This Week’s Top Space Stories!


India launches anti-satellite weapon

(Image: © Office of the Prime Minister of India)

On Wednesday (March 27), Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unexpected announcement: The country’s military had successfully carried out an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon test fire, making India just the fourth country to have done so. India’s Ministry of External Affairs said the debris created in the test ought to burn up over the coming weeks, but the surprise announcement nevertheless sparked conversations about space militarization and diplomacy. [Full Story: India Tests Anti-Satellite Weapon]

See Also: India Says Its Anti-Satellite Weapon Test Created Minimal Space Debris. Is That True?

Pence wants astronauts on the moon before 2028

On Tuesday (March 26), Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the fifth meeting of the National Space Council (NSC), held at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Alabama. He urged the United States to land astronauts on the moon within the next five years, adding that NSC would recommend that NASA’s next crewed surface mission target a potential lunar base site. [Full Story: US to Return Astronauts to the Moon by 2024, VP Pence Says]

See Also: NASA Aims to Accelerate SLS Megarocket for 2024 Moon Push

First all-female spacewalk scrapped

(Image: © NASA)

On Monday (March 25), NASA announced that the first all-female spacewalk, scheduled for Friday (March 29) with NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch, would no longer be happening — another astronaut will sub in for McClain. A spacesuit sizing issue arose, and according to a tweet McClain wrote on March 27, the decision was based on her recommendation. [Full Story: Astronauts Won’t Make the 1st All Female Spacewalk After All, NASA Says]

See Also: 1st All-Female Spacewalk Scrapped Over Safety Concerns, Not Sexism

Plus: Kathy Sullivan, 1st American Woman to Walk in Space, on the All-Female Spacewalk That Could Have Been

Italian earth-observing satellite launches

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured this stunning view of the galaxy cluster RXC J0142.9+4438 on Aug. 13, 2018, using the observatory’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Camera 3.

(Image: © Arianespace)

About a week and a half ago, the Italian Space Agency’s PRISMA Earth observation satellite flew into space aboard a European Vega rocket. PRISMA is designed to monitor crop health, the environment, resource management and pollution. [Full Story: Vega Rocket Launches Earth-Watching PRISMA Satellite for Italy]

See Also: Rocket Lab Launches Experimental Satellite for DARPA

U.S. shoots missile in defense test

A first-ever test March 25, 2019 saw two ground-based interceptors launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California intercepting an intercontinental ballistic missile target launched from a separate test site.

(Image: © U.S. Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency)

On Monday (March 25), the Missile Defense Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense conducted a test from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The target of the missile defense test was an airborne object launched from the Reagan Test Site in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. [Full Story: US Military Shoots ICBM Target Out of the Sky in Missile Defense Test]

‘Cannonball’ pulsar shoots through space

On March 19, NASA published news of a supernova remnant discovered by researchers using the agency’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope and the National Science Foundation’s Very Large Array (VLA) astronomical observatory. This object is a pulsar, a super dense stellar leftover that was seen flying across space at almost 2.5 million mph (4 million km/h). The pulsar also boasted a glowing trail 13 light-years long. [Full Story: Whirling ‘Cannonball’ Pulsar Flees Supernova Site at Epic Speed]

The helicopter that might scan Mars’ skies

(Image: © NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Two years from now, a small autonomous helicopter will fly with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission. The helicopter would be attached to the rover’s belly on its journey to the Red Planet. Equipped with a high-resolution color imager, the flyer would search for signs of ancient Martian life and store samples for future retrieval. [Full Story: 2020 Mars Helicopter Could Open Alien Skies to Exploration]

Two astronauts perform their first spacewalks

The Canadarm2 robotic arm is fully extended in this photo by Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques. 

(Image: © NASA TV)

On March 22, first-time NASA spacewalkers Anne McClain and Nick Hague exited the International Space Station to replace batteries on a segment of the space lab that connects to one of its solar arrays. The 6.5 hour-long spacewalk was the first in a series of three spacewalks that are scheduled to take place in the near future, with the final one slated for April 8. [Full Story: Spacewalking Astronauts Swap Space Station Batteries in Power Upgrade]

Mock moon mission underway in Russia

InsightART’s scanner based on space-flown technology analyzes a statue of an angel.

(Image: © Institute of Biomedical Problems)

 On March 19, Russia’s SIRIUS-19 experiment began. The 120-day experiment, held at Moscow’s Institute of Biomedical Problems, features a six-member crew simulating a flight to the moon. [Full Story: There’s a Mock Moon Mission Underway in Russia]

Boeing reschedules its crew-capsule test launches

(Image: © Boeing)

Next month, Boeing was set to perform an uncrewed test mission of its CST-100 Starliner crew capsule to the International Space Station. But on March 20, Reuters reported that Boeing has delayed the vehicle’s flight. August 2019 is now the earliest test launch date for this uncrewed test. [Full Story: Boeing Delays 1st Test Flight of Crew Capsule to August: Report]

Source: space.com

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