Sonntag, 25. Juni 2017 - 22:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Erfolgreicher Start von SpaceX Falcon 9 mit Iridium NEXT 2 Satelliten


VAFB set to host first West Coast launch with automated safety system


A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying a set of Iridium NEXT satellites, is slated to blast off from VAFB’s Space Launch Complex-4 at 1:25 p.m. June 25. The launch will be the first under Col. Michael Hough, the new commander of VAFB’s 30th Space Wing, and it will also be the first from the West Coast utilizing an Autonomous Flight Safety System (AFSS), which is expected to decrease launch costs and offer improved safety.

“I’m excited my first launch opportunity is in partnership with SpaceX,” said Hough, who took over command of the 30th Space Wing on June 9. “And being a part of putting Iridium NEXT in orbit to meet the growing demand for global mobile communication is icing on the cake.”


The AFSS was first successfully used on a Falcon 9 launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Feb. 17. The new system is expected to have a major impact on the future of the rocket industry.

The safety system, which relies on GPS navigation data, replaces radar and other aging tracking equipment that required human operators. With the new AFSS, an on-board computer system is able to blow up, or otherwise destroy, any errant rocket before it threatens people or property.

Along with that assumed increased safety, the AFSS is also able to support multiple crafts in simultaneous flight, which is anticipated to be significant as companies build rockets with the intention of landing multiple boosters. The system also significantly cuts infrastructure costs and creates faster launch turnarounds by requiring fewer instruments.

The June 25 launch will be the second of eight planned Iridium NEXT launches. Each launch will contribute to replacing the world’s largest commercial satellite network and the only network that covers 100 percent of Earth.

Iridium NEXT is expected to enable new capabilities like real-time, global aircraft surveillance and tracking services, and Iridium Certus, the company's next-generation communications platform that will bring broadband speeds to some of the world’s most remote locations.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carried the first Iridium NEXT satellites into orbit from VAFB on Jan. 14. That launch was also historic in that it was the first from the West Coast to successfully land its boosters.

Quelle: Santa Maria Times


The successful launch of the first 10 Iridium Next satellites by SpaceX removes a major risk to Iridium's business, which relies on a first-generation constellation whose satellites were scheduled to retire years ago. Iridium Chief Executive Matt Desch said the new satellites will fill a hole in Iridium's coverage. A second SpaceX Iridium Next launch, scheduled for April, will fill another hole and add more in-orbit redudancy. Credit: successful launch of the first 10 Iridium Next satellites by SpaceX removes a major risk to Iridium’s business, which relies on a first-generation constellation whose satellites were scheduled to retire years ago. Iridium Chief Executive Matt Desch said the new satellites will fill a hole in Iridium’s coverage. A second SpaceX Iridium Next launch, scheduled for April, will fill another hole and add more in-orbit redudancy. Credit:


PARIS — The successful Jan. 14 launchof SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket captured the headlines as one of the world’s principal commercial launch-service providers returned to business after a Sept. 1 on-pad failure — and successfully returned the Falcon 9 first stage to an offshore barge to boot.

But perhaps the higher drama was that, for this launch, SpaceX was carrying a customer whose business was hanging in the balance. 

Mobile satellite service provider Iridium Communications’ aging first-generation constellation has been kept viable an unheralded team from Iridium and Boeing operating from Leesburg, Virginia, that has kept the low-Earth-orbit constellation operational years after the satellites’ “sell-by” date.

Satellites this old can fail at any time and some of the Iridium craft already have. Holes have developed in the coverage, although nothing to cripple the business.

Ten new satellites and a lot more breathing room 

Adding 10 Iridium Next satellites will go a long way toward removing the sword of Damocles that has been hanging over Iridium’s head for a long while.

“It’s kind of hard to worry about [first-generation] failures anymore,” Iridium Chief Executive Matt Desch said in a Jan. 15 interview. “Now that the reinforcements have arrived, I think we’ve retired that risk to Iridium.”

Desch said the 10 satellites launched on Jan. 14 will be sent into Iridium’s plane 6. Eight will stay there; the two others will be drifted over to Plane 5.

That will fill the most glaring hole in Iridium’s coverage. “For our next launch, in April, we’ll launch into Plane 3 — that’s the other hole,” Desch said. “Every launch provides resilience and redundancy to the existing network.”

Iridium booked seven 10-satellite launches with SpaceX. The current schedule is to give Iridium Next prime contractor Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy about three months to check out the satellites’ performance before returning to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in April for a second group of 10 spacecraft to launch with SpaceX. 

Hosted payloads Aireon, exactEarth awaiting full constellation 

The 860-kilogram Iridium Next satellites are carrying several hosted payloads for companies that would prefer to be in service sooner rather than later. These include the Aireon commercial aircraft tracking service, in which Iridium is a major shareholder; and the exactEarth maritime ship-monitoring service.

In addition, the Iridium Next constellation offers customers faster delivery of more data, as would be expected when replacing a 20-year-old first-generation technology.

Nonetheless, the exact timing of the coming launches is a lot less of an issue now that the first is successfully done. Thales Alenia Space reported that all 10 satellites were healthy in orbit and sending signals. 

SpaceX has an aggressive launch schedule for 2017, with 20-plus launches planned including five more for Iridium at 60-day intervals starting in April.

Schedule assurance at Vandenberg, far from SpaceX’s crowded Cape

Whether the company will reach its long-planned rhythm of launching every two weeks from Vandenberg and Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is uncertain. But Desch said the fact that SpaceX’s backlog is mainly for launches from the Cape makes it more likely that Iridium will be served even if operations at the Cape are slow in ramping up.

“The way I look at it, even if they only get 10 launches off I think I have a good shot at getting my five” because of the less-crowded manifest at Vandenberg, Desch said. “We have 20 or more satellites in the factory and ready — enough for two launches. We are really only gated now by the rockets.”

With the sense of urgency now much reduced, Iridium can turn its attention to whether the 60-day periods between the second and seven launch might be reduced.

“Even with all the activities that they [Thales Alenia Space] have to do, there is some margin” in the schedule, Desch said. “There is no formal agreement on this but it’s possible that launches three and four could occur with less than 60 days’ spacing, say around 45 days. So we could use the margin wither to accelerate the deployment schedule or to catch up if there is a delay, so that we can make that first-half-2018 completion date.”

Quelle: Space Intel Report


Update: 20.06.2017


SpaceX Falcon Rocket to Carry Iridium Next Satellites Sunday From Vandenberg AFB

Launch of 10 satellites marks next set for second-generation Iridium craft

All 10 Iridium Next satellites were attached to the dispensers ready for the second launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The launch is planned for Sunday afternoon.Click to view larger
All 10 Iridium Next satellites were attached to the dispensers ready for the second launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The launch is planned for Sunday afternoon.  (Contributed photo)

The second set of Iridium Next satellites is on track for a Sunday afternoon departure from Vandenberg Air Force Base, potentially part of a double-header weekend for the Falcon rocket manufacturer. 

Blastoff of the Space Exploration Technologies Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex-4 on South Base is planned for 1:25 p.m. Sunday with 10 Iridium Next communication satellites set to head to orbit.

This mission has an instantaneous window — just one chance a day — to get off the ground because of where the satellites need to be placed in space. 


The rocket will carry the next bunch of second-generation Iridium global communication satellites, after the first set flew aboard a different Falcon rocket at the start of the year.

“This batch of satellites is at the launch site, mated to their dispenser, fueled, encapsulated in the fairing and patiently waiting for their big day,” Iridium CEO Matt Desch said.

Before the rocket is cleared for launch, SpaceX, plans to conduct a countdown rehearsal and engine test firing at Vandenberg, possibly as soon as Tuesday.

During the test, the engines will ignite before turning off seconds later, while the rocket remains anchored to the launch pad.

In addition to the West Coast launch, SpaceX is gearing up for another mission, BulgariaSat-1, from Florida.

But plans for the East Coast launch hit a snag when the team had to stand down to repair a payload fairing valve, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said on Twitter. 

The next opportunities for that mission reportedly are June 23 or June 24.

“Could be a weekend doubleheader,” SpaceX representatives said on the corporate Twitter account.

“If schedule holds there will be two Falcon 9 launches within 48 hours (Cape & Vandenberg) this weekend,” Musk noted on his Twitter account.

Desch said SpaceX has assured him the firm has independent launch teams and is able to accommodate the schedule.

In early June, Iridium Next cprporate officials said all 10 Iridium Next communication satellites had arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base where they underwent processing in readiness for the June 25 Falcon rocket flight.Click to view larger
In early June, Iridium Next cprporate officials said all 10 Iridium Next communication satellites had arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base where they underwent processing in readiness for the June 25 Falcon rocket flight. (Contributed photo)

“While we wish our friends down in Florida well the day before, and a good flight, it shouldn’t have any impact on us,” Desch said. 

Typically, launch firms require several days between launches to give engineers time to review data and ensure no glitches occurred that could doom future missions.

The Falcon flight will mark the first mission for new 30th Space Wing Commander Col. Michael Hough.

“I'm excited my first launch opportunity is in partnership with SpaceX,” Hough said.

“And being a part of putting Iridium Next in orbit to meet the growing demand for global mobile communication is icing on the cake.  As a side, this will also be our first launch with the Autonomous Flight Safety System, which is expected to help decrease launch costs and improve turnaround times between launches.”

This is the second of eight planned Iridium Next launches as the company replaces approximately 20-year-old spacecraft that make up the constellation. 

In all, the Iridium Next constellation employs 66 satellites, with plans to have several craft in space as spares plus others as ground spares for future missions to space.

As commonly occurs with South Base launches, Jalama Beach County Park south of Vandenberg will be evacuated from approximately 8 a..m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Surf Beach and Ocean Beach County Park also are expected to be closed for a time Sunday for safety reasons linked to the launch, which will fall on the final day of the 65th annual Lompoc Valley Flower Festival.

Quelle: Noozhawk


Update: 25.06.2017 / 17.30 MESZ


SpaceX Doubleheader Part 2 – Falcon 9 set for Iridium NEXT-2 launch

no alt


Just over two days after its successful launch of BulgariaSat-1, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will make another launch Sunday to carry ten Iridium-NeXT communications satellites into orbit. Falcon will lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 13:25 local time (20:25 UTC) to begin its mission.

SpaceX Launch:

Sunday’s launch takes place forty-nine hours and fifteen minutes after that of the previous Falcon 9 mission, which successfully deployed the BulgariaSat-1 satellite into geostationary orbit on Friday.

Friday’s launch was made from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, while Sunday’s will be from Falcon’s West Coast home: Space Launch Complex 4E at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

SpaceX has separate launch teams for the two sites, allowing the campaigns to progress in parallel with their launches in quick succession.

The BulgariaSat-1 mission was SpaceX’s second launch to re-use a “flight proven” first stage – one recovered following a previous launch.

The booster used for the BulgariaSat mission had first been flown in January, as part of a launch which deployed ten communications satellites for Iridium Communications as part of a multi-launch deal.

Sunday’s launch, which uses a previously-unflown first stage, is the second under the Iridium contract with a further ten satellites aboard.

If Falcon lifts off on time, the timespan between the BulgariaSat and Iridium launches will be the shortest turnaround between two orbital launches of a family of American rockets since a pair of Titan launches in early September 1989.

The 1989 launches – of a Titan III(34)D/Transtage from Cape Canaveral, followed forty-four hours later by a Titan II(23)G from Vandenberg Air Force Base – used related, but very different rockets. The Titan II(23)G was a converted two-stage Titan II missile while the Titan III(34)D was a heavy-lift vehicle with two large solid rocket motors either side of a stretched core topped with a Transtage upper stage.

For a turnaround between two launches of the same type of rocket flying in a similar configuration, it is the fastest the United States has achieved since December 1966.

Then, Atlas SLV-3 rockets made two launches, forty-one hours apart, with Agena-D upper stages. The first of these Atlas-Agena launches was made from Vandenberg on 5 December to deploy a KH-7 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellite – departing from the same launch pad that Falcon will fly Sunday’s mission from. The second Atlas-Agena was a launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, carrying NASA’s first Applications Technology Satellite (ATS) towards geostationary orbit.

Although such a short time between launches is unusual for US rockets, Russia’s Soyuz and China’s Chang Zheng – or Long March – regularly make multiple flights in a short space of time. Twice in recent years – in 2013 and 2015 – pairs of Soyuz launches have been made just two hours apart.

The ten Iridium-NeXT satellites aboard Falcon 9 are the second batch of spacecraft to be launched towards a constellation which, when complete, will consist of sixty-six satellites plus on-orbit spares. The Iridium-NeXT constellation will replace Iridium Communications’ current fleet of satellites which were launched between 1997 and 2002.

Iridium relies on a large fleet of satellites in low Earth orbit to provide worldwide mobile communications. The company’s name comes from the metal iridium, which has atomic number 77 – the number of satellites that were originally anticipated to achieve global coverage. This was later revised down to sixty-six, but the name was retained.

The total setup cost of Iridium’s first satellite constellation was estimated at around five billion dollars, and none of the spacecraft could be put into service until enough had reached orbit to enable global coverage.

Combined with a slower-than-expected uptake among customers, this led to Iridium SSC filing for bankruptcy in 1999. Motorola, who had financed the project, came close to ordering that the entire fleet be deorbited, but in 2001 a new company – Iridium Satellite LLC – purchased the entire constellation for about 25 million dollars. Iridium Satellite LLC would later be renamed Iridium Communications.


The first-generation Iridium constellation consisted of 689-kilogram (1,520-lb) LM-700A satellites manufactured by Lockheed Martin. Ninety-eight satellites were built, of which ninety-five were launched. The satellites were designed to provide eight years of service, however all but seven of the satellites currently in operation are at least eighteen years old with some having been in orbit for over two decades. Aside from the second-generation satellites launched in January, the youngest satellites were deployed by a June 2002 Rokot launch.

Iridium has ordered eighty-one second-generation, or Iridium-NeXT, satellites to replace its entire fleet at a cost of around three-billion dollars. This includes spacecraft that will be used as on-orbit and ground spares in addition to the 66 required to deliver service. In orbit, the constellation will have six planes of eleven satellites, orbiting at an altitude of 778 kilometers (483 miles, 420 nautical miles) and a near-polar inclination of 86.4 degrees.

The spacecraft are being constructed by Thales Alenia Space and Orbital ATK. Orbital is undertaking final assembly of the spacecraft in Gilbert, Arizona, while Thales is the prime contractor and has provided the ELiTeBus-1000 platform upon which they are based. Also known as the Extended Lifetime Bus, this is a derivative of the company’s Proteus bus with an increased lifespan of at least ten years. Iridium intend to operate their new constellation for fifteen years.

Iridium spacecraft carry an L-band communications payload to transmit and receive data from handsets, while Ka-band transponders are used both to transmit data to and from ground stations and to establish crosslinks between satellites. The crosslink capability allows the spacecraft to route calls anywhere in the world without needing to use intermediary ground stations to downlink the data and uplink it to the next satellite.

SpaceX has been contracted to launch most of the Iridium satellites, in seven groups of ten satellites and one group of five. The five satellites will be carried along with the GRACE Follow-On geodesy mission, which is to be launched next year for NASA and Germany’s space agency DLR.

SpaceX’s first mission for Iridium was conducted in January when a Falcon 9 v1.2 deployed the first ten Iridium-NeXT spacecraft.

The launch was Falcon 9’s return to flight following an explosion on the launch pad in September 2016 of a rocket that was being fuelled ahead of a static fire test. It also marked the first time that SpaceX successfully recovered Falcon 9’s first stage on a West Coast launch – allowing the booster, Core 1029, to be re-used as part of the rocket that successfully launched BulgariaSat-1 on Friday. Following the BulgariaSat launch, the core was successfully landed once again.

Falcon 9 is the only rocket currently flying that is designed to be partially reusable, with the first stage capable of either returning to the launch site or landing downrange aboard a floating platform after it separates from the second stage and payload.

For Sunday’s launch SpaceX has positioned an Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS), named Just Read the Instructions, downrange from Vandenberg to receive the first stage.

SpaceX operates Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base for its west-coast launches. A former Atlas-Agena and Titan launch pad at Space Launch Complex 4E is used to launch Falcon, while the former Space Launch Complex 4W is being converted to serve as a landing zone.

Falcon 9 first flew in June 2010, with Sunday’s launch its thirty-seventh flight. Three major revisions of the rocket have flown: the original Falcon 9, which is now known as the Falcon 9 v1.0, made five launches before giving way to the stretched and enhanced Falcon 9 v1.1 in 2013. A further-enhanced Falcon 9 v1.2 – also known as the Falcon 9 Full Thrust – first flew in December 2015.

Sunday’s launch will be the first from Vandenberg to use SpaceX’s new fast fuelling process.

After the launch conductor polls flight controllers to proceed with the operation, loading of RP-1 propellant into the rocket’s first and second stages will begin an hour before liftoff. Oxidiser tanking – the loading of supercold liquid oxygen – will start twenty-five minutes later and continue until just before liftoff.

Three seconds before the countdown reaches zero, the nine Merlin-1D engines at the base of Falcon’s first stage will come to life. The rocket will climb away from Vandenberg on a southerly trajectory, passing through the area of maximum dynamic pressure – or Max-Q – sixty-nine seconds after liftoff.

The first stage, Core 1036, will burn for the first two minutes and twenty-four seconds of the flight before reaching main engine cutoff, or MECO. Four seconds after cutoff the stage will separate and begin its descent towards Earth. Ignition of the second stage’s Merlin-1D vacuum engine is expected seven seconds after stage separation, beginning a six-minute, 29-second burn.

Falcon’s payload fairing will separate forty-one seconds into second stage flight. On some recent launches SpaceX has conducted experiments to try and recover the fairing for potential reuse after separation. It is unclear whether Sunday’s launch will include any such attempt.

One thing that SpaceX will definitely be attempting to recover will be the first stage. This is equipped with legs that are deployed shortly before landing, and grid fins to provide control as it flies back through the atmosphere. The grid finds will be deployed shortly after stage separation.

On previous launches, SpaceX has used grid fins manufactured out of aluminum, which have frequently been burned and damaged during entry. Sunday’s launch is the first to use larger grid fins, made of titanium. These are expected to be more resistant to reentry heating, so they will not need to be replaced for each flight.

The larger size of the fins, along with other improvements to their aerodynamics, increase the force they can apply to control the rocket’s course and improve the amount of lift they provide relative to drag. This improves the gliding ability of the booster, reducing the amount of fuel that needs to be reserved for bringing the core home. The new fins will also aid Falcon Heavy’s side boosters for their return.

Three minutes and thirteen seconds after separating, the first stage will begin a short engine burn as it reenters the atmosphere, slowing its descent to protect itself from heating as it descends. The landing burn will begin a little under two minutes later, guiding the booster onto the deck of Just Read the Instructions.

About eighty seconds after the first stage lands, at nine minutes and four seconds mission elapsed time the second stage will shut down at the end of its first burn. Following a 43-minute, two-second coast phase in a parking orbit, the second stage will restart for its second burn. This burn – lasting three seconds – will circularize the orbit.

Deployment of the ten Iridium spacecraft will begin at 57 minutes, ten seconds mission elapsed time, with the final satellite separating from Falcon 9 four minutes and 50 seconds later. The deployment orbit will be a little below the satellites’ operational orbit: the satellites will be released into a circular orbit at 625 kilometers (388 miles, 337 nautical miles) in altitude and an inclination of 86.66 degrees.

Sunday’s launch is the ninth of the year for SpaceX and the Falcon 9, as well as the rocket’s third launch of June. Falcon 9’s next launch is due no earlier than (NET) 4 July, with the Intelsat 35e communications satellite from the Kennedy Space Center.

The next launch from Vandenberg is currently targeting 22 July with the Republic of China’s FORMOSAT-5 spacecraft, after which the next Iridium launch is scheduled for 24 August.

Quelle: NS


Update: 22.30 MESZ










Quelle: SpaceX


Tags: Raumfahrt - Startvorbereitung für SpaceX Falcon 9 mit Iridium NEXT Satelliten 


Sonntag, 25. Juni 2017 - 08:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - ESA greift PLATO Exoplaneten-Mission auf



A space-based observatory to search for planets orbiting alien stars has been selected today as ESA’s third medium-class science mission. It is planned for launch by 2024.
The PLATO – Planetary Transits and Oscillations of stars – mission was selected by ESA’s Science Programme Committee for implementation as part of its Cosmic Vision 2015–25 Programme.
The mission will address two key themes of Cosmic Vision: what are the conditions for planet formation and the emergence of life, and how does the Solar System work?
PLATO will monitor relatively nearby stars, searching for tiny, regular dips in brightness as their planets transit in front of them, temporarily blocking out a small fraction of the starlight.
By using 34 separate small telescopes and cameras, PLATO will search for planets around up to a million stars spread over half of the sky.
It will also investigate seismic activity in the stars, enabling a precise characterisation of the host sun of each planet discovered, including its mass, radius and age.
When coupled with ground-based radial velocity observations, PLATO’s measurements will allow a planet’s mass and radius to be calculated, and therefore its density, providing an indication of its composition.
The mission will identify and study thousands of exoplanetary systems, with an emphasis on discovering and characterising Earth-sized planets and super-Earths in the habitable zone of their parent star – the distance from the star where liquid surface water could exist.
“PLATO, with its unique ability to hunt for Sun–Earth analogue systems, will build on the expertise accumulated with a number of European missions, including CoRot and Cheops,” says Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.
“Its discoveries will help to place our own Solar System’s architecture in the context of other planetary systems.
“All M3 mission candidates presented excellent opportunities for answering the major scientific questions that define our Cosmic Vision programme.”
The four other mission concepts competing for the M3 launch opportunity were: EChO (the Exoplanet CHaracterisation Observatory), LOFT (the Large Observatory For x-ray Timing), MarcoPolo-R (to collect and return a sample from a near-Earth asteroid) and STE-Quest (Space-Time Explorer and QUantum Equivalence principle Space Test).
PLATO joins Solar Orbiter and Euclid, which were chosen in 2011 as ESA’s first M-class missions. Solar Orbiter will be launched in 2017 to study the Sun and solar wind from a distance of less than 50 million km, while Euclid, to be launched in 2020, will focus on dark energy, dark matter and the structure of the Universe.
PLATO will be launched on a Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou by 2024 for an initial six-year mission. It will operate from L2, a virtual point in space 1.5 million km beyond Earth as seen from the Sun.
Data from ESA’s recently launched Gaia mission will help PLATO to provide precise characteristics of thousands of exoplanet systems. These systems will provide natural targets for detailed follow-up observations by future large ground- and space-based observatories.
Quelle: ESA

A telescope to find rocky worlds around other stars has been selected for launch by the European Space Agency's (Esa) Science Policy Committee.
Known as Plato, the mission should launch on a Soyuz rocket in 2024.
The observatory concept was chosen following several years of assessment in competition with other ideas.
It is expected to cost Esa just over 600 million euros, although hardware contributions from member states will take this closer to a billion (£800m).
Astronomers have so far found over 1,000 planets beyond our Solar System, but none as yet has been shown to be truly Earth-like in terms of its size and distance from a Sun similar to our own.
The PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars mission will look to change that.
It will be tuned specifically to seek out rocky worlds orbiting in the "habitable zone" - the region around a star where water can keep a liquid state.
"Plato will be our first attempt to find nearby habitable planets around Sun-like stars that we can actually examine in sufficient detail to look for life," said Dr Don Pollacco, the University of Warwick researcher who leads the Plato Science Consortium.
"Nearly all the small transiting planets discovered so far have been beyond our technology to characterise. Plato will be a game-changer, allowing many Earth-like planets to be detected and confirmed and their atmospheres examined for signs of life.
"Plato planets will allow us to develop and test theories of planet evolution, understanding the type of small planets in the Universe and the real frequency of Earth-like planets," he told BBC News.
Plato is not really one telescope but rather a suite of 34 telescopes mounted on a single satellite.
The intention is for this array to sweep about half the sky, to investigate some of its brightest and nearest stars.
The observatory will monitor these stars for the tell-tale tiny dips in light that occur when planets move across their faces.
An important part of this investigation will be to perform an intricate study of the host stars themselves, using their pulsations to probe their structure and properties.
Such observations, referred to as asteroseismology, would provide key, complementary information for the proper characterisation of the rocky worlds.
The mission will be led by Dr Heike Rauer at DLR, the German space agency.
The key British hardware contribution will be the camera system that sits behind the telescope suite.
This will incorporate 136 charge-coupled devices (CCDs) produced by the e2v company in Chelmsford, Essex. Just under a metre square and having 2.5 billion pixels, the CCD system will be the biggest ever flown in space.
It seems certain also that the British arm of Airbus Defence and Space (formerly Astrium) will endeavour to lead the construction of the satellite.
Plato should prove to be a good fit with other next-generation astronomical facilities.
These will include the ground-based European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), which will have a primary mirror some 39m in diameter. To be built in Chile, this giant should be operating by 2024, and will have the power to investigate the atmospheres of the Plato's newly discovered planets.
Plato is the third medium-class launch opportunity to be offered under Esa's so-called Cosmic Vision programme, which defines the organisation's space science priorities.
The first two to be selected were Solar Orbiter, a space telescope to study the Sun, to launch in 2017; and Euclid, a telescope to investigate "dark energy", to fly in 2020.
Esa will now refine the final design of Plato and select the industrial prime contractor.
In addition, the agency's national member states must also agree any contributions they wish to make over and above their mandatory commitments.
Once all this is done, the mission will be formally "adopted" - legal-speak for "final go-ahead". This should happen within the next two years.
The unanimous selection of Plato by the SPC on Wednesday will be immensely pleasing to the team behind the Eddington space telescope - an Esa mission to find distant planets and do asteroseismology that was cancelled due to budget woes in the early 2000s.
Quelle: BBC
Update: 28.02.2014
Wir wissen noch zu wenig über Exoplaneten
Willy Benz, Direktor des Physikalischen Instituts der Universität Bern

Mit der Entscheidung für PLATO setzt die ESA auf eine weitere Mission zur Erforschung der Planeten ferner Sonnen. Willy Benz von der Universität Bern erklärt, was die Experten sich von den neuen Exoplaneten-Satelliten erhoffen.

Herr Benz, fast täglich melden die Medien neue Erkenntnisse über die Exoplaneten. Nun hat die ESA mit der Entscheidung für PLATO (PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars) binnen kurzer Zeit die zweite Mission zu dieser Thematik aus der Taufe gehoben. Wieso diese geballte Anstrengung, um ferne Planeten zu untersuchen?

Wir wissen noch viel zu wenig über diese extrasolaren Planeten. Zwar wurden in den vergangenen zwei Jahrzehnten 1077 von ihnen gefunden, hinzu kommen einige Tausend Kandidaten, die noch bestätigt werden müssen. Das ist zweifellos ein großer Gewinn, verglichen mit der Zeit vor der ersten Entdeckung, also vor 1995. Wir verdanken dies sowohl Beobachtungen vom Boden aus, als auch Weltraum-gestützten Observatorien wie COROT oder Kepler. Doch trotz dieser beeindruckenden Zahlen: Unsere Kenntnisse zur physischen Natur dieser faszinierenden Planeten sind gering. Mit den neuen Missionen wollen wir sie näher kennen lernen.


Nehmen Sie die Mission CHEOPS, das steht für CHaracterizing ExOPlanet Satellite. Es ist ein kleiner Satellit, er wiegt nur 250 Kilogramm. Ab dem Jahresende 2017 wird er bis zu 800 Kilometer hoch um die Erde kreisen und dort für dreieinhalb Jahre gezielt bereits bekannte Planeten und Planeten-Kandidaten von etwa 700 vergleichsweise hellen Sternen ins Visier nehmen.

Dazu ist ein Fernrohr mit 33 Zentimetern Öffnung an Bord. Es späht nach kurzen Verdunklungen, die sich ergeben, wenn der Exoplanet vor seinen Heimatstern tritt und ein wenig von dessen Licht verdeckt. Mit solchen Transits können wir den Durchmesser der Exoplaneten bestimmen. Weitere Informationen kommen von irdischen Sternwarten: Dort misst man mittels der Radialgeschwindigkeitsmethode auch ihre Masse. Diese Methode nutzt den Rütteleffekt, den ein Exoplanet mit seiner Schwerkraft bei seinem Heimatstern bewirkt.

Durchmesser und Masse zusammen liefern uns schließlich die mittlere Dichte der Exoplaneten. Das ist ein wichtiger Wert für ihrer Charakterisierung, denn er zeigt an, ob der Planet aus Gestein, Eis oder Gas besteht und wie seine Atmosphäre beschaffen ist. Ohne diese Informationen sind kaum Aussagen über die potentielle Lebensfreundlichkeit eines Planeten möglich. Allerdings sind die meisten Sterne, bei denen COROT und Kepler Planeten fanden, für präzise Messungen der Radialgeschwindigkeiten zu dunkel.

Das ist der Grund, warum es bei den interessanten Exoplaneten mit kleinen Massen nur wenige gibt, deren Dichte bekannt ist. Weil wir uns bei CHEOPS und PLATO auf relativ helle Sterne konzentrieren, können wir einen Schritt weiter gehen.


Alfa Centauri ist extrem hell, der vierthellste Stern am gesamten Himmel. Mit CHEOPS nehmen wir uns typischerweise Sterne vor, die gerade noch mit bloßem Auge erkennbar oder sogar noch etwas dunkler sind – dafür sind die Sensoren ausgelegt. Deshalb erschwert die starke Strahlkraft von Alfa Centauri die Beobachtung von dessen Planeten. Wir werden uns trotzdem bemühen, auch wenn es schwierig wird. 


PLATO ist nicht nur von seiner Masse her gewichtiger als CHEOPS. Als 'M-Klasse-Mission', also als mittel-großes ESA-Projekt, ist es auch finanziell deutlich umfangreicherer, und wissenschaftlich viel anspruchsvoller. Spätestens ab 2024 werden die Beobachtungen damit beginnen. Der Satellit hat 34 kleine Fernrohre, die jeweils mit einer Weitwinkeloptik die helleren Sterne auf einem relativ großen Himmelsausschnitt im Auge behalten, ebenfalls mit der Transit-Methode.

Geleitet wird die Mission von Heike Rauer vom Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt in Berlin. PLATO wird, anders als CHEOPS, nicht bereits bekannte Exoplaneten charakterisieren, sondern Tausende heute noch unbekannte Exemplare entdecken und untersuchen.

Beiden europäischen Missionen ist gemeinsam, dass sie für Planeten maßgeschneidert sind, die erdähnliche Durchmesser haben. Insbesondere PLATO ist für Planeten mit längeren Umlaufzeiten um ihre jeweiligen Zentralsterne zuständig, vergleichbar unserer Erde. 


Gedanklich sind wir schon einen Schritt weiter: Die übernächste Generation von Teleskopen wird es ermöglichen, mittels Spektralanalysen die Erforschung der Exoplaneten enorm zu beflügeln. Dann werden wir viel mehr über deren chemische Zusammensetzung, das Klima und die Lebensbedingungen für mögliche Organismen dort erfahren. CHEOPS und PLATO haben die Aufgabe, die Himmelsobjekte zu finden, die wir dann eingehend studieren werden.

Quelle: ESA



Update: 11.07.2014



Künstlerische Impressionen von einem Planeten, der an einem Stern vorbeizieht


Die erste kleine Mission der ESA im Rahmen des Wissenschaftsprogramms ist bereit für die Bauphase. Die Implementationsphase hat begonnen, der Satellit wechselte demnach in weniger als 18 Monaten von der Auswahl- in die Umsetzungsphase.

Dank dieser raschen Fortschritte hat CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite (CHEOPS) gute Aussichten, wie geplant im Dezember 2017 startklar zu sein.
CHEOPS ist die erste einer möglichen Reihe kleiner Missionen, die im Rahmen des Wissenschaftsprogramms der ESA entwickelt werden sollen. Es handelt sich dabei um sehr fokussierte Missionen mit kurzer Gesamtdauer als Ergänzung der mittleren und großen Missionen des Wissenschaftsprogramms.
Ziel von CHEOPS werden nahe gelegene helle Sterne sein, von denen man weiß, dass sie von Exoplaneten umkreist werden. Die Mission soll neue Erkenntnisse über die Eigenschaften solcher Planeten liefern.
Mithilfe der Doppler-Verschiebung lassen sich Planeten finden
Mithilfe der Doppler-Verschiebung lassen sich Planeten finden, indem kleine periodische Schwankungen (wobbles) des zentralen Sterns aufgespürt werden. CHEOPS soll nun ergänzende Daten liefern, indem der Satellit die Muttersterne auf Transite überwacht: die kurze Verdunkelung des Sternenlichts durch die Silhouette des Planeten, während er auf seiner Umlaufbahn unsere Sichtlinie kreuzt.
Mit diesen Informationen lässt sich der Radius von Planeten bestimmen. Zusammen mit den aus der bodengestützten Doppler-Suche bekannten Daten zur Masse können Astronomen dann die Dichte des Planeten schätzen und so felsige Planeten von Gasgiganten oder anderen Planetenarten abgrenzen. Die Messempfindlichkeit von CHEOPS reicht von Planeten, die mehrere Male so groß wie die Erde sind, bis hin zu solchen von der Größe des Neptuns.
Die ESA wählte CHEOPS im Jahr 2012 aus 26 Vorschlägen aus, die auf die Ankündigung des Programms der kleinen Missionen hin eingereicht wurden. Offiziell in das Wissenschaftsprogramm aufgenommen wurde die Mission im Februar dieses Jahres. Die ESA hat sich dafür eine Kostenobergrenze von 50 Millionen Euro gesetzt; durchgeführt wird das Programm in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Swiss Space Office (SSO), einer Abteilung des Schweizer Staatssekretariats für Bildung, Forschung und Innovation (SBFI) und der Universität Bern. Die Organisationen aus der Schweiz leiten das Konsortiums von 11 an der Mission beteiligten und im CHEOPS-Wissenschaftsteam vertretenen ESA-Mitgliedsstaaten. Gebaut wird der Satellit vonAirbus Defence and Space in Spanien.
CHEOPS ist ein einzigartiges Hochpräzisions-Observatorium
„Aufgrund der mit diesen kleinen Missionen verbundenen Kosten- und Zeitzwänge müssen sämtliche Bauteile und Systeme der Plattform vorgefertigt und erfolgreich auf den Weltraumeinsatz getestet sein. Einzige Neuentwicklung ist das wissenschaftliche Instrument, das bestimmte Anforderungen erfüllen muss, aber selbst dieses beruht auf verfügbaren Technologien“, erklärt Nicola Rando, Leiter der Definitionsphase für CHEOPS bei der ESA.
Zuständiger Projektleiter für das wissenschaftliche Instrument ist Professor Willy Benz von der Universität in Bern, der auch beim ursprünglichen Missionsvorschlag federführend war.
Frontansicht von CHEOPS
„CHEOPS ist ein einzigartiges Hochpräzisions-Observatorium, das auf nahezu jeden Punkt des Himmels gerichtet werden kann. Mit seiner Hilfe werden wir helle Sterne, von denen bereits bekannt ist, dass sie von Planeten umkreist werden, auf Transite untersuchen“, erläutert Benz. „CHEOPS weiß genau, wo und wann hingeschaut werden muss, und ist damit das effizienteste Instrument zur Entdeckung flacher Transite. Dank ihm werden wir bei wesentlich mehr Exoplaneten sowohl Masse als auch Radius kennen, was uns neue Erkenntnisse und Beschränkungen für Entstehungsmodelle liefern wird. Außerdem wird er die bestmöglichen Zielobjekte für spektroskopische Studien der nächsten Generation boden- und weltraumgestützter Instrumente liefern.“
Die für CHEOPS eingesetzte Technologie muss zwar bereits vorhanden sein, die Art der Missionsentwicklung stellt jedoch für die ESA eine vollkommen neue Arbeitsweise dar.
„CHEOPS zeigt eine besondere Anpassungsfähigkeit der ESA und ihrer Mitgliedsstaaten bei der Umsetzung von Missionen“, sagt Frédéric Safa, Leiter des ESA-Büros für zukünftige Missionen, das die Umsetzung von CHEOPS durchführt. „Dank der effizienten Zusammenarbeit zwischen Industrie, Instrumentenkonsortium und ESA-Teams konnte der ehrgeizige Zeitplan bisher eingehalten werden.“
Universität Bern leitet das wissenschaftliche Instrument
Die ESA übernimmt die Missionsarchitektur für CHEOPS, ist zuständig für Entwicklung und Start des Satelliten sowie für die Schnittstelle zu Wissenschaftlern während des wissenschaftlichen Betriebs in der Umlaufbahn.
„Der Beitrag der Mitgliedsstaaten zur Mission ist im Verhältnis erheblich größer als bei mittleren und großen Missionen, und um bei dieser kleinen Mission die Programmziele zu erfüllen, musste eigens ein Ansatz zur Beschaffung von Industrieerzeugnissen entwickelt werden, bei dem die insgesamt wissenschaftliche Prägung der Mission erhalten bleibt. Das gute Verhältnis zwischen der ESA und den Schweizer Teams ermöglichte, wenn nötig, rasche Entscheidungen und war definitiv sehr wichtig“, so Safa.
CHEOPS wird höchstwahrscheinlich Ende 2017 durch eine Sojus- oder Vega-Trägerrakete von Kourou aus ins All gebracht werden. 
CHEOPS ist eine Mission der ESA, die in Zusammenarbeit mit der Schweiz umgesetzt wird, und zwar über das Swiss Space Office (SSO), einer Abteilung des Staatssekretariats für Bildung, Forschung und Innovation (SBFI). Die Universität Bern leitet das Konsortiums von 11 an der Mission beteiligten und im CHEOPS-Wissenschaftsteam vertretenen ESA-Mitgliedsstaaten.
Auch das wissenschaftliche Instrument steht unter der Leitung der Universität Bern, mit bedeutender Beteiligung Italiens, Deutschlands, Österreichs und Belgiens. Weitere Beiträge zum wissenschaftlichen Instrument in Form technischer Ausrüstung oder zum wissenschaftlichen Betrieb und der Nutzung kommen aus Großbritannien, Frankreich, Ungarn, Portugal und Schweden. Das Betriebszentrum der Mission steht unter spanischer Verantwortung, das Forschungszentrum befindet sich dagegen an der Universität Genf in der Schweiz.
Hauptauftragnehmer für CHEOPS ist Airbus Defence and Space, Spanien.
Quelle: ESA
Update: 25.06.2017

Auf der Suche nach einer zweiten Erde: Grünes Licht für PLATO-Mission

Die Exoplaneten-Mission der ESA kann mit der technischen Umsetzung beginnen. Der Start ist für 2026 geplant. 

Die Weltraummission PLATO, die mit Methoden der Asteroseismologie die Eigenschaften von Exoplaneten bestimmen wird, hat einen wichtigen Meilenstein erreicht: Nach einer dreijährigen Planungsphase hat die Europäische Weltraumorganisation (ESA) heute beschlossen, dass nun die technische Umsetzung des Projektes beginnen kann. 2014 hatte die ESA die Mission offiziell ausgewählt; der Start ist für Ende 2026 vorgesehen. In seiner mindestens vierjährigen Lebenszeit wird PLATO mehrere hunderttausend Sterne nach Planeten absuchen, die um sie kreisen. Von vielen Tausenden dieser Planeten und Sterne sollen Radien, Massen und Alter genau bestimmt werden. Das Ziel ist es, bewohnbare Welten und sogar „Zwillinge der Erde“ zu finden. In enger Zusammenarbeit mit vielen europäischen Partnern spielt Deutschland eine wichtige Rolle bei der Mission: Das Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) in Berlin leitet die Gesamtmission, das Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung (MPS) in Göttingen die Verarbeitung der Beobachtungsdaten im PLATO Data Center. 

Künstlerische Darstellung einer der faszinierenden Welten, die PLATO entdecken wird. Darunter werden erdähnliche Planeten sein, die um sonnenähnliche Sterne kreisen und möglicherweise die nötigen Voraussetzungen für Leben bieten.<br /><br />

Mehrere Tausende von Exoplaneten, die entfernte Sterne umkreisen, sind bisher bekannt. Viele von ihnen wurden von den Raummissionen Kepler und CoRoT entdeckt. Allerdings sind diese Welten so weit weg und ihre Zentralsterne so lichtschwach, dass sie sich nicht im Detail charakterisieren lassen. PLATO wird die erste Exoplaneten-Mission sein, die vergleichsweise nahe, erdähnliche Planeten entdecken und beschreiben kann.

Da PLATO in seiner mindestens vierjährigen Missionsdauer einen großen Ausschnitt des Himmels vermessen wird, kann die Mission die ganze Vielfalt der Sterne und Planetensysteme in unserer galaktischen Nachbarschaft studieren. „Mit der Beobachtung stellarer Vibrationen wird PLATO erstmals diese Sterne und ihre Planeten in Bezug auf Masse, Radius und Alter vollständig charakterisieren", sagt Prof. Dr. Laurent Gizon, Geschäftsführender Direktor des MPS und Leiter des PLATO Data Centers. „Dies wird unser Wissen über die Evolution von Exoplaneten und ihrer Zentralsterne revolutionieren“, fügt er hinzu. Das spannendste Ziel der Mission ist es, einen Erdzwilling zu finden.

„Wir freuen uns sehr, dass PLATO nun diesen nächsten Meilenstein erreicht hat und in die nächste entscheidende Phase eintritt", so Gizon. In den vergangenen drei Jahren seit der Auswahl der Mission haben Wissenschaftler der ESA, des DLR (Berlin), des MPS und anderer europäischer Partnerinstitutionen die technischen und programmatischen Details der Mission festgelegt. Mit der heutigen Entscheidung kann die Umsetzung – die technische Implementierung und der Bau der Raumsonde und seiner Instrumente ? beginnen. Parallel dazu wird die Software zur Analyse der Beobachtungen am PLATO Data Center entwickelt.

Die Instrumentierung von PLATO besteht hauptsächlich aus 26 Teleskopen. Dadurch ist es möglich, eine sehr große Fläche des Himmels zu überblicken. PLATO misst, wie die Helligkeit eines Sterns abnimmt, wenn ein Planet an ihm vorüberzieht, so genannte Transite. Um möglichst zwei solcher Transite ein und desselben Exoplaneten zu dokumentieren, blickt die Raumsonde bis zu zwei Jahre auf denselben Himmelsausschnitt. „Mit diesem Konzept und der hohen Empfindlichkeit des Instruments werden wir Gesteinsplaneten um sonnenähnliche Sterne finden und hochgenau charakterisieren können“, versichert Missionsleiterin Prof. Dr. Heike Rauer vom DLR.

Das PLATO-Team am Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung.
Das PLATO-Team am Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung.

Die Beobachtungsdaten werden am PLATO Data Center verarbeitet, das aus mehreren Einheiten in ganz Europa und einer zentralen Datenbank am MPS in Göttingen besteht. Die MPS-Wissenschaftler rechnen damit, am Ende der Mission mehrere Petabyte an wissenschaftlichen Daten zu verwalten. Mit Unterstützung der Deutschen Raumfahrtagentur (DLR Raumfahrt-Agentur in Bonn) beginnt das PLATO Data Center nun, Software zu entwickeln, mit der sich die wissenschaftlichen Daten aufbereiten und weiterverarbeiten lassen. 


Tags: Raumfahrt - ESA greift PLATO Exoplaneten-Mission auf 


Sonntag, 25. Juni 2017 - 08:00 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - ´Flying Saucer´-Feiertag... Vor 70 Jahren hat der ´Flying Circus´ als Mythos der Neuzeit begonnen


24.Juni - (Inoffizieller) UFO-Feiertag, die ´Fliegende Untertassen´-Mär wird heute 70 Jahre alt!

Und noch nie war so klar "es gibt keine fliegenden Untertassen aus dem All"! 

Was wurde uns in all diesen 70 Jahren der "Untertassen-Mär" die schönsten Fake-Fotos und Filme vorgelegt, aber keine Aufnahme konnte überzeugen, zumindest nicht die "geerdeten Fall-Untersucher". Die Ufologen werden weiterhin ihren gesammelten UFO-Märchen-Datenbanken Respekt zollen und sich auf der Suche nach einem roten Faden in ihren eigenen UFO-Vorstellungen verlieren, welche es SO in der harten Wirklichkeit nicht gibt. 



Er hat die ´Fliegenden Sicheln´ von seiner fliegenden Propellerkiste aus gesehen:


Er hat daraus die ´Fliegenden Untertassen´ erfunden und damit begann die UFO-Legende:


Kenneth Arnold hat sie am 24.Juni 1947 gesehen und Bill Bequette hat ihnen einen knackigen Namen gegeben - damit begann der ganze ´Flying Circus´ vom modernen Märchen für das Düsenflieger- und Weltraumfahrt-Zeitalter im Sommer 1947. Jetzt ist die ganze Story um ´Fliegende Untertassen´ und UFOs längst schon ins rentenberechtigte Alter gekommen und keucht schon geraume Zeit vor sich hin.


Und um sich selbst nicht weiter in der Ufologie-Welt zu verlieren, empfehlen wir:


"Zehn UFO-Forschungs-Prinzipien"


Nachfolgend zehn Prinzipien, Gebote oder Grundregeln, welche bedenkenswert sind, sobald man es mit dem UFO-Problem zu tun hat. Auf dem UFO-Sektor ist nichts, wie es zunächst scheint. Es ist gar gefährlich, wenn man UFO-Berichte für bare Münze nehmen würde. Die UFO-Gebote sollten sich ernstzunehmende "gläubige" UFO-Interessierte verinnerlichen und sie sollen sie auch zur Vorsicht gemahnen. Die zehn ufologischen Gebote sollten als Basis für die seriöse UFO-Erhebung genommen werden. Sie wurden zuallererst von Philip Klass, einem der erfahrensten amerikanischen UFO-Sachverständigen, ins ufologische Stammbuch geschrieben:

  1. Selbst völlig ehrliche, integre und intelligente Menschen, die sich plötzlich mit einem ebenso kurzen wie unerwarteten Geschehnis konfrontiert sehen, in das darüber hinaus ein ihnen nicht vertrautes Objekt verwickelt ist, laufen bei dem Versuch, exakt zu beschreiben, Gefahr, den Vorfall extrem ungenau zu schildern. 

  2. Obwohl die menschliche Wahrnehmung Beschränkungen unterlegen ist, wenn sie sich mit kurzen, unerwarteten und ungewöhnlichen Geschehnissen auseinander zusetzen hat, können die Beobachter von Augenzeugen zum Teil relativ genau sein. Das Problem, dem sich der UFO-Forscher gegenübersieht, liegt in erster Linie in der Aufgabe, zwischen den Details zu unterscheiden, die relativ genau bzw. völlig verzerrt wiedergegeben werden. Solange nicht die wahre Identität des UFOs bestimmt werden kann, mag es sich als unmöglich herausstellen, so dass sich die UFO-Forschung in manchen Fällen vor ein unlösbares Problem gestellt sieht. 

  3. Wenn eine Person, die ein ungewöhnliches und nicht vertrautes Objekt sieht, den Schluss zieht, dass es sich dabei um ein Raumschiff aus einer anderen Welt handelt, wird sie in Zusammenhang mit dieser Vermutung zugleich auch annehmen, dass dieses Objekt auf ihre Anwesenheit bzw. ihre Handlungen reagiert, während in Wirklichkeit nicht im geringsten ein solcher Zusammenhang zwischen Ursache und Wirkung gegeben sein muss. 

  4. Die Medien, die eine UFO-Sichtung stark hervorheben, sobald sie gemeldet wird, schenken dem betreffenden Fall in der Regel wenig oder gar keine Aufmerksamkeit, wenn die Sache eindeutig geklärt ist und auf völlig prosaische Tatsachen und Umstände zurückgeführt werden konnte. 

  5. Ein Beobachter, und das gilt selbst für erfahrene Piloten, kann unmöglich genau die Entfernung und Höhe bzw. die Größe eines unbekannten Objektes am Himmel schätzen, es sei denn, es befindet sich in unmittelbarer Nähe eines bekannten Objektes, dessen Höhe oder Größe bekannt ist. 

  6. Sobald die Öffentlichkeit aufgrund entsprechender Meldungen in den Medien einmal glaubt, dass UFOs in der Nähe sind, bieten sich zahllose natürliche und von Menschenhand geschaffene Objekte an, die in der Vorstellung hoffnungsvoller Beobachter - vor allem wenn sie nachts in Erscheinung treten - recht ungewöhnliche Eigenschaften annehmen können. Deren UFO-Meldungen tragen ihrerseits wieder zur allgemeinen UFO-Hysterie bei, die weitere Beobachter dazu verleitet, in allen möglichen Dingen UFOs zu sehen. Dieser Zustand schraubt sich so lange hoch, bis die Medien das Interesse am Thema verlieren, worauf die UFOs auch prompt wieder verschwinden. 

  7. Bei dem Versuch festzustellen, ob es sich bei einer UFO-Meldung um die Wahrheit oder um einen Schwindel handelt, sollte sich ein Forscher auf materielles Beweismaterial stützen bzw. auf das Fehlen von solchen materiellen Spuren, wo sie eigentlich hätten vorhanden sein müssen. Er sollte keineswegs auf die allgemeinen Einschätzungen des Charakters der in den Fall verwickelten Augenzeugen verlassen. 

  8. Die Unfähigkeit selbst erfahrener UFO-Forscher, aufgrund unzureichender Informationen eine UFO-Meldung umfassend und definitiv zu erklären, sollte selbst dann, wenn man sich intensiv um die Aufklärung des Falls bemüht hatte, niemals bereits als Beweis angesehen werden, der zur Erhärtung der Hypothese beiträgt, dass die Erde von Raumschiffen aus anderen Welten aufgesucht wird. 

  9. Sobald am nächtlichen Himmel ein Licht auftaucht, das für ein UFO gehalten wird und einer Radarstation gemeldet wird, die daraufhin den Radarschirm nach einem unbekannten Objekt absucht, darf man mit fast absoluter Sicherheit davon ausgehen, dass ein solches "unbekanntes" Objekt gefunden werden wird. Umgekehrt dürfte mit eben solcher Sicherheit ein UFO "gesichtet" werden, wenn sich auf dem Radarschirm ein unbekanntes Objekt abzeichnet, das für ein UFO gehalten wird, und sich ein Beobachter daraufhin auf die Suche nach einem ungewöhnlichen Licht am Nachthimmel macht. 

  10. Zahlreiche UFO-Fälle erscheinen nur deshalb rätselhaft und unerklärlich, weil es die Personen, die sich mit ihrer Untersuchung und Aufklärung befassten, unterlassen haben, sich der Sache mit genügender Ausdauer und Gründlichkeit anzunehmen. 

Jenny Randles in England ergänzte die zehn UFO-Gebote mit sechs ufologischen Forschungs-Ratschlägen:


Wenn man als UFO-Forscher nicht imstande ist von zehn Fällen neun als banal aufzuklären, läuft etwas gewaltig schief. 

Jeder muss wissen, dass zwischen 90-95 % aller UFO-Sichtungen eine rationale Erklärung finden und aus UFOs dann UFOs werden. Auch wenn die Majorität der UFO-Anhänger dies zugesteht, akzeptieren nur die wenigsten dies wirklich oder zeigen sich in ihrer Arbeit so, als würden sie genau diese Ergebnisse erzielen. Schauen Sie sich nur die UFO-Journale an, da müsste also 90-95 % des Platzes mit IFO- Berichten belegt sein, wenn man Glück hat, dann ist es aber umgekehrt, fast nur "authentische" und "sensationelle" UFO-Berichte finden sich hier.
Als Randles 1989 im texanischen Dallas einen UFO-Vortrag hielt, war die Zuhörerschaft erstaunt darüber, dass sie nichts über Greys und MJ-12 etc. berichtete und deswegen ihr gegenüber eine feindliche Haltung annahm. Und als sie dann noch Berichte über wild am wolkenbesetzten Nacht-Himmel herumtanzende Lichter als die Projektionen von Lichteffektgeräten erklärte, war vom Publikum aus für sie die Sache gelaufen, man stufte sie als Skeptikerin ein, und solchen Leuten hört man nicht zu. Die traurige Tatsache aber bleibt zurück, dass die UFO-Fans nicht gerade zu jenen gehören, die sich mit der neuesten Technologie der Erde vertraut machen wollen, kaum wissenschaftliche Magazine lesen und Aviation-Zeitschriften für sie sowieso tabu sind. Jeder serioese UFO-Forscher aber sollte genau den umgekehrten Weg gehen, um sich mit diesen Inhalten und den damit verbundenen Themen vertraut zu machen, da nur dadurch er imstande sein wird, UFO-Geschichten aufzuklären, wenn er schon nicht die skeptische UFO-Literatur der sachkundigen Fall-Ermittler lesen will, auch wenn es besser wäre. 

Je mehr Zeugen man für einen Fall hat, je weniger hat man es mit einem echten UFO zu tun. 

Viele UFO-Fans werden bei diesem Satz zusammenzucken und er wird ihnen völlig unverständlich, ja unbegreiflich sein. Die ufologische Tradition sagt nämlich genau das Gegenteil aus: Je mehr Zeugen, je besser der UFO-Beweis. Leider weist die praktische Arbeit wirklich erfahrener Untersucher die Exaktheit des vorher verwendeten Satzes auf. Die 'wirklichen' UFO-Fälle tendieren leider dazu, sehr isolierte Ereignisse zu sein. Gerade auch die sogenannten Close Encounter-Zwischenfälle sind von genau diesem Kaliber, weswegen sie eigentlich trotz ihres teilweise spektakulären Inhalts wenig interessant sein sollten. Dennoch, in der Theorienwelt der UFOlogie spielen sie mit die erste Geige. Schon hier kann man sehen, dass da einiges schief läuft.
Paradoxer Weise sind die Massen-Sichtungen am schnellsten als fehlgedeutete IFOs zu identifizieren, weil man hier viele unabhängige und objektive Aussagen hat. Was die logischen Folgerungen daraus auf die spektakulären Einzelzeugen-Fälle sind, muss jeder für sich abmachen. Ein gutes Beispiel hierfür ist das Geschehen aus der Nacht des 31. Dezember 1978, als Tausende im nördlichen Europa Zeuge eines phantastischen Geschehens wurden. Sie sahen einen Lichterschweif, der oftmals auch als die Fenster an der Seite einer ansonsten dunklen, zigarrenförmigen Maschine verstanden wurde.
Verschiedene Feuerwehren wurden alarmiert, weil Menschen dabei an ein abstürzendes Flugzeug dachten. Unter den Zeugen: Luftverkehrs-Kontrolleure, Polizeibeamte, Hausfrauen und schon angesäuselte Party-Teilnehmer. Auslöser des Geschehens war ein spektakulärer Re-Entry in der Hochatmosphäre durch eine russische Raketenstufe, welche ein paar Tage vorher einen Cosmos-Satelliten hochbrachte. Alle fliegenden Zigarren-Observationen erwiesen sich als Illusion, als Wahrnehmungs-Täuschung. Auch alle Einschätzungen über ein nur ein paar hundert Meter hochfliegendes Objekt waren falsch. Das Problem bei allen UFO- Sichtungen ist immer, dass diese durch unseren menschliche Wahrnehmung gefiltert werden, bei diesem Prozess gibt es zahlreiche Gelegenheiten zur Fehlerfassung von Details. Hinzu kommen unsere Vorstellungssysteme, unsere Erwartungswelten und unsere Vorurteile. Man muss sich gewärtig sein, dass bis zum Zeitpunkt unseres Zeugengesprächs die originale Erscheinung einer Transformation unterlegen sein kann. JR: "Viele Raumkreuzer wurden in den Werften des menschlichen Verstands konstruiert." 

Sag niemals nie. 

Nicht jeder Vorfall kann innerhalb von ein paar Tagen zur Klärung führen. Es kann Jahre dauern, selbst Jahrzehnte, bis eine Lösung gefunden wird. In jedem UFO steckt das Potential für ein IFO, niemand konnte bisher das Gegenteil beweisen. Erinnern wir uns an das bemerkenswerte Fliegende Untertassen-Foto, welches 1966 am Williamette Pass in Oregon von einem Wissenschaftler geschossen wurde. Dreißig Jahre lang ging diese Aufnahme eines anonym gebliebenen Zeugen als ein schlagkräftiger UFO-Beweis um den Globus und entzog sich einer Erklärung, weil sich auf dem Bild eine physikalische Anomalie zeigte, die sich niemand erklären konnte und manche akdemisch-gebildete UFOlogen sich Gedanken über eine neue Physik machen ließ. Doch Irwin Wieder ließ es nicht dabei und ging der Story nochmals nach und als er an den Ort des Fotografie kam, zerbrachen alle Träume zu hoffnungslosen Illusionen: Die Fliegende Untertasse entpuppte sich als ein verzerrt aufgenommenes Straßen- schild, welches zufällig aus einem fahrenden Wagen heraus mit aufgenommen worden war. Kein Wunder also, wenn sich der Zeuge hinter der Mauer der Anonymität versteckte, was natürlich grundsätzlich die Frage nach der Qualität von anonymen UFO-Eingaben aufwirft. Vielleicht wollen sich diese Leute dem zu erwartenden Spott beim Entlarven ihrer Späße entziehen... Dann geht es tatsächlich darum, nicht das Gesicht und den guten Ruf zu verlieren, genauso wie man es als Verteidigungs-Argument immer hört. Dumm ist dabei nur für den Enthüller der Wahrheit, dass dieser schnell als Spielverderber in der UFOlogie angesehen wird, als Debunker einen Brandstempel bekommt und man gegen ihn alle Register der Diffamierung zieht. 

Erste Hand ist die einzige Hand. 

Die meisten von uns haben ihre Klassiker-Fälle. Wir haben über sie in Büchern gelesen, wahrscheinlich sind sie über verschiedene Werke verteilt immer wieder aufgetaucht, weswegen wir von ihrer Realität überzeugt wurden, weil sie angeblich gute Autoren vorbrachten. Der im August 1956 geschehene Lakenheath/Bentwaters-Zwischenfall gehört zu den Klassikern der Literatur.
Der Legende nach sollen damals unbekannte Ziele auf den Radarschirmen in East Anglia in dieser Nacht erschienen sein, Bodenzeugen im Kontrollturm der Bentwaters-Airbase wollen seltsame Lichter am Himmel gleichsam ausgemacht haben. Eine gerade herbeikommendes Transportflugzeug der USAF wurde darauf aufmerksam gemacht und die Mannschaft der Maschine soll einen gelblichen Lichtflecken versetzt zu seiner Flugbahn gesehen haben. Nachdem auch auf der Lakenheatzh-Basis seltsame Radarspuren erschienen, forderte man zwei Venom-Nachtkampfmaschinen aus Waterbeach zur Aufklärung an.
Gemäß amerikanischen Berichten handelte es sich dabei um einsitzige Maschinen. Eine der Maschinen musste mitten im Einsatz wegen technischer Probleme zur Heimatbasis zurück- kehren, aber der Pilot der andere Maschine erreichte das Zielgebiet und konnte sich auf ein UFO-Ziel mit seinem Radar aufschalten (lock-on), er soll das deutlichste aller Radarziele in seiner Laufbahn hierbei aufgenommen haben. Dann habe das visuell auch auszumachende glühende Etwas einen Sprung von vor der Maschine nach hinter den Flieger gemacht, so dass der Pilot sich plötzlich in einer Katz-und-Maus-Verfolgung sah. Als der Treibstoff zur Neige ging, zog er sich wieder zurück. Soweit die allenthalben kursierende und akzeptierte Story. Seltsamer Weise hat bis dato niemand in England so recht versucht, sich dieser Sache weiter anzunehmen. 1978 jedoch gab es dazu eine Möglichkeit, als im Zuge der Promotionarbeit fuer den Spielberg-Film Close Encounters... eine UFO-Serie in einer der großen Klatschblätter Londons erschien und ein ehemaliger Schwadron-Führer namens Freddie Wimbledon aus dem Dunkel der Vergangenheit trat und bestätigte, dass die Venoms damals von ihm zum Einsatz berufen wurden und die kursierende Story in breiten Teilen soweit stimme. 1996 recherchierte dann Randles für eine auch von ihr moderierte TV-UFO-Dokumentation über die britischen Regierungs-UFO-Akten fuer BBC und konnte die Resourcen des mächtigen Senders nutzen. So kam sie mit den Mannschaften der beiden Venoms in Kontakt! Da ihnen niemand jemals einen Geheimhaltungs-Schwur abforderte, sprachen sie frei von der Leber weg über ihre damalige Erfahrung.
Wie immer bei solchen Untersuchungen von Klassikern ist mit Überraschungen zu rechnen, so auch hier: Erstens waren die Venoms zweisitzige Maschinen gewesen und Jenny konnte mit dreien der beteiligten Flieger sprechen (der vierte war unbekannt verzogen), die durchweg alle noch ihre Logbücher von damals besaßen, so dass erstmals ein vollständiges Bild der tatsächlichen Ereignisse zustandekam. Zweitens zeigte sich, das keiner der Originalzeugen davon eine Ahnung hatte, welche hochrangigen Wert ihre Erfahrung in UFO-Kreisen hatte - da sie selbst niemals ein UFO sahen! Drittens kannten sie keinen Freddie Wimbledon, der Mann aus der Zeitung, die hauptsächlich durch die barbusigen Seite-3-Girls bekannt ist, ist also ein Opportunist gewesen oder eine Erfindung der Zeitung. Den Fliegern war der Fall nur deswegen in Erinnerung geblieben, weil es das einzige Mal war, wo man sie auf ein stationäres Target einwies, welches sich über Land befand - normaler Weise setzte man sie zur Verfolung von beweglichen Echos ein, die über der Nordsee herbeikamen und als Ziel den britischen Luftraum hatten.
Tatsächlich nahmen sie ein irgendetwas auf dem Radar wahr, welches aber niemals mit "klarste Ziel, welches jemals aufnahm" bezeichnet werden konnte, ganz im Gegenteil. Viertens gab es niemals eine Katz-und-Maus-Verfolgung, geschweige denn, dass das niemals sichtbare Ziel sich ganz plötzlich von vor der Maschine nach hinten springend bewegt habe. Ganz im Gegenteil lag das Problem darin, dass das Ziel völlig stationär aber dennoch nie zu erreichen war, weil es schlichtweg zu hoch stand und alle an einen Wetterballon oder so dachte! Mit diesem Gedanken flogen sich auch wieder zurück und sie konnten gar nicht so recht verstehen, weswegen ihre amerikanischen Kollegen deswegen so ausflippten. 
Insgesamt muss also festgestellt werden, dass auch diese Story völlig übertrieben in der UFO-Literatur dargestellt wird und eine Wertschätzung erfuhr, die ihr keineswegs zusteht. Durch fundamentale Untersuchungsmängel und durch naives Weitergeben völlig unbegründeter, aber als seriös untersucht ausgegebener Fälle können also auch Legenden entstehen. Fragen Sie also erst Ihren sachkundigen und praxisnahen UFO-Skeptiker bevor Sie etwas glauben. 

Es ist die Story des Zeugen, nicht Ihre. 

Wie Sie vielleicht wissen, ist der Alan Godfrey-Fall vom November 1980 nach wie vor der bestbekannte britische Entführungsfall. Während er als Polizist in West Yorkshire diente, sah er in einer kalten Nacht morgens um 5 h eine seltsame Maschine vor sich auf der Straße am Stadtrand. Das Ding wurde von ihm als Drehkreisel beschrieben, der sogar die Äste und Blätter von nahestehenden Bäumen zum wackeln zu bringen. Die durch einen vorher stattgefundenen Regenguss nasse Straße war durch die UFO-Einwirkung getrocknet worden.
Dann kam Godfrey wieder ein Stück weiter auf der Straße zu sich. 15 Minuten waren vergangen, also eine Zeitlücke! Bis er sechs Monate später erstmals in Hypnose versetzt wurde, las er sich in Sachen UFOs und Aliens intensiv ein. Deswegen gestand er auch zu, unsicher darüber zu sein, ob dies ihn nicht beflügelte und in unter Hypnose eine davon beeinflusste Geschichte wiedergab. UFOlogen holten eine Entführungeschichte aus ihm heraus, an die er selbst mehr und mehr glaubte. Lassen wir Details wie die Begegnung mit einer Jesus-Figur namens Yosef und einem Schäferhund an Bord des UFOs beiseite. Da UFOlogen als die Architekten der UFO-Realität fungieren, sorgten UFO-Enthusiasten dafür, dass der Betroffene zu einer Art ufologischen Volkshelden im Koenigsreich wurde. In Folge der Geschichte aber zeigten sich UFOlogen als wahre Verfechter und Verteidiger dieser Affäre. Dumm ist in diesem konkreten Fall, dass der "Entführte" sich niemals skeptischen Untersuchern stellte, weil er inzwischen Gefallen an seiner Rolle gefunden hatte, die ihm extern durch UFOlogen zugetragen wurde, die einfach einen Glaubensgrundsatz in Form einer für sich unzerbrüchlichen Entführungsgeschichte mit einer offiziellen Amtsperson benötigten. Das emotionale Problem, fremde Erfahrungen für sein eigenes Glaubens- und Überzeugungssystem als oberste Priorität zu setzen setzt einiges an Irrationalitäten frei - davor ist zu warnen. Lassen Sie die UFO-Erfahrung eines anderes immer seine sein und vermeiden Sie es, sich damit in irgendeiner Weise zu identifizieren. 

Graben Sie tief. 

Den letzten Ratschlag, den Jenny Randles aus 25jähriger Erfahrung uns mit auf den Weg gibt, ist jener, nicht gleich jede Zeugenaussage als Tatsache zu akzeptieren. Nehmen wir den Fall des "Alien"-Fotos vom Mai 1964, welches der Feuerwehrmann Jim Templeton aus Carlisle knipste und welches inzwischen wieder und wieder in der UFO-Literatur abgedruckt wurde. Aber kaum jemand wusste bisher etwas mehr zu dem Fall, weil UFOlogen den Fall erst gar nicht untersuchten. Das Bild von einem auf der Wiese sitzenden Mädchen, welches einen Blumenstrauß in Händen hält und in dessen Hintergrund man eine Alien-Gestalt (sieht eigentlich nicht anders aus als ein Feuerwehrmann in einem hitzebeständigen Schutzanzug) auszumachen glaubt, ist Ihnen wahrscheinlich bekannt. Recht schnell verliebt man sich in diese Aufnahme, ohne groß nachzudenken. Dabei gilt zu bedenken, dass weder die fotografierte Elizabeth noch der sie fotografierende Vater Jim Templeton etwas von einem Alien bemerkt hatten, erst nachdem die Abzüge vom Fotoladen kamen, war auf einer Aufnahme diese "Erscheinung" zu sehen gewesen. Als 30 Jahre später Randles sich auf die Spur der Templeton's setzte, konnte sie ihn tatsächlich noch ausfindig machen, und er konnte bis hin zu MIB-Geschichten einiges hinzufügen, was zwar nicht den Fall für JR knackte, aber eine Art "Nachwehen" ausbildete, die die schlichte Aufnahme, von der wir weiterhin glauben, sie ist nur ein Spaß gewesen, in weitaus dramatischere Bilder setzte und den Fall noch unglaubwürdiger machte. Die Moral daraus ist auf jeden Fall, dass man allen Fällen nachgehen sollte und man tiefer zu graben hat, als nur an der Oberfläche zu streicheln. 

"Ich weiß, dass es nicht einfach ist, diese simplen Prinzipien zu befolgen, aber wenn man es tut, werden die Probleme der UFO-Forschung ganz plötzlich verschwinden. Ich kann nur sagen, dass diese Richtlinien mir persönlich sehr geholfen haben, um hinter die Illusionen der UFOlogie zu blicken und ein gutes Teil der über die Jahre aufgebauten ufologischen Konditionierung zu durchbrechen. Es geht hierbei um Rationalität und Realismus...", schließt Jenny Randles ihre Ausführung ab, zu der wir nichts mehr hinzufügen haben.


Tags: UFO-Forschung - ´Flying Saucer´-Feiertag... Vor 70 Jahren hat der ´Flying Circus´ als Mythos der Neuzeit begonnen 


Samstag, 24. Juni 2017 - 23:15 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Start von Sojus-2.1v-Trägerrakete mit Satelliten des russischen Verteidigungsministeriums


Сarrier rocket with Russian Defense ministry’s satellite blasts off Plesetsk space pad 

A Soyuz-2.1v carrier rocket with a Russian defense ministry’s satellite has been launched from the Plesetsk space center, the ministry’s press service said on Friday.

"A combat unit of the Russian Aerospace Forces made a successful launch of a Soyuz-2.1v small-lift carrier rocket with a Russian defense ministry’s satellite from platform No43 of the Plesetsk space center’s launching pad No4 at 21:04 Moscow time on Friday, June 23," the ministry said.

According to the ministry, pre-launch operations and the launch "were conducted in a routine mode."

This was the third launch of the Soyuz-2.1v rocket, which is currently undergoing flight development tests at the Plesetsk space center. The first Soyuz-2.1v launch was successfully conducted in December 2013, and the second - in December 2015.


The previous launch of a Soyuz-2 carrier rocket was performed from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia on May 25, when a Soyuz-2.1b rocket was blasted off in the interests of the defense ministry.

The family of Russia’s Soyuz-2 carrier rockets currently comprises Soyuz-2.1a and Soyuz-2.1b medium-class launchers and also the Soyuz-2.1v light rocket. They can be launched from the Baikonur, Plesetsk, and Vostochny cosmodromes and the Kourou spaceport (South America).

Quelle: TASS

Tags: Start von Sojus-2.1v 


Samstag, 24. Juni 2017 - 07:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - NASA Sounding Rocket will Release Early Morning Artificial Clouds Lighting up the Mid-Atlantic Coast



UPDATE 4:41 a.m., June 1, 2017: The launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility of a Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket testing a new deployment system to support space science studies scheduled for June 1 has been rescheduled for June 2.  The launch window is 4:26 – 4:41 a.m. EDT. The launch has been rescheduled because upper level winds exceeded launch limits.   Blue-green and red artificial clouds that will be produced as part the test may be seen from New York to North Carolina.

The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will open at 3:30 a.m. on launch day for viewing the flight.

Live coverage of the mission is scheduled to begin at 3:45 a.m. on the Wallops Ustream site. Launch updates also are available via the Wallops Facebook and Twitter sites.

Update  12:45 p.m., May 30 – The launch of a Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket testing a new deployment system to support space studies originally scheduled for May 31 has been delayed until June 1.  The launch window remains 4:27 – 4:42 a.m. EDT. The launch has been delayed because of weather.  Clear skies are required for the launch.  Blue-green and red artificial clouds that will be produced as part the test may be seen from New York to North Carolina.

The early morning skies along the mid-Atlantic coast will light up with luminescent clouds as NASA tests a new system that supports science studies of the ionosphere and aurora with a sounding rocket launch May 31 from the Wallops Flight Facility on the eastern shore of Virginia. Backup launch days are June 1 through 6.

ampule test payload
The ampule doors on the sounding rocket payload are open during testing at the Wallops Flight Facility.
Credits: NASA/Berit Bland
Hall visibility map
This map shows the projected visibility of the vapor tracers during the May 31 mission. The vapor tracers may be visible from New York to North Carolina and westward to Charlottesville, Virginia.
Credits: NASA

During the flight of a two-stage Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket between 4:25 and 4:42 a.m. EDT, ten canisters about the size of a soft drink can will be deployed in the air, 6 to 12 miles away from the 670-pound main payload.

The canisters will deploy between 4 and 5.5 minutes after launch blue-green and red vapor forming artificial clouds. These clouds or vapor tracers allow scientists on the ground to visually track particle motions in space.

The development of the multi-canister or ampule ejection system will allow scientists to gather information over a much larger area than previously allowed when deploying the vapor just from the main payload.

Ground cameras will be stationed at Wallops and in Duck, North Carolina, to view the vapor tracers. Clear skies are preferred, but not required, at both sites for the launch to occur.

The vapor tracers are formed through the interaction of barium, strontium and cupric-oxide. The tracers will be released at altitudes 96 to 124 miles high and pose absolutely no hazard to residents along the mid-Atlantic coast.

The vapor tracers could be visible from New York to North Carolina and westward to Charlottesville, Virginia.

The total flight time for the mission is expected to be about 8 minutes.  The payload will land in the Atlantic Ocean about 90 miles from Wallops Island and will not be recovered.

The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will open at 3:30 a.m. on launch day for viewing the flight. 

Live coverage of the mission is scheduled to begin at 3:45 a.m. on the Wallops Ustreamsite. Launch updates also are available via the Wallops Facebook and Twitter sites.

Smartphone users can download the “What’s Up at Wallops” app, which contains information on the launch as well as a compass showing the precise direction for launch viewing.

Quelle: NASA


NASA's Plan to Fill the Sky With Red and Green Clouds Has Been Postponed

A Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket which will be used on the mission. Photo: NASA

To the relief of chemtrail conspiracy theorists, NASA’s plan to create red and blue-green colored artificial clouds was postponed on Sunday morning. The clouds were expected to be visible for much of the East Coast and surely would have left many scratching their heads.

It’s not the first time this experiment has been delayed, but it marks the end of the launch window which ran from May 31st through June 6th. Weather forecasts show that the conditions won’t be right in the next two days and the tentative date for launch is now June 11th.

The experiment requires specific weather conditions. On the day of launch, a two-stage Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket will carry ten canisters that will be deployed about five minutes after liftoff. The canisters will then create vividly colored artificial clouds aka vapor tracers. NASA scientists will then visually track the subsequent particle motions to gain further understanding of the ionosphere. The space agency has ground cameras at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and in Duck, North Carolina. The sky must be clear at one of those locations for researchers to be able to gather data properly. Unfortunately, clouds interfered with the tests this morning, causing the postponement of the launch.


NASA is clear that this mission poses no danger to humans. The canisters would be released about 100 miles above the ground and they contain barium, strontium, and cupric-oxide. But just because the chemicals don’t pose a danger doesn’t mean the plummeting payload doesn’t. The scheduled launch on Saturday was canceled because of boats that were in the area where the payload was estimated to fall.

For anyone who wasn’t aware of this experiment, the postponement is just an opportunity. Assuming that all goes to plan, you’ll be able to watch the launch around 4 AM on June 11th. People on the East Coast “from New York to North Carolina,” will have a chance to see the colorful clouds in person according to NASA. For everyone else, a livestream will be available.

Quelle: NASA


Update: 19.06.2017


Too windy: NASA cancels 8th try at launch for sounding rocket


The launch is rescheduled for no earlier than Monday, June 19, with a launch time window between 9:06 p.m. and 9:21 p.m., NASA said. 

Officials will meet after a weather briefing Monday afternoon to make a decision on trying to launch Monday night.

Provided it can get off the ground, the flight of the Terrier Improved Malemute rocket is designed to test a new system of deploying canisters that release blue-green and red vapor to form artificial clouds, which are used in studying the ionosphere and aurora, scientists say.

People may be able to see the clouds along the mid-Atlantic from New York to North Carolina, NASA said. 

Previously, the clouds could only be released in the immediate area of the payload. This time, a new ejection system will fire 10 canisters, each about the size of a soda can, between 6 and 12 miles away from the main payload.

The canisters are set to be deployed between four and five and a half minutes after launch. The clouds help scientists on the ground visually track particle motions in space. Scientists will use ground cameras based at Wallops and Duck, North Carolina, to monitor the results.

Using the new deployment method should allow scientists to study the particles over a much wider area, NASA said.

The vapor "tracers" consist of chemicals such as barium, strontium and cupric-oxide. They are to be released at altitudes 96-124 miles high and pose "absolutely no hazard" to residents along the mid-Atlantic coast, officials say.

Quelle: delmarvanow


Update: 24.06.2017


NASA launches rocket from Wallop’s Island

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (WAVY) — NASA on Thursday launched a Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket from the Wallops Island Flight Facility.

The rocket was carrying various experiments from a handful of programs, including RockOn! and RockSat-C.

NASA says the rocket’s payload was expected to land in the Atlantic Ocean, after flying to 73 miles altitude.

Thursday’s launch comes in the midst of several attempts by NASA to launch a Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket.

That launch has been delayed nine times, and is now scheduled for Saturday, June 24, with a window of 9:07 p.m. to 9:22 p.m.

Quelle: WAVY











Quelle: NASA

Tags: NASA Sounding Rocket Launch Sounding Rocket 


Samstag, 24. Juni 2017 - 07:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Erfolgreicher Start von ISRO`s PSLV-C38 mit Cartosat-2


Isro sets focus on PSLV-C38 launch by June 28


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: After the historic launch of the 640 ton, first developmental flight of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) -Mark III (D1) on June 5, the team of scientists from Isro centres here have set their target to launch its second developmental flight GSLV-Mark III -D2 by Jan 2018 with more payload and higher thrust. Ahead of that, two more GSLV launches and three more PSLV launches are planned including the latest PSLV -C38 on June 28.

"With the success of the mammoth 640 ton GSLV-Mk III (D1), its second developmental flight of GSLV-Mark III -D2 is planned for Jan next year," Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) director Dr K Sivan told TOI on his return from Sriharikota on Tuesday. He and his team members were accorded a warm reception on their arrival at Trivandrum airport.

"Now, this launch has placed a powerful 3,136kg high throughput communication satellite GSAT-19 in geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) which has a mission life of 10 years. Instead of single transponders, it uses a satellite beam with multiple transponders which will facilitate significant leap in digital communication with its high speed data," he said. Further, he added that the immediate focus is on the launch of PSLV-C38 by June 28

"The second developmental flight of GSLV-Mk III D2 launch planned in Jan 2018 will have a lift off mass more than 640 ton. Improvisation in vehicle systems is targeted to achieve 500kg more payload than in the D1 launch. The liquid propellant L110 stage will operate at 6 per cent extra thrust throughout the flight duration in the upcoming D2 launch, compared to D1," GSLV MK III Vehicle director J Jayaprakash told TOI.

On the upcoming launches, he said "Before Jan 2018, we are targeting two more GSLVs and three more PSLV launches including the PSLV-C38 planned on June 28".

Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) director S Somnath told TOI that the GSV MKIII D1 launch with its human-rated benign features was equipped with a fully indigenous cryogenic engine of 20 ton thrust with 28 ton propellant loading. The cryogenic engine used in this launch has 2.5 times more thrust than the previous cryogenic engine with 12 ton thrust. In the second development flight of GSLV -MK III D2, the systems will be improvised further with higher thrust.


GSLV mission director G Ayyappan had indicated that the GSLV-Mk III D1 flight placed a 3.2 ton satellite in orbit while the same vehicle with modular changes can carry satellites of six tons. He pointed out that it is the success of "Make in India' space project with its fully indigenous launch with cryogenic technology and in terms of the material and design. It unique features include the dual redundancy, health monitoring, fault detection and isolation system, so the next flight will be improvised further, he said.



ISRO to launch another series of Cartosat-2 in PSLV-C38 this month; key things to know

 ISRO to launch another series of Cartosat-2 in PSLV-C38 this month; key things to know
PSLV-C37 Liquid Stage at Stag

After the successful launch of heaviest rocket in this week, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is now set to launch an another earth observation satellite belonging to Cartosat-2 Series Satellite by a new PSLV-C38.


The Cartosat-2 Series Satellite along with co-passenger satellites from abroad is planned to be launched by PSLV-C38 into a nominal altitude of 500 km.

ISRO has scheduled to carry this launch by end of June 2017 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre located in Sriharikota rocket port in Andhra Pradesh.

Cartosat-2 Series has the capability of along-track and across-track steering, up to 26 degree nominally. 

For this project, ISRO has allotted a total of Rs 160 crore. The satellite will have a single panchromatic camera along with Multi-spectral cameras which can detect scene specific images.

Co-passenger satellites includes nano satellites one each from various countries. 

Using the Panchromatic camera, the satellite will have a high-resolution, multi-spectral instrument, which will support it in adapting high-resolution land observation and cartography.

Cartosat-2 Series  whose PAN camera covers 50% of the payload area can steer up to 45 degrees on-track as well as across and will cover the entire earth in 1867 orbits on a 126-day cycle.

Not only capturing images, the satellite also has the ability to record videos from the sky. It will help in scanning wide range of activities involving military and civil planning.

The imageries from Cartosat-2 series satellite will useful for cartographic applications, urban and rural applications, coastal land use and regulation, utility management like road network monitoring, water distribution, creation of land use maps, change detection to bring out geographical and manmade features and various other Land Information System (LIS) and Geographical Information System (GIS) applications.

The first series of Cartosat-1 was launched in May 05, 2005 using a PSLV-C6 vehicle and the second series on January 10, 2007. 

In the month of February 2017, ISRO created a world record by launching a Cartosat - 2 series satellite along with 103 co-passenger satellites from PSLV - C37. 

On June 06, 2017, ISRO  launched Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III – D1 (GSLV-Mk III - D1) along with GSAT-19.

GSLV-Mk III and  GSAT-19 would be the heaviest satellite being launched in India till date. 

Quelle: Z-Business


Update: 16.06.2017


ISRO to launch 'Cartosat 2E' on board PSLV-C38 on June 23


Representative image
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Now, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has scheduled the launch of the Cartosat-2E satellite on board its proven workhorse `Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle' - PSLV-C 38 for June 23. Preparations are on full swing as the vehicle is assembled and integrated with the satellite.

"Called the `Eye in the sky', Cartosat-2E satellite is an advanced remote sensing satellite or earth observation satellite having surveillance capabilities with its Multi-Spectral optical imager and panchromatic camera. It will be launched on board PSLV-C38 on June 23," ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar told TOI. It is similar to the Cartosat-2 series satellites launched in June last year and Feb this year, he said,

It may be reminded that the two previous Cartosat-2 series launched include Cartosat-2C on board PSLV C-34 on June 22 last year and Cartosat-2D on board PSLV-C37 on Feb 15 this year that deployed a record 104 satellites in sun-synchronous orbit.

On the reason for similar satellite launches, he said, "Actually, Cartosat satellite imagery offers small coverage with high-resolution scene specific spot imagery. So more such satellites are required". With this satellite, the payload will have more satellites from other countries, he said.

Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) director K Sivan also confirmed that the PSLV-C38 is set for launch on June 23 to place the Cartosat-2E satellite in sun-synchronous orbit and arrangements are on for that.
Quelle: The Times of India
Update: 21.06.2017

Isro to launch earth observation satellite Cartosat-2E and 30 nano satellites on Friday


CHENNAI: After successfully launching the maiden developmental flight of its heavy rocket GSLV Mk-III earlier this month, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will launch 31 satellites, including foreign nano satellites, onboard its workhorse PSLV on Friday.

The rocket, in its 40th flight, will lift off with Cartosat-2E, an earth observation satellite, and 30 other nano satellites at 9.29am from the first launch pad at Sriharikota spaceport. The satellites will be placed in a 505km polar sun synchronous orbit.

The nano satellites will include 29 from 14 different countries -- Austria, Belgium, Chile, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, the UK and the US. There will be one nano satellite from India made by students of Noorul Islam University in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.

 The 712kg weighing Cartosat-2E is the sixth satellite in the Cartosat-2 series. It will provide regular remote sensing services using its panchromatic and multispectral cameras.
The images sent by the satellite will be useful for cartographic applications, urban and rural applications, coastal land use and regulation, utility management like road network monitoring, water distribution, creation of land use maps, change detection to bring out geographical and man-made features and various other land information system (LIS) as well as geographical information system (GIS) applications.
Quelle: The Times of India

PSLV-C38 / Cartosat-2 Series Satellite


India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its 40th flight (PSLV-C38), will launch the 712 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation and 30 co-passenger satellites together weighing about 243 kg at lift-off into a 505 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO). PSLV-C38 will be launched from the First Launch Pad (FLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. This will be the seventeenth flight of PSLV in 'XL' configuration (with the use of solid strap-on motors).

The co-passenger satellites comprise 29 Nano satellites from 14 countries namely, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, United Kingdom, and United States of America as well as one Nano satellite from India. The total weight of all these satellites carried on-board PSLV-C38 is about 955 kg.

The 29 International customer Nano satellites are being launched as part of the commercial arrangements between Antrix Corporation Limited (Antrix), a Government of India company under Department of Space (DOS) and the commercial arm of ISRO and the International customers.

PSLV-C38/Cartosat-2 Series Satellite Mission is scheduled to be launched on June 23, 2017 from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota.







Quelle: ISRO


Update: 22.06.2017


Quelle: ISRO


Update: 23.06.2017


Erfolgreicher Start von PSLV-C38:











Quelle: ISRO

Update: 24.06.2017

Indian rocket set to launch 31 satellites

Credit: ISRO

An Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, crowned with 31 satellites from 15 countries, is counting down to liftoff early Friday from an island spaceport on the country’s east coast.

Carrying an Indian mapping satellite, an agricultural research craft built by Indian university students, and 29 secondary payloads, the 144-foot-tall (44-meter) PSLV will blast off from the First Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Center at 0359 GMT Friday (11:59 p.m. EDT Thursday).

Friday’s liftoff will come 18 days after India sent its largest-ever rocket into orbit, the third-generation version of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, matching a record for the shortest turnaround between Indian satellite launches.

Launch is set for 9:29 a.m. local time Friday, and the PSLV will take off on 1.7 million pounds of thrust from its core solid-fueled rocket stage and strap-on motors. Four of the PSLV’s six solid rocket boosters, which measure 39 feet (12 meters) long, will ignite with the first stage when the countdown clock hits zero, and two more strap-on boosters will fire 25 seconds after liftoff.

The four ground-lit boosters will burn out and jettison at T+plus 1 minute, 10 seconds, and the twin air-lit motors will separate from the PSLV at T+plus 1 minute, 32 seconds. The PSLV’s core stage, burning pre-packed composite solid propellant, will consume its fuel and fall away at T+plus 1 minute, 50 seconds, giving way to the rocket’s hydrazine-fueled second stage.

The second stage’s Vikas engine will fire for two-and-a-half minutes, propelling the PSLV to an altitude of 140 miles (225 kilometers) and a speed of 9,000 mph (14,500 kilometers per hour). The rocket’s clamshell-like payload shroud will peel away during the second stage burn at T+plus 2 minutes, 39 seconds, once the launcher has climbed above the dense lower layers of the atmosphere.

Timeline of Friday’s PSLV mission. Credit: ISRO

The PSLV’s third stage motor, also packed with solid propellant, will ignite at T+plus 4 minutes, 23 seconds, and burn nearly four minutes. The fourth stage, powered by two hydrazine-fueled thrusters producing around 3,400 pounds of thrust, will then take over for a seven-and-a-half minute firing to inject the mission’s 31 satellite payloads into orbit.

The rocket’s on-board computer will aim for a nearly circular 313-mile-high (505-kilometer) sun-synchronous orbit inclined 97.4 degrees to the equator, a type of orbit favored by Earth-imaging satellites.

The main passenger on Friday’s launch, the Cartosat 2E Earth-imaging platform, will deploy first from the PSLV’s upper stage.

Weighing around 1,570 pounds (712 kilograms) at launch, Cartosat 2E carries black-and-white and color cameras to take images of Earth during a five-year mission.

“The imagery sent by the satellite will be useful for cartographic applications, urban and rural applications, coastal land use and regulation, utility management like road network monitoring, water distribution, creation of land use maps, precision study, change detection to bring out geographical and manmade features, and various other Land Information System (LIS) and Geographical Information System (GIS) applications,” ISRO officials wrote in an official brochure for Friday’s launch.

The Cartosat 2E satellite during ground testing. Credit: ISRO

Next to separate from the rocket will be NIUSAT, a suitcase-sized satellite weighing about 33 pounds (15 kilograms) developed by students at Noorul Islam University in India’s Tamil Nadu state.

Twenty-nine more satellites will deploy from the PSLV over a six-minute period. A timeline of the launch provided by the Indian Space Research Organization indicated all of the satellites will be off the rocket by T+plus 23 minutes, 19 seconds.

The secondary payloads include eight Lemur CubeSats from Spire Global, a San Francisco-based company. Each Lemur satellite, about the size of a shoebox, carries a GPS radio occultation antenna, using satellite navigation signals passed through Earth’s atmosphere to derive temperature and humidity profiles that can be fed into numerical forecast models.

Spire’s satellites also track ships out of range of terrestrial receivers.

With Friday’s launch, the company will have placed a total of 41 CubeSats into orbit, some of which have ended their missions.

The Dutch company Innovative Solutions in Space, which specializes in arranging rideshare launches for small spacecraft, arranged for most of the payloads flying on Friday’s multi-satellite launch. Engineers stowed the CubeSats in QuadPacks before shipping them to the Indian launch site.

Seattle-headquartered Spaceflight Services purchased space in the QuadPacks for Spire’s eight Lemur satellites.

Another commercial weather data company, Pasadena, California-Based GeoOptics, will launch its first satellite on Friday’s PSLV flight. The CICERO 6 satellite, based on an expanded CubeSat design, is the first of a planned constellation of satellites that will collect GPS radio occultation data, competing with Spire’s fleet.

Other satellites awaiting launch Friday include a spacecraft named CESat 1 from Japan designed to demonstrate Earth observations using Canon imaging technology. The Max Valier Satellite, with an X-ray astronomy telescope and an amateur radio beacon, was developed in partnership by Italian high school students, Germany’s OHB System AG satellite contractor, and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.

Latvia’s first satellite, named Venta 1, hosts digital cameras and a ship tracking instrument. The 16.5-pound (7.5-kilogram) satellite was built by Latvian students and funded by the Latvian government.

Eight CubeSats for the multi-national QB50 science consortium, formed by educational institutions to conduct a wide range of research in low Earth orbit, will also head into space Friday.

The QB50 CubeSats launching from India are the second batch of satellites to lift off, following 28 of the compact student-built platforms which launched in April on an Atlas 5 rocket going to the International Space Station.

The QB50 CubeSats launching Friday include:

  • Pegasus from the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt in Austria
  • NUDTSat from the National University of Defense Technology in China
  • VZLUSAT 1 from universities and institutions in the Czech Republic
  • COMPASS 2 (DragSail-CubeSat) from the FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences in Germany
  • UCLSat from University College London in the United Kingdom
  • InflateSail from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom
  • URSA MAIOR from the Sapienza University of Rome in Italy
  • LituanicaSAT 2 from Vilnius University in Lithuania

Other payloads stowed aboard the PSLV include the SUCHAI 1 CubeSat developed by students and faculty at the University of Chile in Santiago. It carries instrumentation to study the environment in low Earth orbit.

The Aalto 1 CubeSat built by Finnish university students will test a new type of spectrometer in space, measure space radiation and demonstrate an electrostatic plasma brake to drop out of orbit at the end of its mission.

Sponsored by the European Space Agency, the Robusta 1B CubeSat from the University of Montpellier 2 in France will measure the effects of radiation on satellite electronics.

The D-Sat mission, built and managed by a company called D-Orbit in Milan, carries a compact high-thrust solid rocket motor to validate an independent way of de-orbiting satellites. Relying on its own internal control system, the rocket fits inside the end of the D-Sat CubeSat, which is approximately the size of a toaster oven.

Slovakia’s first satellite, skCUBE, is also hitching a ride to orbit Friday. Built entirely in Slovakia under the management of the Slovak Organization for Space Activities, skCUBE weighs just 2 pounds (1 kilogram).

Three validation satellites for a commercial communications network planned by Sky and Space Global Ltd., a British-Australian company, are set for launch on a pilot mission. The company plans to deploy up to 200 future nanosatellites for narrowband communications services.

A CubeSat named Tyvak 53b rounds out the payloads aboard Friday’s PSLV mission. Manufactured by Tyvak, a launch services broker and small satellite-builder in Southern California, the CubeSat is also testing a new de-orbiting technology.

Friday’s launch will be the 40th PSLV flight since it debuted in 1993, and India’s fourth space launch of the year. It is the 17th time a PSLV XL rocket will fly using uprated solid rocket boosters.

Quelle: SN





Tags: ISRO`s PSLV-C38 set to launch 31 satellites Launch ISRO`s PSLV-C38 mit Cartosat-2  


Samstag, 24. Juni 2017 - 07:20 Uhr

Raumfahrt - ESA plant Space Rider Shuttle bis 2025 zu privatisieren


ESA aims to privatize Space Rider unmanned spaceplane by 2025


LE BOURGET, FRANCE — Although Europe’s Space Rider reusable spaceplane is three years or so from its debut, the European Space Agency is already making plans to privatize the unmanned orbital vehicle.

By 2025, ESA officials said, Space Rider could be operating commercially, flying science payloads and bringing them back to Earth for roughly $9,200 per kilogram.

Arianespace, the Evry, France-based launch services provider, would likely serve as Space Rider’s operator, offering industry and government customers the opportunity to fill the spaceplane 800-kilogram payload capacity with microgravity science, materials testing, telecommunications and robotics demonstrations.


Space Rider is being developed by Thales Alenia Space and Lockheed Martin under the direction of the Italian Aerospace Research Centre, Cira. Funding for the program’s design phase was approved in December by ESA’s 22 member states.

A 2020 test flight would see Space Rider launch atop Arianespace’s Vega-C rocket (which makes its own debut in 2019) and land on a runway on one of the Atlantic’s Azores islands, Santa Maria.

During operational flights, Space Rider will orbit 400 kilometers above the Earth for a few months at the time, opening its payload bay doors to expose experiments to the space environment. Customers will pay roughly $9,200 kilogram to fly their payloads on Space Rider, according to Giorgio Tumino, ESA’s Space Rider and Vega rocket development program manager.

 Giorgio Tumino, ESA's IXV Program Manager. Credit: ESA

Giorgio Tumino, ESA’s Space Rider and Vega rocket development Manager. Credit: ESA

“This cost is usually only to go into orbit, but in this case [with Space Rider] it is to go and come back to Earth,” Tumino told SpaceNews here. “We really believe there is a market, a niche, that will drive this. We have already done preliminary studies, analyses and we see that it [Space Rider] is a very convenient tool.”

Tumino said Arianespce, as the commercial partner for the Vega rocket, will likely operate Space Rider, as well.

Space Rider, at an expected 4-5 meters in length, will be about half the size of the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B unmanned orbital spaceplane. X-37B completed its fourth classified mission in May, landing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center just shy of a two-year stay in orbit.

After Space Riders’s first mission in 2020, it would fly five more missions spaced six to 12 months apart, according to Tumino. During this first few years of operations, a decision would be made about how many Space Riders to build for commercial operations; Arianespace, he said, might decide to operate a fleet of them.

During development, a full-scale Space Rider model will be dropped in 2019 from an atmospheric balloon or helicopter to test the vehicle’s parafoil landing system.

Space Rider is based on ESA’s successful suborbital re-entry test vehicle, the Intermediate Experimental Vehicle (IXV). In 2015, the IXV flew halfway around the planet in 100 minutes before parachuting into the Pacific Ocean for recovery.

Quelle: SN

Tags: ESA Space Rider Raumfahrt - ESA plant Space Rider Shuttle bis 2025 zu privatisieren 


Samstag, 24. Juni 2017 - 07:15 Uhr

Raumfahrt - NASA nimmt Augenmerk auf Missionen zu Uranus, Neptun


NASA Eyes Close-Up Mission to Uranus, Neptune

Voyager 2's views of Uranus and Neptune as the probe flew past in the 1980s. New NASA missions could further explore the gas worlds.
Credit: Left: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Right: NASA

New NASA mission ideas would study the gassy environments of Uranus and Neptune, two planets on the edge of the solar system that spacecraft have visited only once.

The agency has several potential mission concepts on the table, including flybys, orbiters and even a spacecraft to dive into Uranus' atmosphere, agency officials said in a statement.

NASA released a study of potential future missions in support of the forthcoming Planetary Science Decadal Survey, a publication of the National Research Council that is used to help determine what missions NASA should pursue. The next survey covers science priorities from 2022 and 2032. 


"This [NASA] study argues the importance of exploring at least one of these planets and its entire environment, which includes surprisingly dynamic icy moons, rings and bizarre magnetic fields," Mark Hofstadter, a planetary scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in the statement. Hofstadter was one of the two co-chairs of the science team that produced the report.

"We do not know how these planets formed and why they and their moons look the way they do," added fellow co-chair Amy Simon, senior scientist of planetary atmospheres research at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. "There are fundamental clues as to how our solar system formed and evolved that can only be found by a detailed study of one, or preferably both of these planets."  

Both planets have been visited by a single spacecraft, Voyager 2, which flew by Uranus and Neptune in 1986 and 1989, respectively. Voyager 2 was tasked with viewing the largest planets of the outer solar system and took advantage of a rare planetary alignment to visit Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune on the probe's way out of the solar system. (The spacecrat's twin, Voyager 1, studied Jupiter and Saturn and entered interstellar space in 2012.)

Since then, however, telescope technology has improved enough so that scientists can perform some studies of Uranus and Neptune from the ground. Researchers using the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, for example, have tracked giant storms appearing and disappearing on Uranus in recent years. However, no concentrated long-term program is possible on the ground, because telescope time is competitive and spread among several targets.

Studies suggest that Uranus and Neptune both have liquid oceans beneath their clouds, making up about two-thirds of their mass, NASA officials noted in the statement. It's a different environment from the much bigger Jupiter and Saturn (which are about 85 percent gas by mass) and smaller, rocky planets such as Earth or Mars, which are almost 100 percent rock.

"It's not clear how or where ice giant planets form, why their magnetic fields are strangely oriented, and what drives geologic activity on some of their moons," NASA added in the same statement. "These mysteries make them scientifically important, and this importance is enhanced by the discovery that many planets around other stars appear to be similar to our own ice giants."

Quelle: SC

Tags: Raumfahrt - NASA nimmt Augenmerk auf Missionen zu Uranus, Neptun 


Freitag, 23. Juni 2017 - 21:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Erfolgreicher Start von SpaceX Falcon 9 mit BulgariaSat-1 Satelliten


Next SpaceX launch now set for June 17

The launch of the first-ever Bulgarian satellite, expected to come from Florida’s Space Coast, will have to wait a couple more days.

SpaceX this week announced that BulgariaSat-1, which represents the country’s first geostationary telecommunications satellite, will launch no earlier than June 17. Previously, the launch had been slotted for no earlier than June 15.

But a delay of the June 3 launch of a resupply mission to the International Space Station pushed back the timeline, according to some reports.

Officials with Bulgaria Sat, the largest provider of pay-TV services in Bulgaria, blamed weather forecasts for June 15, however.

A two-hour window will open at 2:10 p.m. on June 17.

SpaceX has repeatedly recovered launched rockets on the Space Coast. The Bulgaria Sat launch will mark the second time SpaceX relaunches a rocket booster, following the March 30 relaunch of a booster from Florida.

John Celli, CEO of Space Systems Loral, which built the satellite, said SpaceX’s reusability effort will become an “important enabler” for the satellite industry.

The satellite is expected to last 15 years.

SpaceX has been ramping up its launch frequency this year. A SpaceX launch is scheduled for late June in California, followed by three planned from Florida in July.

Quelle: Orlando Sentinel


Update: 15.06.2017


Weather iffy for launch and landing of 'flight proven' SpaceX Falcon 9


The weather outlook is less than favorable for SpaceX as it targets Saturday afternoon for the launch of a previously flown Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center.

Forecasters with the Air Force's 45th Weather Squadron on Wednesday said conditions during the two-hour launch window that opens at 2:10 p.m. are 40 percent "go," citing concerns related to cumulus clouds, lightning and anvil clouds.

"An active, moist and unstable summer weather pattern will persist through the next several days allowing for daily shower and thunderstorm development," forecasters said in a statement.

Conditions at pad 39A improve to 60 percent "go" in the event of a delay to Sunday.

Encapsulated in a fairing atop the Falcon 9 will be BulgariaSat-1, an 8,000-pound commercial communications satellite that marks a milestone for the European country – it will become its first geostationary satellite, meaning it will match the speed of Earth's rotation and stay in a fixed position over the globe. It is designed to deliver television programming to the Balkans and southeastern Europe.


If the Falcon 9 – recovered from a January launch of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California – successfully lifts off from KSC, it will become the company's second successful launch of a "flight proven" first stage.

The first stage is expected to land on the company's "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship stationed a few hundred miles off the coast of Florida in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX's first success with full-circle reusability came in March with the launch and landing of a previously flown Falcon 9 on a mission for Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk sees such reusability as crucial to lowering overall launch costs and increasing access to space.

KSC should see smoke and fire again on July 1 as a Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch from pad 39A at 7:35 p.m. with a communications satellite for Intelsat. A first stage landing will not be attempted due to fuel constraints.

Contact Emre Kelly at or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook at @EmreKelly.

Launch Saturday

Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9

Mission: Delivery of BulgariaSat-1 to geostationary orbit

Launch Time: 2:10 p.m.

Launch Window: Two hours

Launch Pad: 39A at Kennedy Space Center

Weather: 40 percent "go"

Backup launch date: Sunday

Quelle: Florida Today


Update: 17.06.2017


Weather still iffy for 'flight proven' SpaceX Falcon 9 launch on Monday


Weather conditions remain questionable for Monday's planned launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center, according to the Air Force.

Forecasters with the 45th Weather Squadron on Friday said there is a 40 percent chance of favorable conditions at pad 39A during the two-hour launch window that opens at 2:10 p.m. A delay to Tuesday results in the same – still 40 percent "go."

"The active, unstable weather pattern established over Central Florida will likely continue for the next several days resulting in afternoon/evening showers and thunderstorms for the space port," forecasters said.

Primary concerns for both days are the presence of thick layers of clouds, cumulus clouds and anvil clouds.

SpaceX on Thursday evening successfully conducted a pre-launch check of the rocket's nine Merlin main engines known as a "static test fire" at pad 39A.


Encapsulated atop the Falcon 9 will be BulgariaSat-1, an 8,000-pound communications satellite designed primarily for television programming that marks a milestone for the European country – it will become its first geostationary satellite, meaning it will match the speed of Earth's rotation and stay in a fixed position over the globe. It will deliver programming to the Balkans and southeastern Europe.

If the Falcon 9 – recovered from a January launch of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California – successfully lifts off from KSC, it will become the company's second successful launch of a "flight proven" first stage.

The booster is then expected to descend toward the company's "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship for a soft landing a few hundred miles off the coast of Florida in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX first succeeded with full-circle reusability in March when it launched and landed a previously flown Falcon 9 rocket for Luxembourg-based SES on a historic mission known as SES-10. That first stage landed on the "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship in the Atlantic and will likely be prominently displayed near Port Canaveral.


SpaceX CEO Elon Musk sees such reusability as crucial to lowering overall launch costs and increasing access to space.

KSC is scheduled to play host to yet another Falcon 9 launch on July 1. The rocket will be topped with an Intelsat commercial communications satellite, labeled Intelsat 35e, for a 7:35 p.m. launch from pad 39A, but a first stage landing – either on a ship or on land – will not be attempted due to fuel constraints.

Quelle: Florida Today


Update: 19.06.2017


SpaceX officially sets new launch time for Bulgaria satellite

Bulgarian telecommunications company will give it another go on Friday in its effort to launch the country’s first satellite.

SpaceX officials said late Sunday that a mission that has been delayed multiple times has set its sights on 2:10 p.m. Friday.

The backup time for that date will be the next day at the same time.

If it meets this launch time, it will set up what SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on Sunday called a “weekend doubleheader,” as it will happen a day after a planned launch from Vandenberg Air Force base in California.

Both payloads will take off on a Falcon 9 rocket.

At about 3:29 p.m. on Sunday, SpaceX posted on Twitter that its launch of a BulgariaSat-1 would be delayed.

The company blamed a valve on the rocket’s fairing for the latest delay.

The launch date for this mission has been delayed multiple times. On Thursday, it appeared on track for Monday’s liftoff after SpaceX conducted its routine static-fire tests.

But Sunday’s Tweet changed that.

BulgariaSat-1 represents the country’s first geostationary telecommunications satellite.

SpaceX has three planned launches from Florida in July.

Officials with Bulgaria Sat, the largest provider of pay-TV services in Bulgaria, blamed weather forecasts for the initial June 15 delay.

The Bulgaria Sat launch will mark the second time SpaceX relaunches a rocket booster, following the March 30 relaunch of a booster from Florida.

Quelle: Orlando Sentinel


Update: 23.06.2017


SpaceX set for Friday re-launch of Falcon 9 rocket from KSC


SpaceX’s push to reuse rockets continues Friday with a planned 2:10 p.m. launch of Bulgaria’s first communications satellite from Kennedy Space Center.

It’s the start of SpaceX’s most ambitious sequence of launches yet, potentially flying twice within 48 hours from two coasts, and three times in less than two weeks.

In the process, SpaceX will tie and then surpass its high mark of eight successful launches in a calendar year — if it can avoid the type of failures that derailed fast starts in each of the two previous years.


“A lot of that is turning things into routine, I would say, and learning just to deal with these operations better and better every time,” said Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX vice president of flight reliability, of the company’s high flight rate in 2017.

The forecast Friday is excellent, with a 90 percent chance of acceptable weather during the two-hour window at KSC’s pad 39A.

Eight-and-a-half minutes after liftoff with the nearly 8,000-pound BulgariaSat-1 spacecraft, the Falcon 9’s first stage will attempt to land on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean, an event not visible from the shore.

That would be a familiar experience for a booster that launched and landed for the first time in January, when it lifted Iridium satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

SpaceX in March proved it can reuse large, orbital-class rockets, launching the SES-10 satellite with a first stage that had flown a year earlier.

The “flight proven” stage launching Friday, which test-fired nine Merlin main engines last Thursday, is being turned around for its second flight in half as much time.


“We have full confidence in the reused first stage,” said Wendy Lewis, a spokeswoman for satellite manufacturer Space Systems Loral, which signed the launch contract with SpaceX. “We think this is going to be the way of the future, that launch vehicles aren’t going to be throwaways.”

Maxim Zayakov, CEO of BulgariaSat and Bulsatcom, echoed that confidence.

“We ended up finding out that this is not that much of a risk,” Zayakov told FLORIDA TODAY last month. “In fact, we think the other way around, because a 'flight proven' first stage has all its systems been already used in flight, and it is very thoroughly checked after that, too.”


The companies did not say how much refurbishment the booster underwent, or how much of a discount came with the used rocket. SpaceX advertises satellite launches on new rockets for $62 million.

“We think that this is a good choice and, yes, of course it saved us some money,” said Zayakov.

If the launch from KSC goes well, SpaceX plans to follow up two days later with its second launch of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg.

Though not so uncommon in the 1960s, two launches of the same type of U.S. rocket within two days of each may not have happened for more than 40 years. A pair of Titan III launches in February 1974 was the last instance that local launch historian John Hilliard could confirm.

“This indicates they have enough people at both complexes to be able to support both operations,” said Hilliard, of Satellite Beach. “It shows they have the flexibility and manpower to launch off both coasts within 48 hours.”

The back-to-back Falcon 9 launches could even unfold within 24 hours, if the BulgariaSat mission slipped to Saturday. 

“The situation that we launch from both coasts is somewhat new for us,” said Koenigsmann. “We’ve had a little bit of separation in the past, and we’ve set up the teams to be able to cope with that and basically have the ability to launch from both sites within a short time period.”

If those two missions go off as planned, SpaceX hopes to squeeze in another commercial satellite launch from KSC by the July 4 holiday, before the Eastern Range closes for a scheduled two-week maintenance period.

Launch Friday

Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9

Mission: BuglariaSat-1 communications satellite

Launch Time: 2:10 p.m.

Launch Window: to 4:10 p.m.

Launch Complex: 39A at Kennedy Space Center

Weather: 90 percent “go”

Join for countdown chat and updates starting at 12:30 p.m. Friday, including streaming of SpaceX's webcast starting about 15 minutes before liftoff.

Quelle: Florida Today




























Quelle: SpaceX

Tags: Launch SpaceX Falcon 9 mit BulgariaSat-1 Satelliten 


Freitag, 23. Juni 2017 - 19:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - German-UK team maintains Galileo success


German-UK team maintains Galileo success

Eight new satellites have been ordered for Galileo - Europe's global positioning system. 

As before, they will be made by the German-UK consortium comprising OHB-System of Bremen and SSTL of Guildford. 

The industrial contract was signed at the Paris Air Show on Thursday by OHB and the European Space Agency, which is procuring Galileo on behalf of the EU. 

Europe's GPS has enough spacecraft for a full constellation already but this order ensures sufficient spares. 

It will provide leeway as some of the first satellites that were launched into the network are retired. 

This is the third straight contract win for OHB-SSTL. There are even options in the new order to add further units - of two, four or six extra satellites. 

Speaking at the Paris Air Show earlier this week, Fritz Merkle, the head of marketing at OHB, said the consortium was hoping for early clarity on whether these options are likely to be picked up. 

"We will be ordering components from our suppliers and there is a big difference if we are ordering those components for eight, 10, 12 or 14 units. If we have a gap between the orders - that will affect the price," he told BBC News. 

line break

Europe's Galileo system under construction

Artist's impressionImage copyrightESA
Image captionThe European Commission is about to place an order for more Galileo spacecraft
  • A project of the European Commission and the European Space Agency
  • 24 satellites constitute a full system, but it will have six spares in orbit also
  • Spacecraft have been launched in batches of two, but now go four at a time
  • Galileo will work alongside the US-owned GPS and Russian Glonass systems
  • Completed Galileo promises real-time positioning down to a metre or less
  • It should deepen and extend high-value markets already initiated by GPS
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The announcement of the new work order is a big fillip for SSTL, which as a UK company has been nervous about its position in the project given that Britain is about to leave the European Union. 

There are implications which the consortium, the European Commission, Esa and the London government will somehow have to pick their way through over the course of the next year and a half. 

One of the issues relates to the classified nature of some aspects of the satellites' design. Only a company in the EU is permitted to work on these elements. 

SSTL's part in the production process is to assemble the payloads for each spacecraft, and it is obvious even now that not all units will have left Guildford by 29 March 2019 - the official date of Brexit. 

"Industry is very much aware of the issues and their responsibilities and obviously we're in touch with them to understand what the impact is on the programme," said Paul Verhoef, Esa's director of navigation. 

"We will be working with them to find solutions, but we would leave it in the first instance to them to decide how to handle it." 

The obvious solution is that the Commission and the UK reach a deal or some transitional arrangement in their Brexit negotiations that allows the German-UK consortium to continue as before, moving equipment and people seamlessly between them across the Channel. 

If that is not possible, some creative solutions will need to be sought. 

For the moment, though, SSTL is delighted with another contract win. 

"It's great news for the team here in Guildford," said Gary Lay, the director of navigation at SSTL. 

"Galileo provides an important foundation for us. It gives us long-term certainty that makes sure our facilities are used. And that allows us to do all those other exciting, innovative and agile things that we like to do." 

There are currently 18 satellites orbiting in the Galileo constellation, with another eight from the previous work order still to fly. Twenty-four satellites are regarded as a fully operational system, but the idea is to have six spacecraft in orbit to act as spares should any failures occur. The next four satellites should launch on an Ariane rocket towards the end of this year.

Some of the existing satellites have experienced problems with their atomic clocks. 

These devices are used to generate Galileo's precise navigation and timing signals. The problems have not yet impacted the performance of the satellites, but engineers have had to change the way the clocks are managed in orbit. "And we're taking the opportunity of the new work order to do some design strengthening," Mr Lay told BBC News.

Quelle: BBC

Tags: German-UK team maintains Galileo success 


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