Spaceflight Insider

  • Long March 2D to send a duo of SuperView-1 satellites into orbit

    Tomasz NowakowskiJanuary 7th China is gearing up to conduct its first orbital flight of 2018. The mission, scheduled for Tuesday, January 9, will employ a Long March 2D booster to send two SuperView-1 Earth-observing satellites into space.

  • Tiangong-1 space laboratory containing hazardous substance to crash to Earth in March

    Tomasz NowakowskiJanuary 7th According to new calculations, China’s space laboratory, Tiangong-1 will fall to Earth in March of 2018. While most parts of the spacecraft are likely to burn up in the atmosphere, there are concerns that some pieces, containing highly-toxic chemicals, may hit the ground.

  • NASA’s ‘most experienced’ astronaut, Moonwalker, John Young passes away aged 87

    Jason RhianJanuary 6th John Watts Young was one of NASA's most experienced astronauts. He served as pilot for the first manned flight of a Gemini spacecraft, Gemini 3, as commander of the Gemini 10 mission, as Command Module Pilot on Apollo 10 and the Commander of Apollo 16. Young also served as Commander of STS-1, the daring first flight of the Shuttle Era as well as another shuttle mission, STS-9. However, Young was m...

  • Intelsat S.A. orders Mission Extension Vehicle 2 to increase life span of Intelsat spacecraft

    Jason RhianJanuary 5th Intelsat S.A. has awarded a contract for use of the second Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-2) spacecraft. Produced by Orbital ATK, the MEVs provide mission extension services to satellites already on orbit and are slated to begin undertaking their tasks within the coming months.

  • New Horizons mission invites public to celebrate New Year’s KBO flyby

    Laurel KornfeldJanuary 5th The world may have celebrated New Year's 2018 just days ago, but NASA's New Horizons mission is already inviting the public to welcome 2019 with a visit to Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) 2014 MU69.

  • Boeing CST-100 Starliner one step closer to flight with completion of DCR

    Jason RhianJanuary 4th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The first flight of Boeing's CST-100 "Starliner" craft is one step closer to flight with the successful completion of an Atlas V Launch Segment Design Certification Review (DCR). Colorado-based United Launch Alliance announced on Thursday, Jan. 4, that the review had been completed in support of Boeing's efforts to send astronauts to the ISS via Starliner.

  • Launch of Zuma now TBD or is it Jan. 6? – UPDATE

    Jason RhianJanuary 4th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- SpaceX's planned launch of the classified "Zuma" mission has slipped from 2017 to Thursday Jan. 4, to Friday Jan. 5 and now is listed as "To Be Determined." The announcement of the latest delay was made by the 45th Space Wing on their website. Some sources, meanwhile, are stating the secretive launch will take place on Saturday, Jan. 6. So which is it?

  • SpaceX conducts rehearsal for classified Zuma launch

    Bart LeahyJanuary 3rd After being rescheduled twice, once in late 2017 due to an issue with the Falcon 9 fairing, and once this month due to cold weather in Florida—SpaceX conducted a “wet” dress rehearsal (WDR) for the Zuma mission today (Wednesday Jan. 3), according to a report on NASASpaceflight.com.

  • 2 external instruments installed on ISS over New Year’s holiday

    Derek RichardsonJanuary 3rd While many around the world celebrated the arrival of 2018 with champagne, fireworks and social gatherings, robotics operators at NASA’s Johnson Space Center rang in the New Year by working to remotely install new external instruments recently brought to International Space Station inside the trunk of SpaceX’s CRS-13 Dragon cargo spacecraft.

  • Area 51? Forget it! In terms of SpaceX Crew Dragon – it’s all Area 59

    Jason RhianJanuary 2nd CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- With 2018 just taking its initial steps SpaceX is already moving forward with plans for the new year. The company's COO, Gwynne Shotwell, noted during a 2016 press conference, the "hell" they won't launch crew in 2018. That year has come and, according to Florida Today's James Dean, Crew Dragon is being readied for this mission via a recent agreement signed between SpaceX a...

  • NASA’s MAVEN mission providing insights into life on distant worlds

    Jason RhianDecember 31st Mars. Long a destination dreamed of by the public in general and space enthusiasts in particular, is providing insights about the length of time that other planets can support life. How long would a planet like Mars, orbiting a distant red dwarf star be habitable? One of NASA's Scout Program missions is helping to develop an answer.

  • Astronomy satellite deployed by JPL

    Jason RhianDecember 30th With research dollars and room on launch vehicles at a premium, the miniaturization of payloads has become an ever-more used means in which researchers and those seeking to prove out their technologies can fly in space. The ASTERIA CubeSat that was recently deployed from the International Space Station could serve to further validate the emerging technology for astronomy purposes.

  • Trump policy directive makes Moon NASA’s official goal for human exploration

    Bart LeahyDecember 12th In a brief but pointed Dec. 11, 2017, ceremony at the White House, President Donald Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1, which officially directs NASA to send astronauts back to the Moon as a precursor effort to exploring Mars.

  • SpaceX’s CRS-13 mission set for Tuesday launch

    Paul KnightlyDecember 11th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX is making final preparations to launch CRS-13 in what should be the company's 17th launch of the year. The flight-proven Falcon 9 and Dragon vehicles are scheduled to lift off on Dec. 12 during an “instantaneous” launch window that opens at 11:46 a.m. EST (16:46 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida.

  • Blue Origin set to launch next New Shepard

    Derek RichardsonDecember 10th Blue Origin is getting ready to fly a New Shepard suborbital rocket sometime between Dec. 11–14. On Dec. 9, 2017, the company issued a notice to airmen, also called a NOTAM, for the area around its rocket site near Van Horn, Texas.

  • Muratore: Safety and efficiency went hand-in-hand in rebuild of SLC-40

    Bart LeahyDecember 10th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX hosted a briefing to members of the media on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, to provide an overview of work that has been done to return to service Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) after the Sept. 1, 2016, explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket caused severe damage to the site.

  • NASA Glenn reinventing the wheel to aid future Mars rovers

    Michael ColeDecember 8th GLENN RESEARCH CENTER, Ohio — One of the most important high-tech components of future Mars rovers may be, of all things, its wheels.

  • Bigelow’s piece of ISS gets approval for extended stay

    Derek RichardsonDecember 7th The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) has been given the green light to stay attached to the aft portion of the International Space Station's Tranquility node for a further three years. The new contract began in November 2017, according to NASA. 

  • Cygnus OA-8 cargo spacecraft departs ISS

    Heather SmithDecember 6th The Orbital ATK Cygnus OA-8 cargo spacecraft departed from the International Space Station at 8:11 a.m. EST (13:11 GMT) on Wednesday, December 6, 2017, after delivering almost 7,400 pounds (3,356 kg) of cargo to support science experiments.

  • Launch of SpaceX Falcon 9 with CRS-13 slips again

    Jason RhianDecember 6th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the CRS-13 Dragon spacecraft has slipped again, with NASA stating that the new launch time is now Dec. 12, with the "instantaneous" launch window opening at 11:46 a.m. EST (16:46 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida.

  • Long March 2D sends Yaogan Weixing 31 satellite aloft

    Tomasz NowakowskiDecember 3rd Using a Long March 2D booster, China has successfully sent its newest Yaogan Weixing remote sensing satellite into orbit. The launch was conducted at 04:11 GMT on Sunday, Dec. 3 (11:11 p.m. EST on Saturday, Dec. 2), 2017, from the LC43 Launch Complex at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in China's Gansu Province.

  • Soyuz 2.1b launches military satellite into orbit

    Tomasz NowakowskiDecember 2nd The recent failure of a Soyuz 2.1b mission, which was unable to place a fleet of 19 satellites into their targeted orbits, has not stopped Russia from sending another such booster into space. This time, lifting off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome at 10:43 GMT (5:43 a.m. EST) on Saturday, December 2, 2017, a Soyuz 2.1b successfully orbited the Lotos-S1 (№ 803) military spacecraft for the Russian Defense Ministry.

  • Rocket Lab sets launch window for next Electron launch

    Curt GodwinDecember 2nd Following the recent announcement about the company's preparations for the upcoming launch of its Electron rocket, Rocket Lab is now targeting a 10-day window in early December. Opening at 2:30 p.m. New Zealand Time (01:30 GMT) Dec. 8, 2017, the window will last for four hours during each of the attempts.

  • NASA plans ‘souped-up’ rover for Mars 2020 mission

    Jim SharkeyDecember 1st The rover for NASA's Mars 2020 mission bears a strong resemblance to the Curiosity rover currently exploring the surface of Mars. However, it will have a number of improvements and instruments to carry out its search for signs of past microbial life on the Red Planet. A recent NASA press release described the rover as a "souped-up science machine".

  • Meteor-M 2-1, 18 secondary payloads lost after apparent Fregat-M failure

    Derek RichardsonNovember 29th A Soyuz 2.1b launched with 19 satellites, including the Earth-observation satellite Meteor-M 2-1, at 2:41 p.m. local time (12:41 a.m. EST / 05:41 GMT) Nov. 28, 2017, from Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East. While the initial ascent appeared to go according to plan, communications with the Fregat-M upper stage and the payload was not established as planned.

  • SpaceX CRS-13 launch slips to Dec. 8

    Jason RhianNovember 28th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the CRS-13 cargo Dragon spacecraft has slipped to no-earlier-than Dec. 8 with the instantaneous (1 second) launch window now slated to open at 1:20 p.m. EST (6:20 p.m. GMT). 

  • China lays out its roadmap for space transportation system

    Tomasz NowakowskiNovember 28th China has revealed a roadmap for its space transportation system outlining its ambitious goal to become a world-leading space power by 2045. The program, announced by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), envisions several milestones in the nation’s space industry within the next three decades, including the development of reusable launch vehicles and a nuclear-powered space shuttle.

  • James Webb Space Telescope comes in from the cold after final cryogenic test

    Curt GodwinNovember 27th Personnel at NASA's Johnson Space Center have recently concluded the final round of cryogenic testing for the agency's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The JWST was subjected to temperatures nearing -387 degrees Fahrenheit (-233 degrees Celsius / 40 kelvins) for nearly 100 days to ensure the operation of the JWST's instruments in space-like conditions.

  • Long March 2C sends Yaogan-30 trio into orbit

    Tomasz NowakowskiNovember 25th China has successfully carried out its fourth orbital launch this month, sending three Yaogan-30 02 reconnaissance satellites to orbit. The trio blasted off atop a Long March 2C booster at 2:10 a.m. local time on Saturday, Nov. 25 (18:10 GMT on Friday, November 24), from LC3 Launch Complex at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

  • Insider Exclusive: America’s ‘Booster Belt’ Part Three (conclusion) – Marshall

    Jason RhianNovember 24th HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- We were headed out to the final stop of our tour of Marshall Space Flight Center where we would be shown the test stands that are being prepared to validate the various components that will comprise NASA's new crew-rated rocket - the Space Launch System.

  • Insider Exclusive: America’s ‘Booster Belt’ Part Three (continued) – Marshall

    Jason RhianNovember 23rd HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- SpaceFlight Insider continued its tour of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center with a stop to speak with Heather Haney, NASA's SLS (Space Launch System) Stages Element Test Manager. She detailed the work being done to ready the massive new rocket's core stage ready for its inaugural flight.

  • Expedition 53 celebrates Thanksgiving on ISS

    Derek RichardsonNovember 23rd Astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station have now celebrated 18 Thanksgivings in orbit since 2000. This year, it was Expedition 53’s turn to share their thoughts and memories of the holiday.

    The Range
  • Gallery: SpaceX CRS-13

    December 18th

  • Tidal heating could sustain dwarf planets’ subsurface oceans

    December 17th
    Icy dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt could maintain subsurface liquid oceans if they have moons that generate tidal heating, thereby preventing the oceans from freezing, according to a new study published in the journal Icarus.

  • Bright spots on Ceres indicate geologic activity

    December 16th
    Since NASA's Dawn spacecraft arrived at Ceres in March 2015, both scientists and the general public have been able to see the hundreds of bright spots on the dwarf planet's surface. Dawn mission scientists reported their most recent research about these bright areas at the American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. The team's findings indicate that Ceres is an active, evolving world.

  • Three companies tapped to produce prototypes for NASA’s ‘FabLab’ initiative

    December 14th
    NASA's Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program has selected three companies to produce "FabLab" prototypes of machines that can be used for space-based, on-demand fabrication.

  • RUAG Space lands contract extension to develop crucial parts for Galileo satellites

    December 14th
    OHB System AG, the prime contractor for Europe’s Galileo navigation satellites, has extended its contract with RUAG Space to produce 12 additional Control and Data Units for these spacecraft.

  • Occultation data hints New Horizons’ next flyby target may have a moon

    December 13th
    New Horizons' second target – Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) 2014 MU69 – may have a small moon, mission science team member Marc Buie of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado, reported on Monday, December 11, 2017, at this week's meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in New Orleans, Louisiana.

  • SNC taps AZUR SPACE to produce cargo Dream Chaser solar panels

    December 13th
    Sierra Nevada Corporation has tapped AZUR SPACE Solar Power GmbH to provide solar panels for the first Dream Chaser cargo spacecraft. The announcement was made via a release issued by AZUR SPACE, denoting that the new automated shuttle is getting ready for its first flight – currently slated to take to the skies in 2019.

  • Launch of SpaceX Falcon 9 with CRS-13 Dragon slips 24 hours

    December 12th
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has slipped an additional 24 hours to "allow for additional time for pre-launch ground checks." This information is per a post made on Twitter by SpaceX at 6:50 p.m. EST (10:50 GMT) on Monday, Dec. 11. 

  • Engine burn refines New Horizons’ journey to KBO 2014 MU69

    December 12th
    To optimize the timing of New Horizons' closest flyby of Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) 2014 MU69, mission engineers carried out the spacecraft's last engine burn during the long "cruise" phase of its journey – between Pluto and its second target (MU69) – on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017.

  • China launches Algerian communications satellite atop Long March 3B

    December 10th
    China successfully launched a Long March 3B rocket on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, with the first Algerian geostationary communications satellite, known as Alcomsat-1. Liftoff took place at 16:40 GMT (11:40 a.m. EST) from the Launch Complex 2 at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center (XSLC) in China’s Sichuan Province.

  • NASA has the angle on Opportunity’s longevity

    December 8th
    Operating long past its original mission of 90 Martian solar days – also known as "sols" – NASA's Opportunity rover has survived another passage through the deepest part of the Martian winter. Drawing on years of experience, operators positioned the stalwart robot on a northward-facing incline to give Opportunity's solar panels the best chance of generating enough electricity to survive the Martian winter.

  • Launch of ULA Delta IV rocket with NROL-47 delayed

    December 7th
    The launch of a Delta IV rocket carrying the NROL-47 payload for the National Reconnaissance Office has been delayed until no earlier than Jan. 10, 2018, in order to perform additional validation of the software and systems associated with Common Avionics. The launch was originally scheduled for Dec. 13, 2017, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

  • New Russian lunar orbiter contracted to be built

    December 6th
    The Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) is proceeding with a new project to build a lunar orbiter which will be the first of numerous new lunar missions the agency is planning.

  • GOES-S spacecraft delivered to Astrotech Space Operations in preparation for March flight

    December 5th
    KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — A U.S. Air Force C-5M Super Galaxy cargo transport aircraft has delivered the Geostationary Operation Environmental Satellite-S (GOES-S) spacecraft to Florida's Space Coast in preparation for a planned March 1, 2018, flight atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket. 

  • Our SpaceFlight Heritage: Voyager 1 – the Energizer Bunny

    December 4th
    The Energizer Bunny keeps going and going – and so does NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft. More to the point, so does the craft's thrusters. Over three-and-a-half decades after they were last fired, the probe's thrusters were successfully fired on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017.