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.

Voyager 2 Enters Interstellar Space

This illustration shows the position of NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes, outside of the heliosphere, a protective bubble created by the Sun that extends well past the orbit of Pluto. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — For the second time in history, a human-made object has reached the space between the stars. NASA’s Voyager 2 probe now has exited the heliosphere – the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun.

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NASA’s Newly Arrived OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Already Discovers Water on Asteroid

This mosaic image of asteroid Bennu is composed of 12 PolyCam images collected on Dec. 2 by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a range of 15 miles (24 km). (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Recently analyzed data from NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has revealed water locked inside the clays that make up its scientific target, the asteroid Bennu.

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This Week on The Space Show


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

1 Monday, Dec. 10, 2018; 2-3:30 PM PST (4-5:30 PM CST, 5-6:30 PM EST): We welcome DR. AVI LOEB from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics regarding OUMUAMUA, Interstellar Objects, and more.

2. Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018: 7-8:30 PM PST; 9-10:30 PM CST; 10-11:30 PM EST: We welcome back DR. CHRISTOPHER MORRISON on space nuclear power, propulsion, space radiation, and much more.

3. Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018: Hotel Mars. See Upcoming Show Menu and the website newsletter for details. Hotel Mars is pre-recorded by John Batchelor. It is archived on The Space Show site after John posts it on his website.

SPECIAL TIME: 4. Friday, Dec. 14, 2018; 12 pm PST, 2 PM CST, 3 PM EST. We welcome DR. BOBBY BRAUN, The University of Colorado at Boulder.

5. The Sunday, December 16, 2018 program from 12-1:30 PM PST, (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST): We welcomed back Michael Listner for the year 2018 and the space law overview.

Las Cruces News Editors to Branson: Get it Up or Shut Up!

Richard Branson rolls out Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Unity in Mojave. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

After more than a decade of listening to Richard Branson’s false promises about spaceflight, the editors of the Las Cruces Sun-News have a message for the aspiring space mogul: get it up, or shut up.

We appreciate Branson’s positive outlook. But his overly optimistic predictions created heightened expectations that inevitably dissolved into disappointment and distrust when the predicted date would pass without the promised launches, and the economic development opportunities they were expected to bring to southern New Mexico.

Now, he’s at it again. Branson told CNN last week that he is “pretty confident that before Christmas, Virgin Galactic will be the first to have people, in the form of astronauts, in space.”
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NASA InSight Lander Hears Martian Winds

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander, which touched down on Mars just 10 days ago, has provided the first ever “sounds” of Martian winds on the Red Planet.

InSight sensors captured a haunting low rumble caused by vibrations from the wind, estimated to be blowing between 10 to 15 mph (5 to 7 meters a second) on Dec. 1, from northwest to southeast. The winds were consistent with the direction of dust devil streaks in the landing area, which were observed from orbit.

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David Hall Proposes New Technology Solution for Space Exploration

Washington (Velodyne Lidar PR) — David Hall is one of history’s rare technological visionaries with the imagination and technical wherewithal to recognize a problem, conceive a solution, and then build something that works. On December 6 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s event, LAUNCH: Industry Taking Off,

David Hall presented his world-changing solution to a longstanding problem: how to carry materials and people into space safely, reliably, and efficiently. The audience of industry, military, and policy representatives heard from Hall as well as keynote remarks from Secretary of the Air Force, Heather Wilson; NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine; Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Michael Griffin; NOAA Deputy Administrator, Dr. Neil Jacobs; and Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross.

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PolyU Develops State-of-the-Art Tool & Tech to Support Chang’e-4 Mission

Professor Kai-leung Yung with a model of the Chang’e-4 lunar lander. (Credit: PolyU)

HONG KONG (PolyU PR) — The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) proudly supports the nation’s current lunar exploration, Chang’e-4 lunar probe, with advanced technologies, namely the design and development of an advanced Camera Pointing System, and an innovative lunar topographic mapping and geomorphological analysis technique in landing site charaterisation for the space craft.

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Report: SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Contaminating Space Station

Dragon on the end of Candarm2. (Credit: NASA)

Wired has a fascinating story that details how SpaceX’s cargo Dragon spacecraft have been contaminating the International Space Station during their stays there – and how NASA has tried to hide the fact.

The contamination was discovered by the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III Earth observing instrument, which was launched to the station aboard SpaceX’s CRS-10 resupply mission in February 2017. The instrument has crystals in it capable of detecting contamination at the space station.

The results are preliminary, but Dragon may have deposited, according to this presentation, up to 21 times the allowed amount of contamination on one sensor. The crystals also significantly changed in frequency when the next Dragon docked, and the report estimates that this mission may have left behind up to 32 times the rule-abiding amount of extra matter on one sensor….

During this thirteenth mission, one sensor may have been sprayed with up to 73 times more than what’s allowed during a sojourn. And for the month or so that Dragon was docked at the Station, two of the sensors individually detected more contamination than is allowed—total, from everything on the Station—in a whole year.

Among the space assets at risk from the capsule’s outgassing is the U.S. Laboratory Science Window, a porthole through which astronauts and instruments can gaze out on Earth. On the more scientific side, there’s CATS, an instrument that measures smoke, pollution, dust, and other particles in the planet’s atmosphere. In total, seven sensitive areas or instruments on the ISS, including SAGE, could be contaminated beyond the limit.

“NASA has communicated with the Station payload community its findings, and payload developers have responded either that their instruments have experienced no impact or they have taken precautions to mitigate impacts to their science,” says Space Environments in a statement. The SAGE III team closes the instrument’s “contamination door,” as a standard operating procedure, when any spacecraft visit to protect its optical instrument, although the resulting measurements aren’t as sensitive .

SpaceX said it is working with suppliers to develop low outgassing materials for use in future Dragon spacecraft. It said NASA pre-approved the materials used in the resupply ships. (The story, however, says that it’s possible materials such as paint are not being applied and cured properly.)

The information came from a presentation marked unclassified and unlimited public distribution that was posted on the NASA Technical Reports Server in September. A day after the Wired writer requested an interview about it with NASA officials, the document disappeared from the server. A NASA official said the report is “under review” and told Wired to submit a Freedom of Information Act request for it.

 

Potentially Historic Flights Loom in Mojave

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

It looks as if things could get very busy here at the Mojave Air and Space Port in the coming weeks with a possible pair of historic milestone flights.

Sir Richard Branson has said he expects SpaceShipTwo Unity to make a flight into space before Christmas, which is just over two weeks away. Sources say a flight is highly likely barring technical or weather delays.

Parabolic Arc has also heard that Stratolaunch could attempt the historic first flight of its massive carrier aircraft before the new year.
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NASA TV to Air ‘Spirit of Apollo’ Tribute from National Cathedral

Contrasted against the stark, crater-marked lunar surface, the Earth is seen rising above the moon on Dec. 24, 1968. As Apollo 8 orbited the moon, Earth is 240,000 miles away. The sunset terminator is seen crossing Africa. (Credits: NASA/Bill Anders)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — This month marks the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 8 mission, which was the first to bring humans to another world as they orbited the Moon on Christmas Eve, 1968.

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Video: A Closer Look at the China’s Chang’e-4 Lunar Mission

Video Caption: China’s Chang’e-4 lunar mission was launched by a Long March-3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan Province, southwest China, on 7 December 2018, at 18:23 UTC (8 December at 02:23 local time). The Chang’e-4 (嫦娥四号) lunar mission (lander and rover) is scheduled to land in the Aitken crater, located in the Aitken Basin, in the South Pole region on the far side of the Moon.

Planetary Defense: The Bennu Experiment

This artist’s concept shows the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft contacting the asteroid Bennu with the Touch-And-Go Sample Arm Mechanism or TAGSAM. The mission aims to return a sample of Bennu’s surface coating to Earth for study as well as return detailed information about the asteroid and it’s trajectory. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On Dec. 3, after traveling billions of kilometers from Earth, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft reached its target, Bennu, and kicked off a nearly two-year, up-close investigation of the asteroid. It will inspect nearly every square inch of this ancient clump of rubble left over from the formation of our solar system. Ultimately, the spacecraft will pick up a sample of pebbles and dust from Bennu’s surface and deliver it to Earth in 2023.

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Greenland Ice Loss Quickening

The temperature of Earth is rising owing to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And, one of the most dramatic signs of climate change is the rate at which Earth’s ice is melting. Satellites orbiting high above our heads are used to measure changes in the height of the ice and also to track how fast glaciers flow. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Using a 25-year record of ESA satellite data, recent research shows that the pace at which Greenland is losing ice is getting faster.

The research, published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, uses radar altimetry data gathered by the ERS, Envisat and CryoSat missions between 1992 and 2016.

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Record Setting Course Correction Puts New Horizons on Track to Kuiper Belt Flyby

Artist’s impression of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft encountering 2014 MU69, a Kuiper Belt object that orbits the Sun 1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto, on Jan. 1, 2019. (Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

LAUREL, Md. (JHUAPL PR) — With just 29 days to go before making space exploration history, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft performed a short but record-setting course-correction maneuver on Dec. 2 that refined its path toward Ultima Thule, the Kuiper Belt object it will fly by on Jan. 1.

Just as the exploration of Ultima Thule will be the farthest-ever flyby of a planetary body, Sunday’s maneuver was the most distant trajectory correction ever made. At 8:55 a.m. EST, New Horizons fired its small thrusters for 105 seconds, adjusting its velocity by just over 1 meter per second, or about 2.2 miles per hour. Data from the spacecraft confirming the successful maneuver reached the New Horizons Mission Operations Center at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, through NASA’s Deep Space Network, at 5:15 p.m. EST.

The maneuver was designed to keep New Horizons on track toward its ideal arrival time and closest distance to Ultima, just 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) at 12:33 a.m. EST on Jan. 1.

At the time of the burn New Horizons was 4.03 billon miles (6.48 billion kilometers) from Earth and just 40 million miles (64 million kilometers) from Ultima – less than half the distance between Earth and the Sun. From that far away, the radio signals carrying data from the spacecraft needed six hours, at light speed, to reach home.

The team is analyzing whether to conduct up to three other course-correction maneuvers to home in on Ultima Thule. Follow New Horizons to Ultima at http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Mission/Where-is-New-Horizons.php.