Spaceflight Insider

  • December shaping up to be a busy month for rocket flights

    Joe LatrellDecember 2nd December is shaping up to be a very busy launch month for the U.S. On the East Coast, three different satellites are expected to take to the skies, providing improved services and weather monitoring. Additionally, on the West Coast, SpaceX hopes to fly their Falcon 9 after being grounded for over three months.

  • Unknown fate of Progress MS-04 cargo spacecraft after in-flight anomaly

    Tomasz NowakowskiDecember 1st Loaded with crucial supplies for the International Space Station (ISS) crew, the Progress MS-04 has launched atop a Soyuz-U booster on what was supposed to be a two-day trek to the orbital outpost. The launch was carried out at exactly 14:51 GMT; however, Roscosmos reports that telemetry with the rocket was lost 383 seconds into the flight.

  • Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin evacuated from South Pole

    Jason RhianDecember 1st Apollo 11's Buzz Aldrin fell ill during a tour of the South Pole and was evacuated out of the South Pole under the care of a doctor. The emergency took place on Thursday, Dec. 1 (the event appears to have taken place at around 11:30 UTC).

  • ULA debuts custom rocket configurator with focus on total cost benefit

    Curt GodwinDecember 1st In an effort to better educate potential customers on the true cost of launch services and the associated upside inherent in United Launch Alliance's reputation and record, the company has developed a website with the aim to showcase the total cost benefit that comes with selecting ULA as a launch provider.

  • Virgin Galactic conducts captive carry flight of SpaceShipTwo

    Jim SharkeyDecember 1st On Wednesday, Nov. 30, Virgin Galactic conducted the fourth test flight of its SpaceShipTwo rocket plane VSS Unity. The carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo VMS Eve, took off with VSS Unity from the runway of Mojave Air and Spaceport at 2:07 p.m. PST (22:07 GMT).

  • Fourth Progress MS spacecraft to be launched to ISS

    Tomasz NowakowskiNovember 30th The Progress MS-04 cargo spacecraft is in final preparations for its upcoming flight to the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday, Dec. 1. The vehicle will be launched atop a Soyuz-U booster at 14:52 GMT (9:52 a.m. EST) from launch pad №1 ("Gagarin's Start"), also known as LC-1/5, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

  • BEAM returning ‘extremely valuable’ data about expandable habitats

    Larry KlaesNovember 29th Having been attached to the ISS for six months, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, better known as BEAM, is already providing data that could inform the design of future human-rated expandable space habitats. The module was launched April 8 by SpaceX's CRS-8 Dragon spacecraft and was attached to the station's Tranquility module and expanded in May.

  • A tale of fire: S.S. Alan Poindexter successfully completes OA-5 mission

    Heather SmithNovember 28th The S.S. Alan Poindexter Cygnus spacecraft successfully completed re-entry on Nov. 27 over the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand following a month-long stay at the International Space Station. The mission known as OA-5 marked Orbital ATK’s return to flight operations at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia.

  • Insider Exclusive: Jacobs’ TPSF enabling Kennedy to become multi-user spaceport

    Jason RhianNovember 28th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — The TPSF is one of the many centers that has had to redefine itself in the post-shuttle era. As NASA works to repurpose KSC, to convert it into a multi-user spaceport, the buildings' unique capabilities are continuing to serve the agency as it eyes sending crews to asteroids, Mars, and other potential deep space destinations.

  • Thanksgiving on ISS is ‘different’

    Derek RichardsonNovember 24th Thanksgiving is just a normal day on the International Space Station; however, the two NASA astronauts will share the tradition of the American holiday with the rest of the crew during their evening meal time.

  • Long March 3C launches fourth Tianlian-1 communications satellite

    Tomasz NowakowskiNovember 22nd China has successfully launched on Tuesday, Nov. 22, a Long March 3C rocket carrying the country’s fourth Tianlian-1 data tracking and relay communications satellite. Liftoff took place at 11:24 p.m. Beijing time (15:24 GMT / 10:24 a.m. EST) from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

  • Bartolomeo platform to provide easy commercial access to ISS

    Tomasz NowakowskiNovember 22nd An external research platform slated to be installed on the International Space Station (ISS) in late 2018 could facilitate access to the orbital laboratory for commercial users. The “Bartolomeo” platform will be offering its services while attached to the station’s Columbus Module.

  • Cygnus departs ISS, prepares for SAFFIRE experiment

    Derek RichardsonNovember 21st After spending a month attached to the International Space Station, Orbital ATK’s OA-5 Cygnus was detached and released by the robotic Canadarm2 in the morning hours of Nov. 21.

  • NASA microthrusters succesfully used on ESA’s LISA Pathfinder

    Joe LatrellNovember 20th Q: What's harder than moving a spacecraft around in space? A: Holding it perfectly still. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, has been testing the ST7-DRS on board the European Space Agency's LISA Pathfinder spacecraft.

  • ULA launches next-generation GOES-R weather satellite

    Curt GodwinNovember 20th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — The launch window extended for an hour, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) needed every minute of it. After working through multiple issues, the Atlas V rocketed spaceward on a mission to send the most advanced weather satellite, GOES-R, into geostationary orbit.

  • ISS crew count returns to 6 with Soyuz docking

    Derek RichardsonNovember 19th After spending two days catching up to the International Space Station (ISS), the crew of Soyuz MS-03 docked their spacecraft with the orbiting complex at 4:58 p.m. EST (21:58 GMT) Nov. 19.

  • Shenzhou 11 crew returns to Earth after month in space

    Tomasz NowakowskiNovember 18th China’s Shenzhou 11 spacecraft successfully landed on Friday, Nov. 18, in Inner Mongolia with two taikonauts aboard, completing the country’s longest crewed mission to date. The re-entry module touched down at 1:59 p.m. local time (12:59 a.m. EST / 05:59 GMT).

  • Pillar of light: Soyuz MS-03 crew en route to space station

    Derek RichardsonNovember 17th On a clear and cold Kazakh morning, three space flyers launched atop a Soyuz rocket in their Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft on a two-day flight bound for the International Space Station. The trio will spend about six months in space.

  • Ariane 5 booster soars into orbit with four Galileo navigation satellites

    Tomasz NowakowskiNovember 17th Thundering off from the launch pad at the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, an Ariane 5 rocket took to the skies on Thursday, Nov. 17, to replenish Europe’s Galileo navigation network. The booster, carrying four Galileo FOC (Full Operational Capability) satellites, lifted off at 10:06 a.m. local time (8:06 a.m. EST / 13:06 GMT).

  • Weather favorable for Saturday launch of GOES-R on ULA Atlas V 541

    Curt GodwinNovember 17th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — After being subjected to delays caused by weather and troublesome hardware, the next-generation GOES-R weather satellite is soon to liftoff from Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41), the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), with a scheduled launch date of Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016.

    The Range
  • JPL uses metallic glass to make better robot gears

    December 2nd
    JPL is developing a metallic glass alloy, for use on deep space probes and rovers, that is resistant to the extreme cold temperatures encountered in space.

  • SpaceX Falcon 9 launch date with Iridium NEXT announced

    December 2nd
    VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — SpaceX and the 30th Space Wing are eyeing Dec. 16, 2016, as the launch date for a "Full Thrust" Falcon 9 with 10 NEXT satellites to be sent into orbit on behalf of Iridium. If it flies on this date, it will mark the first time one of the launch vehicles has been sent aloft since the Sept. 1, 2016, explosion of another F9.

  • New theory proposes weather, not impact, produced Pluto’s Sputnik Planitia

    December 1st
    An impacting object might not be the cause of the formation of Sputnik Planitia – the left side of Pluto's now famous 'heart' feature – as previously thought. This is according to a new theory proposed by Douglas Hamilton of the University of Maryland. He argues the basin could have formed as a result of the dwarf planet's spin axis and unusual climate.

  • Orbital ATK to develop ‘tipping point’ orbital assembly technologies

    November 30th
    Orbital ATK is developing Commercial Infrastructure for Robotic Assembly and Services, a set of in-space hardware assembly technologies, under the NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate’s "tipping point" program. This public-private partnership will focus on capabilities needed for future human and robotic exploration missions.

  • Pioneering science instrument ISS-RapidScat decommissioned

    November 29th
    Two years may only be half of a typical course of study at a university, but for NASA's pioneering International Space Station Rapid Scatterometer (ISS-RapidScat) science instrument, it was a lifetime.

  • Photo Gallery: The launch of GOES-R

    November 29th

  • AIA, CSE renew call to support space exploration roadmap on Trump Administration

    November 28th
    Since 2009, when the Obama White House succeeded in cancelling NASA's Vision for Space Exploration, the U.S. Space Agency has lacked a coherent direction concerning its crewed exploration efforts. A possible path forward for the agency is gaining momentum as well as the support of two prominent space-advocacy organizations.

  • What’s next for ESA’s ExoMars mission?

    November 27th
    ExoMars. The word elicits images of a mission fraught with change, turmoil, and misfortune. Exomars is a mission that has persistently pushed past hurdle after hurdle to make its way to the Red Planet. With the recent loss of the Schiaparelli Lander, that trend does not appear to be changing.

  • Cassini prepares to graze Saturn’s rings

    November 26th
    NASA's robotic Cassini spacecraft will begin a grand tour of Saturn’s ring system starting this week as the mission enters into its final stages.

  • Martian ice deposit contains as much water as Lake Superior

    November 25th
    Scientists using data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have discovered a layer of water ice beneath a region of cracked and pitted plains on Mars that holds about as much water as what is in Lake Superior, largest of the Great Lakes.

  • Schiaparelli may be dead but TGO saves the ExoMars mission

    November 24th
    More than one month has now passed since the arrival of Europe’s ExoMars mission at the Red Planet. Although the mission’s Schiaparelli module has crashed onto the Martian surface, the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) is in excellent shape and prepares for science operations.

  • SFI Launch Highlights: NASA / NOAA’s GOES-R satellite on ULA Atlas V 541

    November 23rd
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — ULA sent a powerful iteration of their Atlas V rockets into the early evening skies on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. Carrying the GOES-R weather satellite, the launch vehicle lifted off from SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral at 6:52 p.m. EDT. Here is SFI's exclusive video from that flight.

  • SpaceX tapped to launch NASA’s surface water survey satellite

    November 23rd
    NASA's confidence in Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX was reinforced recently by the announcement that the NewSpace firm had been chosen to provide launch services for the U.S. space agency's Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission.

  • Space Launch System upper stage testing set to begin

    November 22nd
    Huntsville, Ala. — This past week, on Nov. 15, a test version of the Space Launch System's (SLS) Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) was moved to Marshall Space Flight Center's (MSFC) historic West Test Area in preparation for early 2017 testing. SpaceFlight Insider was on hand at a media event following the move.

  • Explosion rattles windows during SpaceX test in Texas

    November 21st
    The Waco Tribune (TX) reported an explosion at SpaceX’s facility in McGregor, Texas, on Wednesday, Nov. 16. The explosion, which occurred during a pressurization test at the company’s research and development facility, caused no injuries or damage and the local fire department did not take action after the incident.