Progress Resupply Ship Docks with International Space Station

Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon Freedom; the Cygnus space freighter; the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship; and the Progress 80 and 81 resupply ships. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — An uncrewed Russian Progress 81 spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station’s Zvezda service module at 9:02 a.m. EDT, two orbits after launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Progress is delivering almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies to the International Space Station for the Expedition 67 crew.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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NASA to Provide Live Coverage of Space Station Cargo Launch, Docking

Russia’s ISS Progress 78 resupply ship approaches the International Space Station for a docking to the Poisk module on July 2, 2021, two days after lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA will provide live coverage of the launch and docking of a Russian cargo spacecraft carrying about three tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the Expedition 67 crew aboard the International Space Station.

The unpiloted Russian Progress 81 is scheduled to launch at 5:32 a.m. EDT (2:32 p.m. Baikonur time) Friday, June 3, on a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Coverage will begin at 5:15 a.m. on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

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Ariane 6, Vega-C, Microlaunchers: ESA Looks to Full Range of Launch Options for European Institutional Missions

Artist’s view of Ariane 6 and Vega-C. (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher today underscored the Agency’s determination to ensure that ESA’s work in space is not derailed by the tragic events in Ukraine. Mr Aschbacher stresses that work continues to assess the impact on each ongoing programme, including on missions affected by Roscosmos’ withdrawal of Soyuz launch operations from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

In addition, ESA is preparing proposals that, if endorsed by its Member States, will further support European microlauncher services to complement the Ariane and Vega programmes, which form the backbone of Europe’s space transportation capability.

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SpaceX to Launch Rival OneWeb’s Broadband Satellites

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

OneWeb announced this morning that it will resume launches of its broadband satellite constellation with SpaceX, which is deploying its rival Starlink broadband satellite network. The agreement comes after OneWeb terminated a contract to continue launching on Soyuz boosters in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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Russian Cosmonauts Enter Space Station Wearing Flight Suits with Colors Similar to Ukraine Flag

Soyuz MS-21 crew members aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: Roscosmos webcast)

A three man crew of Russian cosmonauts entered the International Space station today wearing bright yellow flight suits with blue trim — colors very similar to those used on the flag of Ukraine, which Russia invaded last month.

Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov arrived at the station on the Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft at 3:12 p.m. EDT. They were launched aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

It’s possible they are protesting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine. In which case, they are extremely brave. Or it might just be a giant coincidence. They might have chosen these colors — which have been used on the station before — months earlier.

The cosmonauts joined Expedition 66 Commander Anton Shkaplerov and cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer.

On March 30, a Soyuz spacecraft will return as scheduled carrying hkaplerov, Dubrov and Vande Hei back to Earth. Upon their return, Vande Hei will hold the American record for the longest single human spaceflight mission of 355 days.

Soyuz MS-20 Spacecraft Check Inspection Conducted

Soyuz MS-20 crew members Yozo Hirano, Alexander Misurkin and Yusaku Maezawa. (Credit: Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — On Thursday, December 2, 2021, the 20th expedition to the ISS crews conducted a check inspection of the Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft. After an introductory briefing, the cosmonauts and spaceflight participants familiarized themselves with the composition, placement of cargo and equipment in the descent vehicle and in the habitable compartment. At the end of the inspection, the crews returned no remarks and thanked all the specialists for their work.

According to the prelaunch tradition, the prime and backup crews also visited the Baikonur Cosmodrome museum, known for its unique collection of exhibits. Alexander Misurkin, and the spaceflight participants Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano signed the autographs and left notes and wishes in the visitors’ book.

Less than a week is left before the launch of the Soyuz MS-20 crewed vehicle, which will take the EP-20 crew to the International Space Station. The launch is scheduled for December 8, 2021; the mission duration will be 12 days.

The prime crew consists of Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin and spaceflight participants Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano; the backup crew consists of Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov and spaceflight participant Shun Ogiso.

NASA to Provide Live Coverage of Billionaire’s Blastoff to the International Space Station

Spaceflight participant Yozo Hiro, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin and spaceflight participant Yusaku Maezawa. (Credit: Roscosmos)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA will provide live coverage of key events in the mission of a veteran Russian cosmonaut and two Japanese private citizens set to launch to the International Space Station on Wednesday, Dec. 8, and return to Earth on Sunday, Dec. 19.

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Italian Space Agency Shifts Satellite Launch From Vega-C to SpaceX Falcon 9

COSMO SkyMed satellite (Credit: ASI)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Citing delays with Europe’s new Vega-C rocket, two Vega booster failures and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Italian Space Agency (ASI) has shifted the launch of the second COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation (CSG-2) Earth observation satellite to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

“The delays, postponing the Vega-C Maiden Flight to Q1 2022, with a consequent tight schedule of launches in 2022, made the  launch period of CSG-2 no longer compatible with the needs of the COSMO Mission. Since Arianespace backlog was already full on Soyuz and Ariane systems in 2021, it was not possible to have a European back-up solution compliant with the CSG-2 schedule, thus an alternative solution with the US provider SpaceX has been adopted allowing to keep the CSG-2 launch within the current year,” ASI said on its website.

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Roscosmos Cancels Rus-M Rocket in Favor of Upgraded Soyuz

Roscosmos has canceled its planned Rus-M rocket and will launch its new six-person Soyuz replacement spacecraft on an upgraded Soyuz-2 rocket instead, according to space agency officials.

“We have come to the conclusion that we do not need a new rocket, we can continue using those we already have,” Roscosmos Head Vladimir Popovkin told Russian media.

The two-stage rocket was designed to replace the venerable Soyuz booster. Built by Energia, Rus-M was schedule to begin test flights from the new Vostochny spaceport in the Far East beginning around 2015. Human missions would have followed three years later.

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Soyuz Rockets Depart for South America Spaceport

Soyuz rocket
Soyuz rocket

ARIANESPACE PRESS RELEASE

The first two Soyuz launchers have left Russia for the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana (northern part of South America). The legendary Russian launcher will lift off from its new launch pad, now being completed, for the first time in 2010.

The two Soyuz launchers left St. Petersburg today aboard the MN Colibri, which is one of two ships used by Arianespace to transport Ariane launch vehicles from their European manufacturing sites to French Guiana.  The ship will arrive in a port near Kourou, French Guiana, in about two weeks.

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EADS Astrium Wants Euros for New Rocket

Aviation Week reports that EADS-Astrium is pushing Europe to fund the development of a new medium-lift launcher to replace the Soyuz 2 rocket that will begin operating later this year from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana:

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A Busy Week for Launches in India, Russia and China

An Indian PSLV rocket launched 10 – count ’em 10 – satellites into orbit on Monday. The cargo included the Cartosat-2A remote sensing satellite, an Indian mini-sat, and eight foreign nano-sats. The Times of India has details.

Meanwhile, the folks at Sea Launch are celebrating their first successful takeoff from terra firma. A Land Launch Zenit-3SLB blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Monday carrying an Israeli communications satellite. The company is a joint venture between Sea Launch and Russia’s Space International Services. More details here.

In other news, the ever reliable Soyuz rocket orbited the second demonstration satellite for Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system on Sunday. And a Chinese Long March rocket launched a data relay satellite on Friday that will support China’s human spaceflight program.