Spaceflight Insider

  • NASA’s Mars 2020 rover to be equipped with 23 ‘eyes’

    Ocean McIntyreNovember 4th One of the key instruments that has accompanied every rover since Pathfinder became the first rover to land on the surface of Mars in 1997 are imagers – cameras. NASA’s newest rover continues this trend. In addition, it continues the trend of increased visible acuity that accompanies the increased instrument performance and improved technology.

  • Curiosity applies color talents to ‘Vera Rubin Ridge’

    Jim SharkeyNovember 3rd The color-discerning abilities of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover have proven particularly useful as the rover continues its climb of "Vera Rubin Ridge". In addition to the thousands of full-color images that Curiosity takes every year, the rover can image the Martian surface using special filters that can aid in identifying some minerals – something it has used to scout the terrain it will soon cov...

  • Century-old data holds earliest evidence for existence of exoplanets

    Laurel KornfeldNovember 3rd Exoplanets, or planets orbiting stars other than the Sun, were first discovered in the 1990s, but old photographic plates taken nearly 100 years ago and recently found in storerooms at Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California, contain the first evidence of their existence.

  • Gallery: SpaceX sends KoreaSat 5A spaceward

    Derek RichardsonNovember 2nd KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — SpaceX launched KoreaSat 5A atop one of its Falcon 9 rockets at 3:34 p.m. EDT (19:34 GMT) Oct. 30, 2017. The mission was the 16th this year for the Hawthorne, California-based company.

  • How space technology benefits us

    Press ReleaseNovember 1st At times, it might seem that since giving up on Moon explorations, not much has happened for us space faring humans. Nothing could be farther from the truth with bioengineers and numerous other scientists looking to the stars and beyond for ways to develop technologies that will help in space. Many of these same technologies are used to help us here on the ground too even if we don’t realize it.

  • Russia may select first crew for its Federation spacecraft next year

    Tomasz NowakowskiNovember 1st Russia may soon reveal the names of the cosmonauts assigned to the first space mission of the country’s next-generation spacecraft known as "Federation". According to the spacecraft’s manufacturer, RKK Energia, the crew could be selected as early as the first half of 2018.

  • Orbital ATK launches fleet of SkySat Earth observation satellites

    Ryan ChylinskiOctober 31st Orbital ATK’s Minotaur-C roared into the sky at 2:37 p.m. PDT (21:37 GMT) Oct. 31, 2017, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Halloween-day launch carried six of Planet Lab’s SkySat high-resolution imaging satellites and four Dove CubeSats into a Sun-synchronous orbit 310 miles (500 kilometers) above the Earth.

  • Industry expert: Asteroid mining could begin within the next 10–20 years

    Tomasz NowakowskiOctober 31st Mining the countless space rocks found in our Solar System for valuable resources could become a reality within two decades. This is according to J.L. Galache of Aten Engineering. However, he cautions that there are still many challenges that must first be overcome to make it happen that quickly.

  • KoreaSat 5A marks 16th successful flight of 2017 for SpaceX

    Paul KnightlyOctober 30th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — KoreaSat 5A was lofted into orbit at 3:34 p.m. EDT (19:34 GMT) Oct. 30, 2017, aboard a Falcon 9 rocket under clear skies from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A). This marked the third SpaceX launch this month (October) alone, continuing an ambitious 2017 launch schedule for the Hawthorne, California-based company.

  • SFI Live: Launch of KoreaSat 5A on SpaceX Falcon 9

    Jason RhianOctober 30th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. -- SpaceX is preparing to launch the KoreaSat 5a telecommunications satellite from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch window will open at 3:34 p.m. EDT (19:34 GMT) and extend for about two hours and 24 minutes. The launch site will be KSC's historic Launch Complex 39A.

  • Spacecom selects SpaceX to launch Amos-17 using credits from loss of Amos-6

    Curt GodwinOctober 30th Israeli satellite operator Spacecom is calling in its credit with SpaceX to launch the Amos-17 telecommunications satellite, tentatively scheduled for liftoff in 2019. The credit is from fees that the company had already paid SpaceX for the launch of Amos-6 but was "refunded" to the satellite operator after the loss of the satellite in a pad incident on September 1, 2016.

  • Sunscreen ingredient falls as ‘snow’ on hot exoplanet Kepler-13Ab

    Laurel KornfeldOctober 29th One of the hottest known exoplanets – Kepler-13Ab – experiences 'snowfall' composed of titanium dioxide, an active ingredient in sunscreen. However, the sunscreen "snow" only precipitates on the planet's permanent dark side.

  • Ariane 5 pulls double duty launching two comsats from Kourou

    Bart LeahySeptember 29th Shortly after sunset on September 29, 2017, in Kourou, French Guiana, an Arianespace Ariane 5 lofted 23,894 pounds (10,838 kilograms) of payload into space in the form of two communications satellites. The Intelsat 37e satellite will support Africa, Europe, Central Africa, and Latin America, while the BSAT-4a satellite will provide Direct-to-Home (DTH) television service in Japan.

  • Elon Musk hopes to make SpaceX’s Falcon, Dragon fleet obsolete with Mars rocket

    Derek RichardsonSeptember 29th Just a year after unveiling a design for a mega-booster four times the size of the Saturn V, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk presented an updated version of the Mars rocket his company hopes will enable colonization of the Red Planet. The Sept. 29, 2017, presentation occurred during the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia.

  • Boeing hints at delayed first crewed flight of Starliner

    Bart LeahySeptember 29th Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia, on September 26, 2017, Chris Ferguson, director of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner crew and mission systems, discussed testing of the company’s commercial crew spacecraft.

  • Proton-M blasts off from Baikonur with AsiaSat 9 telecom satellite

    Tomasz NowakowskiSeptember 28th International Launch Services (ILS) successfully conducted its third mission this year, launching its workhorse Proton-M rocket carrying the AsiaSat 9 communications satellite into orbit. The launcher lifted off at exactly 18:52 UTC (14:52 EDT) on Thursday, September 28, from Site 200/39 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

  • China delays lunar sample return mission following rocket failure

    Laurel KornfeldSeptember 28th China has postponed its $3 billion (20 billion yuan) Chang'e 5 lunar sample return mission in the wake of the July failure of its Long March 5 (Y2) rocket to reach orbit.

  • NASA, Roscosmos sign statement on lunar space station cooperation

    Curt GodwinSeptember 28th Continuing a tradition of cooperative partnership in space exploration, the respective space agencies of the United States and Russia signed a joint statement to develop a space station in lunar orbit. NASA and Roscosmos made the announcement on Sept. 27, 2017, at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia.

  • Our SpaceFlight Heritage: The decade of Dawn

    Ocean McIntyreSeptember 27th When the Dawn mission finally launched on September 27, 2007, many saw it as practically miraculous. The spacecraft had survived numerous cancellations and delays, and it was only with concerted effort that the mission was reinstated. Dawn had an audacious mandate, to do something that hadn't been attempted before – to travel to one body and then depart and head to another.

  • U.S. VP Pence continues tour of NASA facilities with stop to Marshall Space Flight Center

    Jason RhianSeptember 26th HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — After stops at NASA's Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence toured the space agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The visit marked a first in terms of the White House and provided the agency with another opportunity to highlight not only its on-orbit capabilities but also its plans for crewed deep space missions.

  • SpaceX gears up for a busy autumn

    Bart LeahySeptember 25th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — October and November are lining up to be busy months for SpaceX. If everything goes according to plan, the NewSpace firm is poised to launch (and land) three Falcon 9 rockets, and it also hopes to carry out the first launch of a “Falcon Heavy” in November. These efforts promise a challenging autumn for Elon Musk’s entrepreneurial space company.

  • Their words: Cassini’s Hunter Waite and the quest to look beyond

    Matthew KuhnsSeptember 24th PASADENA, Calif. — Peering through the atmospheres of other worlds to determine what they are made of is difficult enough, but to do so reliably for 13 years is an astonishing accomplishment. Hunter Waite, the INMS team leader at SwRI, spoke with SpaceFlight Insider about the mission in the lead-up to Cassini's "final bow".

  • ULA Atlas V places NROL-42 classified payload into orbit

    Lloyd CampbellSeptember 24th VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — A United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket has successfully lifted off from Launch Complex 3 at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to deliver a classified satellite into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

  • Soyuz-2.1b launches GLONASS-M navigation satellite into orbit

    Tomasz NowakowskiSeptember 23rd A Soyuz-2.1b rocket successfully sent the newest GLONASS-M into orbit on Friday, September 22, in order to replenish the Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS). The launch took place at 0:03 UTC (8:03 p.m. EDT Sept. 21) from Site 43/4 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.

  • Their words: Cassini’s Linda Spilker on mission’s legacy

    Matthew KuhnsSeptember 23rd PASADENA, Calif. — When Cassini took its final bow into the upper atmosphere of the gas giant Saturn, a good many people who had labored on the nearly 20-year-long mission were forced to say goodbye to a machine that had become all but a member of the family. One thing that was not lost that day was the wealth of knowledge that Cassini had sent back to those it left behind on Earth.

  • NASA’s OSIRIS-REx set for Earth flyby on way to Asteroid Bennu

    Ocean McIntyreSeptember 21st Traveling at a staggering 19,000 miles (30,758 km) per hour, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will fly past its homeworld on its way to the asteroid Bennu. The slingshot maneuver will provide the Lockheed Martin-built probe with a push to an inclination of six degrees – the angle that Bennu orbits the Sun – from Earth's orbital plane and onward to the rocky leftover from the Solar System's formation.

  • NROL-42 classified surveillance satellite set to launch

    Lloyd CampbellSeptember 20th A secretive National Reconnaissance Office satellite, NROL-42, is poised to launch from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Thursday, September 21, 2017.

  • MEV-1 working to expand spaceflight revolution, extend on-orbit operations

    Jason RhianSeptember 19th It was once believed that the first stage of a rocket couldn't return to the launch site. On Dec. 22, 2015, this was shown not to be so. At the close of the Shuttle era, another long-held line of thinking was also shown to be outmoded. Now, Orbital ATK is working to expand efforts to have satellites be refueled and repaired while on orbit.

  • Cassini: The legend and legacy of one of NASA’s most prolific missions

    Ocean McIntyreSeptember 17th PASADENA, Calif. — Just one month shy of twenty years in space, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft dramatically ended its mission in the early morning hours at approximately 4:55 a.m. PDT (7:55 a.m. EDT / 11:55 GMT) Earth-Received Time (ERT) on Friday, September 15, 2017.

  • Wakened from its latest hibernation, New Horizons may visit additional Kuiper Belt Objects

    Laurel KornfeldSeptember 16th Newly awakened from a five-month hibernation, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft may visit a third Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) after flying by 2014 MU69 on Jan. 1, 2019. Mission scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL) received confirmation from NASA's Deep Space Network in Madrid, Spain, that the probe exited hibernation mode on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017.

  • LIVE: Cassini spacecraft ends its mission at Saturn

    Derek RichardsonSeptember 15th NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is making a final plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere to end its mission some 13 years after reaching the ringed world. Flight controllers at NASA are receiving the probe’s final data before it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere.

  • Update: Arianespace investigates cause of Ariane 5 launch abort

    Jim SharkeySeptember 14th Arianespace recently released a preliminary analysis of the post-ignition launch abort of an Ariane 5 rocket carrying two communications satellites. The mission, designated flight VA239, was scheduled for liftoff at 5:51 p.m. EDT (21:51 GMT) Sept. 5, 2017, from the Guiana Space Centre in South America.

    The Range
  • GAO: Even with production resumed, NASA plutonium supply at risk

    October 15th
    Some of NASA’s most accomplished deep-space missions—including Voyager, Cassini, and Mars Science Laboratory—have relied on radioactive plutonium-238 for onboard power and heat. However, a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report states that despite efforts to restart domestic plutonium production, NASA is in danger of not having enough of the radioactive material for future missions by the mid-2020s.

  • ESA details construction of Sentinel-5P satellite and Tropomi instrument

    October 15th
    NOORDWIJK, Netherlands — The Sentinel-5P satellite was launched atop a Russian Rockot rocket at 12:37 p.m. local time (5:37 a.m. EDT / 09:27 GMT) Oct. 13, 2017, from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. During a webcast before liftoff, a number of the key players in the development of the mission discussed building the satellite and its state-of-the-art Tropomi instrument from the European Space Agency's technical heart in the Netherlands.

  • U.S. Air Force declares first GPS III satellite ‘Available for Launch’

    October 14th
    On Tuesday, October 10, 2017, the U.S. Air Force declared that the first Lockheed Martin-built GPS III satellite will be "Available for Launch" in 2018.

  • Rocket Crafters adds advisory board member

    October 14th
    TITUSVILLE, FL. – (October 10, 2017) – Rocket Crafters, Inc., (RCI) announced today that Dale Coxwell, CEO of Coastal Steel Manufacturing, LLC, of Cocoa, Florida, is joining its Board of Advisors. Coxwell is also the executive vice president and owner of Coastal Steel, Inc.

  • NASA awards contract to launch miniature payloads

    October 13th
    KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. -- NASA has tapped Spaceflight Inc. for integration and launch services for so-called "U-Class payloads." These tiny space research satellites. This contract, one with a firm-fixed-price, is for base launch services in 2018 for 24 payloads.

  • Orbital ATK eyeing new date for Minotaur-C launch with SkySat

    October 12th
    Wanting a chance to further verify and carry out routine testing of their Minotaur-C rocket, the Dulles, Virginia-based firm Orbital ATK announced on Wednesday, October 11, 2017, that it has requested a later launch date for the solid-propellant fueled rocket. At present, a new launch date is not available. 

  • ULA to attempt launch of NROL-52 on Oct. 14

    October 12th
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Colorado-based United Launch Alliance (ULA) has announced that it will attempt to launch the classified NROL-52 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, at 3:31 a.m. EDT (07:31 GMT). The setting of the new launch date follows a string of delays that had taken place the week prior. 

  • Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop taking the long view to the stars

    October 12th
    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — While NASA and commercial operators plan to send human beings beyond low-Earth orbit, the participants of the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop (TVIW) spent this past week contemplating something incomparably more ambitious: seeking practical ways to travel to the stars.

  • Close approach of asteroid 2012 TC4 poses no danger to Earth

    October 11th
    The house-sized asteroid 2012 TC4 is slated to give Earth a close shave on Thursday, October 12, 2017, at 05:42 UTC (1:42 a.m. EDT), swooshing by our planet at a distance of about 31,161 miles (50,150 kilometers). Although there were some worries that this rocky object could hit the Earth, latest observations confirm that it poses no danger to our home planet at all.

  • NASA Glenn tests solar electric propulsion thruster for journey to metal world

    October 9th
    NASA is preparing to travel to a world unlike any other it has visited before. The agency has sent spacecraft to terrestrial planets, gaseous planets, icy moons, and rocky asteroids. Now, following its approval as a Discovery mission in February of this year, a spacecraft set for launch in 2022 will visit the main-belt asteroid Psyche, a metal world that scientists think is made almost entirely of nickel and iron.

  • Dust cloud could be reason for strange dimming of Tabby’s star

    October 8th
    The unusual dimming of Tabby's Star, for which a variety of explanations, including an alien "megastructure", have been proposed, is likely caused by an irregularly shaped dust cloud orbiting the star, according to a new study.

  • NASA offers another chance to send your name to Mars with Insight mission

    October 8th
    When NASA's InSight lander reaches Mars in November 2018, it will carry with it hundreds of thousands of names from members of the public. In 2015, nearly 827,000 people signed up to add their names to a silicon microchip onboard the robotic spacecraft. NASA is now adding another microchip, giving the public a second chance to send their names to Mars. 

  • Roscosmos envisions Russian rockets launching international missions to Moon, Mars

    October 7th
    Russia has high expectations for its future super-heavy-lift launch vehicle. Roscosmos chief Igor Komarov has recently laid out his hopes for the new rocket, underlining that he is longing to see interplanetary missions being launched by this heavy booster.

  • Technical issue causes third scrub of NROL-52 mission

    October 7th
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Just when it looked like the angry gods of weather had acquiesced, an issue with a telemetry transmitter on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 421 rocket caused a third delay. The rocket and its payload, a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office, will be rolled back to the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41.

  • Weather nixes second launch attempt of Atlas V with NROL-52

    October 6th
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — United Launch Alliance tried once again to launch a classified mission on behalf of the National Reconnaissance Office. However, the NROL-52 mission is still on the pad at Space Launch Complex 41. The culprit was the same as the previous morning's scrub – the turbulent Florida weather.