Spaceflight Insider

  • Launch facilities spared major damage from Hurricane Irma

    Curt GodwinSeptember 14th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Though damage assessments are still underway, it would appear that facilities at both Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) escaped Hurricane Irma with minimal damage. Both were subjected to winds varying from 67–94 mph (108–151 km/h) at 54 feet (16.5 meters) above sea level to 90–116 mph (145–187 km/h) at 458 feet (139.6 meters) a...

  • International Space Station crew size returns to 6

    Derek RichardsonSeptember 13th The population of the International Space Station returned to six people as the crew of Soyuz MS-06 docked with and entered the outpost. The spacecraft hard-mated with its docking port at about 10:55 p.m. EDT Sept. 12 (02:55 GMT Sept. 13), 2017.

  • Next International Space Station crew launches atop Soyuz rocket

    Derek RichardsonSeptember 12th Launching atop a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, three people are heading toward the International Space Station. The trio will arrive at the $100 billion complex in just under six hours.

  • Russia sees Vostochny Cosmodrome as deep space exploration hub

    Tomasz NowakowskiSeptember 12th Russia intends to launch deep space exploration spacecraft from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the country’s Far East. Latest statements made by Russian officials show that Roscosmos plans to push forward with construction of the required infrastructure for interplanetary missions.

  • Proton-M launches from Baikonur with Amazonas 5 telecom satellite

    Tomasz NowakowskiSeptember 11th International Launch Services (ILS) has successfully launched into space its Proton-M rocket carrying the Amazonas 5 communications satellite for Spanish operator Hispasat. The launch was conducted on Sept. 11 at 19:23 GMT (3:23 p.m. EDT) from Site 200/39 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

  • Elon Musk releases image of full SpaceX spacesuit

    Paul KnightlySeptember 11th On Sept. 8, 2017, SpaceX Founder and CEO Elon Musk teased a full body image of the current SpaceX spacesuit concept next to a Crew Dragon capsule. It was the first official image showing the entire front side of the suit. A previous post showed just the helmet and torso, but not the bottom half.

  • Kacific contracts with SpaceX to orbit Kacific-1 satellite

    Curt GodwinSeptember 11th Kacific Broadband Satellites Group has selected SpaceX to launch the company's Kacific-1 broadband satellite. Tentatively scheduled for launch in 2019, the Boeing-built telecommunications spacecraft will provide services to users in the Asia-Pacific region.

  • Enigma of Jupiter’s powerful auroras

    Ocean McIntyreSeptember 10th The processes that drive Earth's auroras are generally understood; however, this cannot be said of the powerful Jovian auroras observed by NASA's Juno spacecraft currently orbiting the gas giant planet.

  • Florida hurricane forces California launch delay

    Jason RhianSeptember 9th United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced on Sept. 8, 2017, that the launch of an Atlas V 541 rocket carrying the NROL-42 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office has been postponed. While the launch is slated to take place in California, the delay was based on forecasting for Hurricane Irma.

  • New Horizons sets flight plan for 2nd target; IAU accepts Pluto system names

    Laurel KornfeldSeptember 9th NASA's New Horizons mission has filed a flight plan for its January 1, 2019, flyby of Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) 2014 MU69, which will bring the spacecraft three times closer to its second target than it came to Pluto during the upcoming encounter.

  • Science fiction meets real life: Lucasfilm creates mission patch for ISS National Lab

    Curt GodwinSeptember 8th Taking a modern twist on a longstanding spaceflight tradition of mission patch design, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) partnered with Lucasfilm to blend iconic images from the Star Wars franchise with a real-world space station for its latest mission patch.

  • Second GPS III satellite completes strenuous launch environment test

    Jim SharkeySeptember 8th Before a satellite can begin its operational life on orbit, it must first survive the extreme sound pressure and punishing vibrations caused by over 700,000 pounds-force (3,110 kN) of rocket thrust. On July 13, 2017, Lockheed Martin's second GPS III satellite (GPS III SV02) successfully completed acoustic environmental testing.

  • Indian navigation satellite launch suffers failure

    Derek RichardsonAugust 31st On Aug. 31, 2017, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched its latest navigation satellite. During the flight, however, the payload fairing did not separate several minutes after liftoff like it was supposed to, leaving the spacecraft trapped inside the clamshell-like aerodynamic nose cone.

  • Proposed SPHEREx mission to conduct all-sky infrared spectral survey

    Tomasz NowakowskiAugust 31st NASA has recently chosen six proposed astrophysics missions to proceed on to concept studies. Among them is the Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization, and Ices Explorer, or SPHEREx, which aims to unlock the mysteries of the universe by performing the first all-sky near-infrared spectral survey. The previous all-sky infrared survey missions were photometry studies.

  • Johnson Space Center closed through Labor Day to evaluate safety after Harvey

    Derek RichardsonAugust 30th Hurricane Harvey, now a tropical storm, has prompted NASA to cancel an in-flight question and answer session with Expedition 52 astronaut Peggy Whitson, who is currently aboard the International Space Station. Additionally, the Johnson Space Center will remained closed until Sept. 5, 2017, to all but mission mission-essential personnel while officials evaluate the safety of the center.

  • Orbital ATK launches ORS-5 space surveillance satellite atop Minotaur IV

    Curt GodwinAugust 26th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The Operationally Responsive Space 5 (ORS-5) spacecraft, alternately known as SensorSat, lifted off on an Orbital ATK Minotaur IV rocket at 2:04 a.m. EDT (06:04 GMT) Aug. 26, 2017, from long-dormant Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the Florida coast. The satellite was placed into a low-Earth orbit (LEO).

  • SFI LIVE: USAF’s ORS-5 mission atop Orbital ATK Minotaur IV

    Jason RhianAugust 25th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Orbital ATK is poised to launch one of the company’s Minotaur IV rockets from Cape Canaveral's SLC-46 in Florida on Friday, Aug. 25. The payload for this mission is the U.S. Air Force’s ORS-5 spacecraft, which will monitor satellites and debris to aid the U.S. military’s space situational awareness. SFI's Live Show will begin NET 12:30 a.m. EDT (04:30 GMT on Aug. 26).

  • Elon Musk teases SpaceX spacesuit concept

    Paul KnightlyAugust 25th On Aug. 23, 2017, Elon Musk released a photograph teasing the SpaceX spacesuit design that will be used on crewed flights of the Dragon 2 spacecraft. The post, which was made on both Twitter and Instagram, provided few details on the specifications of the suit beyond indicating the company has a functional design in place.

  • NASA F-18 chase plane tests ways to soften sonic booms

    Ocean McIntyreAugust 24th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — NASA's decades-long aeronautics research continues in Florida throughout this week as Sonic Booms in Atmospheric Turbulence, or SonicBAT, advances its research to better understand sonic booms and the effects they produce in the atmosphere.

  • Falcon 9 launches all-Taiwanese Formosat-5 into orbit

    Derek RichardsonAugust 24th VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — Lifting off on its 40th flight, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket soared skyward to send into space Taiwan’s first domestically designed and built satellite: Formosat-5. The launch took place at 11:51 a.m. PDT (18:51 GMT) on Aug. 24, 2017, from Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) in California.

  • NASA’s EM-1 Orion powers up for the first time

    Bart LeahyAugust 24th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA and Lockheed Martin powered up the computer systems of the Orion spacecraft for the first time last week at the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Facility at the Kennedy Space Center. The uncrewed spacecraft will fly atop the Space Launch System (SLS) on Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) in 2019.

  • Falcon 9 set to launch Taiwanese Formosat-5 from California

    Bart LeahyAugust 23rd As SpaceX prepares for its third Falcon 9 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in 2017, its customer looks forward to a payload “first”. The Formosat-5 spacecraft that will be launched on this mission is the first satellite designed and built entirely in Taiwan.

  • Observers in western Kentucky treated to stunning view of solar eclipse

    Laurel KornfeldAugust 22nd Eclipse watchers in western Kentucky experienced the August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse in a cloudless sky, with one of its longest periods of totality – lasting approximately two minutes and 27 seconds.

  • Orion update: Lighting the fire of awareness – Part 2

    Jason RhianAugust 22nd When it comes to inspiring people about the U.S.' efforts to explore the deep reaches of the Solar System, few people can inspire like an astronaut. SpaceFlight Insider spoke with NASA astronaut Lee Morin about what the space agency had him doing to provide not just an understanding of space but also excitement for what it awaits.

  • Orion update: Lighting the fire of awareness – Part 1

    Jason RhianAugust 21st Officials with NASA sat down with SpaceFlight Insider to discuss the current status of the Orion program, which evolved into discussions on how the space agency is working to spread the word about the new crew-rated capsule as well as the ties that the program has with past efforts—and more.

  • ‘Great American Eclipse’ offers opportunity for millions

    Ocean McIntyreAugust 20th On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, anyone in the United States, most of Canada and northern parts of Mexico, and also some countries in the Caribbean will be able to view either a total or partial solar eclipse that will pass across the entirety of the U.S. from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

  • H-IIA rocket launches 3rd Japanese navigation satellite

    Derek RichardsonAugust 19th Lifting off from the sea-side Tanegashima Space Center, Japan’s H-IIA rocket launched the Asian country’s latest GPS augmentation satellite for the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS). The launch took place at 1:29 a.m. EDT (5:29 GMT) Aug 19, 2017.

  • Atlas V launches TDRS-M data relay satellite for NASA

    Christopher PaulAugust 18th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket roared off the pad with NASA's newest communications spacecraft, the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite M (TDRS-M). Liftoff took place at 8:29 a.m. EDT (12:29 GMT) Aug. 18, 2017.

  • SFI LIVE: Launch coverage of NASA’s TDRS-M

    Jason RhianAugust 18th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- SpaceFlight Insider is at Kennedy Space Center's Press Site for today's webcast covering the flight of a ULA Atlas V 401 rocket with the third next generation TDRS-M. SFI's Live Show is slated to begin at 7:30 a.m. EDT (11:30 GMT) with the 40-minute launch window opening at 8:03 a.m. EDT (12:03 GMT). 

  • Spacewalk goes into overtime as cosmonauts deploy satellites, collect science

    Derek RichardsonAugust 18th The two cosmonauts on board the International Space Station donned spacesuits and stepped outside the outpost for the 43rd Russian segment-based extravehicular activity (EVA). The Aug. 17, 2017, spacewalk lasted more than an hour longer than planned for a total duration of 7 hours, 34 minutes.

  • Proton-M launches military satellite into orbit

    Tomasz NowakowskiAugust 17th A military communications satellite, known as Blagovest 11L, has been successfully launched into space by a Proton-M / Briz-M heavy-lift rocket. The launch vehicle thundered off from Site 81/24 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at exactly 4:07 a.m. local time on Thursday, Aug. 17 (22:07 GMT / 6:07 p.m. EDT on Aug. 16).

  • Atlas V rolls to pad as TDRS-M is prepared for launch

    Derek RichardsonAugust 17th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is undergoing final preparations in advance of a planned Aug. 18, 2017, liftoff with NASA’s next communications relay satellite. Liftoff of the rocket is targeted for the beginning of a 40-minute window opening at 8:03 a.m. EDT (12:03 GMT).

    The Range
  • FINESSE mission to investigate atmospheres of hundreds of alien worlds

    September 5th
    One of NASA’s proposed missions, known as the Fast INfrared Exoplanet Spectroscopy Survey Explorer (FINESSE), could greatly improve our understanding of extrasolar worlds. If selected for development, the spacecraft will investigate at least 500 exoplanet atmospheres, providing detailed information about climate processes on distant alien planets.

  • NASA Glenn experiments shedding new light on Venus’ shrouded surface

    September 4th
    CLEVELAND, Ohio — A special NASA test chamber apparatus is helping scientists explore the mysteries of Venus right here on Earth. The chamber is located at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. It is hoped that this new vessel will help prepare the space agency for missions to extreme worlds. 

  • Gallery: Soyuz MS-04 crew back on Earth

    September 3rd
    Blazing through Earth's atmosphere and coming to a parachute assisted touchdown in Kazakhstan, three International Space Station crew members returned home in their Soyuz MS-04 capsule. The landing took place at 9:21 p.m. EDT Sept. 2 (7:21 a.m. local time / 01:21 GMT Sept. 3), 2017.

  • Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft detects strong winds on Venus

    September 2nd
    Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft orbiting Venus has spotted extremely strong winds near the planet’s equator blowing at speeds of over 178 mph (286 km/h). The newly discovered, high-velocity winds could provide important hints about the dynamics of the Venusian atmosphere.

  • 1 year after Falcon 9 explosion, SpaceX makes 2017 its banner year

    September 1st
    One year ago, on Sept. 1, 2016, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded at Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Florida during a seemingly routine static fire test. The fireball destroyed not only the rocket and a large portion of the launch pad but also a satellite belonging to the Israeli company Spacecom, which was scheduled to launch just three days later. The company has come a long way since then.

  • ULA Atlas V NROL-42 scheduled for Sept. 14

    August 31st
    United Launch Alliance (ULA) recently announced that it is currently planning on launching the NROL-42 mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex-3 (SLC-3) in California. At present, the mission is slated for launch on Sept. 14 of this year (2017). 

  • NASA’s Centennial Challenges awards $400K in 3D-printed habitat challenge

    August 31st
    NASA has recently awarded two teams a combined $400,000 for their winning entries in an agency Centennial Challenge designed to test the feasibility of systems that build 3D-printed human habitats on other worlds using local materials. This was the second of a three-part Challenge to advance the ability to “live off the land” on the Moon or Mars.

  • NASA’s InSight lander to study interior of Mars

    August 30th
    NASA's next robotic mission to Mars, a lander called InSight, is on schedule to launch next May from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. InSight will be the first interplanetary mission launched from the West Coast of the United States. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is currently testing and assembling the spacecraft in a cleanroom facility near Denver, Colorado. 

  • JPL proposes exploring Venus with a clockwork rover

    August 29th
    NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) proposes taking a page out of a Swiss watchmaker's handbook to design a long-lived rover to explore Venus' surface. Utilizing centuries-old mechanical computing concepts, but with a modern upgrade, engineers at JPL hope to design a rover capable of exploring the unforgiving Venusian terrain and returning data to Earth.

  • Nearly 3-mile wide asteroid to pass close by Earth Sept. 1

    August 29th
    A large rock will fly past Earth on Sept. 1, 2017, at a distance of 4.4 million miles (7 million kilometers). Asteroid 3122 Florence, named after modern nursing founder Florence Nightingale, is the largest object to make a close-encounter since NASA began tracking near-Earth objects (NEO) in the 1990s.

  • Google Lunar XPRIZE gets mission deadline, new awards

    August 28th
    The Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, designed to inspire engineers and entrepreneurs to land a vehicle on the Moon, has been given a slight modification to its deadline. Teams no longer have to launch by Dec. 31, 2017, to stay competitive; instead, they just have to focus on completing their missions by March 31, 2018.

  • Astronomers create best ever image of star outside our Solar System

    August 27th
    A map of activity on the surface and in the atmosphere of the star Antares by a team of astronomers is considered to be the most detailed ever created for a star other than the Sun. The red supergiant is located some 550 light-years distant in the constellation Scorpius and is in its final stages of its existence. It will eventually die in a supernova explosion.

  • NICER and LISA could confirm or disprove predictions of general relativity

    August 26th
    Two astrophysical missions, NICER and LISA, could soon change humanity's understanding of the universe. Scientists hope both instruments will help answer fundamental questions about the universe, testing many aspects of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

  • Made In Space conducts large-scale 3-D build in space-like environment

    August 24th
    Made In Space has conducted its first successful test of its Archinaut Project in a space-like environment. The Extended Structure Additive Manufacturing Machine (ESAMM) was tested in a vacuum chamber at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. Additive manufacturing is more commonly known as "3-D printing".

  • USAF and Orbital ATK prepare for launch of ORS-5 mission

    August 23rd
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — With its Flight Readiness Review complete, an Orbital ATK Minotaur IV rocket sits poised to launch the U.S. Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space (ORS)-5 satellite. ORS-5 is set to take to the skies from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex-46 (SLC-46) in Florida atop a Minotaur IV rocket late on August 25.