Surrey Satellite Ships Target Satellite for Astroscale End of Life Mission

Target satellite for the ELSA-d mission. (Credit: Surrey Satellite Technology)

GUILDFORD, UK (Surrey Satellite PR) — Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has shipped a 16kg Target satellite for Astroscale’s End-of-Life Services by Astroscale demonstration (ELSA-d) mission to Tokyo, where it will be bolted to the Chaser satellite for environmental testing ahead of launch in 2020. 

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Turkey Looks to Send Astronaut to Space Station with Russians

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — On October 31, 2019, Roscosmos State Corporation Director General Dmitry Rogozin met with Turkish Ambassador to Russia Mehmet Samsar.

The parties discussed the topical questions of the mutually beneficial cooperation in space, noting the high potential and importance of the subject in the Russo-Turkish relations.

The meeting resulted in an agreement to start preparing a frame intergovernmental agreement between the countries on space. The Turkish delegation also reconfirmed the plans mentioned earlier to organize Turkish cosmonaut training in the Zvyozdny gorodok.

NASA Assigns Chris Cassidy to Next Space Station Crew, Holds Media Briefing

Chris Cassidy

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy will return to the International Space Station next April. Cassidy will join his crewmates – Russian space agency Roscosmos cosmonauts Nikolai Tikhonov and Andrei Babkin – to discuss their upcoming mission during a news conference at 2 p.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 7, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The briefing will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. The crew will be available for in person and remote media interviews following the news conference.

Media following the briefing on social media may ask questions using #AskNASA.

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Arianespace, ESA Announce EarthCARE Launch Contract

PARIS (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA) today announced the signature of a launch services contract with a Soyuz launch vehicle for the EarthCARE satellite.

EarthCARE (Cloud, Aerosol and Radiation Explorer) satellite – the sixth mission in ESA’s Earth Explorer program – will advance our understanding of the role clouds and aerosols play in reflecting incident solar radiation back into space and trapping infrared radiation emitted from Earth’s surface.

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Russians Go 12 Months Without Launch Failure

A Proton takes a nose dive at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. (Credit: Tsenki TV)

It’s been a long road, getting from there to here….

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Russian space program reached a milestone last week: for the first time in nearly a decade, it went a full 12 months — 365 days — without a single partial or complete launch failure.

On Oct. 11 the program passed the one-year anniversary of the Soyuz MS-10 in-flight abort that sent NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin on a wild ballistic ride. Neither one was injured; both later flew to the International Space Station.

The last time Russia went more than one year between launch failures was a 14-month stretch between March 14, 2008 and May 21, 2009.

The last calendar year in which the Russian space program had a clean sheet was in 2003. They have 76 days left in 2019 to equal that feat.

The table below shows the program’s 22 failures and six partial failure over the past 15 years.

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Boeing Starliner Commercial Crew Delay: ~3 Years

Boeing’s first crewed Starliner finished initial production at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. and is readied for its cross-country trip. (Credit: Boeing)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On March 26, Vice President Mike Pence went to Huntsville, Ala., to declare that the Trump Administration would use “any means necessary” to accelerate the return of American astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024 — four years earlier than planned.

Pence was putting Huntsville-based Marshall Space Flight Center and prime contractor Boeing on notice to get the delayed, over budget Space Launch System (SLS) being built to accomplish that goal back on track. If they didn’t, the administration would find other rockets to do the job.

In his effort to accelerate the Artemis lunar program, however, Pence unintentionally contributed to delays in NASA’s behind schedule effort to launch astronauts to a much closer location: low Earth orbit.

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Kepler Communications to Launch Satellites on Soyuz Booster

TORONTO, Canada, October 7, 2019 (Kepler Communications PR) – Kepler Communications signs launch agreement with Innovative Space Logistics B.V (ISL) working with GK Launch Services to deploy two satellites into sun-synchronous orbit in Q2-Q3 2020. The satellites will be the first of multiple batches of the next-generation platform, forming part of Kepler’s Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation for global data services.

Kepler’s next generation of satellites will incorporate both a high-capacity Ku-band communications system and a narrowband payload, for both high-speed data transfers and low-power direct-to-satellite IoT connectivity.       

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China Launch Surge Left U.S., Russia Behind in 2018

Long March 2F rocket in flight carrying Shenzhou-11. (Credit: CCTV)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The year 2018 was the busiest one for launches in decades. There were a total of 111 completely successful launches out of 114 attempts. It was the highest total since 1990, when 124 launches were conducted.

China set a new record for launches in 2018. The nation launched 39 times with 38 successes in a year that saw a private Chinese company fail in the country’s first ever orbital launch attempt.

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New Crew Launches to International Space Station

Update: The astronauts have arrived safely at the space station.

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (NASA PR) — A multinational crew, including NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and the first space traveler from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station Wednesday, Sept. 25. NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of the crew’s launch and arrival.

Meir, Oleg Skripochka of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the UAE are set to launch at 9:57 a.m. EDT (6:57 p.m. Kazakhstan time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft.

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Russia to Launch Four Korea CubeSats in 2021

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Four Korean Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI) 6U Cubesats will be launched on Soyuz-2.1a as part of the rideshare mission scheduled for the Q1-Q2, 2021 in two 12U deployers from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

A new and very challenging space mission was initiated by KASI since 2017. KASI designed the innovative concept of multi-satellites mission, named as the Small scale magNetospheric and Ionospheric Plasma Experiments (SNIPE).

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ESA Expertise Aids UAE Astronaut’s Flight to Space Station

In the Integration Building at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, spaceflight participant Hazzaa Al Mansouri of the United Arab Emirates (left) and Expedition 61 crewmates Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos (center) and Jessica Meir of NASA (right) pose for pictures 11 September in front of their Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

COLOGNE, Germany (ESA PR) — The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) first ever astronaut, Hazza Al Mansouri, is set to fly to the International Space Station, where he will be supported on the ground by ESA-trained operations personnel at a newly-established control centre in Dubai, UAE.

Hazza will be launched alongside NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 25 September.

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GK Launch Services, ISL Team Up for Commercial SSO CubeSat Launch

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — GK Launch Services (“GK”) and Innovative Space Logistics (“ISL”) have teamed up for launching CubeSats on GK’s first commercial SSO mission from Q2 2020 that will fly from Baikonur Cosmodrome. 

The objective of this joint service is to address the need of the current CubeSat market for reliable launch solutions at a highly cost-effective pricepoint, supported by a team with unique experience.

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Launch of Japanese Cargo Ship Rescheduled for Wednesday

Canadarm2, the ISS’s robotic arm, grapples and berths unpiloted resupply ships, a manoeuvre known as a “cosmic catch.” (Credit: NASA)

TOKYO (MHI PR) — Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has revised the launch schedule of the H-IIB Launch Vehicle No. 8 (H-IIB F8) which carries aboard the H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI8” (HTV8), the cargo transporter to the International Space Station (ISS) from the JAXA Tanegashima Space Center.

Launch Date: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019 at 1:05 am JST (Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 1605 UTC/12:05 pm EDT)*1
Launch Window: Sept. 26 through Oct. 31, 2019

The changes will be made based on the results of the latest orbit based analysis (※ 1) of the International Space Station and Soyuz spacecraft. It was revealed there’s a possibility that the 2nd stage of H-IIB rocket after separation from “KOUNOTORI8” may approach the Soyuz spacecraft.

MHI canceled the launch of the H-IIB F8 on September 11 due to a fire at the movable launch pad exit hole during the countdown operation.

As a result of the investigation, it was confirmed that there was a high possibility that the fire spread due to the static electricity generated by the oxygen dripping from the engine exhaust port during the propellant filling operation, which continued to blow on the heat-resistant material in the exit hole at the movable launch pad.

We have taken corrective measures and have confirmed normal functioning of the rocket and facility.

*1: Collision Avoidance Analysis to prevent collision between the rocket and debris from the rocket and manned space systems (Space Station, etc.) in orbit after launching the rocket. The launch was previously rescheduled for September 24, 2019.

The launch time is subject to change as the ISS orbit is updated.

Launch time and date during this period are pending, determined by the ISS operations and other status.

Soyuz Spacecraft with Skybot F-850 Robot Launched to ISS

Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft launched to the International Space Station. (Credit: Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — On August 22, 2019 at 03:38:32 UTC, the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft successfully lifted off from the launch pad No. 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

The spacecraft will deliver scientific equipment for the experiments, medication, containers with food supplies, packages for the crew, as well as the Skybot F-850 humanoid robot. The Russian cosmonauts will test the robot systems under the spaceflight conditions. The main purpose of the robot is to use it during the hazardous tasks onboard the spacecraft including spacewalks.

After the ship’s separation from the third stage of the carrier rocket the Chief Operating Control Group of the Russian segment of the ISS took over the flight control.

The Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket inserted the spacecraft into the orbit with the following parameters:

  • the minimum height above the Earth surface — 200 km;
  • the maximum height above the Earth surface — 243 km;
  • the orbit period — 88.64 min;
  • the orbit inclination — 51.67 deg.

The Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft approach to the station and its berthing to the Poisk research module is planned to be performed automatically under control of the Chief Operating Control Group of the Russian segment of the ISS at the Mission Control Center and Roscosmos cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov. The docking is scheduled at 05:30 UTC on August 24, 2019.

NASA Television Coverage Set for Uncrewed Soyuz Mission to Space Station

Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft docking at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — An uncrewed Russian Soyuz spacecraft is set to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, Aug. 21, at 11:38 p.m. EDT (8:38 a.m. Aug. 22 Baikonur time) on a test flight to validate the spacecraft’s compatibility with a revamped Soyuz booster rocket. The booster will be used to transport crews to the International Space Station beginning in spring 2020.

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