NASA AND BOEING TARGET NEW LAUNCH DATE FOR NEXT STARLINER TEST FLIGHT TO SPACE STATION - NASA and Boeing now are targeting March 29 for the launch of Starliner’s second uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is a critical developmental milestone on the company’s path toward flying crew missions for NASA. More
(Source: SciTechDaily - Dec 11)
POWERFUL DELTA IV HEAVY ROCKET LAUNCHES SECRET US SPY SATELLITE TO ORBIT - The United States just added to its network of spy satellites.
United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully launched its 12th Delta IV Heavy rocket Thursday evening (Dec. 10) from the newly minted Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida . The massive rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 here at 8:09 p.m. EDT (0109 GMT on Dec. 11), hoisting the classified NROL-44 spacecraft for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).
The launch went off without a hitch following months of delays that included hardware issues and problems with launch pad infrastructure. More
(Source: Space.com - Dec 11)
CHINESE LONG MARCH 11 LOFTS GECAM MISSION - On Wednesday, China launched a double satellite mission intended for research in electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational waves. The launch took place from the Xichang Satellite Center, Sichuan province, at 20:15 UTC using a Long March-11 – Chang Zheng-11 – launch vehicle.
According to the National Space Science Center under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the Gravitational Wave High-energy Electromagnetic Counterpart All-Sky Monitor (GECAM) mission is composed of two small satellites, and it will focus on detecting electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational waves, high-energy radiation from fast radio bursts, various gamma-ray bursts, and magnetar flares. More
(Source: NASASpaceFlight.com - Dec 11)
SPACEX DARK COATING SUCCESSFULLY CUTS STARLINK SATELLITE REFLECTIVITY - By applying a dark coating to one of its Starlink satellites, SpaceX has been able to cut its satellite’s apparent brightness in half, according to the results of a new study. The research suggests that applying the coating to more satellites could help lessen their impact on delicate telescope observations of the night sky. Since May 24, 2019, SpaceX has been launching satellites into orbit 60 at a time to bolster the ranks of its Starlink megaconstellation – a fleet of networked sats flying in formation that, once completed, will be thousands strong, and capable of providing global communications coverage. More
(Source: New Atlas - Dec 10)
CHINA TO LAUNCH SATELLITE TO MONITOR ARCTIC SHIPPING ROUTES - China announced plans to launch a new imaging satellite to monitor Arctic shipping routes. The satellite will employ Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) technology able to observe the Earth’s surface even during night time and through cloud layers or smoke.
The spacecraft will be placed into a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 720 kilometers and produce high quality imagery. At a resolution of 50 meters the satellite can image strips up to 300 kilometers wide. More
(Source: High North News - Dec 10)
SPACE OPERATIONS COMMAND TAKES OVER FINAL AEHF SATELLITE - The U.S. Space Force officially took control of the sixth and final Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite Oct. 29, with operational acceptance expected before the end of the year.
On Dec. 4, the Space Force announced that the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Production Corps transferred satellite control authority of the space vehicle to Space Operations Command. The 4th Space Operations Squadron will have operational control of the satellite as it’s integrated into the full constellation. More
(Source: C4ISRNet - Dec 10)
SPACEX CONDUCTS STARSHIP TEST FLIGHT, ENDS IN FIERY CRASH LANDING - The test flight of the Starship prototype SN8 ended with an explosion. Elon Musk said on Twitter: “Successful ascent, switchover to header tanks & precise flap control to landing point!” We’ll have a full report later.
SpaceX aborted the Starship SN8 test launch Tuesday just before engine ignition. This story was updated Tuesday evening to reflect the abort. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Dec 9)
MILLENNIUM SPACE EXPERIMENT TO DEMONSTRATE TECHNOLOGY TO RAPIDLY DEORBIT SATELLITES - Boeing subsidiary Millennium Space Systems announced Dec. 7 that an experiment launched to space last month will show a small satellite can safely deorbit in about 45 days.
Two Millennium Space small satellites flew Nov. 19 to low-Earth orbit on a Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle from New Zealand. In the experiment named DragRacer, both satellites were ejected simultaneously. One has a deployable tether and other does not. Millennium Space predicts that the tethered spacecraft will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up in 45 days while the untethered one could take more than seven years. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Dec 8)
SPACEX'S 1ST UPGRADED DRAGON CARGO SHIP DOCKS ITSELF AT SPACE STATION WITH SCIENCE, GOODIES AND NEW AIRLOCK - A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station today (Dec. 7) to deliver vital supplies for NASA and try something brand-new: park itself without the help of astronauts.
The private spaceflight company used a Falcon 9 rocket to launch CRS-21, the first flight to use the upgraded version of its Dragon cargo spacecraft, to the space station Sunday (Dec. 6) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The vehicle autonomously docked with the orbiting laboratory today at 1:40 p.m. EST (1840 GMT)... More
(Source: Space.com - Dec 8)