The 22-ton core stage of a Chinese rocket fell back to Earth Saturday, the third time in two years China has allowed such a large booster to re-enter the atmosphere uncontrolled. There were no immediate reports of wreckage or damage on the ground. Space debris experts said the unguided re-entry posed a low but avoidable risk to the world’s population.
NASA has awarded Draper a $73 million contract to deliver science instruments to the far side of the moon on a commercial robotic lander in 2025, the eighth award through the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program. Officials with the companies flying the first two CLPS missions, Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines, said recently their commercial landers are scheduled to launch late this year or early next year.
OneWeb and Eutelsat announced plans to merge Tuesday, bringing together OneWeb’s network of internet satellites in low Earth orbit with Eutelsat’s fleet of larger video, data relay, and broadband platforms in geostationary orbit. OneWeb says it is on track to resume deploying its remaining internet satellites as soon as September, with three SpaceX flights and two Indian launches on tap to replace Russian Soyuz rockets no longer available after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
China’s Tiangong space station received a new room Sunday with the docking of the Wentian laboratory module, a half-day after launching on a heavy-lift Long March 5B rocket. The three-person crew on the Chinese space station later opened hatches and floated inside the new science module for the first time.
SpaceX sent another cluster of 53 Starlink internet satellites into orbit Sunday aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, the company’s 33rd mission of the year and sixth launch of July. Liftoff from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida occurred at 9:38 a.m. EDT (1338 GMT). The Falcon 9 booster landed on SpaceX’s drone ship parked downrange in the Atlantic Ocean northeast of Cape Canaveral.