NASA names two more astronauts to ISS crews
The agency said Monday that Andrew Feustel and Jeanette Epps will go to the station as part of the Expedition 55/56 and 56/57 crews, respectively, launching in March and May of 2018.
Feustel flew on two shuttle missions, the STS-125 Hubble repair flight in 2009 and the final flight of Endeavour, STS-134, in 2011.
Epps will be making her first spaceflight, and will also be the first African-American ISS crewmember. [Space.com]
NASA says its Discovery program of planetary science missions is back on track after picking two asteroid missions Wednesday. Lucy, scheduled for launch in 2021, will travel to asteroids known as Trojans that share Jupiter’s orbit around the sun and may be relics from the formation of the solar system. Psyche, set to launch in 2023, will visit the metal asteroid of the same name that may be the remnant of the core of a planet that broke apart in the early history of the solar system. NASA also decided to fund continued studies of NEOCam, a space telescope designed to look for near Earth objects, for an additional year. The selection of the missions, the first chosen in the Discovery program since 2012, are intended to put the program back onto a path of choosing new missions approximately every three years. [SpaceNews]
Arianespace announced Wednesday it has won contracts for the launch of two satellites. Arianespace will launch Intelsat-39 in the second half of 2018 and Sky Perfect JSAT’s JCSAT-17 in 2019. The company said it signed 13 contracts overall in 2016, including Intelsat-39 and JCSAT-17, and recorded revenues of 1.4 billion euros in the year. Arianespace is planning 12 launches in 2017: seven using the Ariane 5, three of the Vega, and two Soyuz missions. [SpaceNews]
The launch of the JPSS-1 weather satellite has slipped again. The polar-orbiting weather satellite, previously scheduled to launch in March, is now scheduled for launch between July and September. NOAA said “technical issues discovered during environmental testing” of the satellite and one of its instruments, as well as problems with its ground system, caused the latest delay. Similar issues last year delayed the launch from January to March. [SpaceNews]
SpaceX’s return to flight of the Falcon 9 has reportedly been pushed back a day. Notices to pilots and mariners updated late Wednesday now say the launch is planned for Monday, rather than Sunday as the company announced earlier this week. Neither SpaceX nor the customer for the launch, Iridium, have confirmed the delay, but a static-fire test planned prior to the launch has not taken place yet. [Noozhawk]
India has added 20 more satellites to an already-crowded manifest for a launch next month. A director with the Indian space agency ISRO said Wednesday that a PSLV launch scheduled for February will now carry 103 satellites, up from 83 previously announced for the mission. All but three of the satellites are foreign, and virtually all are cubesat-class spacecraft. ISRO didn’t disclose which satellites are being added to the launch. The launch’s primary payload is the Cartosat-2D remote sensing spacecraft. [PTI]
A puzzling astronomical phenomenon has been tracked down to a galaxy far, far away. So-called “fast radio bursts” last for just a fraction of a second, but have the power equivalent of up to half a billion suns. Astronomers have struggled to pinpoint where these bursts originate, but in a study published this week were able to identify the location for one such burst, which comes from a dwarf galaxy far smaller than the Milky Way and 2.5 billion light-years away. What causes such bursts is still unclear. [Nature]
NOAA has awarded a contract to provide ground network services for the upcoming COSMIC-2 satellite constellation. Atlas Space Operations announced this week it won a contract to support the COSMIC-2 system, including building a tracking station in Ghana. The company did not disclose the value of the contract, which has one base year and four option years. COSMIC-2 will ultimately have 12 satellites that will provide GPS radio occultation data to support weather forecasting. [Atlas Space]
Saturn 5 rocket engines recovered from the ocean floor by Jeff Bezos will go on display in Seattle later this year. The Museum of Flight announced Wednesdaythat the F-1 engine parts, recovered in 2013 by an expedition funded by Bezos, will go on display at the museum in a new exhibit opening in May. The exhibit will also include lunar rocks returned by the Apollo missions and other artifacts. [collectSPACE]
Former Soviet cosmonaut Igor Volk passed away Tuesday at the age of 79.Volk flew on one mission, a Soyuz flight to the Salyut 7 space station in 1980. He later became head of cosmonaut training for the Soviet shuttle program, Buran, which was cancelled before flying any crewed missions. [TASS]