ISRO Signs MOU with Private Company for Reusable Space Capsule as Gaganyaan Program Progresses

Indian Coast Guard recovering ISRO’s Crew module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) at 114 nautical miles South West of Indira point. [Credit: Indian Coast Guard (GODL-India)]

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a private company named Vyom Space Exploration and Services Private Ld. that says it is developing a reusable capsule that will transport cargo and eventually astronauts to and from space.

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Suborbinomics: The Astronomical Cost of Getting From Point A to Point A

Richard Branson celebrates the first Virgin Galactic trade on the New York Stock Exchange. (Credit Virgin Galactic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Resplendent in a blue Virgin Galactic flight suit, Richard Branson was in an exuberant mood as he sat at the New York Stock Exchange doing a TV interview on Oct. 28, 2019. His space tourism company had just gone public in a $774 million merger with billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya’s Social Capital Hedosophia special purpose acquisition company.

Virgin Galactic now had an estimated market value of more than $2.2 billion despite never having flown a single passenger or earned any serious revenue in 15 years. Virgin Galactic would have $450 million to complete its flight test program and begin commercial flights — if the company’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings were to be believed — in June 2020. Branson and the Mubadala Investment Company, an Abu Dhabi government sovereign wealth fund, would divide up $274 million to offset about $1 billion in investment made thus far.

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New Roscosmos Boss Yuri Borisov Outlined Main Areas of Activity of Roscosmos at Army-2022 Forum

Yuri Borisov at the Army-2022 International Military-Technical Forum. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Rendered into English by Google Translate

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — At the opening of the Army-2022 International Military-Technical Forum, Yuri Borisov, General Director of the State Corporation Roscosmos, named the main areas of activity of the space industry.

“Dear colleagues, friends!

I am glad to welcome you to the main military-technical forum of Russia!

Ahead of us are several days of a rich and extensive program demonstrating the achievements of Russian enterprises, design centers and bureaus, as well as the huge potential of our engineers and workers.

This year the forum is taking place in very difficult foreign policy conditions, so we decided to focus on three extremely important aspects of our work.

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Roscosmos Director General Yuri Borisov Discussed Prospects for Creation of the Russian Orbital Station with Cosmonauts

Roscosmos Director General Yuri Borisov examines a spacesuit. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Rendered into English by Google Translate

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Roscosmos Director General Yuri Borisov, during a visit to the Cosmonaut Training Center, discussed with the cosmonaut corps the future of Russia’s manned program, including the creation of the Russian Orbital Station.

“Some of you will open the way to the Russian Orbital Station,” said Borisov, addressing the cosmonauts.

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China’s Suborbital Space Tourism Ambitions Heat Up as Two Companies Seek to Challenge Blue Origin & Virgin Galactic

CAS Space crewed suborbital vehicle in flight. (Credit: CAS Space)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Two Chinese companies — CAS Space and Space Transportation — are pursuing the suborbital tourism market, with the former closely copying Blue Origin’s fully reusable New Shepard vehicle and the latter developing a winged vehicle that could be adapted for hypersonic point-to-point travel between distant locations on Earth.

CAS Space, a.k.a., Guangzhou Zhongke Aerospace Exploration Technology Co., Ltd., is developing a single-stage reusable rocket that lands under its own power topped with a capsule that descends under three parachutes.

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NASA Seeks Options on International Space Station Deorbiting Capabilities

This image shows the planned configuration of six iROSA solar arrays intended to augment power on the International Space Station. The roll-up arrays arrive on the SpaceX-22 resupply mission. (Credits: NASA/Johnson Space Center/Boeing)

NASA has issued a request for information (RFI) from industry on how to safely deorbit the massive International Space Station (ISS) when the facility is decommissioned.

“The deorbit vehicle shall attach (via docking or berthing) to the ISS at least one (1) year prior to the planned ISS reentry date to enable adequate time for on-orbit tests and checkouts…Although nominal ISS EOL is late 2030, the Government requires that this deorbit capability be available as soon as possible to protect for contingencies that could drive early re-entry and beyond 2030 in the event of further ISS mission extensions,” the space agency said in the document.

NASA wants feedback from industry by Sept. 9. The space agency will use the feedback to formulate a request for proposal to solicit bids from industry.

Navy Helicopters and Air Force Pararescue Forces Conduct Astronaut Recovery Exercise

Air Force pararescue forces from the 48th rescue squadron remove a mock-astronaut from a SpaceX Dragon capsule during a validation exercise. The exercise was meant to validate the joint-capability of Navy helicopter squadrons and Air Force Guardian Angel Pararescue forces in their shared mission to recover astronauts at sea. (Credit: U.S. Space Command/Sean Castellano)

PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo.  (U.S. Space Command PR) –  U.S. Space Command held an exercise Aug. 1-5 at Patrick Space Force Base, Fl., in preparation for the upcoming launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5, targeted for no earlier than September 29, 2022.

As the Department of Defense’s Human Space Flight Support Manager, USSPACECOM coordinates global DoD support for the rescue and recovery of human exploration events for NASA’s Artemis and Commercial Crew Program missions.

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ESA Astronaut Mogensen to Embark on Huginn Mission to ISS

Portrait of ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen is his blue flight suit with the ESA patch and Danish flag. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen of Denmark is set to return to the International Space Station for his first long-duration Station mission. With only one year left before his launch in mid-2023, a name for the mission has been chosen: Huginn.

This name, chosen by Andreas, originates in Norse mythology with Huginn and Muninn – two raven accomplices of the god Odin. Together, the two symbolise the human mind, with Huginn representing thought, and Muninn, memory.

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NASA Identifies Candidate Regions for Landing Next Americans on Moon

Shown here is a rendering of 13 candidate landing regions for Artemis III. Each region is approximately 9.3 by 9.3 miles (15 by 15 kilometers). A landing site is a location within those regions with an approximate 328-foot (100-meter) radius. (image Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON, (NASA HQ PR) — As NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the Moon under Artemis, the agency has identified 13 candidate landing regions near the lunar South Pole. Each region contains multiple potential landing sites for Artemis III, which will be the first of the Artemis missions to bring crew to the lunar surface, including the first woman to set foot on the Moon.

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Vector Space Biosciences Announces New Tools for Developing Countermeasures Associated to Stressors During Spaceflight

SAN FRANCISCO (Vector Space Biosciences PR) — To establish a lunar base or go to Mars, understanding how to protect and repair the human body during spaceflight is imperative. Countermeasures against diseases associated to stressors during spaceflight, such as microgravity and radiation, need to be developed quickly. Vector Space Biosciences has developed a platform of computational solutions designed to accelerate the development of countermeasures like these including new applications connected to drug repurposing, therapeutic target identification, molecular design and nutrigenomic cocktail development which translate to marketable therapeutic applications including precision medicine for all humankind.

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The Best Laid Plans, Moscow Edition: Ukraine Invasion Damages Russia’s Launch Business

Soyuz-2 rocket launches a military satellite from Plesetsk Cosmodrome. (Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Ambitious launch schedules typically go awry when a rocket suffers a catastrophic failure that takes months to investigate and implement modifications to ensure the same accident doesn’t happen again. In the majority of cases, the failures involve a machine launching a machine. All that can be replaced, albeit at substantial cost.

Russia’s ambitious launch plans for 2022 fell apart due to a far more momentous and deadly action: the nation’s invasion of Ukraine. The decision ruptured cooperation with the West on virtually every space project on which it was safe to do so. The main exception was the International Space Station (ISS), a program involving astronauts and cosmonauts that would be difficult to operate safely if Russia suddenly withdrew (as it indeed threatened to do).

Due to the invasion, Western partners canceled seven launches of foreign payloads in less than a month. The cancellations put Russia even further behind the United States and China in launch totals this year.

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SpaceX Rockets U.S. Launches to New Heights in 2022

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on June 17, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Powered by 33 flights of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster, the United States leads all nations with 48 launch attempts through the first seven months of the year. The total is three short of the number of U.S. launches attempted last year, and far ahead of the 27 launches conducted by second place China through the end of July. The U.S. has conducted more launches than the 43 flights conducted by the rest of the world combined.

A number of notable flights were conducted. SpaceX launched two Crew Dragons to the International Space Station (ISS), including the first fully privately funded mission to the orbiting laboratory. United Launch Alliance (ULA) launched Boeing’s CST-100 Starship crew vehicle on an automated flight test to ISS, a crucial step before astronauts to fly on the spacecraft. Small satellite launch provider Rocket Lab conducted its first deep-space mission by sending a spacecraft the size of a microwave to the moon.

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Blue Origin Announces Aug. 4 for New Shepard’s Next Flight

NS-22 spaceflight participants (Credit: Blue Origin)

Blue Origin Mission Update

Blue Origin today announced its sixth human flight, NS-22, will lift off from Launch Site One on Thursday, August 4. The launch window opens at 8:30 AM CDT / 13:30 UTC. The webcast will start at T-30 minutes. 

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Another Guessing Game on Where and When Chinese Rocket Stage Will Reenter

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China has once again put another massive rocket stage in orbit, triggering a week-long guessing game as to where and when it will reenter the atmosphere and whether debris will rain down over a populated area.

The object in question is the core stage of a Long March 5B rocket, which entered orbit after launching the new Wentian module to the Chinese space station. The stage is 53.6-meter-tall and weighs approximately 23 metric tons.

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