Spaceflight Insider

  • Technical issues delay historic LC-39A SpaceX launch

    Bart LeahyFebruary 18th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — The launch of SpaceX’s CRS-10 Dragon capsule from the historic Launch Complex 39A has been scrubbed due to an issue with Falcon 9's upper stage thrust vector control system.

  • Shotwell, Cabana discuss SpaceX’s future

    Bart LeahyFebruary 18th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — In front of Launch Complex 39A, SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell, along with space center Director Bob Cabana, answered questions from a mixed crowd of journalists and invited social media enthusiasts.

  • KSC showcases its future as multi-user spaceport

    Bart LeahyFebruary 17th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — NASA has made major strides in its seven-year effort to transform Kennedy Space Center (KSC) into a multi-user spaceport for both itself as well as private rocket companies.

  • NASA studying farming in space to support trips to Mars

    Bart LeahyFebruary 17th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Children might not want to hear this, but, if they want to be the first astronaut on Mars, they’ll need to eat their vegetables. To account for that painful truth, NASA has several space farming projects to ensure people living and working in space get fresh green stuff as part of their diet.

  • SpaceX Dragon delivering the science on CRS-10

    Bart LeahyFebruary 16th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — For the first time since 2011, a rocket will be sending supplies and a collection of science experiments for the International Space Station (ISS) from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A). However, the Commercial Resupply Service (CRS) 10 mission, scheduled for Feb. 18, 2017, is not being flown by a NASA launch vehicle, but SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket...

  • Trump space advisors considering Hubble servicing mission

    Bart LeahyFebruary 16th The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump administration advisers are considering a public-private crewed mission aboard the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft to keep the aging Hubble Space Telescope (HST) operational. The proposed mission, which would not happen before 2019, would require support from the next NASA administrator.

  • NASA studying the possibility of adding crew to EM-1

    Curt GodwinFebruary 16th On Feb. 15, 2017, Robert Lightfoot, NASA's acting administrator, announced that he was ordering a study on the feasibility of adding a crew to Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1). This would mark a significant change from the agency's current mission roadmap, which has EM-1 flying uncrewed in 2018, with crew ultimately launching several years later on EM-2.

  • Potential Landing Sites for Mars 2020 Narrowed Down to Three

    Paul KnightlyFebruary 16th The number of potential landing sites for the Mars 2020 rover has been narrowed down to three, from a list of eight, following a conference of scientists last week. The top three landing sites that were selected were in Northeast Syrtis Major, Jezero Crater, and the Columbia Hills in Gusev Crater.

  • NASA Glenn researchers develop electronics for longer Venus surface missions

    Michael ColeFebruary 15th GLENN RESEARCH CENTER, Ohio — Venus is our closest planetary neighbor. However, its mean surface temperature is at a horrendous 863 °F (462 °C) with a crushing atmospheric pressure 90 times that of Earth; consequently, the operating lifespan of any spacecraft visiting its surface has been very short. The work of a group of scientists at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, may chan...

  • OSIRIS-REx begins search for Earth-Trojan asteroids

    Jim SharkeyFebruary 15th On Feb. 9, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft began searching for an elusive type of near-Earth object known as Earth-Trojan asteroids. The spacecraft, currently on a two-year outbound journey to the asteroid Bennu, will spend nearly two weeks looking for evidence of these small bodies.

  • Record 104 satellites launched atop Indian PSLV rocket

    Derek RichardsonFebruary 15th In its first launch of the year, India sent a record 104 satellites into space atop the country's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. The mission, PSLV-C37, lifted off at 10:58 p.m. EST Feb. 14 (03:58 GMT Feb. 15) from the First Launch Pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

  • Arianespace successfully deploys two communication satellites in first Ariane 5 launch of 2017

    Curt GodwinFebruary 14th Arianespace notched another successful mission with the launch of its Ariane 5 rocket with two communication satellites – SKY Brasil-1 and Telkom 3S. This marks the first Ariane 5 launch of the year for Arianespace and follows their successful Soyuz launch just 17 days prior.

  • Insider Exclusive: JSC’s Astronaut Office innovating a path forward

    Jason RhianFebruary 10th HOUSTON, Texas — A model of NASA's Orion spacecraft is prominently placed within the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center. We sat down with Rick Mastracchio, a four-time spaceflight veteran with more than 227 days on orbit about how the Astronaut Office at JSC is working to make the agency's new Orion spacecraft more self-sufficient than those that preceded it.

  • First SpaceX flight from Launch Complex 39A slated for Feb. 18

    Bart LeahyFebruary 8th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — The launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with NASA's CRS-10 is targeted for Feb. 18 and will herald the rebirth of one of Kennedy Space Center's most iconic launch sites.

  • Tornado damages NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility

    Jason RhianFebruary 7th NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) was the site of a confirmed tornado strike at 11:25 a.m. CST (12:25 p.m. EST / 17:25 GMT). So far, only minor injuries have been reported and NASA is accounting for all of its personnel and contractors as well as assessing damage caused by the storm.

  • Bill introduced to redirect NASA to Moon, establish sustained presence

    Derek RichardsonFebruary 7th A bill that would direct NASA to return to the Moon and establish a sustained presence was referred to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on Feb. 3, 2017.

  • Audit of NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission warns of potential delays

    Jim SharkeyFebruary 7th In a report issued on Jan. 30, 2017, NASA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) voiced concerns about issues that could delay the planned July 2020 launch of the space agency's next Mars rover. An optimal 20-day window for a journey from Earth to Mars occurs once every 26 months. Missing the 2020 launch date would result in increased costs while waiting for the next launch opportunity.

  • Japan’s Kounotori 6 re-enters Earth’s atmosphere

    Derek RichardsonFebruary 6th Japan’s sixth Kounotori spacecraft, also called the H-II Transfer Vehicle or HTV, re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on Feb. 5, 2017, after spending nearly two months in space to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) and test new technologies.

  • First SpaceX Falcon 9 scheduled to be re-flown tested at McGregor

    Derek RichardsonFebruary 6th SpaceX recently tested the previously-flown Falcon 9 first stage assigned to send the SES-10 communications satellite into space. That mission will mark the first time the company has re-flown one of its recovered boosters.

  • Preliminary GAO report calls commercial crew vehicles into question

    Bart LeahyFebruary 6th The Wall Street Journal stated in a recent report that the GAO has expressed new concerns about the safety of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in a preliminary report to Congress. The early version of the document, which has not yet been posted online, reported cracks in the turbopump blades of the Merlin engine, among other faults.

  • NASA provides ‘insider’s’ look of JSC ahead of Super Bowl LI

    Nathan MoellerFebruary 4th HOUSTON, Texas — "Houston, we have a touchdown...". That's what NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) is set to announce when the agency supports Super Bowl LI, slated to be held in JSC's hometown on Sunday, Feb. 5. NASA held an event at JSC on Feb. 1 to highlight how JSC is preparing for the event.

  • The evolution of U.S. spacesuits from Mercury to today

    Lloyd CampbellFebruary 3rd In order for humans to survive in the hostile environment of outer space, mankind has invented new technologies ranging from rockets that lift us into space, to vehicles capable of sustaining us in space, and the ultimate personal space 'vehicle' – the spacesuit.

  • New Horizons performs course correction on path toward second target

    Laurel KornfeldFebruary 3rd After spending six days in a special mode to capture distant photographs of six Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs), the New Horizons probe underwent a minor course correction engine burn sending it toward its second flyby target, KBO 2014 MU69.

  • Iridium contracts 8th SpaceX launch, shares ride with NASA satellites

    Curt GodwinFebruary 2nd With the successful launch of its first set of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites, Iridium Communications has contracted with the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences to share a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for an early 2018 launch.

  • Insider Exclusive: Orion designed to keep crew in the ‘loop’

    Jason RhianFebruary 1st JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, Texas — NASA's next crew-rated spacecraft, Orion, has been engineered so that the vehicle is designed with the crews – who will fly on it – firmly in mind. Its windows, flight controls, even the seats for the roughly 22,899 lbs (10,387 kg) vehicle are being carefully crafted to guarantee mission success.

  • Japanese tether experiment hits snag

    Derek RichardsonJanuary 31st An electrodynamic tether experiment being conducted by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has apparently run into some problems, according to The Japan Times.

  • Russian Progress MS-03 departs International Space Station

    Derek RichardsonJanuary 31st With the undocking of a Russian Progress cargo ship from the International Space Station (ISS), only two spacecraft remain at the outpost – a rarity in an era of high visiting vehicle traffic.

  • Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser arrives at Armstrong for further testing

    Bart LeahyJanuary 31st On Jan. 26, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) delivered the engineering test article for their Dream Chaser spacecraft to NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center for its next round of testing. The testing is part of SNC’s developmental space act agreement with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

  • Take the plunge: Former astronaut talks about NASA’s NBL

    Jason RhianJanuary 30th JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, Texas — NASA continues to use one of its Texas-based assets to provide astronauts with training essential to the missions they conduct on-orbit. The Sonny Carter Neutral Buoyancy Lab is home to the massive pool where astronauts go underwater to simulate the microgravity environment in space.

  • SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule to launch before EchoStar 23

    Derek RichardsonJanuary 30th SpaceX has decided to switch the order of its next two Falcon 9 launches. The CRS-10 Dragon cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) will now launch ahead of the EchoStar 23 satellite.

  • Next SpaceX launch may be one of the last expendable F9 boosters

    Jim SharkeyJanuary 28th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — When SpaceX launches the EchoStar 23 satellite on Falcon 9 rocket, the company won't attempt to land the booster's first stage. The stage will consume too much fuel lifting the 12,125-pound (5,500-kilogram) satellite toward orbit to have enough in reserve for even an at-sea landing. Elon Musk stated as much in a tweet on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

  • Arianespace successfully launches Hispasat 36W-1, pushes Soyuz to its limits

    Curt GodwinJanuary 28th Nailing the opening of an instantaneous launch window, a Russian-built Soyuz ST-B lifted off from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana for Arianespace on a mission to deliver the Hispasat 36W-1 telecommunications satellite to a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

    The Range
  • Six New Horizons scientists propose geophysical planet definition

    February 8th
    Six scientists who work on NASA's New Horizons mission propose a geophysical planet definition in an abstract from a presentation to be made at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

  • Scientists propose first astrophysics mission to the Moon

    February 7th
    A team of researchers led by Richard Miller of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) has recently proposed a next-generation mission to the Moon called the Lunar Occultation Explorer (LOX), which is now under review by NASA. If accepted by the agency, it will be the first dedicated astrophysics lunar mission.

  • LunaH-Map CubeSat to map the Moon’s water deposits

    February 5th
    Arizona State University (ASU) is developing a small satellite that will search for hydrogen in lunar craters with the ultimate goal of creating the most detailed map of the Moon’s water deposits. The spacecraft, named the Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper (LunaH-Map), is expected to shed new light on the depth and distribution of water ice on the Moon.

  • Cassini reveals Saturn’s rings in unprecedented detail

    February 3rd
    Fresh images returned from NASA's Cassini spacecraft are revealing fascinating new details of Saturn's famous rings. Cassini is conducting a series of 22 ring-grazing orbits to study Saturn's innermost rings and moons as it refines its trajectory before concluding its 20-year mission in September.

  • Pluto’s red regions may have been created by Charon-forming impact

    February 3rd
    The dark red regions around Pluto's equator may have their origins in the giant impact that formed its moon Charon four billion years ago, according to a team of Japanese researchers.

  • Our Spaceflight Heritage: The legacy of STS-107

    February 1st
    On Jan. 16, 2003, when the Space Shuttle Columbia (flight STS-107) lifted off from Launch Complex 39A, her crew was finally embarking on the mission they had waited five years to launch.

  • New Horizons video simulates Pluto landing; Charon had icy tectonic plates

    January 29th
    NASA's New Horizons mission team has released a video simulating a landing on Pluto's surface; it is made up of over 100 images taken by the spacecraft during its July 14, 2015, flyby of the dwarf planet.

  • NASA developing AI for future exploration of extraterrestrial subsurface oceans

    January 29th
    NASA is developing technology that could enable autonomous navigation for future underwater drones studying subsurface oceans on icy moons like Jupiter’s Europa. The agency is working on artificial intelligence (AI) that would allow submersibles to make their own decisions during exploration of extraterrestrial water worlds.

  • New video remembers crew of Apollo 1 50 years later

    January 28th
    Retro Space Images (RSI) has produced a new video marking 50 years since the loss of the three crew members who were selected for the Apollo 1 mission. The video premiered on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2017, during the 50th-anniversary ceremony at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and is titled: “Remembering Our Heroes|50 Years".

  • Ridges on Mars have variety of origins

    January 27th
    Ridges of various sizes have been located in many regions of the Martian surface, and scientists surmise that they originated in a variety of processes and events.

  • NASA remembers three space tragedies

    January 26th
    Today, Jan. 26, 2017, NASA held its annual Day of Remembrance to honor astronauts lost on three missions, as well as other agency members who lost their lives for space exploration.

  • NuSTAR X-ray observations help understanding of strange supernova

    January 25th
    NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) satellite, which is capable of observing the highest energy X-rays, is helping scientists unravel the secrets of a puzzling supernova.

  • Our Spaceflight Heritage: Opportunity rover marks 13 years on Mars

    January 25th
    NASA's Mars rover "Opportunity" might never be classified as speedy, averaging only slightly more than 2 miles (3.36 km) per year since its landing on Jan. 25, 2004. Nevertheless, what the stalwart explorer lacks in range is more than made up with its longevity. The rover has been in active operation on the Red Planet for 13 years, far exceeding the original planned mission of 90 sols (∼92 Earth days).

  • Funeral service held for Eugene Cernan in Houston

    January 24th
    KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — When most people think of the 12 men who first walked on the Moon, they probably don't think of Eugene Cernan. They should. Cernan, a naval aviator, was one of the core astronauts that made the Apollo Program's historic landings possible. His life after NASA was as important as his time with the agency training to ride fire.

  • GOES-16 returns first images

    January 24th
    The 16th satellite in the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite fleet (GOES-16) has returned the first images following its launch in November 2016. Formerly known as GOES-R, the satellite is the first in the next generation of Earth and space weather observing satellites operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).