Virgin Galactic has hired two new pilots for its SpaceShipTwo flights. Frederick “CJ” Sturckow is a former US Marine Corps fighter jet pilot and an ex-NASA astronaut who flew four times on the Space Shuttle commanding two of the missions. Michael “Sooch” Masucci is a retired U.S. Air Force (USAF) fast jet and U-2 test pilot who joins Virgin Galactic from the private airline XOJET Inc where he flew Citation X aircraft.
Archive | May, 2013
While the economic benefits of refuelling in orbit have been questioned, progress has at least been made in testing out the concept. On 10 May, the Canadian Dextre Robot and the International Space Station’s Canadarm 2 were stood down after completing their experiemnts into satellite refuelling/serviciing techniques as part of the Robotic Refuelling Mission (RRM).
The Mobile Launcher (ML) which had been built provide services to the planned Ares V launch vehicle of Project Constellation will not go to waste despite the cancellation of that programme. It will now be used to carry the heavy lift SLS (Space Launch System) to its launch pad (39B) at the Kennedy Sapce Center.
Having previously launched a jointly owned Chinasat 12 (Supremesat 1) together, the Sri Lankan satellite operator SupremeSat has elected to order a fully owned satellite Supremesat 2 from CGWIC (China Great Wall Industries Corp) as part of a turnkey deal to constructed and launch the satellite. The deal, which includes a Long March launch in 2016 was signed on 30 May and is worth $215 million. The satellite is likely to use the DFH-4 bus design built by CGWIC’s subcontractor and sister organisation CAST and its Dongfanghong Satellite Company subisidiary.
The US satellite manufacturing arm of Orbital Sciences Corp has been selected for the construction of the Palapa E communications satellite by Indosat. According to Space News, the firm has been authorised via a contract to order long lead items. The satellite will be launched in 2016 and will operate over the longitude of 150.5E in Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO).
The 17th International Space Conference held in Rome in May 2013, concentrated on the various threats and hazards to and from space. Organised by Pagnanelli Risk Solutions, its head Benito Paganelli noted at the start that while major space storms affecting Earth are a relatively low frequency event, their potential for major damage meant that they had to be taken seriously.
The Soyuz TMA-09M mission was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome (near Tyuratam in Kazakhstan) at 2013 GMT on 28 May 2013 on a Soyuz FG launch vehicle. Aboard the launch was a crew of three: Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, US NASA Astronaut Karen Nyberg, and Italian ESA astronaut, Luca Parmitano. The spacecraft docked at 0210 GMT on 29 May with the International Space Station’s Rassvet module.
The WGS-5 (Wideband Global Satcom 5) communications satellite was successfully launched for the US Air Force by a Delta IVM+ 5,4 launch vehicle operated by the United Launch Alliance which lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 0027GMT on 25 May 2013. The satellite, which was built by Boeing using a version of its BSS-702HP bus, is designed to be part of the constellation of satellites providing global communicaitons coverage to US forces. The launch was delayed from the day before due to a fault with ground support system helium pressurization line.
GOES-13 (East) has experienced an anomaly at 0340 GMT on 22 September 2012 and fell into a safe/storage mode. In not now being pointed at the Earth, it is unable to generate imagery of the planet. The reserve spacecraft GOES-14 is being brought in to replace it for the Goes East weather montioring function for the US NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
Ecuador’s fiirst satellite NEE 1 (Pegasso) has apparently failed in orbit after an alleged debris strike which had be expected to take place at 0538 GMT on 23 May 2013. According to reports, the nanosat class spacecraft of under 2kg mass, which was launched on 25 April, was stuck by incidental debris near a rocket upper stage from a Soviet-era Tsyklon-3 launch vehicle. The satellite has ceased transmitting and an assessment of the damage is on going. A “lateral collision” glancing blow by the debris on the satellite was confirmed by the The Joint Space Operations Center in the United States.
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