Spaceflight Insider

  • Contingency spacewalk required to replace failed relay box

    Derek RichardsonMay 21st A data relay box failure outside the International Space Station (ISS) has prompted mission managers to begin planning a contingency spacewalk. On Tuesday, May 23, 2017, NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer will venture outside the Quest airlock to replace the failed component.

  • Curt Brown tapped as Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Chairman

    Jason RhianMay 21st KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation has a new chairman: former shuttle astronaut Curt Brown. He will be taking the reins of the organization from fellow space flight veteran Dan Brandenstein. The announcement was made during the 2017 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame induction Gala.

  • Third largest dwarf planet found to have moon

    Laurel KornfeldMay 21st Dwarf planet 2007 OR10, the third largest of nine known dwarf planets in the Solar System, is orbited by a small moon, scientists discovered using current and archival images gathered by three separate observatories.

  • Rocket Lab to send Electron on maiden launch

    Jerome StrachMay 20th Rocket Lab is set to send its first Electron rocket into space. Officially labeled by the company as “It’s a Test", the launch will occur at the firm's private Launch Complex 1 in Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand. The company has a 10-day launch window starting at 9:00 a.m. local time on May 22, 2017, to get the vehicle off the ground.

  • Astronaut Hall of Fame welcomes Foale, Ochoa to its ranks

    Jason RhianMay 20th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Two NASA astronauts joined the elite ranks of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame located at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex's $100 million Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit. Given that both Michael Foale and Ellen Ochoa flew on OV-104 (Atlantis), the duo makes the Friday, May 19, ceremony all the more poignant.

  • Van Allen Probes detect barrier around Earth

    Paul KnightlyMay 20th New results from NASA's Van Allen Probes have revealed the impact humans have on the environment is not limited to physical and chemical effects on the Earth's surface, but it also includes radio frequencies extending out into space.

  • Spaceflight Industries purchases dedicated Electron rocket

    Derek RichardsonMay 19th While Rocket Lab is gearing up to perform the maiden launch of its Electron rocket, SpaceFlight Industries announced that it has purchased a flight on a future Electron to increase the number of its dedicated ride-share missions.

  • NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover begins study of ‘Perseverance Valley’

    Jim SharkeyMay 19th NASA's Opportunity Mars rover has reached the main objective of its current two-year extended mission – an ancient fluid-carved ravine, called "Perseverance Valley", on the western rim of Endeavour Crater.

  • Arianespace delivers all-electric SES-15 to GTO on Flight VS17

    Curt GodwinMay 18th French multinational launch provider Arianespace continues to successfully clear its mission backlog induced by the "social movement" in French Guiana earlier in 2017. The company's Europeanized Soyuz ST-A medium-class rocket took to the skies with the SES-15 communications satellite at 7:54 a.m. EDT (11:54 GMT) May 18, 2017, from the Guiana Space Center in South America.

  • Cassini image shows Saturn heading toward solstice

    Laurel KornfeldMay 18th A visible-light image of Saturn and one side of its rings taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on February 3, 2017, shows the planet's shrinking shadow on the rings as it approaches its May 2017 solstice.

  • Elysium Space extending memorial frontiers aboard SpaceX Falcon 9

    Bart LeahyMay 18th SpaceX has launched communications and reconnaissance satellites into Earth orbit and cargo to the International Space Station, but it'll be lofting something new on an upcoming flight. Elysium Space, a company specializing in “memorial spaceflights”, will be placing a satellite with the cremated remains of 100 people aboard a Falcon 9 rocket scheduled to lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Bas...

  • SLS structural test article arrives at Marshall

    Scott JohnsonMay 17th HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — On May 15, NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) core stage engine section structural test article (STA) arrived at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Alabama. The STA will soon be placed in a test stand located in MSFC's Building 4619 and subjected to extreme loads to certify the section for flight.

  • Astronauts complete 200th ISS spacewalk

    Derek RichardsonMay 12th For the 200th time in nearly two decades, two people aboard the International Space Station donned spacesuits and ventured outside to perform a spacewalk. Problems during preparations for the excursion, however, ultimately caused it to be cut short by more than two hours.

  • LIVE: Astronaut duo conducting 200th ISS spacewalk

    Derek RichardsonMay 12th Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer are performing U.S. extravehicular activity 42 (EVA-42) today, May 12, 2017. This is the 200th spacewalk in support of International Space Station assembly and maintenance.

  • Expedition 53/54 crew provides details about their upcoming mission

    SpaceFlight InsiderMay 11th HOUSTON, Texas — NASA astronauts Joe Acaba, Mark Vande Hei, along with their Russian crewmate Alexander Misurkin, detailed their future flight to members of the press on Wednesday, May 10. The trio of Expedition 53/54 crew members discussed the logistics and science that will be required during their flight to the ISS.

  • SpaceX tests Falcon 9 rocket ahead of Inmarsat-5 F4 mission

    Derek RichardsonMay 11th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — SpaceX has performed its customary static fire test on its latest Falcon 9 rocket, which is slated to launch the Inmarsat-5 Flight 4 satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit during a 50-minute window opening at 7:20 p.m. EDT (23:20 GMT) May 15, 2017.

  • Space Launch System test hardware damaged in incident

    Derek RichardsonMay 11th The aft dome of a liquid oxygen tank test article for the Space Launch System (SLS) core stage was damaged in an incident at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, according to a Marshall Space Flight Center public affairs officer.

  • Humans to Mars Summit kicks off with plans, education, Buzz Aldrin

    Bart LeahyMay 10th WASHINGTON — For the fifth year in a row, the space advocacy group Explore Mars, Inc., is hosting the Humans to Mars (H2M) Summit. It is a three-day gathering from May 9–11, 2017, at George Washington University discussing sending humans to the Red Planet.

  • Space Launch System (SLS) upper stage testing begins

    Scott JohnsonMay 8th HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — A series of structural qualification tests on the SLS Integrated Spacecraft and Payload Element – a test version of the SLS upper / "in-space" section – is underway at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. The tests began on Feb. 22 and are expected to be completed by mid-May.

  • Our SpaceFlight Heritage: One-on-One with NASA’s George Diller

    Jason RhianMay 7th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Those who watched NASA's shuttles and planetary missions leave Earth for distant destinations and thrilled as the countdown reach zero are familiar with the voice of George Diller. Diller, in his role as a public affairs officer, has been the voice that announced the start of many missions – but that time is now drawing to a close.

  • 4th X-37B mission ends with first landing at Kennedy Space Center

    Derek RichardsonMay 7th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — After nearly 21 months in orbit, the U.S. Air Force’s fourth X-37B mission concluded and returned to Earth for an automated landing at Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility – the first time that the secretive spaceplane has touched down on the historic runway.

  • 1st Iridium NEXT satellites put into production

    Lloyd CampbellMay 6th Iridium Communications announced that it has completed integrating its first next generation communication spacecraft, called Iridium NEXT, into its constellation of satellites.

  • India sends GSAT-9 into orbit atop GSLV

    Derek RichardsonMay 5th In India’s second launch of 2017, a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk. II sent the GSAT-9 communications satellite into orbit. Liftoff took place at 7:27 a.m. EDT (11:27 GMT) on May 5 from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India.

  • Vector successfully launches first smallsat rocket

    Bart LeahyMay 5th Smallsat startup Vector Space Systems launched its first engineering test vehicle on May 3, 2017, from Friends of Amateur Rocketry site in Mojave, California. The Vector-R vehicle flew on a suborbital trajectory on only its first stage, which was powered by a 5,000-pound-force (22-kilonewton) thrust engine with a 3-D-printed injector.

  • Arianespace tallies up another successful mission with launch of two telecom satellites

    Curt GodwinMay 4th More than a month after its initial planned launch was delayed by a "social movement" in the French South American overseas department, Arianespace's Flight VA236 finally departed from the Guiana Space Center and delivered two telecommunication satellites to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

  • Report paints troubling picture for NASA’s spacesuit program

    Curt GodwinMay 3rd NASA's active spacesuit inventory is based on a model that is more than 40 years old, and if a recent report from the NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) is accurate, the much-needed successor to the venerable design may still be years away, potentially placing astronauts at greater risk and limiting deep space operations.

  • Virgin Galactic VSS Unity passes feather test

    Bart LeahyMay 2nd After successfully completing three glide-and-land tests at Mojave Air and Spaceport, Virgin Galactic conducted its first test of the “feather” mechanism on its second SpaceShipTwo (SS2) suborbital tourism spacecraft.

  • SpaceX ventures ‘into the black’ with classified NROL-76 mission

    Bart LeahyMay 1st CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — While most of the details of the National Reconnaissance Office’s NROL-76 payload are a mystery, it’s still hard to hide a rocket launch taking to the skies off the coast of Florida.

  • Sensor issue prompts 24-hour delay for classified Falcon 9 mission

    Derek RichardsonApril 30th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A hold was called by the launch director some 52 seconds before the expected launch of the classified Falcon 9 mission carrying the NROL-76 payload. Liftoff was planned for 7:15 a.m. EDT (11:15 GMT) April 30, 2017, from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A.

  • SFI LIVE: Launch of classified NROL-76 mission on SpaceX Falcon 9

    Jason RhianApril 30th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. -- Hawthorne, California-based Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has a 'Full Thrust' Falcon 9 rocket primed to launch its first mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The NROL-76 mission has a two-hour long launch window in which to get off the pad, tune into SFI LIVE for the only on-site webcast to be held from this important mission.

  • Orbital ATK’s DeMauro: SLS could launch clustered groups of Cygnus spacecraft

    Bart LeahyApril 29th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — SpaceFlight Insider sat down with Orbital ATK's Frank DeMauro the day before the launch of the OA-7 "S.S. John Glenn" Cygnus spacecraft atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V. DeMauro talked about Cygnus launch operations as well as its future uses.

  • Cassini returns images from first dive between Saturn and its rings

    Laurel KornfeldApril 28th NASA's Cassini spacecraft has successfully completed the first of its 22 Grand Finale dives between Saturn and its rings, sending back images and data after more than 20 hours of being out of contact with Earth.

    The Range
  • The Big Empty: Cassini finds virtually no particles between Saturn and its rings

    May 14th
    Based on data collected on the first of the Cassini spacecraft's planned 22 "Grand Finale" orbits, the area between the cloud tops of Saturn and the inner-most ring seems to be mostly dust-free. Instead of the heavy distribution of dust particles Cassini had detected when it made its ring grazing orbits in late 2016, the spacecraft instead revealed a “big empty."

  • Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers free admission to fifth graders

    May 14th
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (May 11, 2017) – KENNEDY SPACE CENTER – Calling all future explorers! Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is offering a front row seat to NASA’s Journey to Mars for free to fifth graders nationwide this summer, with an invitation for a full-day of adventure and fun.

  • Masten achieves first hot-fire of Broadsword rocket engine

    May 14th
    Masten Space Systems recently completed a 13-month design, build, and test period of its first development Broadsword 25 rocket engine. The new engine is currently being developed for the DARPA’s Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program.

  • NASA detectors delivered for ESA’s Euclid spacecraft

    May 13th
    NASA delivered three detector systems for the European Space Agency's (ESA) ground-breaking Euclid mission to study dark matter and dark energy.

  • NASA receives proposals for future New Frontiers mission

    May 12th
    NASA has received and is currently reviewing 12 proposals for a future robotic Solar System exploration mission. The mission proposals, submitted to the space agency's New Frontiers Program, will undergo technical and scientific review over the next seven months. The goal is to select a mission in about two years, with a launch in the mid-2020s.

  • Aerojet Rocketdyne continues development on AR1 Engine with successful CDR

    May 11th
    Aerojet Rocketdyne continues to make progress on its new AR1 engine by completing its Critical Design Review (CDR) recently. With the completion of the CDR, the engine is still on track to be certified for flight by 2019.

  • Space Florida’s DiBello details space efforts at NSCFL 2017

    May 10th
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — On Tuesday, May 9, the National Space Club Florida Committee met for their monthly luncheon with Frank DiBello serving as the keynote speaker.

  • Aerojet Rocketdyne completes AR1 preburner hot-fire test

    May 10th
    Aerojet Rocketdyne announced on May 3, 2017, that it completed a hot-fire test of its preburner for the AR1 rocket engine at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The company’s focus is to have an “American-designed and built” booster system that will replace the Russian-built RD-180 engines that are frequently used to launch U.S. national security, civil, and NASA payloads to orbit.

  • Photo Gallery: X-37B lands at historic Shuttle Landing Facility

    May 9th

  • India announces opportunity for instruments on Venus mission

    May 9th
    The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is seeking experiments to include on a potential mission to explore Venus. A launch date was not provided for the mission, but it seeks to build on past missions launched by other nations that have included satellites, landers, and atmospheric probes.

  • Planetary scientists explore possible Kuiper Belt follow-up mission

    May 8th
    Less than two years after the New Horizons spacecraft's historic Pluto flyby, a group of planetary scientists is taking the first steps toward a second mission to the Kuiper Belt.

  • NASA’s Curiosity rover samples linear active dune on Mars

    May 8th
    As NASA's Curiosity Mars rover travels uphill from a band of rippled sand dunes, it carries with it a sample of dark sand for later analysis that will complete the rover's examination of those dunes. The rover studied four sites near a linear dune from early February until early April to compare those to what it had found during its examination of crescent-shaped dunes in late 2015 and early 2016.

  • SpaceX plans to begin testing its high-speed satellite broadband later this year

    May 7th
    Not content with disrupting just the spaceflight industry, SpaceX looks to have its sights set on upending traditional broadband services as well.

  • LRO Camera Inspires Improved ShadowCam for KPLO

    May 7th
    NASA has chosen an Arizona State University developed instrument, ShadowCam, to be incorporated into the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) spacecraft.

  • Prepare for launch: Space Tech Expo opens this month

    May 6th
    Pasadena, CA – (April 20, 2017) This month, thousands of space tech industry representatives from around the world will arrive in Pasadena for an exciting three days of exhibition and activity at this vast, free-to-attend expo for the space and defense sector.