Spaceflight Insider

  • Swarm of nanosatellites could visit over 300 asteroids

    Tomasz NowakowskiNovember 12th European scientists have proposed a mission consisting of 50 tiny spacecraft, which could visit and study over 300 asteroids in a timespan of just over three years. The concept, named Asteroid Touring Nanosat Fleet, was presented at the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) 2017 that took place in September in Riga, Latvia.

  • “…We shall return!” S.S. Gene Cernan lifts off from MARS’ Pad 0A

    Jason RhianNovember 12th WALLOPS FLIGHT FACILITY, Va. — With no wayward pilots to ruin their efforts, NASA and Orbital ATK sent the S.S. Gene Cernan (Cygnus CRS OA-8E) to orbit atop an Antares rocket from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at 7:19 a.m. EST (12:19 GMT) on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, on the OA-8 mission bound for the International Space Station.

  • Antares OA-8 launch scrubbed

    Lloyd CampbellNovember 11th The Orbital-ATK Antares 230 rocket with the S.S. Gene Cernan (Cygnus CRS OA-8E) spacecraft atop was poised for liftoff from NASA's Wallops Island Flight facility this morning at 7:37 a.m. EST (12:37 GMT), but the launch was aborted "due to aircraft in the restricted area" – according to the company's statement.

  • SFI LIVE: Orbital ATK Antares with OA-8 Cygnus

    Jason RhianNovember 11th WALLOPS ISLAND, Va., -- NASA and Orbital ATK are planning to launch the S.S. Gene Cernan, OA-8 Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station atop an Antares 230 rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport's Pad 0A sometime in a five minute long launch window that opens at 7:37 a.m. EST on Saturday, Nov. 11. SpaceFlight Insider's exclusive Live Show will begin at 7 a.m. EST.

  • S.S. Gene Cernan set to conduct cargo run to International Space Station

    Lloyd CampbellNovember 10th WALLOPS FLIGHT FACILITY, Va. — NASA and Orbital ATK are preparing to launch some 7,385 pounds (3,350 kg) of cargo, crew supplies, and experiments to the International Space Station. The mission is currently scheduled to fly on Nov. 11, 2017, at 7:37 a.m. EST from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport's Pad-0A.

  • Orbital ATK successfully tests first motor case for Next Generation Launch Vehicle

    Ocean McIntyreNovember 10th Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia, successfully reached another milestone last week in its development of an advanced solid rocket engine program to be used in intermediate- and large-class launch vehicles.

  • Chandrayaan-2 Moon mission to be launched in first quarter of 2018

    Tomasz NowakowskiNovember 10th A. S. Kiran Kumar, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has recently revealed that Chandrayaan-2 – India’s second mission to the Moon – will be ready for launch sometime in the first quarter of 2018, noting that the spacecraft is currently in its final stages of integration.

  • X3 Hall thruster sets records at NASA Glenn

    Michael ColeNovember 10th GLENN RESEARCH CENTER,  Ohio — Researchers at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, and the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, have completed a round of important tests on a new ion thruster system that may one day provide propulsion for materials and crews on future missions to Mars.

  • NASA Exploration Mission-1 managing current challenges, but launch could slip to 2020

    Bart LeahyNovember 9th On November 8, 2017, NASA released an update following a schedule review of Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the first uncrewed flight test of the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft to the Moon.

  • SpaceX rocket engine explodes on test stand in McGregor

    Jason RhianNovember 9th A SpaceX Block 5 rocket engine encountered an anomaly on the test stand during a qualification test held on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, at the NewSpace firm's site located in McGregor, Texas. The accident was made public three days later on Wednesday and comes at a time when the company is experiencing an unprecedented rate of launch.

  • Public invited to vote on nicknames for New Horizons’ next target

    Laurel KornfeldNovember 8th With just a little over a year remaining until New Horizons' flyby of 2014 MU69, NASA is asking the public for help in choosing a nickname for the Kuiper Belt Object (KBO).

  • Vega rocket sends MOHAMMED VI–A satellite to orbit on next-to-last Kourou flight of 2017

    Jason RhianNovember 7th Lighting the skies above the jungles of Kourou, French Guiana, an Arianespace Vega rocket lifted off from the Kourou Space Centre's ELV at 10:42 p.m. GFT (8:42 p.m. EST) on November 7 (01:42 GMT on Nov. 8), 2017. The payload for this flight was the MOHAMMED VI–A satellite which Vega sent on its way to a Sun-synchronous orbit.

  • SpaceX Falcon 9 to send Koreasat 5A to space Monday

    Derek RichardsonOctober 28th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — SpaceX is getting ready to launch a South Korean communications satellite, Koreasat 5A, into orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The flight will be the 16th that the Hawthorne, California-based company has performed in 2017.

  • Going out with ‘GRACE’ – long-lived U.S./German mission draws to a close

    Jason RhianOctober 27th The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission has come to an end after more than 15 years in Earth orbit. The twin satellites chronicled the changes of the Earth's water, ice, and land since the spacecraft were launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on March 17, 2002, on a mission that was originally only slated to last some five years.

  • Recent RS-25 test places SLS one step closer to flight

    Ocean McIntyreOctober 26th NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne carried out another 500-second test of an RS-25 rocket engine on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, at the space agency's Stennis Space Center located in Mississippi. The RS-25 engine E2063 test-fired during last week's review is planned for use on the second flight of NASA's new super-heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), which will be Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2).

  • Curiosity team working to resume drilling

    Jim SharkeyOctober 25th Engineers with NASA's Curiosity Mars rover team are working to restore the rover's sample-drilling capability by using new techniques. Use of the drill has been suspended due to a mechanical problem with the arm that first occurred late last year.

  • Skylab astronaut Paul Weitz dies at age 85

    Derek RichardsonOctober 24th Former NASA astronaut Paul J. Weitz died on October 23, 2017, in Flagstaff, Arizona, after a battle with Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS), a form of cancer, according to Erie News Now. The two-time space flyer was 85.

  • NASA awards launch contracts for Sentinel 6A and Landsat 9

    Ocean McIntyreOctober 23rd On Thursday, Oct. 19, NASA announced two new launch contracts for missions designed to study and monitor the Earth. The Landsat 9 and Sentinel 6A satellites are both scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base located in California.

  • Blue Origin conducts first hot-fire test of BE-4 engine

    Bart LeahyOctober 21st Blue Origin is moving forward with its rocket development program, hot-firing a 550,000-pound-force (2,446.5-kilonewton) thrust liquid natural gas / liquid oxygen BE-4 engine at its facility in Texas this week.

  • Astronauts complete 3rd spacewalk in 2 weeks

    Derek RichardsonOctober 21st International Space Station Expedition 53 astronauts Randy Bresnik and Joe Acaba stepped outside for the third spacewalk this month dedicated toward outpost maintenance activities.

  • Iridium-4 mission slips to December, taps ‘flight-proven’ Falcon 9 for launch

    Curt GodwinOctober 20th Though Iridium Communications is now targeting a launch date near the end of the year for the Iridium-4 mission, the company demonstrated its faith in the quality of SpaceX's hardware and refurbishing regime by opting to fly on a "flight-proven" Falcon 9 first stage.

  • SpaceX mum about November ‘mystery’ launch

    Jason RhianOctober 20th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Much like the tile-matching video game of the same name, what the payload could be for a suggested Nov. 10, 2017, SpaceX "mystery" launch remains a puzzle. As was reported on SpaceFlight Now, regulatory findings suggest the company could attempt a launch 11 days after the planned Oct. 30 flight of Koreasat 5A.

  • Tiangong-1 space laboratory to crash to Earth within months

    Tomasz NowakowskiOctober 20th It could be just a matter of few weeks or months before China’s Tiangong-1 space laboratory will fall to Earth. The spacecraft is continuing its gradual descent toward the surface after control over the mission was lost in early 2016.

  • ULA, Bigelow Aerospace set sights on lunar orbit outpost

    Bart LeahyOctober 19th United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Bigelow Aerospace are teaming up to send an inflatable space station to low-lunar orbit by 2022. The effort will feature a series of launches aboard ULA’s new Vulcan rocket using its Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage (ACES) to make Bigelow’s B330 habitat a depot to facilitate future exploration and development of the Moon.

  • Merging neutron stars emit both gravitational waves and light

    Laurel KornfeldOctober 18th In a major milestone for astronomy, the merger of two neutron stars in the galaxy NGC 4993 produced both gravitational waves and light, enabling scientists to observe the event in various wavelengths and pinpoint its source.

  • Debris disks may be signposts of giant exoplanets

    Ocean McIntyreOctober 17th Observations of star systems by an international group of researchers suggest that debris disks around stars may be indicative of giant exoplanets.

  • Progress MS-07 freighter docks with International Space Station

    Derek RichardsonOctober 16th After spending two days catching up with the International Space Station, an automated Russian cargo freighter rendezvoused and docked with the outpost to supply the Expedition 53 crew with food and supplies.

  • ULA launches classified NROL-52 mission for the NRO

    Jason RhianOctober 15th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — With a mighty roar, United Launch Alliance (ULA) finally launched the classified NROL-52 mission at 3:28 a.m. EDT on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017, from Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida. The early morning flight marked the fourth mission of 2017 carried out on behalf of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the sixth flight of the year for the Atlas V rocket.

  • Progress MS-07 launches toward the International Space Station

    Tomasz NowakowskiOctober 14th Russia's Progress MS-07 cargo craft launched toward the International Space Station (ISS) at 4:46 a.m. EDT (08:46 GMT) Oct. 14, 2017, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome located in Kazakhstan. The cargo vessel was sent aloft atop a Soyuz 2.1a rocket with liftoff taking place two days later than originally planned as the first attempt was scrubbed because of an undisclosed issue within the final minute of the countdown.

  • Sentinel-5P rides to orbit on former ICBM launcher

    Lloyd CampbellOctober 13th A Rockot three-stage launcher provided the boost into orbit for the European Space Agency’s newest environmental observation satellite, the Sentinel-5 Precursor – also known as Sentinel-5P.

  • Launch of Soyuz 2.1a with Progress MS-07 scrubbed seconds before liftoff

    Derek RichardsonOctober 12th Less than a minute before it was to take to the skies to deliver the Progress MS-07 cargo freighter to the International Space Station, an unknown issue with the Soyuz 2.1a launch vehicle prompted a rare scrub for the Russian space agency’s workhorse rocket. Liftoff was expected at 5:32 a.m. EDT (09:32 GMT) Oct. 12, 2017, from Site 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

  • SpaceX notches 15th Falcon 9 launch in 2017 with SES-11 mission

    Paul KnightlyOctober 11th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Hot on the heels of a Falcon 9 launch on the West Coast, SpaceX sent its 15th rocket into space in 2017. The SES-11/EchoStar-105 mission came less than 60 hours after the NewSpace company sent 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into orbit. Liftoff occurred at 6:53 p.m. EDT (22:53 GMT) Oct. 11, 2017, from Launch Complex 39A.

    The Range
  • U.S. Air Force accepts first block of next-generation GPS control system

    November 6th
    After several delays, Raytheon has delivered part of the Operational Control System (OCX) to the U.S. Air Force (USAF) for use on the USAF’s next-generation global positioning system (GPS III) satellites. The new OCX improves the accuracy of positioning information for all users.

  • D-Star One small satellite undergoes final tests

    November 5th
    German Orbital Systems and iSky Technology companies have completed the final tests of the D-Star One small satellite's systems successfully and arranged its shipment to the launch site.

  • NASA’s Mars 2020 rover to be equipped with 23 ‘eyes’

    November 4th
    One of the key instruments that has accompanied every rover since Pathfinder became the first rover to land on the surface of Mars in 1997 are imagers – cameras. NASA’s newest rover continues this trend. In addition, it continues the trend of increased visible acuity that accompanies the increased instrument performance and improved technology.

  • Curiosity applies color talents to ‘Vera Rubin Ridge’

    November 3rd
    The color-discerning abilities of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover have proven particularly useful as the rover continues its climb of "Vera Rubin Ridge". In addition to the thousands of full-color images that Curiosity takes every year, the rover can image the Martian surface using special filters that can aid in identifying some minerals – something it has used to scout the terrain it will soon cover.

  • Gallery: SpaceX sends KoreaSat 5A spaceward

    November 2nd

  • How space technology benefits us

    November 1st
    At times, it might seem that since giving up on Moon explorations, not much has happened for us space faring humans. Nothing could be farther from the truth with bioengineers and numerous other scientists looking to the stars and beyond for ways to develop technologies that will help in space. Many of these same technologies are used to help us here on the ground too even if we don’t realize it.

  • Industry expert: Asteroid mining could begin within the next 10–20 years

    October 31st
    Mining the countless space rocks found in our Solar System for valuable resources could become a reality within two decades. This is according to J.L. Galache of Aten Engineering. However, he cautions that there are still many challenges that must first be overcome to make it happen that quickly.

  • Spacecom selects SpaceX to launch Amos-17 using credits from loss of Amos-6

    October 30th
    Israeli satellite operator Spacecom is calling in its credit with SpaceX to launch the Amos-17 telecommunications satellite, tentatively scheduled for liftoff in 2019. The credit is from fees that the company had already paid SpaceX for the launch of Amos-6 but was "refunded" to the satellite operator after the loss of the satellite in a pad incident on September 1, 2016.

  • Sunscreen ingredient falls as ‘snow’ on hot exoplanet Kepler-13Ab

    October 29th
    One of the hottest known exoplanets – Kepler-13Ab – experiences 'snowfall' composed of titanium dioxide, an active ingredient in sunscreen. However, the sunscreen "snow" only precipitates on the planet's permanent dark side.

  • What’s inside Ceres? Dawn mission finds possible ancient ocean remnants

    October 29th
    Orbiting since March of 2015, NASA's Dawn spacecraft continues to provide exciting science from Ceres – a dwarf planet and the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Two studies, part of the Dawn mission's second extension, are using new data to shed light on a possible liquid past.

  • U.S. Army’s Kestrel Eye IIM microsatellite deployed from Space Station

    October 28th
    NanoRacks LLC successfully deployed the Kestrel Eye IIM microsatellite on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, using its Kaber Microsatellite Deployer (Kaber). The 110-pound (50-kilogram) Earth-imaging spacecraft, which is operated by the U.S. Army, is so far the largest satellite deployed by NanoRacks from the International Space Station (ISS).

  • Pan-STARRS-1 discovers interstellar object has entered our Solar System

    October 27th
    An asteroid (or comet) recently discovered in an extreme orbit originated beyond the Solar System in interstellar space, astronomers noted in a recent report. Initially discovered with the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope at the University of Hawaii on October 19, the object is the first such detected by scientists.

  • Minotaur-C scheduled for Vandenberg launch on October 31

    October 25th
    Six SkySat imaging satellites are now set to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California this coming Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 2:37 p.m. PDT. The launch will utilize an Orbital ATK Minotaur-C rocket.

  • Underground towns on the Moon and Mars: Future human habitats could be hidden in lava tubes

    October 24th
    New research conducted by European scientists suggests that underground caves created by volcanic activity on the Moon and possibly on Mars could be large enough to house even underground towns. The "lava tubes" could, therefore, be excellent hidden locations for future human habitats.

  • NASA Goddard set to celebrate 50th anniversary of Apollo 4

    October 23rd
    The NARHAMS model rocket club will join with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first launch of the Saturn V rocket. On November 5, 2017, the two organizations will meet at NASA's Goddard Visitor Center to commemorate the first Saturn V launch, the flight of Apollo 4, which took place on November 9, 1967.