International Space Station tracker: when and how to watch the ISS above the UK from where you live, inews

International Space Station tracker: when and how to watch the ISS above the UK from where you live

It’s one of the brightest objects in the night sky

The International Space Station flies above our heads constantly, orbiting the planet every 90 minutes at a height of over 250 miles.

Of course, it’s impossible to see during the day, but at night – and with the space station’s orbit passing over Britain just so – it takes on the appearance of a bright star moving across the sky.

It can actually be startling when you first spot it; a glowing orb – without the telltale flashes of an aircraft’s wing – drifting silently through the dark, but the station passes overhead fairly frequently.

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It goes through periods when we won’t be able to see it for months, as its diagonal orbit crosses other parts of the planet, but every now and then, there comes a space of a few weeks when it flies overhead – and at night.

Times vary ever so slightly depending on your location, but we’ve used those given by NASA’s Spot the Station website for Morecambe – the closest point we could find to the geographical centre of the UK – to try to give a good average.

We’ve given the date, the time the station will become visible, and how long it will be in the sky in brackets. Here’s when to see it:

23 May – 10.26pm (6 minutes)24 May – 12.03am (5 minutes)24 May – 1.40am (1 minute)24 May – 11.13pm (6 minutes)25 May – 12.50am (2 minutes)25 May – 10.24pm (6 minutes)26 May – 12.01am (4 minutes)26 May – 11.11pm (6 minutes)27 May – 12.48am (1 minute)27 May – 10.22pm (6 minutes)27 May – 11.59pm (3 minutes)28 May – 11.09pm (5 minutes)29 May – 10.20pm (6 minutes)29 May – 11.57pm (2 minutes)30 May – 11.07pm (4 minutes)31 May – 10.17pm (5 minutes)2 June – 10.16pm (4 minutes)

For more information, and for timings more specific to where you live, visit NASA’s Spot the Station website.

How do I see it?

You should have no trouble spotting the International Space Station as it drifts overhead – we say ‘drift’, but it’s actually travelling at over 17,000 mph.

The station takes on the appearance of a bright star, and is usually much brighter than anything else in the sky.

Sometimes the station will rise over the horizon; other times it might ‘fade’ into view in the middle of the night sky as it enters into the sun’s light.

It will always appear in the west, and will travel eastwards.

And just as it appears, it may disappear in the same way, growing fainter and fainter until its completely enshrouded by the Earth’s shadow.

You’ll easily be able to spot it with the naked eye (cloud cover permitting of course), though even modestly priced binoculars may be able to pick out some of the station’s details, like its large solar panels.

So take a look up, there’s a good chance you’ll spot the International Space Station, and it can be amazing to think there are actually people living up there and conducting experiments within the space environment.

The experiments that they carry out would be almost impossible to replicate on earth.

There Are 2 Seats Left for This Trip to the International Space Station – The New York Times

There Are 2 Seats Left for This Trip to the International Space Station

Axiom Space is selling tickets on a SpaceX capsule for a $55 million, 10-day stay on the orbiting outpost that would be the first to involve no governmental space agencies.

If you have tens of millions of dollars to spare, you could as soon as next year be one of three passengers setting off aboard a spaceship to the International Space Station for a 10-day stay.

On Thursday, Axiom Space, a company run by a former manager of NASA’s part of the space station, announced that it had signed a contract with SpaceX, Elon Musk’s rocket company, for what might be the first fully private human spaceflight to orbit.

“I think you’ll see a lot more energy in the market as people come to realize it’s real, and it’s happening,” said Michael T. Suffredini, the president and chief executive of Axiom.

The spaceflight, Axiom officials said, could take off as soon as the second half of 2021.

SpaceX developed its Crew Dragon capsule for taking NASA astronauts to and from the space station. But just as the company’s development of its Falcon 9 rocket for taking cargo to the space station led to a vibrant business of launching commercial satellites, SpaceX is also looking to expand Crew Dragon passengers beyond just NASA astronauts.

After a successful test in January of an in-flight escape system, the first Crew Dragon flight carrying two NASA astronauts could launch within a couple of months.

For now, NASA wants a new Crew Dragon for each trip carrying its astronauts, even though the capsules are designed for multiple trips to space. That means a Crew Dragon flown for NASA could be used again for a flight of tourists.

Last month, Space Adventures, another company, announced an agreement with SpaceX to fly a Crew Dragon with up to four tourists for a free-flying trip that would last up to five days. That trip would not dock at the space station. Eric C. Anderson, chairman of Space Adventures, said in an interview the Crew Dragon would fly autonomously but that the passengers would receive training to be ready for various emergencies.

The Space Adventures trip could happen in late 2021 or early 2022. “It’ll be probably right around the 60th anniversary of the John Glenn’s flight,” Mr. Anderson said, referring to the first American to circle Earth, on Feb. 20, 1962.

The capsule and its passengers would take an elliptical path, reaching an altitude two to three times as high as the space station’s orbit.

Mr. Anderson did not provide an exact price, but said the cost would be $10 million to $20 million less than the $50 million to $60 million usually mentioned for orbital trips.

On the planned Axiom flight, one seat would be occupied by a company-trained astronaut who would serve as the flight commander. The other three seats will be for customers who are to spend 10 days in orbit floating inside the space station. The Axiom astronaut would also oversee the space tourists while they were on the station, making sure that they did not interfere with the six crew members.

Mr. Suffredini said that the space station, with as much interior room as a Boeing 747 jetliner, should have enough room for everyone.

He declined to talk about the cost, but in the past, Axiom has confirmed that a seat on the trip will cost $55 million, and it has already signed up one person.

From 2001 to 2009, seven nonprofessional astronauts bought trips to the space station aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. In each of these trips, arranged by Space Adventures, the other two astronauts on the spacecraft were working professionals headed for a tour of duty in orbit. Last year, the United Arab Emirates bought a Soyuz seat to jump-start its space program by sending an astronaut, Hazzaa al-Mansoori, to the space station.

The Axiom mission could be the first orbital flight with people aboard without the direct involvement of a governmental space agency.

NASA has in recent years become more receptive to allowing companies to find new ways to make money on the space station. Last June, NASA set up a price list for various commercial activities, including charging companies like Axiom $35,000 a night for each tourist staying at the station for space to sleep and the use of its amenities like air, water, the internet and the toilet. The largest chunk of the $55 million ticket price is for the rocket ride, which Axiom will pay to SpaceX, not NASA.

“NASA has been very forward leaning, and we’re taking advantage of that,” Mr. Suffredini said.

From 2005 to 2015, Mr. Suffredini worked at NASA as program manager for the International Space Station. A year after retiring, he was one of the founders of Axiom, which claims it can build and operate a private facility at a fraction of the $4 billion that NASA spends annually on the International Space Station.

But the first step in that plan is going to the I.S.S.

Axiom has been discussing with NASA the possibility of tourist flights for several years. Last month, NASA also selected Axiom to develop a module that would be attached to the I.S.S. in 2024 and used for commercial business activities. When the space station is eventually retired, the Axiom module would be detached and used as a building block for Axiom’s private space station.

If a trip to orbit seems like too much, two other companies, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, may be on track to carry their first customers on short-hop space tourism flights to the edge of space. Virgin earlier priced seats on its space plane at $250,000, but may now charge more. Blue Origin has not announced the cost of a trip aboard its reusable rocket and capsule, New Shepard.

“I think it’s an important inflection point,” said Mr. Anderson of Space Adventures. Space travel, even if affordable for only a few, is still marker of hope and what humans can and do accomplish, he said.

“I’m hopeful it will be something cool and positive in the world,” he said.

How to Watch the International Space Station Fly Over the US: Flight Path, Time and More Info

How to Watch the International Space Station Fly Over the US: Flight Path, Time and More Info

People along the East Coast will be able to catch a glimpse of the International Space Station as it flies over part of the United States two nights this week.

The space station will light up the sky Thursday and Friday. As long as skies are clear, people all across the eastern U.S. from Atlanta up to Boston will be able to see the station twinkling amongst the stars around 8:46 p.m. ET on Thursday and around 7:58 p.m. ET on Friday.

Russia’s Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft carrying the members of the International Space Station ( ISS ) expedition 59/60, NASA astronauts Christina Hammock Koch and Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin , blasts off to the ISS from the launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 14, 2019. Viewers in the eastern U.S. will be able to see the space station on September 19, 2019. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images

However, the orbiting laboratory will only be visible for a few moments—it travels at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour—and the time in which it passes over each state will vary. The space station is typically the brightest and most visible during dusk and dawn. Viewers can get a more accurate time frame of when the station will be visible in their state by checking NASA’s website.

The space station will be the third brightest object in the sky, according to NASA. The high-flying spacecraft orbits at an average altitude of roughly 250 miles above the Earth. Its passage over the Eastern U.S. marks the completion of one of the many orbits around the globe the station has made this year. A new international crew of six astronauts is expected to board the station on September 25.

Oklahoma is more than OK! 👌 Did you know the Sooner State, whose capital city is pictured here from the space station, is working to take us forward to the Moon and on to Mars with #Artemis? 🔜🌙 Read more here:

The station was first launched into space in 1998 and the first crew arrived in November 2000. Astronauts have occupied the spacecraft, which is about the size of an American football field, continuously ever since. The ship features six sleep quarters, two bathrooms and a gym.

The spacecraft serves as a science laboratory for astronauts where they can conduct research that couldn’t be achievable on Earth and conduct experiments that can be applied to everyday life on Earth. They also study the effects of microgravity on the human body along with learning how to keep a spacecraft functioning properly for extended periods of time. Peggy Whitson , who spent 665 days aboard the station, holds the record for the most days any human has ever spent in space.

More than 2,400 research investigations have been completed by scientists from more than 103 countries.

Astronauts are responsible for the maintenance and repairs of the space station, which means they often have to go outside the spacecraft to fix things, resulting in crews conducting more than 200 spacewalks outside the space station.

International Space Station Tracker #NASA #Space #ISS #SpottheStation – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers!

International space station flight path

December 1, 2019 AT 6:00 am

International Space Station Tracker #NASA #Space #ISS #SpottheStation

Spot the Station is a fun resource you can use to track the International Space station. You can see where it is now and sign up for alerts when its overhead!

Watch the International Space Station pass overhead from several thousand worldwide locations. It is the third brightest object in the sky and easy to spot if you know when to look up.

Visible to the naked eye, it looks like a fast-moving plane only much higher and traveling thousands of miles an hour faster!

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Where is the International Space Station? ISS tracker and how to see the space station, Science, News

Where is the International Space Station? ISS tracker and how to see the space station

THE International Space Station (ISS) has been a constant presence overhead in near-Earth orbit for almost 20 years and can be seen in our night skies

The £120billion ($150billion) artificial satellite has been orbiting the planet every 90 minutes at a height of over 250 miles (400km). And the iconic space station is actual large enough that when its orbit passes over the UK it can be easily visible as a bright star hurtling across the night sky. The International Space Station can be a startling sight when you first spot it.

Related articles

The ISS resembles a shining orb larger than any other star in the sky drifting silently through the dark.

The International Space Station’s trajectory passes over more than 90 percent of Earth’s population

Although the ISS occasionally enters periods when it is not visible for months, there comes a space of a few weeks when it flies overhead at night.

Times vary ever so slightly depending on your location, but visit NASA’s Spot the Station website for a complete list.

The International Space Station can be a startling sight when you first spot it.

ISS tracker: The International Space Station orbits the planet every 90 minutes (Image: Getty)

ISS tracker: NASA astronaut Nick Hague recently recorded a stunning time-lapse video (Image: Getty)

How to see the ISS:

You should have no trouble spotting the International Space Station as it orbits overhead at 17,000mph.

The space station resembles a bright star and is usually much brighter than anything else in the sky.

Sometimes the station will rise over the horizon, while at other times it may fade into view in the middle of the night sky as it enters into the sun’s light.

The ISS will always appear in the west and will travel eastwards.

Related articles

And just as it appears, it may disappear in the same way, growing fainter and fainter until its completely enshrouded by the Earth’s shadow.

You’ll easily be able to spot it with the naked eye, weather permitting.

And even modestly-priced binoculars will help amateur astronomers pick out some of the station’s details, including its iconic solar panel display.

This al means there is an excellent opportunity of spot the ISS, an incredible experience when you consider there are people living there as while conducting important experiments in outer space.

These experiments would be almost impossible to replicate here on Earth.

ISS tracker: Visit NASA’s Spot the Station website for a complete list (Image: Getty)

ISS tracker: The station conducts important experiments in outer space (Image: Getty)

A NASA official said: “The International Space Station’s trajectory passes over more than 90 percent of Earth’s population.

“The service notifies users of passes that are high enough in the sky to be easily visible over trees, buildings and other objects on the horizon.

“NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston calculates the sighting information several times a week for more than 6,700 locations worldwide.”

International Space Station to Pass Within View Wednesday Evening, UVA Today

UVA Today

International Space Station to Pass Within View Wednesday Evening

Riding high – but not that high – the International Space Station will pass over and within sight of Central Virginians on Wednesday from 6:35 to 6:40 p.m. (It will do so again Thursday night, but the weather is likelier to be cloudy, so Wednesday is the night to get your view.) The space station will be 260 miles above Earth, traveling from southwest to northeast.

“The ISS looks like a very bright star moving slowly across the sky,” University of Virginia astronomy professor Ed Murphy said Friday in a newsletter to members of the Friends of the McCormick Observatory. “It is visible when the sun has set for us on the ground, but the sun is still shining at the altitude of the ISS.”

What viewers will see is sunlight reflecting off the solar panels of the space station.

Murphy said the space station’s orbit is oriented in a way that makes it visible to Central Virginians every few months as the craft travels southwest to northeast, with six astronauts currently aboard. A few weeks later, it passes over again, traveling northwest to southeast. Those next passes will occur in early February.


Murphy recommends that space station-gazers go outside this evening a few minutes before the pass to allow time for their eyes to adjust to the darkness. Face the southwest. Then, a minute or two after 6:35, if the sky is reasonably clear of clouds, you will see the space station appear like a particularly bright star moving fairly slowly upward across the sky. After a few minutes, as it glides toward the northeast, it will pass into the shadow of the Earth and quickly fade from view. The craft is traveling at 17,100 miles per hour, but appears to move slowly because of its distance from Earth.

Aboard the space station are NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch, who on Monday – Martin Luther King Jr. Day – replaced some batteries on the craft, and thereby completed history’s third-ever all-woman spacewalk. (They accomplished the first all-female spacewalk last October.)

“This has really been an amazing experience,” Meir is quoted by media as having said after Monday’s expedition outside the ship. “Today is also Martin Luther King Day, a personal hero for both me and Christina. I will borrow his wise words for this moment: ‘We may have all come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now.’ When one has as spectacular a view as we had today looking down on our one common home, planet Earth, his words resonate loudly.”

Tonight, Central Virginians have an opportunity to look up to the astronauts, as they sail overhead looking at us.

For more information about ISS tracking, click here. For information about the Friends of the McCormick Observatory, click here.


International space station flight path

ASTRONAUTS CAPTURE SPACEX CARGO CAPSULE WITH ROBOT ARM FOR FINAL TIME – For the final time, a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule approached the International Space Station Monday for capture with the research lab’s robotic arm, delivering more than 4,300 pounds of food, experiments and spare parts. Future Dragon resupply missions will use a new spaceship design to automatically dock with the space station. The unpiloted cargo freighter completed a two-day pursuit of the space station Monday with an automated approach to the orbiting research outpost. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now – Mar 10)

OLYMPIC ORBITER: ‘GUNDAM SATELLITE’ HITCHES RIDE TO ISS TO PROMOTE 2020 GAMES – A microsatellite carrying model robots from the popular science fiction anime “Mobile Suit Gundam” was successfully launched to promote the Olympics, organizers said Saturday. The so-called G-Satellite, which contains two figurines from the animated series, hitched a ride to the International Space Station on Friday aboard a SpaceX/Dragon cargo flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It will reach the ISS on Monday at 8 p.m. Japan time. More
(Source: The Japan Times – Mar 8)

THE DSCOVR EARTH AND SPACE WEATHER SATELLITE IS BACK ONLINE AFTER A MONTHS-LONG GLITCH – A disabled satellite that tracks space weather is back online after nine months of efforts to get it communicating with Earth, according to a U.S. government update. The nearly five-year-old Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) went into a safe mode lockdown on June 27, 2019, due to issues with the attitude control system that keeps it properly oriented in space to receive commands and send data. More
(Source: – Mar 8)

SATELLITE IMAGES SHOW THE IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS – A crowd at Mecca’s Grand Mosque and the Kaaba on Feb. 14, 2020 (top) and a much smaller group of visitors on March 3, 2020, a day before fears over the novel coronavirus led to the the suspension of the “umrah” pilgrimage. Satellite images released on March 5, 2020 by Maxar Technologies reveal the impact of coronavirus on activities around the world. More
(Source: USA TODAY – Mar 7)

ROCKET ISSUE DELAYS LAUNCH OF UAE’S FALCON EYE 2 SATELLITE FOR A MONTH: REPORT – A sharp-eyed satellite’s launch has been pushed back from its expected Thursday (March 5) launch date until no earlier than April due to a rocket problem, according to a media report. Arianespace, which will be providing the launch from French Guiana, has not disclosed a reason for the delay. Nor did it release a new launch date for Falcon Eye 2, which is a high-performance optical observation satellite for commercial and military users in the United Arab Emirates. More
(Source: – Mar 7)

SPACEX LAUNCHES CARGO TOWARD SPACE STATION, ACES 50TH ROCKET LANDING – SpaceX successfully launched an uncrewed Dragon spacecraft for NASA today (March 6), sending fresh supplies toward the International Space Station (ISS) — and also sticking another rocket landing, the 50th for the company overall. The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket used in today’s flight is a veteran; its first stage also lofted the previous Dragon cargo mission, in December 2019. The rocket blasted off from Pad 40 here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 11:50 p.m. EST (0450 GMT on Saturday, March 7), illuminating the skies above Florida’s Space Coast. More
(Source: – Mar 7)

ROCKET LAB TO SEND CAPELLA RADAR SATELLITE TO MID-INCLINATION ORBIT – Capella Space will send a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite into a mid-inclination orbit later this year on a Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle, the two companies announced March 5. “It will be the first commercial SAR satellite in a mid-inclination orbit,” Payam Banazadeh, Capella Space CEO, told SpaceNews. “Customers want to monitor areas around Korea, the Middle East, some portions of Europe and North America. Putting a satellite in a 45-degree-inclination orbit allows you to have good coverage of those areas.” More
(Source: SpaceNews – Mar 6)

ISRO POSTPONES LAUNCH OF GEO IMAGING SATELLITE GISAT-1 DUE TO TECHNICAL REASONS – The launch of Indian Space Research Organisation’s (Isro) Gisat-1, scheduled for Thursday, has been postponed due to technical reasons. Isro said that a new launch date for Gisat-1 will be announced in due course. The launch of Gisat-1 was scheduled for March 5 from the second launchpad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. More
(Source: India Today – Mar 5)

DARPA PICKS NORTHROP GRUMMAN AS ITS COMMERCIAL PARTNER FOR SATELLITE SERVICING PROGRAM – The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency selected Northrop Grumman as its commercial partner for the Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites program, the company announced March 4. The announcement comes on the heels of Northrop Grumman’s successful operation of its first satellite servicing Mission Extension Vehicle. The MEV-1 launched in October 2019 and last month docked in-orbit with an Intelsat communications satellite in an effort to keep the spacecraft in operation for an additional five years. More
(Source: SpaceNews – Mar 5)

AUSTRALIA DEVELOPING SATELLITE TO PREDICT BUSHFIRE DANGER ZONES – Australian scientists are developing the country’s first satellite designed to predict where bushfires are likely to start, following months of devastating fires. The Australian National University said Wednesday a team is creating a “shoebox-sized” satellite that will measure forest ground cover and moisture levels using infrared detectors. It is hoped the data will help determine where bushfires are likely to start and where they may be difficult to contain. More
(Source: – Mar 5)

EXPANDING, AND EVENTUALLY REPLACING, THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION – Aboard the International Space Station (ISS), humanity has managed to maintain an uninterrupted foothold in low Earth orbit for just shy of 20 years. There are people reading these words who have had the ISS orbiting overhead for their entire lives, the first generation born into a truly spacefaring civilization. But as the saying goes, what goes up must eventually come down. The ISS is at too low of an altitude to remain in orbit indefinitely, and core modules of the structure are already operating years beyond their original design lifetimes. More
(Source: Hackaday – Mar 4)

YOUR PHONE MAY SOON RECEIVE 4G SERVICE . FROM SPACE! – In the United States it’s easy to take cell reception for granted. With few exceptions, you can use your phone to text, call, and get online from pretty much anywhere in the country. Yet about 2 billion people around the world live in areas that lack mobile coverage, mostly far from major cities, which makes building a network of terrestrial cell towers to connect them prohibitively expensive. If you built a cell network in space, it could plug the gaps in global mobile coverage by raining 4G service from satellites to users on the ground. More
(Source: WIRED – Mar 4)

AFTER LAST-MINUTE ABORT, DARPA LAUNCH CHALLENGE ENDS WITHOUT A WINNER – Astra engineers scrubbed a launch attempt Monday at Kodiak Island, Alaska, to assess troubling data from a guidance, navigation and control sensor on the company’s new small satellite launcher, ending a bid to win up to $12 million in prize money from a U.S. military research agency. Monday’s countdown was aborted on the final day of a 15-day window set by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, which offered Astra a $2 million prize if it successfully placed three small CubeSats into orbit. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now – Mar 3)

SPACEX TEST-FIRES ROCKET, PREPS FOR FINAL FLIGHT OF FIRST-GENERATION DRAGON CAPSULE – The Falcon 9 booster for SpaceX’s next mission fired up briefly on a Cape Canaveral launch pad Sunday in a routine pre-flight test before a scheduled launch Friday night to kick off the final flight of the first version of the company’s Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station. Nine Merlin 1D main engines at the base of the Falcon 9 booster fired up at 11 a.m. EST (1600 GMT) Sunday at Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad. More
(Source: SpaceFlight Now – Mar 3)

NITROGEN DIOXIDE POLLUTION OVER CHINA PLUMMETS IN NEW SATELLITE IMAGES – The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak has caused widespread alarm, travel bans, and the quarantine of multiple cities across the world. But there’s also been an unexpected effect on the environment, in the form of a notable drop in nitrogen dioxide emissions levels across China. Data collected from the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) on ESA’s Sentinel-5 satellite shows a significant drop of nitrogen dioxide – a gas mainly emitted by cars, trucks, power plants and some industrial plants – between January 1 and February 25. More
(Source: ScienceAlert – Mar 2)

NASA WANTS YOU TO PHOTOGRAPH STARLINK SATELLITES WITH YOUR SMARTPHONE – SpaceX and others plan to launch thousands of new satellites into low-Earth orbit, creating streaks that cut through astronomers’ images. Now educators at NASA are asking citizen scientists to help document the problem. Over the coming years, Elon Musk’s private spaceflight company, SpaceX, will launch thousands of small satellites as part of an effort to provide global, space-based internet. More
(Source: Discover Magezine – Mar 1)

CHINA TO COMPLETE ITS ANSWER TO GPS WITH BEIDOU NAVIGATION SATELLITE LAUNCHES IN MARCH, MAY – China will launch Beidou navigation satellites in March and May this year, completing a constellation designed for an array of civil and military applications. A Long March 3B rocket arrived at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center Feb. 14, according to China News Service. The Beidou satellite for the launch has also arrived at Xichang, the report states. Both missions will launch single satellites to geosynchronous transfer orbits using enhanced hypergolic Long March 3B rockets. More
(Source: SpaceNews – Feb 29)

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION RESUPPLY MISSION TO CARRY NEW ARISS HAM RADIO GEAR – The scheduled March 7 SpaceX CRS-20 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) will include the initial Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) Interoperable Radio System (IORS) flight unit. The IORS is the foundation of the ARISS next-generation amateur radio system on the space station. The ARISS hardware team built four flight units, and the first will be installed in the ISS Columbus module. More
(Source: ARRL – Feb 29)

Space Junk Is Cluttering Up The Final Frontier: NPR

Space Junk: How Cluttered Is The Final Frontier?

Space Junk: How Cluttered Is The Final Frontier?

Dots of orbital debris are visible in this image of the Lunar Module Challenger from the Apollo 17 spacecraft, after docking maneuvers. The debris is from the Saturn S-IVB stage separation. NASA hide caption

Dots of orbital debris are visible in this image of the Lunar Module Challenger from the Apollo 17 spacecraft, after docking maneuvers. The debris is from the Saturn S-IVB stage separation.

Since the dawn of Sputnik in 1957, space-faring nations have been filling Earth’s orbital highways with satellites: GPS, weather forecasting, telecommunications.

Decades later, orbital debris is a growing problem.

Orbital debris, commonly known as “space junk,” exists at all levels of orbit, but is especially concentrated in low Earth orbit. Space junk has the potential to damage working satellites and crewed spacecraft, including the International Space Station.

And, the population of space junk is projected to grow, as the commercial space economy continues to expand and more satellites are scheduled to launch.

Picture a band of debris, circling the earth. “[It’s] everything from upper-stage rocket bodies, completely intact dead satellites, shards of stuff. flecks of paint, bolts, nuts,” says Moriba Jah, Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

The U.S. adopted Orbital Debris Mitigation Standards in 2001, but there has not been a concerted effort to fund clean-up operations. This worries those concerned about the sustainable use of space.

“This is a tragedy of the commons in near earth space because of a lack of holistic management of this finite resource,” Jah tells NPR’s Short Wave podcast.

How much space junk exists in Earth’s orbit is unknown, but government agencies around the world have crafted estimates.

The U.S. Department of Defense is tracking on over 20,000 artificial satellites — payloads, rocket bodies, and debris. Approximately 90 percent of these satellites are non-operational.

Moreover, their public catalog,, only tracks objects that are 10 centimeters in diameter at minimum — objects basically larger than a softball.

How is space junk created?

Satellites generate debris in a variety of ways.

After launch, spent rocket bodies are shed and pieces become unglued. They can cross flight paths and collide with one another. Satellites have been known to explode when unspent fuel is on board.

“Whenever a satellite sheds pieces, they tend to not shed one, but many, many pieces, hundreds of thousands of pieces depending on the type of collision,” says Jah.

The movement of these debris clouds is difficult to predict.

At times, these collisions have destroyed satellites outright. In 2009, Iridium 33, an American communications satellite, collided with Cosmos 2251, a dead Russian communications satellite. Both shattered.

In 2007, the Chinese military intentionally destroyed one of their own weather satellites, Fengyun-1C, while testing anti-satellite technology.

Brian Weeden of the Secure World Foundation remembers tracking that explosion for the U.S. Air Force. “In the end, we ended up cataloging more than 3,000 objects. That one satellite turned into three thousand things,” Weeden says.

Why is space junk such a problem?

Space junk has the daily potential to alter satellites’ operations and movement. This translates into real-world costs, as satellite operators field alerts about potential collisions.

Satellites in low Earth orbit, such as those used for imaging and weather data collection, are especially vulnerable.

“That could mean our climate models are less accurate, or we don’t have a good way to track emitters. That could have negative impacts down the road,” Weeden says.

Space junk is also problematic for astronauts. The International Space Station is equipped with a tracker to monitor for collision risk. In the past, crews have performed avoidance maneuvers and hid in the Soyuz capsules when the risk for collision was too great.

That scenario provided the staging drama for the 2013 Alfonso Cuarón film, Gravity. The opening scene depicts earth’s orbit rapidly filling with debris after a missile strike. That depiction does not capture reality. Space junk is a problem that unravels slowly.

“In the movie Gravity, orbital debris was portrayed as sort of a nuclear chain reaction. The reality is the opposite, where it’s like climate change. It’s this long, relatively slow accumulation of stuff over decades or longer that results in a really big negative impact down the road,” says Weeden.

Mitigating the risk of space junk, Weeden says, involves convincing governments and companies launching satellites that they should change their behavior now, mindful of the future.

Some space junk naturally falls back to earth – one tracked object a day, on average – and either burns up or falls in the ocean. Space junk is very unlikely to fall on your head.

What’s being done to reduce and clean-up space junk?

Globally, there are no international regulations for how satellites should operate in space. Each nation implements its own policies, which creates a lack of coordination and accountability in space traffic management.

In 2007, the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) revised their recommendations for mitigating the risk of debris. Space agencies and governments follow these guidelines voluntary.

As for cleaning up the junk? Remediation technologies have not yet been tested in space. There’s been demonstrations with magnets in Japan and deployable nets in England, which took place on Earth.

In December, the European Space Agency (ESA) commissioned the very first orbital debris clean-up mission, called ClearSpace-1.

Their plan is to launch a multi-armed robot in 2025 to scoop up a chunk of old European rocket, a mission estimated to cost $130 million. The debris and the clean-up robot would self destruct upon re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.

Meanwhile, each individual nation is managing the risk that space junk poses to hardware and to human life.

“This is absolutely something that NASA is keeping tabs on — the Chinese space station, all the private space stations that are going up — they’re all going to have to deal with this. A fixture of human spaceflight is going to be avoiding debris that could collide with your space station,” says Weeden.

How to spot ISS in your sky, Human World, EarthSky

International space station flight path

Learn to watch ISS moving silently and steadily across your night sky, and think of the 3 astronauts currently on board.

A group photo taken of the full International Space Station crew shortly before three astronauts left earlier this month. Image via NASA/

The three astronauts now aboard the International Space Station (ISS) were supposed to be joined on Thursday – October 11, 2018 – by two new crewmembers. But a problem several minutes into launch sent the two new ones – NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin – plummeting in “ballistic mode” back to Earth. Both Hague and Ovchinin made it to the ground safely. Learn about the immediate future for the three astronauts currently aboard ISS here. Now on board ISS are NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev and European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst. Think of them as you read this post and learn to spot ISS in your sky.

Jean Marie André Delaporte captured ISS over Normandy in France on October 9, 2018.

The International Space Station (ISS) has been orbiting our planet since 1998. From most locations on Earth, assuming you have clear night skies, you can see ISS for yourself. To us on Earth, it looks like a bright star moving quickly from horizon to horizon. As suddenly as it appears, it disappears. How do you know when to see ISS pass overhead from your location?

NASA has a great tool to help – the Spot the Station program lets you sign up to receive alerts to let you know when ISS will be visible from your location – anywhere in the world. Plus there’s a map-based feature to track when to look for the station as it flies over you in your night sky.

You can also sign up for alerts via email or text message. Typically, alerts are sent out a few times each month when the station’s orbit is near your location. Visit the Spot the Station website to sign up, and see a list of upcoming sighting opportunities.

Wayne Boyd shared his photo of ISS passing over Marstons Mills, Massachusetts,

Patricia Evans in Seabrook, New Hampshire, caught this ISS flyover through clouds on June 9, 2016. She wrote: “It moved quickly and silently overhead towards the east.”

If you sign up for NASA’s Spot the Station service, notices will be sent to you only when ISS will be clearly visible from your location for at least a couple of minutes. If you live north of 51.6 degrees latitude (for example, in Alaska), you will likely have to visit the website to find sighting opportunities because notifications in this region would be rare.

A composite photograph of an International Space Station flyover, taken from the U.K. Image via Dave Walker.

The notices contain information on where to look for ISS in the night sky. Just note where the sun sets and you can easily find the direction where the station will appear (for example, in the southwest or in the northwest). The height at which the station will appear is given in degrees. Just remember that 90 degrees is directly over your head. Any number less than 90 degrees will mean that the station will appear somewhere between the horizon and the 90 degree mark. The station is so bright that it is really hard to miss if you’re looking in the correct direction. Alternatively, you can stretch out your fist at arm’s length toward the horizon, which is equivalent to about 10 degrees. Then, just use the appropriate number of fist-lengths to find the location marker, e.g., four fist-lengths from the horizon would be equivalent to about 40 degrees.

NASA’s Spot the Station program is great. I’ve seen the station fly over many times now, and it’s a pretty amazing experience.

The first module of ISS was launched into space in 1998 and the initial construction of the station took about two years to complete. Human occupation of the station began on November 2, 2000. Since that time, ISS has been continuously occupied. ISS serves as both an orbiting laboratory and a port for international spacecraft. The primary partnering countries involved in operating ISS include the United States, Canada, Japan, several European countries and Russia.

ISS orbits at approximately 220 miles (350 km) above the Earth and it travels at an average speed of 17,227 miles (27,724 km) per hour. ISS makes multiple orbits around the Earth every day.

Photo of the International Space Station taken from the space shuttle Endeavour on May 30, 2011. Image via NASA.

Astronauts Robert Curbeam, Jr. and Christer Fuglesang working on the International Space Station. Image via NASA.

ISS crossing the sky in a long-exposure photograph by Antonín Hušek.

Bottom line: Learn to watch the International Space Station (ISS) moving above your location, and think of the 3 astronauts currently on board.

Space Station User s Guide, SpaceRef

International space station flight path

Space Station and Space Shuttle

Space Station location, NASA MSFC: This site provides a real time display of the current position of the International Space Station.

Shuttle location, NASA MSFC: This site provides a real time display of the current position of the Space Shuttle during shuttle missions. It does not operate between missions.

Shuttle Orbital Tracking, NASA Human Spaceflight: This site presents a real time depiction of the orbits of the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle.

NASA Skywatch, NASA Human Spaceflight: NASA SkyWatch is a web-based Java application that provides sky watchers worldwide with a picture of when and where the International Space Station, the space shuttle and other spacecraft can be seen with the unaided eye as they pass overhead.

Shuttle Orbital Elements, NASA Human Spaceflight: This website provides orbital elements Information regarding the orbit trajectories of the International Space Station, the space shuttle and the Mir Space Station. This data can be used in a variety of programs that require accurate knowledge of the orbit of the satellite. Such applications might include ground track plotting programs, visual sighting programs and programs that predict past or future spacecraft trajectory information.

Shuttle Tracking Monitor, United Space Alliance: This site requires the Shockwave Plugin for your browser.

Landing Ground Tracks, NASA Human Spaceflight: This website provides the landing tracks for space shuttles as they prepare to return to Earth. This information is posted a day or so before a Shuttle’s scheduled landing.

Mir location, NASA MSFC: This site provides a real time display of the current position of the Space Station Mir.

General Satellite Viewers and Resources

Heavens-Above : This site in Germany provides tracking of the Space Station, the Space Shuttle, Mir and a number of other satellites. You can select your location and then see what satellites will be overhead at a specific time and date.

J-Track, NASA MSFC: J-track is a Java applet-based tracking system which calculates an approximate location for a list of satellites (including spacecraft). Each satellite is assigned a color used for displaying the ground trace, captions, location, and countdown clock. Satellites track include ISS, Hubble Space Telescope, and Mir.

J-Pass, NASA MSFC: This site allows you to enter your location on Earth uses the latest available tracking data to predict the times a satellite will pass overhead. It produces a chart showing the path of the craft through your sky. According to NASA “Whether you’re interested in seeing the International Space Station, Mir, a favorite category of satellites such as Amateur craft, or just any manmade craft, J-Pass can help you plan your viewing.”

J-Track 3-D, NASA MSFC: This site uses a Java applet to open a separate window and loads a database of over 500 satellites. A plot is produced in 3-dimensions showing the position of these satellites. A pull-down menu allows you to choose which satellite you wish to view. Your mouse can also be used to rotate your viewing perspective with respect to Earth and zoom in for a closer view or animate the display at various rates.