Soyuz rocket launched a spy satellite into orbit, and Maxar caught Russia stealing Ukrainian grain: News Digest

Selection of space news for breakfast: Thanks to observation from space, scientists have discovered a new type of Earth’s magnetic waves. The UN has issued commemorative stamps in honor of the Martian missions, and NASA wants to refuel and repair satellites in orbit.

Software Problems Delay NASA Psyche Launch

The launch of NASA’s Psyche asteroid mission, which was set for Aug. 1 on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, has been delayed to no earlier than Sept. 20 after ground teams discovered an issue during software testing on the spacecraft, officials said Monday.

Experimental payload with robotic arm to attempt metal cutting on orbit

Voyager Space announced that one of its portfolio companies, Nanoracks, will launch a NASA-funded experiment to demonstrate on-orbit metal cutting using a robotic arm. The mission named Outpost Mars Demo-1 is scheduled to launch May 25 aboard SpaceX’s Transporter 5 rideshare. The experiment originally was scheduled to launch in 2020. The mission is part of Voyager’s outpost program that seeks to transform used launch vehicle upper stages into space habitat platforms.

Satellite images appear to show Russian ships loading up with Ukrainian grain in Crimea

Russia’s theft of Ukrainian grain appears to be ramping up as it continues its war on the country, according to new satellite photos of the Crimean port of Sevastopol. New images from Maxar Technologies show how two bulk carriers under the Russian flag are docked and loaded with allegedly stolen Ukrainian grain. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy accused Russia of “gradual theft” of Ukrainian food products and attempts to sell them.

Russian spy satellite launched by Soyuz rocket

A classified mapping satellite rode a Soyuz rocket into space Thursday from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, the fifth mission of the year to deploy a Russian military payload in orbit.

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The artistic concept of OSAM-1 is approaching Landsat 7. Source: NASA

NASA is building a mission that will refuel and repair satellites in orbit

The mission, called OSAM-1 (On-orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing-1), will send a robotic spacecraft equipped with robotic arms and all the tools and equipment needed to fix, refuel or extend satellites’ lifespans, even if those satellites were not designed to be serviced on orbit. The first test flight of OSAM-1 is scheduled for launch no earlier than 2026 and will go to low Earth orbit to rendezvous, grapple and dock with Landsat 7, an Earth observing satellite that has been in orbit since 1999. 

SpaceX looks to raise $1.7 billion in new funding, boosting its valuation to $127 billion

As it became known, SpaceX is raising a massive round of fresh funding, sending the private company’s valuation to about $127 billion. The space venture is looking to bring in up to $1.725 billion in new capital, at a price of $70 per share, according to a company-wide email on Friday obtained by CNBC. SpaceX’s valuation has skyrocketed over the past few years as the company has raised billions to fund work on two capital-intensive projects: Starship and Starlink.

Japan Air Self Defense Force awards contract to LeoLabs  

Space mapping startup LeoLabs announced a multimillion-dollar contract to provide space domain awareness data, services and training to the Japan Air Self Defense Force. The contract gives the Japan Air Self Defense Force access to data gathered by LeoLab’s global network of phased array radars as well as training on LeoLabs’ tracking, monitoring and collision-avoidance services.

Quad nations unveil satellite-based maritime monitoring initiative

Leaders of the United States, Japan, India and Australia have agreed to launch a satellite-based initiative to help countries in the Indo-Pacific region track illegal fishing and other suspicious maritime activities.

The maritime monitoring pledge is part of a broader set of peace, security, science and technology agreements reached during the four-nation Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’s summit in Japan’s capital, Tokyo. Because the Quad is a U.S.-led security forum aimed at countering China, the monitoring effort is likely to focus on China’s maritime activities in the region.

Benchmark works with Space Forge to develop reusable engines 

Benchmark Space Systems announced plans to produce engines in the United Kingdom and to work with U.K. startup Space Forge to develop reusable chemical propulsion systems.

Space Forge of Cardiff, Wales, intends to produce high-value materials in orbit to bring to Earth. Under the contract announced, Benchmark will provide propulsion for ForgeStar-1, Space Forge’s first in-space manufacturing and return demonstration.


Stamps dedicated to Martian missions. Source:

United Nations issued stamps dedicated to the Martian missions

The United Nations Postal Administration has created commemorative stamps dedicated to human exploration of Mars. They depict the vehicles that the United States, China and the United Arab Emirates have sent to the red planet over the past few years. In total, it is planned to release six different stamps. At the same time, three of them will have a special gift issue with an expanded image in the margins.

Swarm unveils magnetic waves deep down

Using information from ESA’s Swarm satellite mission, scientists have discovered a completely new type of magnetic wave that sweeps across the outermost part of Earth’s outer core every seven years. ESA’s Swarm mission, which comprises three identical satellites, measures these magnetic signals that stem from Earth’s core, as well as other signals that come from the crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere.

Human’s motion perception revealed by spaceflight: study

The researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and China Astronaut Research and Training Center conducted a spaceflight experiment with Chinese astronauts during the country’s Shenzhou manned flight missions. They found that a prolonged period spent in microgravity diminished people’s tendency to be highly sensitive to biological motion but less sensitive to its inverted counterpart.

Read also: The US and Japan plan a joint landing on the Moon, and scientists will be able to read the KISS of microbes: News Digest

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