Basics of Orbital Dynamics – Jaden Weiss

Basics of Orbital Dynamics

Chances are that you have seen a rocket lift off, either on television or via a video. Most people have also seen the iconic Apollo 11 footage from the moon, where Neil Armstrong famously said “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

So, how does a spacecraft get from point A to point B?

4 Forces on Rockets


Perhaps the most obvious force acting on a rocket is thrust. Fuel and oxygen react, generating hot gases. As these hot gases exit the base of the engine, an equal and opposite force pushes up on the rocket to conserve momentum.

Gravity (Weight)

If it were not for gravity, the rocket would keep rising forever after the engines shut down. When the rocket first ascends, the engines are fighting gravity, which slows the ascent.

The space above the rocket is not empty — it is filled with tons of air. As the rocket ascends, it must push air out of the way. This transfers momentum from the rocket to the air, slowing the rocket down. In the process, friction on the surface of the rocket generates heat. Drag is also used to slow the crew capsule/return vehicle to safe speeds without expending fuel.

If you have only seen a rocket immediately after liftoff, it may be unclear why lift is involved. As the rocket burns straight up after liftoff, there is no initial lift. However, later in the ascent the rocket tips over to gather horizontal velocity for orbit. When the rocket is moving at an angle to the air, the outer shell acts as a poorly shaped wing surface, generating a force perpendicular to the rocket in an upward direction. Fins on rockets also generate lift in adjustable directions to help steer the rocket.


When the clamps holding down the rocket are first released, the only two forces acting on the rocket are thrust and weight (gravity). The balance between the force of gravity and the thrust of the engine is commonly expressed as the Thrust-to-Weight Ratio, or TWR. In order for the rocket to rise, the TWR must be greater than 1, meaning that the thrust generated exceeds the force of gravity on the rocket.

As the rocket gains speed, lift and drag forces increase in intensity and the problem of tilt angle comes into action. The more the rocket tips over, the more it acts like an airplane — the rocket gains velocity more easily because it does not have to fight as much of gravity. However, if the rocket is tilted over more then it gains altitude slower and spends more time in the atmosphere. Lower in the atmosphere, drag is stronger and the thrust is weaker due to opposing pressure from the air.

As the rocket rises higher into the atmosphere, the speed increases and the atmosphere begins thinning out, as there is less air above compressing it. The atmospheric forces initially increase, until an important point in the ascent called Max-Q. At Max-Q, the atmospheric forces reach their most intense point and aerodynamic stress on the structure of the rocket reaches its maximum value. At this point, fuel flow to the engines is reduced to minimizes forces on the structure of the rocket and stop it from being torn apart. During Max-Q, the rocket accelerates less and is carried into the upper atmosphere by its momentum. As the atmosphere thins out, the engines can be slowly throttled back up, holding these forces roughly constant. Eventually, the atmosphere is thin enough that drag and lift drop off despite the increasing speed of the rocket, and Max-Q is passed. This is considered a milestone in a spaceflight, as the spacecraft has (hopefully) survived its worst forces.


As the rocket exits on the atmosphere, it is on a suborbital trajectory — if the engines cut out right then, the rocket would fall back into the atmosphere and crash into the ground (or the escape system would activate and the crew capsule would be saved by parachutes).

In order to stay in space, a maneuver called circularization is preformed. The goal of circularization is to reach a point where the spacecraft is neither moving towards nor away from the surface, but is rather carried around the planet by its tangential (horizontal) velocity. This accomplished by burning near-horizontally. As the spacecraft speeds up, gravity changes the speed less and changes the direction of movement more. This continues until the change in speed produced by gravity is close enough to 0.


Once in orbit, all movement is made by preforming small burns to tweak the velocity. These changes in velocity change the shape of the orbit. However, since the craft is moving in a circle, a different system of directions is needed than on earth, where we can use cardinal directions as well as up and down.

Directions in Orbit

Prograde & Retrograde — One of the easiest directions to define is prograde — the direction that the craft is moving. Retrograde is the opposite of prograde — it is the direction that the craft is moving away from.

Radial In/Out — Another easy direction to reference with is the direction towards or away from the planet. Radial In and Radial Out are just this — in is towards the planet, and out is away from the planet.

Normal/Anti-Normal — Take your right hand and curl your fingers into a fist. Stick your thumb up. Align the curl of your fingers to the direction of the orbit, and your thumb will point normal to the orbit. If you repeat this with your left hand, your thumb will point anti-normal. These directions are useful for adjusting tilted orbits.

Elliptical Orbits

Spacecraft typically travel in a type of orbit called an Elliptical Orbit — an orbit forming the shape of an ellipse. There are two very important points in an elliptical orbit — the Apoapsis & the Periapsis. The Apoapsis is the highest point of the orbit, and is the point on the orbit where the craft travels the slowest. The Periapsis is the lowest point of the orbit, and is the point on the orbit where the craft travels the fastest. As the craft rises from the periapsis to the apoapsis, gravity slows it down until it no longer has enough momentum to keep rising. As the craft falls from the apoapsis to the periapsis, gravity speeds it up until it is moving so fast that its momentum pulls it back up to the apoapsis.

Imagine that the craft burned retrograde at the apoapsis. The craft would slow down, and thus fall faster. It would then have to fall further to regain its momentum to return to the apoapsis. Therefore, this would lower the periapsis without changing the apoapsis. If it slowed down enough, the periapsis would fall within the atmosphere, and drag will slow it down there. Slowing down at the periapis would mean that it would not rise as far before it started to fall again — this would raise the periapsis. These passes through the atmosphere would continue slowing the craft down, pulling it into a spiral that would eventually crash into the surface (although the heat and drag force would destroy it unless the craft was designed to tolerate these extremes).

Normal burns are used to correct orbital inclination. This is useful when attempting to rendezvous with another spacecraft, where some rendezvous maneuvers assume that the target craft is on the same orbital plane.

Gravity Assists

Now imagine that the moon is in the general direction of the apoapsis, and the craft burns prograde at the apoapsis. It picks up enough speed that the apoapsis intersects the orbit of the moon. As the craft rises, it gets close to the moon and is pulled into an orbit passing close to the surface. If the craft did nothing (warning: several approximations), it would be thrown past the moon, returning to an earth orbit with the same starting speed but in a different direction and at a different point. This is the concept of gravity assists — manuvers which allow slingshots past the moon (or other planets) to change orbits and gather speed.

Alternately, the craft could burn retrograde at the point closest to the moon’s surface instead of continuing. If it slows down enough, the flyby will become an elliptical orbit around the moon. This burn injecting into a lunar orbit is called an injection burn.

Kerbal Space Program, Robbaz Wiki, Fandom

Kerbal Space Program

Kerbal Space Program is an indie game developed by Squad in which the player can build and fly their very own planes and space craft across the Kerbal Solar System. Factors such as stability, aerodynamics and weight must be taken into account and the game tries to be as Newtonian as possible. The game itself has no real goal other than to explore and mess around in the solar system with which you are provided, and many people, including Robbaz himself, have built a variety of spacecraft which they have used to explore the system and generally mess around (for instance Robbaz built a resort on the moon of the gas giant in the system called Jool). Below is a list of ships and missions, written in chronological order by the Viking Space Program; an organisation founded by Robbaz in 880AD after he had become tired of pillaging England and decided it was time for space to be pillaged.

Space Mission Edit

His first attempt, `Nipple Sky Penetrator Mk. 1` was a failure, as its primary engines exploded due to overheating, followed shortly by the secondary stage as well. The command module then plummeted to the ground. He relaunched the Mark 1 with additional rockets, but it was unstable and fell over on the launch site.

The Nipple Sky Penetrator Mark 1.

Nipple Sky Penetrator Mk. 2

The second tier ship was the same as the first, but with a `Christmas Tree Foot` design. It disintergrated immediately and sent the Kerbals spiralling to their death. The redesigned Mark 2. included several more stages and SAS, allowing the ship to fly smoothly and effectively. This was the first ship to escape the atmosphere of Kerbin, but running out of fuel, the command module was left to float through space.

Mun (Moon) Edit

Mission: To claim Mun for the Vikings.

With a design based around the triangle – the most flawless object you can make – Robbaz was confident of success. While slow at first, his craft made it into the outer atmosphere, but started to spin violently, tearing the ship apart. The second launch of the ship was quick to drift out of control and aim straight for the ground.

“What’s the difference? I added more rockets to my rockets. Fucking genius, this is beyond genius if you ask me. This is fucking flawless. ” – Robbaz when explaining the jump between V.E. Mk.2 and 3.

After a successful launch and detachment of the primary stage, the secondary rockets were detached while still activing, pushing the Explorer out of its line of elavation, and due to weight, it fell back to Kerbin way to quickly. Somehow though, the module survived.

The final launch was a sucess of sorts. The ship reached an orbit, and managed to reach the Mun. However, its fuel was depleted and the parachute didn’t open, causing the lander to smash into the surface.

An unnamed craft, but codenamed the `Liberator ` – As Robbaz said he’d use it to liberate the Moon from the Moon Nazis – was a catastrophic failure. Its first Mark failed to leave the launch pad due to an uneven payload, and the second snapped in two due to too much power.

The prior four Marks were never shown, although the design was probably based on the second incarnation of the `Liberator `. The ship successfully reached space and made a course for Mun. The lander was set for a success, but Robbaz accidently seperated the stages before opening the parachute, leading to his second collision with Mun.

The first launch was an embarrasment for Robbaz, as the power was too great, and he watched the ship explode mere metres above the launchpad. However, during his second launch he managed to successfully land the module on Mun, before sending it home.

Space Station Edit

Mission: To set up a space station in the orbit of Kerbin.

After Robbaz heard the news of an update to KSP, he was quick to design his first satelite, which included a listening device, which he planned to use to spy on Kim Jong Un. He then proceeded to add solar panels to please the hippies, before constructing a rocket to get the station into space, which he entitled the Tittystargalactica Gen 2.

This rocket was a very large, high powered engine with the specific purpose of carrying a heavy weight into space. Before it was launched however, Robbaz questioned how it was supposed to stay together. His fears became real when the ship engines collided and exploded. Upon his second launch, the engines overheated, and as the space station fell to earth the parachutes managed to open. But the sudden force and sheer weight of the space station were too much, and the craft was torn in two.

The third launch was no better. As Robbaz got into the atmosphere and begun to change his angle of elavation, he detached the rockets, but they collided with the station due to the speed they were travelling at already.

His final launch was perfect. Playing a much more cautious game, Robbaz detached the engines easily, and managed to get the station into an orbit around Kerbin. With the station successfully in orbit, Robbaz started to send back reports based on the movements of Kim Jong Un, who Robbaz had intended on spying on throughout the mission. He finished by sending Bill Kerman on a space walk to give his new home a one-off safety check.

This ship was launched after the cameras stopped rolling, so we know nothing about it, except that it was almost visually indentical to its predessecor.

Robbaz designed the Master Cube station from the idea of having a station in orbit to house spaceplanes. The design was extremely simple, being a hollow cube with aircraft bays. Along with the station Robbaz designed cube shaped fighter planes to match. By the end of the 4 episode series, the cube had crashed in the desert, and Robbaz launched a “final offensive” against the cube. One of the strategies he used was to send the prestigious Jeb to attack the Cube, which ended with Jeb surviving yet another aircraft explosion. The cube was finally destroyed after Robbaz built a jet with many bombs attached to it. This suicide mission was flown by the heroic Tombree Kermin.

Docking Edit

Mission: To launch his first commercial space flight, and refuel it at the Tittystargalactica.

Jumbo Jet Viking Airliner

To please the Kerbals stuck on the ground, Robbaz designed a four-wing jumbo jet which had a number one priority of `safety` .

Unsuprisingly, it had a few technical issues. Namely, as the ship exited the atmosphere, the launch engines were detached, and shortly after the ship went into a backwards roll, from which Robbaz could not pull out. We see the plane plummet towards the ocean of Kerbin. The next shot we see the plane’s rear right wing is missing, with all four heavy duty parachutes deployed. As the plane spins downward towards the ocean, Robbaz gives one last speech to his passengers, explaining their imminent demise.

After, his second launch was a success, Robbaz’s biggest issue was docking a jet plane to the TSG Gen 3. (This gen was unseen With no brakes, the two ships collided in mid air, with debris being spread throughout space. As the ship crashed, Robbaz proceeded to sing “Don’t stop me now” by Queen.

After adding MonoPropulsion engines, Robbaz was able to successfully brake and dock the ship and start the fueling process, which he described as `like a baby’s first suckle of the nipple. ` He then announced to his passengers that they’d watch the in-flight movie, `The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. ` Again, he sent Bill to take a space walk around the ship.

Duna (Mars) Edit

Mission: To send a Kerbal to Mars.

A Mars probe based on an `Ant Design` , it was covered in solar panels. Thus, it was horribly slow. To combat this, Robbaz strapped a missile onto the back of it, which sent it into the ocean.

Robbaz then proceeded to launch the Probe the conventional way, by strapping it to a `big, hard rocket ` . The power though was too great, as the rocket soon ripped itself apart.

We next see the ProbeRacer slowly being sucked into the atmosphere of Mars. Noting the immensely low fuel levels, Robbaz admits that the trip was one way – but also refuses to tell Jebediah, the current astronaut. The landing, while a little fast, is successful, and so Jebediah is sent to explore the planet (That Robbaz nickname’s The Cheesecake) and find alien life.

The very boringly named `GasFuelStation` was built to fuel the rescue craft as it travelled to Duna to save Jeb, who had been abandoned there in the previous video. Robbaz launched the ship, fearing its instability, and was no suprised to see a whole half the ship explode and fly away. Thus, he re-enforced the ship, quoting it will `fly like a baby` . Unsuprisingly, the ship did not leave the launch pad, instead exploding in a fire ball. He finally got the GFS into space, before docking it onto the TittyStarGalactica Gen. 4 (Which already had the Jumbo Jet Viking Airliner docked to it as well)

The rescue craft itself, he built the smallest and most nimble craft he could. He tested the craft and its weight by launching the pod alone, which broke on impact, but maintaned shape. His second test failed, and his third launch was classed as being close enough. Bob was sent out of the pod and proceeded to break his neck.

He successfully docked the fully prepared ship with the TSG in Kerbin’s orbit, and after refuelling, he was ready to leave for Duna.

After nearly colliding with the Mun, he arrived at the planet, and as he entered orbit, all of his landing legs fell away. Unphased, he activated the engines and started its decent. After the parachutes nearly caused him to crash, he sucessfully landed on the planet. Jeb, sensing his freedom, quickly drove over to the ship in his buggy, and climbed up the ladder. However, Robbaz realized that there was not enough space in the three man command module for Jeb, and so he set Luler the task of holding onto the side of the rocket as it left Duna. He did not survive.

Space Roover Edit

Mission: To build a Mun Roover that could work on Mun and Duna.

Built using electrical wheels, Robbaz launched a Roover, which was piloted by his newest astronaut, `Fotbawl` . The Roover reached the Mun successfully, but crashed into the surface due to intense speed. Robbaz attempted to correct the situation by spinning the craft like a propeller however, this failed. Fotbawl miracoulusly survived the crash and was launched into a suborbital trajectory, but not for very long. The death of Fotbawl actually led to us hearing Robbaz sing, namely Everybody wants to rule the world, by Tears For Fears .

Seeing success in the MoonRoover, Robbaz kept the design and bolstered more rockets onto the bottom of it. Robbaz had supreme confidence, as he was sending up a hardened space professional, Bob Kerman.

His confidence was well deserved, as his Roover reached Duna and landing successfully, giving Bob another mission to his name.

Colonize Duna Edit

Mission: Sending Kerbals to Duna to set up a base.

Having depleted the fuel in the GasFuelStation, Robbaz decides to launch an entirely new space station with which he can refuel his spacecrafts in orbit. He decides his new station shall be “pimped” with additions such as a “pair of balls” and the ID-Struts, claimed to be strong like “Mike Rowe having a baby with Chuck Norris in a big gay orgy.” His launch stage consists of the traditional plus design made using 17 rockets, which he declares to be “Viking Technology at its finest.” Upon launching, however, he learns that someone left the parking brake on and has to wiggle his ship out. Something somewhere explodes, and his ship climbs up through the atmosphere, to eventually fly apart after he throttles it down. He then reports to Mission Control that they “are out of peanuts,” failing to notice the explosion. On his next attempt, the Fuelstation Mk.2 makes it into orbit.

BALDR was launched out of Kerbin’s orbit commanded by an able crew consisting of John Madden (“the football commentator,” who very understandably was freaking out on ascension) and two other pilots Robbaz neglected to mention. After a very efficient rendezvous with the Fuelstation Mk.2 in which very little fuel was used, Robbaz flew to Duna to land near the seemingly abandoned Roover. Retroburning in a manner that reminded Robbaz of a “Finnish sauna,” BALDR landed on Duna’s surface using its engines as landing gear. Robbaz berated Bob for falling out of the Roover while Aeiou was driving over to BALDR (“Use your seatbelt! Volvo invented them!”) and declared John Madden King of Mars.

Robbaz builds the Badger and equips it with a complement of nuclear-powered cars (for jumping dunes like rednecks) and a rocket plane to fly around on Duna. He lands it on Duna after some Kerbin-side shenanigans and proceeds to have Duna-side shenanigans, two of which result in Kerbal deaths after they fly into the ship on jetpacks. His rocket plane, however, is very maneuverable until it fails to turn, causing Robbaz to abandon it and fly Derwin away using his jetpack. Derwin later flies into the Badger’s ramp, resulting in his death.

Combat Drone and AC-130/65 Edit

Mission: To fight the Corgi Terrorists using ground-attack aircraft.

Robbaz first builds a solar-powered combat drone armed with “missiles auf das Wingen” to fight the Corgi Terrorists. After launching it to a higher altitude using a pair of Solid Rocket Boosters, Robbaz uses his missiles of “peace and liberty, and love and happiness” to take out several of the terrorists before landing on the runway and celebrating with a loud drink that he spills on himself shortly after opening it.

Robbaz then builds an AC130 with rover wheels as landing gear, which he discovers much to the misfortune of the pilot, Steve (“Very well, Steve is dead!”)

Robbaz markets the AC65 as a smaller AC130, with about have the size and several laser guns. These prove very effective at taking out a second wave of Corgi Terrorists until Robbaz flies into his own lasers and the AC65 explodes.

VSP Midgård Edit

The VSP Midgard is a large space explorer constructed in two stages in the orbit of Kerbin, as opposed to on the planet’s surface. With several docking points, a small lunar module was attached to the ship and then launched at the moon, landing with ease. The ship crashed onto the Jool moon of Bop during a rescue mission. Though badly damaged, both sections were able to leave the surface, but only the front part made it back to Laythe. It then crashed into one of the oceans. The loss of it proved to be costly to the company, as its’s successor, the Asgård was not launched for a full year after the crash. Midgård is named after the titular mortal realm in Norse mythology.

VSP Asgård Edit

Asgård was Robbaz’s large space ship that was known for its short term of service. The ship would contain docks for smaller space ships and large fuel tanks. When the game was updated, the ship was decommissioned via atmosphere reentry. Asgård loaned its name from the titular gods’ realm in Norse mythology.

VSP Jötunheimr Edit

Jötunheimr was the latest model of space ship during the time of its creation. The ship is similiar to Asgard with exceptions to its new cockpit and futuristic hull. In addition, Robbaz also launched a cube shaped space station after its launch. While docking settlement probes to be transported to Duna, the ship was destroyed in a mighty explosion, with parts being thrown everywhere. Both Bob and Jeb narrowly survived this accident, with a subsequent rescue operation being launched. Jötunheimr‘s name is based on the realm of the giants from Norse mythology.

VSP Mods Edit

Recently Robbaz has posted an imgur screenshot of his mods folder (I think) for KSP bellow you will find the link to the image + a printed list of the items show in the image.

  • NearFutureElectrical [1]
  • HooliganLabs [2]
  • 000_Toolbar
  • B9_Aerospace [3]
  • MagicSmokeIndustries
  • WheelSounds [4]
  • UmbraSpaceIndustries
  • TextureReplacer [5]
  • CIT
  • 000_USITools
  • CommunityResourcePack [6]
  • ORSX [7]
  • Virgin Kalactic [8]
  • Romfarer [9]
  • SmokeScreen
  • LLL [10]
  • MP_Nazari
  • PartCatalog
  • QuantumStrutsContinued
  • ResGen [11]
  • KAS [12]
  • KineTechAnimation
  • Klockheed_Martian [13]
  • JSI
  • FireSpitter [14]
  • FSHangerExtender [15]
  • CrossFeedEnabler [16]
  • EnvironmentalVisualEnhancements [17]
  • B9_Aerospace_DEPRECATED
  • BoatPartsR3 [18]
  • BoulderCo
  • ActiveTextureManagement [19]
  • NASAmission
  • Squad

Testing opportunities missed ahead of ill-fated Boeing Starliner spaceflight, review finds

Testing opportunities missed ahead of ill-fated Boeing Starliner spaceflight, review finds

NASA: Boeing must come up with corrective plan prior to next spaceflight

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – An independent review of Boeing’s ill-fated Starliner spaceflight found testing opportunities were missed before launch and the next time Starliner will fly remains unknown, Boeing and NASA officials said Friday as they revealed the results of their joint investigation into Starliner’s December orbital test flight.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner launched from Cape Canaveral in December without astronauts on board. The spacecraft was bound for the International Space Station to test its launch, docking and landing systems but the spacecraft was forced to return to Earth 48 hours after launch when it missed a critical maneuver to catch up to the space station.

NASA previously said three main issues were discovered during Boeing’s December orbital test flight, two were related to software errors and the third was an intermittent communication problem between the spacecraft and controllers on the ground.

On Friday, Boeing and NASA officials said an independent review team has made more than 60 corrective recommendations to Boeing and identified three specific issues that must be addressed before the spacecraft can fly again.

NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Doug Loverro said, specifically, the review team found Boeing did not run all possible software tests ahead of the first flight.

“There are four ways software could have run,” Loverro said. “We didn’t test all four ways it could have run.”

The independent review team found that too much authority was given to the software board before changes were made to the spacecraft software. Those changes should have been brought up to the design review board, Loverro said.

Last week, Boeing Starliner Program Manager John Mulholland said Boeing will now test the spacecraft software from start to finish prior to launch.

NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders said next Boeing will come up with a plan to correct the issues discovered during the review and present that plan to NASA, possibly by the end of the month. NASA will then need to approve or recommend changes to the plan.

Since 2011, the U.S. has relied on Russian rockets to get its crew to the space station.

NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX to build human-rated spacecraft to fly U.S. astronauts as part of the Commercial Crew program, awarding the private companies a combined $6.4 billion. Both companies have experienced delays as they work to certify their capsules to fly crew to the ISS and bring them home safely.

Due to the program delays, NASA is in negotiation with Russia to purchase extra seats to fly astronauts to the ISS.

The Boeing Starliner Orbital Test Flight on Dec. 20 was part of the process to certify the spacecraft to fly NASA astronauts.

Elon Musk’s company successfully launched Crew Dragon — without astronauts — to the ISS and brought it home for an Atlantic Ocean splashdown last year.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule is slated to launch with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley as soon as this spring, marking the first time Americans have launched from U.S. soil since the shuttle program.

After Friday’s call with NASA and Boeing, it’s still unclear if Starliner will have to repeat its orbital test flight before flying astronauts because it did not dock at the space station.

“Quite frankly we don’t know,” Loverro said when asked about another uncrewed test flight. “I can’t even tell you what the schedule will be on that.”

NASA will evaluate Boeing’s plan to correct the Starliner issues before it determines if there will be a second test flight, Loverro said.

Boeing’s Senior Vice President Jim Chilton said the company is ready to repeat a test flight without a crew, if NASA asks.

“’All of us want crew safety No. 1,” Chilton said. “Whatever testing we’ve got to do to make that happen, we embrace it.”

The results of the review will also roll over into another major NASA program Boeing is involved in, the Space Launch System, otherwise known as the Artemis program rocket. Boeing is the prime contractor for the rocket’s core stage and the developer of the flight electronics.

A high-visibility close call like Starliner’s triggers a review of Boeing as a whole in addition to the independent review just completed, according to NASA.

Loverro said this procedure allows NASA to formally document lessons learned from the Starliner flight and perform “an organizational root causes assessment,” meaning NASA will look at both Boeing and NASA organizational processes.

“I think we could all agree that it was a close call, we could have lost a spacecraft twice during this mission,” Loverro said, adding if it weren’t for Boeing’s actions, the orbital test flight could have ended very differently.

Mulholland said the changes from the larger review could help “the whole space ecosystem.”

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Watch live: Boeing tests crew capsule escape system – Spaceflight Now – Breaking U

Breaking U.S News

World News | U.S. News

Watch live: Boeing tests crew capsule escape system – Spaceflight Now

Posted By: newsus November 4, 2019

EDITOR?S NOTE: The test occurred at 9:15am EST (1415 GMT). We?ll have an updated story shortly.

A Boeing Starliner crew capsule will fire off a stand early Monday at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on a mile-high test flight to validate the spacecrafts emergency escape thrusters, a key milestone before human-rated Starliner ships fly astronauts to the International Space Station next year.

The capsule will not be flying any astronauts Monday when it launches off a pad at White Sands on a fast-paced test flight that will last just 95 seconds from liftoff until landing.

But a lot will happen during the flight, called a pad abort test, exercising the Starliner spacecraft?s abort engines, control thrusters, flight software, jettison mechanisms and parachutes.

Liftoff is set for the opening of a three-hour test window at 7 a.m. MST (9 a.m. EST; 1400 GMT) Monday from the same launch pad originally built for a pad abort test of NASA?s Orion crew capsule in 2010.

?I call this an ejection seat for a spacecraft, said Chris Ferguson, a Boeing test pilot, astronaut and director of Starliner crew and mission systems.

The pad abort test will demonstrate the Starliner can rapidly separate itself and gain distance from the launch vehicle should something go wrong, Ferguson said Oct. 22 in a panel discussion at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington.

During a crewed launch, emergency escape engines on the base of the Starliners service module would propel the spacecraft off the top of its United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in the event of a failure on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. The pad abort test set for Monday morning will prove the Starliners escape system is up to the challenge.

Well go from zero speed, zero altitude, and safely demonstrate about a 1-mile-high, about a 1-mile downrange capability to remove the vehicle and safely bring it down in what will be a desert environment for the White Sands test, but what would be just off the coast of Florida if we, in fact, did have a launch pad abort.

A lot of everything that weve been working on for the last eight years or so (is) all wrapped up in about a 90-second test, so itll be pretty exciting, Ferguson said.

Boeing is developing the Starliner spacecraft under a $4.2 billion contract with NASA. The space agency also awarded a $2.6 billion contract to SpaceX for development of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, giving NASA two new commercial crew capsules to fly astronauts to the space station, ending U.S. reliance on Russian Soyuz vehicles for the job.

Monday?s pad abort test at White Sands will go by quickly, with a few flashes and bangs before three parachutes open and airbags inflate to bring the capsule gently back to the ground.

?This is a full-up Starliner,? said Alicia Evans, Boeing?s pad abort test flight director, in a NASA podcast last week. ?It?s been built up specifically for this test. But because we were testing the integrated system, it has all of the systems required for the pad-abort test, and it?s full-up avionics capability, propulsion.?

On Monday morning, a command will trigger specially-designed valves to quickly open inside the Starliner?s service module, and a high-pressure mix of liquid hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide propellants will rush into four launch abort engines, or LAEs. The chemical propellants will automatically combust when mixed together, generating 40,000 pounds of thrust from each of the Aerojet Rocketdyne-made engines.

The engines, coupled with thrust from smaller orbital maneuvering and attitude control rockets, or OMACs, will push the 16.5-foot-tall (5-meter) Starliner vehicle off the ground. A Boeing spokesperson said the capsule will experience a sustained force of 5 Gs for five seconds while the launch abort engines are firing, the same force astronauts would be under during a real abort off the launch pad.

The Starliner capsule slated for Monday?s pad abort test is mounted on top of the same type of adapter that will connect the real spacecraft to the top of ULAs Atlas 5 rocket. When the craft ignites its four launch abort engines, vent doors on the adapter will open to prevent an over-pressure event.

?At the launch pad, you have the rocket standing next to its gantry,? Evans said. ?You have a launch vehicle adapter, which is structural hardware that adapts the launch vehicle to the Starliner. So that?s how we interface to it. Then you have the Starliner sitting on top of the rocket. And we have a service module as well as a crew module, which is the (combined) Starliner.

?During an abort, if there was to be an accident with the rocket and we needed to save the crew, what would happen is we have four large launch abort engines that fire in conjunction with several more smaller thrusters, called our orbital maneuvering and attitude control thrusters,? Evans said. ?And that combined collection of thrusters lifts the Starliner away from the rocket and outside of any debris or blast zone that might be created by a rocket.?

During Monday?s test, the abort engines will fire for 5.1 seconds, propelling the Starliner from zero to some 650 mph, a Boeing spokesperson said.

Then thrusters will pulse to flip the spacecraft around and fly tail first on an arc that will take the vehicle to a maximum altitude of approximately 4,426 feet (1,349 meters) above ground level around 18.6 seconds after takeoff.

Boeing?s Starliner pad abort test will last 95 seconds from launch through touchdown of the crew module. Credit: Boeing

The thrusters will stop firing 17 seconds after takeoff, and a series of pilot, drogue and three main parachutes will begin deploying at T+plus 20 seconds, according to Boeing.

The craft will jettison its service module at T+plus 34 seconds to fall to the ground. The crew module will then release its base heat shield, then inflate airbags to cushion the capsules landing at White Sands around 95 seconds after liftoff.

?This is a full demonstration of our landing sequence,? Evans said. ?We have done a lot of subsystem tests of our landing sequence to show which component works individually, and in addition to showing that our propulsion system works to save the crew away from the rocket, the second half of the abort test is that it lands on land the way it would during an actual return from flight.?

On an actual space mission, the Starliner?s service module will jettison from the crew module in space, then burn up during re-entry into the atmosphere. Engineers will get video tracking of the jettison system?s function during the pad abort test, along with observations of the heat shield separation events.

The service module on Monday?s test flight will crash to the ground. Residual propellant inside the service module, which contains all the engines used for the abort test, could cause it to ignite on impact, Boeing officials said.

?We?ll get to actually see our parachutes deploy and billow out, as the reefers allow it to billow and see the crew module starting to float down,? Evans said. ?As we get closer to the ground, we see the base heat shield separate, which exposes our airbags, and then, as we get closer to the ground, the airbags inflate.

?This?ll be the first time that?s demonstrated as on-flight hardware in the air,? she said. ?So I?m very excited to watch all of that take place and then land under parachutes, on airbags, on land, which is the first American vehicle to do that.?

SpaceX completed the pad abort test for its Crew Dragon spacecraft at Cape Canaveral in 2015, and plans an in-flight abort test later this year at the Kennedy Space Center to verity the capsules ability to fire off a Falcon 9 rocket after liftoff. Boeing plans to bypass such an in-flight abort demonstration.

NASA gave both companies the option to decide whether or not to conduct an in-flight abort test.

A Starliner test vehicle sits on launch pad at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico ahead of a pad abort test Monday, Nov. 4. The pad abort test will verify the spacecraft can safely carry astronauts away from a launch pad emergency. Credit: Boeing

?Boeing is not going to do an in-flight abort test,? said Jon Cowart, deputy manager of the mission management office for NASA?s commercial crew program. ?They?re just going to do the ground one. They think that they can get enough data and then extrapolate that out, with good analytical techniques that we?ve endorsed. They will go and do it in that particular way, versus SpaceX, which is going to do both.

?We knew about this up front, both Boeing and SpaceX, when they proposed their contracts to us and said, ?This is how we?re going to get to real flights,’? Cowart said last week in a NASA podcast. ?We understood exactly, and we bought into it. We think, and we agree with them, that we can get all they need from a pad-abort test.?

Kathy Lueders, who manages the commercial crew program at NASA, called the Boeing pad abort a huge test for us.

Obviously, its going to be important for us to understand how the separation works for the CM and SM (crew module and service module), checking out the chutes, making sure that the predictions are lined up right for us, Lueders said Wednesday during a presentation to the NASA Advisory Councils human exploration and operations committee.

Boeing is in the final stages of assembling and testing two space-ready Starliner vehicles inside a former space shuttle hangar at NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The first of the capsules is scheduled to launch as soon as Dec. 17 aboard an Atlas 5 rocket from pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for a week-long unpiloted test flight to the space station. That mission, called the Orbital Test Flight, will not have an active abort system, but Lueders said NASA wants to see how the Starliner performs on the abort test before going ahead with the OFT mission.

OFT does not have the abort system on it because its an uncrewed mission, but obviously the way the system separates and everything else will reflect on our OFT progress, so its critical for us to get this test going and that we understand it prior to us doing rollout of the spacecraft (for OFT), Lueders said Wednesday.

The Starliners Crew Flight Test to the space station will follow some time in the first half of 2020, with Ferguson joined by NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann.

While final preparations for the pad abort test were underway this weekend in New Mexico, Boeing technicians at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida were readying the first space-ready Starliner spacecraft for fueling. Later this month, it will be installed on top of the Atlas 5 rocket at Cape Canaveral for final integrated checkouts and a full countdown rehearsal ahead of its scheduled liftoff in mid-December.

A Starliner test vehicle sits on launch pad at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico ahead of a pad abort test Monday, Nov. 4. The pad abort test will verify the spacecraft can safely carry astronauts away from a launch pad emergency. Credit: Boeing

The new Boeing and SpaceX crew capsules could be ready to fly astronauts in the first half of next year, according to NASA officials.

The commercial crew program is a new paradigm for NASA. Boeing and SpaceX are in charge, but because NASA is the only customer for the new spaceships so far, the government still has a big say in how the contractors run the program.

?They own the flight tests,? Cowart said. ?Even when they start flying up in the space station, they own the spaceship, they own the rocket. But these particular tests ? they own them, which means we will consult with them, but in the end, they are the ones who own the tests and the results.

?It?s part of their certification,? he said. ?They?ve got to bring the data from those tests to us before they can go fly our astronauts on-board. And we?ve got to say that, ?Yeah, you?ve got the right amount of data and that the data is good and that the vehicle will perform correctly.? But ? this is the thing that?s kind of different from the way NASA has done business in the past. We don?t own the rocket. We don?t own the spaceship ? It?s something more than consulting and something less than owning.?

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

SpaceX – s Dragon Launch Not Smooth But Sailing, Discover Magazine

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SpaceX’s Dragon Launch Not Smooth But Sailing


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Image courtesy of NASA This morning’s launch of SpaceX’s third Dragon capsule has the twittersphere all a-flutter. Falcon 9’s blastoff from Cape Canaveral initially appeared to be a success. Just after the Falcon 9 rocket launched around 10:10 AM EST, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was tweeting its praises.

Falcon 9 delivered Dragon to its target orbit. All good on the rocket. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013

But about half an hour later, things started to get a little messy. “It appears that although it achieved Earth orbit, Dragon is experiencing some kind problem right now,” said John Insprucker, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 product manager on the Spaceflight Now live coverage at Mission Status Center. There was a glitch in the Dragon capsule’s thruster pods, according to an article in the Guardian, and three of the four thruster pods, which guide the spacecraft into orbit, failed to activate.

Issue with Dragon thruster pods. System inhibiting three of four from initializing. About to command inhibit override. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013

This stalled deployment of the Dragon’s solar arrays, used to generate power for the capsule, until SpaceX could override the computer, according to a report on NBC.

Holding on solar array deployment until at least two thruster pods are active — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013

Within the hour things settled down: The capsule was orbiting Earth with two of its four thruster pods working, en route to dock and drop off over a ton of supplies and science equipment at the ISS.

Solar array deployment successful — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013

But two thruster pods are, unfortunately, only two-thirds of the power needed to dock with the ISS. Four hours after take-off, mission control announced that the capsule will not be arriving at the ISS tomorrow as planned. “They are making progress recovering their prop system, but it’s not going to be in time to support the rendezvous and capture for tomorrow,” NASA’s spacecraft communicator told the crew. They are still hoping to attempt a second rendezvous sometime in the next few days. Space station commander Kevin Ford said, as reported Spaceflight Now: “That’s space exploration for you. We sometimes have problems and work through them, and that’s how you learn.” “If not tomorrow, maybe a couple of days down the road we’ll get it licked,” Ford said.

NEWS – Everyday Astronaut

Spaceflight now live

China is sending yet another BeiDou navigation satellite into a geosynchronous orbit on their Long March 3B rocket. This will continue to build the Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS). Similar to the American Global Positioning System (GPS), BDS is a Chinese satellite constellation that provides users with positioning data.

Falcon 9 Block 5 | CRS-20

SpaceX will be launching its original Dragon capsule to resupply the ISS for a final time. The spacecraft will fly on top of the company’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral space Force Station, Florida.

Prelaunch Preview: Soyuz STA/Fregat | Falcon Eye 2

Arianespace will be launching the Falcon Eye 2 satellite onboard a Soyuz STA/Fregat rocket from their launch site in French Guiana, South America. It is assumed it will launch in April 2020.

Astra Rocket 3.0 | One of Three

“One of Three” is Astra’s first orbital test launch of their “Rocket 3.0” launch vehicle. It will launch in early March 2020 from their launch pad at the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, Alaska. On board will be five payloads, which will be delivered to a sun synchronous orbit of 450km (280 miles). UPDATE: Mission scrubbed on March 2, 2020. Rocket 3.0’s maiden flight will be a new commercial mission to be announced mid-March 2020.

Long March 2D | XJS-C, XJS-D, XJS-E, XJS-F

China is sending a mystery payload somewhere to space on February 19/20 (depending on your time zone) on one of their Long March 2 rockets.

Ariane 5 ECA | JCSAT-17 & GEO-KOMPSAT-2B

Arianespace SA is a launch provider company, which is majority-owned by its parent company “ArianeGroup”, a combined undertaking between Airbus and the French group Safran. For this mission, in particular, Arianespace is getting paid by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) and SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation to put both of their satellites into an orbit only 35,786 km (22,236 miles).

Prelaunch Preview | Long March 3B/E | Fengyun-4B

Fengyun-4B is the second geostationary meteorological satellite of the Fengyun-4 satellite family with it’s predecessor FY-4A launched on December 11th 2016. FY-4B will be launched by a Long March 3B/E rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, China.

Falcon 9 Block 5 | Starlink 5

SpaceX will be launching 60 satellites on top of its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. This will be the fourth operational launch of SpaceX’s near-global satellite constellation – Starlink, which aims to deliver a fast, low-latency broadband internet service.

Falcon 9 Block 5 | Starlink 4

SpaceX will be launching 60 satellites on top of its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. This will be the fourth operational launch of SpaceX’s near-global satellite constellation – Starlink, which aims to deliver a fast, low-latency broadband internet service.

Prelaunch Preview | PSLV | Amazonia-1

Lift Off Time (Subject to change) NET May 31, 2020 – TBD Mission Name and what it is Amazonia-1, Earth observation satellite Launch Provider (What rocket company is launching it?) Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Customer (Who’s paying for this?) […]

Long March 3B/E | APStar-6D

Lift Off Time (Subject to change) February 28, 2020 – TBD Mission Name and what it is APStar-6D, Chinese television, and cellular satellite Launch Provider (What rocket company is launching it?) China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation Customer (Who’s paying […]

Soyuz 2.1b/Fregat-M | OneWeb 2

Introduced in 1966, Soyuz has been the workhorse of the Soviet/Russian space program. The first launch of the Soyuz 2-1a version on November 8, 2004 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome represented a major step in the Soyuz launch vehicle’s development program. Fregat is the upper (4th) stage of Soyuz 2.1, and it first flew in the year 2000.

Soyuz 2.1a/Fregat-M | Meridian-M No.19L

Russia’s Federal Space Agency is launching a Meridian military observation satellite into a highly elliptical “Molniya” orbit in order to keep an eye on things back down here on Earth. Because it’s a military satellite, not a lot is known about this space vehicle. But where it’s going to in space is really interesting – so let’s look into this.

H-IIA 202 | IGS Optical 7

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is launching the third in a sequence of three Intelligence Gathering Satellites (IGS), called Optical 7, on an H-IIA 202 rocket provided by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI).

Antares 230+ | Cygnus CRS NG-13 (S.S. Robert Henry Lawrence Jr.)

Cygnus is returning to the International Space Station! Very soon, the Antares 230+ rocket will leap of the pad on Wallops Island located in Virginia in the United States. One of the only rockets to launch from there, it will soon be joined by Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket!

Atlas V 411 | Solar Orbiter

We are going back to our star!! Solar Orbiter is a spacecraft build by the European Space Agency to study the inner heliosphere and its overall effects on solar radiation. How’s it gonna get there? The launch provider, United Launch Alliance (ULA) has this job. Their mighty Atlas V rocket will soar into the Floridian skies propelling Solar Orbiter to on its 3.5 year journey to the Sun.

Falcon 9 Block 5 | ANASIS-II

SpaceX will be launching South Korea’s first dedicated military communications satellite on top of their workhorse rocket, the Falcon 9. The satellite was paid for by Lockheed Martin as part of an agreement when the South Korean government, who bought several fighter jets from the United States. This satellite (formerly known as KMilSatCom 1) will serve as a communications satellite for the South Korean military.

Electron | NROL-151 (Birds of a Feather)

After launching 6 times in 2019, Rocket Lab opens 2020 with their first launch for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)! This is potential for a future of launches for the NRO. Yet again launching from the beautiful, one-of-a-kind, Mahia Peninsula, Electron will soar high into the sky.

Falcon 9 Block 5 | Starlink 3

SpaceX will be launching 60 of their Starlink satellites on top of their work-horse rocket: the Falcon 9. The Falcon 9 will launch from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), in Florida.

Falcon 9 Block 5 | Crew Dragon In-Flight Abort Test

SpaceX will conduct an uncrewed In-flight Abort (IFA)Test. This will validate Crew Dragon’s ability to pull crew away to safety in the event of a failure during launch. The capsule will fire its integrated SuperDraco abort motors at the point of maximum dynamic pressure (max q), on ascent, and pull itself safely clear of the Falcon 9.

Prelaunch Preview – GSLV-F10 | GISAT-1

The Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) built and operated by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will be launching the GISAT-1, a geostationary Earth observing satellite. It will operate in geostationary orbit above the Southern India region after being launched from Sriharikota, India.

Astro Awards 2019

Hello and good evening ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the 2019 Astro Awards! We will take this time to reflect on the exciting things that have happened throughout the year in spaceflight and space discoveries.

LauncherOne | Test Flight

This is the first orbital flight for the brand new LauncherOne rocket which is air launched from a modified Boeing 747-400 dubbed “Cosmic Girl”. In mid-2019, Virgin Orbit did a drop test of the LauncherOne rocket, rehearsing all the events leading up to and actual launch. Now, it’s time to light this candle!

Soyuz STA/Fregat | CSG-1, CHEOPS, & others

ArianeSpace will be launching the CSG-1 satellite, plus CHEOPS space telescope for exoplanets and three other rideshare payloads, onboard a Soyuz / Fregat rocket from their equatorial launch site in Kourou, French Guiana, South America on December 18 (postponed from the 17th), 2019.

Why Starship won’t have an abort system… but should it.

SpaceX’s upcoming megarocket, Starship, is quickly coming to life before our eyes. Starship will be the biggest, most powerful rocket to ever fly. Capable of taking 100 people to the surface of Mars AND just as important, back. Not only […]

Atlas V N22 | CST-100 Starliner Orbital Flight Test (Uncrewed)

An Atlas V rocket presented by the launch provider ULA for The Boeing Company to launch their CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on its Orbital Test Flight (OFT) mission. This will be a test of the spacecraft and its systems before it launches humans.

Prelaunch Preview – Soyuz 2.1a | Progress MS-13 (74P)

ROSCOSMOS will be launching Progress MS-13 to the International Space Station. The capsule will be launched on a Soyuz 2.1A rocket from Launch Complex 31/6 in Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. Procress MS-13 will carry 700kg of propellent for the ISS, 1,350kg of dry cargo, food, and water for the Rodnik system. This mission will also bring a new treadmill for the astronauts and cosmonaut at the ISS.

Best Space Gifts 2019!

I put together a list of some of my favorite space things, AND to make it the super easiest thing for you, I’ve hyperlinked the photos in this article to take you straight to each thing.

Prelaunch Preview – Falcon 9 Block 5 | JCSAT-18/KACIFIC-1

SpaceX will be launching the JCSat 18 satellite to Geostationary Orbit (GEO) on top of SpaceX’s work-horse rocket, the Falcon 9. The Falcon 9 will launch from Launch Complex 40 (LC-40) at Cape Canaveral AirForce Station, in Florida. The booster supporting this mission (B1056.3) flew on CRS-17 on May 4th, 2019, and again on CRS-18 on July 25th, 2019. The booster for this mission is going to be recovered on SpaceX’s droneship, Of Course I Still Love You. As of now, it is unclear whether SpaceX will attempt to recover the fairings with GO MS Chief and GO MS Tree.

Prelaunch Preview – SpaceX | CRS-19

SpaceX will be launching their cargo Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA. The Dragon — which has flown twice — will be launched on a Falcon 9 (1056.3) from Launch Complex 40 (LC-40) at Cape Canaveral in Florida. The booster supporting this mission flew previously on CRS-17 on May 3, 2019 and CRS-18 on July 25, 2019. After the booster releases the second stage and Dragon, it will perform a boost back burn, reentry burn, and landing burn. The booster will land on Landing Zone-1 (LZ-1).

How NASA will bake in space for the first time and why that’s a BIG deal!

On November 2nd, 2019, Northrop Grumman performed a spaceflight first, and launched an oven aboard their Cygnus Cargo Ship on a resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. The spacecraft contained just over 3,700 kg of scientific experiments, […]

Prelaunch Preview – PSLV-XL | Cartosat-3 & others

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be launching its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket on a mission for ISRO itself, plus two USA rideshare payloads, from the FLP at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh state, India. The three payloads for this mission are: Cartosat-3 – for ISRO itself, Meshbed – for Analytical Space Inc, USA, and SuperDoves × 12 (Flock 4p mission) – for Planet Labs, USA.


Starlink is a satellite constellation operated and manufactured by SpaceX. This constellation aims to provide internet access to secluded areas around the world by forming an initial net of 12,000 satellites in three different orbits. About 1,600 will be in a 550km orbit, 2,800 Ku and Ka band satellites in a 1,150km orbit and about 7,500 V-band satellites will orbit the earth at an altitude of 340km. SpaceX may increase the number of their satellites by another 30,000 (cough 42-thousand cough) at some later point.

Ariane 5 ECA | TIBA-1 & Inmarsat-5 F5 (Global Xpress-5)

Arianespace SA is a launch provider company, a combined undertaking between Airbus and the French group Safran . For this mission, in particular, Arianespace is getting paid by Inmarsat to launch their fifth Global Express satellite (GX-5) into a geostationary orbit only 35,786 km above the Earth.

Electron | Running Out Of Fingers

Rocket Lab will be launching its Electron rocket on a mission for Alba Orbital and ALE Co., Ltd (ALE), from Launch Complex 1 (LC-1) on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. The 14-day launch window for this mission is open beginning from November 25th at 01:00 NZDT. (November 24th 10:00 UTC)

Prelaunch Preview // SpaceX // Starlink-1

SpaceX will be launching their Starlink satellites on their flight-proven 1 st stage B1048.4. This particular 1 st stage has already flown thrice and will become the first booster to fly for the fourth time. It has flown the previous missions Nusantara Satu in February of 2019, Saocom 1A in October of 2018 and Iridium-7 in July of 2018. The rocket will lift off at Launch Complex 40 (LC-40) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida at 14:51:00 UTC and at 09:51:00 local time.

Are Aerospike Engines Better Than Traditional Rocket Engines?

Today we’re going to look at the history of aerospike engines, go over how nozzles work including things like overexpansion, underexpansion and even expansion ratios, we’ll look at the pros and cons of the aerospike, the physical limitations and problems, then we’ll compare the aerospike to some other traditional rocket engines.

But that’s not all, I obtained never seen before photos and videos of some aerospikes, we’ll get opinions from some people who have actually worked with aerospike engines, look at some promising prospects and compelling concepts and by the end of the video we’ll hopefully know whether or not the holy grail of rocket engines is just waiting to be utilized or if aerospikes just simply aren’t worth it.

Evidence of a volcanic moon beyond our solar system!

In a far far away exo-planetary system astronomers found evidence of VOLCANIC activity on one of the Moons orbiting a Super Earth! Astronomers at the Physics Insitute of the University of Bern and the NCCR PlanetS, found evidence of volcanic […]

Prelaunch Preview: Rocket Lab | Look Ma, No Hands

Lift Off Time (Subject to change) August 19, 2019 12:12 UTC (August 20, 2019 12:12 AM NZST) 1 hour and 40 minute launch window open daily from August 16 – 30, 2019 Mission Name and what it is Look […]

Prelaunch Preview: ULA | GPS III SV02

Lift Off Time (Subject to change) August 22, 2019 13:00 – 13:27 UTC (9:00 – 9:27 AM EDT) Mission Name and what it is GPS III SV02. The second launch of a third generation GPS satellite Launch Provider (What rocket […]

Can Rocket Lab really catch a rocket with a helicopter?!

Rocket Lab just announced they plan to try and recover their Electron rockets using a parachute and a helicopter… Yeah, seriously.

Prelaunch Preview – SpaceX | AMOS-17

Lift Off Time (Subject to change) August 6, 2019 23:23 – August 7, 2019 00:20 UTC (August 6, 2019 7:23 – 8:20 PM EDT) Mission Name and what it is AMOS-17. Communications Satellite Launch Provider (What rocket company is launching […]

DoubleTree chocolate chip cookie will be the first food baked fresh in space!

One topic I get asked about often regarding long duration trips in space is food. If astronauts are away from home for 6 months, like when they are on the International Space Station (ISS), or for around 2 years, like […]

Alaska is helping scientists measure the possibility of life on Titan

One of the most interesting subjects to me lately is astrobiology. This is ironic because I was so bad at bio in school, but lately scientists have been finding so many forms of evidence showing that life can exist beyond […]

Prelaunch Preview – SpaceX | CRS-18

Lift Off Time (Subject to change) July 25, 2019 22:01 UTC (6:01 PM EDT) Mission Name and what it is CRS-18. A cargo Dragon resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) Launch Provider (What rocket company is launching it?) […]

Prelaunch Preview – Electron | Make It Rain

Lift Off Time (Subject to change) Two hour launch window daily from 04:30 – 06:30 UTC (4:30 – 6:30 PM NZDT) from June 27th through July 10th, 2019 Mission Name and what it is Make It Rain. A rideshare […]

Prelaunch Preview – Atlas V 551 | AEHF-5

Lift Off Time (Subject to change) August 8, 2019 09:44 – 11:44 UTC (5:44 – 7:44 AM EDT) Mission Name and what it is AEHF-5. The fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellite for the US Air Force Launch […]

Prelaunch Preview – Falcon Heavy | STP-2

Lift Off Time (Subject to change) June 25, 2019 03:30 – 07:30 UTC (June 24, 2019 11:30 PM – June 25, 2019 3:00 AM EDT) This is a 4 hour launch window Mission Name and what it is Space […]

Why do cylindrical rockets roll?

Here’s a fun question that not only have I myself asked, but I get asked fairly often, why do we hear a call out like “roger roll” or “roll program complete” at which point we can see the rocket rotate or roll on its X axis…

The best example of this was the Space Shuttle which had a very obvious and dramatic roll program. As soon as it cleared the tower, you can see it making a very impressive and sometimes scary looking roll.

The ISS is opening its doors to tourists!

YES-you heard that right. The International Space Station has announced that they will start allowing tourists to come onboard starting in 2020!! Hear that flat-earthers? This is your chance to answer your undying questions about the shape of our planet. […]

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Kerbal Space Program crash course: 10 steps to the Mun and back

Suborbital spaceflight on kerbin

After four long years in beta, Kerbal Space Program has been officially released as version 1.0. This is an intimidating game full of real science and engineering to learn. Even with endless hours to learn the ropes, it won’t appeal to everyone. However, if you like tinkering and simulation-style games, Kerbal Space Program may come to dominate your free time. So, how do you get started? Check out these ten tips and you’ll be go for launch before you know it.

Play the tutorial and take it slow

You might be tempted to think that getting from one planet to another in a rocket is simply a matter of charting an intercept course and burning fuel. Ah, if only it were that easy. Traversing the emptiness of space is actually all about controlling your orbit.

Playing the tutorial before you start building rockets is a good idea. After all, even the best designs will crash and burn (literally) if you don’t know the basics of piloting. In the tutorial, you’ll learn how to read the nav ball, burn at perigee and apogee, perform a Hohmann transfer, and more.

Your first few rockets ought to be simple and cheap so you can practice without blowing up anything (or anyone) important. Work up to the complicated stuff gradually — reach space, orbit Kerbin, build satellites, and so on. Most people who try Kerbal Space Program never even make it to Kerbin’s closest moon, conveniently called Mun. Keep a cool head and you can be one of them.

Choose the right game mode

In Kerbal Space Program, you manage a space program on the planet Kerbin, which resides in a solar system not unlike our own. There are small rocky planets, moons, and gas giants to explore. There are three ways to play: sandbox, science, and career.

Sandbox has all technologies unlocked and you have unlimited funds to build your rockets and space planes. In science mode you begin only with basic rocketry technology and unlock more parts by exploring, taking readings with instruments, and collecting samples. You still don’t have to worry about money in science mode, though.

Finally, there’s career mode, which is the “real” game. You unlock technology with science points, but those rockets are expensive! You have to earn cash to pay for your launches by completing contracts (randomly generated missions) and implementing administrative policies. This mode is more challenging, but also much more fun.

Failure is part of the fun

Your first rocket will probably blow up. Heck, numbers two and three are probably at risk too. Sometimes figuring out why a design failed is as fun as building and flying a working one. Kerbal Space Program teaches you not to fear failure, and you can always revert a flight to before you blew it up and try things differently.

Even when a mission goes wrong and your brave Kerbalnauts are stranded, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Now you get to design and launch a rescue mission.

Mind your center of gravity and aerodynamics

The building interface in Kerbal Space Program includes a tool that shows you a rocket’s center of gravity. Use this to make sure you aren’t wasting time trying to get a top-heavy design into space. This is one of the primary reasons your early designs will fail. You also need to take into account how that center of gravity will change as your fuel tanks are emptied.

If your center of gravity is off, you’ll have trouble aiming the rocket in the right direction. RCS thrusters and reaction wheels can help you wrestle a somewhat awkward design to its destination, but that’ll only get you so far.

Aerodynamics really matter in the big 1.0 update. Previously, you could get just about anything into orbit if it was balanced well, but now you need to make sure your payload doesn’t have too much drag. Start by making your rockets shaped like a rocket. Simple. Also, make use of the new procedural fairings to cover the payload and make it more efficient for the ascent stage.

When in doubt, add struts

Even if you’ve come up with a well-balanced design for a rocket, you might find it’s a little droopy on the launchpad. Just because two parts are physically connected in Kerbal Space Program doesn’t mean they will stay that way under acceleration. Luckily, there are struts.

These parts are in the structural tab when you’re assembling your craft. They are especially useful for strengthening the connection between stages where your docking ports or decouplers act as a weak point. Simply attach them anywhere you need a little more support. They weigh very little and will automatically disconnect to release stages.

You aren’t dumb, docking is hard

You can only get so much mass into orbit at a time, and that means you might occasionally have to assemble larger craft in orbit or refuel at a space station (which you also have to build). Doing all these things requires docking two craft. It involves very precise control of your orbit, speed, and angle of approach.

Your first attempt at docking will be discouraging, as this is one of the first advanced skills you learn in Kerbal Space Program. Just look up some tutorials on YouTube (here’s a good one) and give it a try. Once you sort out the steps and learn how to read your orbital map, it won’t seem so intimidating.

Pay attention to delta-v

The delta-v of a rocket is its ability to change velocity, and it’s the key to knowing how big to make a rocket. If you want to get really sciency, you can do some math to calculate the delta-v of your designs, which is a function of the mass of your rocket and the amount of thrust it can produce. Kerbal Space Program is designed to be extendable, so there are mods you can add that crunch the numbers for you.

The delta-v figures for reaching various destinations in the solar system are posted all over the internet, so it’s a relatively simple matter to design the right rocket for a task. Just make sure you’re efficient. Use multi-stage designs to dump dead weight so it doesn’t drain your fuel.

Level up your Kerbals

There are three different classes of Kerbalnauts: pilots, engineers, and scientists. Every manned mission needs a pilot, but the other Kerbals serve their purpose too. Scientists increase the value of data you send back to Kerbin, and engineers can repair your craft if something breaks. A fully leveled pilot also has more control over vectors in flight. The catch is that they need to have experience first.

The level system was added fairly recently and adds a little incentive to keep your Kerbals alive. They gain a few experience points for orbiting, landing on planets, planting flags, and so on. Make sure you don’t always fly the same Kerbals or you might find yourself in trouble when a rescue mission comes up. Basically, make sure you’ve got a deep bench.


One of the big additions to version 1.0 is resource mining, and it can totally change the way you play this game. Ore is available in various quantities all around the solar system, and with the right equipment, you can mine it and produce fuel. This allows you to plan extended missions because you don’t have to fly all your fuel up from Kerbin.

Mining equipment is heavy and oversized, but that’s probably intentional. There are storage containers, drills, and scanners. It takes a lot of planning to set up a viable mining operation, but it wouldn’t be any fun if it were too easy. Before you can find the best ore deposits, you need to send a scanner to survey each body, but once you do, you can set up refueling depots and expand your reach.

As mentioned above, Kerbal Space Program is very mod-friendly. The stock game has filled in the feature gaps over the years, but there are still plenty of cool mods. Some of them change the gameplay, and others add new parts to augment your vessels.

You should probably check out MechJeb, which can be used to display detailed information about your spacecraft and also includes various autopilot features. MechJeb can automate a lot of tasks if you let it, but I think it’s best used to speed up some of the tedious bits of the game. For example, some low-thrust, high-efficiency engines might require you to execute a burn of several minutes to alter your orbit. Why not let MechJeb do that for you?

Kerbal Alarm Clock is also a valuable mod that reminds you when you need to check in on a mission. As you get deeper into Kerbal Space Program, you’re going to launch missions that take years of game time. Rather than speed up time and wait around, you can do other things and come back. Kerbal Alarm Clock makes sure you don’t forget.

If you really just want to play around with Kerbal Space Program and don’t care about “rules,” there’s Hyperedit. This mod allows you to alter anything about your orbit or location of ships, asteroids, and even planets. It can be a lot of fun to play around with, but also handy for compensating for any bugs you might come across.

One final word of warning, mods that add new parts to the game can cause issues when KSP is updated. If they aren’t compatible, you’ll have to wait for the mod developer to update. Otherwise, the game simply won’t load any craft you’ve built that include those parts.

If you follow the above steps, we don’t guarantee that you’ll become the most decorated Kerbalnaut the world has ever known, but we do guarantee that you’ll get to live longer than most of your Kerbalnaut peers.

This Nasa astronaut is set to create record for longest spaceflight by a woman – SCIENCE News

This Nasa astronaut is set to create record for longest spaceflight by a woman

Nasa astronaut Christina Koch is going to have her mission on the International Space Station extended to 328 days.

A National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) astronaut is all set to set a record for longest spaceflight by a woman.

Nasa astronaut Christina Koch is going to have her mission on the International Space Station (ISS) extended to 328 days. This would set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, the US space agency said.

Nasa and its ISS partners have set a new schedule and new crew assignments that will include the first flight of Nasa astronaut Jessica Meir and an extended stay for Nasa astronaut Andrew Morgan.


Christina Koch, who arrived at the space station on March 14, and now is scheduled to remain in orbit until February, 2020, will eclipse the record of 288 days set by former Nasa astronaut Peggy Whitson in 2016-17.

She will be part of three expeditions — 59, 60 and 61 — during her current first spaceflight, Nasa said in a statement.

“Christina’s extended mission will provide additional data for Nasa’s Human Research Program and continue to support future missions to the Moon and Mars,” Jennifer Fogarty, chief scientist of the Human Research Program at Nasa’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, US, said.

Her mission is planned to be just shy of the longest single spaceflight by a Nasa astronaut — 340 days, set by former Nasa astronaut Scott Kelly during his one-year mission in 2015-16.

Christina Koch and fellow Nasa astronaut Nick Hague, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin will remain aboard the space station and begin Expedition 60.

On July 20, Morgan, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov are scheduled to launch to the space station and join Expedition 60, returning the orbiting laboratory’s crew complement to six.

The extended missions of Christina Koch and Morgan will help scientists gather additional data about the effects of long-duration human spaceflight beyond those of the normal six-month station expedition, Nasa said.


Such research is essential to support future deep space exploration missions to the Moon and Mars, according to the US space agency.

Nasa has gathered vast amounts of data on astronaut health and performance over the past 50 years and has focused recently on extended durations up to one year with the dedicated mission of Scott Kelly and extended mission of Peggy Whitson.

These opportunities also have demonstrated that there is a significant degree of variability in human response to spaceflight and it is important to determine the acceptable degree of change for both men and women.

“Astronauts demonstrate amazing resilience and adaptability in response to long duration spaceflight exposure,” Fogarty said.

“This will enable successful exploration missions with healthy, performance-ready astronauts.

“Nasa is looking to build on what we have learned with additional astronauts in space for more than 250 days,” she said.

How to watch space launches as they happen – The Verge

How to watch space launches as they happen

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George Méliès’ 1902 film A Trip to the Moon has been watched by countless film and science fiction buffs. Besides its innovative (for the time) effects, one reason for its enduring popularity is humanity’s fascination with the idea of space travel. Today, however, we have an advantage that has nothing to do with special effects. We can watch real rockets go to space.

Most of us aren’t aware of how many launches take place each year. Besides flights to and from the International Space Station (ISS), there are satellites being sent into orbit, exploratory craft, and new technologies being tested. And because current technologies allow us to view the process to a greater extent than ever before (with more actual footage and less reliance on animation), it is even more interesting to watch than it was a generation ago.

Want to know when and where to view a space launch? There are a variety of online sites and mobile apps that can give you an entryway into the world of launch-watching. Here are some places to try:

Online Sites

NASA Launches and Landings

NASA’s site offers a good amount of information about any launches involving the organization, its facilities, and the ISS. Links on the site lead to information about each launch and live coverage.


Elon Musk’s company keeps information about its activities front and center on the site. Its webcast page lets you know how long until the next launch and links to the YouTube live broadcast. You can also set a reminder.

Kennedy Space Center / Launches & Events

If you live near Florida’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex or are planning to visit, you definitely want to check out its schedule of launches and events. Watching a launch on video is cool, but watching one in person is infinitely cooler. You can watch a launch from the main visitor complex or from special viewing areas (if you’re willing to pay a little more).

Spaceflight Now Launch Schedule

If you want to watch (or at least be aware of) launches outside of NASA and SpaceX’s purview, Spaceflight Now is a good resource. This site lists upcoming launches from India, China, Russia, and other space-capable nations.

Verge Science’s space page

Last but certainly not least, The Verge’s space page isn’t a bad place to get the latest news on the latest launches.

Mobile Apps

While watching a launch on a phone may provide a somewhat miniature view, mobile apps can keep you up to date with ongoing status reports. Even better, they can send you notifications so you know when a launch is about to happen (or if a planned launch has been pushed to a later date).

There are a number of apps out there, but these three are available for both iOS and Android:

Next Spaceflight (Android / iOS)

Next Spaceflight starts with a list of upcoming launches. Select one, and you get more complete information along with a link to the launch. You can also see the status of previous launches together with videos. The app also includes news articles, a Twitter feed, and descriptions of the various vehicles.

Space Launch Now

Space Launch Now displays the status of the next launch on its front page, with a countdown clock, a description of its purpose, and a link that leads to more info and the YouTube feed. There’s also info on the ISS, on all the astronauts who have been in space, and upcoming events of interest.

Space Launch Schedule

Space Launch Schedule also opens on the next upcoming launch, and it includes a countdown and links to more info, the feed, and (when available) where you can view it in person.

NASA administrator on new Moon plan: ‘We’re doing this in a way that’s never been done before’

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Axiom Space plans first-ever fully private human spaceflight mission to International Space Station

Spaceflight now live

Press Release From: Axiom Space
Posted: Friday, March 6, 2020

Today Axiom Space announced it is planning history’s first fully private human spaceflight mission to the International Space Station.

Axiom has signed a contract with SpaceX for a Crew Dragon flight which will transport a commander professionally trained by Axiom alongside three private astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The mission, set to launch as soon as the second half of 2021, will allow the crew to live aboard the ISS and experience at least eight days of microgravity and views of Earth that can only be fully appreciated in the large, venerable station.

“This history-making flight will represent a watershed moment in the march toward universal and routine access to space,” Axiom CEO Michael Suffredini said. “This will be just the first of many missions to ISS to be completely crewed and managed by Axiom Space – a first for a commercial entity. Procuring the transportation marks significant progress toward that goal, and we’re glad to be working with SpaceX in this effort.”

This is the first of Axiom’s proposed “precursor missions” to the ISS envisioned under its Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA. Discussions with NASA are underway to establish additional enabling agreements for the private astronaut missions to ISS.

Axiom plans to offer professional and private astronaut flights to ISS at a rate of up to two per year to align with flight opportunities as they are made available by NASA, while simultaneously constructing its own privately funded space station.

“Since 2012, SpaceX has been delivering cargo to the International Space Station in partnership with NASA and later this year, we will fly NASA astronauts for the first time,” said SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell. “Now, thanks to Axiom and their support from NASA, privately crewed missions will have unprecedented access to the space station, furthering the commercialization of space and helping usher in a new era of human exploration.”

With its team’s vast experience in human spaceflight, Axiom serves as a one-stop shop overseeing all elements of its missions. In addition to contracting with SpaceX for a Crew Dragon vehicle to transport its crew to the ISS, Axiom’s turnkey service for the mission – two days in transit and at least eight days aboard the ISS – includes training, mission planning, hardware development, life support, medical support, crew provisions, hardware and safety certifications, on-orbit operations and overall mission management.

NASA recently selected Axiom’s proposal to attach its space station modules to the ISS beginning in the second half of 2024, ultimately creating a new ‘Axiom Segment’ which will expand the station’s usable and habitable volume. When the ISS reaches its retirement date, the Axiom complex will detach and operate as a free-flying commercial space station.

By serving the market for immediate access to space while building the future platform for a global user base, Axiom is leading the development and settlement of low Earth orbit now and into the future.

Axiom Space was founded in 2016 with the aim of creating humanity’s home in space to ensure a prosperous future for everyone, everywhere. While building and launching the Axiom Segment of the International Space Station to one day form the world’s first commercial space station, Axiom provides access to the ISS today by conducting crewed missions for professional and private astronauts. More information about Axiom can be found at

For media inquiries: Beau Holder В

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