Voyager 2 to Enter 11-Month 'Quiet Mode' During Deep Space Network Upgrades

The 70-meter-wide (230-feet-wide) radio antenna at the Deep Space Network’s Canberra site in Australia. It is the only antenna that that communicate with Voyager 2 from the southern hemisphere, and will be undergoing crucial upgrades for 11 months beginning in March. Photo Credit: NASA/Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

With so many space missions currently exploring various planets, moons and other bodies, it may be easy to forget sometimes that a couple older missions, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, are still active and sending back data from the outermost reaches of our Solar System.



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On International Women’s Day, America Reflects and Looks to the Future

Christina Koch (right), newly returned from the longest single space mission ever undertaken by a woman, is also pictured with Expedition 61 crewmate Jessica Meir. Last October, the duo performed the world’s first all-female EVA. Photo Credit: NASA

As America and the world observes International Women’s Day this Sunday (8 March), the AmericaSpace team is reminded of the achievements of female space voyagers who have broken both the “glass ceiling” and the “atmospheric ceiling” over almost six decades. Ever since Valentina Tereshkova, an ordinary Russian factory worker, did something quite extraordinary by becoming the world’s first female space traveler in June 1963, women have gone on to chalk up records in spacewalking, satellite recovery and repair and long-term exposure to the hazardous microgravity environment.

And in 2024 or soon after, if current NASA plans endure and bear fruit, it can be confidently expected that the first female bootprint will appear on the surface of the Moon.



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SpaceX Launches 20th Space Station Resupply Mission, Nails 50th Rocket Landing

CRS-20 launch and Falcon 9 landing for the 50th time. Credit: SpaceX

A twice-used Falcon 9 booster core lifted a three-times-flown Dragon cargo ship towards the International Space Station (ISS) earlier overnight to kick off SpaceX’s fifth mission of 2020. Liftoff of the veteran Falcon 9 core, tailnumbered “B1059”—which saw previous service to launch the most recent ISS-bound Dragon last December—occurred on time at 11:50 p.m. EST from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., turning night into day along the Space Coast.

And tonight’s mission added its own name to the SpaceX record-books by successfully sticking the 50th intact landing of Falcon hardware on either an oceanic platform or solid ground.



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SpaceX to Launch CRS-20 to Space Station Tonight

CRS-20 will feature the third Dragon capsule to record three missions to the International Space Station (ISS). Photo Credit: SpaceX/Twitter

A few months shy of a full decade since the first Dragon pathfinder roared into orbit, SpaceX will draw down the curtain Friday on the highly successful first round of its Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) commitment to NASA. Liftoff of the CRS-20 cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) is due to occur at 11:50 p.m. EST from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., after which the reflown B1059 core of the Falcon 9 booster will aim to alight on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS), “Of Course I Still Love You”, to complete SpaceX’s 50th intact landing on either an oceanic platform or solid ground.



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The Story of the Vanishing Satellite: Remembering Top-Secret STS-36, 30 Years On

Atlantis spears for the heavens at 2:50 a.m. EST on 28 February 1990. Photo Credit: NASA

In many minds, STS-36—a top-secret Department of Defense mission, flown 30 years ago this month—was one of the greatest flights ever undertaken in the three decades of Space Shuttle operations. In his memoir Man On A Mission, astronaut Dave Hilmers recalled that Flight Director Rob Kelso made this remark to a reporter, although STS-36’s classified nature meant the reality of what the crew did during their four days in space in early 1990 will never be widely known. 

Hilmers hinted that shuttle Atlantis’ exceptionally low altitude “gave us the best views of Earth I would ever have while in space”, and indeed STS-36 flew much lower than many other shuttle missions, achieved a unique orbital inclination and deployed a satellite which seemingly “disappeared” shortly after its launch. 



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NASA's InSight Lander Reveals Surprising Inner Secrets of an Active Mars

Artist’s concept of InSight on Mars, with layers in the subsurface and dust devils in the background. Image Credit: IPGP/Nicolas Sarter

Mars is beginning to reveal its innermost secrets, thanks to NASA’s InSight lander. The newest findings, about subsurface marsquakes, unusual magnetic signals and dust devils in the atmosphere, have been published in six new papers.



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NASA's Juno Probe Finds Out How Much Water Jupiter Really Has

Stunning view of Jupiter from the Juno spacecraft. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstäd/Seán Doran © CC NC SA

Jupiter is not known as a water world since it has no oceans, lakes or other kinds of liquid water or ice. It doesn’t even have a solid surface beneath its deep, turbulent atmosphere. But there is some water in the giant planet’s atmosphere, and now thanks to NASA’s Juno spacecraft, we have a much better idea just how much.

The first science results regarding the amount of water have just been published in the journal Nature Astronomy. These are the first direct measurements taken since the Galileo mission in 1995.



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SpaceX Launches 80th Successful Falcon-9 Mission with 60 More Starlinks

Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX successfully delivered another large batch of Starlink internet communications satellites to low-Earth orbit earlier today (Monday, 17 February) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Liftoff of the fourth Falcon 9 of 2020—and the fourth booster core to fly a record-tying fourth mission—took place on time at 10:05 a.m. EST. However, it appeared that the core narrowly missed the deck of the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS), “Of Course I Still Love You”, and instead impacted the ocean.

Having wowed the world in December 2015 when it triumphantly brought a Falcon 9 core to a bullseye touchdown on solid ground for the very first time, SpaceX has logged 31 offshore landings on Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ships (ASDS) on either the East or West Coasts of the United States and 18 “land” landings at either Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., or Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. It will be left to another mission to secure the milestone 50th landing.



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SpaceX Falcon 9 - Starlink-4 Launch Video

SpaceX launched the fifth batch of Starlink communications satellites from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch took place at 10:05am Eastern. The booster performed perfectly placing the Starlink satellites into orbit correctly.

Booster attempted to land on the ASDS but narrowly missed, this can be clearly seen as a cloud of spray engulfs the drone ship as the booster splashed into the ocean.

Follow the launch on our LAUNCH TRACKER

NG-13 Cygnus Begins ISS Chase with 8,000 Pounds of Cargo for Space Station

Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket lofting the Cygnus cargo ship on the NG-13 mission to resupply the ISS for NASA. Photo: NASA

The roar of rocket engines shook Wallops Island, Va., earlier today (Saturday, 15 February), as the first of two Northrop Grumman Corp. Cygnus missions planned for 2020 began its journey to the International Space Station (ISS). Liftoff of the Antares 230+ booster occurred at 3:21 p.m. EST from picturesque Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS).

Laden with 8,000 pounds (3,600 kg) of payloads, supplies and equipment for Expedition 62 Commander Oleg Skripochka and Flight Engineers Drew Morgan and Jessica Meir—newly reduced to a three-person increment following last week’s departure of Soyuz MS-13—the NG-13 Cygnus will spend two days in transit, before being robotically captured early Tuesday, 18 February, and berthed at the Earth-facing (or “nadir”) port of the Unity node.



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