Five launches and a clotheslined Piper this week

Fire response after Piper N3586M became entangled in power transmission lines in Louisville Township, Scott County, Minnesota, 23 November 2019 (Scott County Sheriff)

Regional News
20 Nov 2019 – Wisconsin Space Grant features Katherine Kolman (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
23 Nov 2019 2157 UT – Piper PA-12 N3586M tangled in power lines on approach to Shakopee, MN
26 Nov 2019 – Wyoming Supreme Court rules Jackson Hole Airport Authority can purchase intangible assets as part of FBO acquisition
27 Nov 2019 – FlyTrex drones deliver to Grand Forks golf course, eye new markets
27 Nov 2019 – Fargo-based Elinor to participate in aerospace coatings research
28 Nov 2019 ~ Michael Haubrich of Racine wants to land at every airport in the Midwest

Further News
18 Nov 2019 – ThrustMe completes on-orbit test of I2T5 iodine fuel thruster
27 Nov 2019 ~ ISS Thanksgiving Menu : Forgot the Pumpkin Pie!

Late News
20 Sep 2019 ~ Conference discussion on need for automated orbital collision avoidance
24 Oct 2019 ~ University of Dubuque opens new aviation building

Orbital News
23 Nov 2019 0055 UT – Xichang CZ-3B Beidou (launch destroyed a house)
26 Nov 2019 2123 UT – Kourou Ariane 5 TIBA-1 Inmarsat GX-5
27 Nov 2019 0358 UT – Sriharikota PSLV Cartosat-3
27 Nov 2019 1752 UT – Plesetsk Soyuz-2.1v Russian Military payload
27 Nov 2019 2352 UT – Taiyuan CZ-4C Gaofen-12

KZ-1A flew twice in less than a week

A KZ-1A rocket lifts off from Jiuquan with two commsats from German company KLEO Connect, 1000 UT 17 Nov 2019. (Weibo)

Orbital News
17 Nov 2019 ~1000 UT – KZ-1A KL-Alpha x2

Regional News
Recently – Lance Nichols (Montana State University) featured by Montana Space Grant
11 Nov 2019 – Mary Claire Mancl (University of Wisconsin-Madison) featured by Wisconsin Space Grant
13 Nov 2019 – Kelsey Mueller (Iowa State University) named Iowa EPSCoR coordinator
15 Nov 2019 – Jack Stutler (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities) featured by Minnesota Space Grant
15 Nov 2019 – Omaha NOAA WSR-88D Weather Radar refurbished
18 Nov 2019 – Nicholas Hennigan (Milwaukee School of Engineering) featured by Wisconsin Space Grant
19 Nov 2019 – South Dakota Space Grant awardee Brad Goff (Lake Area Technical Institute) featured by KELO-TV
21 Nov 2019 – Skies features Natalie Esser, Albertan kit-plane builder and sport-flyer

Further News
15 Nov 2019 – Structural failure caused SARGE crash
19 Nov 2019 – SNC fêtes ‘Shooting Star’ external cargo module for Dream Chaser
20 Nov 2019 2126 UT – Starship Mk 1 suffers BLEVE during Liquid Nitrogen fill, SpaceX will move on to Mk 3 model

Late News
11 Nov 2019 1456 UT – CCAFS F9 Starlink
13 Nov 2019 0105 UT – Hayabusa2 departs from asteroid Ryugu
13 Nov 2019 0340 UT – Jiuquan KZ-1A Jilin-1 Gaofen-02A
13 Nov 2019 0635 UT – Taiyuan CZ-6 Ningxia-1 x5

Sodak strato-selfies and lunar program plans this week

Wisconsinites earn Level 1 High Power Rocket certifications (Wisconsin Space Grant)

Regional News
26 Oct 2019 – 35 km stratospheric selfie stunt sails from South Dakota to Michigan
28 Oct 2019 – Iowa Space Grant names fourteen 2019-2020 fellows
28 Oct 2019 – Nikki Noughani (University of Wisconsin-Madison) featured by Wisconsin Space Grant
29 Oct 2019 – Elise Linna (Augsburg University) featured by Minnesota Space Grant
29 Oct 2019 ~ Wisconsin Space Grant rocket workshop yields 9 new Level 1 Certs

Further News
26 Oct 2019 – SARGE launched at Spaceport America – crash lands
26 Oct 2019 – InSight “mole” heat probe fails to burrow on second major attempt
27 Oct 2019 – X-37B returns to Earth after two years on orbit
28 Oct 2019 – First polar launch from Florida since 1960 scheduled for March 2020
29 Oct 2019 – NASA gets into practical details of Artemis lunar program
30 Oct 2019 – Starship Mk1 arrives at Boca Chica for 20 km test
31 Oct 2019 – Kepler Communications releases IoT SpaceComm DevKit

Starliner launch date set as IAC headlines the week

Chirstina Koch (red) and Jessica Meir service the Battery Charge Discharge Unit on the International Space Station, 18 Oct 2019. ISS EVA221 was the first spacewalk performed by two women. (NASA TV)

Regional News
18 Oct 2019 – University of Nebraska DC Space Law Conference
20 Oct 2019 – Wisconsin Science Fest ends
23 Oct 2019 – Ryan Bowers (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities) featured by Minnesota Space Grant

Further News
18 Oct 2019 – EVA 221: BCDU fixed in 7h17m, 2-woman EVA (Koch, Meir)
18 Oct 2019 – NASA shuts down last operational Van Allen Probe
21 Oct 2019 ~ Rocket Lab Photon offers 30 kg to lunar orbit
21 Oct 2019 – Japan joins Artemis, Russia plans to join Lunar Gateway
21 Oct 2019 ~ Arizona State’s MILO Institute marks first year as it teams up global universities to reach lunar surface and (99942) Apophis
22 Oct 2019 – First tweet sent over SpaceX Starlink network
22 Oct 2019 ~ NASA HLS lunar lander won’t use sea level pressure
22 Oct 2019 ~ UK-built ESA Solar Orbiter must arrive at KSC pre-Brexit
22 Oct 2019 ~ Astra Space left as sole contender for DARPA responsive launch ‘competition’
22 Oct 2019 ~ Maxar, Thales to compete, not cooperate, on Telesat LEO
22 Oct 2019 – ESA launches new online television channel
23 Oct 2019 ~ NanoRacks will reuse spent upper stages on-orbit, signs with Maritime Launch Services
23 Oct 2019 ~ Crew Dragon to test new fuel system, parachutes
23 Oct 2019 ~ Out of 199 smallsat launchers – 40 dead, 41 buried
24 Oct 2019 – Boeing CST-100 Starliner launch planned 17 Dec 2019
24 Oct 2019 ~ Eutelsat 5WB Solar Array half-stuck, may be 173 M€ failure
24 Oct 2019 ~ House Armed Services concerned about sole-source procurement of Minuteman III replacement

Late News
3 Oct 2019 – Four Latin American nations represented in recent University of North Dakota space habitat mission
17 Oct 2019 – Spektr-RG X-Ray instrument acquires first images
10 Oct 2019 – GEM63 SRB completes third and final test in Utah

Electron and Long March end the week

Regional News

11 Oct 2019 South Dakota blizzard claims aviation lives
14 Oct 2019 Wisconsin Space Grant features Katiya Fosdick (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
14 Oct 2019 Minnesota Space Grant features Mike Alves (Augsburg University, University of California-San Diego)
15 Oct 2019 Wyoming Space Grant balloon mission
17 Oct 2019 Wisconsin Science Fest begins – will run through 20 Oct

Orbital News

11 Oct 2019 0159 Cape Canaveral Pegasus ICON
17 Oct 2019 0122 Māhia Electron Palisade
17 Oct 2019 ~1520 Xichang CZ-3B TJSW-4

Further News

11 Oct 2019 – New Mexico EOS operator Descartes Labs raises funds, names new CFO
14 Oct 2019 – SpaceX upgrades vertical test stand for Raptor
15 Oct 2019 – Fault postpones battery swaps on ISS; BCDU repair (Meir, Koch) planned 18 Oct
15 Oct 2019 – Lockheed Martin delivers DreamChaser airframe core to Sierra Nevada Corporation in Colorado
16 Oct 2019 – Satellites arrive at CSG for next Ariane launch
17 Oct 2019 – InSight Mole Heat Probe back in action on Mars
17 Oct 2019 – Boeing CST Starliner readies for test at White Sands

Late News

2 Oct 2019 – JAXA’s Tsubame low-orbit satellite reenters
10 Oct 2019 – Bowersox admits SLS flight slipped to 2021
10 Oct 2019 – NASA needs Soyuz thru 2021Q2, new enabling law from Congress
10 Oct 2019 – George Nield calls for more US spaceports

Jim Peebles shares Nobel Prize in Physics this week

Michelle Brekke of Boeing Crew Space Transportation serves as Grand Marshall of the University of Minnesota homecoming parade (University of Minnesota/GopherSports)


04 Oct 2019 – Jim Bridenstein visit to the University of North Dakota in September featured on

04 Oct 2019 – Michelle Brekke (Boeing CST) serves as Grand Marshall of University of Minnesota homecoming

07 Oct 2019 – Bennett Bartel (Carthage College) featured by WiSGC

08 Oct 2019 – Saskatchewan engineer Doug Campbell ends 6 days underwater

08 Oct 2019 – Nobel Prize in Physics awarded jointly to Manitoba-born James Peebles OM, the originator of modern physical cosmology, elucidating topics like the Cosmic Microwave Background, the kinematics of galaxies, and the expansion of the universe, and to Swiss astrophysicists Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, for the discovery of exoplanet 51 Pegasi b in October 1995, using the ELODIE spectrograph on the 1.93m telescope at the Haute-Provence Observatory.

09 Oct 2019 – Breanna Keith (Bemidji State) featured by MnSGC

09 Oct 2019 – University of Minnesota’s SmallSat program (SOCRATES, EXACT) featured by MnSGC
SOCRATES will orbit on 2 Nov 2019 with Cygnus NG-12


The Gaofen-10 Earth observation satellite launches from Taiyuan on a Long March 4C rocket, 4 October 2019 1850 UT (Weibo)

04 Oct 2019 1850 – Taiyuan CZ-4C launch
Gaofen-10 Earth observation satellite

06 Oct 2019 – EVA214 – P6 battery swap

08 Oct 2019 1017 – Baikonur Proton-M launch:
Northrop Grumman MEV-1 on-orbit service drone,
Eutelsat 5 West B commsat

A Proton-M rocket launches from Baikonur 08 October 2019 1017 UT, with Eutelsat 5 West B commsat and the MEV-1 mission extension robot aboard (Credit: Roscosmos)


04 Oct 2019 – Blue Origin will not fly passengers until 2020

06 Oct 2019 – ESA in talks to put a European astronaut on third flight of the Orion capsule, Worner says in interview with

07 Oct 2019 ~ 20 new moons of Saturn announced

10 Oct 2019 – Bridenstein-Musk summit: Crew Dragon DM-2 postponed to Q1 2020

Midwest Express takes flight with Milwaukee – Grand Rapids charter

Midwest Express Airlines has returned to service with a flight between Milwaukee and Grand Rapids on 28 Aug 2019.

The inaugural flight departed General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee at 1631 UT and landed at Gerald Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids at 1655 UT. The 24-minute flight reached a maximum altitude of 5200m and speed of 222 m/s.

Midwest Express MKE-GRR, 28 Aug 2019 1631 UT (FlightAware)

The plane then returned to Milwaukee in 29 minutes, with takeoff at 1826 UT and landing at 1855 UT, with the same top speed of 222 m/s and a peak altitude of 4875 m.

Midwest Express GRR-MKE, 28 Aug 2019 1826 UT (FlightAware)

For its initial operations, Midwest Express is leasing N96EA, a CRJ200 from charter operator Elite Airways, painted plain white with blue and yellow cheatlines and the old M-E logo on the tailplane.

The new Midwest Express will fly from Milwaukee to Grand Rapids, Omaha, and Cincinnati. Reservations are not yet open, though an August 6 press release from the airline stated that revenue service will begin by the end of 2019. In the meantime, Elite Airways has returned the plane to charter flight service.

GPS glitch grounds airliners

Outage regions for the Global Positioning System, 8 June 2019. (Credit: FAA)

Passenger airline flights were affected Saturday and Sunday 8 and 9 June 2019, due to an expected minor signal outage, plus a glitch with a particular type of GPS receiver. The affected planes were mostly Bombardier CRJ-200 and CRJ-700s, but also included CRJ-900s, as well as Boeing 737 and 767s.

Reports on indicate particular concerns with GPS receivers supplied by Rockwell Collins. In case the airplane’s barometer were to fail, the onboard GPS receiver must be able to track altitude accurately enough to maintain normal operations in the Class A airspace above FL180. This requires a GPS vertical accuracy within 500 feet (152 meters), and that the GPS constellation be in fairly good alignment – which, every now and then, just doesn’t happen.

That’s what occurred this weekend over a region over the Great Lakes and extending out over much of North Dakota and Manitoba, such that certain areas can expect, in theory, up to 40 minutes of signal loss on Sunday. The FAA estimated still further regions in the US could be affected by the outage. As affected planes wait for a technical fix, they are flying below 18000 feet, or simply being replaced by unaffected aircraft.

Airliners with the strictest requirements for their their GPS accuracy had to rely on alternative navigation modes when operating in the red region. (Credit: FAA)

In addition to highlighting the performance of one supplier’s GPS solution in an edge case, the incident also serves to highlight an increasing dependence on GPS for airline operations. Aviators have expressed concern about the trend of airports turning off their ILS, VOR, and NDB navigation systems. Many of these decisions assume that GPS will always be available, which may well be more than 98% correct. It’s the last 2% that may lead to unexpected problems.

Minnesota Space Grant short talks now on YouTube

The Minnesota Space Grant Consortium (MnSGC) posted April’s short talks on a new YouTube channel. The three talks run for about 1 hour in total.

Tonnis ter Veldhuis, Macalester College – Teaching physics with rocketry

Richard Barker, University of Wisconsin – Studying plant genetics in space

James Flaten, University of Minnesota – Astronaut training with hoverboards

Minnesota Space Grant begins new online lecture series [Update]

The Minnesota Space Grant Consortium (MnSGC) held a “TEDx”-style online event 19 April 2019. The talks, from Tonnis ter Veldhuis (Macalester College), Richard Barker (University of Wisconsin), and James Flaten (University of Minnesota), discussed a unique way to make outer space accessible to the public and students in K-12 and university – from using high-power model rockets to inspire physics learning, flying plants on the ISS and developing new web interfaces to engage students and citizen-scientists in the search for better genes, to running astronaut training in the hallway using shopvac hovercrafts and cold gas thrusters!

The talks were the first in a series planned by MnSGC over the next few semesters and will feature speakers from each of 8 midwestern states. The full video will eventually appear at the Minnesota Space Grant Consortium website.

Telecon capture from Short Talks event
(Credit: James Flaten/Minnesota Space Grant Consortium)

UPDATE – 3 May: The lecture series has been uploaded to YouTube. A higher-quality version of the hovercraft lecture is available here.