FIRST UP |  Dragon departing ISS after weather delay • NOAA wants a three-satellite GOES system • Solar array upgrade on tap for ISS this year
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A SpaceNews daily newsletter | Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Top Stories

A Dragon cargo spacecraft is departing the International Space Station today after poor weather delayed its scheduled return Monday. NASA and SpaceX waved off the departure of the CRS-21 Dragon spacecraft Monday morning, citing poor weather in recovery zones off the Florida coast. The Dragon is now scheduled to depart the ISS at around 9:05 a.m. Eastern today, but will remain in orbit until Wednesday evening, splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico west of Tampa at 8:27 p.m. Eastern. The Dragon is bringing back about 2,000 kilograms of scientific payloads and other cargo from the station. [NASA]

NOAA is proposing a future weather satellite system with three satellites in geostationary orbit, rather than two. NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) system currently has two operational satellites, GOES East and GOES West. However, a recent study recommended that, in the future, NOAA augment that system with a third satellite, GOES Central, with a complementary set of instruments. The NOAA study also recommended adding new instruments for air quality and ocean color measurements. The agency said it is in only the initial planning phases of the new system with a first launch in 2032, but expects the new system to cost similar to the $12 billion spent on the GOES-R fleet of four satellites. [SpaceNews]

NASA will embark on an upgrade of the solar arrays on the ISS this year. The agency said Monday it plans to launch the first of three pairs of upgraded arrays later this year on a Dragon cargo spacecraft. The new arrays, which deploy by rolling out, will be installed on top of the existing arrays, but will be more efficient and thus generate more power. The existing arrays, installed between 2000 and 2009, are gradually degrading, as expected, reducing the amount of power they generate. The new arrays are intended to ensure the station has sufficient power to continue operations through the decade. [SpaceNews]

Finnish company Iceye plans to launch three more synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites this month. The satellites are part of a SpaceX dedicated rideshare mission now scheduled to launch no earlier than Jan. 21. The new satellites will expand Iceye's constellation to six spacecraft that provide SAR imagery. Iceye is building an additional eight satellites. [SpaceNews]

Other News

In a surprise, NASA is moving up the final Green Run test of the Space Launch System core stage. NASA announced late Monday that the full-duration static-fire test of the core stage, which had been scheduled for this Sunday, is now planned for Saturday at the Stennis Space Center. The agency didn't disclose the reason for the schedule change, but plans to brief the media later today about its plans. The hotfire test is the last for the overall Green Run campaign, which started nearly a year ago, after which the core stage will be shipped to the Kennedy Space Center to be prepared for the launch of the Artemis 1 mission. [NASA]

A proposed Russian space station may not be permanently crewed. Russia is studying the development of its own space station as a potential successor to the ISS. Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, said Monday that the Russian station would only be temporarily crewed, rather than have a permanent human presence like the ISS, to reduce costs. RSC Energia is currently developing proposals for the station, but Roscosmos has not set a schedule or budget for the project. [TASS]

A company that seeks to develop a Canadian launch site says the project is moving ahead despite a lack of recent progress. Maritime Launch Services (MLS) proposed building a launch site near Canso, Nova Scotia, that would host launches of Cyclone-4 rockets built in Ukraine. The company failed to submit a progress report on the project to the provincial government last year, required as part of a 2019 environmental assessment of the spaceport, because of what the company said was a lack of activity at the time. Construction of the spaceport has yet to start and MLS is still looking for investors, but the company nonetheless claims that the facility could be ready to host launches late this year or early next year. [CBC]

The UK Space Agency is supporting research on space nuclear systems. The agency announced Tuesday it awarded a contract to Rolls-Royce to study space nuclear power and propulsion technologies and how they could be applied to future missions. The agency didn't disclose the scope or value of the contract beyond it being an effort to "explore the game-changing potential of nuclear power" in spaceflight. [UK Space Agency]

Batteries Not Included

"I've always said, if you want an $8 million car with a dead battery, I can tell you where to go get one."

– Apollo 15 astronaut Charlie Duke, discussing the performance of the lunar rover he drove on that mission. Duke said the rover worked so well that "if we went back with two batteries we could put them in, power it up and go again." [AutoMobilSport.com]

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