Spaceflight Insider

  • Juno solves lightning mystery, gets mission extension

    Joe LatrellJune 15th NASA's Juno probe, which has been in orbit around Jupiter since July, 2016 has provided scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) opportunities for research. One such research paper, recently published in Nature, helps explain the nature of Jupiter’s polar lightning.

  • RL-10 successfully completes hotfire tests

    Collin SkocikJune 15th The use of 3D printing in spaceflight took another step forward in early 2018 when Aerojet Rocketdyne completed a series of hotfire tests of a new model of the RL10 rocket engine which was built almost entirely of 3D-printed parts.

  • NASA creates, and fills, high-level position dedicated to exploration

    Curt GodwinJune 14th One of NASA's principal functions is to provide leadership in space exploration, and now the agency has a position that is the embodiment of that responsibility. Jim Bridenstine, NASA's new Administrator, recently named Steve Clarke as the agency's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration.

  • ISS 2018 mission patch revealed

    Laurel KornfeldJune 14th The 2018 International Space Station (ISS) mission patch, which represents all science payloads on the space station during the calendar year, has been unveiled.

  • NOAA releases first images of Sun taken by GOES 17

    Jason RhianJune 13th Launched on March 1, 2018 atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 541 rocket, the GOES-17 spacecraft has beamed back its first images of the Sun. 

  • NASA’s Opportunity rover goes silent as massive dust storm engulfs Mars

    Derek RichardsonJune 13th NASA’s long-lived Opportunity rover is currently weathering a massive dust storm—the largest the solar-powered rover has had to endure in its nearly 15 years of surface operations. The vehicle has been operating in Meridiani Planum since January 2004.

  • H-IIA takes to the skies with Japan’s IGS-Radar 6 spy satellite

    Tomasz NowakowskiJune 12th An H-IIA rocket took to the skies on June 12, on a classified mission to deliver the IGS-Radar 6 (Information Gathering Satellite) reconnaissance satellite for Japan’s Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Centre.

  • Launch of NASA ICON mission postponed

    Jason RhianJune 10th NASA and Northrop Grumman have decided to delay the launch of the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission due to what has been described as "off-nominal data" discovered from the mission's launch vehicle.

  • New Horizons exits hibernation to prepare for KBO flyby

    Laurel KornfeldJune 9th NASA's New Horizons probe has been awakened from nearly six months in hibernation to enable the mission team to start preparations for its flyby of Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) Ultima Thule (also known as 2014 MU69) in the early morning hours of New Year's Day 2019.

  • International Space Station population doubles with arrival of Soyuz MS-09

    Derek RichardsonJune 8th Expedition 56 has three new crew members with the arrival of Soyuz MS-09. The two spent the last two days catching up with the International Space Station before rendezvousing and docking with the 400-metric-ton complex at 9:01 a.m. EDT (13:01 GMT) June 8, 2018.

  • Aliens discovered on Mars? Don’t believe the hype

    Laurel KornfeldJune 7th NASA's Mars Curiosity rover, which has been exploring the Red Planet since 2012, has discovered organic molecules in Martian rocks and atmospheric methane levels that change seasonally, according to an announcement and a live discussion the space agency held on Thursday, June 7. Proof of alien life? Not so much.

  • Tiny asteroid disintegrates hours after being discovered

    Jim SharkeyJune 7th On Saturday, June 1 a boulder-sized asteroid designated 2018 LA was discovered and determined to be on a collision course with Earth, with impact predicted to be just a few hours later. The event proved that Earth is still in the cosmic shooting gallery and could be struck with little-to-no notice.

  • Alan Bean, Don Peterson remembered at ceremony at Kennedy Space Center

    Jason RhianMay 31st KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. -- Two astronauts who passed away in recent days were the subject of a memorial held at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Wednesday, May 30, 2018. Many colleagues paid their respects to Alan Bean and Don Peterson each of whom added their own legacies to space flight history.

  • Launch of SpaceX Falcon 9 with SES-12 slips to NET June 4

    Jason RhianMay 31st The launch of the SES-12 communications satellite has been pushed back at least three days as SpaceX reviews the condition of the Falcon 9 rocket's second stage.

  • NASA awards WFIRST contract to Ball Aerospace

    Joe LatrellMay 30th The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is starting to become a reality as NASA begins awarding contracts for the construction of key components. Ball Aerospace recently received one of these contracts for the projected $3.2-billion project.

  • Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity makes second powered flight

    Joe LatrellMay 29th Within less than two months, The SpaceShip Company has conducted a second test flight of the VSS Unity. This signals an increase in testing as the NewSpace company prepares for its first commercial flights.

  • SpaceX prepping Falcon 9 to launch SES-12 mission

    Jim SiegelMay 28th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Following the successful launch of a communications satellite on May 11, 2018, from Kennedy Space Center SLC-39A,  SpaceX is scheduled to launch another communications satellite from Florida on May 31, 2018, this time from nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's SLC-40.  The customer is SES, a giant European communications conglomerate.  If everything goes as planned, this will be the sixth launch of an SES satellite by SpaceX.

  • SpaceX’s Crew Dragon edging closer to flight

    Curt GodwinMay 27th To test a spacecraft for electromagnetic interference (EMI), it is placed in a special room designed for the task. SpaceX has done just that. Recently, company founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted a picture of the Crew Dragon capsule being prepared for testing in an anechoic chamber.

  • Aviator, Apollo Astronaut, Artist: Alan Bean passes away at 86

    Jason RhianMay 26th Alan Bean, a U.S. Navy test pilot who would go on to become an Apollo and Skylab astronaut and one of just 12 men to walk on the Moon, has died at the Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. His death marks the passing of the last crew member who comprised humanity's second crewed trip to the Moon - Apollo 12.

  • NASA may be warming to the idea of SpaceX’s “load-and-go” fueling procedure

    Curt GodwinMay 25th NASA appears to be considering SpaceX's "load and go" process of fueling the company's Falcon 9 rocket. However, could it still cause it issues with NASA's Commercial Crew Program?

  • Coolant problems found on GOES 17 satellite

    Jason RhianMay 24th The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has found a performance problem with an instrument's cooling system on the GOES-17 spacecraft. The satellite was launched March 1, 2018, atop an Atlas V 541 rocket.

  • OA-9 Cygnus cargo ship arrives at ISS

    Derek RichardsonMay 24th Orbital ATK’s OA-9 Cygnus cargo spacecraft rendezvoused with the International Space Station May 24, 2018, after a three-day chase of the orbiting outpost following a successful launch atop an Antares rocket.

  • Update: Curiosity rover successfully drills hole in ‘Duluth’

    Jim SharkeyMay 23rd NASA's Curiosity rover has successfully tested a new method of drilling rocks on Mars. On Sunday, May 20, the rover drilled a hole about 2 inches (50 millimeters) into a target rock named "Duluth." It was the first rock sample acquired by Curiosity in more than a year.

  • SpaceX launches 5 Iridium NEXT, 2 GRACE-FO satellites on Falcon 9 ride-share mission

    Derek RichardsonMay 22nd LOMPOC, Calif. — Sending the quintuple-satellite Iridium-6 mission into space for Iridium Communications along with NASA’s twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) spacecraft as part of a ride-share agreement, SpaceX launched its ninth Falcon 9 of 2018.

  • SpaceX set to send Iridium-6/GRACE-FO missions spaceward

    Derek RichardsonMay 21st LOMPOC, Calif. — SpaceX is gearing up to launch another Falcon 9 rocket, this time with another set of Iridium NEXT communications satellites as well as NASA’s two Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) spacecraft.

  • Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket launches OA-9 Cygnus to resupply ISS

    Lloyd CampbellMay 21st WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. — Another load of supplies, science experiments and CubeSats is on its way to the International Space Station. In the early-morning hours of May 21, 2018, Orbital ATK launched its OA-9 Cygnus spacecraft atop an Antares 230 rocket.

  • China’s first private rocket reaches 127,000 feet on maiden flight

    Tomasz NowakowskiMay 20th OneSpace Technology Co., a Beijing-based aerospace company, has successfully launched a suborbital rocket. This was the first flight for China’s commercial launch sector.

  • OA-9 Cygnus resupply craft set for Monday morning launch to ISS

    Lloyd CampbellMay 19th WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. — Orbital ATK is set to send its next Cygnus resupply freighter to the International Space Station. The company's OA-9 mission is currently aiming for a liftoff at 4:39 a.m. EDT (08:39 GMT) May 21, 2018, from Pad-0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.

  • OA-9 Cygnus resupply mission postponed by 24 hours to May 21

    Lloyd CampbellMay 18th Orbital ATK's next resupply mission to the International Space Station has been postponed 24 hours, according to the company. The OA-9 Cygnus cargo spacecraft's flight into space atop an Antares rocket had originally been scheduled for May 20, 2018.

  • NASA could see windfall if FY 2019 Appropriations bill passes

    Curt GodwinMay 17th New legislation could see NASA gain a substantial increase in the agency's budget. Should the bill pass the full House and Senate, and get signed into law, NASA's science and exploration programs stand to gain the most.

  • Spacewalking astronauts swap ISS coolant pumps

    Derek RichardsonMay 17th Two NASA astronauts ventured outside the International Space Station on May 16, 2018, for a 6.5-hour-long spacewalk. They were tasked with rearranging coolant pumps and replacing external cameras and antennas.

  • SpaceX’s Block 5 Falcon 9 another space launch game-changer

    Jim SiegelMay 16th At a media teleconference before the first flight of the Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk outlined some of the various upgrades to the Falcon 9 on the Block 5 version and revealed that, sometime next year, the company plans to launch, recover, re-fuel and re-launch a rocket within 24 hours.

    The Range
  • ExoMars rover will search for evidence of life on Mars

    June 4th
    Could the Red Planet be a bastion for life (either now or in the past)? ESA and NASA are preparing to send a mission to find out.

  • Pluto’s surface may have dunes of methane ice

    June 2nd
    A new study of Pluto surface images captured by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft suggests the dwarf planet has dunes likely composed of methane ice.

  • Dawn will enter lowest ever orbit around Ceres

    June 2nd
    NASA's Dawn spacecraft has begun maneuvers that should bring it to its lowest and final orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres.

  • KBO could be evidence for a giant planet in the outer solar system

    May 31st
    The discovery of a distant Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) with an extremely eccentric orbit could be evidence that a giant planet is waiting to be discovered in the outer solar system.

  • International Space Development Conference truly is international

    May 30th
    LOS ANGELES — Attendees from over a dozen countries including Japan, Romania, Turkey, India, and the United States descended on Los Angeles to discuss the latest in space developments at the National Space Society's 2018 International Space Development Conference (ISDC).

  • Max Polyakov’s Firefly Aerospace opens R&D center in Dnipro City, Ukraine

    May 29th
    President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, joined the opening of a branch of the American company Firefly Aerospace, relaunched by Max Polyakov - in Dnipro, Ukraine. It is designed to develop lightweight rockets for launching cargo into space. The restart of the enterprise could help make advances to the aerospace industry in the country.

  • Dmitry Rogozin appointed Roscosmos head

    May 29th
    Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed Dmitry Rogozin as general director of the Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities effective May 24, 2018. An executive order that changes the leadership of Russia’s space agency was signed during a meeting at Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia.

  • New appointees fill top NASA positions

    May 27th
    Signaling an era of new leadership, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has appointed Steve Jurczyk to serve as the agency's associate administrator and Melanie W. Saunders to the position of acting deputy associate administrator, succeeding Deputy Associate Administrator Krista Paquin, who is resigning June 10.

  • 2 new JPSS spacecraft to be produced under NASA’s Rapid III contract

    May 26th
    Two additional Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) spacecraft are now set to be constructed by Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital ATK for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

  • “Pale Blue Dot” imaged by MarCO CubeSat

    May 25th
    Reminiscent of the famous Voyager 1 “Pale Blue Dot” photo, an image returned by one of NASA’s Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats on May 9, 2018, shows a distant Earth and Moon as it speeds off toward the Red Planet.

  • Correction maneuver puts NASA’s InSight lander on path to Mars

    May 24th
    The first and largest of six planned course correction maneuvers directing NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport (InSight) lander to Mars was successfully completed Tuesday, May 22, 2018.

  • GALLERY: Orbital ATK Antares rocket launches OA-9 Cygnus spacecraft

    May 23rd

  • First motor segment for new OmegA rocket produced

    May 23rd
    The first inert motor segment produced for tests of Orbital ATK's new OmegA rocket has been completed. This new segment has been designed as part of the Common Boost Segment (CBS) program. This is the latest step in efforts designed to produce new launch vehicles.

  • NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover tests new drilling method

    May 23rd
    NASA's Curiosity Mars rover may soon be back to drilling rocks on the Red Planet. Engineers with the rover team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have been working for the past year to restore the rover's full drilling capabilities, which were hampered by a mechanical problem in 2016.

  • Test photo taken as TESS performs lunar flyby

    May 22nd
    NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) took an image using one of the four cameras on board the spacecraft. The image is a two-second exposure centered on the Centaurus constellation in the southern sky.