SpaceX's 18th resupply mission launches to the ISS

Photo: Richard Angle Last night at 6:01 PM EST SpaceX successfully launched the 18th resupply mission for NASA to the International Space Station. After two reschedules, a Dragon capsule on board a Falcon 9 rocket was finally able to launch. In two days the capsule will dock, and along with the usual supplies for the astronauts there are several experiments to be conducted using space’s harsh conditions, as well as microgravity. The weather leading up to today’s launch has been less than ideal. With a tropical depression passing through the state of Florida, it has been hard to find an opportune time for the Falcon 9 to liftoff. The first stage of this mission’s Falcon 9 was also flown on th

SpaceX to launch twice-flown Dragon spacecraft to the ISS

On July 24th, SpaceX is sending up the Cargo Dragon on board a Falcon 9 rocket for the 18th resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. On board this mission are not only necessary supplies for the astronauts, but supplies for them to continue living in space. One of the experiments launching on this mission is going to hopefully help the medicine world. With the age of technology we are at today, there has long been plans to try and figure out a way to 3D print human organs. The main issue with doing that on Earth is the simple fact of gravity. With gravity there will need to be structures built to hold up the human-like tissue as it is being built, but with microgravity i

SpaceX updates us on Crew Dragon anomoly

As most may remember - On April 20th, SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft exploded at their landing zones during the abort motor testing of the recently-recovered spacecraft from the DM-1 mission. This was meant to do tests of the abort system after recovery ahead of using that capsule for the In-Flight Abort test they had planned to do a month later. The explosion of Crew Dragon turned many heads and many people questioned the safety of Dragon. SpaceX and NASA have been working very closely over the last 3 months and have finally released their official update on the investigation, which can be found here. To sum up most of it, a leak allowed Liquid Oxygen and Nitrogen Tetroxide (NTO) to enter

India’s Chandrayaan-2 Prepares For Launch

Image credit: ISRO India is on the precipice of it’s most ambitious lunar mission yet. On July 14th, the Chandrayaan-2 Lunar exploration mission will commence, lifting off from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India. The India Space Research Organisation (ISRO), in collaboration with Russia’s Roscosms, has designed and built a triple threat; A Lunar orbiter, lander, and rover all in one. The Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk.3, arrived at the launch pad earlier this morning. The launch is scheduled for 2121 GMT (5:21 p.m. EDT). ISRO’s plan is to first orbit the moon before detaching its lander, and soft landing on the moon in the high planes near the southern lunar pole. If successful in

Arianespace's Vega rocket suffers first failure

At 9:53pm ET, Arianespace launched their Vega rocket carrying an Earth observation satellite for the United Arab Emirates, named FalconEye1. It launched successfully from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, and had performed nominally up until first stage cutoff. From the ground, it had seemed the second stage did not ignite after cutoff and the webcast switched to a graphic showing the animation of the rocket continuing, but the telemetry data shown on the side of the webcast showed it not following the planned trajectory. It was then announced that they had a "slight telemetry loss" with the vehicle, which means the flight data wasn't being transmitted from the rocket to the

How these six new satellties will improve weather forecasting

Credit: Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd Six of the 24 payloads that launched on Falcon Heavy last week were the constellation of COSMIC-2 microsatellites by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the National Space Organization (NSPO). Built on the success of COSMIC-1, these six satellites will work in unison to observe the Climate, Ionosphere, and Atmosphere of our planet. They have multiple sensors on board to record temperature, air pressure, density, and humidity to improve weather forecasts and current climate models. About the size of a standard kitchen oven and a refrigerator, these microsatellites are fitted with 3 main sensors to monitor and better predict weathe

LightSail-2 takes flight on Falcon Heavy

Photo: The Planetary Society “Well there’s just a tremendously exciting prospect called solar sailing. And this is a very crude model.” With this introduction by famed astrophysicist Carl Sagan, Johnny Carson begins to clear off his desk to make room. Sagan pulls a large pyramid shaped model out from behind his chair. It looks delicate, consisting of a thin sheet of a shiny material and held together by wooden skewers and string. “It’ll take you where you want to go.” In 1972 Carl Sagan introduced a plan for a satellite dubbed LightSail on The Tonight Show. Carson joked that there was prime real estate on a massive space sail for cosmic advertisement. 47 years after his interview, the late D

NASA's Mobile Launcher arrives at LC39B

Photo: Ryan Bale Big things are on the move at Kennedy Space Center...literally. Actually, only one “big thing” that weighs 10.5 million pounds and stands a total of 380 feet off the ground (according to NASA). NASA’s Mobile Launcher 1 (ML-1) was rolled out of the Vehicle Assembly Building on a ten hour (and yet only four mile long) journey to Launch Complex 39-B. Here it will prepare for the launch of the SLS rocket and Orion capsule during Artemis-1 mission, which will be the first test of the rocket’s capabilities to perform deep space missions. Photo: Ryan Bale ML-1 holds all of the ground support equipment and connection lines (also known as umbilicals) necessary for the launch of SLS a

NASA's Orion spacecraft completes critical test

Image credit: Richard Angle This morning at 7am ET, NASA’s Orion spacecraft completed a critical test for the future of the SLS program and returning humans to the Moon. Orion launched on top of a refurbished Peacekeeper ICBM first stage that was supplied by Northrop Grumman (formerly Orbital ATK). The abort test only lasted about 3 minutes, with the test concluding after the data recorders were jettisoned (separated) from the Orion crew capsule. The Launch Abort System (LAS) initiated at 31,000ft (9.4km) around 1.08x the speed of sound, carrying the capsule away from the Peacemaker booster. Orion reached an altitude of 44,000ft (13.4km) where the LAS separated from the capsule and allowed i

NASA's Replacement for Hydrazine?

Photo: Nasa NASA is developing a new type of fuel that would act as an environmentally friendly replacement for Hydrazine. This new fuel is safer to handle, easier to use, and lasts longer, allowing the spacecraft to remain operational for longer periods of time. This new fuel goes by the name AF-M315E. Recently launched on SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, the Green Propellant Infusion Mission, or GPIM, will prove the real life applications of using this fuel as an alternative to other monopropellant fuels. This payload is being flown on a SmallSat manufactured by Ball Aerospace. During this flight, they will be conducting different orbital maneuvers to show the performance of the fuel in orbit

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