First Results from Cheops: ESA’s Exoplanet Observer Reveals Extreme Alien World

Artist impression of exoplanet WASP-189b orbiting its host star. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s new exoplanet mission, Cheops, has found a nearby planetary system to contain one of the hottest and most extreme extra-solar planets known to date: WASP-189 b. The finding, the very first from the mission, demonstrates Cheops’ unique ability to shed light on the Universe around us by revealing the secrets of these alien worlds.

Launched in December 2019, Cheops (the Characterising Exoplanet Satellite) is designed to observe nearby stars known to host planets. By ultra-precisely measuring changes in the levels of light coming from these systems as the planets orbit their stars, Cheops can initially characterise these planets — and, in turn, increase our understanding of how they form and evolve.

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Mars Express Finds More Underground Water on Mars

ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft has discovered several ponds of liquid water buried under the ice in the south polar region of Mars. The spacecraft’s radar instrument, MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding), revealed one underground reservoir in 2018, buried about 1.5 km below the ice. Now, taking into account more data and analysing it in a different way, three new ponds have been discovered. The largest underground lake measures about 20 x 30 km, and is surrounded by several smaller ponds. The water is thought to be very salty in order for it to remain liquid at cold temperatures.

Mars was once warmer and wetter with water flowing across the surface, much like early Earth. While it is not possible for water to remain stable on the surface today the new result opens the possibility that an entire system of ancient lakes might exist underground, perhaps millions or even billions of years old. They would be ideal locations to search for evidence of life on Mars, albeit very difficult to reach.

Subglacial lakes are also known on Earth, like Lake Vostok in Antarctica. They may harbour unique ecosystems, providing useful analogies for astrobiologists exploring how life can survive in extreme environments. The techniques used to analyse the radar data on Mars are similar to those used in investigations of subglacial lakes in Antarctica, Canada and Greenland.

SpaceX to Launch Crew-1 Mission on Halloween

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 crew members are seen seated in the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft during crew equipment interface training. From left to right are NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, mission specialist; Victor Glover, pilot; and Mike Hopkins, Crew Dragon commander; and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, mission specialist. (Credit: SpaceX)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 2:40 a.m. EDT Saturday, Oct. 31, for the launch of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission with astronauts to the International Space Station.

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China, Russia Launch Communications & Environmental Satellites

China and Russia conducted launches on Sunday and Monday, placing five primary payloads and a group of rideshare satellites into orbit.

A Chinese Long March 4B booster lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center early Sunday morning. The three-stage rocket carried the Huanjing 2A and 2B environmental monitoring satellites into orbit.

Chinese media said the satellites will collect data for environmental protection, water conservancy, natural resources monitoring, agriculture and forestry. They will replace the Huanjing 1A and 1B environmental satellites launched in 2008.

On Monday, a Russian Soyuz rocket launched three Gonets M military communications satellites from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. The rocket also included a group of international rideshare payloads.

Three U.S. Launches Scheduled This Week

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Tuesday, September 29

Launcher: Delta IV Heavy
Payload: NROL-44 reconnaissance satellite
Launch Time: 12:02 a.m. EDT (0402 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Company: United Launch Alliance
Webcast: www.ulalaunch.com

Launcher: Falcon 9
Payload: GPS 3 SV04 navigation satellite
Launch Window: 9:55-10:10 p.m. EDT (0155-0210 GMT on Sept. 30th)
Launch Site:
 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Company: SpaceX
Webcast: www.spacex.com

October 1

Launcher: Antares
Payload: Cygnus ISS resupply ship
Launch Time: 9:38 p.m. EDT (0138 GMT on Oct. 2)
Launch Site: Wallops Flight Facility, Va.
Company: Northrop Grumman
Webcast: http://nasa.gov/ntv

TBA

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payloads: 60 Starlink satellite broadband spacecraft
Location: Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

The launch was scrubbed on Monday due to weather constraints. SpaceX has not announced a new date yet.

Northrop Grumman Set to Launch 14th Cargo Delivery Mission to ISS

The U.S. Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman is pictured moments after being released from the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. (Credit: NASA)

WALLOPS, Va., Sept. 28, 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) is set to launch the company’s 14th resupply mission (NG-14) to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services-2 contract. The NG-14 mission’s Cygnus spacecraft will launch aboard the company’s Antares rocket with nearly 8,000 pounds (approximately 3,600 kg) of scientific research, supplies and hardware for the astronauts aboard the station.

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Student Research Experiments to Play Prominent Role in Northrop Grumman Resupply Mission to the Space Station

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), September 28, 2020 – When  Northrop Grumman launches its Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) on its 14th commercial resupply services mission (CRS-14), it will do so with the eyes of children across the U.S. hoping to catch a glimpse of a rocket soaring into space.

Rocket launches have a unique ability to captivate audiences and inspire young students to look to the stars for inspiration. The upcoming resupply mission contracted through NASA, currently scheduled for launch no earlier than October 1 at 9:38 p.m. ET, will carry dozens of research experiments to the orbiting laboratory. However, these payloads are not just from professional researchers—multiple student experiments will also launch to the ISS on this mission.

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Momentus Announces Appointment of Jikun Kim as CFO

SANTA CLARA, Calif,, September 28, 2020 (Momentus PR) — Momentus Inc. (the “Company”), a commercial space company offering in-space satellite transportation and infrastructure services, today announced the appointment of Jikun Kim as Chief Financial Officer, effective September 28, 2020.

Mr. Kim’s appointment comes as Momentus prepares for the first commercial launch of Vigoride, the Company’s orbital transfer vehicle designed for last mile, in-space satellite transportation services. Vigoride is scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in December 2020. The launch marks the first time Momentus’ vehicles will carry customers, following a successful in-space test of Momentus’ groundbreaking water propulsion technology.

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This Week on The Space Show

This Week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston:

1. Monday, Sept. 28, 2020; 7 PM PDT (9 PM CDT; 10 PM EDT) No programming for today.

2. Tuesday, Sept. 29 2020, 7 PM PDT (9 PM CDT; 10 PM EDT) We welcome back DR. ROBERT ZUBRIN to discuss the virtual Mars Society 2020 conference and more.

3. Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020; Hotel Mars TBA pre-recorded. See upcoming show menu on the home page for program details.

4. Thursday, Oct. 1,, 2020: 9:30-11 AM PDT; 11:30 AM-1 PM CDT; 12:30-2 PM EDT: No program for this date.

5. Friday, Oct. 2 , 2020; 9:30-11 AM PDT; 11:30 AM-1 PM CDT; 12:30-2 PM EDT: We welcome GRANT BONIN, VP of Business Development for Spaceflight.

6. Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020 12-1:30 PM PDT, (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT):We welcome DR. ROBERT (SAM) WILSON OF THE AEROSPACE CORP regarding his paper, “The Value of Space.”

Video: First Hot Fire Testing of 75kN HyImpulse Hybrid Rocket Motor

Video Caption: At midday of Tuesday 15 September, the first firing of the HyImpulse 75kN hybrid rocket motor was a full success! It was performed at the world class DLR Lampoldshausen testing facility.

This is the biggest hybrid rocket motor ever built and tested in Europe. This marks an important milestone in accomplishing our plan for a suborbital flight in early 2021 and the first flight of the three stage HyImpulse launcher SL1 by the end of 2022.

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Why UK is Backing its Leading Space Scientists to Clean up the Cosmos

Alok Sharma

by Alok Sharma
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

On 2 July 2018, a £100 million satellite called CryoSat-2 was completing its daily rounds of monitoring ice caps back on Earth from an orbital vantage point 700 kilometres above us, when mission controllers spotted a chunk of space debris hurtling towards it at 17,000 miles per hour.

To avert a potentially catastrophic collision, engineers fired up CryoSat’s thrusters and moved it out of harm’s way. This near miss was not the first, and it will not be the last.

An estimated 20,000 pieces of space debris, better known as ‘space junk’; are whizzing around the Earth as you read this. This includes zombie satellites and whole junkyards’ worth of whirling fragments left over from space missions.

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Dragonfly Launch Moved to 2027

Dragonfly flying over the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan.

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Dragonfly is a NASA mission that delivers a rotorcraft to Saturn’s moon Titan to advance our search for the building blocks of life. While Dragonfly was originally scheduled to launch in 2026, NASA has requested the Dragonfly team pursue their alternative launch readiness date in 2027. No changes will be needed to the mission architecture to accommodate this new date, and launching at a later date will not affect Dragonfly’s science return or capabilities once at Titan. 

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How In­tense and Dan­ger­ous is Cos­mic Ra­di­a­tion on the Moon?

Chang’e-4 lu­nar lan­der im­aged by the Yu­tu-2 rover (Credit: CNSA/CLEP/NAOC)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The Chang’e-4 lunar lander touched down on the far side of the Moon on 3 January 2019, with a German instrument for measuring space radiation on board. Since then, the Lunar Lander Neutron and Dosimetry (LND) instrument has been measuring temporally resolved cosmic radiation for the first time.

Earlier devices could only record the entire ‘mission dose’. In its current issue, the scientific journal  Science Advances reports on the work of the international group of scientists involved with the LND, including researchers from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). Their investigations have involved more precise radiation measurements on the Moon.

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Private Indian Startup Unveils Rocket Engine, Aims for Smallsat Market

Dhawan-1 cryogenic engine (Credit: Skyroot Aerospace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On Thursday, a commercial Indian launch startup named Skyroot Aerospace unveiled its Dhawan-1 cryogenic engine to mark the 100th anniversary of Indian rocket pioneer Satish Dhawan.

The company said the engine is 100 percent 3D printed using additive manufacturing. It will be powered by liquified natural gas and liquid oxygen.

Satish Dhawan was an Indian aerospace engineer who was a pioneer experimental fluid dynamics research. He served as the third chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The nation’s spaceport is named after him.

Dhawan-1 will be used as the upper stage of Skyroot’s Vikram II booster. The company is developing three Vikram rockets to serve the small satellite launch market.

Vikrams will launch payloads ranging from 225 kg to 720 kg depending upon the rocket used and the orbit desired. Skyroot says the boosters can be assembled and launched within 24 to 72 hours with minimal infrastructure.

According to a story in the Economic Times, Skyroot was founded by three former ISRO employee who are looking to take advantage of India’s decision to allow private space companies to operate.

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SMC Awards Satellite Rapid Prototyping Contract to Northrop Grumman

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (SMC PR) —The Space and Missile Systems Center awarded an Evolved Strategic SATCOM Space Rapid Prototyping contract to Northrop Grumman on Sept. 16.

The first in a series, SMC will award up to three separate contracts for this work to drive a competitive, rapid prototyping effort and mitigate the risk inherent in these early prototyping and demonstration activities. Subsequent contract awards are expected in the coming weeks.

Under this 5-year space segment rapid prototyping phase, each contractor will develop ground prototypes to demonstrate the most essential ESS payload elements to reduce risk for development and production of the ESS system.

The ESS program will fulfill the Department of Defense capability need for space-based protected strategic military satellite communications. The ESS program will ensure continued capacity, coverage, and protection for worldwide and Arctic DoD strategic, secure, anti-jam, survivable communications supporting ground, sea, and air assets.

ESS will augment, and eventually replace, the Advanced Extremely High Frequency system in support of strategic missions. SMC’s Space Development Corps, led by Col. Tim Sejba, manages the ESS program.