Avio Successfully Tested M10-methane Engine Prototype

M10 liquid oxygen-methane engine. (Credit: Avio)

COLLEFERRO, Italy (Avio PR) – Today in Colleferro Avio successfully tested the prototype of the new M10 liquid oxygen-methane engine, developed by Avio in partnership with the European Space Agency within the Vega E (Vega Evolution) program. The prototype is a scaled model of the third stage propulsion engine which will equip the Vega launcher starting from 2024.

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We Are NASA Promotional Video

Video Caption: We’ve taken giant leaps and left our mark in the heavens. Now we’re building the next chapter, returning to the Moon to stay, and preparing to go beyond. We are NASA – and after 60 years, we’re just getting started. Special thanks to Mike Rowe for the voiceover work.

Electric Blue Thrusters Propelling BepiColombo to Mercury

Twin ion thrusters firing (Credit: QinetiQ)

PARIS (ESA PR) — In mid-December, twin discs will begin glowing blue on the underside of a minibus-sized spacecraft in deep space. At that moment Europe and Japan’s BepiColombo mission will have just come a crucial step closer to Mercury.

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National Space Council Gets Report on Human Spaceflight in Low-Earth Orbit

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and the Departments of State and Commerce have submitted a report to the National Space Council outlining future opportunities and challenges for human spaceflight in low-Earth orbit (LEO), and its potential economic contributions to the broader field of exploration.

The National Space Council requested NASA lead an interagency effort to produce the report, entitled ‘A Strategy for Human Spaceflight in Low Earth Orbit and Economic Growth in Space,’ during its February meeting.

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Elon Musk Promises Radical Change in BFR Design

BFR in flight. (Credit: SpaceX)

In tweet over the weekend, Elon Musk promised a “radical change” in the design of the Big Falcon Rocket SpaceX is developing for launching satellites, point-to-point travel and Earth, and human and cargo missions to the moon and Mars.

“Btw, SpaceX is no longer planning to upgrade Falcon 9 second stage for reusability. Accelerating BFR instead. New design is very exciting! Delightfully counter-intuitive,” he tweeted.

Musk also said SpaceX would not be making any changes to the Falcon 9 booster to make it more reusable. This declaration rules out recovering the second stage for reuse.

NASA Sends Final Commands to Kepler Space Telescope

This artist’s concept depicts select planetary discoveries made to date by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. (Credit: NASA/W. Stenzel)

BOULDER, Colo. (NASA PR) — On Thursday evening, NASA’s Kepler space telescope received its final set of commands to disconnect communications with Earth. The “goodnight” commands finalize the spacecraft’s transition into retirement, which began on Oct. 30 with NASA’s announcement that Kepler had run out of fuel and could no longer conduct science.

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Massive Impact Crater from a Kilometer-wide Iron Meteorite Discovered in Greenland

COPENHAGEN (University of Copenhagen PR) — An international team lead by researchers from the Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen have discovered a 31-km wide meteorite impact crater buried beneath the ice-sheet in the northern Greenland. This is the first time that a crater of any size has been found under one of Earth’s continental ice sheets. The researchers worked for last three years to verify their discovery, initially made in the 2015. The research is described in a new study just published in the internationally recognized journal Science Advances.

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Orion Recovery Team: Ready to ‘Rock and Roll’

At night, on Nov. 1, 2018, a test version of the Orion capsule is pulled into the well deck of the USS John P. Murtha during Underway Recovery Test-7 (URT) in the Pacific Ocean. URT-7 is one in a series of tests conducted by the Exploration Ground Systems Recovery Team to verify and validate procedures and hardware that will be used to recover the Orion spacecraft after it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean following deep space exploration missions. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

By Amanda Griffin
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

A NASA and Department of Defense team returned from a week of training at sea to improve joint landing and recovering operations planned for crew aboard the agency’s Orion spacecraft from future deep space exploration missions.

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Russia Working on Reusable Rocket to Compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX

Vladimir Koshlakov, head of the Keldysh Research Center, recently revealed details about a project by Energomash and S7 Space to develop a reusable launch vehicle, TASS reports.

“Recently, we had a conference on present-day problems of rocket engine-building. [S7 Space head Sergei] Sopov delivered a speech. He said: we need engines that can be switched on about 100 times,” Koshlakov said, adding that the question of how many launches will be optimal remains open.

According to the official, the rocket’s “cooldown” period should not exceed 48 hours.

“In other words, a rocket blasts off, then returns and is ready for the next launch with the same engine within 48 hours,” he said. “Here are the requirements set by the market.”

S7 Space, which purchases the assets of bankrupt Sea Launch, is developing a reusable rocket based on the design of the Soyuz-5 booster that NPO Energia is developing to launch the Russia’s new crewed Federatsiya spacecraft.

Five More Launches Scheduled for November

Rideshare launch (Credit: Spaceflight)

The following is a list of launches for the remainder of November based on Spaceflightnow.com’s Launch Schedule. The list includes two launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and one launch apiece from Xichang in China, Kourou in French Guiana, and Satish Dhawan in India.

Please check Spaceflightnow’s launch page regularly because launches tend to slip on a regular basis.

Editor’s Note: The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scheduled for Monday has been postponed five or six days so engineers can conduct additional checks of the booster. The first stage is being flown for the third time.

November 19

Launch Vehicle: Long March 3B — SUCCESS
Payload: 2 Beidou navigation satellites
Launch Time: TBA
Launch Site: Xichang, China

November 20/21

Launch Vehicle: Vega
Payload: Mohammed VI-B Earth observation satellite
Launch Time: 8:42 p.m. EST on 20th (0142 GMT on 21st)
Launch Site: Kourou, French Guiana
Webcast: http://www.esa.int

November 26

Launch Vehicle: PSLV
Payload: HySIS hyperspectral imaging satellite
Launch Time: TBA
Launch Site: Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India
Webcast: https://www.isro.gov.in/

November 29

Launch Vehicle: Delta 4-Heavy
Payload: NROL-71 reconnaissance satellite
Launch Time: TBA
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
Webcast: https://www.ulalaunch.com/

TBD

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Spaceflight, Inc. SSO-A rideshare mission
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
Webcast: http://www.spacex.com

This flight will deploy more than 70 spacecraft from approximately 35 different organizations.

Northrop Grumman Antares Launches Cygnus Resupply Ship to Station

Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket launched the company’s Cygnus spacecraft carrying about 7,400 pounds of cargo for the International Space Station on Nov. 17, 2018. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

DULLES, Va., Nov. 17, 2018 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced it successfully launched its AntaresTM rocket carrying the “S.S. John Young” CygnusTM spacecraft today at 4:01 a.m. EST from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A on Wallops Island, Virginia, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. The launch marks Northrop Grumman’s 10th cargo mission carrying vital supplies to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station for NASA.

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Starlink 12K: Elon Musk’s Big Gamble on Global Satellite Internet

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s plan to provide high-speed communications to virtually any location on Earth got a big boost this week when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the company’s plan to add 7,518 satellites to the company’s Starlink constellation.

The action brings the total number of satellites in Starlink to 11,943 following the FCC’s earlier approval of 4,425 spacecraft last year.

Starlink is Musk’s ambitious entry into the global satellite Internet race. He is gambling big that there is a sufficient market worldwide to make the constellation profitable.

SpaceX launched two test Starlink test satellites into orbit earlier this year. Published reports say Musk wants to launch the first batch of satellites in the middle of next year, with service to begin in 2020.

Starlink is facing competition from OneWeb, which is planning to launch a constellation of 882 satellites to provide similar service. OneWeb plans to begin launching spacecraft next year.

The FCC also approved satellite broadband constellations by three other satellite companies last week. Telesat Canada received approval for an 117-satellite constellation while LeoSat plans to launch 78 spacecraft.

Kepler Communication’s 140-satellite constellation is focused on providing communications for the Internet of Things.

“These proposed satellite systems are expected to enable fixed satellite service in the United States, expanding global connectivity and advancing the goals of increasing high-speed broadband availability and competition in the marketplace,” the FCC said in a press release.

The constellations will greatly increase the number of satellites in Earth orbit. There are currently about 4,900 spacecraft in orbit out of the approximately 8,100 launched since the Space Age began in October 1957. Nearly 2,000 spacecraft are currently operational.

ESA Microlauncher Workshop Looks at New Ways to Access Space

Microlauncher concepts (Credit: ESA)

PARIS, 16 November 2018 (ESA PR) — Access to space was in the spotlight at this week’s Φ event which followed an ESA-hosted workshop on Europe’s emerging microlaunch services held in Paris, France for industry, investors and institutions.

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ANA & Marubeni to Establish Spaceport in Japan

A planned suborbital space plane. Credit: (PD AeroSpace Ltd./Koike Terumasa Design and Aerospace)

Nikkei Asian Review reports on efforts to establish a new spaceport in Japan.

All Nippon Airways operator ANA Holdings and trading house Marubeni will set up a spaceport in Japan as early as 2021, Nikkei has learned.

The launch site, equivalent to a seaport for ships or an airport for aircraft, will be for private space travel, and feature 3-km runways for craft that take off horizontally like airplanes….

The two companies, together with four other partners — including Airbus Japan, satellite broadcaster Sky Perfect JSAT and real estate company Mitsui Fudosan — have established a company named Spaceport Japan to advance the project. The Tokyo-based team will begin work on Friday.

ANA is working with PD Aerospace on developing a suborbital space plane.

Russia to Deliver Magnetic 3-D Bioprinter to Space Station

Russia plans to deliver a magnetic 3-D bioprinter capable of growing living tissues and eventually organs.to the International Space Station (ISS) next month, TASS reports.

The Organ-Avt bioprinter, built by 3D Bioprinting Solutions, is a copy of one that was lost in the abort of the Soyuz MS-10 mission on Oct. 11. Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague parachuted to safety after a malfunction of their Soyuz-FG booster.

The bioprinter, which also can be used to used to study the effects on living organisms during long-duration spaceflights. will be carried to ISS aboard the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft. The spacecraft is set to lift off from the Baiknour Cosmodrome on Dec. 3 with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, American astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques aboard.