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Space News 2021

EVONA will be updating you with the most exciting Space News from around the world every week! Read below to find out the big stories from this week or keep scrolling to see all the exciting things that have already happened in the space sector during 2021.

This Week's Space News - Week 7

The Perseverance Rover Successfully Lands on Mars

NASA's Perseverance Rover set of on it's seven month journey to the Red Planet on the 30th July 2020 and after surviving the landing sequence known as the 'seven minutes of terror', has safely landed on the Martian surface. The Perseverance Rover is the most advance robot to ever make it to Mars and will now look for signs of previous life on the planet, with the ability to collect 40 samples it's hoped these can be brought back to earth in a few years and make huge contributions to research and science.

Find out more on Space.com

Perseverance Rover Sends First Photo Back From Mars

11 minutes after they were taken, the first images from the Perseverance Rover returned to Earth. Whilst these images are somewhat blurry due to being taken by engineering cameras and dust particles from the landing clouding the space around the rover, it's a sign of what's to come over the next few days. The rover is the most equipped of any rover to document it's time on Mars and better images are expected soon from the 25 cameras and two microphones.

Find out more on the Independent

The European Space Agency Drive for Diversity

If you didn't already know, the ESA is recruiting astronauts for the first time in 11 years and hopes to recruit up to 26 permanent and reserve astronauts. Falling behind on matters such as diversity, it's new recruitment drive is pushing for women and those who has a disability to apply. ESA Director General Jan Wörner said “Visible representation is always important and so therefore we’ve been asking ourselves, what are the barriers preventing us from flying a physically disabled astronaut to the ISS.”

Find out more on SpaceNews

Previous Week's Space News

What You Missed in Week 6...

UAE'S Hope Probe Reaches Mars

Credit: UAE Space Agency

UAE's Space Agencies Hope Probe has successfully made it to Mars, becoming the fifth globally to do so after America, Russia, ESA and India. There was doubts about the success of entering Mars's orbit with a failure rate of 50% as the probe needed to burn around half of the onboard fuel in order to slow down enough and not overshoot. In celebration of it's success many land marks in the UAE have been lit up red, including the Burj Al Arab, one of the tallest buildings in the world.

Find out more on the Independent

Elon Musk Announces a $100 Million Carbon-Capture Contest - XPrize

 Daniel Oberhaus, CC BY-SA 4.0<https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>,via Wikimedia Commons

The XPrize Carbon Removal competition, which opens in April, is asking innovators to develop new technologies which will remove carbon from the air and oceans and the amount must be able to scale massively to gigaton level. The competition which will run for four years is being led by SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk, who has offered a $100 million prize pot. This will be split initially by 15 teams receiving US$1m each, Student teams can also compete for 25 scholarships worth US$200,000 each. The remaining US$80m will then be divided among the top three technologies, with first place receiving US$50m, second US$20m, and third US$10m.

Find out more on The Chemical Engineer

Tianwen- 1 Successfully Enters Orbit Around Mars - Making it China's First Mars Mission

Tianwen-1's first image of Mars: Credit - CNSA

Tianwen- 1, China's first mission to Mars, arrived in Orbit on the 10th of February. This makes the country's space agency the 6th successful one to reach Mars, after UAE became the 5th earlier on in the week. However, this is not it for the Chinese mission as Tianwen-1 will be attempting to land on the red planet in a few months from now, touching down on a large plain in Mars's northern hemisphere known as Utopia Planitia.

Find out more on Space.com

What You Missed in Week 5...

SpaceX SN9 Prototype Explodes on Landing

SpaceX SN9 Rocket photographed in-front of a sunset
Jared Krahn, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

SpaceX tested out the latest version of it's heavy launch rocket SN9 after previously testing the SN8 back in December. Like the previous prototype the rocket successfully reached 10km, completed a horizontal flip however did not manage to successfully get vertical or slow down to complete the landing - ending in an explosion much like the SN8. SpaceX is developing the Starship in order to take people and payloads to the moon, Mars and further into deep space.

Find out more on the Independent

High School Students Help Discover Four Alien Planet

Six exoplanets pictured in size order in comparison to earth
Credit: NASA

16-year-old Kartik Pinglé and 18-year-old Jasmine Wright have helped discover four new exoplanets which orbit around the sun-like star TOI-1233. The two students worked with Postdoctoral student Tansu Daylan as part of the Student Research Mentoring Program (SRMP) at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics (CfA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Find out more on Tech Times

ABL Space Systems is selected for UK Launch by Lockheed Martin

Artists interpretation of the Lockheed Martin RS1 rocket launching
Credit: Lockheed Martin

ABL Space Systems will conduct Lockheed Martin’s UK Pathfinder Launch using the RS1 rocket from the Shetland Space port, which is being developed on an island in the Shetlands in 2022.This comes after the UK Government awarded a $31 million contract to Lockheed Martin to support development of a domestic launch capability. The UK hopes to be the first country in Europe to have smallsat launch capabilities and begin attracting innovative businesses from all over the world.

Find out more on Lockheed Martin

January's Space News 2021

What You Missed in Week 4...

Axiom Announces the Crew Aboard First Private ISS Mission

Axiom space station graphic and logo
Credit: Axiom Space

Axiom Space announced the names of the crew members taking part in the first entirely private mission to the ISS. The crew includes Michael López-Alegría, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe. The proposed mission will include 8 days aboard the ISS and participate in research and philanthropical projects. The launch is likely to take place in the early months of 2022 aboard a SpaceX crew dragon.

Find out more on Axiom Space

Scientists confirm earth is hotter than it has been in 120 Centuries

The earth pictured from space with fragments of light connecting the cities

The debate which discusses how the earths temperature has changes over the past 12,000 years, also known as Holocene Temperature Conundrum, has cast doubts about the efficiency and accuracy of current climate models. However scientists have been closely looking at data and confirm the Earth is hotter than it has been in 12,000 years and most likely 128,000 years too. This work has put confidence in current climate models and accurately predicting the future of our plant.

Find out more on Space.com

Astronauts Perform European Lab Upgrades During Spacewalk

The ISS pictured from above, it looks down to the earth and sea below

Being Victoria Glovers first spacewalk and Mike Hopkins’ third, the two astronauts spent seven hours outside of the ISS working on the Bartolomeo external science platform. In contact with space and ground teams, the astronauts were able to resolve several issues including stiff cables, an unresponsive antenna, and a new high speed data antenna. Unfortunately, they were unable to activate the Bartolomeo platform due to 1 of 3 cables not connecting – despite all the other amazing work achieved in their spacewalk.

Find out more on the Economic Times

What You Missed in Week 3...

SpaceX Launch Breaks Records for the Number of Smallsats

SpaceX rocket launching into bright blue sky with large cloud trailing behind

On the 24th of January a SpaceX launch took a total of 143 satellites into orbit - breaking the record for the number of satellites launched at once. The launch was the companies first dedicated rideshare mission as part of their ridesharing programme which was announced in August 2019. SpaceX say they want to use this service to provide competitive pricing and increased flight opportunities for companies wanting to utilise space. Companies' satellites aboard this mission include Planet, Swarm, Iceye, Capella Space, Spire, Hawkeye 360 and NASA, SpaceX even launched 10 of their own Starlink satellites.

Find out more on Geospatial World

Launch of the Tiantong 1-03 Communications Satellite

Chinese Long March 3B rocket taking off in the dark
Lift-off of the Long March 3B rocket carrying Tiantong 1-03. (Image credit: CASC)

China's first of 40 planned missions this year, took off on the 19th of January, marking the beginning of a huge year for the countries space programme. The rocket successfully launched from the Xichang launch base at 11:25 a.m. EST (16:25 GMT). The Chinese Long March 3B rocket deployed the Tiantong 1-03 satellite which is the third one in the Tiantong 1 communications network, used to provide mobile communication services across the Asia- Pacific region, the Middle East and parts of Africa.

Find out more on Spaceflight Now

Elephants Counted from Space for Conservation

African elephant walking on a dirt rack surrounded by green trees and bushes

Conservationist are testing out cutting-edge techniques to count African Elephants from space using data from satellites. Using images from an earth observation satellite positioned 600km above earth, the research uses machine learning to count the elephants. The algorithm has been trained to recognise small details that wouldn't usually be picked up by the naked eye, meaning it could drastically improve the way we monitor endangered species in varied habitats.

Find out more on BBC

What You Missed in Week 2...

Critical Test of NASA's Space Launch System for Artemis 1 Shuts Down Early

NASA structure housing the RS-25 engines with a huge cloud billowing out of it
NASA/Robert Markowitz, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Four huge NASA RS-25 engines roared to life in a critical test for NASA's Artemis mission to take humans back to the moon. The four engines power the rockets core booster and need to run for a total of 8 minutes. The test run ended prematurely only running for just over a minute - this could now delay the planned un-crewed Artemis 1 mission around the moon taking place later this year.

Find out more on Space.com

Blue Origin NS-14 Mission Success

Launch of New Sheppard pictured from above, the rocket central with a large flame
Image Credit: Blue Origin

Blue origin is another step closer to human spaceflight after another successful mission on the 14th January with their newly upgraded New Sheppard spacecraft (NS-14) . The new cabin features a six-seats, improved environmental features with acoustics and internal temperature regulation, display panels for the crew and push-to-talk buttons for each seat. Occupied by frequent Blue Origin flier 'Mannequin Skywalker' it is likely we see this company take humans to space this year.

Find out more on NASA Spaceflight

Bordeaux Wines Return from Space

hand pouring red wine into a glass with another full one behind

12 bottles of Bordeaux wine and hundreds of grapevine snippets splash landed in the Gulf of Mexico aboard the SpaceX Dragon Capsule after spending a year on the ISS. The privately funded research will assess the effects of radiation, low-gravity and the stress of spaceflight on the grapes and wine to help understand how we can adapt to harsher conditions on earth. A special wine tasting of the 'space wine' is likely to take place in February.

Find out more on the Guardian

What you missed in Week 1...

NASA's Plum Brook Station Renamed in Honour of Neil Armstrong

Orion capsule picture inside of the plum brook centre

NASA's Plum Brook Station is currently being used to test their moon-bound spacecraft, therefore, the name change is being used to honour the first astronaut to step foot on the moon. The centre is now known as NASA John H. Glenn Research Centre at the Neil A. Armstrong Test facility.

Find out more on Collect Space

Astronomers Re-Evaluate the Age of the Universe

lots of planets, stars and other matter representing the universe
NASA, ESA, H. Teplitz and M. Rafelski(IPAC/Caltech), A.Koekemoer (STScI), R. Windhorst (Arizona State University),and Z. Levay(STScI), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Findings from a team of astronomers led by Cornell University have helped settle the debate on the age of the universe after a re-calculation in 2019 found it to be millions of years younger than originally thought. The astronomers have calculated the age to be 13.77 billion years - this new measure is likely to be more reliable and useful in continuing research into our universe.

Find out more on Space.com

SpaceX Launches Turksat 5A Communications Satellite

SpaceX Falcon rocket taking off in the dark with a long line of light from the engines following
U.S. Space Force photo by Joshua Conti, Public domain, viaWikimedia Commons

Kicking off the first orbital launch of 2021 is the Turksat 5A Communications satellite carried by the SpaceX Falcon rocket, taking off on January the 7th from Space launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The communications satellite will provide Ku-band broadcast services over Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Find out more on Space News