Spaceflight Insider

  • Japanese Kounotori 6 set for launch to space station

    Derek RichardsonDecember 8th After discovering a leaking pipe during an early August pressurization test, prompting a delay, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is ready to send its Kounotori 6 skyward toward the International Space Station.

  • Former Astronaut, Senator John Glenn, hospitalized

    Bart LeahyDecember 7th Ninety-five-year-old former U.S. Senator John H. Glenn, the first American launched into orbit, has been taken to the James Cancer Hospital in Ohio with an undisclosed health problem. It is uncertain whether this hospitalization is related to a heart valve that Glenn has had replaced two years ago or due to a stroke. News reports state his health has been declining recently.

  • SFI Live: Launch coverage of ULA Delta IV Medium+ 5,4 with WGS-8

    Jason RhianDecember 7th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — United Launch Alliance (ULA) is set to unleash a Delta IV Medium+ 5,4 rocket from Cape Canaveral's SLC-37 in Florida. The payload for this flight will be the eighth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-8) satellite. The Delta IV will be launched to send the spacecraft into a supersynchronous transfer orbit. SpaceFlight Insider's live webcast will begin at 6:30 p.m. EST.

  • India’s newest remote sensing satellite launches atop PSLV booster

    Tomasz NowakowskiDecember 7th The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully launched its workhorse PSLV launcher carrying the country’s Resourcesat-2A remote sensing spacecraft. Liftoff occurred as planned at 10:25 a.m. local time (04:55 GMT) on Dec. 7 (11:55 p.m. EST on Dec. 6) from the First Launch Pad (FLP) at ISRO’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India.

  • XCOR co-founder Aleta Jackson dies

    Curt GodwinDecember 7th XCOR Aerospace co-founder Loretta “Aleta” Jackson DeLong died Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, from complications stemming from chemotherapy treatments in Midland, Texas. The aerospace pioneer was 68.

  • Cassini begins dive into Saturn’s rings

    Laurel KornfeldDecember 6th NASA's Cassini orbiter made its first dive into Saturn's ring system on Sunday, Dec. 4. It's the beginning of an endgame in which the spacecraft will fly across the ring plane and ultimately impact the giant planet on Sept. 15, 2017.

  • India to launch Resourcesat-2A remote sensing satellite

    Tomasz NowakowskiDecember 5th The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is all set to launch its newest remote sensing satellite, Resourcesat-2A, on Wednesday, Dec. 7, atop the country’s flagship PSLV launcher. The rocket will lift off at 10:25 a.m. local time (4:55 GMT; 11:55 p.m. EST on Dec. 6) from the First Launch Pad (FLP) at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India.

  • Vega Rocket carries Göktürk-1 into orbit

    Jose FloresDecember 5th Like an arrow shot into the sky, a Vega rocket leapt off the pad at Guyana Space Center's Vega Launch Complex (SLV), carrying the Göktürk-1 into orbit. Arianespace's tenth mission of the year, designated VV08, took off on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, at 13:51 GMT and successfully inserted Göktürk-1 into a Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) at 14:49 GMT.

  • ULA prepares to launch WGS-8 satellite to bolster military communications

    Curt GodwinDecember 5th Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) is the latest in a constellation of military communications satellites. The eighth member of the WGS series, WGS-8 will soon join its predecessors in providing global communications capabilities to the United States military and its allies.

  • ESA commits to ISS participation through 2024

    Derek RichardsonDecember 4th At a two-day meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland, the European Space Agency’s 22 member states approved a commitment to extend European participation in the International Space Station (ISS) program to 2024. ESA is the final partner agency to do so.

  • Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo successfully completes first glide flight

    Curt GodwinDecember 4th Fresh off the completion of its successful captive carry flight just a few days prior, Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo (SS2), christened VSS Unity, took the next step in its flight certification regime by completing its first solo glide flight on Dec. 3, 2016.

  • Vega rocket to send Turkish Earth-observing satellite into orbit

    Tomasz NowakowskiDecember 3rd Arianespace is gearing up for its tenth mission of the year that will launch the Göktürk-1 Earth-observing spacecraft for the Turkish Armed Forces. The satellite will be launched by the company’s light-lift Vega booster on Dec. 5 at 13:51 GMT (8:51 a.m. EST) from the Vega Launch Complex (SLV) in Kourou, French Guiana.

  • 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.

  • Lost: Progress MS-04 cargo craft fails to reach orbit

    Bart LeahyDecember 1st Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, reported that it lost the Progress MS-04 spacecraft that was delivering cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). Contact was lost with the spacecraft after 382 seconds into the flight while it was flying on its third stage.

  • 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.

    The Range
  • Space Systems Loral wins contract for satellite refueling mission

    December 8th
    Space Systems Loral (SSL) of Palo Alto, California, was awarded a NASA contract for Restore-L, a robotic spacecraft designed to grasp, refuel and relocate satellites in orbit, even if they were not originally designed for on-orbit servicing.

  • SpaceX Falcon 9 return to flight pushed into 2017

    December 7th
    The return-to-flight launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has been delayed to early January. The NewSpace firm said it needs more time to finalize the investigation into the Sept. 1, 2016, pad explosion, which caused the loss of the rocket and its $195 million Amos-6 payload.

  • Blue Origin’s rocket factory begins to take shape in Florida

    December 7th
    In a recent e-mail, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos shared pictures of the company’s 750,000-square-foot (69,677-square-meter) facility, which is being built at Exploration Park on Kennedy Space Center property.

  • Beyond: SFI artist imagines NASA’s next great voyage

    December 6th
    Since the earliest days of the Space Age, artists have attempted to depict what missions to the Moon or deeper into space might look like. SpaceFlight Insider's James Vaughan carries on that proud tradition with images of what the Chicago-based graphic illustrator thinks might be just over the horizon for the U.S. space agency's crewed exploration ambitions.

  • Pluto’s subsurface ocean could possibly support primitive life

    December 6th
    A subsurface ocean, and possibly primitive life, may exist beneath Pluto's "Sputnik Planitia" – the western lobe of its iconic 'heart' feature.

  • Astronaut Cady Coleman leaving NASA

    December 5th
    On Dec. 1, 2016, NASA astronaut Catherine "Cady" Coleman announced her retirement from the agency via social media. Since becoming an astronaut in 1992, she has logged over 180 days in space across two Space Shuttle missions and one International Space Station (ISS) expedition.

  • Russia’s new cargo spacecraft to replace Progress MS after 2020

    December 4th
    The recent failure of the Progress MS-04 mission is a reminder of how important is the development of a new cargo spacecraft for the future of Russia’s space program. The accident could hasten the works on a vehicle that could replace the current upgraded Progress spaceship.

  • Russia to develop new super heavy-lift rocket for lunar missions

    December 3rd
    Russia intends to expand its rocket fleet by developing a super heavy-lift booster that could one day become the country’s workhorse launcher for future lunar missions. Implementation of this new project was announced on Nov. 28 by the Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.

  • Autonomous drones could search for life in Europa’s subsurface ocean

    December 3rd
    As part of an ongoing research project aimed at developing robotic submersible drones, researchers representing NASA and several other institutions recently tested six drones, using them to study changes in temperature and salinity beneath the waves of Monterey Bay, California.

  • 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