|January 23, 2023
After a Historic First Mission, What Does the Future Hold for NASA’s Controversial Rocket? (Source: CNN)
On one hand, there was the thrill of watching NASA take its first steps toward eventually getting humans back to the lunar surface; on the other, a shadow cast by the long and costly process it took to get there. The towering SLS launch vehicle was originally expected to take flight in 2016. And the decade-plus that the rocket was in development sparked years of blistering criticism targeted toward the space agency and Boeing, which holds the primary contract for the SLS rocket’s core.
“Cost increases and schedule delays of Core Stage development can be traced largely to management, technical, and infrastructure issues driven by Boeing’s poor performance,” said one 2018 report from NASA’s OIG. And a report in 2020 laid out similar grievances. For its part, Boeing has pushed back on the criticism, pointing to rigorous testing requirements and the overall success of the program.
In various op-eds, the rocket has also been deemed “the result of unfortunate compromises and unholy politics,” a “colossal waste of money” and an “irredeemable mistake.” Despite all the heated debate that has followed SLS, by all accounts, the rocket is here to stay. And officials at NASA and Boeing said its first launch two months ago was practically flawless. Click here. (1/20)
SpaceX Reaches ‘Ludicrous’ Cadence (Source: Ars Technica)
In the movie Space Balls, "ludicrous speed" is the velocity attained by a spaceship traveling much faster than the speed of light. That is the velocity of cadence SpaceX is now approaching with its Falcon family of rockets. On Thursday morning, the company launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 51 Starlink satellites from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. This was the company's fifth launch of 2023.
If you're keeping track at home ... As of January 19, SpaceX has launched a rocket every 3.8 days during this calendar year. Extrapolated out to a full year, SpaceX is on pace for 96 Falcon launches in 2023. While that probably won't happen, it indicates that SpaceX founder Elon Musk's prediction of 100 orbital launches this year was not all that, ahem, ludicrous. (1/20)
SpaceX Launches Falcon Heavy for DoD, Lands Two Boosters at Florida Spaceport (Source: SPACErePORT)
SpaceX performed a sundown launch of a DoD Falcon Heavy mission from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The USSF-67 mission carried multiple military payloads, with the center core stage proceeding toward GEO while the two side boosters successfully returned to the spaceport for refurbishment and reuse. (1/15)
SpaceX Launches GPS Satellite for Space Force at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Space News)
SpaceX launched a GPS satellite early this morning. A Falcon 9 lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 7:24 a.m. Eastern carrying the GPS 3 SV06 spacecraft. The spacecraft deployed from the upper stage about an hour and a half after liftoff. The launch was SpaceX's second national security space launch in less than four days, and its fifth launch of a GPS satellite. The next GPS 3 satellite will launch on a United Launch Alliance Vulcan rocket next year. (1/18)
SpaceX Launches Starlink Satellites From California (Source: Space.com)
SpaceX conducted its first Starlink launch of the year Thursday. A Falcon 9 lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 10:43 a.m. Eastern and deployed 51 Starlink satellites into orbit about a half-hour later. The rocket's first stage, on its first launch, landed on a droneship in the Pacific. SpaceX has now launched more than 3,700 Starlink satellites, of which more than 3,400 are in orbit. (1/20)
SpaceX to Launch Rockets From Boca Chica, Texas. Wildlife Folks Aren’t Happy (Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
SpaceX will launch a Full Stack Test Flight next month at a launch pad near Brownsville, Texas, in the Boca Chica area. The launch pad’s proximity to sensitive wildlife has some folks at the Texas Parks and Wildlife perturbed. The Boca Chica loop is home to a diverse ecosystem with birding trails and the Sabal Palm Audubon Sanctuary nearby.
Rare, threatened and endangered species live in or near the Boca Chica area, including the aplomado falcon, piping plover, red knot, snowy plover and black rail, along with migrating birds in the fall and spring, according to Friends of the Wildlife Corridor. Texas Parks and Wildlife also reports Boca Chica’s lomas — clay mounds covered with brush — are a favored habitat for ocelots. South Texas is the only region in the United States where ocelots can be found. In a response to a tweet asking if he would adopt an ocelot, Elon Musk, SpaceX founder and CEO, said motion-activated cameras around the base have not captured footage of ocelots. (1/18)
SpaceX Starship Factory Aiming to Build Five Megarockets in 2023 (Source: Teslarati)
CEO Elon Musk says that SpaceX’s South Texas Starship aims to build up to five of the two-stage megarockets in 2023. SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas hardware endeavors began in an empty field in late 2018, kicking off Starhopper testing in 2019. In late 2019 and early 2020, the company began building the bones of the factory that exists today, relying heavily on several giant tents (“sprung structures”) similar to those used by Tesla. SpaceX has already begun the process of replacing those tents with larger, permanent buildings, but two of the original tents continue to host crucial parts of the Starship manufacturing process.
SpaceX Visits Wichita Suppliers as It Prepares Production Ramp-Up (Sources: Aviation Week, KAKE)
SpaceX officials traveled here Jan. 17 to meet with current suppliers and develop new supplier connections. The visit was hosted by the Greater Wichita Partnership and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS). Senator Moran introduced SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, to several local businesses and government leaders at a reception inside the hanger. As well as leading her on a tour of three different local aerospace manufacturers in Sedgwick county.
Shotwell says "The reason why I'm here is to meet the leadership from these companies and get an understanding of how they like to do business, what they love to do." As SpaceX expands the Starlink satellites and its spacecraft programs, Shotwell says there is much room for growth with who they work for. "With the ramping of the starship and super heavy we're looking for all sorts of new companies to bring it to the family." (1/17)
Blue Origin Plans Fairing Drop Test Off Florida Coast (Source: @Alexphysics13)
Blue Origin is set to perform fairing drop tests off the coast of Florida sometime between Jan 21 and Jan 23. A Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) was published on Jan 17 describing the operations. A TFR for the operations accompanies it as well. (1/20)
Space Force: Still Expecting Hundreds of Florida Launches in the Coming Years (Source: Florida Today)
If Space Force projections pan out, last year's record 57 Florida launches are just the start of what could become a science fiction-like cadence of "multiple hundreds" of missions flying from Space Coast pads.
Speaking to a packed National Space Club luncheon, Space Force Maj. Gen. Stephen Purdy said Florida can expect a roughly 60% surge in the number of missions taking flight from the Eastern Range. Purdy, recently promoted to major general, is commander of Space Launch Delta 45 and serves in three other space-related leadership roles.
"Two years ago, I started making the circuits saying we plan on 100, 200, 300 launches in several years. And I got lots and lots of eyebrows," Purdy said. "We still plan on that multiple-hundred launches in a few years. So now we're trying to re-architect all our processes, our business processes, our technology processes, and all the data flows in order to support that." (1/15)
Satellites En Route to Florida for Launch (Sources: Hispasat, Inmarsat)
Hispasat says its next GEO communications satellite has arrived at Cape Canaveral for launch. The Amazonas Nexus has arrived at the spaceport from the Thales Alenia Space factory in France for processing ahead of a launch on a Falcon 9 in February. Inmarsat, meanwhile, said it was taking an unusual approach to shipping its Inmarsat 6-F2 satellite from an Airbus factory in France to the Cape. Inmarsat said that an Airbus Beluga plane will transport the satellite, making multiple stops along the way. That is in place of the Antonov An-124 plane typically used for ferrying satellites; those planes have become scarce since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Inmarsat 6-F2 is also scheduled to launch in February on a Falcon 9. (1/17)
Space Force Considers On-Ramps for New Launchers to Join NSSL Contract (Source: Space News)
The Space Force is considering on-ramps for emerging companies in its next national security launch contract. A Space Force official said the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 3 competition is considering a "dual-lane contracting approach" that would award IDIQ contracts to multiple providers, allowing the government to purchase launch services on an as-needed basis without committing to a specific amount. That would be used for less demanding missions, while a more conventional approach, like the NSSL Phase 2 awards to SpaceX and ULA, would be used for more demanding missions. The Space Force plans to release a draft solicitation for NSSL Phase 3 in the spring. (1/16)
Rocket Lab: DOD Requirements Keep Out Smaller Providers (Source: Space News)
Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck says current DoD requirements are an obstacle to consideration of the company's new Neutron rocket for national security launches. "I'd love to see a Phase 3 environment where Neutron is on board," he said, adding, "I think that would offer the nation the most amount of flexibility, the most robust launch access and quite frankly, the lowest price." (1/18)
Rocket Lab Sees Neutron Rocket as DoD Launcher (Source: Space News)
Rocket Lab says it is cautiously optimistic about its ability to compete for future national security launches with its Neutron rocket. In a webinar Tuesday, company executives said they believe Neutron could compete for medium-lift launches, assuming future launch competitions are structured to allow the company to offer Neutron for only those missions. Rocket Lab has no plans to build a heavy-lift rocket even if that is what is required to compete for future military launch awards. Rocket Lab is on an aggressive schedule to complete the development of Neutron for a 2024 debut. (1/18)
Rocket Lab Assembling First Reusable Neutron Rocket Hardware (Source: Teslarati)
Rocket Lab appears to have made significant progress since revealing the state of hardware development for its next-generation Neutron rocket in a September 2022 investor update. At the time, the company shared photos of early work on prototypes of smaller Neutron structural elements, as well as progress building the giant molds that will be used to ‘lay up’ the rocket’s carbon fiber composite tanks and airframe. Rocket Lab also showed off acquisitions of some of the supersized manufacturing equipment that will be used to build the giant rocket, as well as the beginnings of a dedicated Neutron factory in Virginia.
Four months later, photos shared by CEO Peter Beck show that Rocket Lab has progressed to full-scale carbon fiber hardware manufacturing. In December 2022, Beck shared a photo of a full-size Neutron tank dome in the middle of production. A month later, Beck shared a photo of work on both halves of a Neutron booster tank dome. Measuring around seven meters wide, the latter component is already on track to become one of the largest carbon fiber structures ever prepared for a rocket once the halves are joined. And once two more halves are built and assembled, Rocket Lab could soon be ready to start testing full-scale Neutron tank hardware. (1/18)
Virginia Rocket Launch ‘Turning Point’ For Space Operations (Source: National Defense)
From a distance, the upcoming launch in Virginia will look like any other craft blasting into space, but the technology on board the vehicle and the location will be firsts for the United States. The mission, titled “Virginia is for Launch Lovers,” will consist of the first U.S. launch of New Zealand-based Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from its new Launch Complex 2 at NASA’s Wallops Island, Virginia, facility.
“This flight just doesn’t symbolize another launchpad for Rocket Lab,” said CEO Peter Beck during a conference call with reporters prior to the launch. “It’s a standing up of a new capability for the nation. … And it’s a new rocket to Virginia and to the Wallops Flight Facility.” Rocket Lab has conducted 32 launches of the 59-foot, reusable Electron at its Complex 1 in New Zealand, and the U.S. facility will allow for increased launch tempo and different trajectories, Beck said. (1/19)
ABL’s Alaska Launch Failure Investigation Points to Burnt Avionics in Engine Bay (Source: Space News)
ABL Space Systems said a loss of power, perhaps caused by a fire, led to the failure of its first RS1 rocket last week at Alaska's spaceport. In an update Wednesday, the company said the RS1 was performing well until a "complete loss of power" at T+10.78 seconds. That caused a shutdown of the rocket's nine first-stage engines, and the vehicle fell back to earth and exploded just meters from its launch pad. ABL said the ongoing investigation shows evidence of a fire in the rocket's engine bay that may have spread to the avionics system, causing the loss of power. The company has not set a timeline for completing the investigating or returning to flight, but said its second RS1 rocket is complete and ready for stage-level testing. (1/19)
Virgin Galactic Completes Aircraft Upgrades at Mojave Spaceport (Source: AV Press)
Virgin Galactic announced, Thursday, that the planned upgrades to its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft have been completed and it will start ground testing at the company’s facility at the Mojave Air and Space Port, next week. Ground, and eventually flight, testing will be completed as the company prepares to begin commercial spaceflight operations to take place this spring, officials reported. Virgin Galactic operates suborbital spaceflights from Spaceport America in New Mexico using the Mojave-developed SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo aircraft. (1/15)
Suborbital Flights Tested New Launch Vehicles in 2022 (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Once a sleepy backwater largely focused on scientific research, the suborbital launch sector has boomed in recent years. Private companies and governments across the globe conducted 29 flights to test orbital and suborbital launch vehicles and a range of technologies last year.
A Chinese company launched a reusable suborbital vehicle that took off vertically and landed horizontally at an airport. A second Chinese company conducted a series of launches to support the development of a suborbital space tourism vehicle. South Korea tested two orbital rockets on three suborbital flights. Iran continued to develop satellite launch vehicles. An Indian company broke a government monopoly by launching the first private rocket from the subcontinent. And a Dutch company conducted the maiden flight of a new suborbital launcher. Click here. (1/18)
China Launches 14 New Satellites (Source: Xinhua)
China successfully launched a Long March-2D rocket on Sunday, sending 14 new satellites into space. The rocket blasted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north China's Shanxi Province at 11:14 a.m. (Beijing Time). The satellites, including Qilu-2 and Qilu-3, have entered their planned orbits. Qilu-2 and Qilu-3 are a high-resolution optical satellite and a wide-swath optical satellite, respectively, with payloads of optical-imaging devices for Earth observation. (1/15)
China Foresees 70+ Launches in 2023 (Source: Space News)
China's state-owned and commercial space sector actors are planning more than 70 launches in 2023. That would be an increase from the record 64 launches conducted by China in 2022. Those launches will be spread over a wide range of vehicles, including launches of new vehicles being developed by Chinese startups. Some key launches include two Shenzhou crewed missions and a Long March 5B launch that could carry a space telescope, broadband megaconstellation satellites or a next-generation crewed spacecraft prototype. (1/18)
China's Space Epoch Performs Reusable Rocket Test (Source: Space News)
A Chinese launch startup has performed hot-fire tests as part of development of a planned reusable stainless steel rocket apparently inspired by SpaceX's Starship. Space Epoch recently performed a series of tests of a 4.2-meter-diameter stainless steel propellant tank combined with a Longyun-70 methane-liquid oxygen engine. Space Epoch previously revealed plans to develop a 64-meter-tall stainless steel launcher capable of lifting 6.5 tons to a 1,100-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit. The launcher will be able to be reused up to 20 times. (1/20)
Structural Details of Long March 9 Revealed (Source: Space Daily)
Chinese rocket researchers are now definite on the overall structural design for the nation's super-heavy carrier rocket, the Long March 9. Gu Mingkun, a senior rocket designer at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, said the baseline model of the Long March 9 will be a large, three-stage rocket about 110 meters tall. It will have a liftoff weight of about 4,000 metric tons and thrust power of nearly 6,000 tons. The diameter of its core stage will be about 10 meters, he said.
According to the designer, the rocket will be powerful enough to transport spaceships weighing up to 50 tons to an Earth-moon transfer trajectory for lunar missions, such as the construction of a large-scale science outpost or mining. It will also be able to send spacecraft on deep-space missions, including an ambitious venture to place Chinese astronauts on Mars, Gu said.
In addition to the baseline model, the structure of another model for spaceflights to LEO has also been determined by researchers, he said. The second model will have two stages, which means it will be shorter than the baseline one. It will be capable of deploying spacecraft with a combined weight of 150 tons to LEO, the designer added. (1/19)
Maia Space Sees Challenges with Small Reusable Rockets (Source: Ars Technica)
The chief executive of Maia Space (an ArianeGroup subsidiary) described the challenges of reusing small rockets. Yohann Leroy explained that while the company was looking at a two-thirds drop in performance when the launcher was recovered, the model would not reduce the cost of the launcher by a similar amount, European Spaceflight reports. "Paradoxically, implementing reuse on a small launcher has rather the consequence of increasing the costs per kilogram launched," Leroy said. The company has about 30 employees now and seeks to develop a small reusable rocket before moving on to larger reusable launch vehicles. (1/20)
SEXBOMB Being Moved to Cornwall Spaceport for Hypersonic Developments (Source: Space Daily)
Space Engine Systems is a Canadian based company that claims to be a trucking company to anywhere in space and mainly focused on the Lunar Mission. SES space planes use air breathing combined cycle engines to get to space. The rocket engines kick in only after a very high altitude. They have Hello-1 X demonstrator which is planned to be launched from the US this year subject to regulatory approvals.
Hello-1 can carry 550 kg to LEO. Hello-2 will carry 5,500 kgs to LEO and can carry 1,660 kgs to LLO and 760 kgs to the moon. This is planned for 2025. All vehicles except the sexbomb (drone) are piloted with an unmanned option. We want to be there ready to demonstrate to regulatory bodies that it can be flown within a supersonic corridor. (1/17)
Sweden's Esrange Spaceport Inaugurated (Source: Space News)
Swedish and European officials inaugurated what they called mainland Europe's first orbital launch site, although it may not host the first orbital launch from Europe. The event that attracted the king and prime minister of Sweden and the president of the European Commission. They said the site will play a key role in providing independent European access to space.
The Swedish Space Corporation says the first orbital launch there could take place as soon as late this year but did not disclose who would conduct it. Two German launch vehicle developers who conduct testing at Esrange, Isar Aerospace and Rocket Factory Augsburg, plan to perform their first orbital launches later this year from Norway and the UK. (1/17)
Ottawa Green-Lights Commercial Space Launches in Canada (Source: Globe and Mail)
Canada's federal government has announced it is ready to approve commercial space launches on Canadian soil on an interim basis as it moves to put regulations in place to support a nascent domestic launch industry. The announcement comes as demand for access to space is expected to grow dramatically, with telecommunications providers around the world seeking to offer mobile broadband internet access via satellite.
Transport Canada has federal jurisdiction over rocket launches inside Canada’s borders. Mr. Alghabra said that, for the first time, his department will consider requests from private companies to launch satellites from Canada on a “case by case” basis. At the same time, the government will work toward establishing a regulatory framework for the industry which includes safety and other considerations.
The announcement is a win for Maritime Launch Services, a company currently building a launch facility in Nova Scotia. Ottawa’s official stamp of approval for the activity may also help draw in international companies who are looking to increase launch capacity. Despite Canada’s six-decade long history of utilizing space for a wide range of applications, the absence of a domestic launch facility remains a gaping hole in the country’s space sector. (1/20)
Australian Spaceport Aims for 2023 Launch (Source: Australian Broadcasting Corp.)
An Australian spaceport is hoping to host an orbital launch this year. Officials with Equatorial Launch Australia said they are preparing for an orbital launch in the second half of the year from its spaceport at the Arnhem Space Centre in Australia's Northern Territory. The company did not disclose which vehicle would perform the launch. The facility hosted launches of three NASA sounding rockets last year. (1/19)
Africa Will Get a New $1 Billion Spaceport in Djibouti (Sources: Quartz, Ars Technica)
Africa could soon get a new spaceport after Djibouti signed a partnership deal with Hong Kong Aerospace Technology to build a facility to launch satellites and rockets in the northern Obock region. According to the preliminary deal, the Djibouti government will “provide the necessary land (minimum 10 sq km and with a term of not less than 35 years) and all the necessary assistance to build and operate the Djiboutian Spaceport.”
The $1 billion spaceport project will also involve the construction of a port facility, a power grid and a highway to ensure the reliable transportation of aerospace materials. The deal’s signing was presided over by the president of Djibouti, Ismail Omar Guelleh, and the project is set to be completed in the next five years. The spaceport is a massive milestone for Africa, making it the first orbital spaceport on African soil.
Not without geopolitical implications ... According to the report, construction of the spaceport is expected to begin after the parties sign a formal agreement in March. The project is expected to take five years. This will be a development worth following, as it is easy to understand the interest of Chinese companies in launching from a latitude about 10 degrees north of the equator. China's rivals, however, also have interests in Djibouti. The US Navy operates Camp Lemonnier nearby, which is the only permanent US military base in Africa. France has a large military base in the country as well. (1/20)
Santos Assigned to NASA Oversight Committee (Source: New York Times)
A controversial new congressman has been assigned to a committee that oversees NASA. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) was assigned to the House Science Committee. Santos is facing growing calls from Democrats and some Republicans to resign amid mounting evidence he falsified many elements of his resume, along with questions about his campaign fundraising and spending. Santos had not requested being assigned to the science committee. (1/18)
Republicans Name Committee Chairs (Source: House Space Subcommittee)
The new Republican leadership of the House Appropriations Committee announced the chairs of its various subcommittees. Committee chairwoman Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) announced that Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), a former chairman of the full committee, will chair the commerce, justice and science (CJS) subcommittee, whose jurisdiction includes NASA, NOAA and NSF. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), who had been the top Republican on CJS subcommittee in the previous, Democratic-led House, will instead chair the labor, health and human services, and education subcommittee. Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) will chair the defense subcommittee. (1/17)
Space Force Sets ‘Lines of Effort’ for Service Success (Source: Breaking Defense)
Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman has issued a set of “commanders notes” to Guardians outlining three “lines of effort (LOEs)” he believes are necessary for the Space Force to be successful — with the top priority as the need to field “combat ready forces” comprising not just weapon systems, but also personnel to operate them and the logistics tail needed to sustain them. Each LOE is elaborated in a one-page memo, all issued Wednesday on the service’s website. Click here. (1/19)
DoD Space Acquisition Reforms Gaining Traction (Source: Space News)
The head of military space acquisitions says his efforts to reform procurement are gaining traction. Frank Cavelli said his "space acquisition tenets" that emphasize buying small satellites and commercially available technologies under fixed-price contracts have been well received across the Space Force's procurement organizations. He said a top concern is the successful launches of the first sets of Space Development Agency satellites in March and June. He is also closely monitoring the development of a new procurement strategy for the next national security launch services contracts expected to be awarded in 2024. (1/19)
Colorado Land Board Transfers Property for Schriever Space Force Base (Source: The Gazette)
The State Land Board recently celebrated the transfer of 640 acres at Schriever Space Force Base to DoD, ending a yearlong process. The Air Force requested a reassessment of the lease of the property that is now home to more than $1 billion in facilities. The military has leased the property since the 1980s before taking ownership through the transfer. “Given the critically important nature of the mission at Schriever Space Force Base, it’s imperative that the Department of Defense has full control over lands that house mission-critical military infrastructure," said Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera.
The State Land Board started leasing the land to the military in 1982 for a one-time payment of $48,000, approximately $150,000 in today’s dollars, according to a State Land Board document. Since then, the Department of Defense has invested approximately $1.1 billion into facilities on the land, the document states. (1/15)
Space Force Seeks Stronger International Partnerships (Source: Space News)
The head of the Space Force said the service should pursue stronger partnerships with allies. Gen. Chance Saltzman said the Space Force will "eliminate barriers to collaboration" with allies as one of his major priorities. That effort will involve policy changes, such as classification, but also various forms of direct collaboration to benefit both the Space Force and allies. Other priorities are to deploy "combat-ready forces" and to "amplify the guardian spirit." (1/20)
How the US and Its Allies Should Respond to Evolving Space Threats (Source: Atlantic Council)
Technological developments are transforming the military’s use of the space domain. Formerly reliant on large, expensive space systems, militaries are now harnessing megaconstellations of small satellites, while reusable launch vehicles are making space exploration cheaper. Moreover, as demonstrated by Ukraine’s use of commercial satellite services throughout the war with Russia, countries do not necessarily need to own space assets themselves to reap their benefits.
Now, adversaries aiming to disrupt or destroy US and allied space operations are moving away from physical attacks and toward cyber attacks, electronic warfare, and jamming. Below, the Atlantic Council’s Forward Defense experts give their sense of the latest challenges to space security and how the United States must face the future. Click here. (1/12)
Seven Nations Meet to Address Space Security (Source: Space Daily)
DoD participated in the annual Combined Space Operations (CSpO) Initiative Principals Board, hosted by the New Zealand Defense Force and New Zealand Ministry of Defense, December 6-8. The annual event brought together counterparts from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, the UJ, and the US, with a focus on advancing collaboration and information sharing on space security topics.
CSpO is an initiative that seeks to generate and improve cooperation, coordination, and interoperability opportunities to sustain freedom of action in space, optimize resources, enhance mission assurance and resilience, and deter conflict. During this year's event, defense leaders emphasized the need to continue to promote a rules-based international order and responsible behaviors in space, while collaboratively addressing challenges to the safety and security of space-related operations. (1/13)
Space Force Delivers Sensors to Fly on Japanese Satellites (Source: Space News)
The Space Force has delivered the first of two space sensor payloads scheduled to fly on Japanese navigation satellites. The optical sensor will fly on the QZS-6 satellite later this year, part of Japan's Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) constellation. A second will fly on QZS-7 in 2024. The sensors will be used to monitor assets in geostationary orbit. (1/18)
DARPA Proposes Collaborations to Monitor LEO (Source: Breaking Defense)
DARPA is proposing collaborations with satellite operators to monitor low Earth orbit. The Space-domain Wide Area Tracking and Characterization, or Space-WATCH, project is looking to work with satellite operators who would provide data in "an as-a-service fashion" to track objects in LEO. A future phase of the project will be to create a "fusion center" to combine and analyze the data. (1/18)
HawkEye 360 to Provide RF Mapping to Space Force (Source: Space News)
HawkEye 360 will provide data collected by its radio-frequency mapping satellites for a Space Force threat-detection system. The company announced a partnership with Slingshot Aerospace whereby HawkEye 360 will provide data that can identify potential jamming attacks or other threats that would interfere with GPS signals. That will go into a system Slingshot is developing for the Space Force that analyzes data from satellites to detect and locate radio-frequency interference that could endanger the safe operation of U.S. satellites. (1/20)
Raytheon Developing Mission Planning Software for USAF Rocket Cargo Program (Source: Space News)
Raytheon has won an Air Force contract to develop mission planning software for a "rocket cargo" program. The $8.7 million contract covers the design of a planning tool that would allow the Air Force to coordinate a rocket cargo mission. The Air Force's rocket cargo project is studying the possible use of commercial space launch vehicles to transport humanitarian aid and other cargo payloads around the world. (1/18)
SpaceX Seeks More National Security Business (Source: Space News)
SpaceX's Starshield initiative shows the company wants to take on bigger roles in national security. SpaceX quietly unveiled Starshield last month offering defense and intelligence agencies custom-built spacecraft, sensors and secure communications services leveraging SpaceX's investment in its Starlink constellation. SpaceX has not shared many details about its Starshield product line, but defense analysts see the effort as the "logical next step" for SpaceX to use its expertise in mass manufacturing of satellites to offer new services for the military. (1/20)
High-Res Satellites Look to Serve Defense Market (Source: Space News)
A report by Quilty Analytics describes emerging high resolution satellite technology by both established and new providers, technology that will benefit customers such as DoD. "Defense customers have the highest standards for resolution, latency and tasking, and are often willing to pay a premium for such features," according to the report.
A combination of fleet upgrades by incumbent operators and new satellites from emerging players will result in a nine-fold increase in very high resolution satellites — those capable of producing images at a resolution of 50 centimeters or sharper — by 2028, or more than 100 satellites in orbit, according to a report released Monday by Quilty Analytics. These advances will benefit "demanding customers" with large budgets, such as U.S. defense and intelligence agencies, the report stated, with demand stimulated by the war in Ukraine and geopolitical tensions in places like North Korea and Taiwan. (1/17)
ASU Launches Into the Metaverse with Space Force Launch Viewing (Source: ASU)
The Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University virtually launched the Space Force’s Global Positioning System III SV06 satellite into the metaverse, timing it with the actual launch of the GPS III SV06 Earhart satellite into space. The satellite was named after one of the most iconic aviation trailblazers Amelia Earhart, continuing the GPS III program team's tradition of satellite naming in honor of prominent historical explorers and channeling their fierce spirits of adventure and teamwork to achieve great things.
For the launch of the Earhart satellite in the metaverse, Thunderbird partnered with Pixel Canvas, a browser-based, 3D, interactive platform, to create the Thunderverse, which represents a virtual environment that mimics the features of a futuristic space station. On Jan. 18, attendees entered the Thunderverse with a virtual avatar and interacted and chatted with one another as they watched the Earhart satellite launch into space. (1/18)
Government Examining Over 500 'UFO' Reports (Sources: Space Daily, CBS)
The US government is examining 510 UFO reports, over triple the number in its 2021 file, and while many were caused by drones or balloons, hundreds remain unexplained, according to a report released Thursday. The 2022 report by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) said that 247 "unidentified anomalous phenomena" or UAP reports have been filed with it since June 2021, when it revealed that it had records of 144 sightings of suspicious aerial objects under examination.
In addition, another 119 reports that had been buried in old records from the past 17 years had been unearthed, leaving it with 510 in total. Most of the new reports come from US Navy and Air Force pilots, it said. Click here. (1/14)
Why Hasn't ET Phoned Earth? Maybe Aliens are Waiting for the Exact Right Moment (Source: Space.com)
Aliens may be waiting until a cosmic version of "high noon" to send out their signals to us, scientists have suggested. In a new study, researchers hunted for technological signs of E.T. during the moments when exoplanets pass directly in front of their suns, from Earth's point of view. These exact moments could be the perfect chance for an alien world to beam out a signal to Earthlings in an attempt to make contact.
"Exoplanetary transits are special because they can be calculated by both us on Earth, as the observers, and also any potential technological species in the exoplanetary system itself, as the transmitters," said study leader Sofia Sheikh, a postdoctoral researcher in radio astronomy at the SETI Institute. These transits, then, are a predictable and repetitive time during which aliens might think to send messages and Earthlings might look to receive them. (1/15)
Small Laser Device Can Help Detect Signs of Life on Other Planets (Source: Space Daily)
As space missions delve deeper into the outer solar system, the need for more compact, resource-conserving and accurate analytical tools has become increasingly critical-especially as the hunt for extraterrestrial life and habitable planets or moons continues. Researchers developed a new instrument specifically tailored to the needs of NASA space missions. Their mini laser-sourced analyzer is significantly smaller and more resource efficient than its predecessors-all without compromising the quality of its ability to analyze planetary material samples and potential biological activity onsite.
Weighing only about 17 pounds, the instrument is a physically scaled-down combination of two important tools for detecting signs of life and identifying compositions of materials: a pulsed ultraviolet laser that removes small amounts of material from a planetary sample and an Orbitrap analyzer that delivers high-resolution data about the chemistry of the examined materials. (1/17)
NASA Unveils Plan for Next-Gen Telescope to Search Space for Signs of Life (Source: Fox News)
NASA has reportedly shed light on a new plan to build a successor to JWST. The Habitable Worlds Observatory was announced Monday at the latest American Astronomical Society meeting, and its goal is to search for signs of life on habitable exoplanets. The observatory will need a powerful coronograph, which is an instrument that allows scientists to study faint objects. (1/14)
Unlocking the Next Great Observatories (Source: Space Review)
At a conference last week, astronomers celebrated the James Webb Space Telescope as it continued to surpass expectations. Jeff Foust reports that they also discussed how to develop future space telescopes, including a series of new “great observatories” that may take decades to launch. Click here. (1/17)
NASA's GOMAP Advances Planning for Future Space Telescope (Source: Space News)
NASA is planning development of a future large space telescope. Agency officials will soon move into the second stage of the Great Observatory Technology Maturation Program, or GOMAP, which will advance technologies needed for observatories recommended by the Astro2020 decadal survey. That work will start with planning for the Habitable Worlds Observatory, a large space telescope operating in ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared wavelengths. NASA’s work will be guided by several principles, including evolving technologies developed for JWST and other missions, while taking advantage of new launch vehicles and satellite servicing. (1/17)
Dark Energy Camera Unveils Billions of Celestial Objects in Unprecedented Survey (Source: SciTech Daily)
Astronomers have released a gargantuan survey of the galactic plane of the Milky Way. The new dataset contains a staggering 3.32 billion celestial objects — arguably the largest such catalog so far. This unprecedented survey used the powerful 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera, built by the US Department of Energy, at the NSF’s Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. (1/21)
Scientists Think Jupiter’s Moon Io May Be Home to Alien Life (Source: BGR)
The volcanic moon, which orbits the gas giant Jupiter, has long been written off as a possible home for alien life, as its extreme temperature and lava-covered surface make it wholly inhabitable. Now scientists say that the volcanic moon could house life deep underground, perhaps even in the lava tubes that help deliver molten rock to the planet’s surface. The idea here is that microbial growth could be living in the lava tubes that cover Io, allowing the lava from the planet’s core to seep to the surface.
Here on Earth, similar growth lives in the lava tubes that pockmark our planet. The idea is that Io could be similar and that alien life of some kind could live in those tubes. Recent simulations of Io show that the tidal heating on the moon is keeping magma liquid below the surface of the planet. However, some of the eruptions on the Jovian moon are so violent that they send magma hundreds of kilometers into space. The tubes that these eruptions send lava through at times could be where alien life on Io is hiding. (1/17)
New Explanation for Jupiter's Massive Asteroid Swarms (Source: Space Daily)
An international team of scientists has developed new insights that may explain the numerical asymmetry of the L4 and L5 Jupiter Trojan swarms, two clusters containing more than 10,000 asteroids that move along Jupiter's orbital path around the sun. For decades, scientists have known that there are significantly more asteroids in the L4 swarm than the L5 swarm, but have not fully understood the reason for this asymmetry.
In the current configuration of the Solar System, the two swarms show almost identical dynamical stability and survivability properties, which has led scientists to believe that the differences came about during earlier times of our Solar System's life. Determining the cause of these differences could uncover new details about the formation and evolution of the Solar System.
The researchers present a mechanism that can explain the observed number asymmetry. "We propose that an outward, in terms of distance to the Sun, fast migration of Jupiter can distort the configuration of the Trojan swarms, resulting in more stable orbits in the L4 swarm than in the L5 one," said Li. (1/18)
The World in Grains of Interstellar Dust (Source: Space Daily)
Understanding how dust grains form in interstellar gas could offer significant insights to astronomers and help materials scientists develop useful nanoparticles. Laboratory and rocket-borne studies have revealed new insights into how interstellar dust grains came into being before our solar system formed. The results might also help scientists make nanoparticles with useful applications in more efficient and eco-friendly ways.
These 'presolar' grains can be found in meteorites that fall to Earth, allowing laboratory studies that reveal possible routes for their formation. Understanding how dust grains form in interstellar gas could offer insights to astronomers and help materials scientists develop useful nanoparticles. Laboratory and rocket-borne studies have revealed new insights into how interstellar dust grains came into being before our solar system formed. (1/15)
Difficult Choices Ahead for NASA Earth Science (Source: Space News)
The co-chair of the most recent Earth science decadal survey warned that NASA faces "difficult choices" between starting new missions and continuing existing ones. At a NASA Advisory Council meeting, Waleed Abdalati said the agency's Earth science program is facing a budget crunch caused by a funding cut in the FY-2023 omnibus spending bill and cost growth linked to supply chain and workforce issues. He said it was clear NASA lacked the resources to fully implement the missions recommended by the decadal, and that NASA had already exhausted "decision rules" included in that report on delaying or reducing the number of missions. (1/19)
There’s No Planet B (Source: Aeon)
The scientific evidence is clear: the only celestial body that can support us is the one we evolved with. Here’s why. Given all our technological advances, it’s tempting to believe we are approaching an age of interplanetary colonization. But can we really leave Earth and all our worries behind? No. All these stories are missing what makes a planet habitable to us. What Earth-like means in astronomy textbooks and what it means to someone considering their survival prospects on a distant world are two vastly different things.
We don’t just need a planet roughly the same size and temperature as Earth; we need a planet that spent billions of years evolving with us. We depend completely on the billions of other living organisms that make up Earth’s biosphere. Without them, we cannot survive. Astronomical observations and Earth’s geological record are clear: the only planet that can support us is the one we evolved with. There is no plan B. There is no planet B. Our future is here, and it doesn’t have to mean we’re doomed.
Deep down, we know this from instinct: we are happiest when immersed in our natural environment. There are countless examples of the healing power of spending time in nature. Numerous articles speak of the benefits of ‘forest bathing’; spending time in the woods has been scientifically shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and to improve sleep quality, thus nurturing both our physical and mental health. Our bodies instinctively know what we need: the thriving and unique biosphere that we have co-evolved with, that exists only here, on our home planet. Click here. (1/18)
China Releases Report on Remote Sensing Monitoring for Global Ecology (Source: Space Daily)
China's Ministry of Science and Technology issued a report on the remote sensing monitoring of the global ecological environment. The report contains two topics of "ice, snow, and vegetation change in the Arctic region" and "the production situation of global bulk grain and oil crops and the contribution of multiple cropping and irrigation."
The report aims to provide scientific data support for promoting sustainable development in the Arctic region and coping with climate change, as well as analyzing the impact of extreme weather and regional emergencies on food production and supply. (1/18)
Toward Climate Studies Using Quantum Technologies (Source: Space Daily)
The impact of climate change is one of the most severe challenges of the 21st century. It is therefore of high importance to understand the underlying processes and causalities. A powerful tool to gain this vital knowledge on a global scale is the satellite-based observation of changes in Earth's mass distribution e.g. from melting glaciers or loss of groundwater. The required high-precision measurements are reachable with novel quantum sensors.
Due to the extensive European heritage and a close collaboration within the European Union an independent development and operation of a quantum sensor based space mission can be realized. In 2022, the CARIOQA-PMP project (Cold Atom Rubidium Interferometer in Orbit for Quantum Accelerometry - Pathfinder Mission Preparation) under the European Commission's Horizon Europe program was kicked off with the aim to develop such a quantum sensor for space application.
European industry in collaboration with European research institutions will build an engineering model of an accelerometer based on atom interferometry for a Quantum Space Gravimetry pathfinder mission. Benefitting from the heritage of its research institutions, this project aims to bring Europe into a leading position for sustainable quantum technologies in space. (1/19)
Satellites Can Detect Waste Sites on Earth (Source: Space Daily)
A new computational system uses satellite data to identify sites on land where people dispose of waste, providing a new tool to monitor waste and revealing sites that may leak plastic into waterways. Every year, millions of metric tons of plastic waste end up in oceans, harming hundreds of species and their ecosystems. Most of this waste comes from land-based sources that leak into watersheds. Efforts to address this issue require better understanding of where people dispose of waste on land, but resources to detect and monitor such sites-both official sites and informal or illegal ones-are lacking.
The use of computational tools known as neural networks to analyze satellite data has shown great value in the field of remote sensing. Building on that work, Kruse and colleagues developed a new system of neural networks to analyze data from ESA’s Sentinel-2 satellites and demonstrated its potential for use in monitoring waste sites on land. To evaluate the performance of the new system, the researchers first applied it to Indonesia, where it detected 374 waste sites-more than twice the number of sites reported in public records.
Broadening to all countries across Southeast Asia, the system identified a total of 966 waste sites-nearly three times the number of publicly recorded sites-that were subsequently confirmed to exist via other methods. The researchers demonstrated that their new system can be used to monitor waste sites over time. In addition, they showed that nearly 20% of the waste sites they detected are found within 200 meters of a waterway, with some visibly spilling into rivers that eventually reach the ocean. (1/20)
Humans Healed the Ozone Layer (Source: The Economist)
In 1985 scientists discovered an area over Antarctica where the layer of stratospheric ozone, which protects Earth from ultraviolet radiation, had become dangerously thin. That chlorine from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), chemicals used in refrigeration and products such as hairspray, could break down ozone molecules had been known for some time. What the “hole” showed was that in the peculiar conditions of the Antarctic this breakdown happened at an unexpected rate.
Two years later world leaders signed the Montreal Protocol, a deal to do away with CFCs. In 2003 UN chief Kofi Annan called it “perhaps the single most successful international treaty to date”. A report released by the UN on January 9th supports that view. It finds that 99% of banned ozone-damaging substances have been phased out. It predicts that the ozone layer will return to approximately its state in 1980 between 2040 (across much of the world) and 2066 (over Antarctica). (1/14)
NASA Selects New Artemis Ground Systems Chief at KSC (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected a new leader of the program responsible for Artemis ground systems. The agency said Friday it selected Shawn Quinn as the new manager of the Exploration Ground Systems program at the Kennedy Space Center. Quinn has more than 35 years of experience at NASA, most recently as director of engineering for KSC spaceport operations. He succeeds Mike Bolger, who retired from NASA last month after the conclusion of the Artemis 1 mission. (1/16)
NASA Scales Back Commercial ISS Access Scheme (Source: Space News)
A NASA project designed to ultimately send scientists on private astronaut missions to the ISS is being scaled back. NASA had hoped to start the Commercially Enabled Rapid Space Science, or CERISS, project this year, awarding grants and contracts as a step towards flying scientists to the station who could conduct research more efficiently than if done by astronauts. However, at a NASA Science Mission Directorate town hall meeting Wednesday, an agency official said that a budget cut for the agency's biological and physical sciences division in fiscal year 2023 meant that there would not be money available for that work, and CERISS instead would focus on "analysis and planning." (1/19)
NASA, Space Station Partners Approve Next Axiom Private Mission Crew (Source: NASA)
NASA and its international partners have approved the crew for Axiom Space’s second private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2). Axiom Space’s Director of Human Spaceflight and former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson will command the privately funded mission. Aviator John Shoffner of Knoxville, Tennessee, will serve as pilot. The two mission specialists will be announced later. (1/20)
NASA, Boeing Teams Achieve Milestone Ahead of Crewed Flight (Source: NASA)
NASA and Boeing recently completed a full start to finish integrated mission dress rehearsal for the company’s CST-100 Starliner flight with astronauts to the International Space Station, which is scheduled to launch in April 2023. The Crew Flight Test, or CFT, will launch NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Suni Williams on Starliner – atop a ULA Atlas V rocket – from Launch Complex-41 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. (1/20)
It Looks Like NASA Will Finally Have an Astronaut Live in Space for a Full Year (Source: Ars Technica)
Amid much fanfare, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly returned from space nearly seven years ago, landing on a barren, frozen steppe of Kazakhstan inside a hardy little Soyuz spacecraft. NASA made much of this flight, billing it as the agency's first year-long mission. PBS was among the broadcast television stations that did extended features on Kelly's mission, its multi-episode series was titled "A year in space." But the dirty little secret is that, due to the inevitable shuffling of schedules in spaceflight, Kelly and a Russia colleague, Mikhail Kornienko, spent 340 days in space rather than a full year of 365.25 days.
After Kelly's mission, NASA health officials said they hoped to fly more one-year missions as they sought to better understand the biological effects of long-duration spaceflight on humans and how the agency might better mitigate bone loss and other deleterious effects. These missions, at least by planning, have not happened. However, largely by the vagaries of scheduling, NASA astronauts have spent long periods of time on the International Space Station since Kelly's pioneering flight.
On Tuesday, a senior official in NASA's International Space Station Program, Dina Contella, said during a news briefing that the crew of the damaged Soyuz spacecraft would now "probably" come back to Earth in late September. Cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin and NASA's Frank Rubio launched on the Soyuz MS-22 vehicle on September 21, 2022. The mission was due to return this spring, but after a micrometeorite strike in December, the vehicle's external cooling loop was damaged. This means Rubio is presently on course to spend more than a full year in space—becoming the first NASA astronaut to do so. (1/18)
Two Spacewalkers Continue Space Station Power System Upgrade (Source: CBS)
Two astronauts making their first spacewalk ventured outside the International Space Station on Friday amid heightened awareness of the threat posed by micrometeoroids and space debris in the wake of an impact that damaged a Russian crew ferry ship last month. While the odds of a life-threatening impact during a spacewalk are low — on the order of 1-in-23,600 — the threat is "something that I think very much about in preparation for any EVA," said Keith Johnson, a NASA mission control spacewalk officer. (1/20)
NASA and Roscosmos Implement More Soyuz Contingency Plans (Source: Space Policy Online)
NASA and Roscosmos have agreed to temporarily move the custom-made seat liner for NASA astronaut Frank Rubio from Soyuz MS-22 to Crew Dragon Endurance. Soyuz MS-22’s thermal control system is compromised and cannot safely support the three crew members, including Rubio, it delivered to ISS, but might be able to handle two. In the unlikely event an emergency requires evacuating ISS between now and when a replacement Soyuz arrives, Rubio would come home with four other crew members in Endurance, while his two Russian colleagues use Soyuz MS-22.
Crew Dragon was designed to carry as many as seven people, but NASA requires only four astronauts to be ferried to and from ISS at a time. Endurance, one of SpaceX’s four operational Crew Dragon spacecraft, is outfitted with four seats. The remaining volume is available for cargo. Crews typically return to Earth on the same spacecraft they took to space, but NASA and Roscosmos have had to develop a contingency plan because Soyuz MS-22 experienced a coolant leak last month. (1/14)
The Power Center in Space Moves to the Moon (Source: Axios)
Companies and countries are doubling down on their efforts to establish themselves on and around the Moon, where geopolitical lines are being drawn. The ISS has been at the center of geopolitical power in space for decades, but that is changing as the station winds down and the Moon emerges as a high-stakes destination for nations and companies. Operating on the Moon is technically challenging and expensive — but the payoff in national prestige and potential economic benefits for companies and countries that can establish themselves on the lunar surface could make it worth it.
China and Russia are planning to build a research station on the Moon in the coming years as NASA's Artemis program works to send astronauts back to the lunar surface as soon as 2025. More than 20 nations have now signed on to the Artemis Accords governing exploration of the Moon with NASA, but China and Russia are not among them and are creating a parallel track to exploration and stoking competition. (1/10)
Mounting the First Human Mission to the Lunar South Pole (Source: Space Daily)
Following two Artemis test missions, Artemis III, currently planned for 2025, will mark humanity's first return to the lunar surface in more than 50 years. NASA will make history by sending the first humans to explore the region near the lunar South Pole. NASA's Orion spacecraft will be the crew's ride to and from Earth and into and out of lunar orbit. Orion is the only spacecraft capable of returning crews to Earth at lunar reentry velocities.
The crew will be selected from among the most diverse astronaut corps in history, each equipped with unique skills and intensively trained. After touchdown, the surface crew's first task will be to ensure all systems are ready for their lunar surface stay. Then they will rest, eat, and recharge for the first full day of the expedition.
During their time on the Moon, the astronauts will do scientific work inside Starship and conduct a series of moonwalks, exiting Starship to explore the surface. The astronauts will don advanced spacesuits, exit through an airlock, and descend on Starship's elevator. NASA has selected Axiom Space to provide the Artemis III surface suits and spacewalk systems. These suits will give the astronauts increased range of motion and flexibility to explore more of the landscape than on previous lunar missions. (1/15)
NASA Considers Building an Oxygen Pipeline in the Lunar South Pole (Source: Interesting Engineering)
NASA is considering whether to use an oxygen pipeline to efficiently transport oxygen to various locations around the lunar south pole for its upcoming Artemis missions. It is doing so after Peter Curreri, Chief Science Officer at Lunar Resources Inc., detailed problems with NASA's existing plans for transporting oxygen using rovers.
The proposed lunar pipeline, officially named the Lunar South Pole Oxygen Pipeline (LSPOP), would connect to NASA's lunar ice extraction hub in the lunar south pole. NASA, China, and Russia are all targeting the lunar south pole due to the fact it features vast quantities of ice and other resources just bellow the moon's surface. That ice will form a crucial part of NASA's plans to establish a permanent human presence on the moon, as it can be extracted and converted into drinking water and oxygen that can be used for breathing as well as for rocket fuel. (1/17)
It’s Not Sci-Fi—NASA Is Funding These Mind-Blowing Projects (Source: WIRED)
The space agency gave money to researchers working on liquid telescope mirrors, a lunar oxygen pipeline, and Martian building blocks made of fungi. Click here. (1/20)
Exploring the Outer Solar System Takes Power: Here's a Way to Miniaturize Nuclear Batteries for Deep Space (Source: Phys.org)
Stephen Polly is working on what could be a revolutionary way to power spacecraft on long journeys to the outer planets. It's called a thermoradiative cell (TRC), and it's similar to an MMRTG (multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator). It uses a radioisotope as its power source. Polly relies on a technology called metalorganic vapor-phase epitaxy (MOVPE). It uses chemical vapors to produce thin polycrystalline films.
It's an industrial process used in optoelectronics to make things like light-emitting diodes (LEDs.) Polly's work uses MOVPE to create TRCs. TRCs use a radioisotope as MMRTGs do and are based on heat from radioactive decay, but there's a difference. The decay heats up the TRC, which then emits light. The light then reaches a photovoltaic cell, which in turn produces electricity. It's kind of like a combination between an MMRTG and solar power.
But Polly's idea is much smaller, and that's a holy grail in spacecraft engineering. "This device, driven by a radioisotope heat source, will allow an order of magnitude increase in mass-specific power (~30 vs. ~3 W/kg) and a three orders of magnitude decrease in volume (~0.2 vs. ~212 L) as compared to a conventional multi-mission radioisotope thermal generator (MMRTG)," Polly explained. (1/20)
IG Slams NASA’s Software Asset Management, Calling it ‘Basic’ (Source: FNN)
NASA is promising to take eight steps to improve how it manages and tracks its software. These assurances come after a scathing report from the space agency’s inspector general that called NASA’s current approach to software asset management “basic.” Among the changes NASA is undertaking is completing a software asset management pilot by October and revising policies and procedures for managing software by December. Auditors found that NASA had spent at least $15 million dollars over the last five years on unused licenses and lacked centralized management and inventory visibility for its software products. (1/17)
NASA IG Recommends More Attention on Managing International Partnerships (Source: Space News)
NASA's inspector general says the agency should improve the way it manages international partnerships for Artemis. The Office of Inspector General said that there was strong international interest in participating in Artemis, with more than 50 agreements in place. However, the report said NASA was coordinating those agreements on an ad hoc basis with no overarching strategy, making it difficult for some partners to determine how they can contribute. Export controls also pose serious challenges to international participation. (1/18)
US and Japan Plan Further Space Exploration Cooperation (Source: Space News)
The US and Japan signed a agreement establishing a framework for future cooperation in space exploration. The countries signed a "framework agreement" intended to enhance cooperation between the two countries on a wide range of space topics. It comes on the heels of an agreement in November finalizing Japan's role in the lunar Gateway and participation on the International Space Station through 2030. Officials did not announce any additional new cooperative projects at the event, but NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said he will visit Japan next month. (1/16)
Sanctions Lead Russian Institute to Switch Over to Russian-Made Equipment for Lunar Mission (Source: TASS)
The Space Research Institute (IKI) of the Russian Academy of Sciences will start transitioning the scientific equipment for Luna 27, a planned lunar lander mission, to Russian-made components, a senior IKI researcher told TASS. "This year, we will definitely work with" Luna 27, Igor Mitrofanov, who heads the Nuclear Planetology Department at IKI, said. "We will start using Russian-made equipment," he specified.
The researcher said these processes were necessitated by import substitution. "Previously, we designed equipment using foreign components that we could buy from our foreign colleagues. Now that the sanctions have been imposed, we will [be switching to] Russian-made components," Mitrofanov explained. According to him, researchers have to change design solutions amid the Western restrictions. (1/14)
Research on Chang'e 5 Lunar Samples Gains Fruitful Results (Source: Space Daily)
More than 50 research results on the lunar samples brought back by the Chang'e-5 mission have been published in notable academic journals at home and abroad, pushing China's lunar science research to the international forefront. Over 150 scientists and researchers participated in the first Chang'e-5 Lunar Sample Research Results Seminar held by the CNSA on Monday. They discussed topics ranging from the characteristics of Chang'e-5 lunar soil samples, the history of lunar volcanic activities, meteorite impacts on the lunar surface, and space weathering to the new techniques for analyzing extraterrestrial samples, etc. (1/20)
China to Launch Lunar Relay Satellite (Source: Space News)
China will launch a relay satellite next year to support lunar missions. A Chinese official said the Queqiao-2 spacecraft would launch in early 2024, ahead of the Chang'e-6 mission which is currently scheduled to launch in late 2024 or early 2025. Queqiao-2 will enter a distant retrograde orbit around the moon, rather than operate around the Earth-moon L-2 point used by the first Queqiao spacecraft. Queqiao-2 will act as a communications relay between teams on the ground and lunar far side, support missions to the lunar farside as well as the lunar poles, like the Chang'e-6 sample return mission. (1/18)
Saudia Arabia Withdraws From Moon Treaty (Source: Substack)
Saudi Arabia, a recent signatory to the Artemis Accords, has withdrawn from the Moon Treaty. The Saudi government informed the United Nations earlier this month that it would withdraw from the treaty, formally known at the Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, in one year. Saudi Arabia did not declare why it was withdrawing from the Moon Treaty, which it ratified in 2012, but one possibility is that language in the treaty regarding rights to space resources conflicted with that in the Artemis Accords and the country's long-term space ambitions. (1/16)
How UAE Will Reach New Milestones in Space Exploration This Year (Source: Gulf News)
More milestones in space exploration are expected in 2023 for the UAE, following the successful launch of Moon-bound Rashid Rover in December 2022. UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi is headed to the ISS in mid-February to conduct scientific experiments for six months; Rashid Rover is expected to land on the Moon’s Atlas Crater by April; and MBZ-SAT, touted as the region’s biggest and most powerful satellite, will be launched before the year ends.
Hope Probe, meanwhile, is constantly sending new pictures and data of the Martian atmosphere, and the UAE has also announced future exploration of other planetary objects as part of its Mars 2117 program. This year, the UAE is also expected to launch the region’s biggest and most powerful satellite on a Falcon 9 rocket. Named after the President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, MBZ-Sat, is designed to be three times more efficient than KhalifaSat — the first UAE-made satellite launched in 2018. (1/16)
UAE Astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi Completes Final Training Ahead of 6-Month ISS Mission (Source: Saisat Daily)
The United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, has completed the final training in the United States (US), for the six-month landmark mission to the ISS in February 2023. In July 2022, among a group of Emirati astronauts at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC), Sultan Al Neyadi was chosen to be the first Arab astronaut who will spend a long six-month mission at the ISS. Al Neyadi will take part in the NASA mission which plans to set off in February 2023 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. (1/15)
India's Venus Mission Delayed (Source: The Hindu)
India's first mission to Venus could suffer an extended delay. The Indian space agency ISRO planned to launch the Shukrayaan 1 mission, a Venus orbiter, as soon as late 2024. However, in a talk last week, an ISRO official said the mission was still pending formal government approval, making a late-2024 launch unlikely. The mission could slip to 2031, the next particularly favorable launch window. (1/17)
China’s New Space Station Opens for Business in an Increasingly Competitive Era of Space Activity (Source: Space Review)
China effectively completed its space station last year, enabling it to be permanently crewed for research. Eytan Tepper and Scott Shackelford discuss the geopolitical ramifications of that station as the International Space Station enters its final years. Click here. (1/17)
No Evidence Of Surface Microfossils On Mars, Says NASA Planetary Scientist (Source: Forbes)
Since time immemorial, Mars has tantalized earthlings with the possibility that it harbors life. But like a bad soap opera, its exploration has created astrobiological cliffhangers that have mostly turned out to be dead ends. Today, planetary scientists are confident that for a brief 500-million-year epoch early in its history, Mars had running liquid water on its surface, with rivers, lakes, deltas and maybe even an ocean. The reality at present, however, is that the Martian surface is even more inhospitable than the driest deserts on Earth.
The surface is completely inhospitable, Jennifer Stern, a planetary scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, told me. Coupled with the fact that there’s no liquid water at the surface, Mars also suffers from a continual stream of cosmic and solar radiation, she says. It’s really difficult to imagine that some sort of organism could have adapted to these really bad conditions, says Stern. From what we've measured on the surface at least, everything points to abiotic, non-biological processes, says Stern. (1/15)
Goofy Mars Rock Might Be a Meteorite (Source: CNET)
It's always a delight when a NASA rover finds something that doesn't fit in on the Martian surface. Sometimes, it's landing debris. Sometimes it's a rock that wandered over from somewhere else. Sometimes it's a meteorite from space. The Curiosity rover team is puzzling over a funky little gray rock that stands out from its surroundings. It might be a meteorite. "We have analyzed a few meteorites over the past 10 years, but they are not so abundant that we fail to get excited at the thought of a new one," planetary geologist Catherine O'Connell-Cooper wrote. (1/14)
Pathway to Planetary Exploration: 3D Printing’s Role in Getting Humans to Mars (Source: SpaceRef)
By leveraging the latest, most advanced manufacturing technologies, space startups have made it much more affordable to deliver payloads to space with new, improved, and optimized launch vehicles. What many may not realize, however, is that 3D printing is playing a massive part in manufacturing next-generation rocket engines. These are not consumer-focused plastic 3D printers that many are familiar with. Instead, some of today’s most cutting-edge rockets feature complex geometries that provide real performance optimization and are made from impressive 3D printed metal alloys developed primarily for space applications.
It’s safe to say 3D printing is playing a critical role in humanity’s desire to explore space, colonize Mars, and become a multi-planetary species. What metal 3D printing enables for aerospace engineers is the ability to produce parts without compromising their design for the sake of manufacturability. Often, engineers are required to alter their most performance-optimized designs because they are simply too complex or costly to reliably produce with conventional manufacturing techniques. With metal 3D printing, engineers are free from those constraints.
Launcher, a Hawthorne, California-based space startup, is a prime example of a company utilizing 3D printing for both rocket engines and spacecraft. Earlier this month, the company successfully launched its Orbiter satellite transfer vehicle onboard SpaceX’s Transporter-6 mission. In the coming decade, metal 3D printing will be one of the biggest drivers for innovation in space. Launcher is a prime example of how the technology is helping businesses make big impacts on society—and that doesn’t stop with Orbiter. When humanity eventually reaches Mars, it will have been made possible because of 3D printed parts. (1/16)
New Nuclear Rocket Design to Send Missions to Mars in Just 45 Days (Source: Universe Today)
We live in an era of renewed space exploration, where multiple agencies are planning to send astronauts to the Moon in the coming years. This will be followed in the next decade with crewed missions to Mars by NASA and China, who may be joined by other nations before long. These and other missions that will take astronauts beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and the Earth-Moon system require new technologies, ranging from life support and radiation shielding to power and propulsion. And when it comes to the latter, Nuclear Thermal and Nuclear Electric Propulsion (NTP/NEP) is a top contender!
NASA and the Soviet space program spent decades researching nuclear propulsion during the Space Race. A few years ago, NASA reignited its nuclear program for the purpose of developing bimodal nuclear propulsion – a two-part system consisting of an NTP and NEP element – that could enable transits to Mars in 100 days. As part of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program for 2023, NASA selected a nuclear concept for Phase I development. This new class of bimodal nuclear propulsion system uses a “wave rotor topping cycle” and could reduce transit times to Mars to just 45 days. (1/17)
China's Mars Rover Still Quiet After Hibernation (Source: Space.com)
China is still waiting to hear back from its first Mars rover. The Zhurong rover was expected to end a hibernation period in December, but has yet to make contact with controllers on the ground. One possibility for the delay is that temperatures on the Martian surface remain at or below the minimum levels needed for the rover to operate. Dust storms may have also deposited dust on its solar arrays, reducing the amount of power they can produce. (1/19)
Chinese, European Mars Probes Help Examine Atmosphere Near Sun (Source: Xinhua)
In an "almost-out-of-service" period in 2021, China's Tianwen-1 orbiter, along with Mars Express of the European Space Agency, helped solar scientists know more about what happens near the sun. During the late September to mid-October stretch in 2021, China's Mars orbiter experienced its first sun transit, when its communication with Earth was significantly disturbed by solar radiation. The Mars Sun Transit is a phenomenon in which Earth and Mars move to opposite sides of the sun, and the three are almost in a straight line. During the transit, Tianwen-1 and Mars Express sent out frequent signals, allowing radio telescopes on Earth to examine how those signals were affected. (1/16)
Space at Davos (Source: Quartz)
Jesse Klempner, a partner at McKinsey & Co. focused on the aerospace industry, is on the ground in Davos and says the nattering nabobs of networking are starting to recognize space as more than a niche obsession or the province of government agencies with multi-billion dollar budgets. But his biggest concern for the future of the space economy is still whether policymakers around the world manage to split the difference between competition and collaboration.
In a white paper Klempner and his colleagues prepared in collaboration with the WEF, the future of space is divided into four potential outcomes: An ideal world where a diverse space economy blossoms; one where only major companies and government agencies can bear the risk of extraterrestrial activity; another where space becomes limited to military actors alone; and a dismal outcome where the potential of space is unrealized.
The key to unlocking a future of space productivity, per the report, is in global governance: Rules for space traffic management, protocols for space debris mitigation and removal, and norms for economic activity in space, from resource extraction to property rights. Just about anyone you talk to in space world thinks these things are necessary, but the progress toward them has been slow and ad hoc. Click here. (1/19)
Europe Pushing for International Zero-Debris Space Policy (Source: Wall Street Journal)
The European Space Agency is pushing a zero-debris policy that would mandate companies and governments to remove any space junk launched from Earth. ESA estimates that there are currently over 130 million pieces of debris in space, including 36,500 that are larger than 4 inches and about 1 million sized between 0.4 and 4 inches.
"We want to establish a zero-debris policy, which means that if you bring a spacecraft into orbit you have to remove it," Josef Aschbacher, ESA's director general said in a presentation at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "We need to protect our orbits for our own safety and the safety of spacecraft and astronauts." The vast majority of debris is smaller than 0.4 inches and range from small flecks of paint to tiny fragments of spacecraft left over from collisions. Even the smallest, which can travel around the Earth faster than the speed of a bullet, can cause significant damage to other craft in orbit, Mr. Aschbacher said. (1/19)
Europe’s Space Ambitions are Hobbled by Funding Structures (Source: Financial Times)
As each year passes, calls for European space sovereignty — for space launches on European soil by European rockets or Earth-observation data from European satellites — grow louder. But at the same time the distance between US and Chinese aerospace and defense innovation and the European market gets ever larger. Josef Aschbacher, director-general of ESA is right, therefore, to demand change. However, the change he is calling for — a NASA-style model in which the ESA buys defined services instead of managing the development of systems that are then marketed by the private sector — is incompatible with current European funding structures.
Outsourcing innovation to the private sector worked for Nasa for two reasons. First, in the US there are large and mature private capital markets to outsource to. In Europe, the private capital market landscape is very different, in terms of maturity, size and, importantly, the willingness to move in such a direction. Second, the US government is able to act as a large and reliable customer-of-first-resort for start-ups funded by private markets. In Europe, this is less often the case.
People frequently ask why Europe doesn’t have its own SpaceX. Consider the following. To date, Elon Musk has raised more than $10bn for the space launch start-up, while US investors ploughed $330bn into industries including the space sector in 2021 alone. Outside America, and including the heavy spender that is China, the total for the sector is just $9bn. The problem constraining European venture capital spending is twofold. First, the venture funds are too small to offer meaningful backing for large infrastructure projects such as space launch companies. Second, European venture funds are often unable to take on such large, risky defense bets in their portfolios. (1/11)
Space Industry Seeks India Tax Incentives (Sources: NewsTrack, ET Satcom)
India's emerging private space sector has presented a wishlist of tax incentives and a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme in the forthcoming Union Budget to boost local manufacturing and spur research and development. Awais Ahmed, co-founder of Bangalore-based Pixxel, a space firm, said, "We would want to request a space-based production linked incentive (PLI) plan for space tech entrepreneurs in the 2023–24 budget to help increase local manufacturing and foster capability creation within the country."
“...When you don't get the components here, and when you're getting the components here, and when you're getting the components from abroad, on top of it if you have to pay so much. It is very exorbitant. It's a killer for anybody,” said Srimathy Kesan, Founder of a Chennai-based aerospace startup. (1/16)
Space Park Opens Up Possibilities for India (Source: The Hindu)
The Kerala Space Park project opens up immense opportunities for the State to establish a thriving space industry, Finance Minister K. N. Balagopal said on Saturday. He was inaugurating a seminar ‘Sustainability in Space Science and Technology - Challenges and Possibilities,’ organized by the ISRO Staff Association as part of its golden jubilee celebrations. Mr. Balagopal drew attention to the recent Cabinet nod for transforming the Kerala Space Park into a society under the name ‘K-Space.’ The Left governments in Kerala have always taken care to promote science, technology, sustainable and inclusive development and new ideas, Mr. Balagopal said. (1/14)
South Korea’s Science Minister Visits Dubai Space Center (Source: Gulf News)
South Korean Minister of Science and Information and Communications Technology Lee Jong-ho led a delegation visiting the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai. They were welcomed by MBRSC director general Salem Humaid AlMarri, who tweeted: “I welcomed a South Korean delegation... Our partnership with South Korea dates back to the establishment of @MBRSpaceCentre with a knowledge transfer program yielding our first two satellites.” (1/19)
China's Space Industry Hits New Heights (Source: Space Daily)
China's space industry had a busy year in 2022, the highlight of which was completion of one of the world's largest and most sophisticated orbiting infrastructures, the Tiangong space station. After traveling for 15 months in low orbit, about 400 kilometers above the Earth, Tianhe, the space station's core module, received its first long-term companion - the Wentian lab module - in late July.
Wentian lifted off on a Long March 5B heavy-duty rocket from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province to become Tiangong's first scientific component. Weighing 23 metric tons and with a length of 17.9 meters, Wentian carries eight scientific cabinets, which are mainly used for biological and life science studies, but can also support research on the growth, aging and genetic traits of plants, animals and microbes in space. (1/17)
China to Launch 200-Plus Spacecraft in 2023 (Source: Space Daily)
The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation plans to launch more than 200 spacecraft with over 60 space missions in 2023. A CASC report unveiled plans for the country's space science and technology activities in 2023. It said that the Tianzhou 6 cargo craft, the Shenzhou XVI and the Shenzhou XVII flight missions would take place within the year to improve China's capability of entering, using and exploring space. (1/20)
Russian-Belarusian Satellite to be Launched in 2028 (Source: TASS)
A Russian-Belarusian Earth remote sensing satellite is planned to be launched in 2028, Sergey Zolotoy, director of the Geoinformation Systems company of Belarus’ National Academy of Sciences, sad on Sunday. "The current plan is to launch it in 2028, but the task is to do it earlier," he said in an interview with the STV television channel. (1/15)
Despite Tech Reset, the Space Economy is Here to Stay (Source: Space News)
The global space industry is expected to eclipse $1 trillion over the next few decades. And while casual onlookers sometimes express skepticism of this rapid growth — often due to their disdain for the billionaires in the captain’s chair of the industry’s most prominent players — the venture industry is clearly enticed by how space technologies can power the global economy. In that sense, the Kármán line has never been more illustrious for space entrepreneurs and investors.
The space economy’s growth journey has been anything but smooth. It’s been impacted by macroeconomic conditions, causing deal activity to slow down. The third quarter of 2022 was challenging, with venture capitalist investment in space down 44% versus the broader market’s 31% decline. VCs’ risk-off preferences have seen many shy away from this type of deep tech and refocus on enterprise Software as a Service (SaaS). Click here. (1/18)
Space Industry Investments Drop Sharply (Source: Space News)
Space industry investment dropped significantly in 2022, according to a new report. Space Capital found that investment dropped by 58% from $47.4 billion in 2021 to $20.1 billion in 2022. That drop is part of a shift to focus on fundamentals after a surge of investment in companies that have since failed to execute their plans. Space Capital expects 2023 to be a difficult year for startups as investors remain selective, with government spending becoming increasingly important to the space economy. (1/20)
Space Insurers Toast Another Profitable Year (Source: Space News)
The space insurance market managed to make a profit for 2022 despite a devastating Vega C rocket failure at the end of the year that ruined two Airbus imaging satellites. The Vega rocket that malfunctioned shortly after lifting off Dec. 20 was insured for around $210 million, according to industry sources.
That accounted for more than two-thirds of the $294 million loss underwriters at AXA XL recorded for the space insurance market for the whole of 2022. However, AXA XL data shows net premium for the year came in at $579 million, excluding $75 million tied to Russian risks that western insurers are banned from covering following the invasion of Ukraine. It means the space insurance market reaped around $285 million in profit for 2022 — the third year in a row that total premiums outweighed losses. (1/20)
Spain's Fossa Systems Expanding Satellite Constellation for IoT (Source: Space News)
Spanish startup Fossa Systems plans to start offering improved internet-of-things services this year by adding to its fleet of small satellites. The three-year-old company currently has 13 picosatellites in low Earth orbit but plans to launch larger, more capable satellites later this year to allow the company to support more applications. The company plans a constellation of 80 satellites by the end of next year to provide near-real-time services. (1/18)
Switzerland's ClearSpace Raises $29 Million for Debris Mission (Source: Space News)
Swiss startup ClearSpace has raised $29 million to fund work on its first orbital debris removal mission. Europe-focused early-stage investor OTB Ventures led the Series A financing round announced Thursday along with Swisscom Ventures, the investment arm of Switzerland-based telco Swisscom. The company has raised about $140 million from commercial and government sources to develop its capabilities, mostly from an ESA contract for its ClearSpace-1 mission to remove a Vega payload adapter from orbit. The company also has an agreement with Intelsat to extend the life of a communications satellite and is a finalist in a UK Space Agency competition to remove two satellites from low Earth orbit. (1/19)
Demo of Satellite-Enabled 5G Mobile Backhaul Network in the Middle East (Source: Space Daily)
SES and du from Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), a leading telecom operator in the United Arab Emirates, have successfully demonstrated the first satellite-enabled 5G backhaul in the Middle East utilizing SES's Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites. The aim of the live demonstration was to demonstrate how SES's current O3b constellation could extend 5G coverage to remote locations and support du's enterprise customers including offshore energy sites with highly reliable, high throughput and low latency network connectivity. (1/17)
Astroscale Japan Appoints Eddie Kato as President and Managing Director (Source: Astroscale)
Astroscale Japan, a subsidiary of Astroscale Holdings, the market leader in satellite servicing and long-term orbital sustainability across all orbits, announces Eddie Kato as President and Managing Director. Eddie has more than 35 years of experience in the space industry and has worked extensively internationally. Most recently, he founded the consulting firm HISe, Inc. in Washington, D.C., in 2015. He led the company for seven years as founder and president, providing strategic advice and market development support for the space and telecommunications sectors.
Prior to HISe, he spent seven years at Thales Alenia Space, where he managed the Asia region, headed the sales division in the French headquarters, and served as president of the North American subsidiary. He also worked for Orbital Sciences, Lockheed Martin, General Electric and Mitsubishi Electric in their space sectors. As President and Managing Director of Astroscale Japan, Eddie will work closely with the management teams of Astroscale Holdings Inc. and its U.S. and U.K. subsidiaries to drive the company’s growth. (1/16)
Chief Commercial Officer Appointed By Arianespace (Source: Journal of Space Commerce)
Arianespace has appointed Steven Rutgers to serve as its next Chief Commercial Officer. Rutgers began his career in the space industry over two decades ago, working his way progressively through the ranks – initially as the international market and account manager with Inmarsat distributor Xantic in the Netherlands. He subsequently worked in Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore with Stratos and Inmarsat. (1/18)
Zeitouni Joins HawkEye 360 (Source: HawkEye 360)
A former Blue Origin executive has joined radio-frequency intelligence company HawkEye 360. Patrick Zeitouni, former head of space mobility at Blue Origin, is HawkEye 360's new chief strategy officer, the company announced Wednesday. He will be responsible for growth and product strategies for the company, which operates a constellation of smallsats that can geolocate radio sources. The company's next set of satellites is scheduled to launch next week on the first Rocket Lab Electron launch from Virginia. (1/19)
Reaction Dynamics Partners with Precious Payload to Offer Non-ITAR-Restricted Launches Via Launch.ctrl Platform (Source: SpaceRef)
Precious Payload, the leading online world marketplace for satellite launches, and Canadian rocket company Reaction Dynamics (RDX) join forces to offer satellite operators affordable, eco-friendly launches via the Launch.ctrl platform, using a state-of-the-art hybrid rocket. Aurora-1, Reaction Dynamics’ demonstration launch vehicle, is expected to make its first suborbital flight later this year.
With its cutting-edge additive manufacturing capabilities, RDX builds economically efficient and eco-friendly commercial rockets. The company aims to offer launch services to provide routine access to space for satellites and research payloads in the safest, most sustainable, and most affordable way. Its proprietary, patent-pending, hybrid propulsion technology meets the performance needed for orbital launch while being less expensive, safer, and more sustainable than traditional liquid rockets used by the vast majority of rocket companies. (1/20)
Momentus to Deliver FOSSA Systems Satellites to Orbit (Source: Space Daily)
Momentus signed a contract with FOSSA Systems, a Spanish company that offers global low-power Internet of Things connectivity and in-space services through its satellite constellation, to place its latest generation of satellites, FOSSASat FEROX, into orbit on two Vigoride Orbital Service Vehicle missions starting in 2023.
The first group of FOSSA's next-generation satellites is slated to launch on a Vigoride Orbital Service Vehicle on the SpaceX Transporter-8 mission no earlier than June 2023. This mission will demonstrate the satellites' new design features and act as a demonstration for a second batch of satellites expected to launch onboard a follow-on Vigoride vehicle on a later SpaceX Transporter mission, kicking off the deployment of a new constellation of FOSSA satellites. (1/13)
CesiumAstro Acquires UK's TXMission (Source: Space News)
Phased-array antenna startup CesiumAstro has acquired TXMission, a British company that develops software-defined radios and modems. CesiumAstro said the acquisition allows it to provide "complete end-to-end software-defined phased array systems" for customers. It also allows CesiumAstro to enter markets beyond satellites and aircraft, as well as work in the United Kingdom and Europe. The companies did not disclose terms of the deal. (1/18)
Capella Space Raises $60M to Expand Satellite Imaging Capacity (Source: Space Daily)
Capella Space, a leading American satellite manufacturer and Earth observation company, has closed $60 million in growth equity financing from the U.S. Innovative Technology Fund ("USIT"). Capella will leverage this growth capital to expand its imaging capacity and develop new data products as customer demand grows for its frequent, timely and high-quality SAR imagery and analytics capabilities.
Based in the U.S., Capella is revolutionizing the way that critical industries across the public and private sectors collect and analyze Earth observation data to make informed and accurate decisions. Coming off the heels of the company's $97 million Series C financing in April, this follow-on round reflects the rapidly increasing demand for Capella's end-to-end radar-powered, high-quality SAR imagery and analytics services. (1/17)
APSTAR 6E Orbit Raising is Slowed After Faults Stymy Use of Main Kick Motor Engine (Source: Seradata)
The APT-owned APSTAR 6E HTP satellite which was placed into orbit by a Chinese Long March 2C/3 (CZ-2C/3) rocket on 12 January, has reportedly run into problems. The launch was unusual in using such a small rocket to make the launch of the 1,800 kg satellite. To make this work, the CAST-built DFH-3E bus satellite was equipped with a detachable propulsion module called the SPS which was supposed to maneuver the spacecraft into an initial partial transfer orbit.
From here the satellite’s electric propulsion system was supposed to take over to raise and circularize its orbit into a geostationary Earth orbit over 134 degrees East where it will operate. This raising into position was expected to take 10 months. However, this orbital raising may now take several weeks longer as the SPS main engine is reported to be not working after a series of valve faults involving the pressurization system. While these have been worked around, it seems that another fault has prevented the ignition of the SPS main engine. (1/18)
Eutelsat Retires GEO Satellite (Source: Space News)
Eutelsat has retired a GEO communications satellite launched more than 20 years ago. Eutelsat said Thursday it moved the Eutelsat 5 West A satellite to a graveyard orbit some 400 kilometers above the geostationary arc and deactivated the spacecraft. The satellite was originally built by Alcatel Alenia Space — now Thales Alenia Space – and launched in July 2002 to support a transition from analog to digital television broadcasting in Europe. (1/20)
Anuvu to Resell Starlink Services (Source: Space News)
Mobile satellite connectivity specialist Anuvu has signed a deal to resell Starlink services. Anuvu said it will resell Starlink broadband capacity to maritime customers, complementing the services it already provides in this and other markets using GEO satellites. Anuvu had previously planned to use capacity on Telesat's Lightspeed constellation, but delays and uncertainty about the future of that system led Anuvu to work with SpaceX. (1/19)
Sidus Space Expands Commercial Data Distribution Strategy Through Agreement with SkyWatch (Source: Sidus Space)
Sidus Space signed an agreement with SkyWatch for use of its TerraStream data-management platform. This is expected to accelerate the expansion of Sidus’ commercial data distribution strategy which includes white labeling data for existing customers as well as driving growth of new data customers. The TerraStream platform provides end-to-end data management and distribution capabilities to satellite operators, and provides an accelerated path to grow revenue and new markets through EarthCache, SkyWatch’s remote sensing platform. (1/17)
AstroAgency Secures UK Space Agency, Euroconsult, Spire, ClearSpace Projects (Source: AstroAgency)
Edinburgh-headquartered AstroAgency, has secured three further projects with the UK Space Agency, whom they are currently supporting to promote the benefits of the Clearing the LEO Environment with Active Removal (CLEAR) mission, led by ClearSpace, to remove defunct satellites from orbit.
They have also won new private sector contracts with leading global space consultancy Euroconsult, following a competitive tender process involving several different marketing agencies, and onboarded space data firm Earthwave for a short-term project to promote its latest products to the US market.
Finally, the company has announced its official role as the marketing-arm for industry-led body, Space Scotland, as well as confirming that leading satellite firm Spire Global will continue to partner with AstroAgency in the year ahead, following the delivery of two successful pilot projects together during 2022. The positive news comes after AstroAgency faced turmoil last year as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A number of the firm’s staff based in the country were caught up in the conflict. (1/16)
Crop Seeds, Microbial Strains Tested in China's Two Space Missions Unveiled (Source: Space Daily)
The China Manned Space Agency on Friday unveiled a detailed list of crop seeds and microbial strains on board the Shenzhou XIV and Shenzhou XV manned spaceships. More than 1,300 pieces of crop seeds and microbial strains from 112 contributors, including Chinese universities, research institutes, and grass-root breeding stations, were brought into space for breeding experiments.
China launched the crewed spaceship Shenzhou XIV on June 5, 2022, to dock with its space station combination, and then the Shenzhou XV on Nov 29, to render the country's first in-orbit crew rotation. Astronauts on two missions are tasked with performing breeding experiments in the space station.
Among the seeds are those of staple foods like rice, wheat, and potato, familiar fruits and vegetables, forage grass, and herbal materials used in traditional Chinese medicine. A variety of probiotics are on the experimental list. Space breeding involves exposing seeds and strains to cosmic radiation and microgravity during a spaceflight mission to mutate their genes. (1/15)
Astroculture: A Quick, But Not-So-Easy Guide to Space Farming (Source: the Debrief)
Modern innovations in space travel are bringing the prospect of humans living off-planet for extended periods–and even residing for periods on planets like Mars–ever closer to reality. With the increasing number of possibilities we see coming to fruition with space exploration, scientists are becoming more convinced that humans can actually settle, and perhaps even thrive, in such environments. However, our success at survival under such conditions remains mostly dependent on Earth’s resources, especially when it comes to food.
Resupply missions are presently the only way astronauts can sustain themselves in space in the long term. To be truly self-sustaining in future space missions, we must find ways to produce nutritious food in environments that are less than ideal. Space farming–or “astroculture” as some call it–is emerging as one potential solution to this hefty challenge. However, while the prospects of space farming certainly bear a degree of promise, there are a number of reasons why it won’t be particularly easy to execute. Click here. (1/16)
Light-Based Tech Could Inspire Moon Navigation and Next-Gen Farming (Source: Space Daily)
Super-thin chips made from lithium niobate are set to overtake silicon chips in light-based technologies, according to world-leading scientists in the field, with potential applications ranging from remote ripening-fruit detection on Earth to navigation on the Moon. They say the artificial crystal offers the platform of choice for these technologies due to its superior performance and recent advances in manufacturing capabilities. The researchers reviewed lithium niobate's capabilities and potential applications.
The international team, including scientists from Peking University in China and Harvard University in the United States, is working with industry to make navigation systems that are planned to help rovers drive on the Moon later this decade. As it is impossible to use global positioning system (GPS) technology on the Moon, navigation systems in lunar rovers will need to use an alternative system, which is where the team's innovation comes in. By detecting tiny changes in laser light, the lithium-niobate chip can be used to measure movement without needing external signals, according to Mitchell. (1/19)
Commercialization of Space: The Final Frontier (Source: Texas Monthly)
Here in the U.S., private companies started chipping at that part of NASA that was comfortable in low-Earth orbit. The International Space Station is spawning other space stations, like Axiom Space, Bigelow, and Sierra Space and Blue Origin’s Orbital Reef. Space stations are going to be numerous, and they’re going to have their own business models.
We also have private companies whose vehicles are enabling humans to go into space much more inexpensively: SpaceX with the Dragon, Blue Origin with New Shepard, Boeing with Starliner. Astronauts are now a dime a dozen! You got a lot of money, you go buy a seat, you get launched, you go a hundred kilometers into space, you spend five minutes, and then go down. As we saw with airplane travel, what used to be exclusive becomes more available to the rest of us.
NASA needs to be in the exploratory environment, where you invest your money in finding new routes and new resources, exploring other planets, and pushing the envelope. The private funding is not for that. The private funding is to create the stuff that comes after NASA. (1/17)
Space Florida Shrugs Off Loss of Terran Orbital Factory (Source: Space News)
Terran Orbital’s decision not to build a large satellite factory in Florida is only a minor setback for the state’s efforts to grow the space industry’s presence in the state and to expand beyond launch, according to one official. In a recent call with reporters, Frank DiBello, president and chief executive of Space Florida, the state space development agency, said he was seeing a growing backlog of potential aerospace investment opportunities for his organization.
In September 2021, Terran Orbital announced it would build a large satellite factory adjacent to Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility, the former Shuttle Landing Facility runway at the Kennedy Space Center. Space Florida helped arrange financing for the project, which Terran Orbital said would create 2,100 jobs by the end of 2025. Little more than a year later, Terran Orbital announced it was no longer pursuing the Florida factory.
DiBello said the property that had been planned for the Terran Orbital factory was “coveted” by others. “We will have no trouble finding uses for it, and in fact we have several companies that we’re actively working with now to locate out at the Launch and Landing Facility.” He said that, as the number of opportunities grows, Space Florida is making its due-diligence efforts more rigorous, citing the “irrational exuberance” associated with the wave of companies going public through mergers with special purpose acquisition corporations (SPACs) since early 2021. (1/19)
Space Florida Supporting Large Projects Planned Near Spaceport's Landing Facility (Source: Florida Today)
Project Comet is the secretive name given to a private company by Space Florida that wants to build a facility near the former Space Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center. Few details have been released. A preliminary site plan depicts a 104,594-square-foot ‘payload processing facility’ standing 133-feet high, flanked by a badging-security office, a 20,342-square-foot storage building, four office trailers, a parking lot with 71 spaces, and wet and dry retention ponds.
Project Comet is only expected to create ‘at least 50 jobs by 2025,’ Space Florida agenda materials show. So that suggests it’s a smaller-scale operation than a rocket maker. The mystery Project Comet company would be responsible for construction, repairs, renovations, maintenance, utilities, taxes and all operations at its premises. These capital improvements would become the property of Space Florida and get subleased to the company, meeting minutes show.
Meanwhile, a larger confidential Space Florida tenant — Project Oz — plans to invest up to $250 million in construction and equipment at the Launch and Landing Facility. That undisclosed company may generate about 500 jobs by 2025 with average annual salaries of $100,000. Click here. (1/18)
Space Florida Touts More Jobs in 2023 with 150 Projects in the Pipeline (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Florida’s burgeoning aerospace industry will grow at a juggernaut pace in the coming years, adding more jobs and other financial benefits to the state, according to the agency whose job it is to attract such enterprises. “We expect in the next five years to be making an economic impact on average of over a billion dollars a year to the state’s economy,” said Frank DiBello, President and CEO of Space Florida. About 6,000 jobs across 15 companies were added to the economy in 2022, including at least some of announced workforce additions of 250 jobs by OneWeb Satellites, 1,800 from Northrop Grumman, 52 from SIMCOM Aviation and an undisclosed number of new employees at SpaceX and other companies.
With 150 projects across an array of space-related industries in the works, DiBello said 2023 should see many more new jobs in the years ahead, noting that the state used to reach agreement on about six to eight projects, in general, a year. “We’re now much closer to 12 to 15. So as you close those projects, that number of jobs is going to come up and certainly this year should be above that 6,000,” he said. And not everything is focused around northern Brevard County, DiBello said, adding that only about 40% fall within the Melbourne-Orlando-Daytona triangle.
One portion of the overall economic benefit has been a significant infrastructure contribution by the variety of companies in the state, more than $2.7 billion since 2011. The goal is to increase that number to $10 billion by the end of the decade. And by the end of 2022, those prospective 150 projects could lead to $5.5 billion more toward that goal. Of note, that money is separate from funds invested by the state in building out infrastructure in partnership with Florida’s Department of Transportation, such as what is now known as the Space Florida Launch and Landing Facility at KSC. Click here. (1/17)
Ohio, Still a Space Pioneer (Source: The Blade)
Having two NASA installations in northern Ohio is a plum for the state and the greater Toledo region. Ohio, whose 20th century history boasts three of the greatest names in space exploration — John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, and Eugene Kranz — is playing its part in the 21st century as well. That fact was underscored by the visit of NASA Administrator Bill Nelson to the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland last week. Glenn is researching tires made of flexible metal for the lunar surface, among other things.
Mr. Nelson talked there about the role that NASA Glenn is playing in NASA’s plans for trips to the moon and to Mars. Mr. Nelson’s visit included the unveiling of a doglike robot called Astro. We are told this robot will inspect parts of NASA Glenn that are too loud for humans to enter. We trust it has been programmed not to bite. (1/16)
History Points to Contracts Following SpaceX Visit to Wichita (Source: Wichita Business Journal)
The president of SpaceX was in Wichita on Tuesday in a visit that, should it follow to form similar trips by her industry peers, will likely mean new work for local suppliers. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-KS, hosted SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell in Wichita this week, helping guide the space executive on tours of local manufacturers, including Spirit AeroSystems Inc., and a luncheon event with local leaders at the B-29 Doc hangar at Eisenhower National Airport.
And if past visits hosted by Moran are an indication, Shotwell likely found some new supplier family members on the trip. Blue Origin in October 2021 announced it had signed four local companies to supply contracts following a Moran-hosted visit earlier that summer. Similarly, ULA in December 2021 announced a new contract with Wichita’s Maynard Inc. for the supply of parts for its Atlas V rocket after its CEO made another Moran-hosted trip the previous month. ULA followed that with a contract announcement last February involving supply work by Wichita’s Milling Precision. (1/18)
As Boeing Struggles To Fix Its Airliner Business, Elon Musk Is Eating Its Lunch In Space (Source: Forbes)
For embattled Boeing, one thing that went right last year was NASA’s Artemis I mission. Sure, the Space Launch System was four years behind schedule and came in at a 30% higher cost than the $9 billion initially budgeted to develop it. But Jim Chilton claims it as a win for Boeing’s space division, which he’s headed since 2016.
But like the Space Launch System, Chilton’s successes come with asterisks: they were both also years behind schedule, and Boeing has booked almost $1 billion in anticipated losses on the NASA ferry program, known as Commercial Crew, since 2019, when a software flaw resulted in the first test flight failing to make it to the space station, an embarrassing L for Boeing.
Meanwhile, the other company in the Commercial Crew program, SpaceX has completed five flights to the space station since 2020 and last year was awarded contracts for eight more. SpaceX also knocked Boeing off its longtime perch as NASA’s second-largest contractor based on annual spending, raking in $2 billion from the agency in fiscal 2022. (No. 1 is Caltech, which runs NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab.) (1/17)
Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck and the Reasons for His Space Search (Source: Stuff)
Since 2006, Beck has grown Rocket Lab into a global organization that develops and launches advanced rockets, satellites and spacecraft. And behind him are a string of doubters. From the time he was growing up in Invercargill, he was told he was on the wrong track, his ambitions were unachievable, he should get a real job. But young Beck didn’t listen then, and he’s not listening now.
He knew what he wanted: to build rockets, so he did a tool and die apprenticeship at appliance manufacturer Fisher & Paykel. What, you may well ask, do washing machines have to do with rockets? Engineering, is what. “I wanted to be able to build the rockets, because there was no way I could go to university and learn how to build rockets, and the engine bolting systems and construction systems and all those kinds of things,” he says. “I figured the best way would be to have the hand skills to do that first. So that's what I went and did."
From there he went on a rocket pilgrimage to the United States, came back and quit his job to start Rocket Lab in 2006. It would be fair to say shooting for the stars was all consuming. “I had my day job and had my night job, right? And it's probably a strength and a weakness that once I focus on a thing that I'm really passionate about, it's all in,” Beck says. “Engineering is cool, but the thing I like about space the most is just the sheer impact you can have on so many people. (1/15)
Hyperspectral Instrument to Improve NOAA Satellite Weather Forecasting (Source: Space News)
Adding a hyperspectral sounder to future NOAA weather satellites should significantly improve weather forecasting. Scientists said the hyperspectral infrared sounder planned for the GeoXO line of geostationary orbit weather satellites will provide enhanced temperature and humidity data that can improve near-term localized forecasts. Meteorologists today use sounders on low orbit satellites and balloons, but they provide data much less frequently. The GeoXO satellites are slated to start flying in the early 2030s. (1/20)
NASA Partners Up with PNNL and WSU for an Out of This World Experiment (Source: KNDU)
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, NASA and WSU partnered up for an experiment that's out of this world. PNNL submitted their experiment to NASA to see if it was something NASA was interested in. NASA responded back with a "yes" after going over their presentation. A piece of Washington went to space last July. PNNL collected soil samples from an area in Prosser that has not been disturbed in 50 years.
The samples were injected with eight different species of bacteria. 104 samples were taken to NASA. Half of those samples went into space and the other half stayed on earth. The scientists will compare the samples against each other to see what, if any differences there are in the samples. (1/16)
Stratolaunch Conducts Captive-Carry Test for Hypersonic Demonstrator (Source: GeekWire)
Stratolaunch conducted another captive-carry test flight of a hypersonic demonstrator Friday. The six-hour flight by the company's giant aircraft carried a prototype of its Talon-A hypersonic flight vehicle attached to its wing. The flight moves the company a step closer to a drop test of that prototype before beginning powered flight tests of the Talon-A. (1/16)
SpaceX Signs Agreement with US National Science Foundation to Prevent Starlink’s Interference with Astronomy (Source: Teslarati)
SpaceX signed a new agreement with the National Science Foundation to prevent Starlink satellites from interfering with astronomy. SpaceX has long been criticized by astronomers for the brightness of its Starlink satellites. Elon Musk said in 2019 that SpaceX would ensure that Starlink has no material effect on discoveries in astronomy. “We care a great deal about science,” he said in a tweet.
The NSF issued a statement noting that it and SpaceX have worked together to mitigate potential interference from its satellite transmission. The organizations agreed in 2019 to ensure Starlink satellite network meets international radio astronomy protection standards for the 10.6-10.7 GHz band. The NSF added that as the two continue exploring ways to protect ground-based astronomy, a new coordination agreement was signed in 2022. (1/14)
Lasers Could Protect Structures [Like Launch Pads] Lightning Strikes (Source: Daily Beast)
For all the technological innovation the modern industrial age has afforded us, protection against lightning is not on the list. To guard our homes and buildings from lightning strikes and subsequent fires, we still rely on the lightning rod, a technology invented by Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. “Its main limitation is related to its size, and to the fact that you cannot install lightning rods everywhere, while lightning strikes can fall almost everywhere,” said physicist Aurélien Houard.
Creating ways to protect more than just buildings from lightning’s damage—or better yet, devising a single method to attract lightning bolts and discharge them safely—would represent the biggest breakthrough in centuries for this area of study. Improbably enough, scientists have managed to do just that. A team led by Houard and Swiss physicist Jean-Pierre Wolf have presented results that provide evidence that intense, short laser pulses can guide and potentially even trigger lightning to strike a single source.
“The laser creates a virtual extension of the metallic rod,” Houard explained, noting that a rod is typically only a few meters tall and can only protect as many meters far as it is tall. Lasers produce narrow beams of light, heating and detaching electrons from the air molecules in its path that can then conduct electricity. Lightning prefers to travel down a conductive path (which is why lightning rods work in the first place), so a giant laser beam will naturally guide it to the smaller metal rod underneath. (1/16)
Northrop Grumman Partners with NASA to Shape Integration of Uncrewed Aircraft Into National Airspace (Source: Space Daily)
Northrop Grumman is collaborating with NASA to develop and test solutions for integrating large, uncrewed aircraft systems into the National Airspace System. The effort will focus on air cargo operations and is part of NASA's Air Traffic Management-eXploration (ATM-X) Pathfinding for Airspace with Autonomous Vehicles (PAAV) subproject. (1/19)
NASA Awards Boeing With Sustainable Flight Demonstrator Contract (Source: Simple Flying)
NASA and Boeing will partner in the development and flight test of a full-scale Transonic Truss-Braced Wing demonstrator aircraft, which could revolutionize the commercial aviation industry through a much more fuel-efficient design of narrowbody airliners.
Both entities will work together through this public-private initiative to build, test, and fly a full-scale demonstrator aircraft this decade, investing over US$1 billion. Currently known as the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator (SFD), the aircraft will test the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing concept, which involves a plane with extra-long, thin wings stabilized by diagonal struts. This design results in an aircraft that will be much more fuel efficient than a traditional airliner due to a shape that would create less drag – resulting in burning less fuel. (1/18)
How This Lafayette Jewelry Business Became the First to Participate in New NASA Commercial Program (Source: Acadiana Advocate)
The ISS has hosted precious cargo from all over the world — 263 people, a menagerie of animals including tardigrades and baby squids, and even an espresso machine have made the orbit around Earth. Now this group of space travelers includes a kilogram of diamonds and gemstones from Lafayette business.
Lafayette’s Dianna Rae Jewelry is the first company in the world to send diamonds and gems to space and make them available for sale to the public. The gems launched Nov. 26 aboard the SpaceX-26 ISS resupply mission, spent 46 days among the stars, and splashed back down near the coast of Florida on Jan. 11. Dianna Rae High and her husband, Jeff High, spent two years negotiating the logistics surrounding their participation in the NASA/SpaceX Commercial Space Program. And it all started with a chance tour of SpaceX near Los Angeles.
They were initially offered the opportunity to send stones on a nine-minute low Earth journey, similar to the Blue Origin flight that sent Jeff Bezos to space in July 2021. “We thought, that’s not enough," she said. "We want to do something bigger. So we reached out to NASA.” After several rounds of negotiation with both SpaceX and NASA, the company signed a Space Act Agreement that allowed them to send one kilogram of weight to the International Space Station. That’s how Dianna Rae Jewelry became the first small business and the first female-owned business to participate in the Commercial Space Program. (1/18)
From the Sand to the Stars: Saddam Hussein’s Failed Space Program (Source: Space Review)
Shortly before the first Gulf War, Iraq embarked on an effort to launch its own satellite. Dwayne Day examines what we know about efforts to build a satellite and small launch vehicle, and potential ties to missile development. Click here. (1/17)
Peake Departs ESA Astronaut Corps (Source: ESA)
British astronaut Tim Peake is leaving ESA's astronaut corps. ESA announced Friday that Peake would step down from the corps to serve as an "ambassador" for ESA's activities, working with the U.K. Space Agency. Peake was selected as an astronaut in 2009 and flew to the ISS in late 2015 for a six-month mission. He had been on an unpaid sabbatical from the astronaut corps since late 2019. (1/20)
US Pageant Queen Sports USA Moon Costume at Miss Universe Competition (Source: Space.com)
R'Bonney Gabriel is over the moon, thanks to a costume featuring the moon. Gabriel, representing the United States at the Miss Universe competition this weekend, took the stage in a costume that featured a model of the moon over her head along with stars, lights and an American flag. She said the costume was designed to honor her hometown of Houston, home of NASA's Johnson Space Center. It worked: she was crowned Miss Universe Saturday night. (1/16)
The Scenic Route to Space (Source: Boeing)
Patrice Hall considers herself lucky. She became a first-generation college graduate after earning an aerospace engineering degree from Tuskegee University, a storied historically Black university, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Hall started at Boeing as an intern then moved into a role as a manufacturing engineer on the build team for the SLS program. She is now a computing architect across the enterprise. Click here. (1/19)
Astronaut Scott Kelly Mocks George Santos as 'Former NASA Astronaut and Moon Walker' (Source: Business Insider)
Astronaut Scott Kelly took to Twitter on Tuesday to mock Rep. George Santos over his new committee assignments. "Awesome to have former NASA astronaut and moon walker, Representative George Santos @Santos4Congress on the House Science Space and Technology Committee," Kelly tweeted. "To infinity and beyond!" Kelly is a retired astronaut and twin brother of Arizona US Senator Mark Kelly. (1/17)
Buzz Aldrin Turns 93, Oldest of Remaining Moonwalkers (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Buzz spent 93 minutes walking on the surface of the moon, and has now traveled 93 times around the sun. The second man on the moon celebrates his birthday today, the oldest of the four living moonwalkers. Aldrin, who landed with Neil Armstrong to become one of only 12 people ever to walk on the lunar surface, was born on a Monday, on Jan. 20, 1930. Aldrin is the only surviving Apollo 11 crew member. Armstrong died in 2012 and Collins in 2021. (1/20)
Buzz Aldrin Gets Married at 93 (Source: NPR)
Retired astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the lunar surface, and his partner Anca Faur were over-the-moon excited to tie the knot. In a small private ceremony in Los Angeles, the two became husband and wife on Friday, which also marked Aldrin's 93rd birthday. Aldrin said he and his partner were "as excited as eloping teenagers" on the special day. His partner, Faur, is the executive vice president of Buzz Aldrin Ventures LLC. Aldrin said on Twitter that the two have been a pair for more than four years. (1/21)
Huntsville's Iconic Saturn 1B Rocket Display Coming Down (Source: Huntsville Times)
A Saturn 1B rocket that has stood at an Alabama highway rest stop for decades will soon be torn down. The rocket was installed more than 40 years ago at a rest stop off Interstate 65 just south of the Tennessee border, but the rocket is rusting and starting to fall apart. The rocket will likely be torn down as part of renovations of the rest stop, after state officials concluded it would be too expensive to repair. The rocket could eventually be replaced with something else marking NASA's efforts to return to the moon. (1/18)
Decades Later, Gemini 5's Titan Booster Returns to Cape Canaveral (Source: Florida Today)
Nearly 60 years after it launched two astronauts on a historic mission to Earth orbit, the Gemini 5 mission's Titan II booster has returned to its launch site. The Space Force on Thursday oversaw the arrival of a 27-foot fragment of the booster that launched Gordon Cooper and Pete Conrad in August 1965, proving that astronauts could stay in space long enough to fly to the moon and back. It's the only launched-and-recovered Titan booster in existence.
The booster was returned to the Cape from the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where it was stabilized, put in a new display cradle, and transported to Florida. It joins dozens of other displays at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport’s Hangar C, which acts as a museum and houses restored ballistic missiles and other hardware from the Space Race and beyond. (1/20)
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