Space transport roundup – Apr.30.2019

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images dealing with space transport:

** SpaceX Cargo Dragon launch delayed from Wednesday to at least Friday due to power problems on the ISS.

From SFN:

A SpaceX Dragon supply ship packed with nearly three tons of experiments, crew provisions and supplies will remain on the ground until at least Friday morning to allow more time for NASA flight controllers to troubleshoot a problem with an electrical distribution unit on the International Space Station.

Multiple sources said the commercial resupply launch, previously scheduled for Wednesday, will be pushed back at least two days to no earlier than Friday at 3:11 a.m. EDT (0711 GMT).

Find more SpaceX items below.

[ Update: Northrop Grumman has released this video about the first flight of the giant Stratolaunch aircraft:


** China launches two Tianhui II-01 satellites remote sensing satellites with little warning: China launches two satellites for scientific experiments – Xinhua |

Long March 4B rocket, with two Tianhui II-01 remote sensing sciencie satellites. Credits: Xinhua

Booster lands on a local village:

*** Update on Chinese launch startup companies who will one can hope will be less likely to drop boosters on communities:

** Interstellar Technologies MOMO 3 suborbital rocket launch was postponed from Tuesday due to a problem with an engine valve. The launch is now set for Thursday:

We are now targeting May 2nd for launch of MOMO third flight. A 75-minute launch window would open at 11:15 JST, 2:15 UTC.

** Firefly tests Alpha upper stage for full launch duration:

From Firefly:

Firefly has achieved a major milestone toward flight qualification of the Alpha second stage, supporting Firefly’s goal of Alpha first launch in 2019. A 300 second hotfire test of the complete upper stage was accomplished on the company’s vertical stage test stand. The length of the test successfully demonstrates the capability of the integrated system (flight avionics, structures, and propulsion systems) to operate for the duration of a flight mission (i.e., a mission duty cycle).

** Blue Origin hints at an announcement from Jeff Bezos on May 9th when he gives a talk at a satellite industry conference: Blue Origin tweets picture from Antarctic voyage, hinting at moon mission – GeekWire

*** Blue Origin facilities in Washington state expand: Construction is well under way for Blue Origin’s expanded HQ – GeekWire

** SpaceX:

*** Latest on Crew Dragon test explosion and status of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program:

*** Everyday Astronaut explains why launch abort towers are being replaced on crew vehicles by integrated liquid fuel engines: Why have SpaceX, Boeing & Blue Origin ditched abort towers? – Everyday Astronaut

There’s a new trend going around in the commercial space industry when it comes to launch abort systems. All three commercial companies who are putting abort systems on their crewed vehicles have ditched the classic launch abort tower we’ve seen dominate abort systems in the past. Previous vehicles like the Mercury capsule, the Apollo capsule and even the Soyuz all used an escape tower that sat on top of the crew module, capable of pulling the vehicle away from a failing rocket in a hurry.

*** Falcon Heavy core booster tested in preparation for the STP-2 Mission set for launch in June:

*** Falcon 9 booster spotted on way to Vandenberg AFB: SpaceX ships Falcon 9 booster west for second California launch of 2019 – Teslarati

Barring a surprise reassignment, the booster Joshuah Murrah caught is Falcon 9 B1051, on its way west some 50 days after successfully supporting Crew Dragon’s March 2nd launch debut. Despite the availability of B1046, B1047, and B1049, B1051 was assigned to the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) Radarsat Constellation Mission (RCM) shortly after landing aboard OCISLY, triggering major launch delays. The most logical explanation for customer CSA’s and satellite contractor Maxar Technologies’ curious decision is that they must believe that Falcon 9 Block 5 boosters with more than one launch in their past add more risk than those that do not.

*** Broken Falcon Heavy core prepared for departure from Port Canaveral:

*** FCC grants SpaceX permission to launch StarLink Internet satellites into an orbit lower than in the original plan:

In this Order and Authorization (Order), we grant the application1 of Space Exploration Holdings, LLC (SpaceX) to modify its previously authorized 4,425 non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) satellite constellation using Ku- and Ka-band spectrum.2 Specifically, we authorize SpaceX to slightly reduce the number of satellites in this constellation, to operate a substantial portion of these satellites at a lower orbital altitude than previously authorized, and to include the use of Ku-band gateway earth stations for fewer than 75 of these lower-altitude satellites.3 Grant of this modification will allow SpaceX to make efficient use of valuable spectrum resources more safely, quickly, and cost-effectively as it initiates a new generation of broadband services available to customers worldwide, including those in areas previously underserved or even totally unserved by other broadband solutions.

A statement from SpaceX:

*** The first launch of operational Starlink satellites to this new orbital altitude is expected in May: SpaceX’s first batch of Starlink satellites already in Florida for launch debut – Teslarati

Above all else, SpaceX’s confirmation that the first batch of Starlink satellites are already in Florida drives home the reality that the company’s internet satellite constellation is about to become very real. Said constellation has long been the subject of endless skepticism and criticism, dominated by a general atmosphere of dismissal. There is no doubt that Starlink, as proposed, is an extraordinarily ambitious program that will cost billions of dollars to even begin to realize. SpaceX will have to find ways to affordably manufacture and launch ~11,900 satellites – together weighing something like 500 metric tons (1.1 million lbs) – in as few as nine years, start to finish.

*** Raptor engines tested for Starhopper flights : SpaceX wants to unleash Starhopper but longer Raptor test fires come first – Teslarati

According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the next round of Starhopper activity will focus on removing the spacecraft prototype’s tethers and performing far more substantial hop tests.

Longer tests demand that SpaceX begins expanding the known performance envelope of its full-scale Raptor engine. Towards that end, longer-duration tests would need to be done at the company’s McGregor, TX development facilities to reduce risk, tests that Musk confirmed are already well underway. A recent Raptor static fire reportedly lasted no less than 40 seconds, more than enough time for a single-engine Starhopper to significantly expand both the maximum altitude and velocity of future hop tests. In support of the upcoming Starhopper test campaign, significant construction work is also ongoing at SpaceX’s Boca Chica test and development facilities.

*** Progress on construction of the orbital Starship test vehicle continues at Boca Chica Beach:

*** Elon posts artwork for stainless steel Starships on the Moon and Mars:


Moon Rush: The New Space Race

The Space Show this week – April.29.2019

The guests and topics of discussion on The Space Show this week:

1. Monday, April 22, 2019; 2-3:30 pm PDT (4-5:30 pm CDT, 5-6:30 pm EDT): No show this week.

2. Tuesday, April 23, 2019; 7-8:30 pm PDT (9-10:30 pm CDT, 10-11:30 pm EDT): Bruno Mombrinie, founder and lead designer of the electric short takeoff and landing airplane Metro Hop, will talk about “flying cars for real”.

3. Wednesday, April 24, 2019: Hotel Mars. See Upcoming Show Menu and the website newsletter for details. Hotel Mars is pre-recorded by John Batchelor. It is archived on The Space Show site after John posts it on his website.

4. Friday, April 26, 2019; 9:30-11 am PDT; 11:30 am-1 pm CDT, 12:30-2 pm EDT): Marcia S. Smith will discuss NASA budgets and lunar program costs.

5. Sunday, April 28, 2019; 12 pm PDT (3:00 pm EDT, 2:00 pm CDT): Leonard David will talk about his new book, Moon Rush: The New Space Race. The interview will be followed by an Open Lines session.

Some recent shows:

** Sun, 04/28/2019 – 12:00Michael Ciancone talked aboout his spaceflight bibliography, the important 2018 IAC in Bremen, IAC 2019 in Washington, DC, and the Orion Service Module program with ESA.

** Fri, 04/26/2019Umberto Cavallaro talked about his book, The Race to the Moon Chronicled in Stamps, Postcards, and Postmarks: A Story of Puffery vs. the Pragmatic, and about “documenting early space history through stamps, USSR propaganda, US stamp approach and more”.

** Mon, 04/22/2019Daniel Suarez discussed his new science fiction novel, Delta-v, and “deep space mining, space economics, commercial space, policy and regulations, government space activities, risk taking, lunar return, Mars and much much more”.

** Tue, 04/23/2019Jeffrey Smith talked about his two recent booster series articles on The Space Review (Part 1 and Part 2) and “also talked rocket and booster history, returning to the Moon and more”.

See also:
* The Space Show on Vimeo – webinar videos
* The Space Show’s Blog – summaries of interviews.
* The Space Show Classroom Blog – tutorial programs

The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.

The Space Show - David Livingston
The Space Show – David Livingston


Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – April.29.2019

A sampling of recent articles, press releases, etc. related to student and amateur CubeSat / SmallSat projects and programs:

** CubeSat built by undergraduate students at Birla Institute of Technology, Pilani in India will include an advance imaging system: BITS Pilani students inch closer to nano-sat launch –

Mentored by experts from the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), undergraduate students at Birla Institute of Technology, Pilani, are inching closer to their dream of designing and launching a nano-satellite or cubesat — of the size of a shoebox – with a special camera that will help study the earth’s surface for response during natural hazards and track carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The country’s first student-run undergraduate research group, which is on a mission to launch a one-of-its-kind nano-satellite with hyperspectral imager, has been christened Team Anant. It has 40 members across all engineering branches and batches at the Rajasthan-based institute.

** Students at Rensselaer Polytechnique Institute (RPI) are building OSCaR (Obsolete Spacecraft Capture and Removal) smallsat to test techniques for de-orbiting space debris

OSCaR (Obsolete Spacecraft Capture and Removal) is a 3U CubeSat in development at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute that aims to de-orbit space debris.

From the RPI article:

… [Professor Kurt] Anderson and his students are developing OSCaR, a small device that will be able to inexpensively be sent into space aboard larger vehicles and then released to nearly autonomously seek out, capture, and then de-orbit space debris.

OSCaR is a three-unit member of a class of very small satellites known as CubeSats. Each unit is a small and light 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm cube.

One of those CubeSat units will house the “brains” of OSCaR including GPS, data storage, and communication, as well as the power and thermal management systems. Another will hold propellant and the system’s propulsion module to drive OSCaR forward. The third unit will contain four gun barrels, nets, and tethers to physically capture debris, one piece at a time. This capture module will also have optical, thermal, and RADAR imaging sensors to help OSCaR locate debris in the vastness of its surrounding space.

After it is done collecting debris, OSCaR will be programmed to deorbit itself within five years, destroying itself and the debris it caught.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-118 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AMSAT 50th Anniversary Issue of AMSAT Journal Available For All
  • PHL-Microsat Issues Diwata-2 Amateur Radio Unit Service Announcement
  • Coronation Station HS10KING/mm On Geostationary Satellite
  • SatNOGS Satellite Ground Station Article in HackSpace Magazine
  • AMSAT South Africa Developing AfriCUBE SDR-based CubeSat
  • Interview with Peter Gülzow, AMSAT-DL President
  • PSAT2, ISS Sat Gate needed in Central America
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:


Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past

Space policy roundup – April.29.2019

A sampling of links to recent space policy, politics, and government (US and international) related space news and resource items that I found of interest:


** The Space Show – Fri, 04/26/2019Umberto Cavallaro talked about his book, The Race to the Moon Chronicled in Stamps, Postcards, and Postmarks: A Story of Puffery vs. the Pragmatic, and about “documenting early space history through stamps, USSR propaganda, US stamp approach and more”.

** Lucy in the Sky With Asteroids | The Planetary Society

A rare alignment of planets and other objects will enable the solar-powered Lucy spacecraft to examine seven asteroids, six of which are among the thousands of Trojan asteroids that orbit ahead of and behind Jupiter. The mission team, include Hal Levison, Cathy Olkin and Mike Sekerak, hope to unlock secrets of our solar system’s origin through these ancient artifacts. Planetary Society correspondent Andrew Jones helps us celebrate China’s Space Day with an update on the Chang’e 4 lunar mission. The space trivia contest returns as just one cog in the universe-spanning machine called What’s Up.

** April 25, 2019 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast | Behind The Black




Space art roundup – April.27.2019

** The Humans In Space Youth Art Competition, is sponsored by the SciArt Exchange:

We are calling on the generation who will take the next giant steps into space. If you are between 10-18 years old, help shape ideas for the future of space exploration with the international Humans In Space Youth Art Competition.

Create artwork that is musical, literary, visual or video that expresses your ideas and inspiration for a new generation living, working and doing science on the Moon. What will it look like, sound like, and feel like?

Winning artwork selected by an international panel of artists, scientists, teachers, engineers and astronauts will be displayed through a worldwide tour, beginning with a kickoff event in the Vortex Dome in Los Angeles, California in August 2019.  The first place visual and literary artworks will receive $250 US, and the first place video and musical artworks will receive $500 US.

Submissions are due May 15, 2019, 23:59 US CT


** Winning entries in the 9th Annual Space Foundation International Student Art Contest are on display on line.

Rui Xi of Malaysia – 1st Place, 3 – 4 Years Old

As noted here last fall, the contest was sponsored this year by Firefly Aerospace.

Xinyi Christine of U.S.A. – Space Achievement Award, 13 – 14 Years Old

** A children’s art contest was part of China Aerospace Day for 2019 in Changsha, Hunan. An event held on April 24th that included a display of works from those

… participating in the collection of the 8th Space Painting Creation of My Space Dream.  The event was jointly sponsored by the China Aerospace Society and the Hunan Provincial Department of Education. As one of the 2019 China Aerospace Science Popularization Series activities, the event received positive responses from young people across the country. [Google translation]

Check out some of the entries.

“You and I Walked Into Space” by HanJiaxin


Dreaming of Space by Dai Jiayi

** The Peanuts Project at the Space Center Houston was organized by the Peanuts Global Artist Collective. Here is a press release about the project:

Space Center Houston Opened a Peanuts-Inspired Art Installation
Honoring the Apollo 10 Mission  

HOUSTON, April 26, 2019 – See it now! Space Center Houston opened a new art installation featuring Charles Schulz’s iconic characters in a new groundbreaking arts initiative launch event. This art initiative is a partnership between Peanuts Worldwide, the Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Parks Board, Space Center Houston and Brookfield Properties designed to bring Houstonians public art re-imaginings of Charles M. Schulz’s beloved, iconic characters.

To kick-off the launch of the exhibit, Houston-area students and the guests engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities developed by Peanuts to learn about how NASA explores the cosmos, and the beloved character Snoopy made an appearance.

The “Peanuts Constellation” mural by artist Kenny Scharf.

At the entrance of Space Center Houston, the outdoor art installation features a full-scale International Space Station Training Module wrapped in an original Charlie Brown and Snoopy Motif by artist Kenny Scharf. Entitled “The Heavens and the Earth,” the art installation honors NASA’s 50th Anniversary celebrations of Apollo 10. NASA and Peanuts have a longstanding partnership. NASA named the Apollo 10 command and lunar modules “Charlie Brown” and “Snoopy,” respectively. (Apollo 10, which orbited the moon, served as a dress rehearsal for the historic Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969.)

Featuring artwork by four of the world’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, the larger-than-life installations will continue on as “The Heavens and the Earth” Public Art Project with the Houston Arts Alliance Blasts Off, bring Insta-Worthy, Peanuts-inspired creations to Houston’s Public Parks and across the city’s most popular landmarks.

The Peanuts Global Artist Collective, presented by Peanuts Worldwide, launched a year ago with an ambitious public art initiative spanning seven international cities: Paris, Seoul, New York, San Francisco, Berlin, Tokyo and Mexico City. Curated by the esteemed, leading art curators at Culture Corps, the project features the work of seven elite artists. Four of them—Nina Chanel Abney, AVAF, FriendsWithYou and Kenny Scharf—will pepper their creations throughout Houston.

For the latest news and openings in Houston and beyond, fans can log on to Peanuts Global Artist Collective. And to participate in the project, residents of and visitors to Houston are encouraged to pose in front of the murals (as thousands of others around the world have), and post to their own Insta using the hashtags #SnoopyGlobalArt and #PeanutsHTX.


More at Snoopy, Charlie Brown wrap space station node in new art installation | collectSPACE.


The Race to the Moon Chronicled in Stamps, Postcards, and Postmarks:
A Story of Puffery vs. the Pragmatic (Springer Praxis Books)