Russian Space Facilities Director Fired in Continued Shakeup Related to Vostochny

Ruslan Mukhamedzhanov (Credit: Roscomsos)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The previously reprimanded head of the Russian company that oversees Russia’s ground-based space infrastructure has been fired in a continuing shakeup related to schedule delays and alleged corruption at the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

The Board of Directors of the Center for Operation of Ground-Based Space Infrastructure Facilities (TsENKI) voted to relieve General Director Andrei Okhlopkov from his post beginning on Nov. 27. A month earlier, Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin had reprimanded him during a visit to Vostochmy.

Okhlopkov had been the head of TsENKI since June 2018. The board replaced him with Ruslan Mukhamedzhanov, a 20-year TsENKI employee who most recently headed up the company’s Barmin Research Institute of Launch Complexes.

TsENKI is responsible for the creation of ground space infrastructure and manages Russian cosmodromes. The company, which is part of Roscosmos, employs more than 12,000 people.

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Private Israeli Astronaut Made Fortune Selling Weapons, Security Systems & Other Services to Developing Nations

Michael Lopez-Alegria, Eytand_Stibbe and two unidentified individuals will fly on the AX-1 mission. (Credit: Axiom Space)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A former fighter pilot paying to become the second Israeli to fly into space late next year made his fortune by supplying military weapons, security systems and other services to the governments of Angola, Nigeria, Haiti, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Eytan Stibbe, 62, will join retired NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria and two unidentified individuals on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for a privately-funded mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Stibbe will pay for the cost of the trip and stay at the station.

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Astroscale Announces March 2021 Launch Date for World’s First Commercial Active Debris Removal Demonstration Mission

End-of-Life Service by Astroscale demonstrator (ELSA-d) satellite. (Credit: Astroscale UK Ltd)

ELSA-d is the first mission to demonstrate the core technologies necessary for space debris docking and removal, a major step towards expanding on-orbit services and achieving Astroscale’s vision of safe and sustainable space for the benefit of future generations.

TOKYO, November 18, 2020 (Astroscale PR) – Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market-leader in securing long-term orbital sustainability, today announced that its End-of-Life Services by Astroscale-demonstration (ELSA-d) mission will launch on a Soyuz rocket operated by GK Launch Services from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, in March 2021.

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Rules Published for Competing for Lead Role on ISS Feature Film

Credit: Roscosmos

Unclear if this is casting for or competition to Tom Cruise’s feature film to be shot next year.

Dmitry goes to Hollywood(ski) as Roscosmos boss snags himself a producer credit.

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The competition has started, the winner of which will receive the main role in the first feature film shot in space. The motion picture with the tentative title “Challenge” is a joint project of the State Corporation Roscosmos, Channel One and the studio Yellow, Black and White. Filming will take place at the International Space Station in the fall of 2021.

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Vostochny Continues Preparations to Resume OneWeb Satellite Launches in December

Equipment arrives for the fourth launch of OneWeb satellites. (Credit: Roscosmos)

BLAGOVESHCHENSK, Russia (Roscosmos PR) — At the Vostochny cosmodrome, intensive preparations are continuing for the upcoming launch of the Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle with the Fregat upper stage and a new batch of 36 OneWeb spacecraft. Today, November 2, 2020, a special aircraft with ground support equipment and two foreign customer dispensers for devices arrived at the Ignatievo airport in Blagoveshchensk.

Specialists of the Vostochny Space Center (a branch of the Center for Operation of Ground-Based Space Infrastructure Facilities, part of the Roscosmos State Corporation) accepted the cargo, provided support for the unloading, installation on vehicles and transportation of equipment to the technical complex of the Vostochny cosmodrome, as well as unloading at the warehouse blocks.

Equipment arrives for the fourth launch of OneWeb satellites. (Credit: Roscosmos)

The next operation is scheduled for November 3 – this is the removal of equipment from containers and placing it in the workplace. The dispenser is an integral part of the spacecraft – it is a transitional link between the upper stage and spacecraft.

At present, the specialists of the Vostochny Space Center at the technical complex are preparing technological equipment for refueling the Fregat upper stage with propellant components. Electrical tests of the upper stage are underway in the spacecraft assembly and test building.

It Took Teamwork to Make It to 20 Years

NASA astronauts (left to right) Christina Koch and Jessica Meir harvested Mizuna mustard greens on Thanksgiving day in 2019 inside the ESA (European Space Agency) laboratory module’s VEGGIE facility. (Credits: NASA)

By Danielle Sempsrott
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Building the Team

For 20 consecutive years, NASA has been sending humans to low-Earth orbit to live and work aboard the International Space Station, a unique microgravity laboratory that’s making new discoveries to this day. The technology used for LASIK eye surgery, air purifiers, and robotic arms that assist in medical surgeries are just a few of the things we benefit from here on Earth thanks to science performed on the orbiting laboratory. However, getting the space station into orbit and maintaining it is one of humanity’s biggest challenges – one that required people from all over the world working together to make it possible.

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Japan Begins Astronaut Recruitment

Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi. (Credit: NASA)

For the sixth tine in its history, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will be recruiting astronauts as it gears up to support America’s plan to return people to the moon in 2024.

“We are preparing to recruit new astronauts around the fall of next year. We hope that many of you will apply to become astronauts who can also play an active role in lunar exploration,” said JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata in an announcement posted on the space agency’s website.

JAXA has hired 11 astronauts in five recruitment cycles dating back to 1985. The most recent round was in 2009 when three astronaut candidates were hired.

A total of 12 Japanese citizens have flown in space. Television journalist Toyohiro Akiyama became the first from his nation to reach orbit when he flew to the Soviet space station Mir aboard a Soyuz spacecraft in 1990. Akiyama, who spent nearly 8 days in space, was not part of the Japan’s official astronaut corps.

Video: Why Hasn’t Space Tourism Taken Off?

Video Caption: Listening to Richard Branson over the past 20 years, you’d be forgiven for assuming that space was by now being frequented by lots of tourists. However, despite the Virgin Galactic chief’s optimism, the space tourism industry has yet to take off. Up to now there have been only seven self-funded citizens in space. And with billionaires such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk in the space race, why are there still no tourists in space?

New Crew Arrives Safely at International Space Station

(Front row from left) Expedition 64 crew members Kate Rubins, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov join Expedition 63 crew members (back row from left) Ivan Vagner, Anatoly Ivanishin and Chris Cassidy inside the space station’s Zvezda service module. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos joined Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner aboard the International Space Station when the hatches between the Soyuz spacecraft and the orbiting laboratory officially opened at 7:07 a.m. EDT.

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NASA Television Coverage Set for Space Station Crew Launch Aboard Soyuz

Expedition 64 NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, left, and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov, center, and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, right, of Roscosmos take a moment during the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft fit check to pose for a photograph, Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — A trio of space travelers is poised to launch to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, Oct. 14. NASA Television will provide comprehensive coverage of launch and docking.

Kate Rubins of NASA and Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos are preparing to launch aboard the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft Wednesday, Oct. 14, at 1:45 a.m. EDT (10:45 a.m. Kazakhstan time) on a two-orbit, three-hour journey to dock to the station’s Rassvet module for the start of a six-month mission on the orbital outpost.

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Contract Signed for Development of Amur Launch Vehicle Complex

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — State Corporation Roscosmos and Rocket and Space Center Progress (part of the State Corporation Roscosmos) on October 5, 2020 signed a state contract for preliminary design on the topic “Creation of a space rocket complex with a medium-class carrier rocket Amur at liquefied natural gas ”.

The aim of this work will be to design a new commercially oriented space rocket complex with a booster rocket operating on liquefied natural gas and liquid oxygen. The new rocket will have a reversible first stage and reusable liquid engines. Their development has already been underway at the Chemical Automatics Design Bureau (part of the NPO Energomash integrated structure of the Roscosmos State Corporation, Voronezh) since 2016.

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Exolaunch Delivers 15 Small Satellites into Orbit on a Soyuz Rideshare Mission, Deploys 100th Payload into Space

BERLIN, GERMANY (Exolaunch PR) – Exolaunch, the leader in rideshare launch and deployment services for the New Space industry, announced a successful launch of 15 commercial, governmental and scientific satellites for its customers from Europe, Canada, the UAE and the U.S. The Mission dubbed “Wanderlust,” Desire to Travel, lifted off on September 28 at 11:20 UTC on a Soyuz-2 rocket, marking over 100 satellites deployed by the company.

On this mission, Exolaunch provided comprehensive launch, deployment, mission management and integration services to Kepler Communications, Spire Global, the UAE Space Agency, Technische Universität Berlin, Würzburg Center for Telematics and two unnamed commercial customers.

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Machine-learning Nanosats to Inform Global Trade

Spire’s machine-learning capable nanosat (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The latest batch of tiny satellites to monitor trade on Earth from space have launched.

The Glaswegian-built nanosatellites join a fleet of about 100 objects in low Earth orbit that help to predict the movement of the world’s resources, so that businesses and governments can make informed decisions.

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China, Russia Launch Communications & Environmental Satellites

China and Russia conducted launches on Sunday and Monday, placing five primary payloads and a group of rideshare satellites into orbit.

A Chinese Long March 4B booster lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center early Sunday morning. The three-stage rocket carried the Huanjing 2A and 2B environmental monitoring satellites into orbit.

Chinese media said the satellites will collect data for environmental protection, water conservancy, natural resources monitoring, agriculture and forestry. They will replace the Huanjing 1A and 1B environmental satellites launched in 2008.

On Monday, a Russian Soyuz rocket launched three Gonets M military communications satellites from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. The rocket also included a group of international rideshare payloads.