Static Test Qualifies Orion Launch Abort Motor for Flight in Cold Conditions

Today’s test firing of the Northrop Grumman-manufactured launch abort motor in Promontory, Utah, confirmed the motor can activate within milliseconds and will perform as designed under cold temperatures. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

PROMONTORY, Utah, December 13, 2018 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) along with NASA and Lockheed Martin successfully performed a ground firing test of the abort motor for NASA’s Orion spacecraft Launch Abort System (LAS) at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Promontory, Utah. The abort motor is a major part of the LAS, which provides an enhancement in spaceflight safety for astronauts. The completion of this milestone brings Orion one step closer to its first flight atop NASA’s Space Launch System and to enabling humans to explore the moon, Mars and other deep space destinations beyond low-Earth orbit.


Exclusive Photos of SpaceShipTwo’s Flight

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo take off at 7:11 a.m. PST from the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

My friend Ken Brown got some great photos of the flight today.

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

The spacecraft was dropped 49 minutes after takeoff from Mojave. It fired its engine seconds later.

SpaceShipTwo fires its hybrid engine. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)
The engine continued to fire for 60 seconds. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

The 60-second burn was the longest in the history of SpaceShipTwo.

SpaceShipTwo fires its engine. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

We missed the landing because we were too far out into the desert. But, Ken got this photo of WhiteKnightTwo just before touchdown.

WhiteKnightTwo on approach to Mojave. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

ULA Resets Delta IV Heavy Launch for Dec. 18

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls) (ULA PR)

Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Dec. 13, 2018– A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy carrying the NROL-71 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office is set to launch on Tuesday, Dec. 18. The mission will lift off on a Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch time is 5:57 p.m. PST.

The launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy carrying the NROL-71 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office was scrubbed on Dec. 7 due to an issue with a redundant communication link between the control center and the launch site.

SpaceShipTwo Reaches Lower Definition of Space

SpaceShipTwo lands after a successful flight test. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Mojave, California, USA, 13 Dec 2018 (Virgin Galactic PR):  History has been made and a long-anticipated dream realised in Mojave, CA, today as Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, landed from her maiden spaceflight to cheers from Richard Branson and the teams from Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company.

Not only is this the first human spaceflight to be launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle mission in 2011, but the very first time that a crewed vehicle built for commercial, passenger service, has reached space.


Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Reaches 82.7 Kilometers

SpaceShipTwo lands after a successful flight test. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

During a flight test today, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo burned its engine for 60 seconds and reached an altitude of 271,268 (51.37 miles/82.7 km), which put the vehicle into space for the first time according to one definition of the boundary.

Pilots C.J. Sturckow and Mark Stucky deployed the spacecraft’s feather system — twin tail booms that re-configure the ship for re-entry — after reaching a top speed of Mach 2.9. They glided the vehicle back to a safe landing on Runway 12-30 at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California’s High Desert.

The flight culminated 14 years of work by Richard Branson’s space company, a period that saw a decade of delay and two fatal accidents that claimed four lives.

Branson and his son, Sam, were on hand in Mojave to watch the historic flight.  It was the fourth powered test for SpaceShipTwo Unity and the eighth of the program. SpaceShipTwo Enterprise broke up on its fourth flight test on Oct. 31, 2014.

Virgin Galactic plans to begin commercial service of the eight-seat suborbital spacecraft from Spaceport New Mexico after additional flight tests. Richard and Sam Branson  plan to be on the first commercial flight.

Kleos Space Dual-lists on Frankfurt Stock Exchange

Luxembourg 12th December 2018- Luxembourg-based Kleos Space S.A. (ASX: KSS), state-of-the-art space technology operator, is pleased to announce the dual-listing of the company’s shares on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange trading with the ticker code KS1 as it prepares for the launch of its first satellites and commercialisation of its ‘Data as a Service’ (DaaS) product in 2019.

Andy Bowyer, CEO of Kleos Space said: “While we are delighted to have many Australian investors already on board, we have dual-listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange to support our strategy which aims at broadening our European investor base. It will allow European investors to engage more easily with the company’s plans over the next 12 months as it launches the Kleos Scouting Mission and starts selling its commercial and independent data to government agencies, the intelligence, surveillance
and reconnaissance (ISR) community and organisations interested in locating threats, assets or those in need of search and rescue.


A Closer Look at the Satellites on the SSO-A Mission

Falcon 9 lifts off on Spaceflight SSO-A mission. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

Ever since Spaceflight’s launch of 64 satellites on a single Falcon 9, you’ve probably been wondering what those spacecraft were and what the hell they’re doing up there.

Welp, I’ve looked that up so you don’t have to. The table below explains all that, courtesy of Wikipedia. If anyone out there knows of any satellites that are not in the table, please provide details in the comments section.

Thank you for your support.


NASA’s InSight Takes Its First Selfie

This is NASA InSight’s first selfie on Mars. It displays the lander’s solar panels and deck. On top of the deck are its science instruments, weather sensor booms and UHF antenna. The selfie was taken on Dec. 6, 2018 (Sol 10). (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s InSight lander isn’t camera-shy. The spacecraft used a camera on its robotic arm to take its first selfie — a mosaic made up of 11 images. This is the same imaging process used by NASA’s Curiosity rover mission, in which many overlapping pictures are taken and later stitched together. Visible in the selfie are the lander’s solar panel and its entire deck, including its science instruments.