Second Rocket Lab Electron Flight Succeeds

Electron soars into orbit. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast screenshot)

Rocket Lab has successfully launched its Electron rocket from New Zealand, marking the first success of the small satellite booster.

The two-stage Electron roared off its launch pad on the Mahia Peninsula and appeared to have nominal flight. Commentary on the company’s webcast indicate the rocket successfully deployed three CubeSats from Planet and Spire. Planet confirmed deployment of its satellite via Twitter.

The Electron booster’s second stage just prior to cutoff. (Credit: sRocket Lab webcast screenshot)

It marked only the second launch of the booster, which failed during its inaugural flight in May 2017. The ground lost telemetry from the rocket, which was blown up by range safety.

Electron is powered by Rutherford engines and is capable of placing payloads up to 225 kg (496 lb) into a 500-km (310-mile) sun synchronous orbit.

Bridenstine Invites Bill Nye to State of the Union Address

Bill Nye in Washington. (Credit: Planetary Society)

WASHINGTON (Jim Bridenstine PR) — Congressman Jim Bridenstine announced today that Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and CEO of the Planetary Society will be his guest at President Trump’s State of the Union Address on January 30th.

(more…)

ULA Atlas V Launches U.S. Air Force Early Warning Satellite

Atlas V launches the U.S. Air Force’s SBIRS Geo 4 satellite. (Credit: ULA)

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Jan. 19, 2018 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight 4 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 on Jan. 19 at 7:48 p.m. EST. SBIRS is considered one of the nation’s highest priority space programs, and is designed to provide global, persistent, infrared surveillance capabilities to meet 21st century demands.

(more…)

Potomac Institute Releases Make America Great Again in Space Report

WASHINGTON (Potomac Institute PR) — The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies is pleased to present a new report, Make America Great Again in Space. The report recommends bold new policy to ensure US leadership in space in the realms of commercial enterprise, defense, and intelligence.

Driving American Enterprise and National Security in Space

Make America Great Again in Space examines the essential role of the US Government in laying the foundations for enterprise and economic development, by investing in infrastructure and R&D. It outlines the history of the space industry of today and advocates for continued investment in infrastructure and research needed to support commercial development of space.

(more…)

NASA Replaces Astronaut on Upcoming Space Station Flight

Jeanette Epps (Credit: NASA)

NASA has replaced an astronaut set to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) in June with a backup.

Jeanette Epps, who was set to become the first African American crew member on the space station, has been reassigned to the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, the space agency announced. She will be considered for future flights.

“Serena Auñón-Chancellor, who previously was assigned to Expedition 58/59, has been reassigned to the Expedition 56/57 crew, launching in June,” NASA said in a press release. ” Anne McClain, a member of the 2013 astronaut class, will fly on the Expedition 58/59 crew, launching in November.”

NASA did not give provide a reason for the reassignment of Epps, who was selected as an astronaut in 2009.

(more…)

China Launches Satellites, ULA & Rocket Lab Flights Set

Atlas V on launch pad. (Credit: ULA)

China launched a Long March 11 rocket with six satellites aboard on Friday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The booster orbited a pair of Jilin-1 Earth imaging satellites for the Chang Guang Satellite company as well as four secondary payloads.

ULA is set to launch an Atlas V rocket with an U.S. Air Force Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO early warning satellite later today. The flight is scheduled to lift off at 7:48 p.m. from Cape Canaveral in Florida.  ULA scrubbed the launch on Thursday do to a problem with ground equipment.

The webcast is available at www.ulalaunch.com and www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance

The delay has postponed an attempt by SpaceX to conduct a static fire of the Falcon Heavy’s first-stage engines on a nearby launch pad. The test had been planned for Friday, but the next earliest opportunity is Saturday providing the Atlas V launches tonight.

On Saturday, Rocket Lab will open a launch window for the second flight of its Electron rocket. The first four-hour window opens on January 20 at 2:30 p.m. NZDT (0130 a.m. GMT/8:30 p.m. EST on Friday).

Rocket Lab has reserved nine days with identical four-hour windows for this launch attempt. The booster is carrying CubeSats for Planet and Spire.

Check Rocket Lab’s website for information about the webcast.

Bridenstine & Myers Nominations Sent on to Senate


by Douglas Messier

Managing Editor

As expected, the Senate Commerce Committee narrowly approved the Trump Administration’s nominations of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) and AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers to serve as the administrators of NASA and NOAA, respectively.

(more…)

Hey Las Cruces, Get Ready for Spacestock!

Las Cruces is throwing itself a space party this year, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports.

Organizers say the first edition of the Las Cruces Space Festival, to be held April 12 and 14, will be a small affair and they hope it will grow over the years. The idea is to showcase the region’s aerospace industry, show people what has been accomplished in southern New Mexico and encourage new generations of Las Crucens to enter the growing aerospace field.

The date, April 12, was selected to coincide with the anniversary of human space flight, when the USSR launched Yuri Gagarin into a single orbit around the earth in 1961.

“The intent of the festival is to celebrate what we already do in space, not worry about what’s coming,” said Pat Hynes, director of the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium at New Mexico State University.

Hynes said plans are still developing, but events will allow the public to learn about space-related activity in the region. On Saturday, April 14, various activities will be set up around the Plaza de Las Cruces which may include informational booths, a possible space-related movie at the Rio Grande Theatre and other activities.

 

NASA Team First to Demonstrate X-ray Navigation in Space

This illustration shows the NICER mission at work aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — In a technology first, a team of NASA engineers has demonstrated fully autonomous X-ray navigation in space — a capability that could revolutionize NASA’s ability in the future to pilot robotic spacecraft to the far reaches of the solar system and beyond.

(more…)

Mixed Reality Technology Helps NASA Astronauts Prepare for Starliner Returns from the Space Station

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program astronauts, wearing spacesuits and augmented reality headsets, rehearse returning to Earth from the International Space Station during recent testing at Boeing’s Extended Reality Laboratory in Philadelphia. The astronauts are seated upside down so they can practice releasing their seat harness and moving to the side hatch of the Starliner without assistance. (Credit: Boeing)

PHILADELPHIA (NASA PR) — NASA’s Commercial Crew Program astronauts training to fly test missions to and from the International Space Station are practicing returning to Earth from the microgravity laboratory.

(more…)

New ISRO Chairman Takes Over

A new chairman took over leadership of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) last week.

K. Sivan, who previously served as director of ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre since June 2015, succeeded A S Kiran Kumar. Like his predecessor, Sivan has been appointed to a three-year term. Sivan also serves as secretary of the Department of Space and chairman of the Space Commission.

Sivan joined ISRO in 1982, working on the PSLV booster program. He is credited with turning around the troubled GSLV Mark II rocket program after a series of launch failures.

Sivan graduated from Madras Institute of Technology with a degree in aeronautical engineering in 1980. He earned a master of engineering degree in aerospace engineering at the Indian Institute of Science two years later. In 2006, he was awarded a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering by the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay.

ULA Atlas V Set to Launch Air Force Satellite Tonight

Atlas V on launch pad. (Credit: ULA)

UPDATE: The launch was scrubbed. They will try again on Friday at 7:48 p.m. EST.

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (ULA PR) — Everything is progressing toward the ULA Atlas V launch carrying the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight 4 mission for the U.S. Air Force.

The mission is set to lift off on a ULA Atlas V rocket on Thursday, Jan. 18 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Today’s L-1 forecast shows a 90 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The launch time is 7:52 p.m. ET.

Launch Forecast Summary:
Overall probability of violating weather constraints: 10%
Primary concerns: Cumulus Clouds

Overall probability of violating weather constraints for 24 hour delay: 10%
Primary concern: Cumulus Clouds

Webcast available at www.ulalaunch.com and www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance

Japan Launches Radar Satellite

Epsilon launches ASNARO-2 satellite. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — At 6:06:11 a.m. (Japan Standard Time) January 18, 2017, JAXA launched Epsilon-3, the third Epsilon launch vehicle which encapsulates NEC Small radar satellite “ASNARO-2”, from the JAXA Uchinoura Space Center. The launch occurred on time.

The launch and flight of Epsilon-3 took place normally. Approximately 52 minutes 35 seconds into the flight, the separation of ASNARO-2 proceeded, with confirmation as successful.

ASNARO-2 was developed by NEC Corporation as part of the project funded by Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. JAXA, NEC Corporation’s contractor, was in charge of this launch.

JAXA expresses appreciation for the support by all.

Luxembourg, China Sign Cooperative Space Agreement

Chinese Academy of Sciences to establish a Research Laboratory in Luxembourg

LUXEMBOURG, January 16, 2018 (Luxembourg Government PR) – The Ministry of the Economy and the China National Space Administration (CNSA) signed today a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that provides a framework for the development and implementation of scientific, technical, economic and political cooperation between Luxembourg and China in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. The areas of potential cooperation include, but are not limited to economic, legal, regulatory and technological aspects of the utilization of space resources.

Furthermore, the Ministry of the Economy, represented by Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Economy, Étienne Schneider and the National Space Science Center (NSSC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) signed a cooperation agreement to establish a Research Laboratory of Deep Space Exploration in Luxembourg. The National Space Science Center is China’s gateway to space science. It is the key institute responsible for planning, developing, launching and operating China’s space science satellite missions.

The Research Laboratory of Deep Space Exploration will be established as an independent legal entity in Luxembourg where it will carry out scientific research and technology development and thus contribute to achieving the objectives set forth within the SpaceResources.lu initiative. Other main research fields of the Research Laboratory include universal interplanetary communications network related technology or advanced deep space communications technology. In a first stage, the Research Laboratory will employ at least 5 employees in Luxembourg.