A NEW GRADING SYSTEM COULD DETER SATELLITE OPERATORS FROM JUNKING UP SPACE - As aerospace companies vow to fill Earth’s orbit with thousands of new satellites over the next decade, industry experts say it’s time to grade these operators on their efforts to keep space a safe and sustainable place. A rating system could keep companies honest, and ensure that Earth orbit remains open for business and doesn’t become bogged down with excess satellites and debris.
Right now, there are nearly 2,000 operational satellites in orbit, according to the European Space Agency, and agencies are tracking more than 22,000 pieces of debris. More
(Source: The Verge - May 8)
CONSTELLATION OF WEATHER SATELLITES TO COVER THE GLOBE - Want more accurate weather forecasts? You're in luck: Last month, researchers at CU Boulder saw the fruits of their labors launch aboard a new satellite. That satellite is the first in a planned fleet of Earth-orbiters that the team says will one day record weather data at every point on the globe every 15 minutes.
The project, led by CU Boulder electrical engineering professor Al Gasiewski, is a partnership between the university and Colorado-based Orbital Micro Systems (OMS). More
(Source: Phys.org - May 7)
SPACEX CARGO SHIP REACHES SPACE STATION - A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship caught up with the International Space Station early Monday and then stood by while Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, operating the lab’s robot arm, locked onto the spacecraft to wrap up a two-day rendezvous.
“Well done, well captured,” a flight controller radioed from the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “Way to make it look easy.”
“To all the teams around the world, we welcome to the ISS the Dragon spacecraft,” Saint-Jacques replied. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - May 7)
NASA INSTRUMENT HEADS TO SPACE STATION TO MAP CO2 - Nasa has sent up an instrument to the International Space Station (ISS) to help track carbon dioxide on Earth. OCO-3, as the observer is called, was launched on a Falcon rocket from Florida in the early hours of Saturday. The instrument is made from the spare components left over after the assembly of a satellite, OCO-2, which was put in orbit to do the same job in 2014. The data from two missions should give scientists a clearer idea of how CO2 moves through the atmosphere. One way this will be achieved is through the different perspectives OCO-2 and OCO-3 will get. More
(Source: The Nation - May 6)
CHINA IS BRANDING ANTI-SATELLITE WEAPONS AS ‘SCAVENGER SATELLITES’ - Rumors have been circulating for years that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has developed small satellites with robotic arms that could be used as anti-satellite weapons. A recently declassified Chinese report details these systems but brands them as research tools.
Since 2008, the CCP has been developing the weapons, which have dual uses for both military and scientific purposes. The weapons also include artificial intelligence, according to South China Morning Post. More
(Source: The Epoch Times - May 6)
ROCKET LAB’S ELECTRON ROCKET LAUNCHES 3 U.S. MILITARY SATELLITES FROM NEW ZEALAND - Rocket Lab sent a trio of research satellites for the U.S. military into orbit tonight from a launch pad that’s thousands of miles from America’s shores, in New Zealand.
The Los Angeles-based company’s low-cost Electron rocket lifted off from its seaside launch facility on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula at 6 p.m. May 5 local time (11 p.m. PT May 4). It was Rocket Lab’s second launch of 2019, and its sixth mission overall.
After liftoff, the Electron’s second stage separated from the first-stage booster, and then released its “kick stage” to deploy the satellites in orbit. More
(Source: GeekWire - May 5)
ROCKET LAB DELAY LAUNCH OF STP-27RD TEST SATELLITE TRIO FOR THE DOD - Rocket Lab has stood down today’s launch attempt to conduct additional payload checks. The company is preparing their Electron rocket for its second launch of 2019. In its sixth overall mission, Electron will place the SPARC-1, Falcon ODE, and Harbinger satellites into orbit, as part of the Space Test Program (STP). Launch is now scheduled for No Earlier Than May 5 at 6:00 UTC, from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 (LC-1) in New Zealand. More
(Source: NASASpaceFlight.com - May 4)
SPACEX DRAGON LAUNCHES NASA CARGO TO SPACE STATION, ACES PREDAWN ROCKET LANDING - SpaceX successfully launched its 17th commercial cargo mission to the International Space Station today (May 4), then stuck a rocket landing on a ship at sea.
Following a series of delays over the past week, a two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 2:48 a.m. EDT (0648 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station here, lighting up the predawn sky as it carried the company's robotic Dragon cargo capsule toward the orbiting lab. More
(Source: Space.com - May 4)
PRIVATE FIRM PREPARES TO LAUNCH THREE AIR FORCE SATELLITES FROM NEW ZEALAND - A trio of Air Force satellites is ready to blast off from New Zealand on an Electron rocket as early as Saturday, according to the company charged with getting them into space.
Rocket Lab, founded by New Zealander Peter Beck in 2006 and headquartered in Huntington Beach, Calif., launched its first rocket, dubbed “It’s Business Time,” from New Zealand in January 2018 and its first commercial satellite in November.
This month’s launch is part of the Air Force’s Rapid Agile Launch Initiative (RALI) to procure small, commercial launch vehicles that included $5.7 million for Rocket Lab for a dedicated launch mission, Space News reported April 3. More
(Source: Stars and Stripes - May 3)