Spaceflight Insider

RockOn!: Suborbital rocket with students’ experiments successfully launched from Wallops

Tomasz NowakowskiJune 29th A Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket successfully lifted off at 6:06 a.m. EDT on Friday, June 24, carrying students' expe...

Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser to provide access to space for countries worldwide

Tomasz NowakowskiJune 29th Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser winged spacecraft could be soon flying under a United Nations (UN) agenda. On Tuesday,...

Pluto’s moon Charon has giant canyon; New Horizons studies small KBO

Laurel KornfeldJune 28th Argo Chasma, a huge canyon located on the eastern limb of Pluto's largest moon, Charon, is longer, deeper, and more complex than...

Prototype of China’s next-generation re-entry capsule lands safely in desert

Tomasz NowakowskiJune 28th A scaled-down model of China’s future re-entry capsule – launched aboard the Long March 7 rocket on its inaugural flight – has suc...

SFI LIVE: Orbital ATK & NASA conduct QM-2 static test fire

Jason RhianJune 28th PROMONTORY, Utah ― Orbital ATK and NASA are poised to conduct the final test of the five-segment solid rocket booster design that will...

Curiosity rover finds unusual mineral on Mars

Jim SharkeyJune 27th Researchers using data from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover have found an unexpected mineral in a rock sample at Gale Crater. The dis...

Apollo legends mingle at San Diego museum gala

Matthew KuhnsJune 26th It was a star-studded gala Thursday evening when more than 450 guests, four Apollo astronauts, and three Apollo flight controllers and...

NASA to test world’s largest crew-rated solid rocket booster

Curt GodwinJune 26th On June 28, 2016, Orbital ATK will once again test the new five-segment solid rocket booster (SRB), dubbed Qualification Motor-2 (QM-2)....

Peake: Soyuz blowing itself apart, ‘exciting!’

Jacques van OeneJune 26th COLOGNE, Germany — On Tuesday, June 22, European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake gave his first press conference three days after lan...

China conducts maiden launch of Long March 7 rocket

Tomasz NowakowskiJune 25th China successfully carried out the first launch of its next-generation Long March 7 rocket. The country’s most powerful launcher took...

Coalition for Deep Space Exploration recommends space priorities for next president

Bart LeahyJune 25th An industry-led policy paper released by the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration on June 21 recommends the next U.S. President and Cong...

Photo Gallery: Atlas V Launches MUOS-5

Mike DeepJune 24th The United Launch Alliance launched their Atlas V rocket with the fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-5), the final spacecraft in a...

Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser to provide access to space for countries worldwide

Tomasz NowakowskiJune 29th Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser winged spacecraft could be soon flying under a United Nations (UN) agenda. On Tuesday, June 28, the Sparks, Nevada-based company announced that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) to provide affordable opportunities for UN member states in order to conduct experiments in space.

SFI LIVE: Orbital ATK & NASA conduct QM-2 static test fire

Jason RhianJune 28th PROMONTORY, Utah ― Orbital ATK and NASA are poised to conduct the final test of the five-segment solid rocket booster design that will be used on NASA's new super-heavy rocket, the Space Launch System or SLS. SpaceFlight Insider is live at Orbital ATK's test facilities in Utah and is currently planning on beginning our live webcast at 7 a.m. MDT (9 a.m. EDT / 13:00 GMT). We have an array of guests lined up, as well as exclusive video segments and more!

NASA to test world’s largest crew-rated solid rocket booster

Curt GodwinJune 26th On June 28, 2016, Orbital ATK will once again test the new five-segment solid rocket booster (SRB), dubbed Qualification Motor-2 (QM-2). A pair of these boosters will be used to help launch NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) on the agency’s "Journey to Mars", beginning with the rocket’s first, uncrewed launch, EM-1, currently slated for the latter half of 2018.

Peake: Soyuz blowing itself apart, ‘exciting!’

Jacques van OeneJune 26th COLOGNE, Germany — On Tuesday, June 22, European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake gave his first press conference three days after landing back on Earth in a Soyuz descent module. Peake gave a presentation at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany, where he provided details about his mission.

China conducts maiden launch of Long March 7 rocket

Tomasz NowakowskiJune 25th China successfully carried out the first launch of its next-generation Long March 7 rocket. The country’s most powerful launcher took to the skies at 8 p.m. Beijing time (12:00 GMT) on Saturday, June 25, from Site LC-2 at the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on the island of Hainan. It was carrying a prototype of a re-entry capsule and several small satellites.

Atlas V successfully launches MUOS-5

Bart LeahyJune 24th On a sunny, sticky day at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41), the United Launch Alliance (ULA) celebrated its seventh flight of the Atlas V 551 (the 63rd Atlas V mission overall) with the successful launch of the U.S. Navy’s fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-5) satellite.

China to introduce its newest Long March 7 rocket to the world

Tomasz NowakowskiJune 24th China is about to introduce to the world its Long March 7 rocket, the newest addition to the country’s fast expanding fleet of launch vehicles. The booster is expected to blast off from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, located on the island of Hainan, sometime on Saturday, June 25.

SAFFIRE could provide valuable information for missions to Mars

Jason RhianJune 23rd On Feb. 24, 1997, a fire broke out on the Russian space station Mir. Although the three crew members were able to get it under control, the incident could have resulted in the loss of the station as well as the crew. To prevent a repeat occurrence, NASA recently conducted the Saffire experiment to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of flame in space.

ULA set to launch Atlas V with MUOS-5

Derek RichardsonJune 22nd After being delayed a month-and-a-half due to a March 2016 in-flight anomaly, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) is gearing up to fly its next Atlas V rocket. The payload for this mission is the U.S. Navy’s fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-5).

PSLV booster soars into space with fleet of 20 satellites

Tomasz NowakowskiJune 22nd India has successfully launched its flagship PSLV rocket carrying a record number of 20 satellites. The launch occurred as planned at 9:26 a.m. local time (03:56 GMT) from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

SLS upper stage test article arrives at NASA Marshall

Curt GodwinJune 21st NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) has taken another step in its preparation for a projected 2018 launch with the arrival of the rocket's upper stage Structural Test Article (STA). The Boeing-built Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) STA arrived at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), after a short barge trip from United Launch Alliance's (ULA) facility in Decatur, Alabama.

Aerojet Rocketdyne tests AR1 engine component

Scott JohnsonJune 21st Aerojet Rocketdyne (Rocketdyne) announced on June 17 that its AR1 engine preburner had achieved full-power—verifying injector design parameters—during a series of tests earlier this month at NASA’s Stennis Space Center (SSC) in Mississippi.

Suni Williams details Commercial Crew Program progress during visit to NASA’s Plum Brook Station

Michael ColeJune 20th NASA Commercial Crew Astronaut Suni Williams was the special guest speaker last week at an Open House Event held at NASA's Plum Brook Station testing facility in Sandusky, Ohio. Plum Brook Station is the sister facility of the NASA Glenn Research Center in nearby Cleveland. During her visit, Williams provided an update on NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

India’s PSLV set to launch record 20 satellites on Wednesday

Tomasz NowakowskiJune 20th ISRO is about to send a record number of 20 satellites in a single mission. India's flagship PSLV booster will take to the skies on Wednesday, June 22, from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, to orbit a panoply of spacecraft for various customers around the world. Liftoff is scheduled to take place at 9:26 a.m. local time (03:56 GMT).

‘Gradatim Ferociter’: Blue Origin tests New Shepard failure mode

Derek RichardsonJune 19th Rising into the West Texas skies for the fourth time in seven months was Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard rocket and capsule. The goal of this uncrewed flight was to test a “failure mode” of the systems crew capsule’s parachute.

Ariane 5 launches Echostar 18 and BRIsat satellites into orbit

Jose FloresJune 18th After a delay of just over one week and two scrubbed attempts, Guiana Space Centre's launch pad ELA-3 came to life at 5:38 p.m. EDT (21:38 GMT) for the third time in 2016 as an Ariane 5, carrying the EchoStar 18 and BRIsat communications satellites, raced into the late afternoon sky on June 18.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft closes in on Jupiter

Jim SharkeyJune 18th NASA held a media briefing on Thursday, June 16, to discuss the July 4th arrival of the Juno spacecraft at Jupiter. As of Thursday, the solar-powered spacecraft, which is roughly the size of a basketball court, was 18 days and 8.6 million miles (13.8 million kilometers) from Jupiter.

ISS Expedition 47 trio returns to Earth

Derek RichardsonJune 18th Blazing through the atmosphere, three members of the International Space Station’s (ISS) Expedition 47 crew returned to Earth on June 18 in their Soyuz spacecraft. The capsule descending through mid-afternoon skies above the Steppe of Kazakhstan some 300 miles (480 kilometers) east of where they launched in December.

BEAM passes initial inspection; interior photos released

Larry KlaesJune 17th The International Space Station’s (ISS) first expandable addition, known as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), passed its initial inspection by two of the station’s residents. Additionally, NASA recently released high-resolution photos of the modules interior and exterior.

ULA releases OA-6 launch anomaly report, clears Atlas V for next flight

Larry KlaesJune 17th When ULA's Atlas V rocket sent the OA-6 Cygnus cargo vessel, the S.S. Rick Husband, to the International Space Station (ISS) on March 22, 2016, mission controllers detected an anomaly as the rocket headed into low-Earth orbit with its several tons of important supplies and equipment for the astronauts aboard the station.

The Range

RockOn!: Suborbital rocket with students’ experiments successfully launched from Wallops

June 29th
A Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket successfully lifted off at 6:06 a.m. EDT on Friday, June 24, carrying students' experiments. The launch was conducted by NASA from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Pluto’s moon Charon has giant canyon; New Horizons studies small KBO

June 28th
Argo Chasma, a huge canyon located on the eastern limb of Pluto's largest moon, Charon, is longer, deeper, and more complex than the Grand Canyon on Earth.

Prototype of China’s next-generation re-entry capsule lands safely in desert

June 28th
A scaled-down model of China’s future re-entry capsule – launched aboard the Long March 7 rocket on its inaugural flight – has successfully touched down in the Badain Jaran Desert in Northwest China. The landing occurred at exactly 3:41 a.m. EDT (07:41 GMT) on Sunday, June 26.

Curiosity rover finds unusual mineral on Mars

June 27th
Researchers using data from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover have found an unexpected mineral in a rock sample at Gale Crater. The discovery may change our understanding of how Mars evolved.

Apollo legends mingle at San Diego museum gala

June 26th
It was a star-studded gala Thursday evening when more than 450 guests, four Apollo astronauts, and three Apollo flight controllers and an engineer attended an event at the San Diego Air and Space Museum. The reception was held in the museum where guests could talk to the astronauts next to the Apollo 9 capsule, while the dinner was held under the historic aircraft on display in the Pavilion of Flight.

Coalition for Deep Space Exploration recommends space priorities for next president

June 25th
An industry-led policy paper released by the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration on June 21 recommends the next U.S. President and Congress preserve U.S. global leadership in space by continuing a bipartisan path to Mars, in keeping with the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.

Photo Gallery: Atlas V Launches MUOS-5

June 24th

CRS-9 pushed back two days; Port Canaveral mulls new wharfage fees

June 23rd
The next launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has been pushed back by two days to July 18. The mission is set to launch the next Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station (ISS). Also this week, Port Canaveral recently proposed a new wharfage fee for large aerospace item moving across the Canaveral docks.

Present day Pluto likely has subsurface ocean; moons covered in water ice

June 23rd
Pluto's recent geological activity, as observed by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, suggests that the small world still has a subsurface liquid ocean beneath its shell of ice.

Our Spaceflight Heritage: Go long – the flight of STS-78

June 20th
On June 20, 1996, at 10:49 a.m. EDT (14:49 GMT), Space Shuttle Columbia lifted off from Pad B at Launch Complex 39 at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. It was the start of a 17-day mission of scientific experimentation in the Spacelab module that was stowed in Columbia's Payload Bay. STS-78 would enter into history as the second-longest shuttle mission behind STS-80.

NASA completes manufacturing of SLS Stage Adapter Structural Test Article

June 19th
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and prime contractor Teledyne Brown unveiled a completed structural test article of the Space Launch System's (SLS) Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter (LVSA). The flight version of this hollow cone-shaped segment will connect the 8.4-meter-diameter SLS core stage to the 4.8-meter-diameter Interim Cryogenic Propulsion System (ICPS).

ExoMars spacecraft captures first image of the Red Planet

June 19th
The European-Russian ExoMars spacecraft has just taken a sneak peek of its target destination through its camera lens. Although in low-resolution, the image marks an important milestone for mission scientists, proving the imaging instrument on board the orbiter works as expected.

Orbital ATK eyeing August launch of ‘Enhanced’ Antares

June 18th
Orbital ATK is working toward returning the company's Antares 230 rocket to conduct the first flight of the newly re-engined Antares 230 launch vehicle sometime in August. The flight was slated to take place from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Regional Spaceport's (MARS) Pad-0A.

High upper-level winds delay Ariane 5 launch

June 17th
The launch of an Ariane 5 rocket with two U.S.-built communications satellites was scrubbed today, June 17, because of unfavorable upper-level winds. This comes after a 24-hour delay due to a problem with an umbilical connection.

Orion undergoing water impact tests at Langley Research Center

June 17th
NASA is continuing its testing of the Orion spacecraft, including different splashdown scenarios, at the agency's Langley Research Center located in Virginia by splashing the spacecraft into the 20-foot (6.1-meter) deep Hydro Impact Basin, NASA is also checking out the interior with a pair of simulated seats and crew members—crash-test dummies.

Photo Gallery: Launch of NROL-37 on Delta IV Heavy

June 16th

NASA’s Mars orbiters discover seasonal dust storm pattern

June 15th
After decades of trying to determine patterns in Martian dust storms from images showing the dust, a team of researchers has found that the clearest pattern can be discerned by measuring the temperature of the Martian atmosphere. The scientists found a pattern of three types of large regional dust storms that occur in the same sequence each year during spring and summer in the southern hemisphere of Mars.

Enhanced color image shows Pluto’s rugged highlands; new textbook will discuss mission findings

June 14th
The latest image released by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft mission team centers on a dark region of rugged highlands known as Krun Macula, which borders the bottom of Sputnik Planum, the icy plain comprising the left side of Pluto's 'heart'.

Moon Express seeking U.S. government permission to land on Moon

June 14th
At the 44th Space Congress held in Cape Canaveral on May 25, Bob Richards, co-founder, President, and CEO of Moon Express, declared that “Government policy has become the highest risk to development” in space. As a contender in the Google Lunar X Prize, Richards would be in a good position to know: Moon Express has become the first private company to seek permission to send a spacecraft beyond Earth orbit to the surface of the Moon.

Europe develops self-removal technology for spacecraft

June 13th
A new European project has been given the ambitious goal of cleaning up space for future generations. The Technology for Self-Removal of Spacecraft (TeSeR) program, introduced in May 2016, is being held to develop a prototype for a module which will ensure that a defunct spacecraft possesses no danger for other vehicles in space.