Two successful drops of the ExoMars second main parachute have been performed. One main chute was built by the US Airborne while the other was made by the Italian Arescosmo. Several upgrades were performed after the drop test of this summer including strengthening the parachute and modifications of the pilot chute.
Although not a landing mission in the traditional sense, the Double Astroid Test (DART) will impact astroid Dimorphos in September 2022. Tis impact will be used to demonstrate our ability to deflect an asteroid should it ever be necessary.
The recently announced start-up called Outpost will try and return satellites safely to earth using an inflatable heat shield and a parafoil. This will allow them to reuse satellites reducing their cost.
The third demonstrator for the reusable electron rocket has completed its flight. Based on the earlier flights several upgrades will be done including a new thermal protection paint on the outer skin of the rocket. This new variant will fly in early 2022 and will be caught mid-air.
The US company Inversion has recently obtained 10 million to develop a capsule to launch and retrieve experiments.
A specially designed escape vehicle is currently being integrated and will demonstrate the inflight abort capabilities of the Ganganyaan capsule mid-2022
After a three-month space flight, the crew of Shenzhou 12 returned safely back to Earth. It marked the first crewed flight to the new Chinese space station and the longest Chinese space flight so far. It also marked the first crewed return for China since October 2016 when the Shenzhou 11 mission landed.
Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen became the first four human passengers of the New Sheppard launch system
During at least one of the two drop tests performed over the last weeks, the supersonic parachute of the upcoming ExoMars mission was successful. The second, large subsonic parachute, however, failed and suffered some damage. According to the test engineers, the damage was small and the landing would have been successful.
Tonight SSC launched a balloon to about 29km to drop test the ExoMars parachute system. The parachute system broke during an earlier test and the upgraded system was first tested at NASA JPL. The balloon launched just after midnight, but so far no results have been published.
Somewhat unsurprisingly Lockheed Martin has been tasked with the production of an aeroshell for an upcoming mission. At the moment is unclear which mission this will be, but most likely this will be the Mars Sample Return mission.
NASA has selected the Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gas, Chemistry and Imaging, plus, or DAVINCI+, as part of their Discovery-class missions. The probe is expected to launch in the 2029-2030 timeframe and reached Venus in 2031-2032. The probe is expected to land in the "alpha region" of Venus.
In preparation for the high latitude drop tests this summer, a series of parachute bag extraction tests were done at the JPL rig in California. This validated the parachute packing and extraction.
During the twenties mission, the Electron rocket suffered a failure with the second stage ignition. This resulted in a loss of payload and mission. The first stage did perform a successful soft landing in the ocean.
Today China became the fourth nation to land a mission on Mars after Russia, the US and Europe. The rover Zhurong is about 240 kg, comparable to spirit and opportunity. Not a lot of information is known about the lander at this moment.
The Falcon 9 booster 1050 has completed its tenth flight reaching a major milestone in first stage reusability.
The crew 1 vehicle returned from space after their 137-day spaceflight to the ISS onboard the first operational flight of a crew dragon. The landing marked the first splashdown at night since Apollo 8.
Ingenuity has made the first-ever powered flight on another planet. The helicopter flew to Mars as a piggyback payload of Perseverance and was deployed some days ago. The vehicle flew to 3 meters where it hovered and then safely landed. The helicopter is an engineering experiment and carries no payload itself. Over the next months, the helicopter is expected to make more flights increasing in complexity.
The crew of the Soyuz MS-17 mission have successfully landed on the steppes of Kazakhstan after a long-duration space flight.
From the four applications, only three were allowed to the next phase. These begin the National Space team, Dynatics and SpaceX. Tonight NASA announced only the last one will be allowed to continue with the development of their lander. The Lunar starship is expected to launch on the SpaceX developed super-heavy booster.
The sample return mission, OSIRIS-REx begins its 1800000-mile trip back to earth. The capsule will return to earth in September 2023.
Today it was announced that the 20th flight of Electron to occur in May will again attempt an ocean landing. The rocket has been upgraded based upon lessons learned from the earlier flights. These upgrades mainly focus on the heat shield of the booster.
Due to the conditions in Texas Boeing announced they will perform OFT-2 no earlier than May.
Today NASA JPL held a press conference showing the first of its kind images perseverance captured during the Entry Descent and Landing. These included a high-resolution video of the heat shield dropping away, the parachute inflating, and the sky crane in action. The video can be found here:
After a long flight the Mars2020 mission, the Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter finally arrived at Mars. The landing used the largest supersonic parachute on Mars so far and the innovative sky crane. Video's of the EDL phase were made and will soon be released.
Today the Chinese Tianwen-1 mission entered Martian orbit. Part of the mission will land on the red planet in MAy 2021 marking the first Chinese Mars landing and first Chinese Mars rover.
The OFT-2 mission, testing the Boeing Starliner in orbit, has been set for the 25th of March.
After the partial success of the Boeing first orbital flight test of the Boeing Starliner, a new date has been set for a second mission. The mission is set to fly on the 29th of March. Today the software was cleared for this test flight. The software was identified as the main reason for the previous partial failure.
Blue Origin launches and recovered their capsule. As a payload, there was a mannequin test dummy inside a renewed capsule. The new capsule includes display panels, speakers and microphones. These features enable Blue Origin to start crewed flights soon.
The first mission of the new Dragon cargo missions splashes down in the Gulf. The cargo version of the Dragon2 marks the first flight of the SpaceX CRS-2 program