NASA Sends Critical Science, Instruments to Space Station

Falcon 9 carries the Dragon cargo ship into orbit. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — SpaceX launched its Dragon spacecraft into orbit for its 13th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station on Friday morning. Dragon was lifted into orbit atop the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying crew supplies, equipment and scientific research to crew members living and working aboard the station.

This science-heavy flight will deliver investigations and facilities that study and/or measure solar irradiance, materials, orbital debris and more.


Satellites Lost in the Soyuz Launch Failure

Soyuz rocket blasts off from Vostochny on Nov. 28, 2017. (Credit: Roscosmos)

The failed launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket on Tuesday resulted in the loss of a Russian weather satellite and 18 CubeSats that were aboard as secondary payloads. The table below provides details about the lost spacecraft.

 Meteor M2-1 1Russian GovernmentFourth generation weather satellite; insured for insured for 2.5 billion rubles ($42.6 million)
Lemur-2 10Spire GlobalCommercial weather monitoring and ship tracking
Vantage 2 1 Telesat (Canada)Ka band prototype for 117 satellite constellation that will provide low-latency broadband links for planes, ships and remote locations. Twin Vantage 1 prototype scheduled for launch aboard an Indian PSLV in late December or early January.
Landmapper-BC 2Astro DigitalEarth imaging
 SEAM 1KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden)Ionospheric measurements magnetic and electric fields
 D-Star One 1German Orbital Systems & iSky Technology (Czech Republic)Amateur radio
Baumanets 2 1 Bauman Moscow State Technical UniversityEducational satellite with optical camera and communications experiment
AISSat 31
 Norwegian Space CenterShip tracking
IDEA OSG 1 1ASTROSCALESpace debris using sensors developed by JAXA. Mission sponsored by OSG Corporation, a Japanese tool maker.

SSTL & ASTROSCALE team up for Orbital Debris Removal missions

ELSA-d Chaser satellite (Credit: ASTROSCALE)

LONDON (Astroscale/SSTL PR) — ASTROSCALE PTE. LTD. (ASTROSCALE) and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to pursue joint opportunities in areas of innovative on-orbit technologies and missions designed to safeguard the orbital environment for future generations.

ASTROSCALE and SSTL have agreed to long-term strategic cooperation that further positions the companies to compete globally in the growing small satellite and orbital debris removal markets. Together the companies will seek to identify ambitious debris removal projects and joint offerings for competitive small satellite missions in Japan.


Astroscale, JAXA Sign Research Agreement on Orbital Debris

TOKYO (Jaxa PR) — ASTROSCALE Japan Inc. (hereinafter referred to as “ASTROSCALE”) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency signed a joint research agreement (“the agreement”) regarding the removal of space debris.

Under the terms of the agreement, ASTROSCALE will have access to JAXA’s technologies that examine the methods to approach and capture space debris. The technologies will facilitate ASTROSCALE’s development of ELSA-d, a technology demonstration satellite scheduled to be launched in the first half of 2019. ASTROSCALE and JAXA will also work together to validate the imagery of simulated debris obtained through the ELSA-d on-orbit mission. JAXA will not take direct part in the development, launch, or operation of ELSA-d, but will be involved in the research and development of relevant component technologies.

It is estimated that more than 750,000 pieces of space debris over a centimeter in size are currently in orbit, some of which are the result of breakups and collisions of spacecraft. As the continuously rising debris population poses an immediate threat to the orbital environment, taking countermeasures is urgently needed.

JAXA, in cooperation with universities and the private sector, will further establish the technology to eliminate space debris. Through this endeavor, JAXA hopes to protect the space environment and realize sustainable utilization of space.

Bridenstine’s ASRA Bill Proposed Radical Changes in NASA’s Goals, Structure

NASA LOGORepublished from April 25, 2016

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA would be given a mandate to pioneer the development and settlement of space and a commission dominated by Congressional appointees to oversee those efforts under a bill proposed by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK).

The measure’s basic premise is that NASA’s problems stem from unstable presidential commitments to space exploration as opposed to Congress’ tendency to support expensive programs that bring funding into particular states and districts.

“Over the past twenty years, 27 NASA programs have been cancelled at a cost of over $20 billion to the taxpayer,” according to a statement on a website devoted to the measure. “Many of these have come as a result of changes in presidential administrations.


Falcon 9, Minotaur IV Launches Set for Thursday & Friday

Three launches are scheduled for the week ahead, including a pair in the United States and one in India.

Falcon 9
Formosat 5 remote sensing satellite
Date: Thursday, Aug. 24
Time: 2:50-3:34 p.m. EDT; 11:50 a.m.-12:34 p.m. PDT (1850-1934 GMT)
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

Minotaur IV
Date: Friday, Aug. 25
Time: 11:14 p.m.-3:15 a.m. EDT (0314-0715 GMT on Aug. 26)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

This marks the first flight of Orbital ATK’s Minotaur IV booster from Cape Canaveral. The payload, also known as SensorSat, is a military satellite that will scan for other spacecraft and orbital debris. ORS 5 was produced by the military’s Operationally Responsive Space program.

IRNSS 1H navigation satellite
Date: Thursday, Aug. 31
Time: TBA
Launch Site: Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India


ASTROSCALE Raises $25 Million Series C Round Led by Private Companies

ADRAS spacecraft (Credit: ASTROSCALE)

SINGAPORE, July 14, 2017 (ASTROSCALE PR) — ASTROSCALE PTE. LTD. (ASTROSCALE), a pioneering space company with a goal of mitigating space debris, completed a Series C round and raised $53 million in total to date. Private companies, ANA Holdings Inc. (ANA – parent company of ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS Co., Ltd.) and OSG Corporation, join recurring venture capital investors (Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, JAFCO Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital) alongside new financier aSTART Co., Ltd.


Magnetic Space Tug Could Target Dead Satellites

Magnetic tug nears derelict satellite (Credit: Philippe Ogaki)

TOULOUSE, France (ESA PR) — Derelict satellites could in future be grappled and removed from key orbits around Earth with a space tug using magnetic forces.

This same magnetic attraction or repulsion is also being considered as a safe method for multiple satellites to maintain close formations in space.


Global Efforts to Deal with Orbital Debris

JAXA has published this Q&A interview with Michiru Nishida, a Japanese Foreign Affairs official who works on space debris debris issues.

— In light of the fact that the space debris situation is becoming more serious, what international agreements have been made, if any?

In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines drafted by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). This is a “soft law” that aims to limit the generation of new space debris. A soft law is not legally binding – member states are left to make efforts on their own initiative. The guidelines specify, among other things, that rockets and satellites should be designed to produce no debris, and that satellites in low Earth orbit should re-enter the atmosphere within 25 years of ending their mission.


Preventing Collisions Between Debris and Spacecraft

JAXA has published the following Q&A interview with  Mayumi Matsuura, the space agency’s space situation awareness (SSA) system project manager.

— What is the current state of space debris monitoring in Japan?

Kamisaibara Spaceguard Center (Credit: JAXA)

Space debris is monitored at the Kamisaibara Spaceguard Center and the Bisei Spaceguard Center, both in Okayama Prefecture. At Kamisaibara, we use radar to monitor debris in low Earth orbit (LEO) up to an altitude of approximately 2,000 km. Although the size of debris that can be monitored depends on its altitude, we can simultaneously track a total of 10 targets 1 meter or more in diameter. At Bisei, we use an optical telescope, which allows us to monitor debris in geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) at an altitude of 36,000 km.

JAXA analyzes data from these facilities to pinpoint debris orbit and position, and when this data and other inputs show that there is a possibility of debris colliding with satellites, a warning is issued to the satellite team. This is the role of the Space Tracking and Communications Center (STCC), where I work. To avoid being hit by debris, all you need to do is change your orbit, so the center prepares detailed proposals on when and how to do this. In some cases, debris is expected not to burn up on reentry into the atmosphere, but to fall back to Earth. In these situations, my job is to predict where it will reenter the atmosphere.

Cleaning up Orbital Debris: Q&A With ASTROSCALE CEO Nobu Okada

The Japanese space agency JAXA has published the following Q&A with Nobu Okada, founder and CEO of ASTROSCALE PTE. The company is focused on cleaning up orbital debris.

— It’s been said that you are the first private enterprise in the to attempt to clean up space debris.

Our mission is to secure long-term spaceflight safely by solving space debris issues. To achieve this, ASTROSCALE will extend its business model to a debris removing technology after gaining an understanding of the present space environment. As our first step, we investigate how much space debris exist in outer space. The size of space debris varies, and it is important to ascertain its density etc.


AIA Policy Recommendations for Improving U.S. Space Competitiveness

Engine for Growth:
Analysis and Recommendations for U.S. Space Industry Competitiveness

Aerospace Industries Association
May 2017
[Full Report]

Policy Recommendations
for Strengthening U.S. Space Competitiveness

1. Level the Playing Field

Provide a responsive regulatory environment for commercial space activities. The list of commercial space activities is varied and growing, ranging from traditional applications such as satellite telecommunications to emerging ones like space resource utilization. At the same time, the U.S. space industry is governed by multiple federal agencies with disparate regulatory interests, including the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Aviation Administration and Departments of State and Commerce. These agencies often suffer from funding and staffi ng shortages, a situation that creates bottlenecks in licensing processes and slows responsiveness to technological and market changes. The new Administration should work closely with Congress to ensure that the appropriate space regulatory agencies are fully resourced and staffed.

ESA Focuses on Addressing Orbital Debris

As of April 2017, more than 290 break-ups in orbit have been recorded since 1961. Most were explosions of satellites and upper stages – fewer than 10 involved accidental and intentional collisions. (Credit: ESA/ID&Sense/ONiRiXEL)

DARMSTADT, Germany (ESA PR) — With more than 750 000 pieces of dangerous debris now orbiting Earth, the urgent need for coordinated international action to ensure the long-term sustainability of spaceflight is a major finding from Europe’s largest-ever conference on space debris.


Aerospace Corporation Wins NIAC Award for Debris Removing Brane Craft

Brane Craft Phase II concept (Credit: Siegfried Janson)

El SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) – NASA has awarded Dr. Siegfried Janson of The Aerospace Corporation (Aerospace), a leader in space technology and game-changing innovation, with the 2017 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase II grant award, worth approximately $500,000, for further development of his Brane Craft flat spacecraft proposal.


Video: ESA Looks to Tackle Space Debris Problem

Video Caption: Earth is surrounded by a cloud of space debris. This material ranges from dead satellites and rocket stages to fragments of material and even flecks of paint… and all this junk could do enormous damage to working satellites.

During 18–21 April, experts from around the world will meet at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany for the 7th European Conference on Space Debris.

Delegates will discuss the extent of the debris problem and what can be done to ensure that satellites we rely on – providing us with services such as navigation, TV and weather forecasting – can operate safely in the future.

Talks will address acute issues like current practices in debris avoidance, novel concepts for removing debris, and the deployment of large constellations of several thousand satellites for telecommunications.

The conference will be opened by ESA Director General Jan Woerner and NASA’s former orbital debris chief scientist, Donald Kessler.

On 18 April and 21 April, live webcasts will cover the keynote address and press briefing, respectively. Details via

More information
ESA Space Debris
ESA CleanSpace