUS CONCERNS ABOUT SATELLITE CONSTELLATIONS - Picture the space around Earth filled with tens of thousands of communications satellites. That scenario is slowly coming into being, and it has astronomers concerned. Now, a group of astronomers has written a paper outlining detailed concerns, and how all of these satellites could have a severe, negative impact on ground-based astronomy.
SpaceX and other companies are casting their keen capitalist eyes on the space around Earth. SpaceX and OneWeb are the only companies to launch any portion of their satellite constellations so far. More
(Source: Phys.org - Feb 13)
NASA CONFIRMS CREW DRAGON ALMOST READY, MOSTLY PAPERWORK LEFT - NASA and SpaceX are closing in on the first launch of humans into orbit from US soil since 2011, when the space shuttle made its final flight.
Although the space agency has not yet said so publicly, NASA is working toward a May 7 launch of a Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station.
Asked Monday about the early May launch date, the director of Johnson Space Center, Mark Geyer, said it is tentative and that no final decisions have been made. More
(Source: Ars Technica - Feb 12)
LOCKHEED MARTIN DELIVERS NEW GPS SATELLITE SCHEDULED FOR APRIL LAUNCH ABOARD FALCON 9 - The third satellite of the GPS 3 constellation arrived Feb. 5 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, where it will undergo final testing and checkout before its scheduled launch in April aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The GPS 3 satellite was flown from Lockheed Martin’s assembly line in Colorado aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft.
(Source: SpaceNews - Feb 11)
SPACE STATION TO FORGE ULTRA-FAST CONNECTIONS - Astronauts aboard the International Space Station plan to install a high-speed radio link to enable almost real-time connections with Earth.
The upgrade to the ESA Columbus laboratory will relay data from experiments on the Station back to Earth almost instantaneously.
The fridge-sized device will fly to the Station aboard Northrop Grumman's 12th Cygnus supply ship on 9 February. More
(Source: Space Daily - Feb 11)
IRAN SPACE PROGRAM FAILS TO LAUNCH SATELLITE INTO ORBIT - An Iranian rocket failed to put a satellite into orbit on Sunday, state television reported, the latest setback for a program the U.S. claims helps Tehran advance its ballistic missile program.
The launch happened at 7:15 p.m. local time at Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran’s Semnan province, some 230 kilometers (145 miles) southeast of Iran’s capital, Tehran. A Simorgh, or “Phoenix,” rocket couldn’t put the Zafar 1 communications satellite into orbit, however, due to a low speed, Iranian state TV reported. More
(Source: TIME - Feb 10)
CYGNUS LAUNCH TO ISS SCRUBBED AS NASA CONSIDERS SCHEDULE CHANGES FOR FUTURE CARGO MISSIONS - A technical issue scrubbed a scheduled Feb. 9 launch a Cygnus cargo mission to the International Space Station as NASA is considering changes to the schedule of future cargo missions and science activities on the station given uncertainties about the size of the station’s crew.
(Source: SpaceNews - Feb 10)
JAPAN LAUNCHES OPTICAL SPY SATELLITE - Japan launched an optical reconnaissance satellite from the Tanegashima Space Center Sunday aboard an H-2A rocket after a 12-day delay caused by a nitrogen leak.
Japanese crews returned the H-2A rocket to its vertical assembly building at Tanegashima for repairs following the aborted countdown Jan. 27. Officials from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, builder and prime contractor for the H-2A rocket, said the leak detected during the previous countdown was in the system providing conditioned air to the rocket. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Feb 9)
IRANIAN SATELLITE TO BE LAUNCHED ON SUNDAY - "The Zafar satellite will be placed in orbit today from Semnan at a speed of 7,400 kilometers," Iranian Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi said. A government minister announced that Iran would be launching a new satellite on Sunday after the planned launch on Saturday was delayed for unknown reasons. More
(Source: The Jerusalem Post - Feb 9)