Next GPS Block III Satellite Arrives in Florida, Targets Mid-June Launch

GPS III-05 as it will appear when fully operational in orbit. Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

As SpaceX gears up for tomorrow’s 5:49 a.m. EDT Crew-2 launch from historic Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, the fifth Block III Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite has arrived on the Space Coast to begin final preparation for its own Falcon 9 climb to orbit later this summer.



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SpaceX Set to Launch Crew-2 for NASA on Friday Morning

Crew-2 astronauts (from left) Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, Thomas Pesquet and Aki Hoshide pause for a moment in the Crew Access Arm during their suited demonstration at Pad 39A on Sunday. Photo Credit: NASA

Four astronauts from three nations, with a combined year-and-a-half of spaceflight experience and a cumulative three days’ worth of Extravehicular Activity (EVA) in 11 spacewalks between them, are in the final stages of preparation for their “Earth Day” launch on Friday morning to the International Space Station (ISS).



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NASA's Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Achieves Historic First Powered Flight on Another World

Success! The Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, took this photo looking down at its own shadow on the surface after liftoff. This is the first time that powered, controlled flight has been accomplished on another planet. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

After much anticipation, NASA’s first-ever Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, has successfully completed its first test flight, which took place on Monday, April 19 at approximately 3:34 a.m. EDT (12:34 a.m. PDT). The communications data confirming the flight was received in the Space Flight Operations Facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at 6:46 a.m. EDT (3:46 a.m. PDT).



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Nice Round Number: Remembering the Arrival of Canadarm2, 20 Years On

Canadarm2 is clearly visible in this 5 April 2021 photograph as Dragon Resilience relocates between ports on the International Space Station (ISS). Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty years ago today, a key player in enabling the construction, expansion and maintenance of the International Space Station (ISS) was lofted into orbit aboard shuttle Endeavour and her STS-100 crew. Canada’s contribution to the station program—the 57.7-foot-long (17.6-meter) Canadarm2, otherwise known as the “Big Arm”—is an evolution of the shuttle’s own Remote Manipulator System (RMS).



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SpaceX Static-Fires Falcon 9 for Crew-2, As Boeing OFT-2 Mission Aims for Aug-Sept Launch

The second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is currently targeted for launch in August-September. Photo Credit: NASA

SpaceX successfully conducted a Static Fire Test of a once-before-flown Falcon 9 booster on Saturday, ahead of next week’s scheduled launch of Dragon Endeavour and NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, together with Japan’s Aki Hoshide and Frenchman Thomas Pesquet. Liftoff of the B1062 core, which previously saw service to loft the Crew-1 team last November, is targeted to occur at 6:11 a.m. EDT Thursday from historic Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

The four astronauts are aiming for a six-month stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS), with both Hoshide and Pesquet expected to take turns commanding the sprawling orbital outpost. At the same time, fellow Commercial Crew Program partner Boeing announced Saturday that it is targeting August-September for the second uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) of its CST-100 Starliner to the ISS.



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Expedition 65 Begins, as Soyuz MS-17 Trio Return Safely to Earth

Soyuz MS-17’s descent module completes its final, parachute-aided drop to the desolate Kazakh steppe, after six months in orbit. Photo Credit: NASA

Expedition 64 has officially concluded with the safe departure and homecoming of Soyuz MS-17 crew members Sergei Ryzhikov, Sergei Kud-Sverchkov and Kate Rubins. Following a customary change-of-command ceremony on Thursday—in which Ryzhikov relinquished the helm of the International Space Station (ISS) to Shannon Walker—the outgoing trio boarded their Soyuz vehicle and closed the hatch early Friday evening.

Only hours before the crew’s return, NASA formally down-selected SpaceX to build the Human Landing System (HLS) to plant the first Artemis Team astronauts—of whom Rubins is one member—on the surface of the Moon in the coming years. Awarded a contract valued at $2.89 billion, SpaceX’s Starship pipped fellow HLS competitors Dynetics and a “National Team”, led by Blue Origin, to the post.



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Walker Becomes Third Female ISS Skipper, Expedition 65 Set For Three Commanders

Front row (from left) are Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi. Back row (from left) are Kate Rubins, Sergei Ryzhikov, Sergei Kud-Sverchkov, Mark Vande Hei, Pyotr Dubrov and Oleg Novitsky. Photo Credit: NASA

The International Space Station (ISS) has its third female skipper, following Thursday’s change-of-command ceremony in which Russian cosmonaut Sergei Ryzhikov relinquished the helm and handed on-orbit authority over to NASA astronaut Shannon Walker. And with Expedition 65 now officially underway, the coming days, weeks and months will produce an unusual configuration with no fewer than three ISS commanders within the same expedition.



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Blue Origin Approaches Crewed Flights, Following NS-15 New Shepard Success

Spectacular window-seat view for Mannequin Skywalker during Wednesday’s NS-15 mission. Photo Credit: Blue Origin

Blue Origin’s effort to send tourists to the edge of space moved one step closer Wednesday, when its previously-flown NS4 New Shepard launch vehicle roared aloft from Launch Site One in West Texas, kicking off this particular booster’s second flight of the year. It also marked the 15th launch of a New Shepard vehicle (NS-15) since April 2015 and the 14th successful vertical landing and intact recovery of a booster. And with a group of Blue Origin “stand-in astronauts” participating in the pre-launch strap-in and post-landing egress processes, yesterday’s mission offered a closer analog than ever before for what a human mission may look like.



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Aerojet Rocketdyne Completes Final RS-68A Hot Fire Test Campaign

Three Aerojet Rocketdyne-built RS-68 engines, pictured at the “business end” of a Delta IV Heavy prior to the first Orion launch in December 2014. Photo Credit: Mike Killian/AmericaSpace

As United Launch Alliance (ULA) gears up for its final four Delta IV Heavy missions—the first of which is due to launch later this month—Aerojet Rocketdyne announced Monday that it has concluded its Hot Fire Acceptance Test campaign for the giant rocket’s suite of liquid oxygen and hydrogen engines.



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'When You Got Debts': Remembering the Shuttle's Maiden Launch, 40 Years On

The first use of the giant Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) came in April 1981 with the first launch of the Space Shuttle. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty years ago, on 12 April 1981, the first winged orbital space vehicle carrying human pilots was launched from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Aboard Columbia for STS-1—the long-awaited maiden voyage of the shuttle era—were Commander John Young and Pilot Bob Crippen, tasked with spending two days evaluating the performance of the most complex manned spacecraft in history.



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