Satellite News

ESA sees strong interest in commercial cargo program         

The long-term goal of the program is to have commercial cargo vehicles in service to the International Space Station by 2028. The long-term goal of the program is to have commercial cargo vehicles in service to the International Space Station by 2028. “We’ve got a very, very challenging target date of launching two demo flights to the International Space Station by the end of 2028 by two different providers,

Dutch satellite instrument achieves milestone in laser data transfer to Earth

Researchers from TNO have successfully connected a satellite to a ground station on Earth via self-developed laser communication technology — this is the first time this has been achieved with a Dutch laser satellite instrument. This success is an important step in the development of laser terminals (AAC Clyde Space) and Ground Stations (Airbus Netherlands) for the emerging laser communications market and, thus, in the creation of an European ecosystem for fast and secure laser satellite. Eventually, the laser communication system is intended to communicate with other European optical ground stations that are part of the ‘Optical Nucleus Network,’ operated by Norway’s KSAT (Kongsberg Satellite Services).

Capturing the ripples of spacetime: LISA gets go-ahead

ESA’s Science Programme Committee approved the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) mission, the first scientific endeavour to detect and study gravitational waves from space.

Launcher News

Spain’s PLD Space Selected for European Institutional Space Launch Contracts

This development is not just a win for PLD Space but also a strong signal to the entire European space sector. It demonstrates a growing openness to collaboration and competition, essential for fostering innovation and addressing the complex challenges of space exploration in the 21st century. PLD Space has earned the distinction of being the only Spanish company in this select group, joining the ranks of Arianespace (France), Isar Aerospace (Germany), Orbex Space (United Kingdom), and Rocket Factory Augsburg (Germany)

Cygnus ready for first launch on Falcon 9

A Cygnus cargo spacecraft is set to launch on a Falcon 9 rocket for the first time, a combination that required more changes to the rocket than to the spacecraft.

Exploration News

SLIM deploys robots despite a bullseye upside down lunar landing

Japan’s Smart Lander for Investigating the Moon, or SLIM, landed on the moon Saturday

“The Lunar Excursion Vehicle 2 (LEV-2/SORA-Q) has successfully taken an image of the SLIM spacecraft on the Moon,” JAXA’s Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science said on X. “LEV-2 is the world’s first robot to conduct fully autonomous exploration on the lunar surface.”

After Three Years on Mars, NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Mission Ends

NASA’s history-making Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has ended its mission at the Red Planet after surpassing expectations and making dozens more flights than planned.

Sierra Space unveils full-scale prototype of expandable space station structure

Sierra Space has completed an important test of its full-scale, expandable space station structure. The company, known for its innovative approach to space technology, alongside its exclusive softgoods technology partner ILC Dover, has been at the forefront of developing the LIFE (Large Integrated Flexible Environment) habitat. This structure, notable for its expandable “softgoods” design, has recently undergone rigorous testing, yielding impressive results that surpass NASA’s stringent safety requirements.

NewSpace  News

NorthStar’s situational awareness satellite constellation set for first launch

Spire Global, Inc. (a renowned global provider of space-based data, analytics, and space services, has recently announced an exciting new mission. The company is set to launch four satellites dedicated to Space Situational Awareness (SSA) for NorthStar Earth and Space, a significant step in commercial space surveillance. This mission, named ‘Four of a Kind,’ is scheduled to lift off on January 28, between 19:15-20:00 NZT (January 18 between 06:15-07:00 UTC) from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand.

Orbit Fab and ClearSpace to develop in-space refueling service

On-orbit refueling startup Orbit Fab and in-space servicing specialist ClearSpace announced a multifaceted partnership Jan. 24. Initially, the companies will work together to pair an Orbit Fab fuel depot with a ClearSpace shuttle.“ClearSpace is developing key technologies that will unlock opportunities for last-mile fuel delivery in both GEO and LEO.

Space Safety News

FCC reaffirms orbital debris mitigation rules

One petition, by Boeing, EchoStar, Hughes Network Services, Planet, Spire and Telesat, asked the FCC to reconsider disclosure requirements on maneuverability and other technical aspects of licensed spacecraft that could “excessively encumber” the industry. 

The Situational Awareness of Flying Elements in Orbit Act, or SAFE Orbit Act, would formally authorize the office to develop and operate a space traffic coordination system, including maintaining a public catalog and providing basic services at no charge. The Office is already developing such a system, called the Traffic Coordination System for Space or TraCSS.

What the next solar maximum means for you

Much like the Earth, our Sun is a dynamic body with a complex – and sometimes violent – weather system. Solar storms eject highly energetic radiation that can impact our planet, forming strong aurora.

A modified parachute system for Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program was tested over the Arizona desert on Jan. 9. Parachute deployment and a soft landing of the test article were visually confirmed. Preliminary data analysis of this two-parachute test suggest the primary test objectives were met.

Science & Technology News

Salad in space? New study says it’s not a healthy choice

Researchers at the University of Delaware are looking at how plants grown in space are more prone to infections of Salmonella compared to plants not grown in space or grown under gravity simulations.

ESA Astronaut Commands Robots in Space-to-Earth Avatar Experiment

The four-legged DLR robot Bert explores and monitors the alien environment. The ‘Surface Avatar’ experiment is thus rehearsing an important scenario for future exploration missions on Mars and the Moon. Bert is being developed at the DLR Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics and can walk, trot, gallop and even climb. This allows it to cover long distances and move around over rough terrain or in small caves.

Zeno to recycle decades-old radioactive material to fuel its radioisotope power systems

Under the agreement with DOE, Zeno will have access to a large supply of strontium-90, a radioisotope created as a byproduct in nuclear fission reactors. The company will use the material to build radioisotope power sources, or RPS systems. These are compact devices that convert heat from isotopes into electricity.  NASA for decades has used RPS systems for deep-space missions, but these systems are fueled by plutonium-238, an isotope that is in limited supply. Zeno designed an RPS system for small satellites fueled by strontium-90.

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