SpaceX Launches 58 Starlink Satellites

Falcon 9 lifts off on June 13, 2020. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

SpaceX launched its ninth Starlink mission on Saturday, lofting 58 Starlink and three Planet SkySat Earth observation satellites into orbit.

Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the pre-dawn darkness.

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Space BD Completes Installation of SATLANTIS’ iSIM on ISS Kibo External Platform

Tokyo (Space BD PR) — Space BD Inc., the leading space startup in Japan that provides access to space using the International Space Station (ISS) Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” and rideshares on Japan’s flagship launch vehicle “H3”, announces that it successfully completed the installation process of SATLANTIS MICROSAT S.L.’s Integrated Standard Imager for Microsatellites (iSIM) on IVA-Replaceable Small Exposed Experiment Platform (i-SEEP), the external platform attached outside of Kibo.

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MDA Selects DDC-I’s Deos RTOS to Develop Communications System for SNC’s Dream Chaser

Dream Chaser lands (Credit: NASA)

PHOENIX, June 10, 2020 (DDC-I PR) — DDC-I, a leading supplier of software and professional services for mission- and safety-critical applications, today announced that its Deos safety-critical real-time operating system has been selected by Macdonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) for use in a communications subsystem destined for Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser® Cargo System.

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Major Space Agency Heads Hold Virtual Meeting

Translated from French by Google Translate

PARIS (CNES PR) — Tuesday, June 9, fifteen heads of space agencies from around the world (European Space Agency (ESA), Germany, Australia, Canada, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, France, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, News – Zealand, Russia, United Kingdom) participated, at the invitation of NASA, in a virtual meeting to exchange their points of view on the progress of human and robotic exploration. 

Because of COVID-19, this meeting could not be held, as every year, at the time of the Colorado Springs Space Symposium initially scheduled for the end of March. 

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Station Buzzing With Science in Middle of Spacewalk Preps

The Expedition 63 crew welcomes Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA / Bill Stafford)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The International Space Station is buzzing today with a broad array of research to improve life for humans on and off the Earth. The five-person Expedition 63 crew has also been preparing for a set of spacewalks as the pace of space science ramps up.

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Space Exploration in a Time of Social Turmoil

The Expedition 63 crew welcomes Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA/Bill Stafford)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The contrast was jarring. In one browser window, two NASA astronauts were making their way to the International Space Station (ISS) after the first orbital launch of a crew from U.S. soil in nearly 9 years.

In another window, scenes of chaos played out as protests over the death of George Floyd after his arrest by Minneapolis police erupted into violent clashes across the country.

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Rubio, Scott, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan American Space Commerce Act

Sen. Marco Rubio

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Marco Rubio PR) — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rick Scott (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral American Space Commerce Act of 2020. At a time when the U.S. has steadily decreased its dependence on foreign rockets and launch infrastructure, the American Space Commerce Act would bolster U.S. leadership in the space industry, enhance public-private partnerships with American companies, and further increase U.S. innovation.

U.S. Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL) and Charlie Crist (D-FL) introduced the House version of the legislation (H.R. 6783). The legislation is supported by the Aerospace Industry Association, Blue Origin, Boeing, Space Florida, SpaceX, and ULA.

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NASA Modifies SpaceX Contract to Allow Reuse of Crew Dragon, Falcon 9

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

NASA has modified its $2.7 billion commercial crew contract with SpaceX to allow Elon Musk’s company to reuse Falcon 9 first stages and Crew Dragon spacecraft for transporting astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

The reuse of the boosters and spacecraft will begin with the second commercial Crew Dragon flight, which will likely be launched in 2021. The first commercial mission with four astronauts aboard is scheduled to launched on Aug. 30.

In return, SpaceX has agreed to extend the ongoing Crew Dragon Demo-2 flight test from two weeks to up to 119 days. The spacecraft, currently docked to the space station, was launched with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard on May 30.

The contract modification added the requirement for SpaceX to conduct joint training with the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Operations Group Detachment 3 (DET-3) for the first six commercial Crew Dragon launches.

DET-3 forces are placed on alert at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida, Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii in case Crew Dragon astronauts need to be rescued due to a mishap.

Crew Dragon and its booster’s first stage are designed for reuse. A Falcon 9 first stage landed on an offshore drone ship on Thursday after launching for the fifth time. Cargo Dragon vehicles has flow to ISS multiple times.

Space Station Instrument Helps Researchers to Understand Lightning

The Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor on the exterior of the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Lightning flashes from a storm cloud to strike the ground. Such bolts represent only a small part of the overall phenomenon of lightning. The most powerful activity occurs high above the surface, in Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Up there, lightning creates brief bursts of gamma rays that are the most high-energy naturally produced phenomena on the planet. Researchers recently measured these high-energy terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, or TGFs, using instruments on the International Space Station. The work helps reveal the mechanism behind the creation of the bright flashes we call lightning.

The instruments are part of the Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM), an Earth observation facility on the outside of the space station used to study severe thunderstorms and their role in Earth’s atmosphere and climate.

This photo of the ASIM investigation installed on the International Space Station’s Columbus External Payload Facility was taken by the ground-controlled External High Definition Camera 3.

NASA Awards Northrop Grumman Artemis Contract for Gateway Crew Cabin

Artist’s concept of the Gateway power and propulsion and Habitation and Logistics Outpost, or HALO, in orbit around the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has finalized the contract for the initial crew module of the agency’s Gateway lunar orbiting outpost.

Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Virginia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Space, has been awarded $187 million to design the habitation and logistics outpost (HALO) for the Gateway, which is part of NASA’s Artemis program and will help the agency build a sustainable presence at the Moon. This award funds HALO’s design through its preliminary design review, expected by the end of 2020.

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Trump Space-themed Campaign Spurs Anger, Might Have Broken Law

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

UPDATE: The campaign ad has been removed from YouTube.

President Donald Trump’s new campaign commercial that focuses on America’s space program has spurred anger and might have broken the law by featuring NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who launched to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon last week.

Former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver tweeted:

Total politicization of ⁦@NASA⁩, Bob, Doug & ⁦@SpaceX⁩. Did they want to be used in a Trump campaign ad? Are these FEC [Federal Election Commission] & Hatch Act violations? “We are Americans & the future belongs totally to us” Really? Space should be healing, not dividing!

The Hatch Act limits the ability of federal employees to become involved in political activities. Behnken and Hurley are government employees because they work for NASA.

Hurley’s wife, former astronaut Karen Nyberg, is featured in the ad watching her husband and Behnken lift off aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster on Saturday. She tweeted:

I find it disturbing that a video image of me and my son is being used in political propaganda without my knowledge or consent. That is wrong. @nasa @JimBridenstine

NASA has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans. A petition titled, Stop Donald Trump politicizing SpaceX and NASA accomplishments, has been posted on Change.org.

New HTV-X Resupply Ship to Be More Capable, Affordable

HTV-X cargo ship. (Credit; JAXA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On May 21, a Japanese H-IIB rocket roared off the launch pad with the ninth and final H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) (Kounotori) resupply ship to the International Space Station (ISS).

But, the launch was not the end of the line for Japanese cargo delivery. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is developing an improved variant known as HTV-X to supply the space station and possibly the lunar Gateway.

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SpaceX Demo-2 Astronauts Get to Work on Space Station Science

The Expedition 63 crew has expanded to five members with the arrival of the SpaceX Crew Dragon. (From left) Anatoly Ivanishin, Ivan Vagner, Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. (Credit: NASA TV)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla, (ISS National Lab PR) – At a time when so many feel isolated, the world came together with hopeful energy on Saturday to watch as two American astronauts were launched into orbit from U.S. soil for the first time in nearly a decade—and for the first time ever onboard a commercially owned spacecraft.

The successful SpaceX Demo-2 launch and docking, which carried NASA astronauts Doug  Hurley  and Robert Behnken from the Space Coast of Florida to the International Space Station (ISS), not only initiated a new era in American spaceflight but also rekindled the wonder and excitement of sending humans into space. Now, the two astronauts are getting to work in their new residence.

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JPL Mission Breaks Record for Smallest Satellite to Detect an Exoplanet

ASTERIA was deployed from the International Space Station on November 20, 2017. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

About the size of a briefcase, the CubeSat was built to test new technologies but exceeded expectations by spotting a planet outside our solar system.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Long before it was deployed into low-Earth orbit from the International Space Station in Nov. 2017, the tiny ASTERIA spacecraft had a big goal: to prove that a satellite roughly the size of a briefcase could perform some of the complex tasks much larger space observatories use to study exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system. A new paper soon to be published in the Astronomical Journal describes how ASTERIA (short for Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research in Astrophysics) didn’t just demonstrate it could perform those tasks but went above and beyond, detecting the known exoplanet 55 Cancri e.

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Space Station Astronauts Open Nasdaq Trading

NASA astronauts (from left) Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley and Chris Cassidy.

Video Caption: A historic bell ringing, 250 miles above Earth.

Today we recognized the achievements of our #LaunchAmerica mission with NASA Astronauts Chris Cassidy, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley who rung the captain’s bell onboard the International Space Station to open the day’s trading on June 2.

Behnken and Hurley arrived at the station on May 31, a day after becoming the first NASA astronauts to launch on a commercial rocket. The launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft marked the return of human launches from U.S. soil to the space station for the first time since the retirement of the space shuttle program in 2011.

Learn more about the mission: https://www.nasa.gov/launchamerica/

NASA astronauts (from left) Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley and Chris Cassidy appear on Nasdaq’s large television screen above Times Square in New York on June 2, 2020. The three astronauts, part of the International Space Station’s Expedition 63 crew, rang the ship’s bell onboard the station to open the day’s trading. (Credit: Nasdaq/Rohini Shahriar)