Weekly Space News – 1/21

Eugene Cernan passes away

The last man to walk on the moon Gene Cernan passed away this week at the age of 82.

 “Even at the age of 82, Gene was passionate about sharing his desire to see the continued human exploration of space and encouraged our nation’s leaders and young people to not let him remain the last man to walk on the Moon,”

Check out his website here.

Upcoming Soyuz Rocket Engines to be replaced

Following the results of the investigation into the Progress MS-04 accident Russian Space officials have announced that they will be replacing the upper stage engines to ensure mission success.

Full Story here.

NASA considering purchase of additional Soyuz seats

Due to delays with the Commercial Crew Programs NASA is considering an option to purchase additional seats on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft to ensure continued access to the International Space Station.

Full Story Here.

 

ULA starts it’s 2017 launch manifest

United Launch Alliance began their 2017 launch manifest with the successful delivery of the Air Force’s Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO-3 satellite.

The launch was originally scheduled to launch yesterday but was delayed due to a sensor issue on the RD-180 engine the Atlas V 401 and then a fouled range with an aircraft encroaching on the keep out zone.

The countdown today proceeded smoothly with an on time launch occurring at 7:41 pm ET from Space Launch Complex (SLC) 41 at Cape Canaveral and delivered the payload to orbit 43 minutes later.

Weekly Space News – 1/14

Colliding Stars to light up night sky in 2022

This week astronomers announced that we may see the result of a binary star system merging which will cause them to explode and becoming one of the brightest objects in the sky.  While they cannot say exactly when it will happen they can make estimated based on observing the system.  Full story here.

VLT to Search for Planets in Alpha Centauri System

The Very Large Telescope (VLT) will be used to search for planets in our nearest neighbor following an agreement between European Southern Observatory (ESO) and Breakthrough Initiatives.  With the discovery of Promixa B last year and Breakthrough’s longer term plans to visit Alpha Centauri this will allow them to utilize the power of the VLT to study the system in much greater detail.  Full Story Here.

Astronauts Complete Second EVA

On Friday Astronauts performed the second spacewalk at the International Space Station.  As with the previous spacewalk the week before the primary task was to complete the swap out and installation of new Lithium Ion batteries.  Due to them completing the tasks almost two hours ahead of schedule they were also able to complete a number of get-ahead tasks.

 

SpaceX launches first of seven Iridium Next payloads

This afternoon SpaceX successfully returned to flight operations following the September 1st anomaly with the successful launch of ten Iridium Next satellites.  The launch was delayed several times due to the investigation into the anomaly, as well as the unfavorable weather around Vandenburg this week.

As a result of the investigation into the anomaly, there were several changes to the countdown process for this launch, the first and most obvious was the lack of payload during the static fire test.  Less obvious was the change to the fueling process in previous launches the RP-1 and LOX were loaded at the same time in the last 35 minutes of the countdown.  However for this launch the RP-1 loading started 70 minutes before launch with the LOX being loaded as before with 35 minutes left.

Following a smooth countdown the rocket lifted off on time and successfully deployed the ten satellites, however due to a ground station issue confirmation of the successful deployments took longer then expected.  The first stage also successfully landed on the ASDS in the pacific ocean.

 

Weekly Space News – 1/7

We are excited to bring back our weekly review of Space related news. These are a selection of stories that excite us about the future of Space exploration/development. The opinions in these reviews are our own.

NASA announces selection of two Discovery Missions

This week NASA announced that he has selected the Lucy and Psyche missions both designed to explore asteroids in our solar system.  Lucy due to launch in 2021 will visit a main belt asteroid in 2025 and then six Jupiter Trojan asteroids between 2027 and 2033.  Psyche due to launch in 2023 will visit 16 Psyche a giant metal asteroid, scientists believe it may have been the core of a planet which lost its outer layers.

SpaceX moves closer to return to flight

This week SpaceX completed the first Static Fire test since the September 1st anomaly that resulted in the loss of the Spacecom Amos 6 satellite and inflicted significant damage to Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral.  Having concluded the investigation into the anomaly they determined that the most likely cause of the issue was due to the way the propellants were loaded into the rocket, full report here.  SpaceX has also received a launch license from the FAA allowing them to move towards a launch on Monday 9th from Vandenburg.

 

SpaceX ready for resumption of Falcon 9 launches

Following a four month investigation into the September 1st anomaly that resulted in the lose of a Falcon 9 rocket with it’s payload the Spacecom Amos 6 satellite and significant damage to Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX announced this week that they have completed the investigate (see report here) and are ready to return to flight operations started on Sunday 8th January with the first of seven launches for Iridium.

SpaceX are able to resume flight operations without having to make design changes to the rocket by changing their propellant loading operation to avoid the scenario that most likely caused the anomaly.  They have indicated that longer term they will make design changes to the COPV tanks to resolve the issue which will allow them to resume faster loading operations.

The flight of the Falcon 9 with ten Iridium Next satellites is currently scheduled for 10:28:97 PST on Sunday 8th January from Space Launch Complex 4E in Vandenberg, CA.  However this is still subject to the results of the Static Fire test scheduled for Tuesday 3rd and flight readiness review.