HOW DO ASTRONAUTS VOTE FROM SPACE? - How do you cast your ballot when you are floating over 200 miles above your polling place? Thanks to a special electronic absentee ballot, astronauts are able to vote from space.
This voting process began in 1997—necessitated by the beginning of long-duration spaceflight for American astronauts--when Rule 81.35 passed in the Texas state legislature. This law states that “A person who meets the eligibility requirements of a voter under the Texas Election Code, Chapter 101, but who will be on a space flight during the early-voting period and on Election Day, may vote.” (Why Texas? That’s where NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) is located, so most astronauts live in Houston.) More
(Source: Smithsonian Institution - Nov 7)
FRANCE TO ADD THIRD SYRACUSE 4 SATELLITE TO FUTURE MILSATCOM FLEET - The French Ministry of Defence will add a third satellite to its next-generation geostationary constellation, an official said Nov. 6.
Col. Laurent Jannin, the head of French satcom programs at the French arms-procurement agency, DGA, said Nov. 6 that connectivity demands from drones and military aircraft drove the need for an additional satellite that will be launched by 2030 if not sooner.
“This satellite will be different from the other ones we are currently building in order to better address the specific and increasing needs of airborne systems,” Jannin said at the 2018 Global MilSatCom conference here. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Nov 7)
AT SMALL SATELLITE CONFERENCE, FRUSTRATION ABOUT LAGGING EFFORTS TO DEAL WITH SPACE JUNK - A British debris-removal satellite was deployed this summer from the International Space Station to help researchers figure out new techniques to clean up space junk that increasingly is becoming a hazard to the ISS and to other satellites.
The experimental RemoveDebris mission in September successfully cast a net to catch a dead satellite in space. Next year it will try to capture the target with a harpoon.
A harpoon that grabs orbital debris sounds like a cool idea, but putting up more hardware in space to clean up debris is probably not a sustainable proposition, said Fred Kennedy, the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Tactical Technology Office. More
(Source: SpaceNews - Nov 6)
SOYUZ ROCKET ROLLS OUT FOR LAUNCH OF EUROPEAN WEATHER SATELLITE - A Russian-built Soyuz booster arrived at its tropical launch pad in South America on Friday and was joined with a European weather satellite for launch Tuesday night.
The MetOp-C weather observatory, built by Airbus Defense and Space and owned by the European weather satellite agency Eumetsat, will ride the Soyuz ST-B rocket and a Fregat upper stage into a roughly 504-mile-high (811-kilometer) polar orbit after liftoff from French Guiana at 0047:27 GMT Wednesday (7:47:27 p.m. EST; 9:47:27 p.m. French Guiana time Tuesday). More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now - Nov 6)
A NEW EUROPEAN SATELLITE LAUNCHING THIS WEEK IS IMPORTANT FOR WEATHER FORECASTS - I often refer to geosynchronous weather satellites as the "lead singers" of the weather satellite rock band. They get much of the attention and produce stunning views of hurricanes, tornadic storms, and other real-time weather events. However, polar orbiting satellites are equally important, but often have a much lower profile like the drummer or bass player. The European Space Agency (ESA) is preparing to launch the next satellite in its MetOp series next week. This satellite will continue a critical series of weather and climate measurements vital to Europe, the United States, and the rest of the world. Why is MetOp-C so important? More
(Source: Forbes - Nov 4)
SOYUZ 2-1B LAUNCHES URAGAN-M GLONASS SATELLITE - A Russian Soyuz-2-1b rocket launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome Saturday night, deploying a replacement satellite for the GLONASS navigation system with the aid of a Fregat-M upper stage. Liftoff is due to take place at 23:17 Moscow Time (20:17 UTC), beginning a three-and-a-half hour journey to the spacecraft’s destination orbit.
Russia’s GLONASS navigation system is served by a constellation of satellites named Uragan, meaning Hurricane. The current-generation Uragan-M spacecraft are designed for seven years of service, with new satellites being launched as needed to replace failing spacecraft on orbit. Saturday’s launch deployed Uragan-M No.757 – the forty-eighth Uragan-M and the 137th GLONASS satellite overall. More
(Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com - Nov 4)
RUSSIA SET TO RESUME ASTRONAUT TRIPS TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION - The Russian space agency announced on Thursday that it was planning to launch three astronauts to the International Space Station on Dec. 3., signaling that it believes the country’s Soyuz spacecraft is safe for travel after an in-flight failure last month.
The Soyuz is the only way for people to get to the space station. In October, two astronauts made a harrowing but safe emergency return after the Soyuz they were riding in suddenly lost control. Thursday’s announcement also heads off a situation that could have left the space station with no crew aboard as early as January. More
(Source: New York Times - Nov 3)
CHINA LAUNCHES FIRST GEOSTATIONARY BEIDOU-3 SATELLITE - China has launched its first geostationary satellite for the BeiDou constellation, according to press reports.
The successful launch of satellite G1Q took place at 15:57 UTC on Nov. 1 from the LC2 Launch Complex of the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan province, using a Long March-3B/G2 (Chang Zheng-3B/G2) launch vehicle.
Beidou-3G satellites are the geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) component of the third phase of the Chinese Beidou satellite navigation system. The GEO satellites will be in high orbit, about 36,000 kilometers above the Earth, following the Earth’s rotation to view the same point on Earth continuously. More
(Source: GPS World magazine - Nov 2)
ELVIS AND DARTH VADER INVADE SPACE STATION FOR ASTRONAUTS' HALLOWEEN - Happy Halloween from the International Space Station!
The space station's three current inhabitants posed for some spooktacular group photos in their out-of-this-world Halloween costumes and beamed the pics down to Earth today (Oct. 31). "Having a scary day in space," European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeted.
In the photos, Gerst is dressed up as Darth Vader while wielding a red lightsaber. More
(Source: Space.com - Nov 2)