50 Years After Moon Landing, Soyuz MS-13 Crew Launches to Space Station

Three spacefarers from a trio of nations will launch aboard Soyuz MS-13 on Saturday, 20 July, bound for a multi-month tour of the International Space Station (ISS). First-time NASA flyer Drew Morgan, seasoned Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr Skvortsov and Italy’s only spacewalker, Luca Parmitano, will rise from Site 1/5 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 9:28 p.m. local time (12:28 p.m. EDT), exactly 50 years to the day since Apollo 11 crewmen Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin alighted on the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility. The moment that Lunar Module (LM) Eagle touched down on alien soil falls at 4:18 p.m. EDT, as the three spacefarers are midway through a six-hour transit to their off-planet home.



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Leaky Valve Blew Up Crew Dragon During Abort System Test, Says SpaceX

A SpaceX Crew Dragon stands ready to launch on the uncrewed Demo-1 orbital flight test to and from the International Space Station for NASA. The vehicle later blew up during test firing of its abort engines, the cause of which was revealed by SpaceX on July 15, 2019. Photo: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace.com

In a press release and media call yesterday (July 15, 2019), SpaceX revealed the findings thus far of their investigation into why a Crew Dragon test article exploded during test firing of its abort engines at Landing Zone-1 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida back on April 20.



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'Distinctly Forbidding': Celebrating Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Month (Part 2)

When Apollo 11 and its three-man crew—Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins and Buzz Aldrin—rose into space 50 years ago, this month, they embarked on the grandest adventure ever undertaken in human history: the first piloted voyage to the surface of the Moon. Yet, strangely, even after surviving a tumultuous launch atop the mammoth Saturn V rocket, performing the translunar injection burn, and entering the mysterious region between Earth and the Moon, known as “cislunar space”, the main part of the mission had yet to begin. Their mission would really start after Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) on 19 July, and the series of increasingly bold and epochal events thereafter.



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To Keep Boldly Going: NASA's New Plan for the Voyager Mission

Artist’s concept of one of NASA’s Voyager spacecraft, including the location of the cosmic ray subsystem (CRS) instrument. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

With all of the current and recent planetary missions throughout the Solar System, it may be easy to forget sometimes that there are still some older spacecraft that have been traveling for decades now. Two of these – Voyagers 1 and 2 – have even left the Solar System entirely, and now engineers need to figure out how to keep them active and functioning with much lower power levels and degrading thrusters.



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'Launch Commit': Celebrating Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Month (Part 1)

Early in July 1969, Jan Armstrong called her friend, Lurton Scott, for help. Only a few days remained before her husband, Neil, blasted off in command of the most pivotal space mission in history—Apollo 11, the voyage which would attempt the first piloted landing on the Moon—and in doing so fulfil a national pledge by the late President John F. Kennedy. Lurton, wife of astronaut Dave Scott, and Jan had remained good friends ever since their husbands flew together aboard Gemini VIII in March 1966. Jan had already been invited to watch the Apollo 11 launch from a motor cruiser, owned by North American Aviation and moored in the Banana River, and with Scott’s help she was able to fly from Houston, Texas, to Cape Kennedy in a corporate jet.



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NASA Launches Orion Crew Capsule on Milestone In-Flight Abort Test

An Orion test article launching atop a refurbished Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missile solid rocket motor on the Ascent Abort-2 flight test, 2 July 2019 from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo: Alan Walters / AmericaSpace.com

The sun wasn’t the only spectacular sight seen rising over Florida’s ‘Space Coast’ this morning, as NASA just cleared a major milestone and hurdle on the road to returning humans to the moon with a successful in-flight abort test of their Orion crew capsule.



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NASA Set to Launch In-Flight Abort Test of Orion Crew Capsule Tuesday Morning

The Ascent Abort-2 test booster and launch abort system on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo: NASA

NASA is set to conduct an extremely important in-flight abort test Tuesday morning of their Orion Crew Capsule, to prove the spacecraft’s Launch Abort System (LAS) can pull astronauts away from a failing rocket during the violent ascent to space atop 8.8 million pounds of thrust from the agency’s huge Space Launch System (SLS).



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A Decade of Chumps: NASA's 2009 Astronaut Class Chalks Up Ten Years of Space Experience

Ten years ago, this week, nine American men and women from the military and civilian spheres, and with backgrounds which ran the gamut from science and technology to engineering and medicine, were announced as NASA’s 20th class of astronaut candidates. Selected from more than 3,500 applicants, a third of their number were female—the largest women-to-men ratio yet picked by the U.S. space agency, a record later surpassed with the 2013 class—and all but one of them have since flown into space, with another on the brink of a second mission.

On 29 June, as a full decade passes since the class now known as the “Chumps” was first introduced to the world, their ranks have accrued over 3.4 years in space and more than 94 hours of spacewalking in 15 sessions of Extravehicular Activity (EVA).



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NASA's Dragonfly Mission Will Soar the Skies of Titan in Search of Life's Origins

Illustration of Dragonfly approaching a site on Titan to take samples. Image Credit: NASA/JHU-APL

It was a much-anticipated announcement, but the winner of NASA’s next New Frontiers mission selection is… Dragonfly! This ambitious mission will be the first return to Saturn’s moon Titan since Cassini/Huygens, and this drone-like rotorcraft will fly to various location on Titan to search for clues to the origins of life, and possibly even evidence of life itself, on this alien yet remarkably Earth-like moon.



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Falcon Heavy Delivers STP-2 on Spectacular First 'Night Shift' Launch

A single 8:41 second long-exposure captures the launch, ascent, stage separations and re-entry and landing burns of the Falcon Heavy, which delivered STP-2 to space for the Dept of Defense on its first night launch at 2:30am Eastern on 25 June 2019. Photo: Alan Walters / AmericaSpace.com

The world’s most powerful in-service launch vehicle roared aloft for its third mission overnight, delivering no fewer than 24 payloads for U.S. government, military and civilian customers into several different orbital locations. SpaceX’s triple-cored Falcon Heavy—whose 27 Merlin 1D+ first-stage engines generate some 5.1 million pounds (2.3 million kg) of propulsive yield at liftoff, took flight from historic Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida at 2:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday, about three hours into a four-hour “window”, after delaying from 11:30pm to complete additional ground system checkouts.

Riding the coattails of the Heavy’s triumphant maiden test flight in February 2018 and its first commercial outing last April, last night’s mission achieved its own raft of “personal bests” for SpaceX, launching for the first time in the hours of darkness and reusing the same set of side-mounted boosters from its most recent flight.



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