Spaceflight Insider

  • X3 Hall thruster sets records at NASA Glenn

    Michael ColeNovember 10th GLENN RESEARCH CENTER,  Ohio — Researchers at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, and the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, have completed a round of important tests on a new ion thruster system that may one day provide propulsion for materials and crews on future missions to Mars.

  • NASA Exploration Mission-1 managing current challenges, but launch could slip to 2020

    Bart LeahyNovember 9th On November 8, 2017, NASA released an update following a schedule review of Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the first uncrewed flight test of the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft to the Moon.

  • SpaceX rocket engine explodes on test stand in McGregor

    Jason RhianNovember 9th A SpaceX Block 5 rocket engine encountered an anomaly on the test stand during a qualification test held on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, at the NewSpace firm's site located in McGregor, Texas. The accident was made public three days later on Wednesday and comes at a time when the company is experiencing an unprecedented rate of launch.

  • Public invited to vote on nicknames for New Horizons’ next target

    Laurel KornfeldNovember 8th With just a little over a year remaining until New Horizons' flyby of 2014 MU69, NASA is asking the public for help in choosing a nickname for the Kuiper Belt Object (KBO).

  • Vega rocket sends MOHAMMED VI–A satellite to orbit on next-to-last Kourou flight of 2017

    Jason RhianNovember 7th Lighting the skies above the jungles of Kourou, French Guiana, an Arianespace Vega rocket lifted off from the Kourou Space Centre's ELV at 10:42 p.m. GFT (8:42 p.m. EST) on November 7 (01:42 GMT on Nov. 8), 2017. The payload for this flight was the MOHAMMED VI–A satellite which Vega sent on its way to a Sun-synchronous orbit.

  • Apollo 12 astronaut Richard ‘Dick’ Gordon passes away at 88

    Derek RichardsonNovember 7th Former astronaut Richard Francis "Dick" Gordon, one of 24 people to fly to the Moon, died on Nov. 6, 2017, in his home in California, according to a statement by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. He was 88.

  • Cassini data proposes new explanation for Enceladus’ active ocean

    Laurel KornfeldNovember 7th A new study that incorporates various findings by NASA's Cassini mission regarding Saturn's moon Enceladus proposes that the moon has a porous core in which rocks flex and rub together, producing sufficient heat via friction to power its global subsurface ocean.

  • Mobile Launcher work moves forward with installation of umbilicals and arrival of crew access arm

    Curt GodwinNovember 6th Though the maiden launch of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) is still, at the earliest, more than two years away, work on the large rocket's Mobile Launcher (ML) moves forward in support of the first flight of the agency's next crew-rated launch vehicle.

  • U.S. Air Force accepts first block of next-generation GPS control system

    Bart LeahyNovember 6th After several delays, Raytheon has delivered part of the Operational Control System (OCX) to the U.S. Air Force (USAF) for use on the USAF’s next-generation global positioning system (GPS III) satellites. The new OCX improves the accuracy of positioning information for all users.

  • China successfully launches a duo of BeiDou-3 navigation satellites

    Tomasz NowakowskiNovember 5th Using a Long March 3B booster, China successfully launched its newest duo of BeiDou-3 navigation satellites to orbit. The rocket took to the skies on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, at around 11:44 UTC (6:44 a.m. EST) from the LC3 Launch Complex at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, located in China’s Sichuan province.

  • D-Star One small satellite undergoes final tests

    Press ReleaseNovember 5th German Orbital Systems and iSky Technology companies have completed the final tests of the D-Star One small satellite's systems successfully and arranged its shipment to the launch site.

  • Arianespace poised to launch Vega with MOHAMMED VI–A satellite

    Jason RhianNovember 5th Arianespace is ready to launch the MOHAMMED VI–A satellite on behalf of the Kingdom of Morocco on November 7, 2017, at 10:42 p.m. local time (01:42 GMT Nov. 8). The spacecraft is slated to lift off from the Guiana Space Centre's Vega Launch Complex (SLV) and will mark the 10th flight of the year for the Courcouronnes, Essonne, France-based firm. 

  • SpaceX notches 15th Falcon 9 launch in 2017 with SES-11 mission

    Paul KnightlyOctober 11th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Hot on the heels of a Falcon 9 launch on the West Coast, SpaceX sent its 15th rocket into space in 2017. The SES-11/EchoStar-105 mission came less than 60 hours after the NewSpace company sent 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into orbit. Liftoff occurred at 6:53 p.m. EDT (22:53 GMT) Oct. 11, 2017, from Launch Complex 39A.

  • SFI LIVE: Launch of SpaceX Falcon 9 with SES-11

    Jason RhianOctober 11th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. -- SpaceX has a Falcon 9 rocket - primed and ready to launch the SES-11 / Echostar 105 satellites this evening (Wednesday Oct. 11). SpaceX has a two-hour long launch window which is slated to open at 6:53 p.m. EDT (22:53 GMT). SpaceFlight Insider is the only space news outlet to have an actual live show from the launch site and we're currently scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. EDT (22:30 p.m. GMT).

  • Astronauts breeze through US EVA-45

    Derek RichardsonOctober 10th Less than a week after completing one spacewalk, International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 53 astronauts Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei set out on another extravehicular activity (EVA). This excursion, U.S. EVA-45 lasted about 6.5 hours.

  • SpaceX to launch SES-11 satellite Wednesday

    Paul KnightlyOctober 10th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Less than 60 hours after a Falcon 9 rocket launched 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into space from the West Coast, on the other side of the continent SpaceX is set to send the SES-11 spacecraft into orbit for a scheduled liftoff at 6:53 p.m. EDT (22:53 GMT) Oct. 11, 2017, from Launch Complex 39A.

  • JAXA launches Michibiki-4 satellite

    Paul KnightlyOctober 9th The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the Michibiki-4 satellite aboard an H-IIA rocket at 7:01 a.m. Japan Standard Time on Oct. 10 (6:01 p.m. EDT / 22:01 GMT Oct. 9), 2017, from the Tanegashima Space Center. The satellite is the fourth in the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS), which is a satellite-based positioning system similar to the U.S. operated GPS.

  • SpaceX launches 10 Iridium NEXT satellites on Iridium-3 mission

    Derek RichardsonOctober 9th VANDENBERG, Calif. — SpaceX flew the first Falcon 9 rocket in what could be a launch doubleheader for the NewSpace company. The Iridium-3 mission lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base and saw the third set of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites placed into space.

  • Long March 2D blasts off with VRSS-2 Earth-observing satellite

    Tomasz NowakowskiOctober 9th A Long March 2D booster lifted off from Launch Area 4 at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu Province, China, carrying Venezuela's second remote sensing satellite known as VRSS-2. The launch took place at 04:13 UTC (0:13 a.m. EDT) on Monday, October 9, 2017.

  • SpaceX Falcon 9 set to fly Iridium-3 mission

    Derek RichardsonOctober 8th VANDENBERG, Calif. — Working to continue its breakneck launch pace, SpaceX is set to launch two Falcon 9 rockets in two days. First up is the Iridium-3 mission, which will launch on Oct. 9, 2017, from the company’s West Coast launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

  • Long March 2D to deliver Venezuelan VRSS-2 Earth-observing satellite into orbit

    Tomasz NowakowskiOctober 7th China is preparing for its second orbital mission after a three-month-long period with no launches. This time it will send a Long March 2D rocket into space carrying an Earth-observation satellite for Venezuela. Liftoff is planned for sometime between 12:05 a.m. and 12:33 a.m. EDT (04:05 and 04:33 GMT) Oct. 9, 2017, from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gansu Province.

  • NASA to Bigelow: One BEAM to stay up?

    Curt GodwinOctober 6th More than halfway through its planned two-year demonstration mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Bigelow Aerospace's Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is performing so well that NASA is considering extending the habitat's stay at the orbiting outpost.

  • Spacewalkers replace ‘hand’ on space station robotic arm

    Derek RichardsonOctober 5th Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei wrapped up the first of three spacewalks planned for the next two weeks. The Oct. 5, 2017, spacewalk was nearly seven hours long and saw the replacement of one of the two Latching End Effectors (LEE) on the International Space Station’s robotic arm.

  • Vice President Pence leads first National Space Council meeting, outlines Moon as priority

    Derek RichardsonOctober 5th The newly re-established National Space Council had its first meeting on Oct. 5, 2017, at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, the group heard testimony from experts across all sectors of the space industry in an effort to refocus U.S. space policy.

  • SpaceX realigns next Falcon 9 missions

    Derek RichardsonOctober 5th SpaceX has completed a static fire test on a Falcon 9 rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The rocket will send the Iridium-3 mission into space. Meanwhile, on the East Coast, the launch of a flight-proven Falcon 9 with the SES-11 satellite has been postponed by several days.

  • High winds force scrub of NROL-52 launch

    Jason RhianOctober 5th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Poor weather caused a scrub of the planned launch of an Atlas V rocket with the NROL-52 mission that had been scheduled to start its journey at 4:07 a.m. EDT Oct. 5, 2017.

  • SFI Live: Launch of ULA Atlas V with NROL-52

    Jason RhianOctober 4th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- United Launch Alliance (ULA) has one of the company's Atlas V 421 rockets poised to loft a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office. The mission is currently schedule to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41 at 4:07 a.m. EDT. SpaceFlight Insider's exclusive Live Show will begin at 3:30 a.m. EDT.

  • ULA preps Atlas V 421 to launch classified NROL-52 mission

    Jason RhianOctober 4th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — United Launch Alliance (ULA) is preparing to send a geosynchronous communications satellite into space on behalf of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) via an Atlas V 421 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41. Liftoff of the NROL-52 mission is scheduled to take place on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017.

  • Major core stage hardware completed for first SLS flight

    Heather SmithOctober 4th NASA has completed major work for all five parts of the core stage for the first flight of the massive Space Launch System (SLS). Additionally, manufacturing has been completed for all four core stage test articles with evaluation underway on the engine section structural test article at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

  • Parker Solar Probe gets its sunshield

    Christopher PaulOctober 3rd The Parker Solar Probe (formerly named the Solar Probe Plus) had its revolutionary solar heat shield installed on September 21, 2017, at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. The Parker Solar Probe will be launched on a Delta IV Heavy from Cape Canaveral on a mission that will take it closer to the Sun than any spacecraft in history.

  • China returns to flight with a secretive launch of three satellites

    Tomasz NowakowskiOctober 1st China performed a secretive launch of a Long March 2C rocket on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, ending the country’s three-month period without any orbital missions. The launch vehicle, carrying three Yaogan-30 01 satellites, lifted off at 04:21 UTC (0:21 a.m. EDT) from the LC3 Launch Complex at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center located in Sichuan province.

  • NASA reschedules launch of Webb Telescope for spring 2019

    Jim SharkeySeptember 30th The launch of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been rescheduled to occur sometime between March and June 2019 from French Guiana. The delay follows a schedule assessment of the remaining integration and test activities that need to occur prior to launch. The JWST was previously scheduled to launch in October 2018.

    The Range
  • Pan-STARRS-1 discovers interstellar object has entered our Solar System

    October 27th
    An asteroid (or comet) recently discovered in an extreme orbit originated beyond the Solar System in interstellar space, astronomers noted in a recent report. Initially discovered with the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope at the University of Hawaii on October 19, the object is the first such detected by scientists.

  • Minotaur-C scheduled for Vandenberg launch on October 31

    October 25th
    Six SkySat imaging satellites are now set to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California this coming Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 2:37 p.m. PDT. The launch will utilize an Orbital ATK Minotaur-C rocket.

  • Underground towns on the Moon and Mars: Future human habitats could be hidden in lava tubes

    October 24th
    New research conducted by European scientists suggests that underground caves created by volcanic activity on the Moon and possibly on Mars could be large enough to house even underground towns. The "lava tubes" could, therefore, be excellent hidden locations for future human habitats.

  • NASA Goddard set to celebrate 50th anniversary of Apollo 4

    October 23rd
    The NARHAMS model rocket club will join with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first launch of the Saturn V rocket. On November 5, 2017, the two organizations will meet at NASA's Goddard Visitor Center to commemorate the first Saturn V launch, the flight of Apollo 4, which took place on November 9, 1967.

  • Vector, Virginia Space announce upcoming orbital launches from Wallops

    October 22nd
    NewSpace continues to make progress in terms of expanding its presence in the establishment. This past week, it was announced that nanosatellite launch service provider Vector had inked a deal with the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority to conduct three commercial flights out of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) over the course of the next two years with possibly five additional launches in the offing.

  • NASA gives Dawn mission second extension

    October 22nd
    NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting Ceres since March 2015, has just been given a second extension, which will be used to bring the probe into the closest orbit yet around the dwarf planet.

  • Gallery: Cygnus OA-8 named after late Moonwalker

    October 21st

  • Mars hydrothermal deposits hint at habitable conditions

    October 21st
    A recent report in Nature Communications indicates that ancient Mars may have had deep sea-floor hydrothermal activity. Hydrothermal deposits on Earth are associated with the earliest signs of life and habitable environments today. Their detection on Mars has implications for the possibility of ancient life on the Red Planet.

  • Reconstructing Cassini’s final moments

    October 21st
    During the Cassini spacecraft's final plunge into Saturn's upper atmosphere on Sept.15, 2017, the spacecraft live-streamed data from eight of its science instruments, providing readings from a variety of engineering systems. While it will take time to analyze all of the data from its plunge, engineers with the Cassini team already have a pretty clear understanding of how the spacecraft behaved as it went in.

  • Musk provides more insight on SpaceX’s Mars ambitions

    October 20th
    Less than a month after Elon Musk revealed SpaceX's updated Mars mission architecture at the 2017 International Astronautical Congress, the billionaire CEO made himself available to the public to answer further questions about the company's ambitious undertaking. In a surprise tweet on Oct. 14, 2017, the SpaceX founder gave short notice to taking part in an "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) on the popular website, Reddit.

  • Facebook Live chat kicks off ‘Year of Education’ at ISS

    October 20th
    NASA’s Year of Education on Station kicked off on October 16, 2017, via Facebook Live, when NASA Public Affairs Officers Brandi Dean and Kirk Shireman contacted NASA astronaut Joe Acaba and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Paolo Nespoli up at the ISS to talk with students and teachers across the nation about their lives on the station and the work they do.

  • Ring discovered orbiting dwarf planet Haumea

    October 19th
    Scientists were surprised to find a narrow ring circling the dwarf planet Haumea when they observed the small world pass in front of a background star in January 2017.

  • Parker Solar Probe approved for environmental testing

    October 18th
    The Parker Solar Probe, formerly called Solar Probe Plus, has been certified ready for environmental testing. This means that engineers have inspected the spacecraft and have decided it is ready to be subjected to simulations of the conditions it will face during its launch and operations in space.

  • Crash Scene Investigation: Resting place of ESA’s first lunar mission found

    October 17th
    By analyzing high-resolution images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), researchers have identified the final resting place of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) first lunar mission, known as SMART-1. The spacecraft was deliberately crashed into the Moon 11 years ago.

  • Satellite data shows largest CO2 increase comes from Earth’s tropics

    October 16th
    Data collected by NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite, launched in 2014 to measure changing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) worldwide, indicate Earth's tropics have been the largest sources of recent CO2 emissions.