Qarman CubeSat Deployed From ISS

Qarman CubeSat deployed from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

The moment ESA’s latest mission left the International Space Station: the Qarman reentry CubeSat developed with Belgium’s Von Karman Institute was deployed by NASA astronaut Andrew ‘Drew’ Morgan via a Nanoracks dispenser on 19 February 2020. Qarman will now fall gradually to Earth, to eventually gather valuable data on atmospheric reentry physics.

Read more here.

PLD Space Achieved Full Engine Hot Fire for MIURA 1 Mission

  • TEPREL B is the regenerative engine, designed by PLD Space, that will be used on MIURA 1 flights
  • The two-minute test has been successfully achieved at PLD Space Propulsion Test Facilities in Teruel Airport.
  • Key milestone in MIURA 1 Engine Qualification Campaign, as the company achieved a full-time engine validation

ELCHE, Spain, February 26, 2020 (PLD Space PR) — In May 2019 PLD Space suffered a catastrophic engine failure, which provoked material damage, including the loss of the first flight version of the TEPREL-B liquid rocket engine, developed by PLD Space for MIURA 1 launch vehicle. Therefore, the company decided to pause the qualification process and analyse the root causes of the failure to solve the problems found.

After eight months of hard work, PLD Space successfully achieved a full mission duration hot test of the flight engine. This allowed the company to validate the nominal engine performance during the full mission duration burn of two minutes, the necessary time to boost MIURA 1 launch vehicle into space.

“This milestone is a huge step forward for PLD Space, for the Spanish space sector and the European small launcher competitiveness, and allow us to be one of the few companies in the world that has successfully developed, tested and qualified propulsion technologies for space launch vehicles. Achieving this important milestone implies a turning point in the commercial space race and take us a step closer for launching MIURA 1 into space. With this result, PLD Space has a rocket engine capable of reaching space soon”, Raúl Torres, CEO and co-founder of PLD Space.

Virgin Galactic Chairman Declares We’re Not a Bubble Stock as Shares Slide

Chamath Palihapitiya (Credit: SCH)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Galactic Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya was on a financial news network yesterday denying the stock was a bubble, a claim that hasn’t aged well in the short term.

With shares soaring to a high of $41.55 only a week ago, they are hovering at around $23 as I writing this story. The shares were offered at $12 when Virgin Galactic went public last Oct. 28 and rose sharply in recent weeks.

The shares slid after Virgin Galactic reported a larger than expected loss for the fourth quarter 2019 and hinted at delays in the start of commercial suborbital flights, which were to have started in June. Analysts have downgraded the stock based on the earnings report.

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Seismic Activity on Mars Resembles that Found in the Swabian Jura

Cereberus Fossae was shaped by volcanism and tectonics, (Credits: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin)
  • The SEIS experiment on board NASA’s InSight geophysical station recorded 174 seismic events up to the end of September 2019.
  • Weak earthquakes – magnitude less than three to four.
  • Accompanying measurements provide information about the local weather conditions.
  • In the coming weeks, the Mars ‘Mole’ is to be assisted more effectively by pressure from above applied with the robotic arm.

COLOGNE (DLR PR) — Mars is a seismically active planet – quakes occur several times a day. Although they are not particularly strong, they are easily measurable during the quiet evening hours. This is one of many results of the evaluation of measurement data from the NASA InSight lander, which has been operating as a geophysical observatory on the surface of Mars since 2019.

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CSA Awards Mission Control Contract to Develop Lunar Surface Autonomous Science Payload

Rover prototype during testing. (Credit: Mission Control Space Systems)

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, FEBRUARY 25, 2020 (Mission Control Space Services PR) — Mission Control Space Services Inc. (Mission Control) is pleased to announce a contract awarded by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) for the development of a novel payload to advance lunar scientific exploration, the first contract to be awarded under the $150M CSA Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP).

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Final Test of Orion Motor Critical to Astronaut Safety a Spectacular Success

Orion launch abort system test. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

ELKTON, Md. (NASA PR) — When NASA astronauts blast off for their voyage to the Moon on the Orion spacecraft during Artemis missions, they’ll have protection in the form of the launch abort system (LAS). The LAS is designed to carry crew to safety in the event of an emergency during launch or ascent atop the agency’s Space Launch System rocket.

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LA City Council Approves SpaceX Production Facility at Port

Figure 2-3. Proposed Starship Reentry and Landing

The Los Angeles City Council has granted a permit to SpaceX to build a research, development, manufacturing and recovery facility at a dilapidated terminal at the Port of Los Angeles.

The 12-0 vote followed the approval of the plan by harbor commissioners last week for the development of the facility on Terminal Island. SpaceX will produce engines and other components for its starship vehicle at the new facility.

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NASA CubeSats Play Big Role in Lunar Exploration

The Lunar Flashlight, flying as secondary payload on the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System, will examine the moon’s surface for ice deposits and identify locations where resources may be extracted. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — They might be small, but they’re also mighty. Very small and innovative spacecraft called CubeSats are poised to play a role in NASA’s  Artemis  program, which will return humans to the Moon by 2024.

Advancements in consumer electronics and miniaturized sensors enable small spacecraft to be powerful tools for space exploration.

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Northrop Grumman Successfully Completes Historic First Docking of Mission Extension Vehicle with Intelsat 901 Satellite

View of IS-901 satellite from Mission Extension Vehicle-1’s (MEV-1) “near hold” position during approach from approximately 20 meters with Earth in the background. The MEV successfully docked with the Intelsat 901 satellite on Tuesday, Feb. 25. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

DULLES, Va., Feb. 26, 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, SpaceLogistics LLC, have successfully completed the first docking of the Mission Extension Vehicle-1 (MEV-1) to the Intelsat 901 (IS-901) spacecraft in order to provide life-extension services. This historic accomplishment marks the first time two commercial satellites have docked in orbit and the first time that mission extension services will be offered to a satellite in geosynchronous orbit.

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Virgin Galactic: High Losses, Minimal Revenues & A lot of “Registrations of Interest”

A view from inside the cockpit. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Richard Branson’s now publicly traded Virgin Galactic space tourism company had its first quarterly and full year earnings call on Tuesday. You can read the press release here. Below are the key takeaways.

Burning cash: Net losses were nearly $72.8 million for the fourth quarter and $210.9 million for 2019. Net losses for 2018 and 2019 totaled $349.1 million. Total expenditures since 2004 have exceeded $1 billion.

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400 Marsquakes Detected by UK Sensors in One Year

This image from InSight’s robotic-arm mounted Instrument Deployment Camera shows the instruments on the spacecraft’s deck, with the Martian surface of Elysium Planitia in the background. The image was received on Dec. 4, 2018 (Sol 8). (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The NASA InSight lander, which is supported by the UK Space Agency, has recorded 400 likely ‘Marsquakes’ in the first year of its mission.

The seismic vibrations on Mars were detected by a set of silicon sensors developed in the UK for InSight’s Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS).

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Virgin Galactic Releases Fourth Quarter Results

SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity arrives at Spaceport America aboard WhiteKnightTwo VMS Eve. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Registrations of interest continue to grow to 7,957, more than doubling since last update[1]

“One Small Step” initiative announced, enabling prospects to take first step toward ticket to space

MOJAVE, Calif. (Virgin Galactic PR) — Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (“Virgin Galactic” or “the Company”), a vertically integrated aerospace company, today announced its financial results for the fourth quarter and full-year ended December 31, 2019.

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Virgin Galactic Starts Taking Flight Deposits Again

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo fly right overhead. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Editor’s Note: They kind of buried the lede here. Read down to paragraph 4 of 7. Virgin also closed ticket sales after VSS Enterprise crashed in October 2014, at which time it had more 700 firm reservations. But, notice the legalistic clarification: formally closed.

MOJAVE, Calif. (Virgin Galactic PR) — Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (“Virgin Galactic” or “the Company”), a vertically integrated aerospace company, announced today that in preparation for the re-opening of spaceflight sales, it is introducing the One Small Step initiative. The company formally closed its doors to new ticket sales after its history-making first space flight in December 2018.

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SpaceX CRS-20 Launch Targeted for March 6

A camera on the tip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm views the SpaceX Dragon as it separates from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (NASA PR) — SpaceX is now targeting March 6 at 11:50 p.m. EST for launch of its 20th commercial resupply services mission (CRS-20) to the International Space Station. During standard preflight inspections, SpaceX identified a valve motor on the second stage engine behaving not as expected and determined the safest and most expedient path to launch is to utilize the next second stage in line that was already at the Cape and ready for flight.

The new second stage has already completed the same preflight inspections with all hardware behaving as expected. The updated target launch date provides the time required to complete preflight integration and final checkouts.

The cargo Dragon will lift off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying more than 5,600 pounds of science investigations and cargo to the station, including research on particle foam manufacturing, water droplet formation, the human intestine and other cutting-edge investigations.

Learn more about space station activities by following  @space_station  and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

CSA Invests in Canadian Lunar Science and Technology

Moon (Credit: NASA)

LONGUEUIL, Quebec, February 25, 2020 – Canada has joined humanity’s return to the Moon – an investment in science, innovation and research to unlock new opportunities for economic growth and to help us answer important questions about our planet, universe and ourselves.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is presenting Canada’s space community, including small and medium-sized businesses, with the opportunity to contribute technologies to national and international efforts of exploring the Moon. This is a crucial step in humanity’s quest to travel further in space, onwards to Mars.

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