Spaceflight Insider

  • LISA Pathfinder mission terminated

    Laurel KornfeldJuly 27th The European Space Agency's (ESA) LISA Pathfinder, a probe that tested technologies for their capability to detect the ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves, has been shut down.

  • Lockheed Martin announces plans to build prototype cislunar habitat

    Curt GodwinJuly 26th Though NewSpace companies may garner the lion's share of headlines when it comes to reusing flight hardware, there are members of the industry's old guard who are keen to show that reusability isn't a skill held solely by the newcomers.

  • Opportunity rover takes ‘Sprained Ankle’ Panorama

    Jim SharkeyJuly 26th NASA's Mars Exploration Rover "Opportunity" recently recorded a panoramic view before entering the "Perseverance Valley", which descends the inner slope of Endeavour Crater's rim. The valley is a major destination for the rover's extended mission.

  • Newly developed Nanotube Technology could revolutionize spaceflight

    Michael ColeJuly 26th A cold-gas thruster system, partially made from carbon nanotube material, was recently tested aboard a Black Brant IX suborbital sounding rocket. Part of the thruster system was a Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessel (COPV).

  • First-ever laser communications terminal to be tested on the Moon

    Tomasz NowakowskiJuly 25th ATLAS Space Operations Inc., a company specializing in cloud-based satellite management and control services, has announced that it will test the first-ever laser communications terminal on the lunar surface. The company has recently signed a contract with Astrobotic Technology Inc., which could see their system fly to the Moon in late 2019.

  • Giant asteroid crashed into Mars billions of years ago, study suggests

    Tomasz NowakowskiJuly 24th The complex geology of Mars and the origin of its two small irregular moons has mystified planetary scientists for some time. A new study, published in June in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, reveals that the Red Planet had suffered a giant asteroid collision nearly four-and-a-half billion years ago which could account for some of Mars' geological oddities.

  • New Horizons team obtains wealth of data from 2014 MU69 occultation

    Laurel KornfeldJuly 24th NASA's New Horizons team captured crucial data on Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) 2014 MU69 – the spacecraft's second target – during a third organized observation of the KBO occulting a star on Monday, July 17, 2017.

  • OPINION: Is there inconsistency in how NASA treats its private partners?

    Jason RhianJuly 23rd CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A recent report noted that NASA will not be releasing a public report on the findings of the SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS-7 explosion. The report also denotes that a previous similar accident was handled differently by NASA, but were the two accidents so distinct as to warrant two totally dissimilar approaches?

  • Our SpaceFlight Heritage: The Shuttle replacement that never was

    Christopher PaulJuly 22nd When the Space Shuttle was first proposed it was meant to be “all things to all users” – a replacement for all U.S. launch vehicles. All the expendable launchers, Atlas, Titan, and Delta would retire and the shuttle would be responsible for all U.S. launches from its three pads: LC-39A / -39B at Kennedy Space Center, and SLC-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

  • NanoRacks airlock moving toward 2019 installation on the ISS

    Jim SiegelJuly 21st Five months ago, NanoRacks LLC announced it would partner with Boeing to build the first private airlock for the International Space Station. That initiative is progressing and recently achieved a design milestone with the successful test of a NASA-built, full-scale mockup at the Johnson Space Center in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL).

  • Brown dwarf discovered with the help of citizen scientists

    Ocean McIntyreJuly 20th Sometimes in science, when you search for one thing, you end up finding something completely different. Such is the case with the search for the thus far elusive Planet Nine and the citizen scientists who ended up finding a brown dwarf instead.

  • Our Spaceflight Heritage: 48 years since Apollo 11 landed on the Moon

    Collin SkocikJuly 20th On July 20, 1969 – 48 years ago today – the world was changed forever when two human beings walked on the Moon. 38-year-old Neil Armstrong stepped off the ladder of the flimsy, spidery Lunar Module "Eagle" onto the soft and pliant dust of the Moon’s Sea of Tranquillity (Mare Tranquillitatis) and spoke the immortal words: “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

  • Lockheed Martin announces plans to build prototype cislunar habitat

    Curt GodwinJuly 26th Though NewSpace companies may garner the lion's share of headlines when it comes to reusing flight hardware, there are members of the industry's old guard who are keen to show that reusability isn't a skill held solely by the newcomers.

  • OPINION: Is there inconsistency in how NASA treats its private partners?

    Jason RhianJuly 23rd CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A recent report noted that NASA will not be releasing a public report on the findings of the SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS-7 explosion. The report also denotes that a previous similar accident was handled differently by NASA, but were the two accidents so distinct as to warrant two totally dissimilar approaches?

  • NanoRacks airlock moving toward 2019 installation on the ISS

    Jim SiegelJuly 21st Five months ago, NanoRacks LLC announced it would partner with Boeing to build the first private airlock for the International Space Station. That initiative is progressing and recently achieved a design milestone with the successful test of a NASA-built, full-scale mockup at the Johnson Space Center in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL).

  • Our Spaceflight Heritage: 48 years since Apollo 11 landed on the Moon

    Collin SkocikJuly 20th On July 20, 1969 – 48 years ago today – the world was changed forever when two human beings walked on the Moon. 38-year-old Neil Armstrong stepped off the ladder of the flimsy, spidery Lunar Module "Eagle" onto the soft and pliant dust of the Moon’s Sea of Tranquillity (Mare Tranquillitatis) and spoke the immortal words: “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

  • Sierra Nevada ground tests Dream Chaser’s steering, brakes

    Bart LeahyJuly 18th On Monday, July 17, SNC put its full-scale Dream Chaser test vehicle through its paces on the ground at NASA’s Armstrong Research Center in California. According to a report by Spaceflight Now, the ground tests towed the vehicle fast enough to evaluate the performance of its brakes, steering, guidance, navigation, and control systems.

  • TDRS-M spacecraft damaged during closeout activities

    Jason RhianJuly 16th TITUSVILLE, Fla. — During closeout activities for the final third-generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-M), an "incident" occurred to the spacecraft's Omni S-band antenna. This occurred on Friday, July 14, about two-and-a-half weeks prior to the satellite's scheduled launch.

  • NASA prepares its Martian explorers for solar conjunction radio silence

    Curt GodwinJuly 16th For more than twenty years, NASA has had explorers surveying the Red Planet. Dutifully, the stalwart robotic travelers have followed commands beamed from their Earth-bound handlers and returned gigabytes of information of their Martian observations.

  • Want your own spacesuit? We know a guy…

    Jason RhianJuly 15th We've all been there: watching the astronauts get suited up for their missions beyond our world and come walking out of Kennedy's Operations and Checkout Building (M7-355 O&C) decked out in their flight suits – and wishing it was us. While boarding a spacecraft bound for the black sky is not in the offing anytime soon, one man is working to at least provide you with the appropriate apparel.

  • Moon Express announces trio of expeditions to the Moon

    Curt GodwinJuly 14th On July 12, 2017, NewSpace company Moon Express announced plans for a trio of missions to the Moon, the first of which is tentatively scheduled for late in 2017 – potentially making them the first commercial company to reach Earth's natural satellite.

  • Juno completes historic flyby over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

    Laurel KornfeldJuly 12th NASA's Juno spacecraft successfully completed the first ever close flyby of the mysterious storm on Jupiter known as the Great Red Spot, and early images of the phenomenon are already being returned to Earth.

  • Multiple fatalities prompt Roscosmos to step up safety measures

    Curt GodwinJuly 11th The death of two workers following the June 14, 2017, launch of a Soyuz rocket carrying the Progress MS-06 resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station has prompted Roscosmos officials to step up safety efforts.

  • Advanced Electric Propulsion System successfully tested at NASA’s Glenn Research Center

    Jason RhianJuly 8th A new propulsion system, funded by the Space Technology Mission Directorate, underwent a series of tests at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Ohio. The tests were conducted on a Power Processing Unit, or "PPU", for an Advanced Electric Propulsion System that is hoped could be used on either NASA's deep space missions or by the space agency's commercial partners.

  • BepiColumbo readied to start journey to Mercury next year

    Jacques van OeneJuly 7th NOORDWIJK, Netherlands — On Thursday, July 6, the European Space Research and Technology Centre put the new BepiColumbo spacecraft on display. ESTEC, the largest ESA site in Europe as well as the test center for all major ESA satellites, played host to an event denoting that the twin spacecraft are just 15 months away from launch.

  • VP Pence promises return to the Moon, boots on Mars during KSC speech

    Bart LeahyJuly 6th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Less than a week after being designated head of the newly revived National Space Council, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence paid a visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In keeping with the Trump administration’s theme of reasserting U.S. leadership worldwide, he declared: “We will return to the Moon and we will put American boots on the face of Mars.”

  • As space debris concerns grow, AMC-9 satellite appears to be adding to the problem

    Jason RhianJuly 6th Ever since the start of the Space Age in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik, humanity has left an ever-increasing amount of debris in orbit, comprising satellites, probes, and spent rockets. However, not all of this debris harmlessly retraces arcs above Earth – as the AMC-9 satellite is currently demonstrating.

  • 7 months, 10 launches: SpaceX racks up another win with Intelsat 35e flight

    Jason RhianJuly 5th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Hawthorne, California-based Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully launched the Intelsat 35e communications satellite on its way to orbit. Liftoff took place at 7:38 p.m. EDT (23:38 GMT) on July 5, 2017, from Launch Complex 39A.

  • SpaceX scrubs Falcon 9 launch 2nd day in a row

    Derek RichardsonJuly 3rd KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — For the second day in a row, SpaceX has scrubbed the planned liftoff of its Falcon 9 rocket with the Intelsat 35e communications satellite. Like the July 2 attempt, this scrub was also for technical reasons.

  • Dragon splashes down in Pacific with time-critical experiments

    Derek RichardsonJuly 3rd SpaceX’s CRS-11 Dragon capsule splashed down at 8:12 a.m. EDT (12:12 GMT) on July 3, 2017, in the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of Baja California after some 28 days attached to the International Space Station.

  • Legless Falcon 9 automatically aborts launch at T-10 seconds

    Derek RichardsonJuly 2nd KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Within 10 seconds from leaving the pad at Launch Complex 39A, the Falcon 9’s onboard computer triggered an automatic abort. While this was a 58-minute window, it was decided there would not be enough time to diagnose the abort and recycle the countdown.

  • China’s 2nd Long March 5 rocket deemed ‘unsuccessful’

    Derek RichardsonJuly 2nd Despite what appeared to be a smooth launch all the way through first stage separation, China's largest rocket, the Long March 5, failed to deliver the Shijian-18 satellite to orbit, according to Xinhua.

    The Range
  • LISA Pathfinder mission terminated

    July 27th
    The European Space Agency's (ESA) LISA Pathfinder, a probe that tested technologies for their capability to detect the ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves, has been shut down.

  • Opportunity rover takes ‘Sprained Ankle’ Panorama

    July 26th
    NASA's Mars Exploration Rover "Opportunity" recently recorded a panoramic view before entering the "Perseverance Valley", which descends the inner slope of Endeavour Crater's rim. The valley is a major destination for the rover's extended mission.

  • Newly developed Nanotube Technology could revolutionize spaceflight

    July 26th
    A cold-gas thruster system, partially made from carbon nanotube material, was recently tested aboard a Black Brant IX suborbital sounding rocket. Part of the thruster system was a Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessel (COPV).

  • First-ever laser communications terminal to be tested on the Moon

    July 25th
    ATLAS Space Operations Inc., a company specializing in cloud-based satellite management and control services, has announced that it will test the first-ever laser communications terminal on the lunar surface. The company has recently signed a contract with Astrobotic Technology Inc., which could see their system fly to the Moon in late 2019.

  • Giant asteroid crashed into Mars billions of years ago, study suggests

    July 24th
    The complex geology of Mars and the origin of its two small irregular moons has mystified planetary scientists for some time. A new study, published in June in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, reveals that the Red Planet had suffered a giant asteroid collision nearly four-and-a-half billion years ago which could account for some of Mars' geological oddities.

  • New Horizons team obtains wealth of data from 2014 MU69 occultation

    July 24th
    NASA's New Horizons team captured crucial data on Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) 2014 MU69 – the spacecraft's second target – during a third organized observation of the KBO occulting a star on Monday, July 17, 2017.

  • Our SpaceFlight Heritage: The Shuttle replacement that never was

    July 22nd
    When the Space Shuttle was first proposed it was meant to be “all things to all users” – a replacement for all U.S. launch vehicles. All the expendable launchers, Atlas, Titan, and Delta would retire and the shuttle would be responsible for all U.S. launches from its three pads: LC-39A / -39B at Kennedy Space Center, and SLC-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

  • Brown dwarf discovered with the help of citizen scientists

    July 20th
    Sometimes in science, when you search for one thing, you end up finding something completely different. Such is the case with the search for the thus far elusive Planet Nine and the citizen scientists who ended up finding a brown dwarf instead.

  • Contract brings Dream Chaser flights closer to reality

    July 20th
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- In development for more than ten years, the Dream Chaser space plane is one step closer to flight. Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has signed a contract with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to send the spacecraft into orbit. 

  • Cassini images Enceladus’ south polar jets

    July 20th
    NASA's Cassini orbiter has captured a distant view of the mysterious jets emanating from the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus, a world that likely harbors a subsurface ocean. The jets are believed to be liquid water being vented from the ocean underneath the moon's icy crust.

  • VASIMR plasma engine: Earth to Mars in 39 days?

    July 19th
    In Arthur C. Clarke’s classic science fiction novels and movies "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "2010: Odyssey Two", the spaceships Discovery and Alexei Leonov make interplanetary journeys using plasma drives. Nuclear reactors heat hydrogen or ammonia to a plasma state that’s energetic enough to provide thrust.

  • AIDA mission to validate crucial asteroid deflection technology

    July 16th
    NASA and ESA are developing the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission; its main goal is to demonstrate the kinetic impact technique that could change the motion of a potentially hazardous asteroid.

  • ShareSpace Apollo 11 Gala held under KSCVC’s Saturn V

    July 16th
    KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Under one of the three surviving Saturn V Moon rockets, Buzz Aldrin's ShareSpace Foundation hosted a gala and auction in honor of mankind's first footsteps on another world on Saturday, July 15, 2017. 

  • NASA releases New Horizons flyover video

    July 15th
    Using actual New Horizons data and digital elevation models of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, mission scientists have created flyover movies that offer spectacular new perspectives of the many unusual features that were discovered and which have reshaped our views of the Pluto system – from a vantage point even closer than the spacecraft itself.

  • Curiosity eyes new ridge in exploration of the Red Planet

    July 15th
    After nearly five years of its exploration of the Red Planet, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, more commonly known as the Curiosity rover, will begin its long-awaited study of a tantalizing ridge formation along a slope of Mount Sharp in the center of Gale Crater.