VIRGIN’S SATELLITE LAUNCHER REACHES ORBIT FOR FIRST TIME - An air-launched rocket built by Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reached orbit Sunday for the first time, delivering 10 experimental CubeSats for NASA and positioning the company for the start of commercial operations.
The success adds another company to the growing club of private space companies capable of launching satellites. Virgin Orbit is second in a new wave of commercial small launch companies — after Rocket Lab — to accomplish the task of putting payloads in orbit. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Jan 18)
RECENTLY LAUNCHED COMMUNICATION SATELLITE CMS-01 PLACED IN FINAL ORBIT - CMS-01 is India’s 42nd communication satellite that will replace the functions of GSAT-12 launched in 2011. It will remain in orbit for over seven years providing connectivity for e-learning, tele-health, and disaster management services.
The satellite was placed in an elliptical Geostationary Transfer Orbit by India’s workhorse PSLV-C50 on December 20 after 20 minutes 11 seconds of a launch from India’s only spaceport at Sriharikota. More
(Source: Hindustan Times - Jan 17)
SATELLITE BUILT BY BROWN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS ENDS A SUCCESSFUL JOURNEY - An amazing journey, made possible by Brown University students, has come to an end.
On Dec. 26, EQUiSat, a satellite built by students, burned upon re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. But despite the loss, the project is still considered a success, since the satellite lasted much longer than the designers initially anticipated.
The first estimates had the satellite orbiting the earth up for about six months, but it ended up surviving for more than two-and-a-half years. More
(Source: WPRI.com - Jan 17)
ROCKET LAB CALLS OFF MICROSATELLITE LAUNCH DUE TO SENSOR ISSUE - The small-satellite launch company Rocket Lab called off its first launch of 2021 from New Zealand Saturday (Jan. 16) due to strange sensor readings ahead of liftoff.
A Rocket Lab Electron booster was scheduled to launch a microsatellite for the European space technology company OHB Group from New Zealand's Māhia Peninsula at 2:38 a.m. EST (8:38 p.m. New Zealand time; 0738 GMT), but unexpected data from an inclinometer on the booster prompted a delay. More
(Source: Space.com - Jan 17)
EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY TO BUILD MODULE FOR GATEWAY SPACE STATION - The European Space Agency (Esa) has signed a contract to begin building the module to supply communications and refuelling for the international lunar Gateway space station.
The European System Providing Refuelling, Infrastructure and Telecommunications (Esprit) will consist of two separate units. The communications system will be used by astronauts to provide data, voice and video links to and from the lunar surface. It will be mounted on the Nasa Habitation and Logistics Outpost (Halo) module, which is scheduled for launch in 2024. More
(Source: The Guardian - Jan 15)
BLUE ORIGIN TESTS PASSENGER ACCOMMODATIONS ON SUBORBITAL LAUNCH - Blue Origin says it is “very, very close” to flying humans on suborbital launches to the edge of space after a successful test flight of a human-capable rocket and capsule Thursday.
The company’s New Shepard rocket and crew capsule took off at 12:17 p.m. EST (11:17 a.m. CST; 1717 GMT) Thursday from Blue Origin’s private launch site north of Van Horn, Texas, east of El Paso.
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Jan 15)
METHANESAT PICKS SPACEX FOR SATELLITE LAUNCH TO TRACK METHANE LEVELS IN EARTH'S ATMOSPHERE - A SpaceX rocket will launch a new satellite to track the amount of methane in Earth's atmosphere in 2022.
Called MethaneSAT, the small satellite is designed specifically to locate, quantify and track global methane emissions. SpaceX has signed on to launch the satellite into orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket during a launch window that opens Oct. 1, 2022. More
(Source: Space.com - Jan 14)
FRENCH WINE, LIVE RODENTS AMONG 2 TONS OF CARGO RETURNED FROM SPACE STATION - A SpaceX Cargo Dragon capsule parachuted to an on-target splashdown Wednesday night west of Tampa, returning more than two tons of experiment specimens from the International Space Station, including live rodents and a dozen bottles of space-aged French wine.
The commercial supply ship, flying on autopilot, dropped out of orbit and re-entered the atmosphere over the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday night. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Jan 14)
NASA TO UPGRADE SPACE STATION SOLAR ARRAYS - NASA will start an upgrade this year of the solar arrays of the International Space Station to ensure the station has sufficient power to continue operating at least through the end of the decade.
The agency announced Jan. 11 it would fly the first pair of upgraded solar arrays to the station later this year on a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft, stored in the spacecraft’s unpressurized trunk section. Two other pairs of the arrays will fly on later Dragon cargo missions, but NASA did not disclose a schedule for them. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Jan 13)
INTELSAT ORDERS TWO SATELLITES FROM AIRBUS - Intelsat has ordered two geostationary communications satellites from Airbus Defence and Space that will support the satellite operator’s aviation connectivity business.
The companies announced Jan. 8 the order of two spacecraft from Airbus’ OneSat family of fully reconfigurable geostationary satellites. The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal beyond starting the satellites will be delivered in 2023. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Jan 13)
DREAM CHASER SPACE PLANE'S FIRST FLIGHT SLIPS TO 2022 DUE TO PANDEMIC-RELATED DELAYS - Delays related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have pushed back the anticipated flight date of Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser space plane to 2022.
Dream Chaser is one of the NASA-selected cargo vehicles that, once it begins to fly, will resupply the International Space Station (ISS), along with SpaceX's Dragon and Northrop Grumman's Cygnus capsules. But even as the space plane's launch is delayed, its parent company continues to aim towards sending humans to the moon and, eventually, Mars. More
(Source: Space.com - Jan 13)
VIRGIN ORBIT DELAYS FLIGHT TEST TO SUNDAY - Virgin Orbit has delayed the flight test of its LauncherOne booster originally scheduled for Wednesday until Sunday, Jan. 17. Operations are expected to take place between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. PST (1800-2200 UTC). Your local time may vary; please adjust accordingly.
Virgin Orbit’s modified Boeing 747 named Cosmic Girl will take off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. It will release LauncherOne over the Pacific Ocean west of San Nicolas Island. The rocket’s first stage will fire once the booster is clear of the aircraft. More
(Source: Parabolic Arc - Jan 13)
CARGO DRAGON HEADS FOR SPLASHDOWN OFF FLORIDA’S WEST COAST - SpaceX’s first upgraded Cargo Dragon spaceship departed the International Space Station Tuesday morning with more than 4,400 pounds of research specimens and other equipment, heading for splashdown Wednesday night in the Gulf of Mexico off the west coast of Florida.
Poor weather in the recovery zone prevented the Cargo Dragon from undocking and returning to Earth Monday. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Jan 12)
SPACEX CALLS-OFF CRS-21 DRAGON RETURN DUE TO RECOVERY WEATHER OFF FLORIDA - The CRS-21 automated cargo Dragon v2, the first-of-its-kind for the v2 class designed and developed by SpaceX, was to depart the International Space Station after performing an automated undocking from the orbital laboratory today ahead of splashdown in Florida 12 hours later. After a confusing series of messages that first gave approval and clearance to undock, less than two minutes before the undocking process was to begin, NASA called up to the Station announcing a change to the decision just minutes after it was originally approved. More
(Source: NASASpaceFlight.com - Jan 11)
NASA IS STREAMING THE SPACEX CARGO DRAGON LEAVING THE SPACE STATION ON MONDAY - More than 5,000 pounds of scientific experiments and cargo is scheduled to depart from the International Space Station (ISS), bound for terra firma, on Monday, January 11.
SpaceX's cargo Dragon spacecraft will undock Monday morning with NASA astronaut Victor Glover, the first Black crew member on the ISS, monitoring the trek from aboard the space station. A whole lot of experiments coming back to Earth, and you can watch the departure live online through NASA Television. More
(Source: Thrillist - Jan 11)
HOW CIA SATELLITES HELPED FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE - When you think of the Central Intelligence Agency, what comes to mind? It could be one of dozens of things, depending on your feelings on espionage, but one thing that probably won’t come up are efforts to address climate change and environmental catastrophes. And yet a small group of scientists within the CIA spent decades engaged in a very unexpected type of work.
In an expansive article for The New York Times, William J. Broad explored the work done by Dr. Linda Zall over the course of several decades. More
(Source: InsideHook - Jan 11)
SPACEX GAINS FCC PERMISSION FOR POLAR STARLINK SATELLITE LAUNCH - The FCC has agreed to allow SpaceX to launch ten Starlink satellites into a polar orbit later this month. The FCC published the order on January 8 granting permission for the ten satellites to be placed into a 560 kilometers orbit with an inclination of 97.6 degrees. The satellites will be launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 no earlier than January 14. The satellites will launch as part of the Transporter-1 mission, which is a dedicated smallsat rideshare mission. More
(Source: SlashGear - Jan 11)
TURKEY SECURES ORBITAL RIGHTS AFTER SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHING 7TH SATELLITE - A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from a launchpad in the U.S. state of Florida to deploy a new-generation Turkish communication satellite into orbit late Thursday.
The U.S. aerospace company’s 70-meter-tall (230-foot-tall) rocket launched from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, carrying the Türksat 5A satellite.
“With the Türksat 5A satellite, Turkey is securing its orbital rights for the next 30 years,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday. More
(Source: Daily Sabah - Jan 10)
CHINA GEARS UP FOR SPACE STATION, CARGO AND CREWED MISSION LAUNCHES - China is preparing to launch three major missions in the next few months to initiate the construction phase of the country’s space station project.
The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) is finalizing work on rockets which will launch the first space station module, a cargo and refueling craft and a crewed mission. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Jan 9)