Spaceflight Insider

  • Soyuz-2.1b launches GLONASS-M navigation satellite into orbit

    Tomasz NowakowskiSeptember 23rd A Soyuz-2.1b rocket successfully sent the newest GLONASS-M into orbit on Friday, September 22, in order to replenish the Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS). The launch took place at 0:03 UTC (8:03 p.m. EDT Sept. 21) from Site 43/4 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.

  • Their words: Cassini’s Linda Spilker on mission’s legacy

    Matthew KuhnsSeptember 23rd PASADENA, Calif. — When Cassini took its final bow into the upper atmosphere of the gas giant Saturn, a good many people who had labored on the nearly 20-year-long mission were forced to say goodbye to a machine that had become all but a member of the family. One thing that was not lost that day was the wealth of knowledge that Cassini had sent back to those it left behind on Earth.

  • NASA’s OSIRIS-REx set for Earth flyby on way to Asteroid Bennu

    Ocean McIntyreSeptember 21st Traveling at a staggering 19,000 miles (30,758 km) per hour, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will fly past its homeworld on its way to the asteroid Bennu. The slingshot maneuver will provide the Lockheed Martin-built probe with a push to an inclination of six degrees – the angle that Bennu orbits the Sun – from Earth's orbital plane and onward to the rocky leftover from the Solar System's format...

  • Launch of NROL-42 delayed due to faulty battery

    Jason RhianSeptember 21st The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 541 (AV-072) rocket tasked with carrying the classified NROL-42 mission for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) has been delayed 48 hours to no earlier than 05:30 UTC Sept. 24. The cause of the delay was announced as a faulty battery on the launch vehicle. 

  • U.S. Air Force awards Lockheed Martin GPS M-Code Early Use (MCEU) ground system upgrade contract

    Press ReleaseSeptember 20th DENVER, Sept. 12, 2017 – The U.S. Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) a $45.5 million contract to provide Military Code (M-Code) Early Use (MCEU) capability to the Global Positioning System (GPS).

  • NROL-42 classified surveillance satellite set to launch

    Lloyd CampbellSeptember 20th A secretive National Reconnaissance Office satellite, NROL-42, is poised to launch from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Thursday, September 21, 2017.

  • MEV-1 working to expand spaceflight revolution, extend on-orbit operations

    Jason RhianSeptember 19th It was once believed that the first stage of a rocket couldn't return to the launch site. On Dec. 22, 2015, this was shown not to be so. At the close of the Shuttle era, another long-held line of thinking was also shown to be outmoded. Now, Orbital ATK is working to expand efforts to have satellites be refueled and repaired while on orbit.

  • In the footsteps of SpaceX: Chinese company eyes development of reusable rocket

    Tomasz NowakowskiSeptember 19th A Chinese startup company appears to be following in the footsteps of SpaceX as it has recently laid out its own project of a reusable space launch system. Link Space, the country’s first private rocket company, has recently presented the design of its New Line 1 (also known as Xin Gan Xian 1) launch vehicle, which could compete with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 in the future.

  • SpaceX CRS-12 mission comes to a close with Dragon’s splashdown

    Curt GodwinSeptember 18th After spending a month berthed to the International Space Station (ISS), SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft marked the end of its CRS-12 mission with a successful splashdown at 10:14 a.m. EDT (14:14 GMT) on Sept. 17, 2017. The spacecraft returned with an estimated 3,800 pounds (1,724 kg) of cargo and was secured and taken aboard a waiting recovery ship.

  • Cassini: The legend and legacy of one of NASA’s most prolific missions

    Ocean McIntyreSeptember 17th PASADENA, Calif. — Just one month shy of twenty years in space, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft dramatically ended its mission in the early morning hours at approximately 4:55 a.m. PDT (7:55 a.m. EDT / 11:55 GMT) Earth-Received Time (ERT) on Friday, September 15, 2017.

  • Curiosity rover begins climb of ‘Vera Rubin Ridge’

    Jim SharkeySeptember 17th NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has started the steep climb of an iron-oxide bearing ridge on the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp that has long been of interest to researchers. "Vera Rubin Ridge", also known as "Hematite Ridge", was informally named in early 2017 in memory of pioneering astrophysicist Vera Cooper Rubin, whose research provided evidence for the existence of dark matter.

  • ‘Moon Tree’ destroyed by Hurricane Irma

    Beverly S RotherSeptember 16th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — While Hurricane Irma only caused minor damage to facilities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the storm did destroy a unique plant: a Moon tree. Beginning as one of the hundreds of seeds that were taken to lunar orbit during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971, it was planted at the visitor complex during the United States Bicentennial.

  • Soyuz-2.1b launches GLONASS-M navigation satellite into orbit

    Tomasz NowakowskiSeptember 23rd A Soyuz-2.1b rocket successfully sent the newest GLONASS-M into orbit on Friday, September 22, in order to replenish the Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS). The launch took place at 0:03 UTC (8:03 p.m. EDT Sept. 21) from Site 43/4 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.

  • Their words: Cassini’s Linda Spilker on mission’s legacy

    Matthew KuhnsSeptember 23rd PASADENA, Calif. — When Cassini took its final bow into the upper atmosphere of the gas giant Saturn, a good many people who had labored on the nearly 20-year-long mission were forced to say goodbye to a machine that had become all but a member of the family. One thing that was not lost that day was the wealth of knowledge that Cassini had sent back to those it left behind on Earth.

  • NASA’s OSIRIS-REx set for Earth flyby on way to Asteroid Bennu

    Ocean McIntyreSeptember 21st Traveling at a staggering 19,000 miles (30,758 km) per hour, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will fly past its homeworld on its way to the asteroid Bennu. The slingshot maneuver will provide the Lockheed Martin-built probe with a push to an inclination of six degrees – the angle that Bennu orbits the Sun – from Earth's orbital plane and onward to the rocky leftover from the Solar System's formation.

  • NROL-42 classified surveillance satellite set to launch

    Lloyd CampbellSeptember 20th A secretive National Reconnaissance Office satellite, NROL-42, is poised to launch from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Thursday, September 21, 2017.

  • MEV-1 working to expand spaceflight revolution, extend on-orbit operations

    Jason RhianSeptember 19th It was once believed that the first stage of a rocket couldn't return to the launch site. On Dec. 22, 2015, this was shown not to be so. At the close of the Shuttle era, another long-held line of thinking was also shown to be outmoded. Now, Orbital ATK is working to expand efforts to have satellites be refueled and repaired while on orbit.

  • Cassini: The legend and legacy of one of NASA’s most prolific missions

    Ocean McIntyreSeptember 17th PASADENA, Calif. — Just one month shy of twenty years in space, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft dramatically ended its mission in the early morning hours at approximately 4:55 a.m. PDT (7:55 a.m. EDT / 11:55 GMT) Earth-Received Time (ERT) on Friday, September 15, 2017.

  • Wakened from its latest hibernation, New Horizons may visit additional Kuiper Belt Objects

    Laurel KornfeldSeptember 16th Newly awakened from a five-month hibernation, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft may visit a third Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) after flying by 2014 MU69 on Jan. 1, 2019. Mission scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL) received confirmation from NASA's Deep Space Network in Madrid, Spain, that the probe exited hibernation mode on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017.

  • LIVE: Cassini spacecraft ends its mission at Saturn

    Derek RichardsonSeptember 15th NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is making a final plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere to end its mission some 13 years after reaching the ringed world. Flight controllers at NASA are receiving the probe’s final data before it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere.

  • Update: Arianespace investigates cause of Ariane 5 launch abort

    Jim SharkeySeptember 14th Arianespace recently released a preliminary analysis of the post-ignition launch abort of an Ariane 5 rocket carrying two communications satellites. The mission, designated flight VA239, was scheduled for liftoff at 5:51 p.m. EDT (21:51 GMT) Sept. 5, 2017, from the Guiana Space Centre in South America.

  • Launch facilities spared major damage from Hurricane Irma

    Curt GodwinSeptember 14th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Though damage assessments are still underway, it would appear that facilities at both Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) escaped Hurricane Irma with minimal damage. Both were subjected to winds varying from 67–94 mph (108–151 km/h) at 54 feet (16.5 meters) above sea level to 90–116 mph (145–187 km/h) at 458 feet (139.6 meters) as the storm moved through the area on Sept. 10, 2017.

  • International Space Station crew size returns to 6

    Derek RichardsonSeptember 13th The population of the International Space Station returned to six people as the crew of Soyuz MS-06 docked with and entered the outpost. The spacecraft hard-mated with its docking port at about 10:55 p.m. EDT Sept. 12 (02:55 GMT Sept. 13), 2017.

  • Next International Space Station crew launches atop Soyuz rocket

    Derek RichardsonSeptember 12th Launching atop a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, three people are heading toward the International Space Station. The trio will arrive at the $100 billion complex in just under six hours.

  • Proton-M launches from Baikonur with Amazonas 5 telecom satellite

    Tomasz NowakowskiSeptember 11th International Launch Services (ILS) has successfully launched into space its Proton-M rocket carrying the Amazonas 5 communications satellite for Spanish operator Hispasat. The launch was conducted on Sept. 11 at 19:23 GMT (3:23 p.m. EDT) from Site 200/39 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

  • Elon Musk releases image of full SpaceX spacesuit

    Paul KnightlySeptember 11th On Sept. 8, 2017, SpaceX Founder and CEO Elon Musk teased a full body image of the current SpaceX spacesuit concept next to a Crew Dragon capsule. It was the first official image showing the entire front side of the suit. A previous post showed just the helmet and torso, but not the bottom half.

  • Florida hurricane forces California launch delay

    Jason RhianSeptember 9th United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced on Sept. 8, 2017, that the launch of an Atlas V 541 rocket carrying the NROL-42 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office has been postponed. While the launch is slated to take place in California, the delay was based on forecasting for Hurricane Irma.

  • SpaceX beats odds, Hurricane Irma to launch Falcon 9 with X-37B

    Derek RichardsonSeptember 7th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — With weather iffy at best and Hurricane Irma on the approach, SpaceX managed to launch its 13th Falcon 9 rocket this year. The flight sent the U.S. Air Force’s secretive robotic X-37B spaceplane into orbit.

  • Cape Canaveral prepares for Hurricane Irma

    Paul KnightlySeptember 7th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — While Hurricane Irma continues to aim at Florida, it is not expected to have any significant impact on the Sept. 7, 2017, launch attempt of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the U.S. military's reusable X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle. However, it will eventually affect operations on the Space Coast regardless of whether the OTV-5 mission gets underway on time.

  • As Hurricane Irma looms, X-37B poised for first flight atop SpaceX Falcon 9

    Derek RichardsonSeptember 6th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Continuing its breakneck launch pace, SpaceX is preparing to fly its 13th Falcon 9 rocket in the 2017 calendar year. The booster is scheduled to loft one of the U.S. Air Force's two reusable robotic X-37B spaceplanes.

  • Ariane 5 aborts moments after engine ignition

    Derek RichardsonSeptember 5th It was an otherwise smooth countdown. An Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket was poised to launch two communications satellites into orbit, but moments after the ignition of the vehicle's main engine, the onboard computer triggered an abort. Liftoff was planned for 5:51 p.m. EDT (21:51 GMT) Sept. 5, 2017.

  • Ariane 5 to launch 2 satellites to geostationary transfer orbit

    Bart LeahySeptember 4th For the fifth time in 2017, Arianespace will send an Ariane 5 rocket into space. The flight will orbit commercial communication satellites for two international customers: Intelsat and Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation (B-SAT), a leading broadcasting satellite operator in Japan.

    The Range
  • Launch of NROL-42 delayed due to faulty battery

    September 21st
    The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 541 (AV-072) rocket tasked with carrying the classified NROL-42 mission for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) has been delayed 48 hours to no earlier than 05:30 UTC Sept. 24. The cause of the delay was announced as a faulty battery on the launch vehicle. 

  • U.S. Air Force awards Lockheed Martin GPS M-Code Early Use (MCEU) ground system upgrade contract

    September 20th
    DENVER, Sept. 12, 2017 – The U.S. Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) a $45.5 million contract to provide Military Code (M-Code) Early Use (MCEU) capability to the Global Positioning System (GPS).

  • In the footsteps of SpaceX: Chinese company eyes development of reusable rocket

    September 19th
    A Chinese startup company appears to be following in the footsteps of SpaceX as it has recently laid out its own project of a reusable space launch system. Link Space, the country’s first private rocket company, has recently presented the design of its New Line 1 (also known as Xin Gan Xian 1) launch vehicle, which could compete with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 in the future.

  • SpaceX CRS-12 mission comes to a close with Dragon’s splashdown

    September 18th
    After spending a month berthed to the International Space Station (ISS), SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft marked the end of its CRS-12 mission with a successful splashdown at 10:14 a.m. EDT (14:14 GMT) on Sept. 17, 2017. The spacecraft returned with an estimated 3,800 pounds (1,724 kg) of cargo and was secured and taken aboard a waiting recovery ship.

  • Curiosity rover begins climb of ‘Vera Rubin Ridge’

    September 17th
    NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has started the steep climb of an iron-oxide bearing ridge on the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp that has long been of interest to researchers. "Vera Rubin Ridge", also known as "Hematite Ridge", was informally named in early 2017 in memory of pioneering astrophysicist Vera Cooper Rubin, whose research provided evidence for the existence of dark matter.

  • ‘Moon Tree’ destroyed by Hurricane Irma

    September 16th
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — While Hurricane Irma only caused minor damage to facilities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the storm did destroy a unique plant: a Moon tree. Beginning as one of the hundreds of seeds that were taken to lunar orbit during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971, it was planted at the visitor complex during the United States Bicentennial.

  • Gallery: Controllers receive last signals before Cassini spacecraft demise

    September 15th

  • Highlights from 20th Annual International Mars Society Convention

    September 15th
    IRVINE, Calif. — The 20th Annual International Mars Society Convention happened at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), during September 7–10, 2017. A variety of presentations were made by keynote speakers regarding various aspects of the exploration of Mars.

  • Video: SpaceX shows ‘how not to land an orbital rocket booster’

    September 14th
    SpaceX has landed a Falcon 9 first stage successfully 16 times since December 2015. Seven of those have been at Landing Zone-1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, while the rest have been on ocean-going platforms in either the Pacific or Atlantic. But that was after years of tests and multiple "rapid unscheduled disassembly" events – otherwise known as explosions.

  • Russia sees Vostochny Cosmodrome as deep space exploration hub

    September 12th
    Russia intends to launch deep space exploration spacecraft from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the country’s Far East. Latest statements made by Russian officials show that Roscosmos plans to push forward with construction of the required infrastructure for interplanetary missions.

  • Kacific contracts with SpaceX to orbit Kacific-1 satellite

    September 11th
    Kacific Broadband Satellites Group has selected SpaceX to launch the company's Kacific-1 broadband satellite. Tentatively scheduled for launch in 2019, the Boeing-built telecommunications spacecraft will provide services to users in the Asia-Pacific region.

  • Enigma of Jupiter’s powerful auroras

    September 10th
    The processes that drive Earth's auroras are generally understood; however, this cannot be said of the powerful Jovian auroras observed by NASA's Juno spacecraft currently orbiting the gas giant planet.

  • New Horizons sets flight plan for 2nd target; IAU accepts Pluto system names

    September 9th
    NASA's New Horizons mission has filed a flight plan for its January 1, 2019, flyby of Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) 2014 MU69, which will bring the spacecraft three times closer to its second target than it came to Pluto during the upcoming encounter.

  • Science fiction meets real life: Lucasfilm creates mission patch for ISS National Lab

    September 8th
    Taking a modern twist on a longstanding spaceflight tradition of mission patch design, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) partnered with Lucasfilm to blend iconic images from the Star Wars franchise with a real-world space station for its latest mission patch.

  • Second GPS III satellite completes strenuous launch environment test

    September 8th
    Before a satellite can begin its operational life on orbit, it must first survive the extreme sound pressure and punishing vibrations caused by over 700,000 pounds-force (3,110 kN) of rocket thrust. On July 13, 2017, Lockheed Martin's second GPS III satellite (GPS III SV02) successfully completed acoustic environmental testing.