Japanese Astronaut Prepares to Fly on SpaceX Crew Dragon

Japanese astronaut Noguchi Soichi. (Credit: NASA)

JAXA has announced that astronaut Noguchi Soichi is preparing and training for a trip to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX’s first operational Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Soichi will be flying to the orbiting facility for the third time. He previously flew aboard the U.S. space shuttle on the STS-114 mission and on Russia’s Soyuz TMA-17 transport. Soichi has spent 177 days in space.

A Crew Dragon flight test with astronauts aboard is currently scheduled for mid- to late May. The schedule for the first operational flight has not been announced yet.

Space Biology on Station Ahead of Cargo and Crew Ship Activities

The International Space Station as it appears in 2018. Zarya is visible at the center of the complex, identifiable by its partially retracted solar arrays. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The Expedition 62 crew wrapped up the workweek with more space biology research to understand what living in space does to the human body. The International Space Station is also getting ready to send off a U.S. cargo craft and swap crews.

A 3D bioprinter inside the station’s Columbus laboratory module is being deactivated and stowed today after a week of test runs without using human cells. NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir packed up the device that seeks to demonstrate manufacturing human organs to help patients on Earth. The Bio-Fabrication Facility may even lead to future crews printing their own food and medicines on missions farther away from Earth.

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan checked out hardware for an experiment exploring how to create heart cells on the orbiting lab. The investigation may lead to advanced treatments for cardiac conditions on Earth and in space.

Morgan and Meir are also getting the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship ready for its departure on April 6. The duo gathered U.S. spacesuit components and packed them inside Dragon for engineering analysis on the ground.

During the morning, Commander Oleg Skripochka continued servicing a variety of laptop computers in the station’s Russian segment. After lunchtime, the veteran cosmonaut serviced hardware for a pair of experiments, one looking at the Earth’s upper atmosphere and the other to understand the degradation of station gear.

Back on Earth at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, three new Expedition 63 crewmembers are in final preparations for their April 9 launch to the station. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner stepped out of the Cosmonaut Hotel today for pre-launch activities celebrating spaceflight heroes such as Yuri Gagarin.

Report: OneWeb to File for Bankruptcy

The Financial Times reports that OneWeb is preparing to file for bankruptcy and lay off most of its employees after failing to obtain additional financing from investors to continue building out its satellite broadband constellation.

OneWeb collapses after SoftBank funding talks fall through

The story is behind a paywall, so I don’t have a lot of details at this point. OneWeb will apparently keep a small team in place to operate the 74 satellites the company has launched into orbit while it seeks addition funding needed to emerge from bankruptcy.

Attempts to obtain additional funding from the company’s main backer, SoftBank, fell through.

The news comes less than a week after a Russian Soyuz booster launched 34 OneWeb satellites. Two previous launches in February 2019 and February 2020 had orbited 6 and 34 spacecraft, respectively.

OneWeb, which was founded by Greg Wyler, has been planning to launch 680 satellites in order to provide broadband services to any location on Earth.

The company’s main competitor is SpaceX, which has launched 362 satellites as part of its Starlink constellation. SpaceX has received approvals to launch nearly 12,000 Starlink satellites. Elon Musk’s company has also submitted an application to the Federal Communications Commission to launch an additional 30,000 spacecraft to bring the total to 42,000.

Preparations Continue for Soyuz Crew Flight to ISS

The crew of Soyuz MS-16: Russian cosmonauts Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin and with NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy. (Credit: Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan, March 25, 2020 (Roscosmos PR) — The final pre-flight training session of the prime and backup crews of Soyuz MS-16 transport manned spacecraft under the program of the ISS 62/63 Expeditions to the International Space Station (ISS) began at the Baikonur Launch Site.

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OneWeb Successfully Launches 34 More Satellites in Second Launch of 2020

LONDON, March 21, 2020 (OneWeb PR) — OneWeb, the global communications company with a mission to bring connectivity to everyone everywhere, announced today the successful launch of 34 more satellites, aboard a Soyuz launch vehicle from the historic Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. Lift-off occurred on March 21st at 17:06 UTC. OneWeb’s satellites separated from the rocket and were dispensed in nine batches with signal acquisition anticipated in the coming hours.

This is the second of its 34 satellite launches in six weeks, an achievement made possible by the pace and execution of OneWeb Satellites’ high-volume production factory in Florida. This launch brings the total number of satellites in the constellation to 74, further solidifying OneWeb’s position as a leading global communications company.

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NASA Leadership Assessing Mission Impacts of Coronavirus

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2020 (NASA PR) — To protect the health and safety of the NASA workforce as the nation responds to coronavirus (COVID-19), agency leadership recently completed the first assessment of work underway across all missions, projects, and programs. The goal was to identify tasks that can be done remotely by employees at home, mission-essential work that must be performed on-site, and on-site work that will be paused.

“We are going to take care of our people. That’s our first priority,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Technology allows us to do a lot of what we need to do remotely, but, where hands-on work is required, it is difficult or impossible to comply with CDC guidelines while processing spaceflight hardware, and where we can’t safely do that we’re going to have to suspend work and focus on the mission critical activities.” 

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Soyuz Booster Launches Glonass-M Navigation Satellite

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — On March 16, 2020, at 18:28 UTC a Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket equipped with a Fregat booster manufactured by NPO Lavochkin (part of Roscosmos) launched successfully from Plesetsk cosmodrome carrying a Glonass-M navigational satellite manufactured by ISS Reshetnev company. The satellite separated routinely from the booster after three Fregat booster service propulsion unit burns.

Glonass-M satellites make up the base of the GLONASS system orbital group. They transmit navigational information and time data to the ground, maritime, air and space customers.

Fregat booster ensures injecting one or several spacecraft into Earth’s orbit or into deep space. The whole injection process is carried out autonomously. A highest reliability and almost ideal injection accuracy make the booster unmatched by the world’s competitors. This launch was the 80th for the booster.

Exolaunch to Deliver UAE Space Agency’s Small Satellite into Orbit on Soyuz-2

Pioneer satellites launch on board Soyuz. (Credit: Roscomos)

Exolaunch will launch MeznSat, a 3U cubesat aboard a Soyuz-2 rocket, for the UAE Space Agency in mid-2020.

BERLIN, March 17, 2020 (Exolaunch PR) — Berlin-based Exolaunch (www.exolaunch.com) – the leading launch services and deployment system provider for small satellites – today announced that the launch of a 3U cubesat, MeznSat, for the UAE Space Agency will be performed aboard a Soyuz-2 rocket. The purpose of the satellite is to study and monitor the greenhouse gases, specifically CO2 and Methane, over the UAE. 

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ESA, European Commission Pre-order Four More Ariane 6 Launches

Artist’s view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters (A64) (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

PARIS (Arianespace PR) — The European Space Agency (ESA) has finalized its preorder for four more launches on Ariane 6, along with an initial payment.

Using Ariane 62, the light version of the new European launcher, these missions will be carried out on behalf of the European Commission to continue the deployment and operational ramp-up of the high-performance Galileo satellite navigation system.

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OneWeb Confirms Third Launch; Flight Dedicated to the Late Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov

Mission Overview

  • OneWeb’s third launch and second of 2020 is scheduled for March 21st from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.
  • Arianespace will launch 34 OneWeb satellites, bringing the OneWeb constellation to 74 satellites.
  • OneWeb’s launch theme will commemorate the late Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, who became the first person to walk in space 55 years ago this month.

LONDON, March 17, 2020 (OneWeb PR) – OneWeb, the global communications company with a mission to bring connectivity to everyone everywhere, confirmed its next launch will take place on Saturday, March 21st at 17:06 (GMT) / 1:06 PM (EDT) / 22:06 (local time) from the historic Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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RUAG Space to Supply Payload Adapters and Separation Systems for Soyuz Launchers

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — GK Launch Services, an operator of Soyuz-2 commercial launches and RUAG Space, a leading independent space product supplier, have signed a Long-term Purchase Agreement for Payload Adapters and Separation systems for the Soyuz-2 launchers. 

RUAG Space will supply Payload Adapters and Separation systems for the Soyuz-2 family of launchers. The new purchase agreement between GK Launch Services, an operator of Soyuz-2 commercial launches and RUAG Space a leading independent space product supplier, has been signed on March 11. This long-term contract is for multiple launches using a RUAG Space separation system and payload adapter. The products are produced in the RUAG Space facility in Linköping, Sweden.  

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ILS Names New President, Launch Opportunities

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 11, 2020 (ILS PR) — Today ILS International Launch Services, Inc. (ILS) announces the appointment of Tiphaine Louradour as President.

Tiphaine joins ILS with over two decades of Space Industry and management experience, most recently as President of Global Commercial Sales at United Launch Alliance (ULA). Prior to this role, Tiphaine held a number of positions of increasing responsibility in finance, risk management, strategy, commercial sales and marketing and also gained international business experience while serving as a consultant to international consulting firms in the US and Europe.

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An Astronaut’s Guide to Applying to Be An Astronaut

NASA astronaut Anne McClain is assisted out of the Soyuz MS-11 that returned her and crewmates Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency back to Earth on June 24, 2019, landing in a remote area near Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, after 204 days aboard the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

By Anne McClain
NASA Astronaut

About every four years, NASA accepts applications for a new class of astronauts. We in the astronaut office are thrilled and excited it is that time again! As someone who just went through this process a short seven years ago, I know how stressful it can be. It is hard to want something so badly for your whole life, to have a dream so magical that it has kept you up at night, then try to contain all that excitement while concisely describing your experiences and skills for complete strangers via an application form. So I wanted to share some thoughts for all those who find themselves in that position.

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Alexander Skvortsov Recounts Recently Completed ISS Mission

Alexander Skvortsov at a post-flight news conference in February 2020. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov gave his post-flight conference on February 10, 2020 at Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC). After a 200-day long mission to the International Space Station, on February 6, 2020 he successfully returned to Earth.

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Soyuz Launches 34 OneWeb Satellites

Soyuz 2 launches 34 OneWeb satellites. (Credit: Arianespace webcast)

LONDON, 7 February 2020 (OneWeb PR) — OneWeb, the global communications company with a mission to bring connectivity to everyone everywhere, today announced the successful launch of 34 satellites, aboard a Soyuz launch vehicle from the historic Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.

Lift-off occurred on February 06th at 21:42 pm UTC. The OneWeb satellites separated from the rocket and were dispensed in nine batches over a period of several hours.

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