Australian in-space transportation provider, Space Machines Company (SMC) has secured the support of SpaceX as a launch partner to carry its Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle (OTV) to space as part of its April 2023 mission. 

SMC’s Optimus OTV is one of the largest commercial spacecraft designed and manufactured in Australia. 

The 2023 mission will demonstrate the 270 kg Optimus OTV’s ability to deliver in-space logistics services and will deploy solutions for foundation customers.

The Optimus spacecraft’s assembly and integration will occur at the Space Machines Company facility within the University of Technology Sydney’s (UTS) Tech Lab, and will demonstrate Australian sovereign access to space capability. 

With more than 6,000 active and inactive satellites in orbit, there will increasingly be a need for infrastructure and logistics services to support and manage exponential growth in satellites and debris, according to the company. 

CEO of Space Machines Company Rajat Kulshrestha said: “Logistics is the new frontier in space innovation. 


MIT’s New Self-Rearranging Space Station Revealed; Will TESSERAE Be Better Than ISS?

Griffin Davis 

MIT’s new self-rearranging space station has been revealed. However, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said that this new space tech is not yet under development. 

The new TESSERAE (Tessellated Electromagnetic Space Structures for the Exploration of Reconfigurable, Adaptive Environments) project aims to build a new space station that can rearrange or readjust itself. 

If this is true, then astronauts will have a better artificial environment as their study the universe. 

“The future of human habitation in space lies in self-assembling, adaptive, and reconfigurable structures,” said MIT via its official blog post. 

Continue reading… “MIT’s New Self-Rearranging Space Station Revealed; Will TESSERAE Be Better Than ISS?”

Jeff Bezos’s Rocket Company Tests America’s Largest Rocket Engine

Blue Origin’s BE-4 oxygen-rich, liquefied-natural-gas-fueled, staged-combustion rocket engine as part of a test at 100% power levels earlier this month while also displaying its ‘gimbaling’ capabilities. Gimbaling allows a rocket engine to slightly change its angle in order to aid the rocket to adjust orientation during flight

By Ramish Zafar

Retail billionaire Jeff Bezos’s aerospace firm Blue Origin has successfully tested the largest rocket engine in America. Blue Origin, Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) are the only three American firms that are developing next-generation, heavy-lift rockets to kick off the space race, alongside the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Space Launch System (SLS) which will form the backbone of the agency’s Artemis program aimed at developing and sustaining a human presence on the Moon.

Continue reading… “Jeff Bezos’s Rocket Company Tests America’s Largest Rocket Engine”

Avio has successfully tested the new M10 liquid methane and liquid oxygen engine

Avio has successfully carried out the first test of the new M10 liquid oxygen-liquid/methane engine, the first of its kind to be successfully tested in Europe. The M10, which will be a new generation green engine, will provide 10 tons of thrust and it is manufactured with extensive use of additive layer manufacturing technologies (ALM).

The M10 engine is a key part of the development of the future Vega E launcher, a project coordinated by ESA (European Space Agency) aimed at qualifying the successor of Vega C starting from 2026.

The project has been supported from start by the Italian Government and in particular by the Minister for Technological Innovation and Digital Transition, Vittorio Colao, in view of the positive effects in terms of innovation and sustainability at the National and European level.

The development of M10 started a few years ago with an initial cooperation between Avio and the Italian Space Agency (ASI), through which some key technologies were developed. The program was then established within the European Space Agency as a prospective solution for the upper stage of Vega E.

Continue reading… “Avio has successfully tested the new M10 liquid methane and liquid oxygen engine”

British rocket company Orbex reveals first full-scale micro-launcher rocket

The Prime orbital space rocket is the world’s most environmentally friendly rocket. Credit: Orbex

British rocket company Orbex has unveiled the first full-scale prototype of the Prime orbital space rocket on its dedicated launch pad publicly for the first time.

The unveiling of the first of a new generation of European launch vehicles – designed to launch a new category of very small satellites to orbit – represents a major step forward for the British rocket company as it prepares for the first ever vertical rocket launch to orbit from UK soil. Orbex´s Prime rocket is the first ‘micro-launcher’ developed in Europe to reach this stage of technical readiness.

With the first full integration of the Orbex rocket on a launch pad now complete, the company is able to enter a period of integrated testing, allowing dress rehearsals of rocket launches and the development and optimisation of launch procedures. Orbex recently revealed their first test launch platform at a new test facility in Kinloss, a few miles from the company’s headquarters at Forres in Moray, Scotland.

Prime is a 19-metre long, two-stage rocket that is powered by seven engines, that is being designed and manufactured in the UK and Denmark. The six rocket engines on the first stage of the rocket will propel the vehicle through the atmosphere to an altitude of around 80km. The single engine on the second stage of the rocket will complete the journey to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), allowing the release of its payload of small, commercial satellites into Earth’s orbit.

Uniquely, Orbex Prime is powered by a renewable bio-fuel, bio-propane, supplied by Calor UK. This fuel allows the rocket to reduce carbon emissions significantly compared to other similarly-sized rockets being developed elsewhere around the world. A study by the University of Exeter showed that a single launch of the Orbex Prime rocket will produce 96 per cent lower carbon emissions than comparable space launch systems using fossil fuels. Prime is also a re-usable rocket which has been engineered to leave zero debris on Earth and in orbit.

Continue reading… “British rocket company Orbex reveals first full-scale micro-launcher rocket”

Virgin Orbit is assembling a fleet of 747 jets to launch more rockets into space

The modified 737 aircraft “Cosmic Girl” lifts off from Mojave Air and Space Port in California carrying a LauncherOne rocket on June 30, 2021.

By Michael Sheetz

  • Virgin Orbit is assembling a fleet of rocket-launching 747 jets, the company announced, ordering two new modified cargo airframes that CEO Dan Hart says “unleashes us in a few ways.”
  • The added jets open “up all sorts of possibilities for supporting different customers in different places,” Hart said.
  • Virgin Orbit expects to take delivery of the first of the two new planes next year.

Virgin Orbit is assembling a fleet of modified 747 jets, the company announced Tuesday, ordering two new modified cargo airframes to help launch more rockets into space.

The company is acquiring the two additional airframes through L3Harris, which will modify the jets to carry and launch Virgin Orbit’s rockets. Virgin expects to take delivery of the first of the planes next year.

Continue reading… “Virgin Orbit is assembling a fleet of 747 jets to launch more rockets into space”

Solar Power Beats Out Nuclear for Future Crewed Mars Missions

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that solar power might be the ideal solution to power prolonged — or even permanent — visits to Mars. 

Until now, many engineers and scientists believed that nuclear power would be the better solution; however, advancements in photovoltaics show that solar could prove better if not comparable to nuclear power. 

For the study, the team looked at a six-person mission to Mars that included 480 days spent on the surface, a likely scenario that would reduce the time it takes to travel planet-to-planet. 

The researchers found that for sites on about half of the Martian surface, especially around the equator, solar power would be better than nuclear power, especially when you consider the weight and efficiency of solar panels. Of course, this is contingent on the power source’s ability to produce hydrogen gas to be used in fuel cells that will power the settlement at night or during sandstorms. Dust is a problem on the red planet and the main reason solar fell out of favor. If you recall, it was a dust storm that knocked the solar-powered Opportunity rover offline in 2019.  

Continue reading… “Solar Power Beats Out Nuclear for Future Crewed Mars Missions”

New Renderings Show Inside Luxurious Space Hotel To Open In 2027


Space is no longer only a place for the world powers but a new domain for private businesses to capitalize on. The latest example is an out-of-this-world space hotel set to open in low Earth orbit at the end of this decade. 

Orbital Assembly Corp., a California-based startup, bills itself as the “world’s first large-scale space construction company” and is slated to open the Voyager Station in 2027, equipped with restaurants, a cinema, spa, and space pods (rooms) for 400 people. 

“The goal has always been to make it possible for large amounts of people to live, work and thrive in space,” Tim Alatorre, Orbital Assembly’s chief operating officer, told CNN.  

The company plans to use robots to construct the celestial hotel shaped like a Ferris wheel. The 650-foot-wide wheel-shaped structure will spin with an angular velocity fast enough to generate moon-like levels of artificial gravity for guests.

Continue reading… “New Renderings Show Inside Luxurious Space Hotel To Open In 2027”

DARPA moving forward with development of nuclear powered spacecraft

n the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program, DARPA plans to develop a nuclear thermal rocket engine.

by Sandra Erwin 

The next phase of DRACO is a ‘full and open competition’

WASHINGTON – The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on May 4 issued a solicitation for proposals for the next phase of a demonstration of a nuclear powered spacecraft. 

The project, called Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO), started over a year ago when DARPA selected a preliminary design for a rocket engine reactor developed by General Atomics, and chose two conceptual spacecraft designs by Blue Origin and Lockheed Martin.

The next phases of the program will focus on the design, development, fabrication and assembly of a nuclear thermal rocket engine. DARPA will conduct a “full and open competition” so this opportunity is not limited to the companies that participated in the first phase, a spokesperson told SpaceNews. Proposals are due Aug. 5.

The goal is to launch a flight demonstration of nuclear thermal propulsion in fiscal year 2026.

Continue reading… “DARPA moving forward with development of nuclear powered spacecraft”

Space station’s new robotic arm springs to life

By Trevor Mogg

Two spacewalkers at the International Space Station (ISS) activated the facility’s new robotic arm for the first time on Thursday, April 28.

Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev concluded their spacewalk at  6:40 p.m. ET after 7 hours and 42 minutes outside the ISS, with much of that time spent working on the European Robotic Arm (ERA).

The ERA arrived at the station in July last year but it remained covered with thermal blankets until Thursday.

NASA shared footage (below) of the two cosmonauts some 250 miles above Earth as they worked to release the robotic arm from its restraints ahead of its first workout.

Getting to this stage has been a long time coming. The ERA was designed more than 30 years ago, and various technical issues over the last 20 years caused it to miss three planned missions to the ISS.

But now European Space Agency (ESA) engineers can finally celebrate the arm’s first activation in space.

The new robotic arm is about 11 meters long, weighs 1,390 pounds (630 kilograms), and includes seven joints that offer a high degree of maneuverability.

Continue reading… “Space station’s new robotic arm springs to life”

Space Startup Aims to Build Space Hotel With Artificial Gravity by 2025

An illustration of the Pioneer-class space station, which is designed to have five modules built around a gravity ring.

By Passant Rabie

The Pioneer-class stations are designed to accommodate 28 guests for up to two weeks.

Orbital Assembly Corporation announced plans to develop a space business park, complete with artificial gravity, that’s designed to accommodate 28 guests in five modules built around a rotating gravity ring. 

The startup, which is based in Huntsville, Alabama, is aiming to make its first Pioneer-class space station operational by 2025, in what is an ambitious and likely unrealistic timeline. That said, Orbital Assembly is intent on making this the first commercial, hybrid space station that can be leveraged for both research and leisure.

Continue reading… “Space Startup Aims to Build Space Hotel With Artificial Gravity by 2025”

Small spacecraft electric propulsion opens new deep space opportunities

An image of Northrop Grumman’s small electric propulsion thruster first light during testing at NASA Glenn Research Center’s Electric Power and Propulsion Laboratory.

by Nancy Smith Kilkenny

The path to the Moon, Mars, and beyond will require a fleet of spacecraft in many different shapes and sizes, including everything from massive rockets that produce millions of pounds of thrust to pioneering small electric propulsion thrusters that fit in the palm of your hand.

For decades, innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have been developing large, high-power electric propulsion (EP) systems that harness the power of the Sun to energize inert gases and turn them into extremely efficient thrust. Higher fuel efficiency means less propellant is needed, lowering launch costs while allowing spacecraft designers to reduce overall spacecraft weight to carry more payload mass, like technology demonstrations or more powerful scientific instruments.

The agency’s primary EP efforts have centered on large exploration and science missions, like the 7-kilowatt (kW) NEXT-C gridded-ion system currently flying on the Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission and the 12-kW Advanced Electric Propulsion System used on the Power and Propulsion Element for NASA’s lunar orbiting space station known as Gateway.

However, over the last five years, the Small Spacecraft Electric Propulsion (SSEP) project at NASA Glenn has been advancing high-performance sub-kilowatt (<1-kW) Hall-effect thruster and power processing technologies to enable smaller spacecraft. By utilizing smaller craft – those that could fit inside the trunk of your car versus being the size of your car – the agency opens more opportunities to conduct ambitious deep space missions at a fraction of the cost.

Continue reading… “Small spacecraft electric propulsion opens new deep space opportunities”