Russia Signs Agreement to Fly Saudi Astronaut to ISS

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Roscosmos State Corporation Director General Dmitry Rogozin took part in the state delegation headed by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin during a state visit to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

During the trip to Abu-Dhabi the Head of Roscosmos met with Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre management and the first UAE astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori, who has recently returned to Earth after his flight to the ISS as part of the international crew. Hazzaa Al Mansoori stayed at the ISS from September 25 to October 3, 2019.

The meeting participants noted that the first UAE astronaut flight is a historical event not only for his homeland, but also for the whole region.

Moreover, during the visit of Vladimir Putin to Riyadh, Roscosmos and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement of cooperation in crewed spaceflights and global satellite navigation system GLONASS. Among other things, the agreement allows for launching a Saudi Arabian cosmonaut to the International Space Station.

NanoRacks Opens Office in United Arab Emirates

ABU DHABI, UAE (NanoRacks PR) – NanoRacks, the world’s leading provider of commercial access to space, is pleased to announce that it’s opening and staffing its first office in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Abu Dhabi’s Hub71, a global tech ecosystem driven by Mubadala Investment Company, backed by the Abu Dhabi Government’s Ghadan 21 program.

This expansion highlights NanoRacks commitment to the growing space sector in the UAE and will offer end-to-end customer service and technical advice for a fast-developing customer base in the Middle East, Africa, and South East Asia region.

(more…)

Astronauts Return from International Space Station

NASA astronaut Nick Hague, Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and visiting astronaut from United Arab Emirates (UAE) Hazzaa Ali Almansoori returned to Earth from the International Space Station at 6:59 am in Kazakhstan. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut Nick Hague returned to Earth from the International Space Station on Thursday, alongside Soyuz commander Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The crew landed safely at 6:59 a.m. EDT in Kazakhstan.

Hague and Ovchinin launched March 14, along with fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch. Six hours later, they began their 203-day mission on the station, orbiting Earth 3,248 times and traveling 86.1 million miles.

(more…)

Spaceport America and Virgin Galactic: The Numbers Never Added Up

Richard Branson and his children hang out with Project Bandaloop dancers during the dedication of the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space facility. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Fourteen years ago, Virgin Galactic and New Mexico promised “tens of thousands” of tourists would fly to space from Spaceport America by 2019. Total thus far: 0.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

When they announced in December 2005 that Virgin Galactic would locate its space tourism business in New Mexico, Virgin Founder Richard Branson and Gov. Bill Richardson made a number of eye-popping claims about why taxpayers should back a plan to build the Southwest Regional Spaceport to serve as the space tourism company’s home base:

  • $331 million in total construction revenues in 2007;
  • 2,460 construction-related jobs;
  • $1 billion in total spending, payroll of $300 million and 2,300 jobs by the fifth year of operation; and,
  • $750 million in total revenues and more than 3,500 jobs by 2020.

Virgin Galactic would sign a 20-year lease as anchor tenant and pay fees based on the number of launches it conducted. New Mexico would use the spaceport, Virgin’s presence and the funds generated to develop a large aerospace cluster.

Surprisingly, New Mexico would spend more money, $225 million, to develop a facility now known as Spaceport America than the $108 million that Branson planned to spend on developing a fleet of five SpaceShipTwos and WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft.

Among all the big numbers in the announcement, there was a truly astounding one that was deemed so important it was mentioned twice. (Emphasis added)

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Swiss Re Leaves Space Insurance Market

Built by Lockheed Martin, the WorldView-4 satellite will expand DigitalGlobe’s industry-leading constellation of high-accuracy, high-resolution satellites, and double the availability of 30 cm resolution imagery for commercial and government customers around the globe. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

SpaceNews reports that Swiss Re has left the space insurance market due to losses.

Jan Schmidt, the head of Swiss Re’s space underwriting division, said in an email obtained by SpaceNews that the decision to “cease Space underwriting with immediate effect” was driven by “bad results of recent years and unsustainable premium rates.”

Schmidt emailed clients and brokers the same day Swiss Re board member Andreas Berger told Reuters the company is reducing its space exposure as part of a broader effort to stem losses in its corporate insurance divisions.

Swiss Re is the world’s second largest reinsurance company.

The failure of an European Vega rocket last month resulted in $407 million (369 million euros) in losses to the insurance industry. The United Arab Emirate’s Falcon Eye 1 satellite was lost in the failure.

That accident followed on the heels of a $183 million claim by Maxar Technologies after the WorldView-4 satellite failed in orbit.

Satellite Insurance Rates Increasing After Failures of Vega, WorldView-4

Vega begins its ascent from the Spaceport in French Guiana, carrying Italy’s PRISMA Earth observation satellite on the third Arianespace mission of 2019. (Credit: Arianespace)

Reuters reports that insurance rates are going up following the failure of an European Vega rocket that destroyed a very expensive United Arab Emirate’s military reconnaissance satellite last month.

The loss of the Falcon Eye 1 satellite will cost insurers $411.21 million (369 million euros), which is the highest recorded amount for an insured satellite, Reuters reported.

The Vega rocket carrying the satellite failed on July 10 due to an anomaly in its second stage. It was the first failure of the rocket in 15 launch attempts.

In January, the failure of Maxar Technologies’ WorldView-4 imaging satelite resulted in an $183 million insurance claim.

Reuters reports that insurance payouts of $600 million outpaced premiums paid by about $150 million last year.

The cost of insuring satellites had come down in recent years due to cheaper launch costs and better booster reliability.

UAE to Create Space Agency, Send Spacecraft to Mars in 2021

UAE_Coat_of_ArmsThe United Arab Emirates plans to establish a space agency and to launch for the first Arab spacecraft to Mars by 2021 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the nation’s founding.

“The UAE Mars probe represents the Islamic world’s entry into the era of space exploration,” said President Sheikh Khalifa, according to state news agency WAM.

“We will prove that we are capable of delivering new scientific contributions to humanity.

(more…)