Landing on Ryugu – A Surface with a View of Boulders

The boulder-strewn surface of asteroid Ryugu. (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST.)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — In early October 2018, the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) lander is expected to be in operation for approximately 16 hours on the Ryugu asteroid. The selection of the landing site will take place this August. The ideal site must firstly offer the MASCOT team engineers excellent conditions for a safe landing and stable operation on the asteroid, while providing the researchers with a wealth of new and productive measurements.

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MASCOT’s Asteroid Landing – Preparations, Risks and Last-minute Decisions

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

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — Scientists and engineers have been waiting nearly four years for the Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft – which is carrying the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) lander that was developed and constructed by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) – to reach its destination: the asteroid Ryugu. With the approach and arrival having taken place on 27 June 2018, the landing is now within reach.

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Disruptive New Entrants Lead Small-satellite Launch Race

CubeSats deployed from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

On-demand launch services and global ground station service expansion drive multiple growth opportunities that could take demand launch services revenues past $70 billion by 2030, finds Frost & Sullivan

LONDON, Aug. 7, 2018 (Frost & Sullivan PR) — Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis, Small-satellite Launch Services Market Quarterly Update Q2 2018, reveals that the market is abuzz with major service providers such as PSLV, CASC, Rocket Lab, JAXA, SpaceX, Roscosmos, and others launching a total of 62 small-satellites in the first quarter of 2018.

Frost & Sullivan now expects launch demand to increase to 11,740 small-satellites by 2030 with revenues reaching $70.10 billion. Commercial players will offer and enable real-time imagery, digital transformation, and seamless global connectivity.

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Imaging Ryugu from an Altitude of 6 km

Figure 1: Asteroid Ryugu from an altitude of 6km. Image was captured with the Optical Navigation Camera – Telescopic (ONC-T) on July 20, 2018 at around 16:00 JST. (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST.)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Hayabusa2 arrived at asteroid Ryugu on June 27, after which the spacecraft remained at a distance of about 20km (the Home Position) to continue to observe the asteroid. During this time, the spacecraft was maintaining a hovering altitude of 20km above the asteroid surface. In the week of July 16, operations were begun to lower this hovering altitude, eventually bringing the spacecraft to less than 6km from the asteroid surface. One of the images taken at that time is shown in Figure 1.

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Two Pieces of a Cosmic Puzzle: Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx

Originally published by OSIRIS-REx Mission/University of Arizona
Republished with permission

It began with dust. Before there were asteroids, or planets, or people – about 4.6 billion years ago – a cloud of dust and gas swirled in the cosmos. At the center, a star began to form.

With heat and shock waves, clumps of this ancient dust coalesced into droplets of molten rock called chondrules. These chondrules and dust became the building blocks of the Solar System. Eventually, chunks of material as large as asteroids, and even planets, formed from this cloud and organized according to the laws of physics around a newly born star: our Sun.

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Hayabusa2 Arrives at Asteroid Ryugu

Asteroid Ryugu photographed by Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft. (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo and collaborators)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — JAXA confirmed Hayabusa2, JAXA’s asteroid explorer rendezvoused with Ryugu, the target asteroid.

On June 27, 2018, JAXA operated Hayabusa2 chemical propulsion thrusters for the spacecraft’s orbit control.*

The confirmation of the Hayabusa2 rendezvous made at 9:35 a.m. (Japan Standard Time, JST) is based on the following data analyses;

  • ・The thruster operation of Hayabusa2 occurred nominally
  • ・The distance between Hayabusa2 and Ryugu is approximately 20 kilometers
  • ・Hayabusa2 is able to maintain a constant distance to asteroid Ryugu
  • ・The status of Hayabusa2 is normal

From this point, we are planning to conduct exploratory activities in the vicinity of the asteroid, including scientific observation of asteroid Ryugu and surveying the asteroid for sample collection.

*Hayabusa2 operation hours: 7:00 a.m. (JST) through 3:00 p.m. (JST), June 27. The thruster operation was pre-programmed in the event sequence earlier on the day and the command was automatically executed.

Mauritius Team Selected for 3rd Round of KiboCUBE Program

CubeSats STMSat-1, CADRE and MinXSS are deployed from the International Space Station during Expedition 47. (Credit: NASA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR)  — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) have been cooperating under the KiboCUBE programme launched in 2015 to provide opportunities to deploy CubeSats from the Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” of the International Space Station (ISS).

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Hayabusa-2 Approaches Asteroid Ryugu

Hayabusa-2 spacecraft (Credit: Akihiro Ikeshita / JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — On June 3, 2018, ion engine operation was completed and the final approach to the asteroid begun. By photographing the asteroid with the Optical Navigation Camera, optical navigation (precisely “hybrid navigation using optical and radiometric observations”) can be used to approach Ryugu while accurately estimating the trajectory of the spacecraft and asteroid.

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JAXA Selects Kibo Small Satellite Deployment Service Providers

Japanese KIBO module

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — On February 23, 2018, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) made an announcement to the private sector that it would compare proposals and select service providers capable of providing small satellite deployment services from Kibo on the International Space Station. And after carefully evaluating the proposals, JAXA has selected Space BD Inc. and MITSUI & CO., LTD. as the service providers.

In line with the second version of the “Kibo Utilization Strategy” adopted in August 2017, JAXA intends to promote the private sector’s autonomic activities in the module (private sector participation). These two companies were selected as service providers for small satellite deployment activities in the first phase of the strategy.

In 2012, JAXA developed the Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD) for assuming unique small satellite missions utilizing two advantageous technologies–the Robot Arm and Airlock of Kibo on the ISS. As of the end of May 2018, JAXA has successfully deployed more than 200 small satellites from Kibo, including deployment opportunities for the United States as well.

The market of small satellites is expected to further expand globally. JAXA has to date provided fee-based services on its own. JAXA expects that companies Space BD Inc. and MITSUI & CO., LTD. will provide unique services based on their original private entity ideas to both domestic and international markets, and thus further expand the demand for small satellite deployment. As a result, the utilization of Kibo and low Earth orbits will also increase.

Cruz, Nelson Criticize Plan to End Direct ISS Funding in 2025

International Space Station (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Sharply conflicting opinions about the future of the International Space Station (ISS) and America’s path forward in space were on view last week in a Senate hearing room turned boxing ring.

In one corner was NASA Associate Administrator Bill Gerstenamier, representing a Trump Administration that wants to end direct federal funding for ISS in 2025 in order to pursue an aggressive campaign of sending astronauts back to the moon. NASA would maintain a presence in Earth orbit, becoming one of multiple users aboard a privatized ISS or privately-owned stations.

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Japan SS-520 Booster Makes Guiness Book of World Records

SS-520 rocket (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR — Guiness World Records ® (*1) certified JAXA’s SS-520 No. 5 as the smallest orbital rocket.

Name: smallest orbital rocket
Size: Height 9.54 m, Diameter 0.52 m (representative section)
Description: The smallest orbital rocket is SS-520-5, measuring 9.54 m (31 ft 3.5 in) tall and 0.52 m (1 ft 8 in) in diameter and weighs 2,600 kg (5,732 lb), achieved by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Japan) in Uchinoura Space Center, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, launched on 3 February 2018.

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Hayabusa2 has Detected Ryugu

The first image of asteroid Ryugu from Hayabusa2. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO, March 1, 2018 (JAXA PR) — On February 26, 2018, Hayabusa2 saw its destination -asteroid Ryugu- for the first time! The photographs were captured by the ONC-T (Optical Navigation Camera – Telescopic) onboard the spacecraft. Images were taken on February 26th.

The distance between Ryugu and Hayabusa2 when the images were taken is about 1.3 million km. Ryugu as seen from Hayabusa2 is in the direction of the constellation Pisces.

“Now that we see Ryugu, the Hayabusa2 project has shifted to the final preparation stage for arrival at the asteroid. There are no problems with the route towards Ryugu or the performance of the spacecraft, and we will be proceeding with maximum thrust,” explains Project Manager, Yuichi Tsuda.

The ONC-T was developed under collaboration between JAXA, the University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, The University of Aizu, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).

Click here to read more. http://www.hayabusa2.jaxa.jp/topics/20180301_e/

JAXA & Sony Sign Agreement for Laser Link Communications on ISS

Small Exposed Experiment Platform (i-SEEP) with optical communications module (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — National Research and Development Agency Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (hereafter known as JAXA, President: Naoki Okumura), Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc. (hereafter known as Sony CSL, President and Chief Executive Officer: Hiroaki Kitano) and Sony Corporation (hereafter known as Sony: President and Chief Executive Officer: Kazuo Hirai) made a cooperative research agreement with respect to conducting the on-orbit demonstrations of laser communications system. This research to be executed in the Kibo module on the International Space Station (ISS) aims at establishing a communications system of mass data between spacecraft and that which connects Earth and Space.

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China Launches Beidou Satellites, SpaceX Preps for Busy Launch Week

Atlas V booster (Credit: ULA)

A Chinese Long March 3B booster successfully orbited two Beidou navigational satellites on Monday. The flight, which took off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, was the seventh orbital launch by China in 2018, leading all nations thus far.

SpaceX also conducted a static fire of a Falcon 9 booster on Monday at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The rocket is set to launch Hisdesat’s Paz satellite on Saturday using a previously-flown first stage. The launch will be followed by another flight five days later from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Here is the launch schedule for the weeks ahead. Check for updates here.

Feb. 17

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Paz
Launch Time: 9:22 a.m. EST; 6:22 a.m. PST (1422 GMT)
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

Built by Airbus Defense and Space, Hisdesat’s Paz satellite will provide radar imaging as well as ship tracking and weather data. The flight will use a previously-flown first stage.

Feb. 22

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Hispasat 30W-6
Launch Window: 12:30 a.m. EST (0530 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, Florida

The Hispasat 30W-6 satellite, built by Space Systems/Loral, will provide communications services over Europe, North Africa and the Americas.

Feb. 24/25

Launch Vehicle: H-2A
Payload: IGS Optical 6
Launch Window: 11:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m. EST on Feb. 24 (0400-0600 GMT on Feb. 25)
Launch site: Tanegashima Space Center, Japan

The Japanese government’s Information Gathering Satellite carries an optical reconnaissance payload.

March 1

Launch Vehicle: Atlas 5
Payload: GOES-S
Launch Time: 5:02-7:02 p.m. EST (2202-0002 GMT)
Launch Site: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

The United Launch Alliance rocket will launch the second next-generation geostationary weather satellite for NASA and NOAA.

March 6

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payload: O3b F4
Launch Time: 11:38:36 a.m. EST (1638:36 GMT)
Launch Site: French Guiana

The four O3b Networks will provide broadband services to developing countries.

China Launches Satellite to Look for Signals of Earthquakes

China launched a satellite that will search for signals that could help scientists to predict earthquakes on Thursday.

The China Seismo-Electromagnetic Satellite will study electromagnetic signals in Earth’s atmosphere and ionosphere to determine if they can be used to predict earthquakes. The Chinese-led mission is being conducted in cooperation with Italy.

The spacecraft was launched aboard a Long March 2D booster from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. It was the sixth successful launch of the year for China.

Here is the launch schedule for the rest of the month. Check for updates here.

Feb. 6

Launch Vehicle: Falcon Heavy
Payload: Tesla Roadster
Launch Window: 1:30-4:30 p.m. EST (1830-2130 GMT)
Launch Site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

The inaugural flight of the Falcon Heavy will send a red Tesla Roadster into deep space.

Feb. 11

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payload: Progress 69P
Launch Time: 3:58 a.m. EST (0858 GMT)
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

Resupply mission to the International Space Station.

Feb. 17

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Paz
Launch Time: 9:22 a.m. EST; 6:22 a.m. PST (1422 GMT)
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

Built by Airbus Defense and Space, Hisdesat’s Paz satellite will provide radar imaging as well as ship tracking and weather data. The flight will use a previously-flown first stage.

Feb. 22

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Hispasat 30W-6
Launch Window: TBA
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, Florida

The Hispasat 30W-6 satellite, built by Space Systems/Loral, will provide communications services over Europe, North Africa and the Americas.

Feb. 24/25

Launch Vehicle: H-2A
Payload: IGS Optical 6
Launch Window: 11:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m. EST on Feb. 24 (0400-0600 GMT on Feb. 25)
Launch site: Tanegashima Space Center, Japan

The Information Gathering Satellite carries an optical reconnaissance payload.

Mid-February

Launch Vehicle: Long March 3B
Payload: Beidou
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Xichang, China

The rocket will launch two Beidou navigation satellites.

February

Launch Vehicle: GSLV Mk. 2
Payload: GSAT 6A
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Satish Dhawan Space Center, India

The GSAT 6A satellite will provide S-band communications services and demonstrate technologies for future satellite-based mobile applications.