Spaceflight Insider

  • SpaceX’s Falcon 9 soars skyward with 10 Iridium NEXT satellites

    Curt GodwinJanuary 14th After a nearly week-long delay due to weather and range conflicts, SpaceX successfully launched 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO), marking the Falcon 9's first flight since the Sept. 1, 2016, AMOS-6 pad incident. As an added bonus, the first stage of the rocket successfully landed downrange on a drone ship.

  • Our SpaceFlight Heritage: 12 years ago, Huygens touched down on Titan

    Laurel KornfeldJanuary 14th Twelve years ago, on January 14, 2005, the European Space Agency's (ESA) Huygens probe touched down on the surface of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, where it collected images and data about a world viewed by many scientists as an analog of early Earth.

  • Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex highlights NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Programs

    Jason RhianJanuary 14th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Just after the 2016 Thanksgiving holiday, NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex unveiled in the West wing of the IMAX Theater a display showcasing spacecraft that are being used on NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo endeavors.

  • Astronauts breeze through spacewalk, complete all get-ahead tasks

    Derek RichardsonJanuary 13th In the second of two planned to spacewalks up upgrade the International Space Station’s (ISS) power system, two astronauts finished the process of replacing 12 nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion units. The spacewalking duo worked so fast, they had time to complete all of the assigned get-ahead tasks.

  • PCM for OA-7 mission arrives at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

    Jason RhianJanuary 13th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Orbital ATK's next Cygnus spacecraft, tapped to carry out the OA-7 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station, has arrived at the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

  • Massive SLS test stand completed at Marshall

    David BrownJanuary 13th NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, located in Huntsville, Alabama, recently marked the completion of major construction for Test Stand 4693, wrapping up work that began in May 2014. Engineers will now connect networks of cables, pipes, valves control systems, cameras, and other equipment needed to test the massive Space Launch System (SLS) hydrogen tank.

  • Mars Curiosity rover pauses to check for dust in its eye

    Bart LeahyJanuary 13th NASA's "Curiosity" rover – a.k.a. Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission – delayed its travels because a robotic arm fault prevented the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) from putting the dust cover over its lens overnight. Curiosity's science team put any further roving and science for Sol 1576 on hold pending resolution of the fault.

  • SpaceX poised to return Falcon 9 to flight Saturday

    Curt GodwinJanuary 12th With FAA approval secured and a hold-down firing of the first stage conducted, SpaceX is continuing to move forward with preparations for the return to flight of its Falcon 9 rocket. Liftoff is currently scheduled for 10:22 a.m. PST (1:22 p.m. EST / 18:22 GMT) Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, at SLC-4E on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

  • Astronauts to finish installing batteries during ISS during Friday spacewalk

    Derek RichardsonJanuary 12th The International Space Station (ISS) crew is gearing up for the second of two spacewalks aimed at replacing aging nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion units. Two astronauts will leave the Quest airlock at around 7 a.m. EST (12:00 GMT) Jan. 13, 2017, for an estimated six-and-a-half-hour-long excursion.

  • Charon protects Pluto’s atmosphere from solar wind

    Laurel KornfeldJanuary 12th Pluto's largest moon, Charon, acts as a barrier between the solar wind and Pluto's atmosphere, preventing that atmosphere from being stripped away when the large moon is positioned between the Sun and Pluto, according to a new study published in the journal Icarus.

  • Astronauts Baker and Fossum retire from NASA

    Rae Botsford EndJanuary 11th On Saturday, Jan. 7, astronauts Mike Baker and Mike Fossum both retired from NASA to pursue work in the private sector. Both of the spaceflight veterans served in the U.S. military, and both wore numerous hats during their time with the space agency.

  • Martian polar ice caps revealed in 3-D

    Paul KnightlyJanuary 10th Three-dimensional subsurface images are revealing unprecedented new insights into the structure of the Martian polar ice caps. The 3-D images were produced by data from the Shallow Radar (SHARAD) on board NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) over the course of more than 2,000 orbital passes over each Martian pole.

  • NASA selects Lucy and Psyche for next Discovery missions

    Paul KnightlyJanuary 4th NASA announced in a news release its next Discovery-class missions will be Lucy and Psyche. The missions will study an array of unexplored asteroids, with Lucy embarking on a tour of Jupiter's Trojan asteroids and Psyche setting course for the metallic asteroid 16 Psyche.

  • Robotics work clears way for Friday spacewalk

    Derek RichardsonJanuary 4th On Friday, NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson will venture outside the 400-metric-ton International Space Station (ISS) on the first of two spacewalks to begin a multi-year process of upgrading the outpost’s power system.

  • Cosmonaut Igor Volk dead at 79

    Jason RhianJanuary 4th Former Soviet cosmonaut Igor Volk passed away while on vacation in Bulgaria on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017 – he was 79. Volk was a test pilot for the Mikoyan Aircraft Design Bureau. His accomplishments covered an array of vehicles and environments – including a mission to orbit.

  • ISS’ power generation system to get crucial update

    Tomasz NowakowskiJanuary 3rd Two upcoming International Space Station (ISS) spacewalks slated for January are expected to result in a crucial update of the orbital lab’s power generating system. Expedition 50 crew are scheduled to venture outside the ISS on Jan. 6 and 13 in order to replace the old nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion batteries on the station’s truss structure.

  • SpaceX eyeing Jan. 8 for Falcon 9 return-to-flight

    Bart LeahyJanuary 2nd CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX announced on their blog that they could return the Falcon 9 rocket to service as early as Jan. 8, 2017. This would be the first flight of a Falcon 9 since another F9 exploded on Sept. 1, 2016. The upcoming flight will send the Iridium Communications NEXT 1-10 satellite constellation to orbit and launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base's SLC-4E.

  • NASA’s Chief Scientist leaves space agency

    Jason RhianJanuary 1st Having served as NASA's Chief Scientist for more than three years, Ellen Stofan has opted to leave the space agency. The announcement was made via NASA's Tumblr page on Dec. 21, 2016.

  • Cargo ships, expandables and spacewalks, oh my: ISS in 2016

    Derek RichardsonDecember 31st Between cargo ships servicing the outpost and spacewalks to maintain it, 2016 was arguably one of the busiest years for the International Space Station (ISS) since the end of the Space Shuttle era.

  • Success, setbacks and silence: 2016 in review

    Jason RhianDecember 31st CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The past 12 months, for good or ill, have redefined space exploration. In 2016, efforts to expand the space frontier both resumed and retracted, visionaries made bold claims, while legends fell silent forever.

  • Mars Odyssey recovering after entering safe mode

    Paul KnightlyDecember 30th The Mars Odyssey orbiter placed itself into a precautionary safe mode on December 26 while remaining in communication with Earth. This is not the first time that the long-serving spacecraft has encountered this issue.

  • Two 2017 NASA missions set to study edge of space

    Jim SharkeyDecember 30th Above Earth's atmosphere is a layer of charged particles that have been split into positive and negative ions by the Sun's harsh ultraviolet radiation. This area is called the ionosphere. In 2017, NASA plans to launch two satellites to study this region: the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) and the Global Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD).

  • Lockheed Martin, USAF set to upgrade GPS ground support systems

    David BrownDecember 29th In Dec. 2016, Lockheed Martin, in concert with the U.S. Air Force, announced that it is ready to "proceed with software development and systems engineering to modify the existing GPS ground control system”. These modifications are designed to support the new and more capable GPS III system scheduled for launch in the Spring of 2018 replacing the existing GPS IIR, IIR-M, and IIF satellites.

  • China’s Long March 2D places 2 SuperView-1 satellites into wrong orbit

    Tomasz NowakowskiDecember 28th China’s Long March 2D rocket lifted off at 11:23 a.m. China Standard Time (03:23 GMT) on Dec. 28, 2016, from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Shanxi Province. The booster carried with it two SuperView-1 satellites designed for Earth observation purposes.

  • Insider Exclusive: BFF’s long history continues with work on EM-1

    Jason RhianDecember 28th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — These days, when most people hear the acronym BFF, they think "Best Friends Forever", but the words "Booster Fabrication Facility" likely do not top that list. When it comes to NASA's 2018 Exploration Mission 1, perhaps it should.

  • OPINION: President-elect Trump’s NASA landing team continues to take shape

    Curt GodwinDecember 26th Though both candidates made clear their position on a multitude of issues prior to the election, their view of NASA's role in our nation's spacefaring efforts wasn't really among them. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump often gave politically expedient answers when asked what their vision for NASA, but neither has ever really presented a coherent roadmap for its future.

  • ISS Expedition 50 crew preps for January spacewalks

    Derek RichardsonDecember 24th With the Japanese Kounotori 6 cargo craft firmly attached to the International Space Station's Harmony module, the six-person Expedition 50 crew is heading into the holiday weekend with images of spacewalk preparations dancing in their heads.

  • Astronaut Piers Sellers dies of pancreatic cancer

    Heather SmithDecember 23rd Former NASA astronaut Piers Sellers, a veteran of three Space Shuttle missions, died on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016, in Houston after more than a year of battling pancreatic cancer. He was 61.

  • Team Indus joins Google Lunar X-Prize finalists, Astrobotic drops out

    Collin SkocikDecember 23rd One of the prerequisites of staying in the Google Lunar XPRIZE (GLXP) is securing a contract with a launch service provider. India-based Team Indus has successfully done that by contracting with the manufacturer of the country’s PSLV rocket. At the same time, Astrobotic, the first team to secure a contract back in 2011, announced that it is dropping out of the competition after losing its window with SpaceX's Falcon 9.

  • Ariane 5 soars into the sky with Star One D1, JCSAT-15 satellites

    Tomasz NowakowskiDecember 21st KOUROU, French Guiana — Arianespace successfully launched one of its flagship Ariane 5 heavy-lift rockets carrying a dual payload for Brazil and Japan. The launch vehicle, with the Star One D1 and JCSAT-15 communication satellites, took to the skies at 5:30 p.m. local time (20:30 GMT / 3:30 p.m. EST) from the ELA-3 launch complex at the Guiana Space Center.

  • Long March 2D launches China’s TanSat carbon-monitoring satellite

    Tomasz NowakowskiDecember 21st China has successfully launched its first mission dedicated to carbon dioxide detection and monitoring. The spacecraft, named TanSat (“Tan” means carbon in Chinese), lifted off atop a Long March 2D booster on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 19:22 GMT (2:22 p.m. EST) from the Launch Area 4 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre, located in the Gobi Desert, Inner Mongolia.

  • Japan’s Epsilon rocket sends Van Allen belt spacecraft into orbit

    Derek RichardsonDecember 20th Using an upgraded Epsilon rocket, Japan sent its Exploration of Energizing and Radiation in Geospace (ERG) spacecraft into a high-energy orbit that will repeatedly pass through the Van Allen belts to allow the probe to study how geomagnetic storms form. Liftoff from Kyushu Island took place at 8 p.m. Japan Standard Time (6 a.m. EST / 11:00 GMT).

    The Range
  • Boeing’s T-X prototype takes flight

    January 5th
    NASA’s famous T-38 trainer, which has been flown by astronauts for fifty years, is being replaced. Boeing’s T-X made its first flight on Tuesday, Dec. 20. It heralds what could be a new age in training aircraft for NASA.

  • NASA announces new mission to study black holes, stellar remnants

    January 5th
    NASA's Astrophysics Explorers Program has announced that it is funding a mission to study black holes, neutron stars, and pulsars by measuring the high-energy X-ray radiation surrounding them.

  • Our Spaceflight Heritage: Mars Exploration Rover Spirit remembered 13 years after landing

    January 4th
    The landing of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Spirit in January 2004 marked the beginning 13 years of continuous robotic operations on the surface of the Red Planet. In that time, multiple spacecraft, including Spirit, have beamed back textbook-rewriting information about past water activity on the red world.

  • NEOWISE detects two small objects approaching Earth’s orbit

    December 30th
    A NASA mission whose goal is detecting asteroids and comets that come near Earth's orbit has recently spotted two: one a comet and one an apparent comet/asteroid hybrid, traveling in Earth's vicinity. Neither object presents any threat of impacting our planet.

  • SpaceX teases with Falcon Heavy interstage photo

    December 29th
    SpaceX teased a photo of its Falcon Heavy rocket by posting a picture of the interstage of the heavy-lift booster. In addition to its backlogged manifest, the Hawthorne, California-based company hopes to launch the vehicle sometime in 2017.

  • Our Spaceflight Heritage: Saving 1968

    December 25th
    The very first Christmas spent in space by humans was in 1968 during the mission of Apollo 8, forty-eight years ago. That flight saw the first people leave Earth’s orbit and go to another heavenly body.

  • Review: Astronomy Saves the World: Securing our Future Through Exploration and Education

    December 24th
    Just because he is busy preparing his scientific payload to fly in a SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft on the upcoming CRS-10 mission for NASA, doesn't mean Dan Batcheldor Ph.D. doesn't have other irons in the fire. One of these is his new book – "Astronomy Saves the World: Securing our Future Through Exploration and Education".

  • NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is driving again, drill is still out of action

    December 24th
    NASA's "Curiosity" Mars rover drove, on Dec. 18, for about 10 meters from the spot where it had been stopped by ground engineers in order to determine the cause of its faulty drill.

  • Microlensing ideal for finding Neptune-sized exoplanets, study shows

    December 23rd
    Gravitational microlensing, one of several techniques used to search for exoplanets, is the ideal method for finding Neptune-sized planets in distant orbits around their stars, according to a study published in the Dec. 13, 2016, issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

  • SFI Launch Highlights: Echostar XIX satellite on ULA Atlas V 431

    December 22nd
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — ULA sent an Atlas V 431 rocket into the skies above Florida on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2016. Carrying Echostar Corporation's Echostar XIX satellite, the rocket lifted off from SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 2:13 p.m. EST (19:13 GMT).

  • Photo Gallery: Ariane 5 launches Star One D1 and JCSAT-15 satellites

    December 22nd

  • Lockheed Martin completes assembly of GOES-S weather satellite

    December 21st
    Although the recently launched GOES-R series satellite, since designated GOES-16, has yet to enter operation, Lockheed Martin hasn't been idle. The second member of the GOES-R series of weather satellites, GOES-S, is now complete and undergoing mechanical and environmental tests to ensure the spacecraft can handle the rigors of launch and harshness of space.

  • PANIC lander could revolutionize asteroid research

    December 20th
    A U.S.-German team of researchers has proposed to develop a micro-scale, low-cost surface lander for the in situ characterization of an asteroid. The tiny spacecraft, called the Pico Autonomous Near-Earth Asteroid In Situ Characterizer (PANIC), could be a breakthrough for the scientific community, offering simple and cheap solutions for asteroid research.

  • ‘Anomalous readings’ detected during James Webb Space Telescope tests

    December 19th
    Earlier this month, on Dec. 3, accelerometers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) detected "anomalous readings" in a portion of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). These "readings" took place during vibration tests being conducted to simulate anticipated launch conditions.

  • Ceres covered in hidden ice, studies suggest

    December 19th
    The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and NASA have announced a series of new findings from the Dawn spacecraft currently orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres that point to the existence of ice within its crust.