US-Russia tensions spill into space, but ISS safe — for now

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has placed a question mark over the future of the International Space Station, long a symbol of post Cold War cooperation, where astronauts and cosmonauts proudly live and work side-by-side.

Biden announces sanctions targeting Russia’s space program

President Biden said Thursday the United States is imposing new sanctions against Russia, including measures that will “degrade” the country’s space program, in response to Russian military attacks on Ukraine. So far, operations and training for future missions on the International Space Station are proceeding without interruption, according to NASA.

ESA to continue cooperation but monitoring situation following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

ESA is continuing work on the International Space Station and ExoMars programs in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but monitoring the situation, the agency’s director-general said Friday.

Satellite News

SpaceLink adds smaller satellites to data-relay constellation

SpaceLink announced plans Feb. 24 to establish an initial constellation of smaller satellites than previously planned, a move designed to slash the cost and speed up the rollout of initial data-relay services. SpaceLink awarded OHB System AG a contract valued at more than $300 million to manufacture four satellites for its commercial space data relay constellation

Rocket Lab Selected by MDA to Design and Build Spacecraft for Globalstar

Rocket Lab will lead the development of the 17 spacecraft buses, while MDA will act as prime contractor to manufacture Globalstar’s satellites, lead the development of the payload, and perform the final satellite assembly, integration, and test. Leveraging Rocket Lab’s vertically integrated space systems capabilities, the satellites will feature components and subsystems produced by Rocket Lab’s recently acquired companies including solar panels and structures from SolAero Technologies in Albuquerque, New Mexico, software from ASI by Rocket Lab in Denver, Colorado, and reaction wheels from Sinclair Interplanetary in Toronto, Canada. The telemetry and control radio for all spacecraft will also be a C-band variant of Rocket Lab’s Frontier Satellite Radio (Frontier-C).

Exploration News

Thales Alenia Space Wins Study Contract to Develop Payload to Extract Oxygen on the Moon

Thales Alenia Space teams in the UK have worked with AVS, Metalysis, Open University and Redwire Space Europe to specify a demonstration payload for a European Space Agency Lunar Mission that uses molten salt and electrolysis to extract oxygen from Moon rock ‘regolith’.For a sustainable habitation on the Moon, humans will need to utilise resources that they find on the Moon rather than transport these resources from Earth; one of these resources is oxygen.

CAPSTONE lunar cubesat mission to launch this spring

A cubesat mission to test a lunar orbit critical to NASA’s Artemis program is in the final stages of preparations for a launch this spring

Launcher News

Russia suspends space launches from French Guiana over sanctions

Russia is suspending space launches from French Guiana and withdrawing its technical personnel in response to EU sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the space agency said Saturday.

ULA: Russia sanctions not expected to disrupt Atlas 5 operations

United Launch Alliance said the operation of the Atlas 5 vehicle, which is powered by the Russian RD-180 engine, will not be affected by the economic sanctions imposed on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

NASA plans mid-March test for SLS moon rocket’s first flight

NASA continues to evaluate a May launch, but “we’re also recognizing that there’s a lot of work in front of us and we need to make sure we get through that testing and through that evaluation activity before we set the date.”

Rocket Lab officially opens third launch pad, Next launch within a week

Rocket Lab USA, Inc (Nasdaq: RKLB) has announced the completion of its second orbital launch pad at Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand – the Company’s third dedicated pad for its Electron rocket – and confirmed the new pad’s first mission will be a dedicated commercial launch scheduled to lift-off within a week’s time.

NewSpace  News

Orbital Sidekick notes growing demand for hyperspectral data

San Francisco-based Orbital Sidekick is pleased with the performance of the Aurora sensor, which achieved its goal of outperforming NASA Hyperion hyperspectral sensor, Katz said. Hyperion is on the space agency’s Earth Observation-1 satellite launched in 2000. Orbital Sidekick plans to launch its six-satellite Global Hyperspectral Observation Satellite constellation, known as GHOSt, later this year. While Aurora, like Hyperion, gathers hyperspectral imagery with a resolution of approximately 30 meters per pixel, the GHOSt constellation will “get down to 8 meter ground sample distance, which blows everything else out of the water,

Aerospacelab Raises 40 Million Euros in Series B Financing Round

Belgian satellite manufacturer Aerospacelab has accelerated its next stage of growth with a successful raise of 40 million euros. The Series B round is co-led by Airbus Ventures and XAnge, a leading European investor in early-stage startups.

U Of South Wales Contracts NanoAvionics For “Harry v2” Nanosatellite Bus

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia, has contracted mission integrator NanoAvionics to build a nanosatellite bus for UNSW’s satellite innovation laboratory. As part of the collaboration, NanoAvionics will deliver a 6U nanosatellite bus fully assembled and tested on a functional level, ready for its research and educational purposes.

New Project To Place Denmark On The Military Space Technology Map

The project, which goes under the name INTEGRAL and is a part of EU’s SSAEW SC2Space Situational Awareness – Space Command and Control, is supported with funds from the European Defence Fund and is a cooperation between DTU (Technical University of Denmark), the Danish company Space Inventor and the French defence and technology company Thales in Denmark.The Danish company Space Inventor is going to play a key role in the project by contributing to the development of the prototype for INTEGRAL and finding an algorithm that can trace the orbit of satellites. Several Danish companies are participating in EU projects such as project SAURON for SSA Sensors and the space & defence project SSA Early Warning which both have received funds from EDIDP 2020

Space Safety News

NOAA seeking information on commercial space situational awareness data

The Commerce Department is seeking information on commercial sources of space situational awareness (SSA) data to augment its own space traffic management capabilities.

Science & Technology News

The Rise and Fall of the Riskiest Asteroid in a Decade

Initial observations of an asteroid dubbed ‘2022 AE1’ showed a potential Earth impact on 4 July 2023 – not enough time to attempt deflection and large enough to do real damage to a local area should it strike. Worryingly, the chance of impact appeared to increase based on the first seven days of observations, followed by a dramatic week ‘in the dark’ as the full Moon outshone the potential impactor, ruling out further observations.

Tiny probes could sail to outer planets with the help of low-power lasers

The researchers performed calculations to show that even lasers with powers of about 100 kW and array sizes of about a meter could power a 1-gram probe at velocities far exceeding the current record, with only minutes to hours of laser illumination

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