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Boeing will launch its 2nd Starliner test flight for NASA on July 30

Boeing Starliner Flight to spaceBoeing is set to launch its Starliner spacecraft on a crucial uncrewed flight to the International Space Station next week. The liftoff atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is scheduled for 2:53 p.m. EDT (1853 GMT) next Friday (July 30) from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. You’ll be able to watch the launch and mission activities on NASA TV.

If all goes to plan, Starliner will take about 31 minutes to reach its preliminary orbit and then will target a docking the next day with the International Space Station. Starliner tried this meetup once before, on the OFT-1 mission in December 2019, but suffered a series of technical issues that left the capsule stranded in the wrong orbit for a rendezvous.

The OFT-2 docking is scheduled for 3:06 p.m. EDT (1906 GMT) on Saturday (July 31) and will also livestream on NASA’s channels and the Space.com website. Starliner will bring 400 lbs. (181 kilogram) of NASA cargo and crew supplies to the orbiting complex and return to Earth with more than 550 lbs. (250 kg) of cargo, the agency said in a statement.

The date of Starliner’s departure from the space station has not yet been scheduled, but the OFT-2 mission is expected to last about a week. See below for a detailed timeline of media events in the leadup to the mission and its first few days.

“OFT-2 will demonstrate the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner spacecraft and Atlas V rocket from launch to docking to a return to Earth in the desert of the western United States,” NASA said in the same statement. “The uncrewed mission will provide valuable data toward NASA certifying Boeing’s crew transportation system for regular flights with astronauts to and from the space station.”

Boeing is one of two commercial crew providers for the International Space Station, along with SpaceX, which has been using its Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket for operational activities since 2020. SpaceX and Boeing received NASA contracts in 2014 valued at a combined $6.8 billion to encourage the development of crewed spaceships meant to replace the space shuttle, which retired in 2011. Boeing is expected to start sending astronauts to space in 2022, provided all goes well with OFT-2.

With this new activity by Boeing, it seems that the commercial spaceflight sector is growing exponentially.

Jeff Bezos to Launch into a historic flight to space with the oldest and the youngest astronaut in history

Jeff Bezos will make history today with the Blue Origin’s commercial spaceflight that will take the oldest astronaut (82 years old) as well as the youngest astronaut (18 years old) into space past the Karman line. After the Virgin Galactic flight, this flight will solidify commercial spaceflight and space tourism for decades to come.

You can watch the Jeff Bezos flight to space live at:


China’s Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft has docked with the Tianhe space station module

Tianzhou2-Cargo-Spacecraft-Docks-with-chinese-space-stationChina’s Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft docked with the Tianhe space station module in low Earth orbit Saturday, eight hours after launch from Wenchang spaceport.

The uncrewed Tianzhou-2 spacecraft completed automated rendezvous and docking maneuvers with Tianhe at 5:01 p.m. Eastern May 29.

Tianzhou-2 is tasked with delivering propellant and supplies ahead of a first crewed mission to Tianhe in June.

Earlier on Saturday a Long March 7 medium-lift rocket lifted off from the coastal Wenchang spaceport at 8:55 a.m. Eastern. The roughly 13-metric-ton Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft entered its intended orbit and deployed its solar arrays at 9:17 a.m., the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC) confirmed within an hour of liftoff.

Tianhe, the first module for China’s space station, launched late April 28 and passed on-orbit testing May 18, according to the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO).

Tianzhou-2 matched its 343 by 371-kilometer orbit for rendezvous. Now docked, Tianzhou-2 will conduct an automatic transfer of 1.95 tons of propellant to the 22.5-ton Tianhe module.

This is another important step in China’s race for dominance in space.

Europa may Contain Deep Sea Volcanoes

Jupiters Moon Europa may Host LifeJupiter’s moon Europa has been the focus of space scientists for decades. Europa has been of interest to science fiction writers with its potential to host alien life. Sci-fi book such as 2001 and 2010 have focused on Europa. Europa is also the second body in the solar system known to have oceans and many scientists feel that the oceans of Europa may host life.

The Jupiter moon Europa may be an even more promising abode for life than scientists had thought.

A recent study suggests that active volcanoes may lurk on the seabed of the 1,940-mile-wide (3,120 kilometres) Europa, which harbors a huge ocean of salty water beneath its icy shell.

Such volcanoes could power deep-sea hydrothermal systems, environments rich in chemical energy that potential Europa lifeforms could exploit, researchers said.

It seems Europa will continue to be the main focus in our solar system for many years to come.

Falcon 9 launches 60 more Starlink internet satellites

The launch carried 60 Starlink internet satellites into orbit and set a new record for payload fairing reuse, with one half of the nose cone making its fifth flight.

The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 launcher lifted off at 2:59 p.m. EDT (1859 GMT) Wednesday from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, setting a course northeast from Florida’s Space Coast.

Sixty-four minutes later, the rocket deployed 60 more Starlink internet satellites into an orbit about 180 miles (290 kilometers) above Earth. The flat-panel, quarter-ton spacecraft will each deploy solar panels and activate ion thrusters to maneuver into the operational Starlink fleet at an altitude of 341 miles (550 kilometers).

SpaceX successfully landed the Falcon 9’s reused first stage, designated B1063, on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. The reusable booster completed its second trip to space and back.

Recovery teams were also on station in the Atlantic Ocean to retrieve both halves of the payload shroud.

Orbital Assembly Opens New Production Facility to Accelerate the First Space Hotel Development

Space Hotel
The first space hotel of the space age

Orbital Assembly Corporation, the first large scale space construction company, today announced the opening of its new production facility in Fontana, California that develops the technologies and structures to build the world’s first space hotel with lunar levels of gravity between the Earth and the moon.

In addition to serving as new corporate offices, the facility will be used to develop and test large scale on orbit technologies. Orbital Assembly develops semi-autonomous robotic machines capable of building and assembling large structures in space quickly, and efficiently. The company is progressing towards its first mission launch deadline scheduled for 2023 and will begin a new round of financing in May via Net Capital to raise $7 million.

Early this summer, the first milestone is to test the processes on Earth using the Demonstrator Structural Truss Assembly Robot (DSTAR) fabricator. DSTAR will assemble the truss framework the length of a football field, to be used for the slowly-rotating space facility.

Following the successful test, the upcoming demonstration mission will launch a flight version of DSTAR, the Prototype Structural Truss Assembly Robot (‘PSTAR’), in low Earth orbit. It will assemble 52 meters (156 ft.) of truss in a circle, creating a ‘ring’. Four on-board propulsion modules will ‘spin’ the ring, to demonstrate Orbital Assembly’s construction capabilities with the PSTAR and delivering, for the first time ever, lunar levels of artificial gravity.”

“This is our next benchmark in developing, testing and vetting the DSTAR components, to ensure that we are mission ready, when we’ll launch PSTAR and build the Gravity Ring,” says Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Habitation, Tim Alatorre. “We are excited for our first demonstration of DSTAR and the technologies we have designed.”

The space hotel is expected to receive its first customers by 2027.

SpaceX Crew Dragon makes First nighttime landing with US astronauts since Apollo era

SpaceX Astronauts Night SplashdownA SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying four astronauts returned to Earth early Sunday (May 2) with an ocean splashdown off the Florida coast, successfully completing the company’s first full-fledged crewed mission to the International Space Station.

The astronauts of SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission for NASA splashed down safely in the Gulf of Mexico near Panama City at 2:56 a.m. EDT (0656 GMT), with a recovery ship swiftly retrieving their Crew Dragon capsule from the sea. The spacecraft landed on target, marking the first nighttime splashdown of a U.S. crewed flight in 53 years. The last was NASA’s Apollo 8 moon mission on Dec. 27, 1968.

“Dragon, on behalf of NASA and SpaceX teams, we welcome you back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX. For those of you enrolled in our frequent flier program, you’ve earned 68 million miles [109 million kilometers] on this voyage,” a SpaceX crew operations and resources engineer told the Crew-1 astronauts after splashdown.
“It is good to be back on planet Earth,” replied NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, commander of the Crew-1 mission. “We’ll take those miles. Are they transferable?”

Mars helicopter Ingenuity goes faster and farther than ever on 4th flight

Inegunity Mars Helicopter FlightNASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity keeps pushing the aerial exploration envelope.

The 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) chopper lifted off from the floor of Mars’ Jezero Crater today at 10:49 a.m. EDT (1449 GMT), kicking off its fourth flight on the Red Planet.

Ingenuity achieved all of its main technology-demonstrating goals on flights one through three — which occurred on April 19, April 22 and April 25 — so the helicopter’s handlers let it off the leash today. Ingenuity covered 872 feet (266 meters) of ground and reached a top speed of 8 mph (13 kph) during the 117-second jaunt, NASA officials said.
The previous highs, set on sortie number three, were 330 feet (100 m) of lateral distance, a 4.5 mph (7.2 kph) maximum speed and an 80-second flight time. (The maximum altitude attained — about 16.5 feet, or 5 m — has remained the same on the three most recent flights.)

If all went according to plan, Ingenuity also took 60 photos with its downward-facing navigation camera and five with its 13-megapixel color imager while aloft today, helicopter team members said.

We don’t yet know if Ingenuity’s robotic partner, NASA’s Perseverance rover, will be in any of those shots. Ingenuity managed to spot the rover from the air during flight number three, capturing an image unprecedented in the history of exploration.

Perseverance carries two onboard microphones, and the rover attempted to record sound of Ingenuity’s flight today for the first time, mission team members said. Again, we’ll have to wait until more data comes down to see if that did indeed happen.

SpaceX NASA: Earth From Space seen from Crew Dragon Arrival at Space Station

Seeing the Earth from the ISS and from SpaceX Crew Dragon Flight can always be exhilarating. Since the inception of the first civilization settlement at Gobeklipe, mankind has always looked upon the stars to wonder about them. Now anyone can watch Earth from space.

Elon Musk states that SpaceX Can Land Astronauts on the Moon by 2024

Can-SpaceX-Reach-the-MoonRace to the moon is heating up between USA, Russia, China and India with news of new missions every day. China’s first lunar sample return heated up this race this year and Artemis Project by NASA is going full speed ahead as it has a goal of having a manned landing on moon and then to have a sustainable long term presence on the moon with moon habitats by the end of 2020s. Now a new development heats the moon race as Elon Musk states that SpaceX can land astronauts latest by 2024 to the moon.

SpaceX spacecraft Starship is about 50 meters tall and its a heavy rocket with lift capability that can allow a moon mission similar to the Saturn rockets of moon missions in the 1960s. The giant first-stage rocket that will launch Starship off Earth is called Super Heavy. SpaceX has built a Super Heavy prototype but has not yet flown one. If the prototype is successful, this development can make SpaceX become the first private company to reach the moon and make USA the first nation to reland a manned mission on the moon after 1960s.

Musk acknowledged that his target timelines tend to be optimistic and should be taken “with a grain of salt.” But the occasion of today’s news conference offers some reason for optimism, highlighting as it did SpaceX’s human spaceflight achievements (albeit with a different transportation system, the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule). With Crew-2 safely on its way to the space station, SpaceX has now launched three crewed missions to Earth orbit in less than 12 months.