Expanding Universe

Credit: ElderFox Documentaries

SpaceX successfully tested their Starship spacecraft, the future of their ambitions to explore different planets.

Unfortunately, their follow-up to this mission, Crew-1, was delayed until September. It will have four astronauts who will journey to the ISS for a long-term mission.
Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/elizabethhowell1/2020/07/24/spacex-delays-next-astronaut-flight-to-september/#2c63943263de

The successful return of astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken, who were recently launched to space aboard a private spaceflight, marks a first in private spaceflight history and sets a new precedent for companies to try their hand at sending humans to the stars.

Amazing photo of a crater on Mars capture by HiRISE.

Dawn Aerospace revealed its Mk II Aurora sub-orbital space plane. The goal for them is to deliver small payloads (i.e. tiny satellites) to orbit aboard a sustainable launch model, ensuring that launch costs remain low enough to be viable for more customers.
Tech Crunch: https://techcrunch.com/2020/07/28/dawn-aerospace-unveils-the-mk-ii-aurora-suborbital-space-plane-capable-of-multiple-same-day-flights/amp/

In anticipation of their upcoming resupply mission to the ISS, Sierra Nevada has named their first Dream Chaser spaceplane Tenacity. It is very similar to the older Space Shuttle NASA had used for years.
Space.com: https://www.space.com/amp/dream-chaser-space-plane-tenacity-tour.html

NASA’s Juno spacecraft recently flew past Ganymede, a moon orbiting Jupiter, getting excellent images of its northern pole.
IFL Science: https://www.iflscience.com/space/nasa-s-juno-has-snapped-the-first-images-of-ganymede-s-north-pole/

A new study found 37 recently active volcanoes in Venus. This can be used as proof of an active core inside Venus, a debatable topic considering that the issue hasn’t been settled.
Sci Tech Daily: https://scitechdaily.com/scientists-identify-37-active-volcanoes-on-venus-planets-interior-is-still-churning/

Credit: ESA

This is a video of the Korolev Crater on Mars assembled from images taken by the Mars Express’ High Resolution Stereo Camera.

The latest launch for Rocket Lab failed as their Electron Rocket exploded after it entered its second stage. This resulted in the destruction of several satellites onboard which were due to be inserted into orbit. The company has had numerous successful launches and is trying to maintain frequent launches of its 3-D printed rockets.

Orlando Sentinel: https://www.orlandosentinel.com/space/os-bz-rocket-lab-launch-fail-20200708-bw3r2bvq4rhzrgcx6f6pme7tee-story.html

Universe Today: https://www.universetoday.com/146872/electron-rockets-13th-launch-failed-destroying-its-satellite-payload/

Research on the exoplanet WASP-76b revealed that the planet can reach temperatures of 2,400 C during the day. Due to this, scientists theorized that iron could melt in these temperatures and that the wind could blow the iron to the cooler part of the planet where it could turn to rain. Thus, iron rain could be possible.

Universal-Sci: https://www.universal-sci.com/headlines/2020/3/11/astronomers-discovered-a-planet-where-it-actually-rains-iron-from-the-sky

A new exoplanet, AU Mic b, has been discovered around a nearby star, AU Microscopii. The planet is about the size of Neptune but instead of being far away from the star it is so close that it only takes 8.5 days to orbit the star. For our Sun it takes Earth 365.25 days to make a full orbit and Neptune takes 164.8 years (yes years) or 60,182 days. AU Microscopii is a bit different from our Sun. It is 32 light years away but still very young and a red dwarf which is much smaller than our sun. Since it is so close it could be a hot Jupiter, a gas giant that forms too close to its sun and have their atmospheres blown away. This is a gradual process though so since AU Microscopii and AU Mic b however the development of AU Mic b will be exciting for astronomers to study and gain insights into.

Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200624120448.htm

Leicester Mercury: https://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/exoplanet-size-neptune-discovered-orbiting-4258960

20 new moons were discovered around Saturn causing it to be the planet in the Solar System with the most moons, surpassing Jupiter. Most are fairly small with differing orbits but the discovery now increases the future possibilities for missions to Saturn, new targets for exploration and a bunch of names from mythology we don’t really understand but have heard somehow before.

Astronomy: https://astronomy.com/news/2019/10/20-new-moons-discovered-orbiting-saturn?utm_source=asytwitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=asytwitter

Firefly Aerospace is aiming for late October to begin testing their Firefly Alpha rocket. They are a contractor to NASA via the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program which is developing landers and rovers for the Moon. They haven’t sold anything yet but can keep pitching designs for future projects. They are working up to a space plane design, similar to the old Space Shuttle.

Blue Origin has delivered their BE-4 rocket engine to the United Launch Alliance for use in their Vulcan Centaur rocket. Origin is playing catch-up to SpaceX’s great success and real world tests of their technology will begin giving them the data they need to further develop their space travelling ambitions. 

Ars Technica: https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/07/rocket-report-dod-rescinds-rocket-awards-europeans-talk-up-ariane-7/?amp=1

Aerojet Rocketdyne has managed to successfully test a 3-D printed rocket. The use of 3-D printing in spaceflight has been studied before and is being pursued by others as a way to reduce the number of parts the rockets require and to lower some costs. The company Relativity Space is trying to fully 3-D print their rockets in order to launch them faster and lower costs to extreme lows compared to the $500 million price tag on some of the past rockets. As the testing continues we will see whether the printing continues or shuts down.

3D Print.com: https://3dprint.com/7355/3d-printed-engine/

The United Kingdom has purchased the bankrupt company OneWeb. This company wanted to compete with SpaceX’s Starlink program which is a network of satellites in space that can provide internet access. The U.K. will maintain a large equity share in the company and are hoping to use it for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT). They are leaving the EU and are no longer able to use the shared satellite network. OneWeb is currently based in Florida but will later move to the U.K.

CNBC: https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2020/07/03/oneweb-starlink-satellite-broadband.html