Orbital Sciences chooses RD-181 as AJ-26 engine replacement

Antares rocket Orbital Sciences Corporation Cygnus Commercial Resupply Services CRS photo credit Mark Usiack The SpaceFlight Group Insider

Orbital Sciences Corporation (Orbital ) has confirmed that it will replace the engines powering its Antares rocket, the AJ-26, with RD-181 engines supplied by Russia’s NPO Energomash. While other U.S.-based launch service providers are moving away from Russian-made rocket engines, Orbital has decided to move from one Russian-made rocket engine – to another.

JWST facing increased schedule risk with significant work remaining

The James Webb Space Telescope will ride an Ariane 5 ECA booster out of Earth's gravity well. Photo Credit: NASA

With just under 4 years until its planned launch in October 2018, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) project reports it remains on schedule and budget. However, technical challenges with JWST elements and major subsystems, have diminished the project’s overall schedule reserve and increased risk, says a new report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

ISRO’s CARE spacecraft carries out historic first mission with GSLV Mk III launch

ISRO CARE Launch GSLV Mk III image credit DD News posted on SpaceFlight Insider

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO ) has successfully launched the LVM3 X Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment or “CARE” at 09:30 a.m. Indian Standard Time (IST) – the test article flew to orbit atop a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III (GSLV Mk III) booster – which marked its first flight with today’s mission. The flight […]

Launch of SpaceX ‘SpX-5′ slips to no-earlier-than Jan. 6 – UPDATE

SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket Dragon spacecraft Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 40 SLC-40 photo credit Jason Rhian Spaceflight Insider

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fl — Space Exploration Technologies’ (SpaceX ) fifth contracted mission under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS ) initiative – might take a little longer to be given the green light for launch. A report appearing on NASASpaceFlight.com has stated that due to issues surrounding the rocket’s static test fire that was attempted on […]

SpaceX secures launch contract for Transitioning Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)

Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite NASA image posted on SpaceFlight Insider

NASA announced on Tuesday, Dec. 16 that Hawthorne, California-based Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX ) would provide launch services for the space agency’s upcoming exoplanet detection satellite. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS ) mission is slated for liftoff aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket in August of 2017.

Curiosity rover detects spikes in Martian methane – hints to life on the Red Planet

Curiosity drilled into the "Cumberland" rock, collecting a powder sample as seen on Spaceflight Insider.

This week is the annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, a week of Earth and planetary science presentations where scientists, students, and media gather to hear the latest discoveries and developments. During a panel held Tuesday, Dec. 16, NASA revealed that its Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover has detected a hint of methane […]

ILS Proton successfully launches Yamal-401 satellite

International Launch Services Proton rocket night launch photo credit ILS posted on SpaceFlight Insider

A Proton booster successfully delivered its payload of the Yamal-401 satellite to orbit on Dec, 15 at 6:16 a.m. today local time (00:16 GMT and 7:16 p.m. EST on December 14). The launch took place through 7:16 p.m. EST (6:16 a.m. local time - 0016 GMT). The spacecraft was placed into a geosynchronous orbit atop a Proton […]

3D printed rocket propulsion system for satellites successfully test-fired

PATRIOT_plume CubeSat thruster firing University of Michigan photo posted on SpaceFlight Insider

The MPS-120 CubeSat High-Impulse Adaptable Modular Propulsion System (CHAMPS ) was put through its paces via a hot-fire test carried out by California-based Aerojet Rocketdyne. This particular engine design is a hydrazine-integrated propulsion system for use on small CubeSats and could open up missions that were previously unavailable to the tiny spacecraft. Funded by the NASA […]

NASA Budget Boon in Late-Night Appropriation Bill

"The President's Fiscal Year 2015 budget provides the necessary resources to advance the bipartisan space exploration plan agreed to by the Administration and Congress and ensure that the United States remains the world's leader in space exploration and scientific discovery for years to come. The budget advances NASA’s strategic plan for the future that builds on U.S. preeminence in science and technology, improves life on Earth and protects our home planet, while creating good paying jobs and strengthening the American economy." Image and Caption Credit: NASA posted on SpaceFlight Insider

Late Saturday night the Senate passed the so-called Cromnibus bill funding the United States government through the end of the Fiscal Year, avoiding a second government shutdown in as many years. The bill, part continuing resolution, part omnibus budget act, allocated funding for NASA greater than the agency had requested and signals a resounding rebound […]

Our SpaceFlight Heritage: Pioneer 6 sets off into the black

Pioneer 6 in space NASA photo posted on SpaceFlight Insider

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fl — On this date, Dec. 16, 1965, NASA launched the Pioneer 6 spacecraft on a mission to conduct scientific research of interplanetary phenomena. This was the first of four missions that NASA launched for this purpose. The launch vehicle was the Delta 1-E with the location of the flight’s point of origin being […]

Assessing the asteroid impact threat: Are we in danger?

Artist's impression of Asteroid Apophis in front of Earth image credit Dan Durda FIAAA posted on SpaceFlight Insider

“Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour,” could be still an actual description of our ability to predict asteroid threats to Earth. This sentence, pulled from the Bible (Matthew 25:13), provides a reminder of a vast number of the more than 1,500 potentially hazardous objects, floating in space, that meander throughout the solar […]

SpaceX hosts “epic” holiday party

SpaceX Holiday Party 2014 photo credit SpaceX posted on SpaceFlight Insider

It’s well known in the spaceflight community that employees of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX ) are expected to work hard. After this weekend, it appears that those employees are also capable of playing hard. On Saturday, Dec. 13, SpaceX held its annual holiday party in Hawthorne, CA. Many party-goers used social media to post photos, […]

Our SpaceFlight Insider: Venera 7′s descent into hell

NASA image of the surface of Venus taken by Magellan spacecraft and posted on SpaceFlight Insider 2

Although the public’s attention, in terms of space exploration, might be focused on Mars – it is not the only terrestrial world that humanity has sent spacecraft to. On this date in 1970, the former Soviet Union (now Russia) became the first nation to land a spacecraft on the hostile plains of Venus. The Venera […]

As competition mounts between launch service providers – politicians enter the fray

SpaceX-3 Liftoff Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 40 Falcon 9 v1.1 Dragon photo credit Mike Howard SpaceFlight Insider - Copy

With new launch vehicles entering into the market delivering an array of payloads to orbit - competition is picking up. This has caused politicians to begin weighing in on which companies are preferred and which are not. Whereas some of the concerns raised by political leaders appear to be predominantly geopolitical in nature, others appear to be […]

Insider Interview: Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Human Space Program Director talks Orion

Orion Kennedy Space Center Exploration Flight Test 1 EFT-1 Launch Abort System LAS ATK Aerojet Rocketdyne photo credit Mike Howard SpaceFlight Insider

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla — It took a number of organizations working as one to get NASA’s Orion spacecraft off of the ground and into the skies on December 5, 2014. While Lockheed Martin was the prime contractor on the spacecraft, United Launch Alliance (ULA ) provided the Delta IV Heavy booster, ATK produced the Launch […]

New RL10C engine debuts on classified NROL-35 launch

ULA successfully launched the most powerful Atlas V rocket to date from the Vandenburg Air Force Base in Calif. Photo Credit: Matthew Kuhns/Spaceflight Insider

After an early scrub was called due to multiple weather violations on Thursday, Dec. 11, NROL-35 was carried into the black on Friday, Dec. 12, for its secret mission for the National Reconnaissance Office at 7:19 p.m. PST (0319 GMT). It launched from Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, despite […]

Wallops Island to receive $20 million from federal budget to repair damaged the MARS Pad 0A

The accident should not impact operations on the ISS, as the station has enough supplies to last through March 2015. Photo Credit: JD Taylor / SpaceFlight Insider

The October explosion of the Orbital Science ORB-3 resupply mission rocket destined to the International Space Station caused an estimated $20 million in damage to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s (MARS) Pad 0A. It was not clear where the funding would come from to repair the damage. The state Virginia had stated that they did not […]

Rosetta reignites debate on the origin of Earth’s water

Mosaic of Comet 67P as seen by Rosetta's NAVCAM on Nov. 20. Image Credit: ESA as seen on Spaceflight Insider

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) comet-chasing spacecraft, Rosetta, is on a mission of discovery, aiming to unlock the secrets of the early solar system. After deploying its Philae lander on Nov. 12, Rosetta has continued to orbit and analyze Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Scientists have long hypothesized that comets were responsible for supplying the infant Earth with […]

Tested, tempered, triumphant – Orion begins the long journey home

Orion Exploration Flight Test 1 EFT-1 returns to Kennedy Space Center NASA photo posted on SpaceFlight Insider

NASA’s Orion spacecraft, fresh off the heels of its successful first flight on Dec. 5 – is on its way back to the space agency’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Engineers have already started to look at the capsule-shaped craft’s heat shield – and the precious information within its data recorders. Exploration Flight Test […]

First launch of ULA Atlas V 541 delayed 24 hours due to weather

National Reconnaissance Office NRO Atlas V NROL-35 United Launch Alliance ULA image posted on SpaceFlight Insider

United Launch Alliance (ULA ) has opted to delay the first California launch of the 541 variant of the Colorado-based firm’s Atlas V booster – will have to wait 24 hours. The NROL-35 mission is poised to get its start from Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Space Launch Complex 3E (SLC-3E) located in California. The classified […]