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  • NASA lander discovers Mars quakes
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Spaceflight Now
SpaceX is targeting launches March 6 and March 11 for its next two missions after swapping an upper stage for its next Falcon 9 rocket with another stage already being readied for liftoff at Cape Canaveral.

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Space News
When SpaceX conducted an in-flight abort test of its Crew Dragon spacecraft in January, few people appreciated the importance of such a system more than Nick Hague. In October 2018, he launched on a mission to the International Space Station with Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin.

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The Hill
Recently, Space Adventures announced that it will offer an orbital cruise on board the SpaceX Dragon, the same craft that will shortly take astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Up to four adventurous and well-heeled people will be rocketed into space in an orbit that will be farther away from Earth than any human has flown since the Apollo 17 mission, two to three times higher than the ISS.

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Ars Technica
On Tuesday, a spacecraft that was launched four months earlier docked with a communications satellite about 36,000km above the Earth. Northrop Grumman reported the historic docking on Wednesday, and the company heralded the mission as an “historic accomplishment” in the field of satellite servicing. Prior to this mission, no two commercial spacecraft had ever docked in orbit before.

Editor’s Note: Many private companies are working with government agencies on space travel, though this past week saw something different. Here Eric Berger looks at the implications in satellite servicing.

The Conversation
Most space missions investigate the surface or atmosphere of a body. But NASA’s InSight probe, which landed on Mars in November 2018, is different – it is the first mission dedicated to studying the interior structure of the planet and whether it gives rise to “marsquakes.”

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New Atlas
Astronomers have found evidence of the most powerful explosion in the universe. Using data from ESA’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s Chandra X-ray space telescopes, the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) in Australia, and the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India, the team found that a “crater” of intergalactic-scale detonation was caused by a supermassive black hole located in the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster, made of thousands of galaxies 390 million light-years from Earth

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AP
Virgin Galactic has received nearly 8,000 online reservations of interest since its first successful test flight into space 14 months ago, the company said Tuesday as it nears commercial operation and prepares to reopen ticket sales.

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Space
SpaceX is planning a huge boost to the number of rocket launches from its Florida launch sites in the next few years as the company builds its Starlink satellite megaconstellation while meeting flight demands from its customers, according to a federal environmental report.

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Spaceflight Now
The program manager in charge of Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule program said Friday that additional checks would have uncovered problems with the spaceship’s software that plagued the craft’s first unpiloted orbital test flight in December, but he pushed back against suggestions that Boeing engineers took shortcuts during ground testing.

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Press Association
Two fifths of Britons would put money aside to be able to travel to space imminently, a survey suggests. While only 1% of those surveyed would put together more than £15,000, more than a quarter (29%) said they would be willing to part with up to £50.

Editor’s Note: Interest levels in private spaceflights continue to rise rapidly. Here, the Press Association reviews the results of a survey conducted in Britain and the economic planning that getting to the stars might take.

Space News
A second prototype of SpaceX’s Starship launch vehicle was destroyed in a pressurization test Feb. 28 at the company’s Boca Chica, Texas, facility.

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The New York Times
A team of Chinese and Italian researchers showed that the top layer of the lunar soil on that part of the moon is considerably thicker than some expected

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Space News
Northrop Grumman announced Feb. 27 it completed a static fire test of the second stage of its OmegA rocket. The test, conducted at the company’s facilities in Promontory, Utah, moves OmegA a step closer to becoming certified to fly national security missions, the company said.

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ESA
When it comes to grasping an object, our eyes, ears and hands are intimately connected. Our brain draws information from different senses, such as sight, sound and touch, to coordinate hand movements.

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Tech Crunch
A precision parts maker for space and defense contractors has confirmed a “cybersecurity incident,” which TechCrunch has learned was likely caused by ransomware.

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University of Texas at Austin
It’s mind-boggling to think about anything in terms of infinity. Space spans all directions and has been expanding since the dawn of the universe. However, even though it’s boundless, space as a resource is not as infinite as it’s been made out to be.

Editor’s Note: A sharp rise in space activity has meant that we’re facing the prospects of an orbital landfill. This from University of Texas speaks to Moriba Jah about what it all means, and throws in some wild graphics.

Ars Technica
NASA is close to finalizing a plan to land humans on the Moon in 2024 and is expected to publicly discuss it next month. While the space agency has not released its revised strategy publicly, a recently updated “mission manifest” for the Space Launch System rocket may provide some clues about the new Artemis Program.

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Ars Technica
The European and Russian space agencies have announced they will decide the fate of their ExoMars mission at a meeting on March 12.

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OZY
It’s like the surface of our moon is covered in talcum powder. Everywhere you go, there’s regolith, a fine, powdery substance weathered by billions of years of exposure to everything from solar winds to micro-meteorites.

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Reuters
SpaceX, the private rocket company of high tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, won final approval on Tuesday to build a research and manufacturing plant for its deep-space Starship project on a tract of vacant land at the Port of Los Angeles.

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The New York Times
Earth gets a new moon most months, but this month, we got two. About 4 a.m. on Feb. 15 at the Mount Lemmon Observatory, 9,000 feet above Tucson, two astronomers from the Catalina Sky Survey, Kacper Wierzchos and Theodore Pruyne, watched as their computer screens registered a dot moving against a static background of stars.

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Space News
Virgin Galactic executives suggested Feb. 25 that the beginning of commercial flights of its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle might slip again, even as the company starts planning to resume ticket sales.

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Decrypt
Talk about opportunity cost. In January 2014, Gemini co-founder Tyler Winklevoss bought a ticket on spaceflight company Virgin Galactic’s passenger-carrying ship for $250,000 with Bitcoin. At today’s prices, the ticket is now worth over $3 million.

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Space News
In his first appearance at a military conference since the establishment of the U.S. Space Force, SpaceX founder Elon Musk gave his usual pitch on the virtues of reusable rockets. But he tailored the message to an audience of airmen who started their careers in the U.S. Air Force but are now transitioning to a new service and pondering the possibilities.

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TIME
Katherine Johnson performed what might have been the most important job of her life backwards—because backwards was exactly the right way to do it. The job was figuring out how to ensure that John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, would splash down in the Atlantic as close as possible to the recovery team that would be awaiting him. So Johnson—the legendary NASA “computer,” or mathematician, who was made famous by the book and movie Hidden Figures and who died at 101 on Monday—simply reverse-engineered the entire mission, from desired landing point, back through three orbits and onto the launch pad.

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