Spaceflight Insider

Our SpaceFlight Heritage: Project Orion, a nuclear bomb and rocket – all in one

Larry KlaesAugust 31st Project Orion was a proposal for a spacecraft to be directly propelled by a series of explosions from nuclear bombs ejected and detonate...

Strange signal detected by Russian radio telescope

Larry KlaesAugust 31st On Aug. 27, it was reported a strange signal appeared to have emanated from the vicinity of a rather Sun-like star almost 95 light-years...

SpaceX still eyeing fall launch for maiden flight of Falcon Heavy

Jason RhianAugust 31st CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Recent reports that SpaceX's inaugural flight of the Falcon Heavy would take place in the spring of next year (...

EVA-37 spacewalkers to retract radiator, install external equipment

Derek RichardsonAugust 30th Two weeks after installing International Docking Adapter 2 (IDA-2) on the front of the International Space Station (ISS), Expedition 48...

SES-10 confirmed to launch on previously-flown Falcon 9

Derek RichardsonAugust 30th Luxembourg-based SES has reached an agreement with SpaceX to be the first customer to launch a satellite on one of the NewSpace company...

Spacecraft manufacturers express confidence in SpaceBelt

Jason RhianAugust 29th On Wednesday, Aug. 17, Cloud Constellation announced that it had gained Letters of Confidence from four major spacecraft manufacturers i...

New test finds no damp soil at Mars’ seasonal dark streaks

Jim SharkeyAugust 29th A new study using data collected by NASA's Mars Odyssey mission indicates that there is little water to be found in seasonal dark...

India successfully tests its scramjet engine technology

Tomasz NowakowskiAugust 29th The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully test fired on Sunday, Aug. 28, a pair of its own scramjet engines – an...

Spitzer Space Telescope enters ‘Beyond’ phase

Jason RhianAugust 28th Like so many of NASA's successful missions, the Spitzer Space Telescope's mission is being extended – into its "Beyond" phase. NASA an...

NASA Glenn to oversee construction of Universal Stage Adapter for SLS

Michael ColeAugust 28th CLEVELAND, Ohio — Officials at NASA's Glenn Research Center announced last week their plan to oversee the construction of the Universa...

Earth-size planet discovered around nearest stellar neighbor

Bart LeahyAugust 27th An international team of scientists working with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile has published a paper in the journal <...

30th Annual Small Satellites Conference features description and support of Rocket Crafters Inc. (RCI) Intrepid-1 launch vehicle

Press ReleaseAugust 27th LOGAN, Utah — At the recent 30th Annual Conference on Small Satellites held earlier this month, former astronaut and Rocket Crafters I...

SpaceX still eyeing fall launch for maiden flight of Falcon Heavy

Jason RhianAugust 31st CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Recent reports that SpaceX's inaugural flight of the Falcon Heavy would take place in the spring of next year (2017) don't gel with what representatives at SpaceX have told SpaceFlight Insider. According to SpaceX, the NewSpace firm is still planning on launching the first of these powerful new rockets "... later this fall."

EVA-37 spacewalkers to retract radiator, install external equipment

Derek RichardsonAugust 30th Two weeks after installing International Docking Adapter 2 (IDA-2) on the front of the International Space Station (ISS), Expedition 48 astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins are gearing up to take another step outside the outpost. The two will retract and cover a thermal radiator as well as install a replacement lightbulb and a new high-definition camera on the station’s structure.

SES-10 confirmed to launch on previously-flown Falcon 9

Derek RichardsonAugust 30th Luxembourg-based SES has reached an agreement with SpaceX to be the first customer to launch a satellite on one of the NewSpace company’s recovered Falcon 9 rockets. The payload is expected to be SES-10 and occur sometime in the last quarter of 2016.

Spitzer Space Telescope enters ‘Beyond’ phase

Jason RhianAugust 28th Like so many of NASA's successful missions, the Spitzer Space Telescope's mission is being extended – into its "Beyond" phase. NASA announced the extension via a release on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The space-based observatory will now enter a planned two-and-a-half-year mission extension.

NASA Glenn to oversee construction of Universal Stage Adapter for SLS

Michael ColeAugust 28th CLEVELAND, Ohio — Officials at NASA's Glenn Research Center announced last week their plan to oversee the construction of the Universal Stage Adapter (USA), an important component of the Space Launch System (SLS). The USA's primary function will be to connect the Orion crewed spacecraft to the SLS launch vehicle.

Earth-size planet discovered around nearest stellar neighbor

Bart LeahyAugust 27th An international team of scientists working with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile has published a paper in the journal Nature reporting a rocky planet approximately 1.3 times the size of Earth has been detected orbiting Proxima Centauri, a small red dwarf star 4.25 light-years from Earth.

SpaceX’s CRS-9 Dragon returns to Earth

Derek RichardsonAugust 26th After more than a month berthed to the International Space Station (ISS), SpaceX’s CRS-9 Dragon capsule was detached and released from the orbiting complex. A few hours later, the spacecraft was deorbited and recovered in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California.

ULA’s workhorse Atlas V selected for Mars 2020 mission

Curt GodwinAugust 26th NASA has again called upon United Launch Alliance (ULA) to provide launch services for a flagship mission to Mars. The agency announced that ULA has been awarded the contract to launch the Mars 2020 rover atop an Atlas V 541 vehicle and is aiming for liftoff in July 2020.

NASA conducts ninth Orion drop test at Langley

Jason RhianAugust 26th HAMPTON, Va. — NASA conducted the ninth drop test of the space agency's Orion spacecraft at Langley Research Center on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The test began at 3:30 p.m. EDT (07:30 GMT) with the mockup of the spacecraft being dropped into about 20 feet of water at the Center's Landing and Impact Research Facility.

Boeing’s CST-100 undergoes ground landing tests

Eric ShearAugust 25th Boeing and NASA engineers at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, have begun a series of six ground landing qualification tests to simulate what Boeing’s CST-100 "Starliner" spacecraft and crew may experience during a landing in the American Southwest from the International Space Station.

Jeff Williams sets US space endurance record

Derek RichardsonAugust 25th Astronaut Jeff Williams, International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 48 commander, recently surpassed former astronaut Scott Kelly for the all-time U.S. endurance record in space – more than 520 days as of Aug. 24. When he returns home on Sept. 6, he will have accumulated more than 534 days above Earth over four missions.

SpaceX eyeing facility for reused Falcon 9 stages

Bart LeahyAugust 24th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Port Canaveral’s Chief Executive Officer John Murray told Florida Today that SpaceX will be moving some of its operations to the Florida Space Coast. The plans include leasing a building that once housed Spacehab and building a new building next door to that site to support the refurbishment of the rocket stages they are landing at Cape Canaveral.

NOAA’s GOES-R weather satellite delivered to Astrotech for final processing

Jason RhianAugust 24th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NOAA's new GOES-R satellite has been delivered to Astrotech Space Operations facility in Titusville, Florida. The delivery of the spacecraft sets the stage for the satellite's planned Nov. 4, 2016, launch.

NASA re-establishes contact with Sun-observing STEREO-B spacecraft

Tomasz NowakowskiAugust 23rd After nearly two years of silence, NASA has finally picked up a signal from its wayward STEREO-B probe designed to study the Sun. Contact was lost on Oct. 1, 2014, during a test of the spacecraft’s command loss timer, when the probe was on the other side of the Sun.

Arianespace to launch two Intelsat communications satellites into orbit

Tomasz NowakowskiAugust 22nd Arianespace is in the final stage of preparations to conduct its sixth mission of the year by launching two Intelsat communications satellites into orbit on Wednesday, Aug. 24. The spacecraft, designated Intelsat 33e and Intelsat 36, will take to the skies from the Ariane Launch Complex No. 3 (ELA 3) in Kourou, French Guiana, atop an Ariane 5 booster. The launch window starts at 5:55 p.m. EDT (21:55 GMT) and extends for 45 minutes.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft primed and ready for voyage to Bennu

Jason RhianAugust 21st KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — NASA's OSIRIS-REx probe could rewrite what is known about planetary formation as well as how life might have gotten its start on Earth. NASA recently highlighted the spacecraft's mission during an event held at KSC's Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016.

NASA considers handing over ISS to a private company

Tomasz NowakowskiAugust 20th The International Space Station (ISS) could soon fall into private hands, according to a statement made by a NASA official on Thursday, Aug. 18. The agency is mulling the possibility of handing-off control of the orbital laboratory to a commercial company by the mid-2020s.

New ‘front porch’ added to International Space Station

Derek RichardsonAugust 20th Two members of the International Space Station’s Expedition 48 crew stepped outside the orbital complex to install a new “front porch”. The nearly six-hour long spacewalk started at 7:04 a.m. CDT (12:04 GMT) Aug. 19 with a goal to install International Docking Adapter-2 (IDA-2) to the forward end of the station.

Delta IV thunders off the pad with AFSPC-6 payload

Bart LeahyAugust 19th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Lighting up the early-morning sky over central Florida, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Medium+ (4,2) rocket thundered off the pad on the sixth U.S. Air Force Space Command (AFSPC-6) mission. As part of the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP), two Orbital ATK-built satellites were sent to a near-geostationary orbit (GEO).

‘All systems go’ for OSIRIS-REx launch in September

Bart LeahyAugust 18th Program managers from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx team provided a status update at a public briefing on the agency’s $800 million mission to launch a spacecraft to asteroid Bennu and return with samples in 2023. Dwayne Brown from NASA's Office of Communications summarized the status by saying, "All systems are go for a launch on Sept. 8 in Florida."

The Range

Our SpaceFlight Heritage: Project Orion, a nuclear bomb and rocket – all in one

August 31st
Project Orion was a proposal for a spacecraft to be directly propelled by a series of explosions from nuclear bombs ejected and detonated behind the vessel – i.e., nuclear pulse propulsion.

Strange signal detected by Russian radio telescope

August 31st
On Aug. 27, it was reported a strange signal appeared to have emanated from the vicinity of a rather Sun-like star almost 95 light-years away. The star is known as HD 164595 (also HIP 88194). The news was broken by Paul Gilster on the Centauri Dreams blog, the official forum of the Tau Zero Foundation (TZF), which is dedicated to the reporting, study, and promotion of interstellar flight and exploration.

Spacecraft manufacturers express confidence in SpaceBelt

August 29th
On Wednesday, Aug. 17, Cloud Constellation announced that it had gained Letters of Confidence from four major spacecraft manufacturers in its SpaceBelt satellite constellation. As the name of the documents imply, these letters express faith in the company's design.

New test finds no damp soil at Mars’ seasonal dark streaks

August 29th
A new study using data collected by NASA's Mars Odyssey mission indicates that there is little water to be found in seasonal dark streaks on Mars. The dark streaks, known as recurring slope lineae or RSL, have been a hot topic in planetary exploration since they were first discovered in 2011.

India successfully tests its scramjet engine technology

August 29th
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully test fired on Sunday, Aug. 28, a pair of its own scramjet engines – an airbreathing ramjet in which combustion takes place in a supersonic airflow. The engines were tested during a sub-orbital flight of ISRO’s Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV).

30th Annual Small Satellites Conference features description and support of Rocket Crafters Inc. (RCI) Intrepid-1 launch vehicle

August 27th
LOGAN, Utah — At the recent 30th Annual Conference on Small Satellites held earlier this month, former astronaut and Rocket Crafters Inc. (RCI) CEO Sid Gutierrez, along with RCI Treasurer Paul Larsen, had the opportunity to describe the company’s Intrepid-1 launch vehicle to a very select audience.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft to make closest approach of Jupiter August 27

August 26th
NASA's Juno spacecraft will get closer to the cloud tops of Jupiter than at any other time during its primary mission on Saturday, Aug. 27, at 5:51 a.m. PDT (8:51 a.m. EDT; 12:51 GMT). Juno will be about 2,500 miles (4,200 kilometers) above the giant planet's swirling clouds at the moment of closest approach and traveling at 130,000 mph (208,000 km/h) with respect to Jupiter.

China unveils its 2020 Mars mission

August 26th
On Tuesday, Aug. 23, China released the first images of its ambitious Mars mission, planned to be launched in 2020. The design of the mission was presented at a press conference in Beijing, during which the mission scientists showed off pictures of an orbiter, lander, and rover that will be sent to the Red Planet within four years.

MAVEN spacecraft gears up to observe global dust storm on Mars

August 24th
NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN Mission (MAVEN) orbiter will have a front-row seat to watch a dusty spectacle in late 2016. The spacecraft, nearing its second anniversary in Martian orbit, has already gathered a wealth of scientific data about the Red Planet’s atmosphere and is expected to provide crucial insights on the nature of intense dust storms occurring periodically on Mars.

Ten years later, IAU Pluto vote remains controversial

August 24th
In the decade that has passed since the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) controversial vote that demoted Pluto from planet status, people around the world have seen what was once little more than a tiny dot transformed into a complex world via NASA's New Horizons mission.

Space Launch System (SLS) engine testing update

August 22nd
BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. — This past week, on August 18, SpaceFlight Insider was on hand at NASA's Stennis Space Center (SSC), in south Mississippi, for the latest RS-25 engine test in preparation for its use in the agency's new super heavy-lift vehicle – the Space Launch System (SLS).

NASA discusses SLS and Orion progress at ‘Day of Mars’ event

August 22nd
NEW ORLEANS — Before wowing onlookers with the sights and sounds related to testing an RS-25 engine, NASA sought to educate members of traditional and social media outlets about agency and industry efforts related to the Journey to Mars.

Photo Gallery: Delta IV launches next round of GSSAP satellites

August 21st

SFI Video: Launch highlights from launch of ULA Delta IV Medium with AFSPC-6

August 20th
SpaceFlight Insider launch highlights from the Aug. 19, 2016, flight of a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV+ Medium 4,2 rocket with the AFSPC-6 payload for the United States Air Force. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 37 took place at 12:52 a.m. EDT (04:52 GMT) Aug. 19, 2016. SFI's cameras were on hand – and they captured this stunning video of the rocket taking to the skies.

NASA Plum Brook Station gearing up B-2 facility for future upper stage, lander rocket tests

August 20th
NASA's Plum Brook Station test facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is continuing a series of upgrades that may gain Plum Brook the reputation as the premier spacecraft testing facility in the world.

NASA completes important milestone with Asteroid Redirect Mission

August 20th
One of the keys to the successful permanent colonization of the Solar System are those celestial objects called variously asteroids, planetoids, minor planets, meteoroids, Near Earth Objects (NEOs), and even “vermin” by astronomers in the past frustrated by their unwanted light streaks appearing in their astronomical photographs.

SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage arrives in Port Canaveral

August 20th
The first stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that successfully launched the Japanese JCSAT-16 satellite into orbit on Aug. 14 was brought into Port Canaveral on Wednesday, Aug. 18 aboard the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) Of Course I Still Love You.

RL10 test paves the way for future Starliner flights

August 19th
Inside a vast vacuum chamber in West Palm Beach, Florida, Aerojet Rocketdyne tested one of the RL10 engines that will carry the first Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft into orbit.

NanoRacks platform placed outside International Space Station

August 18th
On Aug. 9, 2016, the NanoRacks External Platform (NREP) was placed on the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS). It was completely self-funded by the company and is the first-ever commercial gateway-and-return to the extreme environment of space. It was designed in-house and manufactured by Airbus whose also has an office in Houston.

Video: NASA releases construction time-lapse of SLS qualification tank

August 17th
As the first launch of the massive Space Launch System (SLS) gets closer, more and more hardware is produced. In this multi-view, 60-second time-lapse video, NASA shows the creation of the 130-foot (39.6-meter) long liquid hydrogen fuel tank qualification unit at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.