Today’s Tidbits: April 4, 2019

Today’s Tidbits: April 4, 2019

Here are’s tidbits for April 4, 2019: Israeli spacecraft orbiting the Moon; JAXA makes an impact crater on Ryugu; new counterspace reports from CSIS and  SWF; and other bits.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

So much has been happening that this set of “tidbits” will be just bullet points with tweets or links to more information.

  • An Israeli satellite is orbiting the Moon today with plans to land on the surface on April 11.  Space IL began the Beresheet robotic lunar lander program as part of the Google Lunar X-Prize.  No one won the $20 million grand prize and Google cancelled the competition, but SpaceIL kept going.  The tiny spacecraft was launched on February 21, 2019 as a ride-share on a SpaceX rocket and has slowly but steadily been making its way to the Moon since then.  Today it entered orbit, which is quite an achievement, but the big day will be the landing next week. The XPrize Foundation, in fact, announced that it is beginning a new $1 million “Moonshot Award” for an XPrize team that demonstrates a technological feat outside of an XPrize competition and hopes to present the inaugural award to SpaceIL, which it says inspired the idea.

  • Japan’s Hayabusa2 asteroid sample return spacecraft continues its work at the asteroid Ryugu.  Today it sent an explosive to the surface of Ryugu to create an impact crater to expose subsurface material that has been protected from the space environment.   The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) confirmed that the Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI) was sent to the surface and the spacecraft was able to maneuver away to avoid any effect of the expected explosion.  It now must wait until the spacecraft passes over the area again to confirm the explosion occurred and see what the crater looks like.

  •  Two new reports were issued today on global counterspace activities.  Both are updates of reports issued last year.  The Secure World Foundation issued the 2019 edition of Global Counterspace Capablities: An Open Source Assessment, while the Center for Strategic and International Studies issued Space Threat Assessment 2019.  The two organizations will hold a joint invitation-only event next Tuesday at the Space Symposium in Colorado to discuss the reports.
  • ICYMI, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved the new version of the Space Frontier Act (S. 919) and the Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act (S. 881) during its executive session yesterday.  No amendments were offered.  They also approved the nomination of Barry Lee Myers to be Administrator of NOAA, which we wrote about last night.
  • NASA issued its annual Spinoff book yesterday that shows how NASA technologies make their way into everyday life.  NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine sent out a tweet announcing it.

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