samedi 5 novembre 2022

Station Crew Gears Up for Cargo Mission and Spacewalks


ISS - Expedition 68 Mission patch.

November 5, 2022

New science experiments to benefit humans on and off the Earth are packed inside a rocket and ready to blast off this weekend from Virginia to the International Space Station. The Expedition 68 crew is preparing for the arrival of the precious space cargo while also gearing up for a series of spacewalks set to begin this month.

Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket stands at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility’s launch pad in Virginia. Attached to the top of the U.S. rocket is the company’s Cygnus space freighter loaded with about four tons of research gear, crew supplies, station hardware. Antares will lift off at 5:50 a.m. EST on Sunday sending Cygnus on a two-day delivery trip to the orbiting lab. NASA TV, on the agency’s website and app, will begin live launch coverage at 5:30 a.m.

Antares carrying Cygnus liftoff. Animation Credit: NASA

Flight Engineers Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada spent Friday reviewing procedures and practicing techniques on a computer to capture Cygnus with the Canadarm2 robotic arm when it arrives next week. Cygnus will perform automated approach and rendezvous maneuvers until it reaches a point about 30 feet (10 meters) from the station early Tuesday. Mann will then command the Canadarm2 to extend toward Cygnus and capture it at 5:50 a.m. on Tuesday while Cassada backs her up monitoring the vehicle’s data. Controllers on the ground will then relieve the duo and remotely guide the Canadarm2 with Cygnus in its grips to the Unity module where it will be installed for 11 weeks of cargo activities.

Spacewalks are also on the schedule this month for two astronauts and two cosmonauts. Cassada and NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio are preparing for a Nov. 15 spacewalk to ready the orbiting lab for its third and fourth rollout solar arrays. Mission controllers on Monday will talk on NASA TV about that spacewalk and two more excursions to finish the solar array installation work before the end of the year. Rubio and astronaut Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) cleaned spacesuit cooling loops, checked the functionality of suit components, and organized the Quest airlock where the two spacewalkers will exit the station. Mann and Cassada were also on hand on Friday assisting with the spacesuit work.

Image above: Astronaut Koichi Wakata works on spacesuits, also known as Extra-vehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), located in the space station’s Quest airlock. Image Credit: NASA.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin have also been preparing for a different set of spacewalks to install a radiator and airlock on the Nauka science module. The cosmonauts have been getting their Orlan spacesuits ready, gathering spacewalk tools, and cleaning the Poisk module’s airlock ahead of the planned spacewalks. Prokopyev is the veteran of two previous spacewalks from 2018 while Petelin is preparing for his first.

Cosmonaut Anna Kikina started Friday downloading biomedical data to scientists on Earth for analysis. Afterward, she spent the rest of the day servicing the Zvezda service module’s oxygen generator and cleaning vents inside Nauka.

Related links:


Expedition 68:

Canadarm2 robotic arm:

Unity module:

Quest airlock:

Poisk module:

Zvezda service module:

Nauka multipurpose laboratory module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.

Best regards,

CASC - Long March-3B launches ChinaSat-19 (ZhongXing-19)


CASC - China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation logo.

Nov 5, 2022

Long March-3B carrying ChinaSat-19 (ZhongXing-19) liftoff

A Long March-3B rocket launched the ChinaSat-19 satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan Province, China, on 5 November 2022, at 11:50 UTC (19:50 local time).

Long March-3B launches ChinaSat-19 (ZhongXing-19)

ChinaSat-19 (中星19, also known as ZhongXing-19) is a communications satellite that “will mainly provide communications services covering eastern China, Southeast Asia, and most Pacific regions, including North American routes”.

ChinaSat-19 (中星19, also known as ZhongXing-19)

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

Images, Video, Text, Credits: China Central Television (CCTV)/China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


vendredi 4 novembre 2022

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of October 31, 2022


ISS - Expedition 68 Mission patch.

Nov 4, 2022

Crew members aboard the International Space Station conducted scientific investigations during the week of Oct. 31 that included testing an ultrasound instrument controlled from the ground, examining self-regulation of brain blood flow in space, and evaluating the effects of microgravity on combustion.

Here are details on some of the microgravity investigations currently taking place aboard the orbiting lab:

Remote ultrasounds

Image above: This image shows hardware setup for the ESA ECHO investigation, which evaluates an ultrasound system controlled from the ground to provide medical diagnoses for crew members in space. Image Credit: NASA.

ECHO, an investigation from ESA (European Space Agency) evaluates an ultrasound system equipped with motorized probes controlled from the ground. To conduct the scan, a crew member simply places the probe on the area to be examined and follows the ultrasound on a screen while receiving input from the ground. This tool could enable fast and precise medical diagnoses for future space missions. On Earth, such scanners could improve medical management in remote and rural areas with limited services, using an on-site assistant to share information with medical experts in other locations. A successful test of this system in France and Guyana provided feedback that led to improvements tested as part of the ECHO investigation. During the week, crew members set up for and performed sessions for the investigation.

Blood pressure regulation in the brain

The human brain can adjust to self-regulate blood flow even when the heart cannot maintain an ideal blood pressure. Cerebral Autoregulation, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) investigation, tests whether this self-regulation improves in microgravity. Many astronauts faint or experience lightheadedness when they return to Earth, which may be related to changes in blood flow in the brain. On Earth, when the brain cannot compensate for a sudden drop in blood pressure, a person can become lightheaded or have fainting episodes known as syncope, which affects millions of people worldwide. A better understanding of how blood flows change in space could lead to improved treatments and possible countermeasures for space-related lightheadedness and syncope on Earth. Crew members took measurements for the investigation during the week.

Image above: From left, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata and NASA astronauts Frank Rubio, Nicole Mann, and Josh Cassada celebrate Halloween dressed up as video game and cartoon characters aboard the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA.

Predicting flammability

FLARE, a JAXA investigation, evaluates the effect of microgravity on combustion of materials by observing various solid fuels burning under different conditions inside a flow tunnel. Current tests to screen materials for use on crewed space missions do not consider the significant effects of gravity on combustion, and the technology that this investigation demonstrates could fill this gap and significantly improve fire safety aboard spacecraft on future missions. Improvements in methods for evaluating the flammability of materials have potential applications for reducing fire hazards in settings on Earth as well. During the week, crew members activated the investigation and closed out activities after a run controlled by the ground.

Image above: The Green River snakes through Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah, in this photograph from the International Space Station as it orbits 262 miles above. Image Credit: NASA.

Other investigations involving the crew:

- XROOTS uses the Veggie facility to test hydroponic (liquid-based) and aeroponic (air-based) techniques to grow plants without soil or other traditional growth media. These techniques could enable production of crops on a larger scale for future space exploration.

- FLUIDICS, an ESA investigation, evaluates behaviors of liquid in a sphere in microgravity as a model for what happens in a spacecraft’s fuel tank. Results could support improvements in satellite fuel management and expand lifespan. This investigation also may help provide a better understanding of Earth’s oceans and optimize the use of ocean-based renewable energy.

- Repository is a storage bank that maintains biological specimens used for scientific research on human physiological changes and adaptation to microgravity, including longitudinal studies spanning many missions. Space biomedical research often leads to medical advances that benefit people on Earth as well.

- ESA’s Lumina tests a dosimeter using optical fibers to provide reliable, real-time radiation dose measurements in complex radiation environments. Such a capability is key on future space exploration missions and has applications in settings on Earth such as aviation and the nuclear industry.

- Food Physiology characterizes the effects of an enhanced spaceflight diet on immune function, the gut microbiome, and nutritional status indicators. Because diet can be easily and meaningfully altered on Earth or during flight, documenting the effects of dietary improvements on human physiology could provide guidance for using diet to enhance adaptation to spaceflight.

- ISS Ham Radio sessions engage students, teachers, parents, and other members of the community in direct communication with astronauts via ground-based amateur radio units. This experience helps inspire interest in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Space to Ground: Scientific Ride: 11/04/2022

The space station, a robust microgravity laboratory with a multitude of specialized research facilities and tools, has supported many scientific breakthroughs from investigations spanning every major scientific discipline. The ISS Benefits for Humanity 2022 publication details the expanding universe of results realized from more than 20 years of experiments conducted on the station.

Related links:

Expedition 68:


Cerebral Autoregulation:


ISS National Lab:

Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Ana Guzman/John Love, ISS Research Planning Integration Scientist Expedition 68.

Best regards,

As Psyche Mission Moves Forward, NASA Responds to Independent Review


NASA - Psyche Mission patch.

Nov 4, 2022

NASA and the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, which leads Psyche, shared a response Friday to the results of an independent review board convened to determine why the mission to study a metal-rich asteroid of the same name missed its planned 2022 launch opportunity.

The mission is moving forward as previously announced, and NASA will incorporate recommendations from the board to ensure its success.

Image above: This illustration depicts NASA's Psyche spacecraft. Set to launch in 2023, the Psyche mission will explore a metal-rich asteroid of the same name that lies in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU.

The review board – convened at the request of NASA and JPL – found a significant factor in the delay was an imbalance between the workload and the available workforce at JPL. NASA will work closely with JPL management over the coming months to address the challenges raised in the report. The board will meet again in spring 2023 to assess progress.

For the Psyche mission, the board recommended increasing staffing, establishing open communications and an improved reporting system, as well as strengthening the review system to better highlight what issues might affect mission success.

In response, the Psyche project has added appropriately experienced leaders and project staff throughout the project, including filling the project chief engineer and guidance navigation and control cognizant engineer positions. JPL also formed a team to actively manage the staffing shortage across multiple projects including Psyche.

“We welcome this opportunity to hear the independent review board’s findings and have a chance to address the concerns,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “It’s our job to notice issues early – this report is essentially a canary in the coal mine – and address them. Information like this helps us for more than just Psyche, but also for upcoming key missions such as Europa Clipper and Mars Sample Return.”

The independent review board also looked at JPL as a whole. The report made recommendations to address what it called inadequate flight project staffing – in both number of personnel and experience – as well as erosion of line organization technical acumen, and the post-pandemic work environment.

In response, changes to JPL’s organizational reporting structure and reviews are in work, which along with other actions, are designed to increase institutional insight and oversight of missions including Psyche. JPL also is instituting new internal staffing approaches and working with industrial partners to support staffing needs and to redouble efforts to strengthen experienced leadership at all levels.  

“I appreciate the thoughtful work of the Psyche independent review board,” said Laurie Leshin, JPL director. “The board members worked diligently over the past several months to help JPL uncover and understand issues related to the delay of the Psyche launch. Their insights are helping JPL and NASA take the steps necessary to ensure success on Psyche and future missions.”

To support JPL’s staffing needs, NASA anticipates delaying the launch of the Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy (VERITAS) mission for at least three years. This choice would allow experienced staff at JPL to complete development of strategic flagship missions further along in their development. A delay of VERITAS, a mission in early formulation, would also free up additional resources to enable the continuation of Psyche and positively affect other planetary funding needs.

VERITAS is a JPL-led mission designed to search for water and volcanic activity on Venus. It was selected in 2021 as one of two Venus proposals for the agency’s Discovery Program, a line of low-cost, competitive missions led by a single principal investigator. The mission, with planned contributions from the Italian Space Agency, German Aerospace Center, and French Space Agency, was originally expected to launch in December 2027. The mission is now scheduled to launch no earlier than 2031.

For a VERITAS delay, JPL will stand down their management and engineering teams for the mission and release the staff to other projects, while funding will be continued for science team support.

Read the report, as well as NASA's response, on the agency's website:

Related article:

NASA Continues Psyche Asteroid Mission

Related link:

Psyche (Asteroid Mission):

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Roxana Bardan/Karen Fox/Alana Johnson.


Rocket Lab - Electron launches “Catch Me If You Can” (MATS)


Rocket Lab - Electron / “Catch Me If You Can” (MATS) patch.

Nov 4, 2022

Electron carrying “Catch Me If You Can” (MATS) liftoff

Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle launched the “Catch Me If You Can” mission, to deliver into orbit the Mesospheric Airglow/Aerosol Tomography and Spectroscopy (MATS) satellite for the Swedish National Space Agency (SNSA), from Launch Complex 1, Pad B, on Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand, on 4 November 2022, at 17:27 UTC (5 November, at 06:27 NZDT).

Electron launches “Catch Me If You Can” (MATS)

The mission is Rocket Lab’s 32nd Electron launch overall. According to SNSA, MATS is “designed to investigate atmospheric waves.

Mesospheric Airglow/Aerosol Tomography and Spectroscopy (MATS)

It will do so by imaging variation in the light emitted by oxygen molecules at 100 km, as well as structures in the highest clouds in our atmosphere, the so-called noctilucent clouds, which form around 80 km”. The mid-air capture of Electron’s first stage was not successful.

Related links:

Rocket Lab:

Swedish National Space Agency (SNSA):

Images, Video, Text, Credits: Rocket Lab/Swedish National Space Agency/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


Stratolaunch's Roc, the world's largest plane, aces 1st flight carrying hypersonic prototype


Stratolaunch logo.

Nov 4, 2022

Stratolaunch, builder of the world's largest airplane, flew a prototype of its planned air-launched Talon hypersonic vehicle for the first time on Friday (Oct. 28).

Image above: Stratolaunch's giant carrier plane Roc and its Talon-A testbed takes off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California on the company's first captive carry test on Oct. 28, 2022. Image Credit:  Stratolaunch.

Stratolaunch's Roc, the world's largest plane, aces 1st flight

"This is the first integrated flight test of our Talon launch system," Brandon Wood, Stratolaunch vice president of programs and operations, told reporters in a Friday teleconference. "We'll progress from here to more complicated, and certainly more productive flights, for our hypersonic testbed."

Stratolaunch's giant carrier plane Roc in flight. Image Credit: Stratolaunch

Stratolaunch's Roc took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port carrying the 28-foot-long (8.5 meters) Talon prototype vehicle attached to a pylon at the center of the giant plane's 385-foot-wide (117 m) wings. The flight lasted just over five hours and reached a maximum altitude of 23,000 feet (7,000 m), the company said, adding that the test met all its objectives.

Talon prototype vehicle. Image Credit: Stratolaunch

"I was ecstatic seeing those two vehicles combined as they lifted off the runway and into the sky," Stratolaunch CEO and President Zachary Krevor told reporters. "Seeing our flight products operating together represents a significant step towards regular and reusable hypersonic flight."


Images, Video, Text, Credits: Stratolaunch/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards,

Flights to Barcelona or Ibiza disrupted due to rocket debris


CASC - China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation logo.

Nov 4, 2022

Spain briefly closed part of its airspace on Friday as debris from a Chinese rocket ripped through the area and disrupted air traffic over several cities.

Barcelona airport. (File photo) Image Credit: REUTERS

Air flights were "totally" suspended for 40 minutes on Friday in Catalonia (northeastern Spain), as well as in other northern regions of the country, "due to the risks associated with the passage of the space object CZ-5B in Spanish airspace”, tweeted the civil protection of Catalonia.

Twitter / Catalonia Civil Protection

The partial closure of the airspace began at 09:38 local time (08:38 GMT), the same source said. As a result, flights from or to Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, but also Tarragona, Reus or Ibiza, in the Mediterranean archipelago of the Balearic Islands, suffered disruptions, underlined the national airport manager, Aena.

The Long March 5B rocket took off on October 31. Image Credit: AFP

The Long March 5B (CZ-5B) rocket lifted off from southern China on Monday to deliver the last module for a Chinese space station currently under construction. Debris from that rocket fell into the Pacific Ocean at 11:01 a.m. Spanish time (10:01 a.m. GMT), US Space Command said in a tweet.

Entering a rocket's atmosphere gives off immense heat and friction, segments can then burn up and disintegrate, but larger craft, like the Long March-5B, may not be entirely destroyed. The risk is then that their debris will land on the surface of the earth and cause damage or even victims, even if this risk is low, the planet being covered with 70% of water.

Not a first

This is not the first time that China has lost control of a space object during a return to Earth. In July, the remains of a Chinese rocket fell into the Sulu Sea in the Philippines, angering US officials, including those at NASA, who blamed Beijing for not sharing the information. on the potentially dangerous fall of this debris.

In 2020, debris from another Long March rocket crashed into villages in Côte d'Ivoire, causing damage but no injuries. The Asian giant has been investing billions of euros for several decades in its space program.

Related articles:

China Space Station (CSS) - Mengtian Laboratory Module launch

NASA Administrator Statement on Chinese Space Debris

Nasa criticises China after space rocket makes uncontrolled return to Earth

China Space Station (CSS) - Wentian launch

Chinese rocket debris falls into Indian Ocean

New data on the de-orbit of the 2nd stage of the Long March 5B rocket

Chinese rocket falling - "extremely low" risk on Earth

CASC - Long March-5B Y2 launches the Tianhe Core Module

Related links:

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

For more information about China National Space Administration (CNSA), visit:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: AFP/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


jeudi 3 novembre 2022

Crewmates Train for Emergency and Await Cygnus Cargo Mission


ISS - Expedition 68 Mission patch.

November 3, 2022

The seven Expedition 68 crew members started Thursday training for an emergency aboard the International Space Station. Afterward, the orbiting septet split up and prepared for next week’s arrival of a U.S. cargo craft, worked on spacesuits, and organized spacewalking tools.

Image above: NASA astronaut Josh Cassada practices cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) during a medical emergency drill aboard the space station. Image Credit: NASA.

The station’s four astronauts and three cosmonauts began Thursday morning practicing emergency procedures in collaboration with mission controllers on the ground. The commander and six flight engineers from NASA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and Roscosmos reviewed actions they would take in the unlikely event of several contingency scenarios including a depressurization, an ammonia leak, or a fire. They also coordinated communication protocols with each other and ground controllers from around the world.

Image above: A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus spacecraft loaded with cargo bound for the International Space Station stands vertical on Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad-0A, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Northrop Grumman’s 18th contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station will deliver more than 8,000 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. The CRS-18 Cygnus spacecraft is named after the first American woman in space, Sally Ride, and is scheduled to launch at 5:50 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2022, EST. Photo Credits: NASA/Jamie Adkins.

In the afternoon, two NASA Flight Engineers, Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, paired up using a computer to run through a variety of maneuvers necessary to capture Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter when it arrives next week. Cygnus, packed with 8,200 pounds of cargo, is at the launch pad at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia counting down to its lift off atop the Antares rocket on Sunday at 5:50 a.m. EST. It will rendezvous with the station on Tuesday, where Mann be in the cupola to command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus at 5:50 a.m. Cassada will back up Mann as he monitors the spacecraft’s automated approach.

Two astronauts and two cosmonauts have been focusing this week on upcoming spacewalking activities. Cassada and fellow Flight Engineer Frank Rubio spent the better part of Thursday swapping spacesuit components and organizing the Quest airlock for future spacewalks. Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin checked parts on their Orlan spacesuits in the Poisk airlock, gathered spacewalking tools, and photographed their work for review by spacewalk specialists on the ground.

Image above: NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough (left) and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet (right) photographed on June 16, 2021, while working to install new roll out solar arrays on the International Space Station's P-6 truss structure. Image Credit: Johnson Space Center.

Flight Engineers Koichi Wakata of JAXA and Anna Kikina of Roscosmos focused their attention on lab maintenance activities after Thursday morning’s emergency scenario training. Wakata first checked components on the Microgravity Science Glovebox then turned off the Veggie space botany facility after the completion of experiment activities in both research devices. Kikina cleaned hardware inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module then measured her blood pressure and serviced urine samples for analysis.

Related articles:

L-72 Hour Forecast: 80% Favorable Weather for Sun. Launch

NASA to Provide Coverage of Preview Briefing, US Spacewalks

Related links:

Expedition 68:

Canadarm2 robotic arm:

Quest airlock:

Poisk airlock:

Microgravity Science Glovebox:


Nauka multipurpose laboratory module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.

Best regards,

How NASA’s Roman Telescope Will Scan for Showstopping Explosions


NASA - Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope logo.

Nov 3, 2022

What happens when the densest, most massive stars – that are also super small – collide? They send out brilliant explosions known as kilonovae. Think of these events as the universe’s natural fireworks. Theorists suspect they periodically occur all across the cosmos – both near and far. Scientists will soon have an additional observatory to help follow up on and even scout these remarkable events: NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, which is set to launch by May 2027.

The key actors in kilonovae are neutron stars, the central cores of stars that collapsed under gravity during supernova explosions. They each have a mass similar to the Sun, but are only about 6 miles (10 kilometers) in diameter. And when they collide, they send out debris moving near the speed of light. These explosions are also thought to forge heavy elements, like gold, platinum, and strontium (which gives actual fireworks their stunning reds). Kilonovae shoot those elements across space, potentially allowing them to end up in rocks forming the crust of terrestrial planets like Earth.

Image above: NASA’s Roman Space Telescope will survey the same areas of the sky every few days following its launch in May 2027. Researchers will mine these data to identify kilonovae – explosions that happen when two neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole collide and merge. When these collisions happen, a fraction of the resulting debris is ejected as jets, which move near the speed of light. The remaining debris produces hot, glowing, neutron-rich clouds that forge heavy elements, like gold and platinum. Roman’s extensive data will help astronomers better identify how often these events occur, how much energy they give off, and how near or far they are. Image Credits: NASA, ESA, J. Olmsted (STScI).

The astronomical community captured one of these remarkable kilonova events in 2017. Scientists at the National Science Foundation’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected the collision of two neutron stars first with gravitational waves – ripples in space-time. Almost simultaneously, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected high-energy light. NASA quickly pivoted to observe the event with a broader fleet of telescopes, and captured the fading glow of the blast’s expanding debris in a series of images.

But the players in this example collided practically in our “backyard,” at least in astronomical terms. They lie only 130 million light-years away. There must be more kilonovae – and many that are farther flung – dotting our ever-active universe.

“We don’t yet know the rate of these events,” said Daniel M. Scolnic, an assistant professor of physics at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Scolnic led a study that estimates the number of kilonovae that could be discovered by past, present, and future observatories including Roman. “Is the single kilonova we identified typical? How bright are these explosions? What types of galaxies do they occur in?” Existing telescopes can’t cover wide enough areas or observe deeply enough to find more distant examples, but that will change with Roman.

Spotting More, and More Distant, Kilonovae

At this stage, LIGO leads the pack in identifying neutron star mergers. It can detect gravitational waves in all areas of the sky, but some of the most distant collisions may be too weak to be identified. Roman is set to join LIGO’s search, offering complementary qualities that help “fill out” the team. Roman is a survey telescope that will repeatedly scan the same areas of the sky. Plus, Roman's field of view is 200 times larger than the Hubble Space Telescope’s infrared view – not as vast as LIGO’s, but huge for a telescope that takes images. Its cadence will allow researchers to spot when objects on the sky brighten or dim, whether nearby or very far away.

Visualization Showing How Roman Will Detect Kilonovae

Video above: How will NASA’s Roman Space Telescope detect kilonovae – brief flashes of light sent out by the merger of two neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole? In part, due to the telescope’s wide field of view. Roman’s view is 200 times larger than the Hubble Space Telescope’s infrared view. Once Roman starts observing the sky at a regular cadence following its launch, planned by 2027, researchers expect to be able to identify more of these spectacular events, both nearby and very far away. Although we do not yet know the rate of these events, when Roman’s data pours in we will begin learn how frequent these mergers are – and what results. Video Credits: NASA, Alyssa Pagan (STScI).

Roman will provide researchers a powerful tool for observing extremely distant kilonovae. This is due to the expansion of space. Light that left stars billions of years ago is stretched into longer, redder wavelengths, known as infrared light, over time. Since Roman specializes in capturing near-infrared light, it will detect light from very distant objects. How distant? “Roman will be able to see some kilonovae whose light has traveled about 7 billion years to reach Earth,” explained Eve Chase, a postdoctoral researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Chase led a more recent study that simulated how differences in kilonovae ejecta can vary what we expect to observe from observatories including Roman.

There’s a second benefit to near-infrared light: It provides more time to observe these short-lived bursts. Shorter wavelengths of light, like ultraviolet and visible, disappear from view in a day or two. Near-infrared light can be gathered for a week or more. Researchers have been simulating the data to see how this will work. “For a subset of simulated kilonovae, Roman would be able to observe some more than two weeks after the neutron star merger occurred,” Chase added. “It will be an excellent tool for looking at kilonovae that are very far away.”

Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. Animation Credit: NASA

Soon, researchers will know far more about where kilonovae occur, and how often these explosions occur in the history of the universe. Were those that occurred earlier different in some way? “Roman will allow the astronomy community to begin conducting population studies along with a slew of new analyses on the physics of these explosions,” Scolnic said.

A survey telescope offers enormous possibility – and also a ton of data that will require precise machine learning. Astronomers are meeting this challenge by writing code to automate these searches. Ultimately, Roman’s massive data sets will help researchers unravel perhaps the greatest mysteries about kilonovae to date: What happens after two neutron stars collide? Does it produce a single neutron star, a black hole, or something else entirely? With Roman, we will gather the statistics researchers need to make substantial breakthroughs.

The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is managed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, with participation by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech/IPAC in Southern California, the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, and a science team comprising scientists from various research institutions. The primary industrial partners are Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation in Boulder, Colorado; L3Harris Technologies in Melbourne, Florida; and Teledyne Scientific & Imaging in Thousand Oaks, California.

Related Links and Documents:

Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope:

Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope:

Science paper by E. Chase et al.:

Science paper by Daniel Scolnic et al.:

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Ashley Balzer/GSFC/Claire Andreoli/By Claire Blome, Space Telescope Science Institute.


L-72 Hour Forecast: 80% Favorable Weather for Sun. Launch


Northrop Grumman - Cygnus NG-18 Resupply Mission patch.

Nov 3, 2022

The Wallops Range weather office forecast issued today for the Nov. 6 launch of Northrop Grumman’s 18th resupply mission to the International Space Station puts weather at 80% favorable, with the main concern being a slight chance of low-level clouds that may potentially violate cloud ceiling requirements.

Image above: A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus spacecraft loaded with cargo bound for the International Space Station stands vertical on Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad-0A, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Northrop Grumman’s 18th contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station will deliver more than 8,000 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. The CRS-18 Cygnus spacecraft is named after the first American woman in space, Sally Ride, and is scheduled to launch at 5:50 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2022, EST. Photo Credits: NASA/Jamie Adkins.

Unseasonably warm conditions and tranquil weather are expected through this weekend. A cold front will be located over the Appalachian Mountains Sunday morning, providing light southerly surface flow and upper-level cirrus cloudiness over the Wallops Region. An increase of low-level moisture over the Wallops region due to the light winds may provide some low-level clouds over the Wallops region near launch time. At this time, the primary concern for launch would be a slight chance of low-level clouds.

NASA commercial cargo provider Northrop Grumman is targeting 5:50 a.m. EST Sunday, Nov. 6, for the launch.

Related links:

Northrop Grumman:

International Space Station (ISS):

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Jamie Adkins.


China Space Station (CSS) - Mengtian relocation & Shenzhou-14 astronauts enter Mengtian


CMS - China Manned Space logo.

Nov 3, 2022

Mengtian Laboratory Module relocation

The Mengtian Laboratory Module was successfully transferred from the front docking port to the side docking port of the Tianhe Core Module, on 3 November 2022, at 01:32 UTC (09:32 China Standard Time).

Mengtian relocation

The transposition achieved the planned T-shape configuration of the Tianhe Core Module (天和核心舱), the Wentian Laboratory Module (问天实验舱) and the Mengtian Laboratory Module (梦天实验舱), the final configuration of the China Space Station (中国空间站). In the next period, basic function tests and evaluation of the space station combination will be carried out.

Shenzhou-14 astronaut Chen Dong enter Mengtian Laboratory Module

The Shenzhou-14 (神舟十四号) crew, astronauts Chen Dong (陈冬, commander), Liu Yang (刘洋) and Cai Xuzhe (蔡旭哲), entered the Mengtian Laboratory Module on 3 November 2022, at 07:12 UTC (15:12 China Standard Time).

Shenzhou-14 astronauts enter Mengtian

The China Space Station (中国空间站) is now in its planned T-shape configuration of the Tianhe Core Module (天和核心舱), the Wentian Laboratory Module (问天实验舱) and the Mengtian Laboratory Module (梦天实验舱).

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China Space Station (CSS) - Mengtian Laboratory Module docking

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For more information about China National Space Administration (CNSA), visit:

Images, Videos, Text, Credits: China National Space Administration (CNSA)/China Central Television (CCTV)/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

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SpaceX - Falcon 9 launches Eutelsat Hotbird 13G


SpaceX - Falcon 9 / Eutelsat Hotbird 13G Mission patch.

Nov 3, 2022

Falcon 9 carrying Eutelsat Hotbird 13G liftoff

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle launched the Eutelsat Hotbird 13G communications satellite from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, on 3 November 2022, at 05:22 UTC (01:22 EDT).

Falcon 9 launches Eutelsat Hotbird 13G & Falcon 9 first stage landing

Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage landed on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship, stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

Eutelsat Hotbird 13F & Eutelsat Hotbird 13G

Falcon 9’s first stage (B1067) previously supported six missions: CRS-22, Crew-3, Turksat-5B, Crew-4, CRS-25 and one Starlink mission.

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SpaceX - Falcon 9 launches Eutelsat Hotbird 13F

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Images, Video, Text, Credits:: Airbus/Eutelsat/SpaceX/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


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Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle launched from Plesetsk Cosmodrome



Nov 2, 2022

On Wednesday, November 2, 2022, from the Plesetsk State Test Cosmodrome of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation in the Arkhangelsk Region, combat crews of the Space Forces of the Aerospace Forces launched a Soyuz-2.1b medium-class launch vehicle with a spacecraft in the interests of the Russian Ministry of Defense.

The launch of the carrier rocket and the launch of the spacecraft into the calculated orbit took place in the normal mode. After launch, the Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle was taken for escort by means of the ground-based automated control complex of the Main Test Space Center named after G.S. Titov.

At the estimated time, the spacecraft was launched into the target orbit by the Fregat upper stage and accepted for control of ground facilities of the Space Forces of the Russian Aerospace Forces.

A stable telemetry connection has been established and maintained with the spacecraft. The onboard systems of the vehicle are functioning normally. He was assigned the serial number "Cosmos-2563".

After the spacecraft was launched into orbit, officers of the Main Space Intelligence Center of the Space Forces of the Aerospace Forces entered information about it into the main catalog of space objects of the Russian space control system and began to analyze and process information about the new space object.

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ROSCOSMOS Press Release:



Images, Text, Credits: ROSCOSMOS/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


China’s mystery spaceplane releases object into orbit


CASC - China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation logo.

Nov 2, 2022

China’s secretive reusable spaceplane has released an object into orbit, according to tracking data from the U.S. Space Force.

China carried out the second launch of its “reusable experimental spacecraft” from Jiuquan in the Gobi Desert atop a Long March 2F rocket Aug. 4.

China suborbital spaceplane. Image Credit: CASC

The spacecraft has now been in orbit for 90 days. Two weeks ago the spacecraft raised its perigee—or the point during its orbit at which a spacecraft is closest to Earth—to shift to a near-circular 597 by 608-kilometer orbit.

In a latest development the U.S. Space Force’s 18th Space Defense Squadron has tracked an object close to the spaceplane. The database added a new entry for an object in a similar orbit to the spacecraft Oct. 31 (NORAD ID 54218 (2022-093J COSPAR ID)).

The object—the nature of which is unknown—is likely in very close proximity to the spacecraft and thus only entered into the database once it could be discerned to be a separate, discrete object with a high level of confidence.

Robert Christy of Orbital Focus notes that the release of the object could have taken place anytime between Oct. 24 and Oct. 31, performing station-keeping to remain close to the spaceplace.

China has not released any updates on the mission since a terse statement announcing the launch of the spacecraft. No images of the craft have been published.

This is not the first time the spacecraft has ejected an object. China’s spaceplane released an object around two orbits before deorbiting at the end of its first, two-day mission in September 2020. The object broadcast S-band transmissions for weeks afterwards.

One possibility is that the object is a small satellite for monitoring the spaceplane. Chinese crew capsules have previously released ‘Banxing’ small companion satellites for monitoring purposes. It could also be a test for deploying small satellite payloads into orbit.

Another possible explanation is that the object is a service module, astronomer and spacecraft tracker Jonathan McDowell noted in a tweet.

Little is known about China’s spaceplane project. Chinese space authorities have closely guarded launch operations and only announced its two missions once the spacecraft was in orbit.

Clues as to the dimensions and shape of the craft appeared in August however with apparent images of the payload fairing for the mission appearing online.

Screen capture on Twitter

The spacecraft appears to be related to the development of an orbital segment of a fully reusable two-stage-to-orbit space transportation system. A suborbital segment—featuring a vertical takeoff and horizontal landing—had a second flight in September this year.

The project recently acquired national level funding from the Natural Science Foundation of China.

The project is seen to support the construction of China’s scientific and technological power, aerospace power and transportation power, and has practical social, technological, economic and other application values, according to the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) which is developing the vehicles.

How long the spacecraft will remain in orbit is unknown but it is, as with its first flight, likely to land at the Lop Nur base in Xinjiang. Satellite imagery suggests recent activity near the landing site.

An analysis of the spaceplane’s orbit by Christy suggests that the spacecraft had an opportunity to deorbit and land at Lop Nur, the site for the landing of the first mission, late Nov. 1 UTC.

The new orbit has repeating ground tracks roughly every 71 hours, meaning the spacecraft will make passes over Lop Nur and have opportunities to land once every three days. The opportunities during the coming weeks would however involve a landing during local nighttime.

Other reusable spacecraft or spaceplane projects are under consideration in China. The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. (CASIC) is working on its own spaceplane, named Tengyun, while commercial firm Space Transportation last year raised more than $46.3 million for its hypersonic spaceplane plans.

A number of Chinese rocket companies have also created presentations including small spaceplanes launching atop concepts for liquid rockets.

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

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: Spacenews/By Andrew Jones.