Impulse’s first demo space tug scheduled for launch

Impulse Space announced on January 4, 2023 that it has now scheduled the launch of its first demo space tug, Mira, for the fourth quarter of 2023.

Impulse Space said its LEO Express-1 mission, using a transfer vehicle it is developing called Mira, is manifested for launch on SpaceX’s Transporter-9 rideshare mission currently scheduled for launch in the fourth quarter of 2023. LEO Express-1 will carry a primary payload for an undisclosed customer.

Barry Matsumori, chief operating officer of Impulse Space, said in an interview that the mission can accommodate additional payloads, like cubesats. The mission profile is still being finalized, but he said the vehicle, after making some initial deployments, may raise its orbit, then lower it to demonstrate operations in what’s known as very low Earth orbit, around 300 kilometers.

After this demonstration flight the company has plans for additional flights in 2024. This tug will then join a growing fleet of companies offering this orbital transport capability to cubesats.

ALMA detects a solar flare on Mira 420 light years away

Mira A and Mira B

The just completed ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array), a collection of 66 antennas located in Chile, has snapped a picture of the variable star Mira with its companion star, detecting details on the primary’s surface, including evidence of a solar flare.

Mira is a star with a mass like our Sun’s, but near the end of its life having evolved into a red giant that is shedding its outer layers. Being able to track its behavior with this kind of detail will allow astronomers to better hone their theories about the life and death of stars, including our own.