ULA launch of NRO satellite on hold after Delta 4 Heavy hot fire abort

WASHINGTON — A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket carrying a National Reconnaissance Office classified spy satellite remains on the ground after a fire ignited Aug. 29 during the ignition sequence before the planned 3:28 a.m. Eastern liftoff. The launch of NROL-44 was aborted three seconds before the Delta 4 Heavy was to lift…

Boeing's Starliner could launch to the space station in December

Boeing is now planning to launch the second uncrewed test flight of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft no earlier than December, the company announced Friday (Aug. 28).  The mission, called Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2), will be Boeing’s second attempt at launching its new astronaut taxi to the International Space Station, following a partial failure that…

Terra MISR Used to Visualize Cloud-top Heights From Tropical Storm Laura in 3D

On Aug. 25, several days before Hurricane Laura made landfall as a destructive Category 4 storm in Louisiana, NASA’s Terra satellite flew over Laura in the Gulf of Mexico. Using its Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument, the satellite collected data on wind speeds and cloud-top heights as the storm intensified and moved northwest towards the…

NASA and Boeing outline schedule of Starliner test flights

WASHINGTON — NASA and Boeing announced an updated schedule of test flights of the company’s CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle that would allow it to begin operational missions to the International Space Station at the end of 2021. In an Aug. 28 statement, NASA said it had scheduled a second uncrewed test flight, known as…

Space Force buyers want a classified cloud to manage satellite programs

WASHINGTON — Space Force managers of classified satellite programs are asking tech companies for ideas on how to build a virtual work environment with high levels of security. The Space and Missile Systems Center in a “request for information” Aug. 26 says it needs a digital workflow system for the development of classified early-warning and…

International Space Station at 20: Commercialization increases as end of life looms

The International Space Station (ISS) hits 20 years of continuous human habitation this fall, and NASA aims to make the most of the years the orbiting lab has left. The astronaut complex is in great shape, agency officials have stressed, and it just received a set of battery upgrades to keep going for a while.…

Skylab 4 capsule to land in new exhibit at Oklahoma History Center

A historic NASA spacecraft will soon leave the Smithsonian for the Sooner State. The Apollo command module that was flown by the third and last astronaut crew to live on board the United States’ first space station is set to go on display in Oklahoma. The Skylab 4 capsule was previously on exhibit for more…

NASA delays new astronaut selection due to coronavirus constraints

NASA has delayed the selection of its next astronaut class, citing constraints related to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus. The space agency revised its astronaut selection timeline on Monday (Aug. 24), and notified the more than 12,000 people who applied in March. NASA had been planning to reveal the members of its 23rd group…

Yahsat begins Thuraya fleet refresh with Airbus satellite order

WASHINGTON — Emirati fleet operator Yahsat on Aug. 27 announced a contract with Airbus Defence and Space to build a satellite for its Thuraya mobile voice and data connectivity subsidiary, beginning a long-awaited refresh of its L-band network.  The contract covers a satellite designated Thuraya-4 NGS, and includes an option for a Thuraya-5 NGS satellite…

56-year-old NASA satellite expected to fall to Earth this weekend

A NASA geophysics satellite’s long space odyssey is nearly at an end. The Orbiting Geophysics Observatory 1 spacecraft, or OGO-1, launched in September 1964 to study Earth’s magnetic environment and how our planet interacts with the sun. The satellite gathered data until 1969, was officially decommissioned in 1971 and has been zooming silently around Earth…

Jupiter's ocean moons raise tides on each other

Jupiter’s “ocean world” moons may have strong gravitational effects on each other, raising big tides in each others’ subsurface seas, a new study suggests. Surprisingly, these moon-moon tidal forces might generate more heat in the satellites’ oceans than the gravitational tugs of giant Jupiter, study team members found. “That’s kind of interesting, because Jupiter is…

Want to find life on Venus? Check for spores in the atmosphere, new research suggests.

In the depths of Venus’ hellish atmosphere, a layer of mysterious haze could be home to life, a new study finds. Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system, a broiling world where temperatures can reach 870 degrees Fahrenheit (465 degrees Celsius), more than hot enough to melt lead. And this scorching heat causes…

United Launch Alliance debuts first-ever 3D projection of Delta IV Heavy Rocket

The United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket shone in a spectacular 3D projection ahead of this week’s satellite launch.  The Delta IV Heavy rocket is scheduled to launch the NROL-44 spy satellite on Saturday (Aug. 29) at 2:04 a.m. EDT (0604 GMT) from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral in Florida. However,on Aug.…

See Jupiter and Saturn with the moon this weekend

Step outside around 8:30 p.m. local daylight time on Friday evening (Aug. 28) and Saturday (Aug. 29) and in a single glance you’ll be able to partake in a gathering of the moon and the two gas giants of the solar system in the south-southeast sky.  On Friday, assuming your skies are reasonably clear, you’ll…

NASA increases cost estimate for SLS development

WASHINGTON — NASA has increased the cost estimates for the Space Launch System and its ground systems to the point where a formal congressional notification is required. In an Aug. 27 blog post, Kathy Lueders, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said the agency was moving ahead with SLS development with the goal…

Celestron CPC 800 GPS telescope: Full review

With the Celestron CPC 800 GPS, you certainly get what you pay for. An incredibly well-made instrument, this beautifully presented and robust telescope is ideal for those looking to upgrade with an all-rounder that also allows for some serious astrophotography. The CPC 800 GPS is supplied with essential accessories, including a 9×50 optical finderscope with…

NASA puts solicitation for commercial free-flyer station on hold

WASHINGTON — While NASA seeks to eventually transition from the International Space Station to commercial stations in low Earth orbit, the agency is putting on hold a solicitation to support development of such a free-flying platform. One element of NASA’s LEO commercialization strategy, announced in June 2019, was to fund development of commercial platforms, including…

SpaceX to launch Masten lunar lander

WASHINGTON — Masten Space Systems announced Aug. 26 that it signed a contract with SpaceX for the launch of its first lunar lander mission carrying a suite of payloads for NASA. Masten said SpaceX will launch its Masten Mission One, or MM1, lunar lander mission in late 2022. The companies did not disclose the value…

NASA-sponsored moon mission will launch on a SpaceX rocket

A NASA-contracted lunar lander bound for the moon’s South Pole will launch on a SpaceX rocket in late 2022. Earlier this year, NASA selected Masten Space Systems to manage the delivery of eight different payloads to the moon’s pole as part of the agency’s Artemis program designed to land humans in the same region in…

Marine sergeant named U.S. Space Command’s top enlisted leader

WASHINGTON — Marine Corps Mastery Gunnery Sgt. Scott Stalker on Aug. 28 will assume duties as the senior enlisted leader of U.S. Space Command, a spokesperson for U.S. Space Command said Aug. 27, Stalker will take over for Space Force Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman who has been dual-hatted as senior enlisted advisor of the…