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Astrobotic Peregrine Mission 1 Re-enters Earth

Peregrine mission one

Following a successful launch and separation from the ULA Vulcan Centaur rocket on Jan. 8, 2024, Peregrine experienced a loss of propellant. Not only did that prevent any soft landing on the Moon, but the valve connecting helium to oxidizer had caused flooding and ruptured the tank. The spacecraft was now a flying hazard that could potentially create more debris in cislunar space or lunar orbit. After analysis and recommendations from NASA and the space community, Astrobotic determined the best option for minimizing risk and ensuring responsible disposal of the spacecraft would be to maintain Peregrine's trajectory toward Earth for atmospheric re-entry and burnup.

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JAXA Lands on the Moon Albeit with Limited Power Supply

JAXA

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced the successful soft-landing of its Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) spacecraft on the moon, on January 20, 2024, at 0:20 am (JST). This feat makes Japan the fifth country to soft-land on the moon, joining the USA, China, the former Soviet Union, and India. Despite the historic landing, however, JAXA may not achieve full operationalization of the spacecraft as its solar cells are currently not generating power. 

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MeerKAT Aids Discovery of Mysterious Astronomical Object

MeerKAT

An international team of astronomers, led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, have used the MeerKAT radio telescope to discover an intriguing object of an unknown nature in the globular cluster NGC 1851. The massive object is heavier than the heaviest neutron stars known and yet simultaneously lighter than the lightest black holes known and is in orbit around a rapidly spinning millisecond pulsar

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Axiom Space Launches Third Commercial Astronaut Mission

Axiom Space and SpaceX have successfully launched the Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) to the International Space Station (ISS). AX-3 is Axiom Space's third commercial astronaut mission and it features an all-European crew. The mission launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center aboard SpaceX's Dragon Freedom spacecraft. The Scientists and crew will subsequently engage in technology demonstrations, student outreach, and experiments ranging from medical research to materials science to benefit life here on Earth. 

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Impulse Space Unveils Design Specifications for Helios

Impulse Space

Impulse Space has unveiled design specifications for its latest vehicle: Helios, a high-performance kick stage. Using a medium-lift launch vehicle, Helios will take payloads of over 5 tons directly from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to Geostationary Orbit (GEO) in less than 24 hours. Paired with affordable launches to LEO, Helios aims to dramatically cut the costs of accessing MEO, GEO, and beyond by many tens of millions of dollars.

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The Space Café Podcast #98: Nearly There: The Quest for Another Earth — A Conversation with Director Lisa Kaltenegger (Cornell University’s Carl Sagan Institute)

In this enlightening episode of the Space Cafe Podcast, Markus engages in a fascinating conversation with Lisa Kaltenegger, Director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University. As a renowned astronomer and leading expert in the field of exoplanet research, Kaltenegger offers a compelling perspective on the search for planets beyond our solar system, particularly those that might harbor life. She delves into the cutting-edge technologies and methodologies that are propelling this quest forward, sharing her enthusiasm for uncovering the mysteries of the universe.

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Spaceium Partners Space Machines for Space Cryogenic Refuelling

Orbital Servicing Vehicle

Space Machines Company and Spaceium have announced a partnership to embark on the first-ever cryogenic refuelling mission in space in 2025. Under this agreement, Spaceium will showcase its cryogenic storage capabilities on the Space Machines Company’s platform. Following this demonstration, Spaceium will refuel Space Machines Company spacecraft’s tank with cryogenic fuel using the stored reserves to highlight Spaceium’s refueling capability.

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UKSA, CSA and Challenge Works launch Aqualunar Challenge

UKSA

The UK Space Agency (UKSA), in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and Nesta’s Challenge Works, has launched the Aqualunar Challenge - a £1.2m challenge prize to reward the development of new technologies that can purify water ice found in the Moon’s soil. As part of their contribution to the Artemis Missions, the UKSA and CSA hope these technologies will go on to support a permanent crewed lunar base, providing a source of water for drinking and growing food, as well as a source of oxygen for air and hydrogen for fuel.

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Peregrine to End Mission by Re-entering Earth’s Atmosphere

ULA

In light of the Peregrine spacecraft's propellant leak and subsequent 32 hours of life before running out of propellant, Astrobotic has decided that the safest and most responsible course of action is to end the Peregrine mission. Noting that the final decision of Peregrine’s final flight path is in the Company's hands as it is a commercial mission, Astrobotic will act upon the recommendation to let the spacecraft burn up during re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. As a result, the Company will maintain the current spacecraft’s trajectory to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere to preserve the future of cislunar space. 

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SPACEBEL Wins Comet Interceptor Mission Contract

SPACEBEL has announced a contract with OHB Italia S.p.A. (Milano), the prime contractor of the Comet Interceptor mission, a European Space Agency (ESA) and Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) program.  As a result of the contract, SPACEBEL will provide the Central Software that manages the whole spacecraft, its platform equipment and its payload instruments. This new project will involve a team of up to ten SPACEBEL engineers over the next two years.

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