Press Clips Week 34 – 2020

 In Intelligence, Space


Ariane 5 Rocket Launches Robotic Space Tug Into Orbit Alongside 2 Communications Satellites

A new space tug, only the second-ever to extend the life of older satel­lites, launched into orbit Saturday on a European rocket after weeks of delays due to weath­er and rocket checks.

An Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket hefted the Mission Extension Vehicle‑2 (MEV‑2) into space Sunday (July 31), putting the vehi­cle en route to an Intelsat satel­lite wait­ing for a boost into a higher orbit. Riding along on the rocket were two satel­lites for broad­band com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

Read more at:

A new study led by sci­en­tists at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, shows that exhaust from a mid-sized lunar lander can quick­ly spread around the Moon and poten­tial­ly con­t­a­m­i­nate sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly vital ices at the lunar poles.

Computer sim­u­la­tions of water vapor emit­ted by a 2,650-pound (1,200-kilogram) lander — about a quar­ter of the dry mass of the Apollo Lunar Module — touch­ing down near the Moon’s south pole showed exhaust takes only a few hours to dis­perse around the entire Moon. From 30% to 40% of the vapor per­sist­ed in the lunar atmos­phere and sur­face two months later, and rough­ly 20% would ulti­mate­ly freeze out near the poles a few months after that.

Read more at: scitechdaily

Four Down, Four to Go: Artemis I Rocket Moves Closer to Hot Fire Test

The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage for the Artemis I lunar mis­sion has suc­cess­ful­ly com­plet­ed its first four Green Run tests and is build­ing on those tests for the next phase of check­out as engi­neers require more capa­bil­i­ty of the hard­ware before hot-firing the stage and its four pow­er­ful engines.Green Run is a demand­ing series of eight tests and nearly 30 firsts: first load­ing of the pro­pel­lant tanks, first flow through the pro­pel­lant feed sys­tems, first firing of all four engines, and first expo­sure of the stage to the vibra­tions and tem­per­a­tures of launch.

Read more at: NASA

NASA Sets Late October Launch Date For First Operational Crew Dragon Mission

NASA announced Aug. 14 that the first oper­a­tional SpaceX com­mer­cial crew mis­sion to the International Space Station will launch in late October, a delay to accom­mo­date other space­craft flying to the sta­tion.

The agency said it has set a date of no ear­li­er than Oct. 23 for the Crew‑1 launch, which will send three NASA astro­nauts and one astro­naut from the Japanese space agency JAXA on a Crew Dragon space­craft to the ISS for a six-month mis­sion.

Read more at: Spacenews

SpaceX Launches 58 Starlink Satellites And 3 Skysats, Sticks Rocket Landing

SpaceX suc­cess­ful­ly launched a new Starlink rideshare mis­sion into orbit today (Aug. 18), loft­ing a bevy of Starlink inter­net satel­lites along with three small Earth-obser­va­tion satel­lites before stick­ing a rocket land­ing at sea.

The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket car­ry­ing 58 SpaceX Starlink satel­lites, and a trio of small SkySat satel­lites for the California-based imag­ing com­pa­ny, Planet, lifted off at 10:31 a.m. EDT (1431 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Read more at:

ISS Crew Looks For Source Of Small Cabin Air Leak: NASA

Three crew mem­bers on board the International Space Station will spend the week­end in the vessel’s Russian seg­ment while they search for the source of a cabin air leak, NASA and Russian space agency Roscosmos said on Thursday.

“In September 2019, NASA and its inter­na­tion­al part­ners first saw indi­ca­tions of a slight increase above the stan­dard cabin air leak rate,” NASA said in a state­ment.

It said the crew, com­posed of NASA’s Chris Cassidy and Russia’s Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin, would close the station’s hatch­es this week­end to mon­i­tor air pres­sure and find the source of the leak.

Read more at: Reuters


Rocket Lab Aims To Recover Electron Booster On Upcoming Flight

Rocket Lab is gear­ing up to take a big step toward rocket reusabil­i­ty.

The California-based com­pa­ny plans to recov­er and inspect the first stage of its two-stage Electron boost­er during a mis­sion later this year, Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said ear­li­er this month.

Rocket Lab has ear­marked Electron’s 17th launch for this mile­stone, which isn’t too far off. The most recent Electron launch, dubbed “Pics Or It Didn’t Happen,” was the booster’s 13th mis­sion.

Read more at:

Read more at: Iceland review

DLR Spinoff Hyimpulse Plans Small Launcher Debut In 2022

A start­up formed by rocket engi­neers from the German space agency DLR is tar­get­ing late 2022 for the first flight of a small launch vehi­cle designed around hybrid engines.

HyImpulse is devel­op­ing a three-stage rocket capa­ble of send­ing 500 kilo­grams to a 400-kilo­me­ter low Earth orbit. The 40-person com­pa­ny is bankrolled by Rudolf Schwarz, chair­man of German tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny IABG, and has a 2.5 mil­lion-euro ($3 mil­lion) grant from the European Commission to advance its launch­er tech­nol­o­gy, Christian Schmierer HyImpulse co-CEO, said in an inter­view.

Read more at: Spacenews

Sierra Nevada Makes Progress on LIFE Inflatable Habitat for Lunar, Mars Missions

Sierra Nevada Corp. con­tin­ues to press ahead with its Large Inflatable Fabric Environment (LIFE) Habitat for poten­tial use on the lunar sur­face — includ­ing as part of the recent Human Landing System (HLS) crew cabin con­tract awards — and as an inte­gral ele­ment of a future Mars trans­porta­tion vehi­cle, which may be tested later this decade at the Lunar Gateway.

Under the lan­guage of Phase 3 of NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP‑2) Appendix A, SNC will con­tin­ue to work through the remain­der of 2020 on reduc­ing risks and enhanc­ing the tech­ni­cal matu­ri­ty of its habi­tat con­cept to reach System Definition Review (SDR) level.

Read more at: Americaspace

Skyroot Aerospace First Private Company To Test Upper Stage Rocket Engine

Spacetech start­up Skyroot Aerospace has suc­cess­ful­ly test fired an upper stage rocket engine, becom­ing the first Indian pri­vate com­pa­ny to demon­strate the capa­bil­i­ty to build a home­grown rocket engine.

Meanwhile, the com­pa­ny is plan­ning to raise around Rs 90 crore.

Founded by Pawan Kumar Chandana and Naga Bharath Daka, both former sci­en­tists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), Skyroot plans to build a family of rock­ets.

Read more at: Business standard

Firefly Aims To Debut Its Alpha Rocket For Small Satellites This Fall

Firefly Aerospace’s advanced rocket for small satel­lites should be ready to launch for the first time this fall, com­pa­ny rep­re­sen­ta­tives said.

The two-stage rocket, known as Alpha, was orig­i­nal­ly sched­uled to debut in early 2020. But the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic inter­vened and delayed things at Firefly, as well as at other space com­pa­nies around the world. Some sup­pli­ers had to delay ship­ments, and work slowed due to nec­es­sary phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing mea­sures.

Read more at:

Not Everyone Is Thrilled About Proposed Rocket Launch Site In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Mary Little had just fin­ished making a batch of thim­ble­ber­ry jam, and she had a few things to say about a pro­posed ver­ti­cal rocket launch site in the wilds of the Upper Peninsula.

“Anything that close to Lake Superior is con­cern­ing. It should be con­cern­ing to every­body, and fuels and heat and water usage … any­body who cares about this lake should be con­cerned about this,” said Little, 69, who moved to the area from down­state in 1976.

Read more at: freep

Altius Space Machines To Support On-Orbit Servicing For The Dynetics Human Landing System

Voyager Space Holdings, Inc. (Voyager), a global leader in inte­grat­ed space ser­vices, has announced that its sub­sidiary, Altius Space Machines, Inc. (Altius), was select­ed as a sub­con­trac­tor to Dynetics, a wholly owned sub­sidiary of Leidos, to sup­port the devel­op­ment of a human land­ing system for NASA’s Artemis pro­gram. With Altius sup­port, Dynetics aims to enable the Artemis pro­gram that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.

Leveraging its deep exper­tise in space robot­ics, Altius devel­ops on-orbit ser­vic­ing tech­nol­o­gy, spe­cial­iz­ing in on-orbit assem­bly and man­u­fac­tur­ing, orbital ren­dezvous and cap­ture robot­ics, as well as in-space refu­el­ing.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Private Space Industrialization is Here

The uni­ver­sal glee that sur­round­ed the launch of the crewed Dragon space­craft made it easy to over­look that the Falcon rocket’s red glare marked the advent of a new era — that of pri­vate space indus­tri­al­iza­tion. For the first time in human his­to­ry, we are not merely explor­ing a new land­mass. We, as a bio­log­i­cal species, are advanc­ing to a new ele­ment — the cosmos.

The whole his­to­ry of human­i­ty is the story of our strug­gle with space and time. Mastering new hori­zons, moving ever far­ther; driven by the desire for a better life or for profit, out of fear or out of sheer curios­i­ty, people found ever faster, easier, cheap­er and safer ways to con­quer the space between here and there.

Read more at: Techcrunch

Trump Administration Urges More Commercial Activities In Space

The Trump admin­is­tra­tion has taken anoth­er small step towards its larger leap to com­mer­cial­ize space lab­o­ra­to­ry activ­i­ties, even as NASA strug­gles to put cur­rent com­mer­cial­iza­tion plans into place.A new White House memo released Friday (Aug. 14) said that low Earth orbit research “on new plat­forms” — com­mer­cial facil­i­ties that could suc­ceed the International Space Station — should be a pri­or­i­ty. It was pub­lished as part of the yearly joint ini­tia­tive to figure out budget pri­or­i­ties in research and devel­op­ment, between the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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Full Approval Granted For Spaceport In The Scottish Highlands

The £17.3 mil­lion plan to launch satel­lites from the A’ Mhòine penin­su­la in Sutherland “rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward,” accord­ing to Innovation Minister Ivan McKee.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has approved the budget to devel­op Space Hub Sutherland, which includes fund­ing from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the UK Space Agency.

Final approval was grant­ed by the Highlands Council today after the Scottish Government said the pro­pos­als do not require a deci­sion at a nation­al level on August 3.

Read more at: National


NASA Watches As Weird ‘Dent’ In Earth’s Magnetic Field Splits In Two

There’s some­thing very strange hap­pen­ing high above South America and the nearby Atlantic Ocean, and NASA is on the case.

Meet the South Atlantic Anomaly, a strange dent in Earth’s mag­net­ic field that is grow­ing and split­ting. It’s been there for decades, but over time the anom­aly has slowly changed. Although you’d never notice any­thing was wrong from the ground, for satel­lites, changes to the mag­net­ic field that envelopes Earth can be a big deal — hence NASA’s inter­est in the anom­aly and its activ­i­ties.

Read more at:

A Car-Sized Asteroid Made The Closest Earth Flyby A Space Rock Has Ever Survived

A newly dis­cov­ered car-sized aster­oid just made the clos­est-known flyby to Earth with­out hit­ting our planet.

On Sunday (Aug. 16), the aster­oid, ini­tial­ly labeled ZTF0DxQ and now for­mal­ly known to astronomers as 2020 QG, swooped by Earth at a mere 1,830 miles (2,950 kilo­me­ters) away. That gives 2020 QG the title of clos­est aster­oid flyby ever record­ed that didn’t end with the space rock’s demise. It’s the clos­est known, non-impact­ing aster­oid, NASA offi­cials told

Read more at:

Moving Forward With Satellite Servicing Standards

Satellite ser­vic­ing is going from the realm of, I wish we could do this, to becom­ing a real­i­ty. That real­i­ty includes cre­at­ing satel­lite ser­vic­ing stan­dards.

Today on the SpaceQ pod­cast we’re start­ing our annual Summer Series with a pod­cast on satel­lite ser­vic­ing stan­dards.

Tomorrow will see the first launch of a com­mu­ni­ca­tion satel­lite with a satel­lite Mission Extension Vehicle attached to it. The cus­tomer is Intelsat and the Mission Extension Vehicle, known as MEV, is built by Northrop Grumman. An MEV has pre­vi­ous­ly flown as a sep­a­rate demon­stra­tion mis­sion.

Read more at: SpaceQ

A Method Has Been Developed To Study Extreme Space Weather Events

Scientists at Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), togeth­er with col­leagues from the Karl-Franzens University of Graz & the Kanzelhöhe Observatory (Austria), Jet Propulsion Laboratory of California Institute of Technology (USA), Helioresearch (USA) and Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Russia) devel­oped a method to study fast Coronal Mass Ejections, pow­er­ful ejec­tions of mag­ne­tized matter from the outer atmos­phere of the Sun. The results can help to better under­stand and pre­dict the most extreme space weath­er events and their poten­tial to cause strong geo­mag­net­ic storms that direct­ly affect the oper­a­tion of engi­neer­ing sys­tems in space and on Earth.

Read more at: Skoltech

An Unusual Meteorite, More Valuable Than Gold, May Hold The Building Blocks Of Life

As the fiery emis­sary streaked across the skies of Costa Rica, an unearth­ly mix of orange and green, Marcia Campos Muñoz was in her paja­mas, watch­ing TV on the couch. It was 23 April 2019, a bit past 9 p.m., when she heard a fore­bod­ing rumble. Heart racing, she tip­toed out­side to calm her bark­ing dog, Perry, and to check on the cow pas­tures ring­ing her small house in Aguas Zarcas, a vil­lage carved out of Costa Rica’s trop­i­cal rain­for­est. Nothing. She ducked back inside, just before a blast on the back ter­race rat­tled the house to its bones.

Read more at: Sciencemag

Amazon’s Project Kuiper is More Than the Company’s Response to SpaceX

Amazon cleared an impor­tant hurdle when the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced on 30 July that the com­pa­ny was autho­rized to deploy and oper­ate its Kuiper satel­lite con­stel­la­tion. The autho­riza­tion came with the caveat that Amazon would still have to demon­strate that Kuiper would not inter­fere with pre­vi­ous­ly autho­rized satel­lite projects, such as SpaceX’s Starlink.

Read more at: IEEE Spectrum

Northrop Grumman Just Launched Its Second Satellite Rescue Mission

On Saturday, a Northrop Grumman space­craft, designed to give a dying satel­lite a new lease on life, launched into space. Its objec­tive is to latch onto an aging satel­lite that’s been in space for 16 years and pro­long the old robot’s life in orbit by giving it a new set of engines and fuel.

The space­craft is named MEV‑2, for Mission Extension Vehicle 2. MEV‑2’s pre­de­ces­sor was the ground­break­ing MEV‑1 satel­lite, which launched in October 2019. MEV‑1 made his­to­ry in February when it suc­cess­ful­ly grabbed hold of anoth­er satel­lite already in orbit, mark­ing the first time that two com­mer­cial satel­lites had docked in space.

Read more at: Verge

Companies Are Flying Old Satellites Longer, Study Finds

Nearly a third of com­mer­cial geo­sta­tion­ary com­mu­ni­ca­tions satel­lites in orbit are oper­at­ing beyond their design lives, a far higher figure than in pre­vi­ous years, accord­ing to a study.

Research firm TelAstra of Los Angeles found that in 2020, some 31% of com­mer­cial geo­sta­tion­ary com­sats remained in ser­vice past their expect­ed retire­ment, more than double the number of satel­lites putting in extra time in 2009.

Read more at: Spacenews

Report Endorses Giving Commerce Department Responsibility For Space Traffic Management

A report com­mis­sioned by Congress agreed with the admin­is­tra­tion that the Commerce Department is the best agency to handle civil space traf­fic man­age­ment (STM) respon­si­bil­i­ties.

The report by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), pub­lished Aug. 20, was request­ed by Congress in fiscal year 2020 appro­pri­a­tions leg­is­la­tion. Some mem­bers were skep­ti­cal that the depart­ment, specif­i­cal­ly its Office of Space Commerce (OSC), was the right agency to handle space traf­fic man­age­ment, as direct­ed by the White House in Space Policy Directive (SPD) 3 in 2018.

Read more at: Spacenews

Research Team Develops The First Physics-Based Method For Predicting Large Solar Flares

Solar flares emit sudden, strong bursts of elec­tro­mag­net­ic radi­a­tion from the Sun’s sur­face and its atmos­phere, and eject plasma and ener­getic par­ti­cles into inter-plan­e­tary space. Since large solar flares can cause severe space weath­er dis­tur­bances affect­ing Earth, to mit­i­gate their impact their occur­rence needs to be pre­dict­ed. However, as the onset mech­a­nism of solar flares is unclear, most flare pre­dic­tion meth­ods so far have relied on empir­i­cal meth­ods.

Read more at: Nagoya university

Managing Space Traffic in an Increasingly Congested Orbit

The nation recent­ly watched an his­toric event when SpaceX, a pri­vate “New Space” com­mer­cial com­pa­ny in the busi­ness of launch­ing and man­ag­ing assets in orbit, suc­cess­ful­ly returned astro­nauts to Earth. The mis­sion launch, how­ev­er, had not gone as smooth­ly, as over­cast weath­er forced SpaceX to resched­ule, but not just to the next clear day.

Instead, the next avail­able date was deter­mined by two key fac­tors: the physics of effi­cient­ly reach­ing the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral and, impor­tant­ly, con­duct­ing a pre­flight analy­sis to ensure there were no con­junc­tions – a close approach of two or more space objects that might result in a collision­ – for the Crew Dragon on its ascent to dock with the space sta­tion.

Read more at: govexec

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Source: Space Safety Magazine

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