Spaceflight Insider

From double to triple: Why the landing Falcon 9 creates three sonic booms

Scott JohnsonJuly 27th One of the iconic sounds of the Space Shuttle era has returned to the Space Coast—the sonic boom. The returning Shuttle orbiter produc...

Starliner spacecraft engines successfully hot-fire tested

Tomasz NowakowskiJuly 27th Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is one step closer to carrying astronauts to space from American soil as its engines have recently...

NASA highlights Mentor-Protégé Program at Boeing’s C3PF

Jason RhianJuly 26th NASA and Boeing provided members of the media with a tour of Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) at NASA’...

Sierra Nevada achieves second Commercial Cargo milestone

Bart LeahyJuly 26th A couple of weeks after completing their first Integration Certification Review for NASA’s Commercial Cargo Program to support the Int...

Japan’s H-3 rocket to be more powerful, cost-effective than predecessor

Tomasz NowakowskiJuly 26th Japan is working on its newest launch vehicle, known as the H-3, which will be more powerful and cost-efficient than the H-2A booster cu...

ULA to launch classified NROL-61 payload

Curt GodwinJuly 26th United Launch Alliance (ULA) is preparing to launch the latest addition to the National Reconnaissance Office's (NRO) satellite fleet. O...

ASL acquisition of Arianespace gets green light

Tomasz NowakowskiJuly 25th One of the biggest takeovers in the European space industry has been approved. On July 20, the European Commission (EC) informed it has...

Marshall Space Flight Center gets new Safety and Mission Assurance Director

Tomasz NowakowskiJuly 25th NASA announced on Thursday, July 21, that it has named Rick Burt as the new director of its Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate at...

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover ready for final design and construction

Jim SharkeyJuly 24th NASA recently announced that it is ready to proceed with final design and construction of its next Mars rover, currently scheduled to la...

Our Spaceflight Heritage: Apollo 11 then and now

Collin SkocikJuly 24th Forty-seven years ago, the United States—and more importantly, the human race—did something extraordinary: We launched Apollo 11 and...

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy characters featured on ISS patch

Derek RichardsonJuly 23rd The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) unveiled a patch that represents all payloads intended to launch to the Inter...

Russia and China envision joint space exploration

Tomasz NowakowskiJuly 23rd Russia and China are discussing broad cooperation in the field of space exploration. Both countries have said they are willing to collab...

Starliner spacecraft engines successfully hot-fire tested

Tomasz NowakowskiJuly 27th Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is one step closer to carrying astronauts to space from American soil as its engines have recently undergone a series of hot-fire development tests. The tests were carried out by Aerojet Rocketdyne at NASA's White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico.

Sierra Nevada achieves second Commercial Cargo milestone

Bart LeahyJuly 26th A couple of weeks after completing their first Integration Certification Review for NASA’s Commercial Cargo Program to support the International Space Station (ISS), Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has completed its second such review for the Dream Chaser spacecraft.

ULA to launch classified NROL-61 payload

Curt GodwinJuly 26th United Launch Alliance (ULA) is preparing to launch the latest addition to the National Reconnaissance Office's (NRO) satellite fleet. On July 28, 2016, a classified payload—designated NROL-61—will launch atop a ULA Atlas V rocket, arranged in the 421 configuration (4-meter payload fairing, 2 solid rocket boosters, and a single engine Centaur upper stage), on a mission in support of national defense.

Marshall Space Flight Center gets new Safety and Mission Assurance Director

Tomasz NowakowskiJuly 25th NASA announced on Thursday, July 21, that it has named Rick Burt as the new director of its Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Burt, a veteran NASA employee, serving the agency for 26 years, will take its new position July 31.

Our Spaceflight Heritage: Apollo 11 then and now

Collin SkocikJuly 24th Forty-seven years ago, the United States—and more importantly, the human race—did something extraordinary: We launched Apollo 11 and landed—on July 20, 1969—two men on the surface of the Moon. It was the culmination of a decade of hard work, dedication, ever-more-ambitious space missions, the rapid development of new technologies, and costly failure.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy characters featured on ISS patch

Derek RichardsonJuly 23rd The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) unveiled a patch that represents all payloads intended to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory in 2016. The patch, designed by Marvel Custom Solutions Group, features Guardians of the Galaxy characters Rocket and Groot.

Russia and China envision joint space exploration

Tomasz NowakowskiJuly 23rd Russia and China are discussing broad cooperation in the field of space exploration. Both countries have said they are willing to collaborate in a wide range of areas, including joint missions to the Moon and Mars.

One-out parachute test doesn’t crush Blue Origin’s hopes

Curt GodwinJuly 22nd Landing with a failed parachute is not a condition a company would normally want their spacecraft to encounter, but that was exactly the scenario Blue Origin planned for the fourth test flight of their New Shepard vehicle last month. After a month of analysis, Blue Origin's founder, Jeff Bezos, gave the word in an e-mail update that the test was a success.

Eileen Collins at RNC: We need leadership that will make America great again

Jason RhianJuly 22nd Four-time Space Shuttle veteran Eileen Collins spoke at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, for about three-and-a-half minutes concerning the United States' history in terms of exploration. She made her comments on the 47th anniversary of the July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 lunar landing.

Orion Service Module getting world’s hardest shake-up at NASA’s Plum Brook Station

Michael ColeJuly 21st SANDUSKY, Ohio — NASA's Orion service module is getting a serious shake-up, thanks to the engineers and technicians at NASA's Plum Brook Station testing facility in Sandusky, Ohio. The service module is currently undergoing a series of vibration tests atop the facility's new vibration table.

WorldView-2 satellite involved in ‘Debris causing event’

Derek RichardsonJuly 20th A commercial Earth observation satellite was involved in a "debris causing event" yesterday, according to the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC), the part of the Defense Department that tracks space objects. The satellite in question, WorldView-2, is owned and operated by DigitalGlobe.

SpaceX pursuing additional landing pads in Florida

Bart LeahyJuly 19th A July 18 Orlando Sentinel article reported SpaceX is seeking U.S. government approval to access two new landing areas at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to support returning stages for the future Falcon Heavy launch vehicle.

Progress MS-03 glides in for successful docking with ISS

Derek RichardsonJuly 18th The first of two cargo ships to supply the International Space Station (ISS) in as many days arrived ao the orbiting outpost when the Russian Progress MS-03 glided in to dock with the Pirs module. Contact between the ISS and spacecraft occurred at 7:20 p.m. CDT July 18 (00:20 GMT July 19).

SpaceX conducts second ground landing after launch of CRS-9 Dragon to ISS

Jason RhianJuly 18th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Cargo, experiments, and supplies for the International Space Station's Expedition 48 crew lifted off the pad at 12:45 a.m. EDT (04:45 GMT) July 18 from Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida. A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched the CRS-9 Dragon into the dark skies on a two-day journey to the orbiting laboratory.

SFI Live: Launch coverage of SpaceX Falcon 9 with CRS-9 Dragon

Jason RhianJuly 17th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX, is poised to launch one of the firm's Falcon 9 FT rockets from Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida at 12:45 a.m. EDT (04:45 GMT) on Monday, July 18, 2016. Our show will begin at 12:15 a.m. EDT (04:15 GMT) – and will last through the launch, closing with final thoughts on the flight and landing attempt.

Soyuz-U successfully sends Progress MS spacecraft en route to ISS

Tomasz NowakowskiJuly 16th A Soyuz-U rocket soared into the sky on Saturday, July 16, carrying the third Progress MS spacecraft loaded with supplies for the International Space Station (ISS). Liftoff took place at 5:41 p.m. EDT (21:41 GMT) from Site 31/6 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Static fire test conducted ahead of SpaceX CRS-9 launch

Derek RichardsonJuly 16th SpaceX’s usual precursor to launch—the static fire test—has been completed for the upcoming CRS-9 Dragon mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The test clears the way for the company to fly their Falcon 9 early Monday morning.

Second chances: SpaceX provided with another opportunity to send IDA to ISS

Jason RhianJuly 15th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — In life, there are few second chances. Spaceflight, however, does provide the occasional chance to get back on the saddle after falling off. SpaceX is hoping the planned Monday, July 18, launch of the CRS-9 Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) will mark just such an opportunity.

Antares return to flight targeting late August

Derek RichardsonJuly 14th Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital ATK is targeting August 22, 2016, for the return to flight of the company's Antares rocket. This redesigned "Enhanced" booster will launch the next Cygnus cargo ship, the S.S. Alan Poindexter, to resupply the International Space Station (ISS).

Third Progress MS cargo spacecraft ready for resupply mission to ISS

Tomasz NowakowskiJuly 14th An upgraded Russian Progress MS spacecraft is in final preparations for its upcoming mission to deliver supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). The cargo vehicle will be launched to space on Saturday, July 16, atop a Soyuz-U booster, from Site 31/6 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Liftoff is scheduled to take place at exactly 5:41 p.m. EDT (21:41 GMT).

The Range

From double to triple: Why the landing Falcon 9 creates three sonic booms

July 27th
One of the iconic sounds of the Space Shuttle era has returned to the Space Coast—the sonic boom. The returning Shuttle orbiter produced a signature double-sonic boom on its approach to Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility. Similar sounds were heard again in the early morning hours of July 18 as SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage returned to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's (CCAFS) Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1), formerly Launch Complex 13, creating a triple-sonic boom.

NASA highlights Mentor-Protégé Program at Boeing’s C3PF

July 26th
NASA and Boeing provided members of the media with a tour of Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The review of the former Orbiter Processing Facility was held to highlight the space agency's Mentor-Protégé Program.

Japan’s H-3 rocket to be more powerful, cost-effective than predecessor

July 26th
Japan is working on its newest launch vehicle, known as the H-3, which will be more powerful and cost-efficient than the H-2A booster currently in service. On July 20, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced it has completed the basic design of the rocket, scheduled to be ready for its maiden flight in 2020.

ASL acquisition of Arianespace gets green light

July 25th
One of the biggest takeovers in the European space industry has been approved. On July 20, the European Commission (EC) informed it has cleared the way for the acquisition of Arianespace by Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL) after both companies agreed to conditions imposed by the European Union’s executive body.

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover ready for final design and construction

July 24th
NASA recently announced that it is ready to proceed with final design and construction of its next Mars rover, currently scheduled to launch in the summer of 2020 and land on Mars in February 2021. The Mars 2020 rover will search for evidence of past life on Mars and collect and cache soil and rock samples for possible return to Earth on a later mission.

More than 100 exoplanets found by K2

July 23rd
Astronomers utilizing NASA's Kepler spacecraft on its K2 mission have announced the discovery of more than 100 new exoplanets orbiting small, red dwarf stars.

New software lets Curiosity select its own laser targets

July 22nd
NASA's Curiosity rover can choose targets for examination via laser spectrometer on its own, thanks to new software developed at the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The development marks a major milestone: For the first time, a robotic explorer on a planetary mission can autonomously select target rocks for additional study.

Alien solar system boasts tightly-spaced planets, unusual orbits

July 21st
MELBOURNE, FLA. — Tightly spaced planets inside an alien solar system known as Kepler-80 boast a rare orbital configuration.

BepiColombo mission to Mercury on track for April 2018 launch

July 21st
Humanity’s next visitor to the Solar System’s innermost planet remains on track for launch in April 2018, according to the project’s scientist. The BepiColombo mission, being developed jointly by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is currently ahead of its final acceptance tests that will prepare it for shipment to the launch site.

SFI Video: Launch highlights from launch of SpaceX Falcon 9 with CRS-9 Dragon

July 21st
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceFlight Insider and its partners were at Kennedy Space Center this past week to capture the July 18, 2016, launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape's SLC 40. The launch took place at 12:45 a.m. EDT (04:45 GMT) and saw one of the company's Dragon spacecraft begin a two-day journey to the International Space Station.

Our Spaceflight Heritage: Invasion of the Vikings

July 20th
Forty years ago, NASA’s Viking landers roared to a hover over the Martian surface and touched down. They were the culmination of the ambitious Mars Voyager (no relation to NASA's Voyager probes) program that had begun near the end of the Apollo era and filed down to a more manageable size due to budget cuts. Despite the reduced scope, the Viking program was a tremendous success.

Juno spacecraft sends first in-orbit view of Jupiter

July 16th
NASA recently released the first view of Jupiter taken by the Juno spacecraft since its July 4 arrival at the giant planet. JunoCam, the spacecraft's visible light camera, was turned on six days after Juno executed a 35-minute engine burn to place the vehicle in orbit around Jupiter. Juno will be in a position to take high-resolution images of Jupiter in late August.

Tiangong 2 arrives at Chinese launch center for September liftoff

July 14th
China has shipped its next space laboratory, known as Tiangong 2 (meaning “Heavenly Palace” in Chinese), to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert, from where it will be blasted off into space in mid-September. The module was transported by rail from Beijing.

Dwarf planet with eccentric orbit discovered in the Kuiper Belt

July 13th
Astronomers working on a study of the orbital structure and history of the outer Solar System announced their discovery of a new dwarf planet beyond Pluto in a 700-year eccentric solar orbit.

Five new planets orbiting a distant bright star discovered by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft

July 12th
A team of astronomers using the Kepler space telescope has recently detected five new exoplanets circling a bright star designated HIP 41378, which lies some 380 light-years away. The newly found alien worlds are larger than our planet, with sizes ranging from about 2.5 times the size of Earth to the size of Jupiter.

Study of Martian canyons yields clues about possible water

July 12th
Scientists studying seasonally recurring dark streaks on Martian slopes that may be indicators of water on the surface of Mars have published their findings on Thursday, July 7, in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. The study investigated thousands of these dark streaks in the Valles Marineris canyon network near the Red Planet's equator.

Data from Huygens lander suggest prebiotic conditions on Titan

July 11th
Although 11 years have passed since ESA’s Huygens probe landed on Saturn’s moon Titan, the data collected by this spacecraft continue to amaze scientists. Recently, a team of researchers led by Martin Rahm of Cornell University has found a chemical trail indicating prebiotic conditions may exist on this moon.

Ceres’ surface has cold regions that can trap water ice

July 10th
Using data from cameras aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft, as well as computer models, mission scientists have identified areas on the surface of Ceres' northern hemisphere that never receive sunlight and are, therefore, capable of trapping water ice.

NASA awards grant to Arkansas company to develop silicon-carbide circuit technology

July 9th
GLENN RESEARCH CENTER, Ohio — NASA awarded a grant to Ozark Integrated Circuits Inc. for the fabrication process of special circuits that could survive for thousands of hours in extremely high-temperature conditions, such as those that exist on the surface of Venus.

Our SpaceFlight Heritage: STS-135, remembering the past – looking forward to the future

July 8th
Five years ago today, the Space Shuttle Atlantis and the Space Shuttle program itself took its last flight into space on mission STS-135 to service the International Space Station (ISS). Since that last flight in 2011, the Shuttle orbiters have been flown off to museums across the country and NASA’s human spaceflight program has shifted to other missions and other vehicles. No other American human-rated spacecraft has been flown so often or accomplished so much.