Spaceflight Insider

  • MRO image shows dust covering Phoenix landing site

    Laurel KornfeldFebruary 22nd An image of the 2008 Phoenix Mars landing site taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) nearly a decade after it touched down on the dusty plains of the Red Planet reveals dust has covered much of the site.

  • TESS scientist explains what the Goldilocks orbit is

    Jim SiegelFebruary 21st KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. -- NASA is planning on launching the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission about mid-April aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. TESS is planned to operate from a "sweet spot" so to speak, but Goldilocks zones and Goldilocks orbits aren't the same. 

  • Bigelow Aerospace spawns spinoff company to market its space stations

    Derek RichardsonFebruary 21st After more than a week of teasing, Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace announced the creation of a sister company called Bigelow Space Operations (BSO). Its mission is to "market and operate space stations developed by Bigelow Aerospace that are so capable, so diverse and so large that they can accommodate virtually unlimited use almost anywhere."

  • Arabsat’s latest communications satellite assembled in preparation for flight

    Jason RhianFebruary 20th The Arabsat-6A satellite has completed primary assembly and has been shipped to Lockheed Martin's Sunnyvale, California facilities to begin testing in preparation for flight.

  • Will the ISS continue beyond 2024?

    Jim SiegelFebruary 20th Buried in the middle of his Feb. 12, 2018, statement regarding NASA’s proposed 2019 FY budget, acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot sent a bit of a shock wave through the space community with an announcement that could see the fate of the International Space Station forever altered.

  • NASA’s Opportunity rover still finding surprises on Mars

    Jim SharkeyFebruary 19th NASA's Opportunity Mars rover continues to make surprising discoveries during its fourteenth year exploring the red Planet. Most recently, the rover has observed evidence of possible "rock strips." In recent images from the rover, the texture of the ground looks like a smudged version of distinctive stone strips on some mountain slopes on Earth that are the result of reoccurring cycles of freezing...

  • Could the X3 ion thruster propel us to Mars?

    Tomasz NowakowskiFebruary 19th The X3, a new ion thruster that could one day propel humans beyond Earth, was successfully tested a few months ago and is one design that could be selected by NASA as a component of propulsion system for future Mars missions.

  • Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in precautionary standby mode

    Laurel KornfeldFebruary 18th NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) placed itself into a precautionary standby mode after experiencing a sudden low battery voltage on February 15. 

  • Opportunity rover has spent 5,000 Martian days on the Red Planet

    Laurel KornfeldFebruary 18th NASA's Opportunity rover, which landed on Mars on Jan. 25, 2004, on a 90-sol (one sol equals one Martian day) mission, just marked its 5,000th sol roving and studying the Red Planet.

  • CASIS announces change of leadership

    Jason RhianFebruary 17th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL (February 16, 2018) – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) has announced that President and Executive Director Gregory H. Johnson plans to leave the nonprofit organization effective March 10, 2018, after serving in that position for nearly five years.

  • Spacewalking astronauts finish Canadarm2 work at breakneck speed

    Derek RichardsonFebruary 16th Two astronauts—one American, the other Japanese—suited up to venture outside the International Space Station to finish work upgrading the outpost’s robotic Canadarm2, a process that has now involved five extravehicular activities (EVAs) over some four months.

  • Fresh from successful Falcon Heavy launch, SpaceX prepares to fly Spain’s PAZ satellite

    Curt GodwinFebruary 16th Less than two weeks after the successful first launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket, SpaceX looks to continue its string of successful flights with the delivery of Spain's PAZ radar imaging satellite to a Sun-synchronous orbit. The satellite, the first of its kind for the European nation,  is set to lift off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at...

  • Aerojet Rocketdyne starts off a busy 2018 with hot fire of RS-25 engine

    Lloyd CampbellJanuary 17th NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne conducted another successful test firing of the Space Launch System’s core stage main engine, the RS-25, on Jan 16 2018.

  • Long March 11 scheduled to orbit nine small satellites Friday

    Tomasz NowakowskiJanuary 17th China is preparing to perform its fourth launch of this year, with the flight scheduled for Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. The mission will see a Long March 11 booster sending nine satellites into space.

  • Steep Martian slopes reveal structure of underground ice sheets

    Jim SharkeyJanuary 15th Scientists using NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have located eight sites where thick deposits of ice beneath the Martian surface are exposed in the faces of steep eroding slopes known as scarps. The eight scarps, have slopes as steep as 55 degrees, provide researchers with new information about the internal structure of previously-discovered layered subsurface ice sheets in Mars's middle latitudes.

  • Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex provides sneak peek at new Astronaut Training Experience®

    Ryan ChylinskiJanuary 14th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. -- Hazy with excitement, you regain your composure. Your vision clears. The sound of heavy boots on metal echos loudly despite the noise around you. The iconic orange gantry comes into view and you wave to the automated cameras. Millions around the world are watching. You are poised to travel to Mars via the Astronaut Training Experience.

  • SpaceX’s CRS-13 Dragon capsule departs ISS after 4-week stay

    Derek RichardsonJanuary 13th The first visiting vehicle activity at the International Space Station in 2018 concluded Jan. 13 with the unberthing, departure and splashdown of SpaceX’s CRS-13 Dragon cargo ship after spending nearly a month at the orbiting outpost.

  • Classified NROL-47 mission launches from Vandenberg

    Jim SharkeyJanuary 12th United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully completed its first flight of 2018 on Friday, January 12, two days after high ground winds forced the scrubbing of the initial launch attempt and one day after a ground system valve forced a second scrub.

  • India returns PSLV to service with launch of Cartosat-2F

    Curt GodwinJanuary 12th Nearly four and a half months after their last launch ended in failure, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully delivered the Cartosat-2F Earth-observation satellite to on Flight PSLV-C40.

  • Ariane 5 poised to be retired

    Collin SkocikJanuary 11th After more than twenty years in service, the Ariane 5 rocket is going to stop flying. The European rocket was first flown in June of 1996, and ArianeSpace has now ordered the last ten Ariane 5 launchers.

  • Chinese expert denies claims of Tiangong-1’s uncontrolled re-entry

    Tomasz NowakowskiJanuary 10th China’s Tiangong-1 space laboratory is not out of control and poses no danger to Earth. This is according to a leading Chinese spaceflight engineer.

  • China opens 2018 with Long March 2D flight of two SuperView-1 satellites

    Tomasz NowakowskiJanuary 9th China’s Long March 2D booster launched into space on Tuesday, January 9, at 11:24 a.m. Beijing time (10:24 p.m. EST and 03:24 GMT on Jan. 8) sending a duo of SuperView-1 satellites into orbit.

  • Was secret Zuma mission lost? – UPDATE

    Jason RhianJanuary 8th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A report drafted by Ars Technica's Eric Berger has stated that sources have suggested that the classified Zuma mission launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket - may have been lost. 

  • SpaceX launches secretive ‘Zuma’ mission

    Jason RhianJanuary 7th KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — California-based Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) launched a "Full Thrust" Falcon 9 rocket with the "Zuma" payload on January 7, 2017, at 8:00 p.m. EST (01:00 GMT Jan. 8).  This evening's launch was a long time in the making and signaled the start of a busy year of firsts for the NewSpace firm.

  • SFI LIVE: SpaceX Falcon 9 with ‘Zuma’

    Jason RhianJanuary 7th CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- SpaceX is set to launch its first Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex 40 on Sunday, Jan. 7. The two-hour long launch window is slated to open at 8 p.m. EST (00:00 GMT on Monday, Jan. 8). Little is known about the 'Zuma' mission and SFI Live should begin its coverage from Exploration Tower at 7:30 p.m. EST (00:30 GMT). While other sites promise you "live" coverage - only SFI hosts its own Live Show from the launch site!

  • 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 much more and his career was filled with accomplishments, something his colleagues reflected on upon hearing of his passing.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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 and the U.S. Air Force.

  • 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.

    The Range
  • Two shuttle veterans poised to join U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame

    January 21st
    On Jan. 18, 2018 former shuttle astronauts Dr. Thomas D. Jones and Captain Scott D. Altman, were recognized for their contributions toward the field of space sciences - by being selected for induction into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame. When they claim their medallions, they will become two of only 95 individuals to receive this honor. 

  • Saturn’s moon Titan has ‘sea level’ like Earth

    January 20th
    Researchers using data from NASA's Cassini mission have discovered a striking similarity between Earth and Saturn's moon Titan. Just as the surface of Earth's oceans lies at an average elevation referred to as "sea level", Titan's seas also lie at an average elevation. Titan is the only world in our solar system other than Earth known to have stable liquid on its surface. Instead of water, Titan's lakes and seas are filled with hydrocarbons, mostly  methane and ethane. Water ice, covered by a layer of solid organic material, forms the bedrock surrounding these lakes and seas.

  • NASA planning 2 spacewalks to replace Canadarm2 ‘hand’ despite US government shutdown

    January 20th
    Despite budget battles in Washington, D.C. resulting in a temporary shutdown of the U.S. federal government, NASA and the International Space Station's Expedition 54 crew still plan to carry out a pair of spacewalks to replace one of the 16-year-old "hands" on the outpost's robotic arm.

  • Long March 11 lifts off from Jiuquan with six small satellites

    January 19th
    China’s light-lift Long March 11 booster took to the skies on Friday, January 19, tasked with the delivery of six small satellites into orbit.

  • Launch of SBIRS GEO 4 scrubbed

    January 18th
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The planned flight of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 411 rocket has been scrubbed by at least 24 hours due to unspecified reasons. The mission was set to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida with the fourth Space Based Infrared System GEO (SBIRS GEO 4) satellite with the window scheduled to open at 7:52 p.m. EST (00:52 GMT on Friday, Jan. 19).

  • Japanese Epsilon rocket sends ASNARO-2 radar satellite to orbit

    January 17th
    A Japanese Epsilon rocket successfully delivered the ASNARO-2 radar Earth observation satellite to orbit this afternoon. The Epsilon rocket launched from Uchinoura Space Center at (6:00 to 6:35 a.m.) Japan Standard Time, or (4:00 to 4:35 p.m.) Eastern Standard Time.

  • Titan’s haze captured in Cassini photo

    January 17th
    Downtown L.A. has got nothing on Saturn's moon Titan, at least in terms of smoggy haze that is. Imagery captured by the Cassini spacecraft prior to its plunge into Saturn's atmosphere on Sept. 15, 2017 shows a world blanketed in a dense mist.

  • Florida space leaders to visit capitol on February 14

    January 16th
    KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL (January 16, 2018) – Promoting the economic impact of the space industry, Florida’s aerospace leaders will visit Tallahassee on February 14, 2018, for Florida Space Day, sharing with legislators the opportunities the industry brings to Florida and the nation.

  • ULA readies for U.S. Air Force SBIRS GEO 4 launch

    January 16th
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- After a slight delay from late 2017, United Launch Alliance is readying an Atlas V 411 to launch the fourth geosynchronous element of the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Space Based Infrared Sensor (SBIRS) program. The launch, is currently set to take place from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) Space Launch Complex (SLC) 41 on January 18.

  • NASA to study weather in boundary layer between Earth and space

    January 14th
    While most people tune-in to their local weather forecasts, and there are those who keep their eyes to the sky for the latest in space weather, the region in which they interact has been largely uncharted. NASA - with the help of two satellites planned for launch in 2018 - hopes to change that.

  • NASA video simulation takes viewers on a journey through the Orion Nebula

    January 14th
    A new 3D video simulation that uses images taken by both the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes takes viewers on a stunning simulated journey within the Orion Nebula.

  • Long March 2D lifts off with LKW-3 Earth-observing satellite

    January 13th
    China has performed its third orbital launch of this year (2018) by sending its Long March 2D booster carrying the LKW-3 Earth observation spacecraft aloft. 

  • SpaceShipTwo conducts successful test flight

    January 13th
    Virgin Galactic conducted a successful test flight of the SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity vehicle on Thursday, Jan. 11. The high-speed glide test marks the seventh for VSS Unity, which reached a top speed of Mach 0.9 during the flight.

  • China launches two BeiDou-3 spacecraft to replenish its homegrown satellite navigation system

    January 12th
    China has conducted its second flight of 2018 by launching a Long March 3B rocket with a duo of BeiDou-3 spacecraft for its homegrown BieDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS).

  • Launch of Delta IV with NROL-47 scrubbed for second day in a row

    January 11th
    United Launch Alliance scrubbed the second launch attempt of a Delta IV Medium+ (5,2) with the classified NROL-47 for the National Reconnaissance Office. However, the reason for today's scrub differed from the prior day's attempt.