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ABL Space Systems tests launch vehicle stage

Wednesday, 21 October 2020 15:43
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ABL engine test

WASHINGTON — Small launch vehicle developer ABL Space Systems announced Oct. 22 that it has started a series of static-fire tests of the upper stage of its vehicle, putting the company on track for a first launch in 2021.

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Video: 00:17:08

Understanding the laws of the universe is fundamental to flying missions in space. But one spacecraft under Paolo Ferri’s care seemed to be particularly susceptible to Murphy’s law – ‘Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

In 1992, ESA’s first-ever reusable satellite, Eureca, was delivered into orbit (and later retrieved) by a NASA Space Shuttle. It spent just under a year in orbit, and presented a plethora of problems from Day 1. While it was ultimately successful, Eureca required constant care from engineering teams on ground as well as hands-on help from astronauts in orbit.

As Deputy Operations

SEOSAT-Ingenio: fully loaded

Wednesday, 21 October 2020 15:00
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Transfer of SEOSAT-Ingenio from building S5C to S5A

Preparations are well on track for the upcoming launch of SEOSAT-Ingenio – the Spanish high-resolution land imaging mission – scheduled to launch from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana next month.

OSIRIS-REx TAGs surface of asteroid Bennu

Wednesday, 21 October 2020 13:28
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OSIRIS-REx TAGs surface of asteroid Bennu
Captured on Oct. 20 during the OSIRIS-REx mission's Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event, this series of 2 images shows the SamCam imager's field of view at the moment before and after the NASA spacecraft touched down on asteroid Bennu's surface.

The science behind life in space on 'Away'

Wednesday, 21 October 2020 13:14
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The science behind life in space on ‘Away’
Credit: Netflix/YouTube

Do you feel like you've been locked in a small room for months on end, isolated from the people that you love? Welcome to Netflix's "Away" and the bubble of five scientists on the world's first manned mission to Mars.

Enduring a life very similar to our Melbourne COVID-19 lockdown, the international team of scientists travel 45.697 million miles to Mars, not from Earth, but from the Moon, experiencing difficulties while trying to focus on hope, humanity and how we need one another if we are to achieve impossible things.

What crises do they solve? And is the science behind the solutions and the pursuit to Mars, sound?

Spoiler alert: If you are intending to watch it, you may want to read this afterwards.

Burning sweat

The series begins with a terrifying accident. Blobs of black-green goo leak from a metallic panel. When mission commander Emma Green (Hilary Swank) tries to soak up this chemical with her shirt, droplets of sweat cause it to ignite, creating rising spheres of flame.

Two other astronauts manage to contain the fire by capturing the fireballs in a bucket of wet towels.

What would a realistic space battle look like?

Wednesday, 21 October 2020 13:02
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space battle
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Science fiction space movies can do a poor job of educating people about space. In the movies, hot-shot pilots direct their dueling space ships through space as if they're flying through an atmosphere. They bank and turn and perform loops and rolls, maybe throw in a quick Immelman turn, as if they're subject to Earth's gravity. Is that realistic?


In reality, a space battle is likely to look much different. With an increasing presence in space, and the potential for future conflict, is it time to think about what an actual space battle would look like?

The non-profit Aerospace Corporation thinks it's time to consider what a real space battle would look like. Dr. Rebecca Reesman from the Aerospace Corporation's Center for Space Policy and Strategy and her colleague James R. Wilson have written a paper on the topic of space battles, titled "The Physics of Space War: How Orbital Dynamics Constrain Space-to-Space Engagements."

If past human affairs indicate the future, then the militarization of space will proceed. That's despite talk of keeping space peaceful, and despite treaties that say the same.

International Charter for disasters 20 years on

Wednesday, 21 October 2020 12:49
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International Charter celebrates 20th anniversary

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the International Charter Space and Major Disasters. Founded by ESA, France’s CNES French Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, the Charter has been activated 680 times (as of 19 October 2020) to help to respond to disasters in 126 countries, including the earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004, the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Typhoon Haiyan in the South East Asia in 2013, and the explosion in Lebanon in 2020.

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WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee introduced a bill Oct. 21 to formally give the Commerce Department space traffic management (STM) responsibilities, but the funding required to carry out that work remains uncertain.

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Washington DC (UPI) Oct 21, 2020
Just three days after sending 60 more Starlink satellites into orbit, SpaceX is aiming to launch another batch of broadband satellites into space from Florida. If the weather cooperates, Thursday's launch will be SpaceX's 15th Starlink mission. Liftoff had been scheduled for 12:29 p.m. EDT Wednesday aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
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Almaty, Kazakhstan (AFP) Oct 22, 2020
An American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts touched down safely on the Kazakhstan steppe on Thursday, completing a 196-day mission that began with the first launch under lockdown conditions. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner landed around 150 kilometres (90 miles) southeast of the Kazakh city of Zhezkazgan at 0254 GMT, footage broadcas
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Washington DC (UPI) Oct 21, 2020
Images released Wednesday by NASA suggest the OSIRIS-REx mission's Touch-And-Go sample collection event was a success. Preliminary data collected during Tuesday's touchdown - and analyzed by scientists shortly afterwards - suggested the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft had performed as expected. The latest images have offered scientists added confidence that the craft's sampling tool, the
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Rome, Italy (SPX) Oct 20, 2020
Mars robotic exploration is at the heart of the latest international space missions. Leonardo is involved in the study of cutting edge robotic systems which can contribute to the discovery of the Red Planet's secrets. For the NASA "Mars Sample Return" campaign, in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), Leonardo has been awarded a contract with Airbus for the advanced study pha
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London, UK (SPX) Oct 14, 2020
NASA's Artemis programme aims to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. Commercial and international partners will collaborate to achieve a sustainable presence on the lunar surface as a steppingstone to the first human mission to Mars. The UK will play a key role in this mission. Businesses across the UK will be involved in building the service module and habitation mo
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Dallas TX (SPX) Oct 20, 2020
Light from distant galaxies reveals important information about the nature of the universe and allows scientists to develop high-precision models of the history, evolution and structure of the cosmos. The gravity associated with massive pockets of dark matter that lie between Earth and these galaxies, however, plays havoc with those galactic light signals. Gravity distorts galaxies' light

Two Planets Around a Red Dwarf

Wednesday, 21 October 2020 10:08
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Bern, Switzerland (SPX) Oct 16, 2020
The "SAINT-EX" Observatory, led by scientists from the National Centre of Competence in Research NCCR PlanetS of the University of Bern and the University of Geneva, has detected two exoplanets orbiting the star TOI-1266. The Mexico-based telescope thus demonstrates its high precision and takes an important step in the quest of finding potentially habitable worlds. Red dwarfs are the coole
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