China moves rocket into place for upcoming Mars mission

BEIJING (AP) — China has moved a rocket into position to launch a rover to Mars in one of three upcoming missions to the red planet, one from the U.S. and another by the United Arab Emirates.

The Long March-5 carrier rocket is China’s heaviest-lift launch vehicle and has been used experimentally three times, but never with a payload. Dubbed Tianwen-1, China’s mission to Mars aims to land a rover to gather scientific data.

The rocket is due to blast off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in the southern island province of Hainan in late July or early August, according to state media reports Friday that quoted the China National Space Administration.

The mission is one of the most ambitious yet for China’s space program, which has advanced rapidly since launching its first crewed mission in 2003. Since then, it has sent astronauts to an experimental space station, begun work on a larger, more permanent facility and landed a probe on the less-explored far side of the moon.

This summe…

UAE's historic Mars launch now planned for Sunday evening

The United Arab Emirates' historic science mission to Mars now is scheduled for launch from Japan on Sunday.

Liftoff is planned at 5:58 p.m. EDT for the Japanese H-2A rocket carrying the Emirati orbiting satellite, named Hope, from the Tanegashima Space Center about 450 miles south of Hiroshima. The local launch time is 6:58 a.m. Monday.

Weather concerns caused two delays over the past week, but the outlook for the south Japan island space center is better Sunday, meteorologists said.

The UAE aims to become the first Arab nation to launch a spacecraft to another planet. The nation chose the Mars science mission as a way to catalyze the technology and space industries there.

Only the United States, Russia, the European Space Agency and India sent spacecraft to Mars.

The launch is to be followed by a Chinese Tianwen-1 Mars mission launch planned for July 23, and then NASA's Mars Perseverance rover no earlier than July 30.

The UAE plans a February 2021 arrival at Mars, to coinci…

More than 2,400 airmen to transfer to U.S. Space Force in September

The 2,410 airmen selected to transfer are all from space operations career fields.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force has selected 2,410 airmen to transfer to the new branch starting Sept. 1, officials announced July 16. These airmen were selected from more than 8,500 who applied to transfer to the Space Force.

The airmen selected are all from space operations career fields. They have volunteered to leave the U.S. Air Force and will either commission or enlist, as applicable for officers or enlisted, into the Space Force.

Last month the Space Force said more than 8,500 active-duty airmen from a broad range of career fields applied to join the space branch.

“This is an exciting and historic time for these space operators who will be some of the first members to join the Space Force,” Lt. Gen. David “DT” Thompson, vice commander of the U.S Space Force, said in a statement.

Members selected for transfer will be personally notified later this month with instructions for required administr…

Gaganyaan: India to soon join elite club of countries capable of human spaceflight

After Russia, United States and China, India is set to become the 4th country capable of sending astronauts in outer space.

ISRO‘s Gaganyaan mission is planned to take place in December 2021 or the initial months of 2022.

“Gaganyaan” literally means Sky Craft.

Gaganyaan is modeled to carry three people, and a planned upgraded version will be provided with rendezvous and docking ability. In its maiden crewed mission, ISRO’s largely independent 3.7-tonne capsule will orbit the Earth at 400 kilometres altitude for up to seven days with a three-person crew on board. The crewed vehicle is planned to be launched on ISRO‘s GSLV Mk III in December 2021. This Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) developed crew module had its first un-crewed experimental flight on December 18, 2014. As of May 2019, design of the crew module has been completed Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will empower assistance for critical human-centric systems and technologies like space grade food, cre…

SpaceX Starship event expected this September, says Elon Musk

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has implied that he will continue the tradition of annual Starship update events later this year, likely presenting on the progress the company has made over the last 12 months at its South Texas rocket factory.

Beginning in Guadalajara, Mexico at the September 2016 International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Musk has presented a detailed annual update on the status of SpaceX’s next-generation Starship launch vehicle in September or October for the last four years. Formerly known as the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) and Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), Starship is effectively a continuation of the unprecedented progress SpaceX has made with Falcon 9 and Heavy reusability.

SpaceX has managed to reliably reuse Falcon boosters 5+ times and is on the way to replicating that with payload fairings, but Musk has concluded that the Falcon family – despite being some of the largest operational rockets in existence – is just too small to feasibly recover and reuse the orbit…

Astronomers have found a planet like Earth orbiting a star like the sun

The discovery of the exoplanet KOI-456.04 orbiting the star Kepler-160 suggests we should more aggressively look for habitable planets around sun-like stars.

Three thousand light-years from Earth sits Kepler 160, a sun-like star that’s already thought to have three planets in its system. Now researchers think they’ve found a fourth. Planet KOI-456.04, as it’s called, appears similar to Earth in size and orbit, raising new hopes we’ve found perhaps the best candidate yet for a habitable exoplanet that resembles our home world. The new findings bolster the case for devoting more time to looking for planets orbiting stars like Kepler-160 and our sun, where there’s a better chance a planet can receive the kind of illumination that’s amenable to life.

Most exoplanet discoveries so far have been made around red dwarf stars. This isn’t totally unexpected; red dwarfs are the most common type of star out there. And our main method for finding exoplanets involves looking for stellar transits—pe…

Elon Musk Tells SpaceX Workers Starship Rocket Is Top Priority: CNBC

Elon Musk has told SpaceX employees to focus on the mission to send people to the moon and Mars as their top priority following the company’s success in sending astronauts into orbit last month.

Musk called on employees to accelerate the pace of progress for the company’s Starship rocket program “dramatically and immediately,” CNBC reported, citing a company-wide email it had seen.

“Please consider the top SpaceX priority (apart from anything that could reduce Dragon return risk) to be Starship,” Musk wrote.

Starship is aimed to be fully reusable and function more like a commercial airplane, with the goal of carrying as many as 100 people at a time.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully sent two astronauts into space to board the International Space Station, marking the first time humans have been sent into orbit in a commercially developed craft.

SpaceX did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Musk’s email.