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      Rocket Report: Firefly delivers for NASA; Polaris Dawn launching this month

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Friday, 5 July - 22:14 · 1 minute

    Four kerosene-fueled Reaver engines power Firefly's Alpha rocket off the pad at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California.

    Enlarge / Four kerosene-fueled Reaver engines power Firefly's Alpha rocket off the pad at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. (credit: Firefly Aerospace )

    Welcome to Edition 7.01 of the Rocket Report! We're compiling this week's report a day later than usual due to the Independence Day holiday. Ars is beginning its seventh year publishing this weekly roundup of rocket news, and there's a lot of it this week despite the holiday here in the United States. Worldwide, there were 122 launches that flew into Earth orbit or beyond in the first half of 2024, up from 91 in the same period last year.

    As always, we welcome reader submissions , and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

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    Firefly launches its fifth Alpha flight. Firefly Aerospace placed eight CubeSats into orbit on a mission funded by NASA on the first flight of the company’s Alpha rocket since an upper stage malfunction more than half a year ago, Space News reports . The two-stage Alpha rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California late Wednesday, two days after an issue with ground equipment aborted liftoff just before engine ignition. The eight CubeSats come from NASA centers and universities for a range of educational, research, and technology demonstration missions. This was the fifth flight of Firefly's Alpha rocket, capable of placing about a metric ton of payload into low-Earth orbit.

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      There’s not enough room for Starship at Cape Canaveral, SpaceX rivals claim

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Friday, 5 July - 18:43

    SpaceX launches Falcon 9 rockets from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The company plans to develop Starship launch infrastructure at Pad 39A and Pad 37. United Launch Alliance flies Vulcan and Atlas V rockets from Pad 41, and Blue Origin will base its New Glenn rocket at Pad 36.

    Enlarge / SpaceX launches Falcon 9 rockets from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The company plans to develop Starship launch infrastructure at Pad 39A and Pad 37. United Launch Alliance flies Vulcan and Atlas V rockets from Pad 41, and Blue Origin will base its New Glenn rocket at Pad 36. (credit: NASA (labels by Ars Technica))

    United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin are worried about SpaceX's plans to launch its enormous Starship rocket from Florida.

    In documents submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration last month, ULA and Blue Origin raised concerns about the impact of Starship launch operations on their own activities on Florida's Space Coast. Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos' space company, urged the federal government to consider capping the number of Starship launches and landings, test-firings, and other operations, and limiting SpaceX's activities to particular times.

    Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, called Blue Origin's filing with the FAA "an obviously disingenuous response. Not cool of them to try (for the third time) to impede SpaceX’s progress by lawfare." We'll get to that in a moment.

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      To guard against cyberattacks in space, researchers ask “what if?”

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Friday, 5 July - 18:34

    Complex space systems like the International Space Station could be vulnerable to hackers.

    Enlarge / Complex space systems like the International Space Station could be vulnerable to hackers. (credit: NASA )

    If space systems such as GPS were hacked and knocked offline , much of the world would instantly be returned to the communications and navigation technologies of the 1950s. Yet space cybersecurity is largely invisible to the public at a time of heightened geopolitical tensions.

    Cyberattacks on satellites have occurred since the 1980s , but the global wake-up alarm went off only a couple of years ago. An hour before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, its government operatives hacked Viasat’s satellite-Internet services to cut off communications and create confusion in Ukraine.

    I study ethics and emerging technologies and serve as an adviser to the US National Space Council. My colleagues and I at California Polytechnic State University’s Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group released a US National Science Foundation-funded report on June 17, 2024, to explain the problem of cyberattacks in space and help anticipate novel and surprising scenarios .

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      Is there life on one of Saturn’s moons? Scientists plan a mission to find out

      news.movim.eu / TheGuardian · Saturday, 15 June - 12:00

    The discovery of water on Enceladus excited the scientific world – now, by 2040 a robot probe will investigate if we are alone in the universe

    It is a tiny world, a mere 310 miles in diameter, and was considered until recently to be one of the least interesting moons in the solar system. But Enceladus, one of 146 moons that orbit Saturn, has become a hot astronomical attraction – scientists have discovered that it offers one of the best prospects of finding life on another world in our solar system.

    The European Space Agency (Esa) has announced it has begun planning a mission to take a robot probe across a billion miles of space to investigate.

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      Blue Origin joins SpaceX and ULA in new round of military launch contracts

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Friday, 14 June - 23:19

    Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket on the launch pad for testing earlier this year.

    Enlarge / Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket on the launch pad for testing earlier this year. (credit: Blue Origin )

    After years of lobbying, protests and bidding, Jeff Bezos's space company is now a military launch contractor.

    The US Space Force announced Thursday that Blue Origin will compete with United Launch Alliance and SpaceX for at least 30 military launch contracts over the next five years. These launch contracts have a combined value of up to $5.6 billion.

    This is the first of two major contract decisions the Space Force will make this year as the military seeks to foster more competition among its roster of launch providers, and reduce its reliance on just one or two companies.

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      Retired engineer discovers 55-year-old bug in Lunar Lander computer game code

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Friday, 14 June - 18:04 · 1 minute

    Illustration of the Apollo lunar lander Eagle over the Moon.

    Enlarge / Illustration of the Apollo lunar lander Eagle over the Moon. (credit: Getty Images )

    On Friday, a retired software engineer named Martin C. Martin announced that he recently discovered a bug in the original Lunar Lander computer game's physics code while tinkering with the software. Created by a 17-year-old high school student named Jim Storer in 1969, this primordial game rendered the action only as text status updates on a teletype , but it set the stage for future versions to come.

    The legendary game—which Storer developed on a PDP-8 minicomputer in a programming language called FOCAL just months after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their historic moonwalks—allows players to control a lunar module's descent onto the Moon's surface. Players must carefully manage their fuel usage to achieve a gentle landing, making critical decisions every ten seconds to burn the right amount of fuel.

    In 2009, just short of the 40th anniversary of the first Moon landing, I set out to find the author of the original Lunar Lander game, which was then primarily known as a graphical game, thanks to the graphical version from 1974 and a 1979 Atari arcade title . When I discovered that Storer created the oldest known version as a teletype game, I interviewed him and wrote up a history of the game . Storer later released the source code to the original game, written in FOCAL, on his website.

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      Rocket Report: Starship is on the clock; Virgin Galactic at a crossroads

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Friday, 14 June - 11:00 · 1 minute

    The payload fairing for the first test flight of Europe's Ariane 6 rocket has been positioned around the small batch of satellites that will ride it into orbit.

    Enlarge / The payload fairing for the first test flight of Europe's Ariane 6 rocket has been positioned around the small batch of satellites that will ride it into orbit. (credit: ESA/M. Pédoussaut )

    Welcome to Edition 6.48 of the Rocket Report! Fresh off last week's dramatic test flight of SpaceX's Starship, teams in Texas are wasting no time gearing up for the next launch. Ground crews are replacing the entire heat shield on the next Starship spacecraft to overcome deficiencies identified on last week's flight. SpaceX has a whole lot to accomplish with Starship in the next several months if NASA is going to land astronauts on the Moon by the end of 2026.

    As always, we welcome reader submissions , and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

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    Virgin Galactic won't be flying again any time soon. After an impressive but brief flurry of spaceflight activity—seven human spaceflights in a year, even to suborbital space, is unprecedented for a private company—Virgin Galactic will now be grounded again for at least two years, Ars reports . That's because Colglazier and Virgin Galactic are betting it all on the development of a future "Delta class" of spaceships modeled on VSS Unity, which made its last flight to suborbital space Saturday. Virgin Galactic, founded by Richard Branson, now finds itself at a crossroads as it chases profitability, which VSS Unity had no hope of helping it achieve despite two decades of development and billions of dollars spent.

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      Nasa says no emergency on board ISS after ‘disturbing’ medical drill accidentally airs

      news.movim.eu / TheGuardian · Thursday, 13 June - 03:06

    A Nasa livestream from the International Space Station inadvertently aired an ongoing simulation, briefly sparking concern for the crew

    Nasa has been forced to deny that there was an emergency situation on board the International Space Station (ISS), after an official livestream accidentally aired a medical drill which simulated a crew member in extreme medical distress, prompting alarm on social media.

    “There is no emergency situation going on aboard the International Space Station,” Nasa’s ISS account posted on X. “Audio was inadvertently misrouted from an ongoing simulation where crew members and ground teams train for various scenarios in space.”

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      Let’s unpack some questions about Russia’s role in North Korea’s rocket program

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 11 June - 22:30 · 1 minute

    In this pool photo distributed by Sputnik agency, Russia's President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un visit the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Amur region in 2023. An RD-191 engine is visible in the background.

    Enlarge / In this pool photo distributed by Sputnik agency, Russia's President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un visit the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Amur region in 2023. An RD-191 engine is visible in the background. (credit: Vladimir Smirnov/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin will reportedly visit North Korea later this month, and you can bet collaboration on missiles and space programs will be on the agenda.

    The bilateral summit in Pyongyang will follow a mysterious North Korean rocket launch on May 27, which ended in a fireball over the Yellow Sea. The fact that this launch fell short of orbit is not unusual—two of the country's three previous satellite launch attempts failed. But North Korea's official state news agency dropped some big news in the last paragraph of its report on the May 27 launch.

    The Korean Central News Agency called the launch vehicle a "new-type satellite carrier rocket" and attributed the likely cause of the failure to "the reliability of operation of the newly developed liquid oxygen + petroleum engine" on the first stage booster. A small North Korean military spy satellite was destroyed. The fiery demise of the North Korean rocket was captured in a video recorded by the Japanese news broadcaster NHK .

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