TUCSON, Ariz. (University of Arizona PR) — The presumed SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket booster that’s on a course to hit the moon March 4 is actually a Chinese booster from a rocket launch in 2014, a University of Arizona team has confirmed.
UArizona students in the university’s Space Domain Awareness lab at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory have had their eyes on the piece of space junk for weeks as they studied its rotation. They have been gathering other data as well, which they used to confirm its Chinese origin.
SpaceX dominated, China surged and Russia had another clean sheet as American astronauts flew from U.S. soil again in a year of firsts.
First in a series
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a very busy launch year with a number of firsts in both human and robotic exploration. A total of 114 orbital launches were attempted, with 104 successes and 10 failures. It was the same number of launches that were conducted in 2018, with that year seeing 111 successes, two failures and one partial failure.
A Chinese Long March 5B reentered the Earth atmosphere on Sunday over the Indian Ocean north of the Maldives, ending more than a week of global anxiety that the massive booster could spread debris over a populated area.
The 18th Space Control Squadron confirmed the 21-metric ton stage reentered the atmosphere and fell into the ocean north of the island chain at latitude 22.2, longitude 50.0 on Sunday, May 9 at 0214 UTC. There have been no reports of injuries.
Until the advent of the reusable Falcon 9, most first stages of rockets fell into the ocean, on the lightly populated steppes of Kazakhstan (Russian launches from Baikonur), or crashed beside and even into rural villages, throwing up huge clouds of toxic propellants in the process (Chinese launches).
The month of April is concluding with a string of launches from Russia, the United States, China and South America. Things kicked off on Friday with SpaceX’s launch of Crew-2 to the International Space Station (ISS). On Sunday, a Russian Soyuz rocket launched 36 OneWeb satellite broadband spacecraft from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East.
One of the final United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rockets is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Monday afternoon. That flight will be followed by the fifth launch of China’s Long March 6 booster. Launches by Europe’s Vega and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets are scheduled over the next two days.
China will close out the month on Thursday by launching Tianhe-1 core module for that nation’s first permanent space station aboard a Long March 5B booster.
In a few short weeks, the International Space Station (ISS) will no longer be the only station in Earth orbit.
China plans to launch the Tianhe core module core module of its first permanent space station aboard a Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site. Spaceflight Now‘s launch calendar has the flight taking place on April 29.
HONG KONG (PolyU PR) — With the huge amount of digital data generated and recorded during space missions, the data storage devices currently used for this purpose reveal great limitations in terms of their data storage capacity and the durability of the retained data.
To meet this challenge, a team of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) researchers has developed a novel technology for massive data management involving the use of peptides, which has been developed to optimise data storage for space exploration in China’s next-generation manned spacecraft in the new Long March-5B rocket.
In a statement on Friday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the uncontrolled reentry of the core stage from the recently launched Chinese Long March 5 could have fallen on U.S. cities before reentering over the Atlantic Ocean and west Africa.
“The empty core stage of the Long March 5B, weighing nearly 20 tons, was in an uncontrolled freefall along a path that carried it over Los Angeles and other populated areas. As a matter of fact, had this spent rocket stage, which is the largest uncontrolled object to fall from low-Earth orbit in almost 30 years, reentered earlier, it could have hit New York. Two villages in Cote d’Ivoire have reported finding what they believe to be debris from the fallen rocket.
A Chinese next-generation crewed spacecraft landed on Friday after a nearly three-day automated flight in Earth orbit.
Pictures from Chinese media showed the capsule descending under three parachutes. The vehicle had made a high-speed reentry from a final orbit of 523 x 6,278 km (325 x 3,901 miles) to simulate a return from deep space.
The new spacecraft, which will carry up to six astronauts, is intended to replace the three-seat Shenzhou spaceship now in use. China will use the new vehicle for operations in Earth and lunar orbit.
A Long March 5B launched the spacecraft into Earth orbit on Tuesday from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island. It was the maiden flight of Long March 5 variant, which will be used to launch elements of China’s first permanent space station next year.
Long March 5B has a core stage with four strap-on boosters. It lacks the upper stage of the Long March 5, which is used to send communications satellites to geosynchronous orbit and probes to the moon and planets.
In a crucial step forward for China’s human and robotic spaceflight programs, a Long March 5B booster conducted its maiden flight on Tuesday carrying a prototype of the nation’s next-generation crewed spacecraft.
China’s most powerful rocket lifted off at 1000 GMT (6 p.m. local time) from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island. Chinese media have reported the launch from the nation’s southern spaceport was successful.
BEIJING, February 7, 2020 (CASC PR) — Only one month after the successful launch of the Long March 5 and Long March 3 rockets, another member of the Long March 5 rocket family, developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), started its first journey.