Critical engine test for NASA’s Space Launch System megarocket shuts down earlier than planned

NASA fired up the core stage of its massive new rocket — the Space Launch System (SLS) — on Saturday (Jan. 16) in a critical test that ended prematurely when the booster’s engines shut down earlier than planned.

Smoke and flames billowed from the four RS-25 engines that power the behemoth rocket’s core booster, a centerpiece of NASA’s Artemis moon program, as it roared to life atop a test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Ignition occurred at 5:27  EST (2227 GMT), with 700,000 gallons (2.6 million liters) of cryogenic fuel flowing through the engines as they roared for just over 1 minute, much shorter than planned.

The test was supposed to run for 485 seconds (or just over 8 minutes), which is the amount of time the engines will burn during flight. Following engine ignition, the four RS-25 engines fired for just over 60 seconds, NASA said.

“Not everything went according to script today,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said late Saturday after the test. “But we got a lot of great data, a lot of great information.”

The SLS core booster will help launch NASA’s Artemis 1 mission to the moon.

Source: Critical engine test for NASA’s Space Launch System megarocket shuts down earlier than planned

SpaceX Cargo Dragon Splashes Down Loaded With Science Experiments

SpaceX’s upgraded Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down at 8:26 p.m. EST on Wednesday west of Tampa off the Florida coast, marking the return of the company’s 21st contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA.

Source: SpaceX Cargo Dragon Splashes Down Loaded With Science Experiments

NASA reveals asteroid is heading for ‘near Earth’ approach | Science | News | Express.co.uk

AN ASTEROID which has been described by NASA as being “near Earth” is set to shoot by our planet

An asteroid which has been designated the name 2021 AX1 is gearing up for a close approach to our planet. NASA has revealed that the asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth on January 12. The asteroid was only discovered in the past few days by astronomers at the Mt Lemmon Survey in Tuscon, Arizona.

Now the space rock, which is 11 metres wide, is making its way through the solar system.

The asteroid is travelling at a staggering 9.1 kilometres per second.

That equates to roughly 32,760 kilometres an hour.

NASA analysis has shown the orbit of the asteroid, which has brought it past Mars.

NASA reveals asteroid is heading for 'near Earth' approach tomorrow

Source: NASA reveals asteroid is heading for ‘near Earth’ approach tomorrow | Science | News | Express.co.uk

Earth is whipping around quicker than it has in a half-century | Live Science

It could mean a “negative” leap second.

The 28 fastest days on record (since 1960) all occurred in 2020, with Earth completing its revolutions around its axis milliseconds quicker than average. That’s not particularly alarming — the planet’s rotation varies slightly all the time, driven by variations in atmospheric pressure, winds, ocean currents and the movement of the core. But it is inconvenient for international timekeepers, who use ultra-accurate atomic clocks to meter out the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) by which everyone sets their clocks. When astronomical time, set by the time it takes the Earth to make one full rotation, deviates from UTC by more than 0.4 seconds, UTC gets an adjustment.

Until now, these adjustments have consisted of adding a “leap second” to the year at the end of June or December, bringing astronomical time and atomic time back in line. These leap seconds were tacked on because the overall trend of Earth’s rotation has been slowing since accurate satellite measurement began in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Since 1972, scientists have added leap seconds about every year-and-a-half, on average, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The last addition came in 2016, when on New Year’s Eve at 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds, an extra “leap second” was added.

Source: Earth is whipping around quicker than it has in a half-century | Live Science

A Harvard professor says an alien visited in 2017

A Harvard professor says we were visited by an alien life form in 2017 — and we should be ready for more.

When the first sign of intelligent life first visits us from space, it won’t be a giant saucer hovering over New York. More likely, it will be an alien civilization’s trash.

Avi Loeb, the chair of Harvard’s Department of Astronomy, believes he’s already found some of that garbage.

In his upcoming book, “Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), out Jan. 26, the professor lays out a compelling case for why an object that recently wandered into our solar system was not just another rock but actually a piece of alien technology.

The object in question traveled toward our solar system from the direction of Vega, a nearby star 25 light-years away, and intercepted our solar system’s orbital plane on Sept. 6, 2017.

On Sept. 9, its trajectory brought it closest to the sun. At the end of September, it blasted at about 58,900 miles per hour past Venus’ orbital distance, and then, on Oct. 7, it shot past Earth’s before “moving swiftly toward the constellation Pegasus and the blackness beyond,” Loeb writes in the book.

The object was first spotted by an observatory in Hawaii containing the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) — the highest definition telescope on earth.

The space object was dubbed ‘Oumuamua (pronounced “oh moo ah moo ah”), which is Hawaiian for — roughly — “scout.”

As space travelers go, it was relatively small at just about 100 yards long, but it was a big deal in the scientific community.

For starters, it was the first interstellar object ever detected inside our solar system. Judging from the object’s trajectory, astronomers concluded it was not bound by the sun’s gravity — which suggested it was just traveling through.

Source: A Harvard professor says an alien visited in 2017

Milky Way may be full of aliens who annihilated themselves, study says | Fox News

No one can say for certain whether extraterrestrial civilizations exist, but one new study suggests the Milky Way is full of them, though many of them could be dead.

Source: Milky Way may be full of aliens who annihilated themselves, study says | Fox News

Radio Emissions Have Been Detected from an Exoplanet – Universe Today

Invisible Glow Finding planets out in the Universe is pretty hard. I say this despite the fact that two planets in Earth’s skies are aligning tomorrow to form one of the brightest objects seen in hundreds of years. But while the brilliant Jupiter and Saturn are always visible to the naked eye, Neptune wasn’t directly … Continue reading “Radio Emissions Have Been Detected from an Exoplanet”

Source: Radio Emissions Have Been Detected from an Exoplanet – Universe Today

SpaceX launches classified US spy satellite, sticks rocket landing to cap record year | Space

That’s launch number 26 for SpaceX, its most ever in a year.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX launched a clandestine U.S. spy  satellite into space for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)  Saturday (Dec. 19) , marking its 26th rocket of the year.

The mysterious payload, called NROL-108, lifted off from Pad 39A here at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at  9 a.m. (1400 GMT) , during a planned three hour launch window.

A used two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carried the spy satellite aloft, as part of a government mission called NROL-108, marking SpaceX’s 26th launch of 2020, a new record for the company. Approximately nine minutes after liftoff, the booster’s first stage produced some dramatic sonic booms as it made its way back to terra firma, touching down at SpaceX’s Landing Zone-1 (LZ-1) at the nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Video: Watch SpaceX’s epic NROL-108 Falcon 9 rocket landing
Related: 
See the evolution of SpaceX’s rockets in pictures

Source: SpaceX launches classified US spy satellite, sticks rocket landing to cap record year | Space

Russia tests anti-satellite missile in pursuit to make space a ‘warfighting domain,’ US officials say | Fox News

Russia has test-fired an anti-satellite missile in its pursuit to turn space into a “warfighting domain,” the U.S. Space Command announced Wednesday.

“Russia has made space a warfighting domain by testing space-based and ground-based weapons intended to target and destroy satellites,” U.S. Army Gen. James Dickinson — the leader of the Space Command — said in a statement. “This fact is inconsistent with Moscow’s public claims that Russia seeks to prevent conflict in space.”

PENCE ANNOUNCES FIRST TWO SPACE FORCE BASES IN THE US 

Dickinson added that Moscow is looking to “exploit U.S. reliance on space-based systems.”

“We stand ready and committed to deter aggression and defend our Nation and our allies from hostile acts in space,” he continued.

The U.S. Space Command says Russia has completed several tests of a ground-based weapon system “capable of destroying satellites in low Earth orbit.”

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Source: Russia tests anti-satellite missile in pursuit to make space a ‘warfighting domain,’ US officials say | Fox News

Chinese capsule with moon rocks begins return to Earth

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese space capsule bringing back the first moon rocks in more than four decades started its three-day return to Earth on Sunday.

The Chang’e 5 lunar probe, which had been orbiting the moon for about a week, fired up four engines for about 22 minutes to move out of the moon’s orbit, the China National Space Administration said in a social media post.

The craft’s lander touched down on the moon earlier this month close to a formation called the Mons Rumker, an area believed to have been the site of ancient volcanic activity. It collected about 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of samples.

The return capsule is expected to land in northern China in the Inner Mongolia region after separating from the rest of the spacecraft and floating down on parachutes. The material would be the first brought back since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 probe in 1976.The rocks and other debris were obtained both by drilling into the moon’s crust and scooping directly off the surface. They may be billions of years younger than those brought back by earlier U.S. and Soviet missions, possibly offering insights into the moon’s history and that of other bodies in the solar system.China has set up labs to analyze the samples for age and composition and is also expected to share some of them with other countries, as was done with the hundreds of kilograms (pounds) brought back by the U.S. and former Soviet Union.China’s space program has a series of ambitious missions underway, including a probe en route to Mars. The Chang’e lunar program, named after the ancient Chinese moon goddess, has been operating the Chang’e 4 probe on the moon’s less explored far side for the past two years.Future plans call for returning a human to the moon and perhaps a permanent moon base. China is also building a space station to begin operating as early as 2022.

Source: Chinese capsule with moon rocks begins return to Earth

Powerful Delta IV Heavy rocket launches secret US spy satellite to orbit | Space

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The United States just added to its network of spy satellites.

United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully launched its 12th Delta IV Heavy rocket Thursday evening (Dec. 10) from the newly minted Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida . The massive rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 here at 8:09 p.m. EDT (0109 GMT on Dec. 11), hoisting the classified NROL-44 spacecraft for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

The launch went off without a hitch following months of delays that included hardware issues and problems with launch pad infrastructure.

Related: The history of rockets

It’s unclear exactly what the NROL-44 satellite will be doing in orbit.

Source: Powerful Delta IV Heavy rocket launches secret US spy satellite to orbit | Space

SpaceX Starship rocket SN8 explodes after high-altitude test flight

SpaceX launched its latest Starship prototype on a flight test to about 40,000 feet altitude on Wednesday.

  • SpaceX launched its latest Starship prototype on a flight to about 40,000 feet altitude on Wednesday.
  • The test was successful until the very last moment, when the Starship rocket exploded on impact as it attempted to land.
  • Despite the explosive ending, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk quickly shared his enthusiasm for the overall results of the flight test: “Successful ascent, switchover to header tanks & precise flap control to landing point!”

Source: SpaceX Starship rocket SN8 explodes after high-altitude test flight

China sends world’s first 6G test satellite into orbit – BBC News

China has successfully launched the world’s first 6G satellite into space to test the technology.

It went into orbit along with 12 other satellites from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in the Shanxi Province.

High-speed technology will be trialled, which will be one of the core elements of sixth-generation communications.

The satellite also carries technology which will be used for crop disaster monitoring and forest fire prevention.

The satellite is meant to trial new technology expected to be 100 times faster than 5G.

Source: China sends world’s first 6G test satellite into orbit – BBC News

SpaceX Completes Second Launch for Space Force | Los Angeles Business Journal

Hawthorne-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp. successfully completed its second mission on behalf of the U.S. Space Force, deploying a Lockheed Martin-designed GPS III satellite into orbit on Nov. 5 
  

The satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket at 6:24 p.m. ESTAfter separating from the rest of the spacecraft, the rocket’s first stage landed safely aboard an unmanned drone ship positioned in the Atlantic Ocean. 

Just under 90 minutes after liftoff, the rocket deployed its payload, placing the satellite into orbit. 

SpaceX deployed its first Space Force satellite in June and has a contract with Space Force to launch more GPS satellites over the next five years aboard rockets equipped with previously used first-stage boosters. 

The company’s ability to recover and reuse boosters and other parts of its rockets is a key element of its plan to cut down on the cost of future launches. 

The satellite deployed Nov. 5 will bolster an existing constellation of more than 30 spacecraft that provide navigational and communications support to the U.S. military. 

According to Lockheed Martin, the GPS III satellites are more accurate than prior models and feature “improved anti-jamming capabilities.” 

SpaceX celebrated its 100th successful flight last month and has picked up the pace of launches since delaying deployment of its first Space Force flight due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Source: SpaceX Completes Second Launch for Space Force | Los Angeles Business Journal

Bizarre, Earth-sized rogue planet found floating in Milky Way | Fox News

Scientists have discovered another rogue planet, but this one has even experts perplexed: It’s slightly smaller than Earth and is floating through the Milky Way.

The potential exoplanet likely has a mass similar to Mars, researchers said in the study published on the arXiv.org repository. Though rogue planets (those without stars) have been discovered before, they’re extremely hard to spot.

“Our discovery demonstrates that low-mass free-floating planets can be detected and characterized using ground-based telescopes,” the study’s co-author, Prof. Andrzej Udalski, principal investigator of the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) project, said in a statement.

Source: Bizarre, Earth-sized rogue planet found floating in Milky Way | Fox News

Hubble telescope gives closer look at rare asteroid worth $10,000,000,000,000,000,000 – CBS News

16 Psyche is one of the most massive objects in the solar system’s main asteroid belt — and it appears to be made entirely of metal worth approximately $10,000 quadrillion.

The study marks the first ultraviolet (UV) observations of the celestial object. New data reveals the asteroid may be made entirely of iron and nickel — found in the dense cores of planets.

“We’ve seen meteorites that are mostly metal, but Psyche could be unique in that it might be an asteroid that is totally made of iron and nickel,” lead author Dr. Tracy Becker said in a statement. “Earth has a metal core, a mantle and crust. It’s possible that as a Psyche protoplanet was forming, it was struck by another object in our solar system and lost its mantle and crust.”

asteroid-16-psyche.jpg
The massive asteroid 16 Psyche is the subject of a new study by Southwest Research Institute scientist Tracy Becker, who observed the object at ultraviolet wavelengths.MAXAR/ASU/P. RUBIN/NASA/JPL-CALTECH

Source: Hubble telescope gives closer look at rare asteroid worth $10,000,000,000,000,000,000 – CBS News

Europe will help build NASA’s moon-orbiting Gateway space station | Space

Europe will provide a habitat module and a refueling module for the Gateway outpost.

NASA’s moon-orbiting space station just got a new high-profile partner.

The European Space Agency (ESA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Tuesday (Oct. 27) formalizing its collaboration on Gateway, a planned outpost in lunar orbit that NASA sees as key to its Artemis program of crewed moon exploration.

Under this new agreement, ESA will provide Gateway with a habitation module and a refueling module, both of which the European agency will operate once the hardware is up and running. ESA contributions will also include two additional service modules for NASA’s Orion capsule, the spacecraft that will launch Artemis astronauts from Earth atop the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rockets.

Source: Europe will help build NASA’s moon-orbiting Gateway space station | Space

NASA confirms water has been spotted on the sunlit surface of the moon | Fox News

NASA announced it has discovered water on the sunlit surface of the moon.

“We had indications that H2O – the familiar water we know – might be present on the sunlit side of the Moon,” said Paul Hertz, NASA’s director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate, in a statement. “Now we know it is there. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration.”

Casey Honniball, lead author of the other study, said there are between 100 and 400 parts per million of water, or “roughly the equivalent of a 12-ounce bottle of water within a cubic meter of lunar soil.”

The study led by Honniball found the presence of water directly on the surface, while Hayne’s study speculated that water may be trapped in “small spatial scales” all over the surface of the moon.

Source: NASA confirms water has been spotted on the sunlit surface of the moon | Fox News

Bad Astronomy | New research looks at what alien worlds might be able to find Earth

When I was a kid, and survived on a diet of 100% trashy sci-fi, I would sometimes go outside at night, look up at the stars, and wonder how many worlds were out there.

Yes! The Earth orbits the Sun in a flat ellipse. From our viewpoint that means the Sun moves around the sky once per year on a line, a literal reflection of the Earth’s orbit on the sky, which we call the ecliptic. Any stars in the sky close to the ecliptic would see the Earth transit the Sun once a year (well, once an Earth year) and could easily detect us*.

New research shows there are lots of them. And they make interesting targets for people involved with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). After all, if we’re looking for planets that are like Earth, and can support life — and maybe, hopefully, possibly, finding that life, even intelligent life — then there may come a time when we want to talk to them. Aliens living on planets close to our ecliptic might already know we’re here. That makes the first phone call a lot less awkward.

So how many stars are there like that?

Lead research author Lisa Kaltenegger explains:

Attempts have been made to make a list, but it’s not all that easy. First you have to work out the geometry; how far from the ecliptic can you be and still see the Earth transit? The trig isn’t too bad, and the answer is about a quarter of a degree, making a strip on the sky centered on the ecliptic half a degree wide (for comparison, and if you look at the geometry you’ll realize not uncoincidentally that’s about the same width as the Sun in the sky).

Source: Bad Astronomy | New research looks at what alien worlds might be able to find Earth

SpaceX ready for Falcon 9 launch with next Starlink mission – NASASpaceFlight.com

SpaceX will continue the deployment of its Starlink constellation with the launch of another sixty satellites aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday. Liftoff from Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre is expected at 08:27 Eastern Time (12:27 UTC).

Sunday’s launch is the thirteenth Falcon 9 mission to deploy operational Starlink satellites, designated Starlink v1.0 L13. This continues the first phase of Starlink deployment, which is aimed at setting up an initial operating capability and allowing SpaceX to begin rolling out its service. To do this, SpaceX expects to require at least 1,440 satellites in the first tranche alone. Since beginning operational launches, 713 Starlink spacecraft have been placed in orbit – with Sunday’s mission expected to add another sixty – although some of the spacecraft launched on earlier missions have already re-entered the atmosphere.

 

Starlink is a network of satellites which SpaceX intend to use to offer a worldwide commercial satellite internet service, with a particular focus on areas where traditional broadband services provide poor coverage. Unlike previous satellite broadband services, Starlink was designed to employ vast numbers of satellites in low orbits, reducing the round-trip time for signals and therefore the latency of connection compared to spacecraft in geostationary orbit. Beyond the initial 1,440-satellite-strong constellation, SpaceX has plans to launch up to 30,000 more spacecraft, replacing existing ones as they fail and adding new capacity as the system is rolled out worldwide. The company’s factory can produce 120 new satellites every month.

Source: SpaceX ready for Falcon 9 launch with next Starlink mission – NASASpaceFlight.com