A Closer Look at the Satellites on the SSO-A Mission

Falcon 9 lifts off on Spaceflight SSO-A mission. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

Ever since Spaceflight’s launch of 64 satellites on a single Falcon 9, you’ve probably been wondering what those spacecraft were and what the hell they’re doing up there.

Welp, I’ve looked that up so you don’t have to. The table below explains all that, courtesy of Wikipedia. If anyone out there knows of any satellites that are not in the table, please provide details in the comments section.

Thank you for your support.

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NASA’s InSight Takes Its First Selfie

This is NASA InSight’s first selfie on Mars. It displays the lander’s solar panels and deck. On top of the deck are its science instruments, weather sensor booms and UHF antenna. The selfie was taken on Dec. 6, 2018 (Sol 10). (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s InSight lander isn’t camera-shy. The spacecraft used a camera on its robotic arm to take its first selfie — a mosaic made up of 11 images. This is the same imaging process used by NASA’s Curiosity rover mission, in which many overlapping pictures are taken and later stitched together. Visible in the selfie are the lander’s solar panel and its entire deck, including its science instruments.

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NASA Looks to the Future, Seeks Next Level Visionary Aerospace Concepts

NASA is looking for trailblazing ideas that could one day change what’s possible in space. The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program is seeking Phase II proposals for the continuation of Phase I research studies.

NIAC helps NASA look to the future by funding far reaching, early stage space technology concepts with the potential of transforming exploration and science missions. This research may one day enable new capabilities or significantly alter approaches for operating, building and landing structures in space.

“NIAC studies are exciting, and in the initial phase we see a lot of brand-new ideas,” said NIAC Program Executive Jason Derleth. “Phase II is where our fellows can dig into the engineering details of their creative ideas, utilizing more time and resources. We can’t wait to see how the next round of selected proposals progress.”

NIAC Phase II awards can be up to $500,000 for two years, allowing researchers to further develop Phase I concepts. NASA will accept NIAC Phase II proposals of no more than 15 pages in length through Feb. 14, 2019 (a notice of interest is due by Dec. 17, 2018). The solicitation is only open to current or previously awarded NIAC Phase I fellows who have successfully completed a Phase I study but have not yet been awarded a Phase II study. NIAC Phase I final reports must be received before submitting to Phase II.

For the full solicitation and guidelines for proposal submission, visit the NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System (NSPIRES) website:

https://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/solicitations/summary!init.do?solId={DB5722D5-CB87-C65D-E726-25141D34A27A}&path=open

NIAC partners with forward-thinking scientists, engineers and citizen inventors from across the nation to help maintain America’s leadership in air and space. NIAC is funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is responsible for developing the new cross-cutting technologies and capabilities needed by the agency to achieve its current and future missions.

For more information about the NIAC program, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/niac

MILO Institute Launches a New Model for Space Exploration

The MILO team after a reception at the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany. (Credit: Antonio Stark)

PHOENIX (ASU PR) — Space is daunting in its enormity and tantalizing in its mysteries, and missions to explore those mysteries are audacious and ambitious. They are also expensive.

Traditionally, governments lead most space science missions. But due to limited budgets, many good ideas never get off the ground. In fact, for every 10 missions proposed to NASA, only one is selected to proceed. Columns of smoke erupt as a rocket launches into the night sky.

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Aerospace, JPL Develop Concept to View Distant Planets

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Nov. 19, 2018 – In a new development in the search for potentially habitable planets far beyond our solar system, JPL and Aerospace are conducting a study to further develop an innovative deep-space concept that relies on a solar gravity lens (SGL) to enable enhanced viewing of exoplanets.

The SGL would provide 100-billion optical magnification, allowing it to show details as small as 10 kilometers across – similar to being able to spot something the size of New York City on an exoplanet.

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France Outlines Plans for Space Cooperation with China

BEIJING (CNES PR) — In the presence of Bernard Larrouturou, General Director of Research and Innovation, Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES, spoke on Monday, December 10, 2018 in Beijing, as part of the preparation of the joint scientific and technological committee Franco -Chinese and presented the space cooperation between France and China.

On this day, he also had the opportunity to speak with Wang Zhigang, Minister of Science and Technology, Zhang Kejian, CNSA Administrator, and Wang Zhenyu, head of the CNSA’s Office of International Cooperation. Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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Virgin Galactic Statement on Upcoming Flight Test

SpaceShipTwo Unity during third flight test. (Credit: MarsScientific.com & Trumbull Studios)

MOJAVE, Calif. (Virgin Galactic PR) — Our SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, is entering the next stage of testing. During this phase of the flight program we will be expanding the envelope for altitude, air speed, loads, and thermal heating. We also plan to burn the rocket motor for durations which will see our pilots and spaceship reach space for the first time. Although this could happen as soon as Thursday morning, the nature of flight test means that it may take us a little longer to get to that milestone. It has taken years of design and manufacturing work by The Spaceship Company to get to this exciting stage and has required testing of all the parts and subsystems that make up SpaceShipTwo.
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Cosmonauts Cut into Soyuz to Find Hole, Make Huge Mess

Two Russian cosmonauts spent about 7.5 hours outside the International Space Station today. They cut through insulation on a Soyuz orbital module to try to find the outside of a hole that was apparently drilled during pre-launch preparations on the ground. They made a real mess of things, with insulation floating all over the place. (According to presumably informed tweets, the debris will probably de-orbit quickly — one hopes.)

Virgin Galactic Set to Attempt Spaceflight on Thursday

View of SpaceShipTwo Unity from the tail boom. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic announced today that it would attempt the fourth flight of SpaceShipTwo Unity as early as Thursday morning from the Mojave Air and Space Port. The launch window runs through Saturday, Dec. 15.

“We plan to burn the rocket motor for longer than we ever have in flight before, but not to its full duration,” the company said in a statement that indicated the vehicle could reach a “space altitude.”

A full duration burn of Unity’s hybrid rubber-nitrous oxide engine would take approximately 60 seconds. This week’s flight will likely include a pilot and co-pilot but no passengers.

During its most recent flight test on July 26, Unity fired its hybrid engine for 42 seconds and reached an altitude of 32.3 miles (170,800 ft/52 km). It was the longest engine burn and highest flight in the program’s 14-year history.

By space altitude, Richard Branson’s space company apparently means the 50-mile (264,000 ft/80.4 km) boundary set by the U.S. Air Force for awarding astronaut wings to X-15 pilots in the 1960’s.

The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), which is the world governing body for air sports, sets the boundary of space at 100 km (62.1 miles/328,084 ft) . FAI recently announced it was exploring whether to lower the boundary to 80 km.

The 4.5-month long gap in powered flights is the longest for Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShipTwo. The previous three tests came at roughly 2-month intervals.

Sources in Mojave say engineers have been grappling with several issues since July. The most serious one is a crack that was discovered in one of SpaceShipTwo’s major structural components. It’s not clear how the problem was addressed.

Spire Global Taps Galileo Signals to Measure Radio Occultation for Weather Community

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 11, 2018 (Spire Global PR) — Spire Global, Inc, the world’s largest space to cloud analytics company, today announced Spire’s most recently launched satellites are the first satellites in the world to use Galileo GNSS signals to measure radio occultation (GNSS-RO) profiles in a production capacity for the weather community.

This industry first was announced today at The Morgan Stanley Space Summit in NYC, and will now be offered to the entire audience of Spire’s global user base as a new tier of data for advanced weather prediction. These satellites are also part of a larger collaborative European Space Agency (ESA )program called ARTES Pioneer ‘Space As A Service’. The new satellite deployments represent the first Spire satellites launched through the Pioneer program for ESA, which is supported by the UK Space Agency.

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Video: An Update on World View Enterprises

Video Caption: Jane Poynter is CEO of World View Enterprises, a flight technology company which transports things to the stratosphere and back using high altitude balloons. One day soon, she’d like to send us all up there too.

Send a Message to New Horizons


After a stellar flyby on Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons is set to make the first flyby of Kuiper belt object on New Year’s Eve as it zips past Ultima Thule. Now you can beam a greeting to the plucky probe that’s four billion miles from home at this website. Don’t delay. It’s a limited-time offer.

India Approves Cooperation with Russia on Human Spaceflight

Capsule descending under parachute (Credit: ISRO)

India’s union cabinet last week approved a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that covers cooperation on human spaceflight with Russia.

India and Russia will strengthen cooperation in space programmes, including manned space missions, under a memorandum of understanding signed between the two countries in October.

The MoU will provide an impetus for development of technologies and advanced systems required for the human space flight programmes, such as radiation shielding, life support systems, crew module, rendezvous and docking systems, space suit, training for astronauts etc.

The MoU will lead to a joint activity in the field of application of space technologies for the benefit of humanity. It will also help in the setting up of a joint working group, which will further work out the plan of action, including the time-frame and the means of implementing the provisions of the agreement.