Archive for July, 2019


Credit: iSpace/China Central Television (CCTV)


For the first time in China, a carrier rocket developed by a private company has successfully sent satellites into orbit.

iSpace’s Hyperbola-1 launch vehicle was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu Province, northwest China, on July 25, 2019, at 05:00 UTC (13:00 local time).

Solid fuel launcher

Hyperbola-1 is a four-stage small solid launch vehicle designed by iSpace, (Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology Corporation)  with a payload capacity of over 570 pounds (260 kilograms).

Credit: New China TV/XinhuaVideo

Hyperbola-1 launched two satellites into orbit, a balloon satellite and the BP-1B satellite, developed by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation and Beijing Institute of Technology.








Go to this video from iSpace/China Central Television (CCTV) at:

Also watch this clip from New China TV/XinhuaVideo

Credit: House Subcommittee on Space & Aeronautics/Screengrab by Inside Outer Space



The House Subcommittee on Space & Aeronautics holds a hearing today to discuss the importance of government-industry collaboration in achieving space exploration and maintaining U.S. leadership on this issue.


Witnesses and their respective testimony:

Dr. Bhavya Lal, Research Staff Member, IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute

Ms. Carissa Christensen, Chief Executive Officer, Bryce Space and Technology

Mr. Eric W. Stallmer, President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation

Mr. Mike French, Vice President, Space Systems, Aerospace Industries Association

Ms. Laura Montgomery, Proprietor, Ground Based Space Matters, Professor, Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law

For a live video of this hearing, go to:

Credit: Bryce Space and Technology

Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 2476, July 25, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now closing out Sol 2476 duties.

Reports Ashley Stroupe, a mission operations engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the robot is parked at the base of the southern escarpment of the Visionarium.

“She’s at a significant tilt of 21 degrees,” Stroupe adds. “We’ve been imaging this ridge from several locations over the past few sols, trying to build up our understanding of the geology in this area.”

Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image taken on Sol 2476, July 25, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Details of layering

A recently drafted plan has Curiosity continuing to take high resolution images of the outcrop with Mastcam and its Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument; three specific areas are being targeted on the outcrop to see details of the various layering: “Antonine Wall,” “Tyrebagger Hill,” and “Seaton Cliffs.”

Curiosity Rear Hazcam Left B photo acquired on Sol 2476, July 25, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“After completing the imaging, Curiosity will be driving just a little bit closer to try to put the layers near Tyrebagger Hill into the arm workspace,” Stroupe explains. “This requires backing up a short distance, turning slightly, and then re-approaching the ridge at a slightly different location, where we believe parking will be safe to unstow the arm for contact science,” including low-angle Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photos of the layers.

Curiosity Navcam Right B photo taken on Sol 2476, July 25, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“We may get close to or even break Curiosity’s high tilt record on this drive!”

Winter for Curiosity

In an earlier report, Dawn Sumner, a planetary geologist at University of California Davis, notes that it is winter for Curiosity, and it’s cold.

“That means that we have to spend extra energy heating up the instruments and motors for our activities,” Sumner explains. “All of our energy comes from batteries, charged by the [radioisotope thermoelectric generator] RTG.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image of RTG unit, taken on Sol 2475, July 24, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“The RTG gives us more power than solar panels would, but in the winter, we are still limited by the amount of power it can generate. That means we have to choose among various activities,” Sumner adds.


Document the topography

Team members selected the saving of a little extra power for a big science day coming up.

“Thus, we planned only one ChemCam analysis, which was on the target Monreith,’ accompanied by a Mastcam image to document the analysis. We also asked Curiosity to take a Mastcam mosaic looking west to document the topography.”

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo taken on Sol 2476, July 25, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Seasonal changes

After playing photographer, Sumner points out, “Curiosity will drive up to the escarpment we’ve been imaging to the south. Once there, Curiosity will image its surroundings as well as look for clouds in the sky. Winter is the cloudy season at Gale Crater, so we are doing extra cloud imaging to better understand the atmosphere.”

Seasonal changes provide important insights into the climate of Mars, Sumner concludes. “Thus, winters are particularly interesting times for environmental observations even if the cold means that we can’t take as much data as we can in the warmer months.”

Credit: Rendering by Lior Rubanenko/UCLA



The polar regions of Earth’s Moon may contain significantly more water ice than previously thought, according to new research by space scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Shoring up this belief are two decades of observations from telescopes and spacecraft, not of the Moon, but the planet Mercury. What’s been found are glacier-like water ice deposits near Mercury’s poles. 

Why, despite their similar surface conditions, does our Moon have so much less ice than Mercury?

NASA’s Messenger orbiter at Mercury. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Buried below

“The simple answer is that the Moon has lots of ice — it’s just buried below the surface,” said David Paige, a UCLA professor of planetary science and a co-author of the study.

The study, published July 22 in Nature Geoscience, points to the existence of previously undetected thick ice deposits on the Moon. It was led by Lior Rubanenko, a UCLA graduate student.

Parallel investigations conducted on the Moon, whose polar thermal environments are very similar to those of Mercury, found only patchy, shallow ice deposits. Paige said that difference was the impetus for the UCLA study.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter flies over Shackleton crater near the lunar south pole in this computer rendering.
Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

Undetected thick ice deposits

Using data from NASA’s Messenger orbiter at Mercury and NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, researchers measured approximately 15,000 simple craters with diameters ranging from 2.5 to 15 kilometers (about 1.5 to 9 miles) on Mercury and the Moon.

So what’s the lowdown on lunar ice?

“We found that shallow craters tend to be located in areas where surface ice was previously detected near the south pole of the Moon,” Rubanenko said in a UCLA press statement.

According to the study, the most probable explanation for those shallower craters is the accumulation of previously undetected thick ice deposits.

Next step

The researchers conclude by suggesting that future Moon missions include the use of probes that can be used to study the shaded craters to confirm their suspicions.

The UCLA study also suggests that there may be enough water to sustain a future lunar settlement.

“We may use our results to re-estimate the total mass of the ice trapped in the lunar poles. Lunar cold-traps have been previously estimated to occupy ~104 km2. If all cold-traps hide a ~10-m-thick pure subsurface ice deposit, the total mass of water ice on the Moon could be estimated to be up to ~100 million metric tons.”

If true, this is approximately two orders of magnitude greater than previous estimates, the researchers report.

Buried treasure

“Our results combined with previous radar data imply that the most concentrated lunar ice deposits are likely to be buried a few meters under permanently shadowed south polar cold-traps. The possibility that thick ice-rich deposits exist on the Moon may not only help resolve the outstanding question regarding its low ice abundance relative to Mercury, but may also have practical applications in preparation for a future permanent lunar settlement,” the researchers conclude.

The paper – “Thick ice deposits in shallow simple craters on the Moon and Mercury” – has been published in the journal Nature Geoscience, and is authored by Lior Rubanenko, Jaahnavee Venkatraman and David Paige.

For more information on the paper, go to:


Credit: Spacefest

Join me at Spacefest X – August 8 – 11, 2019 – at the JW Marriott at Starr Pass, Tucson, Arizona.

Speaking Schedule
All times subject to change.

Free Talks 1

Annual gathering

Spacefest is an annual gathering of NASA Apollo, Gemini, and shuttle astronauts, space historians, astronomical and scientific guest speakers, authors, astronomers, spacey vendors, phenomenal STEM/STEAM events, an IAAA space art show, and all the fandom included!

Dr. Franklin Chang Díaz joins a host of astronauts to take part in this year’s Spacefest X.

There are paid events and many free events for the whole family to enjoy!

The goal of Spacefest is to reach out to those who “like space, but just don’t know it yet!” This unique, novel, and eclectic event is produced by Novaspace, a Tucson space art gallery & memorabilia dealer.

See you there!

For more information, go to:

Apollo 15 lunar module pilot Jim Irwin loads the lunar rover with tools and equipment in preparation for exploring the Hadley-Apennine landing site.
Credit: NASA



A partnership between the City of Kent, Washington and Kent Downtown have applied to receive historic landmark designation for the Lunar Roving Vehicles that were built at the Boeing Space Center.

A public hearing in front of the King County Landmarks Commission will be held on Thursday, July 25 at the Kent City Hall Council Chambers. If successful in achieving this designation at the local level, the region plans to pursue state recognition as well.

Astronaut John Young works at the mission’s Apollo 16 Moon buggie in April 1972.
Credit: NASA

As of now, California and New Mexico are the only states with lunar objects in their state historic registers.

Rich history

“Kent Valley is rooted in rich aerospace history due to Boeing’s early presence and a world-class, specialized workforce that continues to develop innovative technology,” said Michael Lombardi, historian for Boeing.

In December of 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent about 75 hours exploring the Moon’s Taurus-Littrow valley.
Credit: NASA

“This region’s impact on space exploration has global significance, and we’re ready to honor the achievements of these Lunar Roving Vehicles and their brilliant engineers,” Lombardi said in a press statement.

As a major subcontractor, the General Motors’ Defense Research Laboratories in Santa Barbara, California, furnished the mobility system (wheels, motors, and suspension) for the lunar rover design.

Apollo 15 landing site imaged by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter camera system, LROC. The Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) is parked to the far right, and the Lunar Module descent stage is in the center, LRV tracks indicated with arrows.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Trio of wheeled vehicles

Boeing crafted these, two-person, human-controlled “moon buggies” in only 17 months to become the mobile vessels for six astronauts to safely explore the Moon’s landscape. They were used in Apollo missions 15, 16 and 17 in 1971 and 1972 – and this hardware remained on the Moon.

Scientist-astronaut Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17 later reported: The Lunar Rover proved to be the reliable, safe and flexible lunar exploration vehicle we expected it to be. Without it, the major scientific discoveries of Apollo 15, 16, and 17 would not have been possible; and our current understanding of lunar evolution would not have been possible.”

The Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) was created to research and investigate Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) including numerous videos of reported encounters, three of which were released to the public in 2017.
Credit: U.S. Department of Defense/To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science


A new lawsuit has been filed to obtain records regarding unidentified flying objects (UFOs), in a fresh attempt to uncover the U.S. government’s purported role in covering up the existence of UFOs.

Larry Klayman, founder of both Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch announced the move, suing the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Klayman is known for his strong public interest advocacy in furtherance of ethics in government and individual freedoms and liberties.

The saga stems back to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Freedom Watch to the Department of Defense back in December 22, 2011.

Credit: MUFON

That request involved the production of agency records related to extraterrestrial visits, UFO encounters, Area 51, the Roswell incident and extraterrestrial life information regarding the United Nations, Great Britain and the United States.

Bad faith obstruction

Eight years later, the public interest group’s Freedom of Information Act request did result in documents, with nearly all of them in Russian.

However, in a July 18, 2019 complaint to DoD from Freedom Watch, it explains:

“The great majority of the de minimus production of records was in Russian and was not responsive to the original request, filed about 8 years earlier.”

“This is tantamount to a denial and complete bad faith obstruction of justice, as it is clear that Defendant DoD is suppressing and illegally withholding relevant records as part of a cover-up,” the complaint explains. “Defendant DoD dishonestly produced non-responsive documents conveniently and overwhelmingly in Russian…”

Courtesy: CIA

Voluminous records

The complaint continues citing the fact that U.S. Senators recently received a classified briefing on confirmed sightings UFOs by our military pilots and others, “and it is now widely accepted that the U.S. government possesses voluminous records and information about the existence of UFO’s and related matters as set forth in Plaintiff’s FOIA request.”







For access to the Freedom Watch complaint, go to:

Also, go to this recent article on the topic at

Decades of Studying UFOs: What’s the Truth?

Lastly, read:

Spot a UFO – Best Viewing

Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B photo acquired on Sol 2475, July 24, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has just started Sol 2476 duties.

Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B photo acquired on Sol 2475, July 24, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The rover has been busily carrying out both remote science and contact science, reports Kristen Bennett, a planetary geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Recently planned was a large Mastcam mosaic of the outcrop located to the south of Curiosity.

Vertical exposure

“When we see outcrops like this one that show a vertical exposure of laminated rocks, we capture it in high resolution Mastcam images so that scientists can look for sedimentary structures that give us clues as to how the rock formed,” Bennett reports.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 2475, July 24, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity’s workspace exhibits a lot of pebbles, plus a few small blocks. Two of the blocks, “Moine” and “Mither Tap,” were targeted by the robot’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS), and the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 2475, July 24, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Rear Hazcam Left B image acquired on Sol 2475, July 24, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo produced on Sol 2475. July 23, 2019. MAHLI is located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS



Bennett added that Curiosity is slated to again wheel itself to a new exploration spot.

Courtesy of NASA/JPL/USGS

We’re Heading Back to the Moon and Then On to Mars

By Michael R. Pence, Vice President of the United States

Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, when “one small step for man” became “one giant leap for mankind.”

In that moment, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins helped our nation win the “space race,” answering the call made by President John F. Kennedy just eight years before to “put a man on the moon” before the decade was out.

But when President Kennedy issued that challenge, our nation was not yet prepared to meet it. We didn’t have the rockets, launch pads, spacesuits, or so many other vital technologies to get there safely – or, just as importantly, to return home.

In fact, history records that President Richard Nixon prepared a speech in the event of a tragedy, explaining to the nation that the mission had failed.

But thanks to the courage, grit and determination of the three space pioneers of Apollo 11 – and the hard work of the men and women behind their mission at NASA – that speech was never delivered.

Instead, the United States did the impossible by placing the first man on the surface of the moon. The snowy images of Armstrong and Aldrin walking across the lunar surface left an indelible mark on the imaginations of the 600 million people across the Earth who waited with fear and wonder.

Apollo 11 landing site.
Credit: NASA

The crew of Apollo 11 did more than plant a flag and leave a footprint – they brought our world together.

Unity is the true legacy of Apollo 11 – and we must capture that same unity in our own day by renewing our commitment to American leadership in space.

The United States will lead the creation of a base at the moon’s South Pole where astronauts could reside for weeks and months. And from what we learn there, we will become the first nation in the history of mankind to set foot on the red planet of Mars.

U.S. President Donald Trump holds up the Space Policy Directive – 1 after signing it, directing NASA to return to the Moon, alongside members of the Senate, Congress, NASA, and commercial space companies in the Roosevelt room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017.
Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Under President Trump, we are doing just that.

In our first year in office, after it had laid dormant for nearly a quarter-century, President Trump revived the National Space Council to coordinate our nation’s space activities and bring the full force of our national interest to bear on decisions driving our space enterprise.

President Trump also recognizes that in this new era of opportunity, we will not fully unlock the mysteries of space unless we look beyond the halls of government for input, guidance and innovation.

That’s why we’ve unleashed American companies that are on the cutting edge of the space industry – developing the rockets, spaceships, and technologies that will take us further into space, faster than ever before.

And thanks to our administration’s decisive actions, America’s pioneering space companies are creating the American jobs of the future and blazing new trails into the skies above.

From the cargo ships that are resupplying the International Space Station, to the reusable lunar landers that will help put Americans back on the moon and the Space Launch System that will carry us deeper into space than ever before, America’s space industry is helping forge our future in the heavens above.

We know what the men and women of Apollo knew: The rules and values of space are written by those who have the courage to get there first and the commitment to stay.

Credit: ESA/NASA

So to continue the proud tradition established in the Apollo program, and to ensure that our most cherished values prevail in the skies above, President Trump has made it our national policy to return to the moon in the next five years – and this time, we will stay.

The first woman and the next man on the moon will both be American astronauts, launched by American rockets, from American soil. The United States will lead the creation of a base at the moon’s South Pole where astronauts could reside for weeks and months. And from what we learn there, we will become the first nation in the history of mankind to set foot on the red planet of Mars.

Credit: NASA

Under President Trump’s strong leadership, we’ve already signed into law one of the largest NASA budgets since the days of the Apollo program. And I am proud to announce that the crew vehicle for the Artemis I mission – our first step back to the moon – is officially “capsule complete.”

The tasks before us will involve hardship and hazard, sacrifice and determination. But we shall go forth – not in spite of the difficulties, but because of them.

Just as Apollo 11 united the world 50 years ago, so too will the United States astonish the world with the heights we reach and the wonders we achieve in our own age.

And under President Trump, we will lead the world into space once again.

This op-ed appeared at Fox News on July 20, 2019.

Curiosity Navcam Right B image taken on Sol 2469, July 18, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2470 duties.

Reports Scott Guzewich, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Curiosity finds itself parked in front of a fascinating area of martian bedrock with clearly lighter and darker colored areas next to each other.

Curiosity Navcam Left B photo taken on Sol 2468, July 17, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“This will be a ‘full’ contact science location and the rover will spend the next few sols examining the rocks in this immediate area just in front of the Southern Outcrop,” Guzewich adds.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 2468, July 17, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Full dust-removal treatment

A target on the lighter-colored bedrock was termed “Solway Firth” and is a Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) target and the full dust-removal tool treatment before Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) observations.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 2468, July 17, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The second contact science location (without the dust removal) will be “Nith” on the darker-colored bedrock.

Drill inspection

A second sol plan is slated to include a rare ChemCam image of the rover’s drill bit, Guzewich notes, “to examine how it has been worn during our years on Mars.”

Curiosity Navcam Right B image taken on Sol 2469, July 18, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“We are into the cloudy season on Mars and included two Navcam movies to study the water ice clouds that frequent the skies above Gale Crater in the afternoons and evenings this time of year,” Guzewich adds. “Lastly, Mastcam will take a large, and sure to be spectacular, mosaic of the nearby Southern Outcrop.”