Spaceflight Insider

  • Russia restores contact with AngoSat-1 satellite

    Tomasz NowakowskiDecember 29th Russia has stated that it has restored contact with Angola’s first satellite, AngoSat-1, that was launched by a Zenit rocket on Tuesday, December 26, 2017. 

  • SpaceX Falcon Heavy raised for 1st time at Kennedy Space Center

    Bart LeahyDecember 28th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — For the first time, SpaceX used its “strongback” hydraulic mechanism to lift its three-core Falcon Heavy rocket into a vertical position at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. The vehicle will likely face more ground tests and preparations in advance of its liftoff, which is currently slated for no earlier than January 2018.

  • Progress MS-06 freighter undocks from ISS

    Derek RichardsonDecember 28th Closing out visiting vehicle comings-and-goings for 2017, the unpiloted Russian Progress MS-06 cargo spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station in preparation for an eventual deorbit into Earth’s atmosphere.

  • Gallium nitride processor: Next-generation technology for space exploration

    Tomasz NowakowskiDecember 28th A material known as gallium nitride (GaN), poised to become the next semiconductor for power electronics, could also be essential for various space applications. Yuji Zhao, an expert in electrical and computer engineering at Arizona State University (ASU), plans to develop the first ever processor from gallium nitride, which could revolutionize future space exploration missions.

  • Zenit rocket launches AngoSat-1 but ground control loses contact

    Tomasz NowakowskiDecember 27th A Russian-Ukrainian Zenit rocket was launched on Tuesday, December 26, 2017, with the aim of delivering into orbit Angola’s first satellite, known as AngoSat-1. However, it appears that contact with the spacecraft was lost after its deployment into orbit.

  • Planetary Resources’ Arkyd-6 ready for launch

    Collin SkocikDecember 27th After years of development, the Planetary Resources-built Arkyd-6 is finally on the last leg of its journey into space. It is scheduled to be launched as a secondary payload atop India’s PSLV-C40 mission in January 2018.

  • Will space tourism ever happen?

    Sponsored ContentDecember 26th Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX recently announced that two unnamed people will be flying in a loop around the Moon on a ‘holiday trip’ that they have paid significant amounts of money for. Space tourism is an exciting and innovative area, but a lot of debate surrounds it. Apart from the obvious technical difficulties that crewed flights to space presents, there are also questions surrounding aff...

  • Long March 2C sends a triplet of Yaogan-30 satellites into orbit

    Tomasz NowakowskiDecember 26th On Tuesday, December 26, 2017, at 3:44 a.m. local time (19:44 GMT / 2:44 p.m. EST on Dec. 25), China launched its Long March 2C rocket with a trio of Yaogan-30 satellites into space.

  • Our SpaceFlight Heritage: The atheist and Apollo 8

    Jason RhianDecember 25th When most people think of Apollo 8, they think of how the Book of Genesis was read from the vicinity of the Moon and the well-wishes the trio of astronauts gave the world. The year 1968 was not a good one in terms of U.S. history, and Apollo 8 ended that dark year on a high note – for most Americans. One exception, an atheist who opted to sue the U.S. government over violations of the first am...

  • New Horizons put in final hibernation before 2019 KBO flyby

    Laurel KornfeldDecember 24th A little over a year before its New Year's day 2019 flyby of Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) 2014 MU69, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft was put into its final hibernation prior to the visit.

  • Japan launches H-IIA rocket with two Earth-observing satellites

    Tomasz NowakowskiDecember 23rd An H-IIA 202 rocket took to the skies on Saturday, December 23, 2017, carrying GCOM-C1 (nicknamed SHIKISAI) and SLATS (dubbed TSUBAME) Earth-observing satellites.

  • Long March 2D sends China’s second Land Surveying Satellite to orbit

    Tomasz NowakowskiDecember 23rd China launched into space its second Land Surveying Satellite (LKW-2) on Saturday, December 23, 2017, atop a Long March 2D booster. Liftoff took place at exactly 04:14 UTC from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (JSLC) in China’s Gansu Province.

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

    Jason RhianNovember 22nd HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Named after General of the Army George Marshall, Marshall Space Flight Center is where NASA develops its rocket propulsion and other space flight systems. Used during the heady days of Apollo to check out the powerful F-1 engines used on the Saturn V Moon rockets, the site was later utilized to start the Space Shuttles' 30 year legacy. We wondered though, would the folks who work for NASA be the same as those we had encountered earlier on our tour?

  • Long March 6 launches trio of Jilin-1 Earth-observing satellites into orbit

    Tomasz NowakowskiNovember 21st A Long March 6 rocket took to the skies for the second time in history on Tuesday, November 21, 2017, carrying three Jilin-1 satellites designed for Earth observation purposes. Liftoff took place at 04:50 GMT (11:50 p.m. EST on Monday) from the Launch Complex 16 at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center (TSLC) in China’s Shanxi Province.

  • Insider Exclusive: America’s ‘Booster Belt’ Part Two – Decatur

    Jason RhianNovember 21st DECATUR, Ala. -- Located near the Tennessee River, ULA's Decatur facility is where its Atlas V and Delta IV rockets are assembled and where the Vulcan launch system is coming together. Situated on some 35 acres, the 1.6 million-square-foot facility is so massive that its roughly 1,000 employees get around on golf carts and bicycles. It was day two of our tour and we were looking forward to learning more about the aerospace workers that produce some of the nation's rockets.

  • Insider Exclusive: America’s ‘Booster Belt’ – Part One

    Jason RhianNovember 20th IUKA, Miss. -- We only knew that we were traveling to see where rocket components and rockets were made - and little else. SpaceFlight Insider photographer, Vikash Mahadeo, who accompanied me on our week-long foray to several rocket manufacturing facilities along with myself were as prepared as we could be - but we had no idea what to expect. What followed was an experience that would redefine the way we looked at space flight.

  • NASA green lights SpaceX use of pre-flown Falcon 9 first stages on CRS missions

    Jason RhianNovember 19th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Nineteen. It only took nineteen successful landings either on one of the company's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ships (ASDS) or at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's "Landing Zone 1" (formerly Space Launch Complex 13) before NASA agreed to allow SpaceX to use its pre-flown boosters for cargo resupply runs to the International Space Station.

  • Delta II rocket successfully launches NOAA’s JPSS-1 satellite

    Ocean McIntyreNovember 18th VANDENBERG, Calif. — In a spectacular nighttime launch from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, United Launch Alliance’s penultimate Delta II rocket successfully lofted the newest and most advanced weather satellite in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA)’s fleet into polar orbit early this morning on November 18, 2017.

  • Rocket Lab prepares Electron for its second test flight

    Curt GodwinNovember 17th Less than six months after the maiden flight of their Electron launch vehicle, Rocket Lab is preparing for the second flight of its new rocket. With the arrival of the vehicle at the company's Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, Rocket Lab now begins the pre-flight phase of their second mission.

  • Long March 4C sends Fengyun-3D and Head-1 into orbit

    Tomasz NowakowskiNovember 14th Lifting off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center (TSLC) located in China’s Shanxi Province, a Long March 4C rocket has delivered the Fengyun-3D and Head-1 satellites into their orbits. The launch was conducted from TSLC's LC9 Launch Complex at 18:35 GMT (1:35 p.m. EST) on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017.

  • S.S. Gene Cernan OA-8 Cygnus arrives at ISS

    Derek RichardsonNovember 14th After a two-day trek, Orbital ATK’s OA-8 Cygnus cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station. The vehicle was berthed to the outpost at 7:15 a.m. EST (12:15 GMT) Nov. 14, 2017, and will remain attached for several weeks.

  • Dream Chaser completes successful glide test

    Derek RichardsonNovember 14th Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser spaceplane test article successfully performed a free-flight test at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in California. The spacecraft is being developed to send cargo to the International Space Station.

  • NOAA’s next-generation weather satellite JPSS-1 set to launch Tuesday

    Ocean McIntyreNovember 13th The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is eagerly anticipating the launch of the first satellite in the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). JPSS-1 is the newest and most advanced weather satellite to date using many of the same instruments on the Suomi NPP satellite launched on October 28, 2011.

  • “…We shall return!” S.S. Gene Cernan lifts off from MARS’ Pad 0A

    Jason RhianNovember 12th WALLOPS FLIGHT FACILITY, Va. — With no wayward pilots to ruin their efforts, NASA and Orbital ATK sent the S.S. Gene Cernan (Cygnus CRS OA-8E) to orbit atop an Antares rocket from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at 7:19 a.m. EST (12:19 GMT) on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, on the OA-8 mission bound for the International Space Station.

  • Antares OA-8 launch scrubbed

    Lloyd CampbellNovember 11th The Orbital-ATK Antares 230 rocket with the S.S. Gene Cernan (Cygnus CRS OA-8E) spacecraft atop was poised for liftoff from NASA's Wallops Island Flight facility this morning at 7:37 a.m. EST (12:37 GMT), but the launch was aborted "due to aircraft in the restricted area" – according to the company's statement.

  • SFI LIVE: Orbital ATK Antares with OA-8 Cygnus

    Jason RhianNovember 11th WALLOPS ISLAND, Va., -- NASA and Orbital ATK are planning to launch the S.S. Gene Cernan, OA-8 Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station atop an Antares 230 rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport's Pad 0A sometime in a five minute long launch window that opens at 7:37 a.m. EST on Saturday, Nov. 11. SpaceFlight Insider's exclusive Live Show will begin at 7 a.m. EST.

  • S.S. Gene Cernan set to conduct cargo run to International Space Station

    Lloyd CampbellNovember 10th WALLOPS FLIGHT FACILITY, Va. — NASA and Orbital ATK are preparing to launch some 7,385 pounds (3,350 kg) of cargo, crew supplies, and experiments to the International Space Station. The mission is currently scheduled to fly on Nov. 11, 2017, at 7:37 a.m. EST from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport's Pad-0A.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    The Range
  • Vote on names for New Horizons’ second target extended to Dec. 6

    December 3rd
    NASA's public campaign seeking name suggestions for New Horizons' second target, 2014 MU69, has garnered so many creative suggestions that its deadline has been extended for another five days.

  • Elon Musk trolls the Internet with Falcon Heavy tweets

    December 3rd
    It has been long-known that SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has a sense of humor. Indeed, Mr. Musk once quipped that the company would fund their Mars ambitions by selling underwear. Therefore, it is usually fairly easy to know when Musk is messing around.

  • U.S. Navy accepts control of MUOS-5

    November 30th
    The Naval Satellite Operations Center (NAVSOC) has accepted operational control of MUOS-5 from Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy’s Communications Satellite Program Office.

  • Lockheed Martin completes assembly of third GPS III satellite

    November 30th
    Using its advanced cleanroom facility near Denver, Colorado, Lockheed Martin has fully assembled the third of its ten contracted third-generation Global Positioning System (GPS III) satellites. Lockheed Martin did not state an official delivery date for the spacecraft, dubbed GPS III Space Vehicle 03 (GPS III SV03).

  • Four ways to start learning about rocket science

    November 29th
    Marveling at the launch of a rocket lifting off from a launch pad can have you pondering how brilliant the inventors of these rockets must be. The old saying “Hey, it isn't rocket science...” comes to mind when trying to gauge the complexity of the entire process of designing and building a successful rocket from scratch as well as using a combination of some of the most advanced forms of math and science. However, anyone with a decent IQ and the willingness to learn could potentially become a rocket scientist, or at least learn enough to understand how it works. Here are 4 ways the average person can quickly start learning about rocket science:

  • NASA releases Cassini’s farewell view of Saturn

    November 28th
    During the final leg of NASA's Cassini mission at Saturn, the spacecraft took a lingering last look at the planet that has been its home for more than 13 years by snapping a series of images that has been assembled into a new mosaic.

  • Study: Exploration of Special Regions needed to find alien life on Mars

    November 28th
    An international team of researchers has conducted a study endorsing the exploration of the so-called Special Regions on Mars. They call for the relaxation of the planetary protection policy in order to allow sending robotic explorers to the restricted areas that could potentially host microbial life.

  • Hot super-Earth, 55 Cancri e, found to have an atmosphere

    November 27th
    Scientists analyzing data collected by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered that a hot super-Earth, which might have flowing lava on its surface, likely has an atmosphere.

  • NASA, Department of Energy testing ‘Kilopower’ space nuclear reactor

    November 26th
    In preparing for possible missions to the Red Planet in the near future, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) has been given the go-ahead to test a small nuclear reactor that could one day run equipment on the Martian surface.

  • Review: Bringing Columbia Home

    November 26th
    It was one of NASA’s most tragic moments and Bringing Columbia Home, a new book drafted by noted author Jonathan Ward and the agency’s last Space Shuttle Launch Director, Michael Leinbach provide a review of STS-107, Shuttle Columbia’s final flight. An interview with the authors reminds us of just what was lost – and why it is important to remember the accident which placed NASA on the trajectory the agency is currently on.

  • NASA’s InSight lander completes thermal vacuum testing

    November 25th
    The next robotic mission to Mars, NASA's InSight lander, has undergone a thermal vacuum (TVAC) test to ensure it can survive the six-month journey to the Red Planet. The spacecraft is set to launch in May 2018.

  • Research suggests limited role for water in Mars recurring slope lineae

    November 25th
    Water may play a less significant role than previously thought in recurring slope lineae on Mars according to a paper published in Nature Geoscience on Nov. 20. Recurring slope lineae, or RSL, are dark seasonal slope streaks that occur on slope faces in some regions of Mars.

  • First science targets of NASA’s Webb telescope announced

    November 23rd
    NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is scheduled to launch in spring 2019. The space agency recently announced the early release observing programs that will be completed within the first five months of Webb's science operations.

  • First SLS hardware turned over to Ground Systems for EM-1 flight

    November 22nd
    NASA reports that the rocket stage designated to accelerate the Orion spacecraft to the Moon in 2019 has been turned over to the Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) team at Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The flight stage – called the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) – is being processed for Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the first integrated flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion.

  • Largest space telescope ever fielded, LUVOIR, could aid in search for alien life

    November 21st
    In terms of space exploration and information, NASA has had to answer the question of "What is next?" The agency continues to work to answer this question with new and ever-more complex programs. Spacecraft such as the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) have and are aiming to continue revolutionizing humanity's knowledge of the Cosmos. However, there is another possible answer to "What is next?" – LUVOIR.