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National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), SpaceX, Roscosmos and China National Space Administration (CNSA) news.

Atlas 5 to fly Northrop Grumman’s solid boosters in upcoming launch of NRO satellite

While ULA builds the Atlas 5 for NROL-101 it also is working to get NROL-44 launched on a Delta 4 Heavy. WASHINGTON — United Launch Alliance has begun assembling the Atlas 5 rocket that will launch a classified spy satellite sometime before the end of the year, the company said Sept. 11 via Twitter. The vehicle will get three new GEM-63 strap-on solid boosters made by Northrop Grumman. This will be the first Atlas 5 using Northrop Grumman’s sol..

Astronomy and the climate crisis: Scientists make some connections

As astronomers look out to the universe, they use planet Earth as an important reference point. This has created a growing relationship between astronomy and the evolving study of climate change, which an international team of scientists explores in three new studies. Over the years, scientists have found an incredible variety of planets out in the cosmos, but none quite like Earth. But by studying far-off exoplanets, researchers can better unde..

White House issues cybersecurity space policy

WASHINGTON — The White House released a new space policy directive Sept. 4 intended to improve cybersecurity of space systems. Space Policy Directive (SPD) 5 is billed as the first comprehensive government policy related to cybersecurity for satellites and related systems, and outlines a set of best practices, but not firm requirements, that agencies and companies should follow to protect space systems from hacking and other cyber threats. “Wha..

China carries out secretive launch of ‘reusable experimental spacecraft’

HELSINKI — China launched an experimental reusable spacecraft Friday following months of low-key preparations at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. A Long March 2F launch vehicle delivered the spacecraft into orbit following launch at an unspecified time. Chinese state media Xinhua reported mission success just under three hours after the opening of the launch window at 1:23 a.m. Eastern. The ‘reusable experimental spacecraft’ is currently i..

Rocket Lab launches first Photon satellite

WASHINGTON — Rocket Lab announced Sept. 3 that it has placed its first Photon satellite into orbit, demonstrating the spacecraft’s technologies and the company’s ability to provide end-to-end space solutions. The satellite, called “First Light,” was launched as the kick stage of the Electron rocket that placed Capella Space’s Sequoia radar imaging satellite into orbit Aug. 30. Once the kick stage released Sequoia, controllers sent commands to pl..

ULA launch of NRO satellite on hold after Delta 4 Heavy hot fire abort

The launch of NROL-44 was aborted three seconds before the Delta 4 Heavy was to lift off from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral WASHINGTON — A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket carrying a National Reconnaissance Office classified spy satellite remains on the ground after a mission abort Aug. 29 during the ignition sequence before the planned 3:28 a.m. Eastern liftoff. The launch of NROL-44 was aborted three seconds before the ..

NASA and Boeing outline schedule of Starliner test flights

WASHINGTON — NASA and Boeing announced an updated schedule of test flights of the company’s CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle that would allow it to begin operational missions to the International Space Station at the end of 2021. In an Aug. 28 statement, NASA said it had scheduled a second uncrewed test flight, known as Orbital Flight Test (OFT) 2, for no earlier than December. That mission will be a repeat of the original OFT mission f..

Space Force buyers want a classified cloud to manage satellite programs

The Space and Missile Systems Center needs a digital workflow system for the development of classified early-warning and communications satellites. WASHINGTON — Space Force managers of classified satellite programs are asking tech companies for ideas on how to build a virtual work environment with high levels of security. The Space and Missile Systems Center in a “request for information” Aug. 26 says it needs a digital workflow system for the ..

China launches fifth Gaofen-9 series Earth observation satellite

HELSINKI — China launched its latest Gaofen-9 Earth observation satellite and two smaller payloads from the Jiuquan launch center late Saturday. The Long March 2D rocket carrying the satellites lifted off from Jiuquan in the Gobi Desert at 10:27 p.m. Eastern. The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) confirmed (Chinese) the launch, mission success and the payloads within the hour. The Gaofen-9 (05) optical remote sensing s..

Northrop Grumman weighing exit options for OmegA rocket

Northrop Grumman statement: “We will determine next steps once the debriefing process concludes." WASHINGTON — When Northrop Grumman unveiled its OmegA rocket in April 2018, the company was clear that it developed the vehicle for the sole purpose of challenging United Launch Alliance and SpaceX for national security space launch contracts. The Air Force decided to stick with ULA and SpaceX to provide launch services from 2022 to 2027. Without a..

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