Locations Named on Asteroid Ryugu

Asteroid Ryugu photographed by Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Place names for locations on the surface of Ryugu were discussed by Division F (Planetary Systems and Bioastronomy) of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (hereafter IAU WG) and approved in December 2018. We will introduce the place names in this article and the background to their selection.

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Democrats Elect Johnson to Chair House Science Committee & Name Members


WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) — Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) was elected to serve as the thirteenth Chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee by the Democratic Caucus and confirmed on the House floor. Congresswoman Johnson is the first African-American and the first female Chair of the Science Committee.

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Blue Origin Releases Updated New Glenn Video

Video Caption: Debuting from Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral, Florida in 2021, New Glenn will serve commercial, civil and national security customers from around the world. Featuring a 7 meter fairing with more than 2X the available volume of any rocket flying today and twin BE-3U engines powering the most capable upper stage in the market, New Glenn can launch the full range of satellite payloads. Seven reusable BE-4 engines generating 3.85 million pounds of thrust power the first stage designed to launch 25 times and land safely down range on a moving ship. New Glenn is beginning to take shape at our state-of-the-art rocket factory. Visit us at www.blueorigin.com to learn more.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard Flies for 10th Time

Blue Origin’s New Shepard flew for the 10th time on Wednesday, blasting off from the company’s west Texas launch site with a capsule full of NASA-sponsored experiments.

The crew capsule reached an apogee of 355,755 ft (67.4 miles/108.4 km) and a velocity of 2226 mph (3,582 k/hr) in a flight that lasted 10 minutes 15 seconds. The capsule landed safely under parachute while its booster touched down on a nearby landing pad.

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European Union Provides $109 Million in Additional Funding for ESA’s Copernicus Program

BRUSSELS, 22 January 2019 (ESA PR) — An amendment to the current Copernicus Agreement has been signed by the EU and ESA, adding €96 million [$109.1 million] to ESA’s space component budget for the world’s largest environmental monitoring programme: Copernicus.

The 3rd Amendment of the EU–ESA Copernicus Agreement was signed at the 11th European Policy Conference in Brussels, Belgium.

This additional contribution of €96 million is related to ESA being entrusted with additional tasks such as the development of the Copernicus Sentinel-6 mission and the new European Copernicus Data Access and Information Services.

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Rocket Lab to Conduct Dedicated Launch for DARPA

Ellectron launches NASA’s Venture Class CubeSats. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Huntington Beach, California. January 22, 2019 (Rocket Lab PR) – Small satellite launch company Rocket Lab announced today that its first mission of 2019 will be a dedicated launch of a 150kg satellite for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The mission highlights US Government demand for the type of responsive, ultra-flexible and rapidly acquired launch service that characterizes the Rocket Lab launch experience on Electron.

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NASA Makes Change in Boeing Starliner Test Flight Crew

Astronaut Eric Boe examines hardware during a tour of the SpaceX facility in Hawthorne, California. (Credit: SpaceX)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut E. Michael “Mike” Fincke has been added to the crew of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner’s Crew Flight Test, scheduled to launch later this year.

Fincke takes the place of astronaut Eric Boe, originally assigned to the mission in August 2018. Boe is unable to fly due to medical reasons; he will replace Fincke as the assistant to the chief for commercial crew in the astronaut office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

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2018 Was Busy Year for Suborbital Flight Tests

SpaceShipTwo fires its hybrid engine. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Part 2 of 2

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

There were 15 flight tests of eight suborbital boosters in 2018, including six flights of two vehicles — Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and Blue Origin’s New Shepard — that are designed to carry passengers on space tourism rides.

The race to provide launch services to the booming small satellite industry also resulted in nine flight tests of six more conventional boosters to test technologies for orbital systems. Two of the boosters tested are designed to serve the suborbital market as well.

A pair of Chinese startups took advantage of a loosening of government restrictions on launch providers to fly their rockets two times apiece. There was also suborbital flight tests of American, Japanese and South Korean rockets.

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SpinLaunch Signs Lease with Spaceport America

Spaceport America has announced that SpinLaunch has signed a lease to conduct tests at the facility in southern New Mexico.

“An addition of 20 new jobs will be added locally, as well as investment by SpinLaunch of $7 million in construction capital and $1 million in local infrastructure development for the company,” the spaceport said in a press release.

SpinLaunch is developing a kinetic energy launch system that would spin in a circle at up to 5,000 miles per hour before it is released to fly to space. The system would not use any propellants.

Albuquerque Business First has some additional details on the Spaceport America deal.

The California company is leasing acreage from the commercial space hub near Truth or Consequences and will build a facility employing at least 20 people, according to spokeswoman Diane Murphy. It will include a launch site that Murphy said will serve as a testing grounds for its launching technology.

Spaceport CEO Dan Hicks said there was potential for a lease extension. SpinLaunch will invest $7 million in facility construction and $1 million in infrastructure development. The deal is important for the $220 million taxpayer-subsidized Spaceport, which has struggled in the past to secure tenants….

Murphy also said the company considered several locations for the test site, but that Spaceport provided the best mix of affordability and location. New Mexico’s renewable energy potential, universities and young labor pool were also considered assets.

SpinLaunch raised $40 million in venture funding last year. Most of the money came from Airbus Ventures, Alphabet Inc.’s GV (formerly Google Ventures), and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Russia’s Angara A5 Booster has Serious Flaw

Angara A5 launch (Credit: Khrunichev)

If you are among the millions of space enthusiasts who have been losing sleep over why Russia’s new Angara rocket hasn’t flown in more than four years, be prepared to snooze soundly again.

Rueters reports that engineers have found a flaw in the engine of the Angara A5 booster that could cause it to explode in flight.

The issue with the Angara A5 was brought to attention by scientists at rocket engine manufacturer Energomash in a paper ahead of a space conference later this month.

The paper, reported by RIA news agency on Friday and published online, said the engines of the Angara A5 could produce low frequency oscillations that could ultimately destroy the rocket.

A special valve had been fitted to mitigate the issue, but in some cases the oscillations continued, it said. Energomash did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The Angara A5 rocket is the most powerful of a family of boosters designed to replace the Proton and other launch vehicles currently in the Russian arsenal. The Angara series is based around a common first stage core with additional strap-on stages.

The Reuters story says that Russian President Vladimir Putin is eager to see the rocket start launching more frequently because it is vital to the nation’s national defense.

The Angara 1.2PP rocket made the maiden flight test of the series on July 9, 2014. The booster flew a suborbital mission carrying a mass simulator from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Northern Russia.

Angara A5 flew was launched from Plesetsk five months later on Dec. 23, 2014. Using a Briz-M upper stage, the booster placed a mass simulator into geosynchronous orbit.

The Wikipedia page for Angara lists two launches of the Angara A1.2 and one flight of Angara A5P for 2019. There is one Angara A1.2 flight listed for 2020. However, it is not clear whether this schedule is still valid; it came from a schedule compiled in late 2017.

Japanese Company Launches Small Satellite to Create First Artificial Meteor Shower

ALE-1 satellite undergoing fit test. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (ALE PR) — ALE’s first satellite was successfully launched and completed its first communication with ground station.

The space venture corporation ALE Co. Ltd., aiming to create the world’s first man made meteor via satellite technology, announced on January 18 the following updates regarding the launch of its first satellite into space.

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ESA, Metalysis Launch ISRU Grand Challenge Worth 500,000 Euros

Lunar base made with 3D printing (Credit: ESA/Foster + Partners)

PARIS, 18 January 2019 (ESA PR) — Sign up to the Metalysis–ESA Grand Challenge worth €500 000 rewarding innovation that helps us to explore space.

As ESA and other agencies prepare to send humans back to the Moon – this time to stay – technologies that make use of materials available in space (in-situ resource utilisation) are seen as key to sustainability, and a stepping stone in humankind’s adventure to Mars and farther into the Solar System.

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Pentagon Wants to Develop Space-based Interceptors, Lasers to Shoot Down Enemy Missiles

Citing increased threats from Russia, China and rogue nations such as North Korea, the Department of Defense (DoD) is exploring whether it can develop orbital interceptors and high-energy lasers to shoot down enemy missiles during the boost phase of their flights.

“:Developing scalable, efficient, and compact high energy laser technology holds the potential to provide a future cost-effective capability to destroy boosting missiles in the early part of the trajectory,” the DoD said in a new report, Missile Defense Review, that was released last week.

“Doing so would leverage earlier technological advances, including for example advances in beam propagation and beam control,” the report added. “DoD is developing a Low-Power Laser Demonstrator to evaluate the technologies necessary for mounting a laser on an unmanned airborne platform to track and destroy missiles in their boost-phase.”

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ArianeGroup & PTScientists to Study a Moon Mission for ESA

  • ArianeGroup has signed a contract with ESA to examine the possibility of going to the Moon before 2025 and starting to work there
  • Ariane 64, the 4-booster version of Ariane 6, would enable this European mission to carry the equipment needed for a Moon landing
  • To mark the 50th anniversary of Man’s first steps on the Moon, ArianeGroup will be one of the partners in the “La lune, du voyage réel aux voyages imaginaires” (The Moon, a journey from the real to the imaginary) exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris

TOULOUSE, France (ArianeGroup PR) — The European Space Agency (ESA) has just signed a one-year contract with ArianeGroup to study and prepare for a mission to go to the Moon with the aim of mining regolith. Regolith is an ore from which it is possible to extract water and oxygen, thus enabling an independent human presence on the Moon to be envisaged, capable of producing the fuel needed for more distant exploratory missions.

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Kleos Space Satellites Move into Integration Phase After Critical Design Review with Gomspace

LUXEMBOURG, 21 January 2019 (Kleos Space PR) — Kleos Space S.A. (ASX:KSS, Frankfurt:KS1), the space technology provider of activity-based intelligence data for defence, asset protection and rescue, confirmed that their first cluster of satellites has entered the Integration Phase after successfully undergoing Critical Design Review (CDR) with Gomspace A/S. The CDR ensured the satellites could proceed towards assembly, validation, integration and testing and confirms they meet stated performance cost, schedule, and risk requirements.

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