We have added an additional area of coverage to Aerospace Tech Review – Space. There is so much happening in this area right now we just had to start covering it. It also relates and is interconnected in so many ways to our other areas of coverage that it just made sense to begin covering it. Let’s take a quick look at a few of the incredible things happening in space right now.
NASA, The European Space Agency, the German Space Agency DLR, Roscosmos and other countries are all cooperating on numerous research projects that often have highly beneficial applications back on Earth in medicine, agriculture, mechanical engineering and land surveying. They are conducting ongoing experiments on the space station and exploring our neighbor planet, Mars.
Russia’s Roscosmos (Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities), announced this week that work has already begun on a new national space station, a follow-on to their Salyut and Mir stations, from the 70s and 80s. The BBC reported Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, posted a video to the on the Telegram app saying, “the first core module of the new Russian orbital station is in the works” and could be complete by 2025.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts are in orbit following an early morning launch bound for the International Space Station for the second commercial crew rotation mission aboard the microgravity laboratory. The international crew of astronauts lifted off Friday April 23 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Just a few days later a trash-packed Russian cargo craft departed the ISS on Tuesday, April 27. Four astronauts are targeting Saturday May 1 for their return to Earth and splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. NASA and SpaceX managers were monitoring the weather at the splashdown site as we went to press just before that event.
“It has been an incredible year for NASA and our Commercial Crew Program, with three crewed launches to the space station since last May,” NASA Acting Administrator Steve Jurczyk said. “This is another important milestone for NASA, SpaceX, and our international partners at ESA and JAXA, and for the future of scientific research on board the space station.”
The second commercial crew mission to fly a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut successfully put two JAXA astronauts on station at the same time in April.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX, once a wild fantasy, is an integral part of much of what is happening with NASA right now. “I’m really proud of the SpaceX team and honored to be partnered with NASA and helping JAXA and ESA as well,” said Elon Musk, chief engineer at SpaceX. “We’re thrilled to be a part of advancing human spaceflight and looking forward to going beyond Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars and helping make humanity a space-faring civilization and a multi-planet species one day.”
Crew-2 also is the first commercial crew mission to fly an ESA astronaut. Pesquet is the first of three ESA crew members assigned to fly to station on commercial crew spacecraft, kicking off a continuous stay of ESA astronauts on the space station for about a year and a half – in total – for the first time in more than 20 years.
“This is a thrilling time for human spaceflight and this new success of the Commercial Crew Program embodies it – congratulations once again to NASA and SpaceX,” said David Parker, director of human and robotic exploration at ESA. “Starting with astronaut Thomas Pesquet, ESA is delighted to join this new space station chapter, paving the way to the future of exploration side by side with diverse partners. Six months of excellent science and state-of-the-art technology demonstrations now await him, and we know he cannot wait to start working.”
At the end of March 2021.Virgin Galactic unveiled their first Spaceship III in its growing fleet, the VSS Imagine. The company says Spaceship III showcases Virgin Galactic’s innovation in design and astronaut experience. Virgin Galactic also demonstrated progress toward efficient design and production, as they work to scale the business for the long-term. VSS Imagine will begin ground testing, with glide flights planned for this summer from Spaceport America in New Mexico.
Meanwhile in Maine, startup blueShift is busy designing and manufacturing their rocket and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in a crowd-sourcing campaign conducted earlier in April 2021. blueShift says they are “developing a unique line of rockets powered by bio-derived fuels to launch tiny satellites into space.”
The U.S. Space Force (USSF) celebrated its first anniversary and secured a public nod from President Biden’s administration. The acknowledgement from the Biden Administration seems to indicate the United States’ newest military branch will live on, allowing Space Force leadership to go forward with their mission.
The U.S. Space Force hosted its first Space Engagement Talks (SET) with the Israeli Air Force during virtual sessions April 19-20.
The talks brought the two nations together and showed a shared interest in ensuring access to and peaceful use of outer space, the agencies said.
As one of only nine countries in the world to have indigenous launch capabilities, Israel is poised to collaborate with the U.S. on various projects. Possessing its own space program since 1981, and the U.S. and Israeli space partnership further reinforces an already strong security relationship.
This rundown doesn’t even begin to cover all that is happening in the space industry right now.
Watch for our space news; we will be covering this area on a regular basis on our website, in the magazine and in webinars going forward.