A four-man crew led by a former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría, a vice president at Axiom intends to blast off early next year aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule for a flight to the International Space Station, the first such purely commercial, non-government flight to orbit in space history.
Glavkosmos, the commercial arm of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, has announced its intent to enter the space tourism market, selling a minimum of four Soyuz seats to commercial astronauts through 2023.
On May 10, NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft will say farewell to asteroid Bennu and begin its journey back to Earth. During its Oct. 20, 2020, sample collection event, the spacecraft collected a substantial amount of material from Bennu’s surface, likely exceeding the mission’s requirement of 2 ounces (60 grams). The spacecraft is scheduled to deliver the sample to Earth on Sep. 24, 2023.
NASA will carry out a second hotfire test of the Space Launch System core stage, a move that makes it more likely the vehicle will miss its scheduled launch date of late this year.
Rocket Lab, the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, demonstrated the increased maneuvering capability of the Kick Stage during the company’s 18th Electron launch, successfully burning the Curie engine for more than twice the standard mission duration and delivering more than 1,700 km of perigee change.
The U.S. Space Force on Dec. 31 officially terminated launch technology partnerships signed in October 2018 with Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman.
by Andrew Jones — January 26, 2021
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is transporting its new, flexible H3 rocket to Tanegashima Space center for testing ahead of a first launch.
Albedo, the latest space company to join the Y Combinator startup accelerator, plans to establish a satellite constellation offering Earth imagery with a resolution of 10 centimeters per pixel.
Small launch vehicle developer Firefly Aerospace, nearing its first orbital launch attempt, is looking to raise $350 million to scale up production and work on a new, larger vehicle.
Apollo Fusion announced Jan. 26 it won an order from York Space Systems for a set of satellite electric propulsion systems.
Electric propulsion company Phase Four flew its first plasma thrusters on two spacecraft that were part of a SpaceX dedicated rideshare launch Jan. 24.
thrusters are best suited for “moderately powered” microsatellites, weighing 50 to 200 kilograms and with 300 to 500 watts of power. The Maxwell thrusters use radiofrequency technology, rather than traditional electrodes, to produce plasma, an approach the company has argued is easier and less expensive to manufacture. Phase Four is working on new versions of Maxwell, including the ability to use propellants other than xenon and krypton that have traditionally been used for electric propulsion. Those alternative propellants could be stored densely, Jarvis said, but not require pressure vessels.
This further expands the company’s presence in the region further investment in the Asian-Pacific region, adding to SSC’s already strong presence in Australia and Thailand, including ground station facilities
The first Starlink satellites launched to polar orbit are equipped with laser crosslinks, a technology the company plans to add to other satellites next year.
Space Safety News
FAA probe has apparently put a strain on SpaceX’s upcoming launch tests as well. The most recent SN9 craft, that was expected to rocket into the skies on Thursday, remains on the ground after failing to obtain FAA approval. According to SpaceX website, the test flight for the SN9 Starship rocket stationed is currently scheduled for 1 February in Texas.
Ground teams are evaluating a payload failure on a Maxar-built SiriusXM radio broadcasting satellite that launched from Cape Canaveral in December on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, officials said Wednesday.
Space Command is looking to expand its network of data-sharing partners as activities in space grow.
Gen. James Dickinson said he supports the transfer of space traffic control to the Department of Commerce “where it can be better managed.”