2021 Was the Weirdest Year in Space Ever 

With space stations performing impromptu backflips, rockets careening out of control, billionaires going into space like they just don’t care, and space junk threatening to cause disaster nearly every week, 2021 will go down as one of the more memorable years in space. The chaos kinda makes sense. Rocket launches are getting cheaper by the minute, which is creating unprecedented opportunities for us to do increasingly weird and reckless things in space. 2021 was likely the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we can expect later this decade. With that said, here’s our review of the weirdest year in space—at least so far. *


Four NASA Earth Science missions to launch in 2022

NASA’s Earth Science Division is preparing to launch four satellite missions in 2022 to provide observations of weather conditions, mineral dust, oceans and surface water.

Satellite News

Webb telescope finally leaves Earth in search of light from first galaxies :

JWST Is On Its Way!ARIANESPACE Live  / NASA Broadcast

Webb telescope unfurls diamond-shaped sunshield

The James Webb Space Telescope, a NASA-led international collaboration that took nearly 30 years and $10 billion to get to the launch pad, finally left Earth with a Christmas morning rocket ride from a European spaceport in South America, setting off on a mission to hunt for the first light in the universe. That was just the easy part

Five things to know about the James Webb Space Telescope

Astronomers began debating the telescope that should succeed Hubble in the 1990s, with Webb’s construction beginning in 2004.

Launch has been pushed back several times, initially penciled for 2007, then 2018…mainly because of the complexities associated with development.

The observatory is the result of an immense international collaboration, and integrates Canadian and European instruments.

More than 10,000 people worked on the project, with the budget eventually snowballing to around $10 billion. The mission is set to last for at least five years, but hopefully 10 or more.

ESA moving ahead on new Copernicus missions despite lack of U.K. agreement

With a deadline for an agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union on British involvement in, and funding for, Copernicus come and gone, the European Space Agency is pressing ahead on several missions in the hopes a deal can eventually be reached.

Pléiades Neo 4 satellite enters service without a hitch

Pléiades Neo 4, the second of four planned high-resolution images satellites built and operated by Airbus Defense and Space, entered service Dec. 15 free from an issue that prompted an insurance claim for Pléiades Neo 3.

Exploration News

Japanese billionaire urges elites to visit space after ISS trip

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa on Wednesday urged the world’s elites to visit space to give them a new perspective of Earth, speaking after his own voyage to the International Space Station

Space Tourism Company Space Perspective to Bring 240 Jobs, and Factory to Titusville 

Space tourism company Space Perspective will build a headquarters and manufacturing complex at Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, creating about 240 jobs by the end of 2026. The company said the jobs will pay an average of $80,000 a year. Space Perspective announced Thursday that it plans to build a campus on what it is referring to as the “Space Coast Spaceport” site for its capsule and balloon manufacturing facility, laboratories and operations infrastructure for everything from launch to mission control.

Boeing Starliner test flight planned for spring 2022

NASA and Boeing are planning no earlier than May 2022 for the rescheduled second uncrewed test flight of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft after deciding to change service modules for that mission.

Launcher News

KSC to study potential new Starship launch pad

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is starting an environmental review of a proposed new launch facility there that would be used by SpaceX’s Starship launch system.

Falcon 9 sets reuse milestone with Starlink launch

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched a new set of Starlink satellites Dec. 18, setting a new reusability mark for the vehicle in the process.A Falcon 9 lifts off Dec. 18 carrying 52 Starlink satellites on the eleventh flight of this particular first stage, a new record for the company.

NewSpace  News

NorthStar expanding to Luxembourg after $45 million funding round

Canadian startup NorthStar Earth & Space plans to set up European headquarters in Luxembourg, after getting an investment from the country’s government-backed venture capital fund. 

Virgin Orbit Expands Space Solutions Business With Hypersat Investment

Virgin Orbit, the responsive launch and space solutions company that has announced a planned business combination with NextGen Acquisition Corp. II, has announced an agreement to acquire a 17.5% stake

Mynaric selected by DARPA to design next-generation optical terminals

Mynaric has been selected to participate in a DARPA program to develop next-generation laser communications terminals.

Satellite Vu orders first satellite from SSTL

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) won a contract from British Earth observation startup Satellite Vu to build the first satellite in a constellation designed to provide thermal infrared imaging for climate change applications.

Satellogic nearing completion of SPAC merger

Earth observation company Satellogic expects to begin trading on the Nasdaq next week after completing a merger with special purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC).

Space Safety News

Space Force eyes lower-cost sensors to monitor geostationary orbit

GEOST won two U.S. Space Force contracts worth $38 million to develop an optical sensor payload that could be hosted on government or commercial satellites.

Engine computer problem delays first SLS launch

A malfunctioning computer in one of the four main engines of the Space Launch System will delay that vehicle’s first launch to no earlier than March.

Science & Technology News

Musk is TIME’s Person of the Year (Source: Time)

Elon Musk is Time magazine’s Person of the Year. The magazine selected Musk, the world’s wealthiest person, because of his roles at both SpaceX and Tesla. The honor, the magazine said Monday, goes to a person of influence, good or bad, and “few individuals have had more influence than Musk on life on Earth, and potentially life off Earth too

The Bottom of Valles Marineris Seems to Have Water Mixed in With the Regolith

According to data obtained by ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter, it looks like there’s plenty of water ice at the bottom of Valles Marineris on Mars. The post The Bottom of Valles Marineris Seems to Have Water Mixed in With the Regolith appeared first on Universe Today.

SpaceX is Hoping to Turn Atmospheric CO2 Into Rocket Fuel

Elon Musk has announced that SpaceX may start a carbon capture program as an eco-friendly way of creating propellant. The post SpaceX is Hoping to Turn Atmospheric CO2 Into Rocket Fuel appeared first on Universe Today.

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