First Spacewalk by a Female Chinese Astronaut

Wang Yaping (Credit: China News Service, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=110984412)

Wang Yaping became the first female Chinese astronaut to make a spacewalk on Monday. She and mission command Zhai Zhigang spent 6.5 hours outside the Tianhe core module of the Tiangong space station, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The astronauts tested the Chinese-developed next-generation spacesuits, worked with the station’s robotic arm, and evaluated the reliability and safety of the support equipment.

Zhai made his first spacewalk in 13 years. On 27 September 2008, he became he first Chinese astronaut to walk in space during the three-day Shenzhou-7 mission.

It was the first spacewalk by the three-member Shenzhou-13 crew, which arrived at the space station for a six-month stay on Oct. 15. The crew, which includes Ye Guangfu, will return to Earth in April.

The Shenzhou-12 crew conducted two spacewalks during a 92-day long mission that ended on Sept. 17.

Last Week in the Dmitrys: Roscosmos, Glavkosmos Bosses Talk SpaceX, Tourism and More

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The International Astronautical Congress wrapped up last week in Dubai. Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin and Glavkosmos boss Dmitry Loskutov held forth during the conference on SpaceX, space tourism and other topics.

Roscosmos is the state-owned corporation that runs Russia’s space program. Glavkosmos is Roscosmos’ commercial arm.

Cosmonauts to fly on Crew Dragon: Rogozin said SpaceX’s Crew Dragon now has enough flights under its belt for Russian cosmonauts to fly aboard it. Crew Dragon has flown three crews to the International Space Station (ISS) and a group of amateur astronauts on a three-day orbital flight. Roscosmos and NASA will pursue a barter agreement that will allow U.S. astronauts to fly on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Before Crew Dragon began flights, NASA was paying Roscosmos $90 million per seat to fly its astronauts to ISS.

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Oleg Novitsky, Klim Shipenko and Yulia Peresild Recount Expedition to ISS

Actress Yulia Peresild, cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky and film director Klim Shipenko discuss their stays aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, film director Klim Shipenko and actress Yulia Peresild returned to Earth on October 17, 2021 on the “Yu.A. Gagarin” (Soyuz MS-18). Now they are undergoing post-flight rehabilitation at the Cosmonaut Training Center, where one of the sites for an online press conference was organized.

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Russian Government Allocates $60.6 Million for Future Soyuz Tourist Flight

The Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft is seen as it lands in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan with Expedition 62 crew members Jessica Meir and Drew Morgan of NASA, and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos, Friday, April 17, 2020. Meir and Skripochka returned after 205 days in space, and Morgan after 272 days in space. All three served as Expedition 60-61-62 crew members onboard the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin)

The Russian government has allocated $60.6 million (4.4 billion rubles) to the Roscosmos subsidiary Glavkosmos to produce a Soyuz 2.1a rocket and Soyuz MS spacecraft for a space tourism flight scheduled for 2024, according to Space Daily.

Glavkosmos head Dmitry Loskutov said in May that the company was already in talks with potential space tourists and was simultaneously working on putting together a reserve of Soyuz spaceships to make the first tourist flight possible in late 2023.

Now that SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is carrying astronauts to the station, Russia has restarted spaceflights for paying customers. On Oct. 5, the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft will carry Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, actress Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko to the International Space Station (ISS). Peresild and Shipenko will shoot scenes for a movie titled, “Challenge,” during a spaceflight lasting 12 days.

On Dec. 8, the Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft will carry Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, and Maezawa’s assistant Yozo Hirano to ISS on a 12-day spaceflight.

Inspiration4 Mission Announces Splashdown Time to Return from Orbit

Inspiration4 crew in orbit. (Credit: Inspiration4)

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL, September 17, 2021 (Inspiration4 PR) – Tonight Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian human spaceflight mission to orbit, shared the crew would return tomorrow, September 18, with a targeted splashdown at 7:06 p.m. EDT in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. To prepare for this return, Dragon completed two burns tonight to reduce the spacecraft’s altitude to approximately 365km and line up the ground track with the landing site. A timeline of activities for Dragon’s return to Earth and splashdown is available on SpaceX’s website.

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Inspiration4 Mission Launches into Orbit

Falcon 9 launches the privately-funded Inspiration4 mission into orbit. (Credit: Inspiration4)

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL, September 15, 2021 (Inspiration4 PR) – On September 15 the crew of Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian human spaceflight mission to orbit, officially ushered in a new era of space exploration at 8:02:56 PM EDT as SpaceX’s Falcon 9 lifted off from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. 

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Weather Conditions 70% Favorable for Launch of Inspiration4 Launch Tonight

Inspiration4 crew members Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman and Hayley Arceneaux. (Credit: Inspiration4)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Inspiration4 PR) – Teams from SpaceX and Inspiration4 are now targeting a five-hour launch window for the Inspiration4 mission opening at 8:02 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, September 15. If needed for any reason, a backup window is available opening at 8:05 p.m. EDT on Thursday, September 16. 

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To Briefly Go: Billionaires Branson & Bezos Battle for Bragging Rights Where Few Have Gone Before

Richard Branson wears the SpaceShipTwo flight suit. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
  • Fewer than 25 suborbital spaceflights have ever been conducted
  • Most suborbital launches were conducted with vehicles retired decades ago
  • No suborbital flight has ever carried a paying passenger
  • There is no agreement on what even constitutes a suborbital spaceflight

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

When Richard Branson and three Virgin Galactic employees strap into their seats aboard SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity on Sunday, they will briefly go where not very many have gone before: suborbital space.

Of the 374 attempts to launch astronauts to space since Yuri Gagarin flew into Earth orbit 60 years ago, only 23 were suborbital flights. The majority of those launches were conducted during the 1960’s using vehicles that long ago became museum pieces. One ended with the loss of the spacecraft and its pilot. And two flights were unintentional ones involving vehicles being launched into Earth orbit.

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Launch 2020: U.S. Reclaimed Top Spot, Flew Astronauts Again from American Soil

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The United States reclaimed the top spot in launches from China last year as NASA astronauts flew into orbit from American soil for the first time in nearly nine years, SpaceX deployed the world’s first satellite mega-constellation with reused rockets, and two new launchers debuted with less than stellar results.

American companies conducted 44 launches in 2020, with 40 successes and four failures. Bryce Tech reports that U.S. companies accounted for 32 of the 41 commercial launches conducted last year. The majority of those flights were conducted by SpaceX, which launched 25 orbital missions.

China came in second with a record of 35 successful launches and four failures. The 39 launch attempts tied that nation’s previous record for flights during a calendar year.

Let’s take a closer look at what U.S. companies achieved last year.

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Japanese Billionaut Maezawa Begins Training in Russia for Flight to ISS

Yusaku Maezawa (Credit: Roscosmos)

STAR CITY, Russia, June 15, 2021 (Roscosmos PR) — At the Yu.A. Gagarin, on June 15, 2021, the participants of the visiting expedition’s space flight were presented to the management and staff of the Center.

By the decision of the interdepartmental commission for the selection of cosmonauts for the VC-20 crews as space flight participants, the main crew were appointed:

  • Yusaku Maezawa, president of Start Today Corporation, businessman.
  • Yozo Hirano, producer, personal assistant to Maezawa Yusaku.
  • Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin became the commander of the prime crew.
  • Back-up crew commander – Alexander Skvortsov.
  • Shun Ogiso, Public Relations Manager of Start Today Corporation, will also take part in the training.
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Glavkosmos Offers Spacewalks, Capsule Purchase to Space Billionauts

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Glavkosmos is offering space tourists the option of performing spacewalks from the International Space Station (ISS) and stays of up to 30 days aboard the orbital laboratory. They can even purchase the Soyuz space capsule that took them to and from the station.

The company, which is part of Roscosmos, recently upgraded its website to provide details of what paying customers can do when they book a trip to the station. The information is available in Russian and English.

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A Look Back at Space Tourism Version 1.0 as New Gaggle of Millionauts Prepares to Fly

The first space tourist, Dennis Tito, poses with Soyuz TM-32 crew mates Talgat Musabayev, and Yuri Baturin in 2001. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For eight years, they thundered aloft in cramped Russian spacecraft from a former Soviet spaceport in Kazakhstan, battling bureaucracy and gravity to blaze a trail across the heavens and redefine what it meant to be a space traveler. No longer would access to orbit be limited to highly trained astronauts chosen on merit and working on behalf of their nations; instead, space would be open to any sufficiently healthy people with enough money and moxie to qualify.

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NASA Space Operations Budget Request Fact Sheet

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle begins its separation from the station after undocking from the Harmony module’s international docking adapter. (Credit: NASA TV)

NASA FACT SHEET
FY 2022 Budget Request
Space Operations
($ Millions)

The FY 2022 Budget for the Space Operations account consists of four areas: International Space Station (ISS), Space Transportation, Space and Flight Support (SFS), and Commercial LEO Development.

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