vendredi 28 décembre 2018

Swiss Air Force - Fighter's ready to do extra hours

Swiss Air Force patch.

Dec. 28, 2018

From January 1, 2019, the jets of the army will monitor the Swiss sky from 6am to 10pm every day of the year. Before a 24h service expected at the end of 2020.

 Swiss Air Force F / A-18C

Remember: in February 2014 (related article): during the hijacking of the Boeing 767-300 of Ethiopian Airlines that landed on the tarmac of Geneva airport, Swiss planes, warned early in the night, had not intervened . It was jets from the French and Italian army that had escorted the aircraft into the Swiss sky. Reason invoked: Swiss aircraft flew only during office hours! But things are changing.

As of January 1st, the availability of the air policing service will take a new step by expanding flight hours from 6am to 10pm, 365 days a year, including weekends and holidays. This will cover more than 90% of air traffic in the Swiss sky, writes Thursday the Federal Department of Defense, Protection of Population and Sports (DDPS).

And this surveillance will soon be 100% complete. At the end of 2020, the Swiss Army will provide coverage 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, thanks to two armed fighter planes ready to take off in a maximum of 15 minutes. These will be based in Payerne (VD). But during the closing time of the runway, planes will take off from Emmen or Meiringen.

Swiss Air Force FA-18C vs German MiG-29 (Dogfight training)

Both devices will be assigned to Hot Missions and Live Missions. In the first case, these are commitments triggered by the presence of aircraft that violate the sovereignty of Swiss airspace yes who commit serious offenses. In the second case, these are spot checks of official aircraft belonging to foreign States which, in order to fly over Switzerland, require a diplomatic flight clearance.

Related article:

No F/A-18 outside office hours

Image, Video, Text, Credits: ATS/DDPS/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards,

jeudi 27 décembre 2018

NASA Satellites Spot Young Star in Growth Spurt

NASA - Spitzer Space Telescope patch.

Dec. 27, 2018

Image above: This illustration shows a young star undergoing a type of growth spurt. Left panel: Material from the dusty and gas-rich disk (orange) plus hot gas (blue) mildly flows onto the star, creating a hot spot. Middle panel: The outburst begins — the inner disk is heated, more material flows to the star, and the disk creeps inward. Right panel: The outburst is in full throttle, with the inner disk merging into the star and gas flowing outward (green). Image Credits: Caltech/T. Pyle (IPAC).

An adolescent star in the midst of a dramatic growth phase has been observed with the help of two NASA space telescopes. The youngster belongs to a class of stars that gain mass when matter swirling around the star falls onto its surface. The in-falling matter causes the star to appear about 100 times brighter. Astronomers have found only 25 stars in this class, and only about half of those have been observed during an outburst.

Spitzer Space Telescope. Animation Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The new findings shed light on some long-standing mysteries surrounding the evolution of young stars, including how they acquire all of their mass. This rarely observed outbursting behavior could be common but might typically be hidden from our view by thick clouds of dust.

The newfound star, called Gaia 17bpi, was first spotted by the European Space Agency's Gaia satellite, but NASA's asteroid-hunting Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) satellite serendipitously observed the star's brightening at the same time that Gaia did. Additional searches in NEOWISE's data archives and the archives of NASA's infrared-sensing Spitzer Space Telescope showed that these spacecraft had detected the flare-up in infrared light more than one year earlier.

Image above: The location of Gaia 17bpi, which lies in the Sagitta constellation, is indicated in this image taken by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/M. Kuhn (Caltech).

You can read the full story from the Caltech news office here: Caltech manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, for NASA. The research is detailed in a new study titled "Gaia 17bpi: An FU Ori Type Outburst.":

JPL manages and operates the NEOWISE mission for NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office within the Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL also manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech in Pasadena, California. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at IPAC at Caltech.

Related links:



Spitzer Space Telescope:

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Tony Greicius/JPL/Calla Cofield.


mercredi 26 décembre 2018

The Soyuz-2.1a launch vehicle successfully launched from Vostochny spaceport


Dec. 26, 2018

Soyuz-2.1a carrying Kanopus-V №5 & Kanopus-V №6 launch

Today, on December 27, 2018, at 5:07 Moscow time, the launch vehicle Soyuz-2.1a with the upper stage (RB) Fregat and the remote sensing spacecraft (ERS) of the series "Canopus V" № 5 and 6.

Soyuz-2.1a launches Kanopus-V №5, Kanopus-V №6 and 26 small satellites

The space payloads in the composition of the upper unit "Frigate", the Kanopus-V devices No. 5 and No. 6, as well as 26 satellites were launched into an open-loop near-earth orbit.


The separation of the two spacecraft Earth remote sensing "Canopus-V" is planned at 06:06 and 06:12 Moscow time, small satellites - at 07:30 and 09:25 Moscow time.

A Soyuz-2.1a (Союз-2.1а) launch vehicle, with a Fregat (Фрегат) upper stage, launched the Kanopus-V №5 (Канопус-В № 5) and Kanopus-V №6 (Канопус-В № 6) remote sensing satellites from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Amur Oblast, Russia, on 27 December 2018, at 02:07 UTC (11:07 local time). As secondary payloads, Soyuz-2.1a launched 26 small satellites: GRUS (Axelspace), Flock 3k (twelve Planet Labs Inc 3U Dove CubeSats), ZACube-2, Lume-1 cubesat, D-Star ONE (iSat), D-Star ONE (Sparrow), eight Lemur-class satellites (Spire Global Inc) and UWE-4 (Würzburg University).

Roscosmos Press Release:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: Roscosmos/Günter Space Page/Roscosmos TV/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


CASC - Long March-3C launches TJS-3 satellite

CASC - China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation logo.

Dec. 26, 2018

Long March-3C launches TJS-3 satellite

A Long March-3C carrier rocket (Changzheng 3C, CZ-3C, 长征三号丙) launched the third communication technology test satellite (TJS-3) from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province, on 24 December 2018, at 16:53 UTC (25 December, 00:53 Beijing time).

Long March-3C launches TJS-3 satellite

According to official sources, the satellite entered its designated orbit.

The satellite is a product of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology’s Systems Engineering class. During this three year long endeavor approximately 30 high school students ranging from sophomores to seniors will have contributed. The project is broken down into individual subsystems that are assigned to groups of students. Each subsystem is assigned an industry representative that acts as a mentor to the students. In the end TJ3Sat will act as an educational resource for K-12 education worldwide.

TJS-3 satellite

As the satellite orbits the Earth it will beam back basic telemetry data (voltages, temperatures, CPU status,etc.) and host a voice synthesizer that will transmit uploaded text messages in a Steven Hawking-esk voice. The primary goal is to serve as a resource and educational outreach tool that will hopefully inspire other educational institutions to explore the wonders of Space.

For more information about China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), visit:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: CASC/SciNews/Gunter's Space Page/ Aerospace.


lundi 24 décembre 2018

Living in space

ESA - European Space Agency patch.

Dec. 24, 2018

Since Yuri Gagarin became the first human to leave Earth in 1961, over 500 intrepid adventurers have made the journey into space. Today, astronauts and cosmonauts from around the world visit the International Space Station (ISS), which serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory. Life on the ISS is therefore far from easy; isolated space travellers must deal with the strange sensation of weightlessness and having very little access to fresh food.

Living in space

Over the last two decades, space agencies have created more comfortable conditions on the ISS, but we need to explore the concept of ‘living in space’ much further if humans are to ever live and work on another world, such as the Moon or Mars.

The ISS orbits at an altitude of 330–435 km above Earth’s surface

ESA’s Discovery and Preparation Programme works to prepare ESA for the future of space exploration. As part of this programme, ESA has worked with academic and industrial partners on a huge number of studies that lay the groundwork for living in space.

Preparing for a space mission

For their own safety, the welfare of their crew and the security of the specialist equipment they control, every astronaut and cosmonaut must go through intensive training before going into space. Training for a mission to the ISS takes years; European astronauts must learn the science behind spaceflight, how to operate equipment, how to deal with weightlessness and even how to speak Russian. When heading further into unchartered territory, even more preparation would be required.

Virtual reality rendering of a LUNA lunar environment

One Discovery and Preparation study that explored how to prepare for a space mission is the Lunar Analogues Study (LUNA). LUNA investigated creating artificial Moon-like environments that could be used to simulate and train for lunar exploration missions. One of the lunar environments that LUNA proposed – the European Surface Operations Laboratory (ESOL) – is now being built at the European Astronaut Centre. ESOL will contain a habitat, lunar terrain, a Mission Control Centre and a communication interface.

Another study, Moondive, looked into adapting ESA’s Neutral Buoyancy Facility (NBF) – a large pool of water in which astronauts neither sink nor float, making it very useful for practising spacewalks outside the ISS. Adapting the NBF for lunar and asteroid mission simulations would involve changing the buoyancy to mimic the gravity of the destination, simulating the terrain and introducing robotic assistance.

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst training for spacewalks in the Neutral Buoyancy Facility

Staying safe in space

Living in space can be risky! Aside from the threats from space debris and malfunctioning technology, space radiation can present dangers to space explorers, lack of gravity can result in physiological issues, and psychological issues can be caused by isolation and confinement. ESA works hard to ensure that astronauts remain as strong and healthy as possible.

Equipment sent to Mars is sterilised in advance

One Discovery study, BIOSIS (BIOSafety In Space), reviewed the biological risks to crews due to biocontamination of air and water, and made recommendations for new technology developments that could minimise these risks. BIOSIS recommended engineering an automated biomonitoring system that would prepare and analyse air, water and surface samples.

Image above: Earth’s magnetic field protects us from the Sun’s radiation, but astronauts travelling in space are more exposed.

Astronauts on the ISS are exposed to more radiation from the Sun than people are on Earth as they are not fully shielded by Earth’s magnetic field. Space explorers travelling further afield will be entirely outside this field and will therefore be exposed to significant radiation. Radiation exposure can damage astronauts’ DNA and lead to cancer, cataracts, and radiation sickness. A Discovery study – IPRAM (Interplanetary and Planetary Radiation Model for Human Spaceflight) – estimated the radiation risks involved in missions to the Moon, Mars and asteroids. These estimates can be used when planning future missions to ensure that astronauts remain as safe as possible.

Building a new home

For long-term space missions, astronauts would need somewhere to live when they reach their destination. Infrastructure is important for sheltering astronauts and scientific equipment from harsh environments, which could include thin atmospheres, extreme temperatures, radiation and micrometeoroids. There are three options for building infrastructure: bringing fully functional habitation from Earth, digging the habitat under the surface, or building structures using the local soil itself.

One Discovery study, 3D Printed Building Blocks Using Lunar Soil, investigated this third option. Building with lunar soil would reduce the materials required to be brought from Earth and very thick structures could be created for efficient radiation shielding. This study used a 3D printer to print building blocks from a base material similar to lunar soil. The study verified the usability of the lunar soil as a building material, selected a suitable printing process and designed an infrastructure. Since the study was carried out, ESA has been developing the concept of the “Moon Village” – an international project to put a space-base on the Moon.

Design for a 3D-printed lunar base

Many factors need to be considered before building a home on another world. The L-DEPP (Lunar Dust Environment and Plasma Package) study designed an instrument that could investigate the dusty surface environment of the Moon for better planning of future missions. The Moon has a very weak magnetic field, meaning it is constantly bombarded with solar radiation, micrometeorites and energetic plasma particles which charge up the surface and mobilise dust. The L-DEPP instrument would investigate the lunar dust, plasma, electric field, magnetic field and radio emissions using several different sensors that each have a specific role.

The Moon can reach extreme temperatures – down to -183°C at night! Finding a way to keep potential explorers protected from heat and cold is a huge challenge. Two Discovery studies investigated how to create heat on the Moon, with one concept involving an intricate energy-channelling system of reflectors and one also bringing in processed lunar soil, a heat engine and heat pipes.

A robotic helping-hand

Life in space can be tough for humans, but robots can be built to deal better with the harsh environment. ESA has a long history of developing robots to explore Mars, including several rovers. Nowadays, robotics is entering a new era in which it works more closely with humans.

When the ESA engineer moves his gauntleted hand, the robotic hand follows in sync

Some activities are particularly difficult for astronauts, for example spacesuit gloves make it hard to perform dextrous tasks. The ADAH (Astronaut Dexterous Artificial Hand) study investigated two scenarios to improve this: one where a robotic system supports or augments grasping and manipulation capabilities, and one where a robotic hand replaces the astronaut hand entirely. In the latter case, the astronaut would operate the robotic hand from inside a spacecraft. ESA have now developed several robotic hand prototypes, and have even designed “haptic feedback” robots, where an astronaut controls a robot using a joystick or arm exoskeleton, feeling the force on the robotic hand through this piece of equipment.


Other robots can move around the surface of planetary bodies and collect data that would be time-consuming and tiring for an astronaut. The Discovery study Lunar Volatile Resources Analysis Package (L-VRAP) defined an instrument for the first European Lunar Lander to detect, identify, quantify and characterise volatiles in the lunar soil and atmosphere. Creating a robot to do such a repetitive job allows an astronaut to focus on work that requires human levels of intelligence.

The technology that exists today could easily take us to the Moon and beyond, but it is studies like those carried out under the Discovery and Preparation Programme that will make a trip resourceful, sustainable and productive.

Related links:

Preparing for the Future:

Discovery and Preparation:

International Space Station (ISS):

Radiation in space:

3D printing on the Moon:,%20

ESA's Moon Village Concept:

European robotics:

Robotics for planetary exploration:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: ESA/A. Dowson/Guus Schoonewille/NASA/SOHO/CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO/Foster + Partners/    Fernando Gandía/GMV.

Merry Christmas,

dimanche 23 décembre 2018

SpaceX - GPS III SV01 Mission Success

SpaceX - GPS III SV01 Mission patch.

Dec. 23, 2018

GPS III SV01 Mission lift off

On Sunday, December 23rd at 5:51 a.m. PST, SpaceX successfully launched the United States Air Force’s first Global Positioning System III space vehicle (SV) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The satellite was deployed to its intended orbit approximately 1 hour and 56 minutes after liftoff.

GPS III Space Vehicle 01

For this mission, the satellite will be deployed to medium Earth orbit approximately 1 hour and 56 minutes after liftoff. Due to mission requirements, SpaceX will not attempt to land Falcon 9’s first stage after launch.

An artist's rendition of GPS III in orbit

Due to mission requirements, SpaceX did not attempt to land Falcon 9’s first stage after launch. U.S. Air Force’s first third-generation navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System.

Fro more information about SpaceX, visit:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: SpaceX/USAF.