Prichal Module Docks with International Space Station

Progress M-UM with Prichal node module approaches the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — On Friday, November 26, 2021, at 18:19:39 Moscow time, the Progress M-UM cargo module cargo vehicle successfully docked to the Russian segment of the International Space Station. Progress delivered to the ISS the Prichal docking node, the second Russian module, which was added to the station in 2021.

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Testing Confirms Webb Telescope on Track for Targeted Dec. 22 Launch

Upon its arrival at the launch site in Kourou, French Guiana, engineers quickly set about unpacking, cleaning, and preparing the James Webb Space Telescope in its remaining days on Earth. (Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn)

KOUROU, French Guiana (NASA PR) — Engineering teams have completed additional testing confirming NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is ready for flight, and launch preparations are resuming toward Webb’s target launch date of Wednesday, Dec. 22, at 7:20 a.m. EST.

Additional testing was conducted this week to ensure the observatory’s health following an incident that occurred when the release of a clamp band caused a vibration throughout the observatory.

On Wednesday, Nov. 24, engineering teams completed these tests, and a NASA-led anomaly review board concluded no observatory components were damaged in the incident. A “consent to fuel” review was held, and NASA gave approval to begin fueling the observatory. Fueling operations will begin Thursday, Nov. 25, and will take about 10 days.

The Webb Space Telescope is an international partnership with the European and Canadian space agencies. It will explore every phase of cosmic history – from within our solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe, and everything in between. Webb will reveal new and unexpected discoveries, and help humanity understand the origins of the universe and our place in it.

OHB Luxspace Inks Contract with Exotrail for ExoMG™ Electric Propulsion System Onboard Triton-X Heavy Platform

ExoMG Cluster2 (Credit: ExoTrail)

MASSY, France (Exotrail PR) — Exotrail signed a contract with Luxembourg-based satellite manufacturer OHB Luxspace for a co-engineering phase aiming the further integration of ExoMG™ – cluster², a configuration of Exotrail’s high thrust and flexible electric propulsion product family, into the Triton-X Heavy platform.

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Rocket Lab Announces Neutron Development Update to be Provided on December 2, 2021

Neutron booster (Credit: Rocket Lab)

LONG BEACH, Calif., November 24, 2021 (Rocket Lab PR)–Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB), a leading launch and space systems company, today announced that it will provide the first major update on the development of the Neutron launch vehicle on December 2, 2021 at 8:00 am EST. The virtual event will be streamed live via Rocket Lab’s YouTube channel, which can be accessed at that time at https://youtu.be/A0thW57QeDM.

Join Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck as he reveals new details about Neutron’s unique design, materials, propulsion, and reusability architecture for the first time.

Building on Rocket Lab’s proven experience developing the Electron launch vehicle, the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually since 2019, the advanced Neutron launch vehicle is designed to transform space access by delivering reliable and cost-effective launch services for satellite mega-constellations, deep space missions and human spaceflight. Where Electron provides dedicated access to orbit for small satellites of up to 300 kg (660 lb), Rocket Lab expects Neutron will further expand space access for satellite constellations and provide a dependable, high-flight-rate dedicated launch solution for larger commercial and government payloads, and that Neutron will incorporate the best innovation of the past to deliver a rocket for the future.

Responsive Satellite Servicing and Sustainable Space Launches Get a Boost Through Astroscale, Virgin Orbit Partnership

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Astroscale PR) – Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market leader in satellite servicing and long-term orbital sustainability across all orbits, today announced it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with Virgin Orbit, the responsive launch and space solutions company that has announced a planned business combination with NextGen Acquisition Corp. II (“NextGen”) (NASDAQ: NGCA).

The MOU establishes a new partnership in which the two companies will seek opportunities to cooperate on a series of space initiatives that will drive the future of space sustainability and on-orbit servicing ecosystem. Astroscale is planning dozens of missions over the next decade and is in discussions with Virgin Orbit to launch as many as 10 of those on Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne. The two companies are also working toward a future joint mission concept focused on satellite servicing.

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ESA’s Solar Orbiter to Make Agency’s Riskiest Flyby

Artist’s impression of Solar Orbiter making a flyby at Earth. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

In brief

PARIS (ESA PR) — The chance that ESA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft will encounter space debris during its upcoming Earth flyby is very, very low. However, the risk is not zero and is greater than any other flyby ESA has performed. That there is this risk at all highlights the mess we’ve made of space – and why we need to take action to clean up after ourselves.

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Thales Alenia Space Invests in Advanced Technology for Human Spaceflight

The new Friction Stir Welding facility will double the production capacity of pressurized modules

TURIN, 25 November 2021 (Thales Alenia Space PR)  –– Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales 67% and Leonardo 33%, has inaugurated a new Friction Stir Welding facility at one of its production sites in Turin, which will double production capacity of pressurized modules, for the production of the future orbiting and surface infrastructures.

The only company in Europe to use this type of processing for pressurized habitation modules, Thales Alenia Space introduced friction welding technology in 2015, with a first operating facility used for the production of Cygnus, the pressurized cargo modules for the refueling of the International Space Station, an extremely complex type of structure, which enables exploration and human space flight.

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Russia Launches EKS 5 Early Warning Satellite

PLESETSK COSMODROME, Russia, 25 November 2021 (Ministry of Defence PR) — Launched today at 4:9 a.m. (Moscow time) from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk region, the Soyuz-2.1B medium-class launch vehicle successfully put the spacecraft into orbit at the set time in the interests of the Russian Defence Ministry.

All pre-launch operations and the launch of the Soyuz-2.1B space rocket (SR) took place in normal mode. The means of the ground-based automated control complex for spacecraft of the Russian orbital group controlled the launch and flight of the SR.

The ground-based means of the space forces of the Aerospace Forces took control of the spacecraft launched in the interests of the Russian Ministry of Defence. Stable telemetry communication has been established and maintained with the device, its onboard systems are functioning normally.

After taking control of the spacecraft, the serial number Cosmos-2552 was assigned.

In total, more than 40 ground-based measuring devices and more than 70 combat crews of the 15th army of the Aerospace Forces of special purpose were involved in ensuring the launch of the spacecraft of the Russian Ministry of Defence.

Astroscale Closes Its Largest Funding Round to Date, Bringing Total Capital Raised to U.S. $300 Million

Additional U.S. $109 million in capital will accelerate on-orbit services technology development, facility expansion and global hiring.

TOKYO, Nov. 25, 2021 (Astroscale PR) – Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market leader in satellite servicing and long-term orbital sustainability across all orbits, today announced it closed its Series F round with additional funding of U.S. $109 million from a group of new investors led by THE FUND Limited Partnership in Japan, with participation from international investors including Seraphim Space Investment Trust plc (“Seraphim Space”) in the United Kingdom and DNCA Invest Beyond Global Leaders, a sub-fund of the umbrella structured fund “DNCA Invest” incorporated under the laws of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, managed by DNCA Finance, a Limited Partnership in France. This is the largest funding round in the company’s history and brings the total amount raised to U.S. $300 million, affirming investors’ confidence in the rapidly expanding on-orbit servicing market.

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A Thanksgiving Message from the International Space Station

Video Caption: Aboard the International Space Station, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer shared their thoughts about spending Thanksgiving in orbit and the foods they plan to enjoy.

Vande Hei is in the midst of a year-long mission, while Chari, Marshburn, Barron and Maurer arrived on the space station Nov. 11 for a planned six-month mission. Together, they’re living and working aboard the microgravity laboratory to advance scientific knowledge and demonstrate new technologies for future human spaceflight missions.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The great turkey-deer stare down. Marin Headlands, California. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. So, I’m taking the day off. Unless something particularly newsworthy occurs, I’ll resume posts on Friday.

Planetary Defenders: After NASA’s DART Comes ESA’s Hera Mission

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirect Test, DART, mission is intended to collide with the smaller of two bodies of the Didymos binary asteroid system in autumn 2022. ESA’s Hera mission will then perform follow-up post-impact observations. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The world will be watching the milestone launch of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, DART, spacecraft on Wednesday, 24 November, intended to alter one small part of the Solar System forever.

DART will collide with the small moon of an asteroid in order to shift its orbit around its parent body – to test the concept of diverting threatening objects away from Earth.

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Saber Astronautics Signs with Axiom Space to Develop Formal Australian Astronaut Programs

SYDNEY, Australia, November 23, 2021 (Saber Astronautics PR) — Saber Astronautics has signed a deal with private spaceflight leader Axiom Space, Inc. to create an Australian presence on the International Space Station (ISS). Saber Astronautics will develop the first formal program to enable Australians and Australian industry to, via Axiom, access the Station’s orbiting microgravity laboratory and develop a new generation of space-developed products for human health, materials, electronics, cleantech, and more.

The Saber Astronautics program aims for direct industrial involvement and flights using people selected from the Australian public. Saber’s CEO Dr. Jason Held explains, “What we would like to do is open the benefits for broader industrial use by conventional industry.”

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Omaze and Virgin Galactic Announce Winner of Once-in-a-Lifetime Trip to Space

Virgin Galactic and Sir Richard Branson’s Omaze sweepstakes raised an anticipated $1.7M in grants to support Space for Humanity’s mission to democratize space travel

LOS ANGELES, C.A., November 24, 2021 (Omaze PR) — Today, Omaze, the charity fundraising platform that offers the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime experiences and prizes, and Virgin Galactic, revealed that Keisha S. from Antigua and Barbuda is the exclusive winner of two seats on a Virgin Galactic commercial space flight. Born and raised in Antigua, Keisha is a health and energy coach who is passionate about empowering women to live their best lives. She has always had a lifelong dream of going to space, and hopes to bring her daughter, an astrophysics student, as her guest on this incredible journey.

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Prichal Node Module Launched to International Space Station

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — On Wednesday, November 24, 2021, at 13:06:35 UTC, the Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle with the Prichal Node Module within the Progress M-UM cargo spacecraft-module was successfully launched from Site 31 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome. 563 seconds into the flight, it separated from the third stage of the carrier and deployed its solar panels and antennas.

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