[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/20/19 1:01pm
Gateway with Orion over the Moon (Credit: ESA/NASA/ATG Medialab)

The Ashahi Shimbun reports that Japan has formally signed on to NASA’s lunar Gateway project with specific elements to develop.

Japan’s space agency plans to take charge of development of a habitation module and an unmanned logistics vehicle for the Gateway cislunar space station as part of an international project….

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) hopes to showcase the country’s excellence in technologies with an eye toward having a Japanese astronaut included in the lunar mission.

JAXA plans to work with its European counterpart to develop the habitation module by drawing on technologies it cultivated during the development and operation of the International Space Station’s Kibo experiment module, including one for recycling air and water aboard a spacecraft.

It also plans to take charge of resupplying goods using the HTV-X, a spacecraft under development as a successor to the Kounotori (HTV) unmanned transfer vehicle, seven units of which have been launched successfully.

[Category: News, HTV, HTV-X, JAXA, Lunar Gateway, moon, NASA]

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[l] at 10/20/19 11:56am

EXPLORATION PARK, Fla. (Space Florida PR) – Space Florida is moving forward on a $90 million infrastructure improvement grant recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The grant will support three interrelated projects, including replacing the aging SR 405 bridge over the Indian River Lagoon, widening Space Commerce Way, and revitalizing a 3.7-mile stretch of NASA Parkway West. The project is expected to take approximately five years to complete.

With the award in place, Space Florida and its partners from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center can now move forward with the project. The grant, which is part of DOT’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America INFRA) program, will support growing aerospace industry and launch activities at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The current bridge will be replaced with two new high-span bridges, and the widening of the roadways will facilitate launch traffic, simplify transport of oversized launch hardware, and improve access for visitors.

“I applaud our partners at USDOT for recognizing the importance of this grant for Florida’s Space Coast,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “As our population continues to increase, modernizing the Cape Canaveral Spaceport is critical to the long-term viability of future launches, our transportation infrastructure and state economy. With this federal investment, Florida will remain a global leader in the aerospace industry for years to come.”

“Space Florida and FDOT, along with our federal partners at USDOT and NASA, are excited to have received this grant to address challenges threatening the continued growth at Cape Canaveral Spaceport,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “A lot of work remains to be done, but with this grant, I am happy to say it is full speed ahead for us.”

“I was proud to support Space Florida’s application in partnership with NASA, FDOT, and the Space Coast TPO,” said Senator Marco Rubio. “We cannot achieve our greatest aspirations in space without first providing the necessary infrastructure to ensure that the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, which includes the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, can support our booming space economy.”

“The space industry has long been an important and iconic part of Florida’s history and economic success,” said Senator Rick Scott. “I worked to turn Florida’s Space Coast around and position our state as national and global leader in space exploration by investing more than $230 million in spaceport projects. This investment builds on our efforts to support growth and success at the Cape and will bring more opportunities to Florida families.”

“The Indian River Bridge is critical infrastructure to our space capability, and I’m pleased to see this grant funding awarded to the State of Florida,” said Congressman Bill Posey.

“The next giant leap in space exploration is ahead of us, and infrastructure is a key element to the success of NASA’s current mission to return to the Moon and on to deep space,” said Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana. “The improvements funded by this grant will ensure we continue to meet our commitments to our commercial partners and will aid in the attraction of new aerospace companies and the world-class workforce they require.”

“We’re pleased the State was able to apply its capabilities to assure the continued success of the Cape,” said Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello. “Thanks to strong support from our Congressional delegation and the Governor’s Office, and working with our partners at FDOT, KSC, and the Space Coast TPO, we can now look forward to seeing the completion of this element in maintaining Florida’s continued dominant position in the commercial space marketplace.”


About Space Florida: Space Florida was created to strengthen Florida’s position as the global leader in aerospace research, investment, exploration and commerce. As Florida’s aerospace and spaceport development authority, we are committed to attracting and expanding the next generation of space industry businesses. With its highly trained workforce, proven infrastructure and unparalleled record of achievement, Florida is the ideal location for aerospace businesses to thrive – and Space Florida is the perfect partner to help them succeed. www.spaceflorida.gov

About Cape Canaveral Spaceport: The Cape Canaveral Spaceport, at which Space Florida has an operational spaceport authority role, is the premiere transportation hub for global space commerce. Space Florida oversees management and operation of key elements of Florida’s existing space transportation capability including the Launch and Landing Facility and Launch Complex 46. Those Cape Canaveral Spaceport capabilities are enabled by safe and secure operations across a broad landscape of space activities.

[Category: News, Cape Canaveral, Cape Canaveral Spaceport, Department of Transportation, DOT, FDOT, Florida Department of Transportation, Kennedy Space Center, NASA KSC, Space Florida]

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[l] at 10/20/19 11:01am
Spherical image shot in outer space converted to flat image. (Credit: Ricoh)

TOKYO, October 17, 2019 (Ricoh PR) – Ricoh Company, Ltd., (Tokyo, Japan) today announced that the 360-degree spherical camera jointly developed with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully captured 360-degree spherical pictures and videos in outer space. The pictures and videos were released today.

The camera was installed to monitor the operation of the biaxial gimbal of the SOLISS (Small Optical Link for International Space Station).1 It was carried aboard the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV8) “KOUNOTORI-8”, the cargo transporter to the International Space Station (ISS), which was launched on September 25th, 2019.

The camera shot spherical pictures and videos from the Exposed Facility of the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) “Kibo” and which were then sent to ground stations. This camera was developed from a consumer product and is the world’s smallest 360-degree camera that can be used in outer space. This is the first time that this 360-degree camera took spherical images in outer space.

The camera was based on Ricoh’s compact spherical camera RICOH THETA,2 and JAXA has modified this camera so it could be used in space and withstand the heat and radiation. Given the camera’s compact size and light weight, as well as the fact that the camera can shoot 360-degree spherical images in a single shot, it has proved very useful when capturing a lot of visual information whilst in outer space.

Spherical image shot in outer space from the International Space Station converted to flat image. (Credit: Ricoh)

The pictures and videos will be available via the JAXA Digital Archives (JDA). Also in Ricoh’s THETA LAB, the pictures and videos can be viewed as 360-degree images via a web browser. You can also simulate the experience of being in outer space using a VR headset.

Ricoh will continue expand the use of its 360-degree cameras and related services to a wide variety of industries. It will also contribute to the development of science and society, including space development, through technology research and development.

1 Small Optical Link for International Space Station: JAXA and Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc. jointly developed a long-distance laser communication system under the Request for Proposal (RFP) joint study framework of the JAXA Space Exploration Innovation HUB Center3, with the aim of establishing a real-time, mass data communication system for future inter-satellite communications and communications with ground stations.

2 RICOH THETA external dimensions (excluding lens): 44mm (W) x 130mm (H) x 22.9mm (17.9mm) (D)

3 A project which JAXA has been commissioned by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) under its innovation hub start-up program. (“Open Innovation Hub for Expanding Humanosphere and the Domain of Human
Activity through Solar System Frontier Development”)

JAXA Digital Archives

JAXA Space Exploration Innovation Hub Center


JAXA and Ricoh jointly develop a compact spherical camera for use in outer space

[Category: News, H-II, International Space Station, ISS, JAXA, Kounotori-8, Ricoh Company, space station]

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[l] at 10/20/19 6:47am

ANCHORAGE, AK, October 17, 2019 (Quintillion Networks RP) — Quintillion Networks and ATLAS Space Operations today announced plans for North America’s highest latitude ground station, to be located 250 miles inside of the Arctic Circle in Utqiagvik, Alaska.

Upon its completion in the first quarter of 2020, the new Quintillion-ATLAS 3.7 meter ground station will be put to use immediately by U.S. Government and commercial customers. By utilizing Quintillion’s existing fiber optic infrastructure, ATLAS adds this valuable and geographically diverse site to its growing global FREEDOM network to provide greater data access from space.

Businesses and consumers worldwide use billions of internet-connected devices everyday and rely on vast infrastructure that makes modern telecommunications possible. Thousand-mile long undersea fiber cables, powerful data centers, and increasingly dense satellite constellations all work in tandem to move data traffic around the world at the speed of light. Due to Quintillion and ATLAS’ efforts, for the first time, the United States will have a competitive solution for accessing data created in and transmitted through space.

The polar nature of ATLAS’ Alaskan ground station, connected through Quintillion’s fiber network, fills an important network gap that is not served by sites in lower latitudes. Because many satellites pass over the Arctic during their orbit, and because the sheer number of satellites is skyrocketing with declining launch costs, polar ground stations give owners the mission-critical ability to communicate with their satellites more frequently, preserving the value of the data collected in space.

“The Arctic has traditionally been a digital bottleneck, or ‘black hole,’ negatively impacting residential, commercial and government clients living and working in the region and slowing economic, information and commerce activity around the world,” said George Tronsrue, interim CEO of Quintillion. “Our developing Arctic infrastructure, located in one of the highest latitude regions of the world, coupled with a resurging international push to launch thousands of new satellites over the next decade, strongly positions us to be the leading infrastructure provider to U.S. and North American partners/clients and to global satellite ground station operators. Additionally, we can offer a unique and cost-effective solution to the international space community in the months and years ahead. We expect our project with ATLAS will be the first of many, as we believe the forecasted data explosion in space will make what we have experienced here on Earth over last two decades seem miniscule by comparison.”

In addition, U.S. Government customers whose guidelines require partners be U.S. based will be delighted by this polar access, and the remoteness of the location minimizes the risk of interference with other signals.

“Access to high speed connectivity in the Arctic has been a challenge until now,” said Sean McDaniel, CEO and co-founder of ATLAS. “Our partnership with Quintillion enables ATLAS to overcome this challenge while providing a significant capability to our customers on U.S. soil. It is significant because this project is entirely privately funded, which gives our U.S. Government and commercial customers a more affordable option for secure, resilient high speed connectivity to polar orbiting satellite missions. We look forward to expanding our network across the Quintillion subsea cable system, whenever we are able to leverage their Arctic presence and capabilities.”

About Quintillion

Quintillion is a private global communications corporation located in Anchorage, AK. Quintillion built and operates a submarine and terrestrial high-speed fiber optic cable system serving residential, commercial and federal government clients and that spans the Alaskan Arctic and connects to the lower-48 using existing networks. The three-phase Quintillion subsea cable system will ultimately connect Asia to the North American Pacific Northwest, and to Western Europe via the Northwest Passage through the Alaskan and Canadian Arctic.

About ATLAS Space Operations

ATLAS Space Operations, Inc., based in Traverse City, Michigan, empowers global access to space through FREEDOM™, a simple solution for processing and analyzing data from space, through a global antenna network, powered by a revolutionary cloud-based software. ATLAS’s forward-thinking communications solutions are transforming the space industry by making ground communications simple, affordable and scalable than ever before.

[Category: News, ATLAS Space Operations, Quintillion Networks]

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[l] at 10/20/19 3:38am
  • Mynaric announces deal for the delivery of multiple space laser communication terminals worth EUR 1.7m
  • Contract confirms market demand for Mynaric’s cost-effective, serially produced laser communication inter-satellite product designed for mega-constellations

Munich, October 17, 2019 (Mynaric PR) – Mynaric (Frankfurt Stock Exchange: M0Y, ISIN: DE000A0JCY11) has announced today that it will deliver multiple laser communication flight terminals to an undisclosed customer in an initial deal valued at EUR 1.7 million ($1.9 million).

The company’s space products are scheduled to be launched on a product validation mission which will serve as a pathfinder to integrate and qualify Mynaric’s products with the customer’s satellites.

Today’s contract announcement is clear proof that Mynaric’s cost-effective laser communication products for inter-satellite links are both commercially and technologically attractive. The selection of Mynaric’s flagship inter-satellite link terminal by the customer is affirmation of Mynaric’s leading position in the aerospace connectivity market.

“This contract win will see the first launch of our constellation terminal into space. As we complete the final stages of the terminal’s readiness and prepare for its entry into the market, we have increased the number of terminals in production to be able to support missions from additional customers, such as the one we are announcing today, at short notice.”

– Bulent Altan, Member of the Mynaric Executive Board

Multiple units of Mynaric’s inter-satellite product are to be delivered as part of the deal. The terminal, which is set to become the market’s first available laser inter-satellite link terminal designed for satellite constellations, provides both ultra-high data rates and link distances while meeting rigorous size, weight and power consumption specifications at very competitive price-targets.“

“We are very proud of the trust that our customer has placed in our product with this contract and we are delighted to have now secured our first launch opportunity. It’s great to see our vision of becoming the prime supplier of laser communication technology taking yet another huge leap forward.”

– Markus Knapek, Co-founder of Mynaric

More details of Mynaric’s unique laser communication product range for space, air and ground segments can be accessed at:


About Mynaric

Mynaric is a manufacturer of laser communication technologies used to enable communication and surveillance applications in air and space. Its wireless laser data transmission products include ground and flight terminals, which allow very large quantities of data to be sent wirelessly and securely over long distances between aircraft, autonomous drones, high-altitude platforms, satellites and the ground.

Globally, the need for fast and secure connectivity is advancing inexorably. Data networks are today largely based on infrastructure on the ground, which cannot be expanded arbitrarily for legal, economic or practical reasons. The future therefore calls for an expansion of the existing network infrastructure into air and space. With its wireless laser communication products Mynaric is positioned as a prime pioneer in this growth market.
For more information see: www.mynaric.com

[Category: News, laser communications, Mynaric]

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[l] at 10/19/19 11:23am

BOULDER, Colo., October 17, 2019 (BCT PR) — Small satellite manufacturer and mission services provider Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) today announced it has been selected for a $4.9 million contract award from NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate to develop a groundbreaking technology that allows BCT’s spacecraft buses to perform autonomous navigation on-board, without any additional hardware.

The news came as part of NASA’s recent announcement of more than $40 million in contracts to 14 companies as part of its “Tipping Point” solicitation, an effort to develop technologies that support the agency’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.

BCT has been selected for the second highest contract award, to develop and conduct an in-space demonstration of a new autonomous navigation solution. BCT buses equipped with this solution will be capable of navigating through space with greatly reduced need to “talk” to Earth in order to collect critical data and intelligence.

“By providing a turnkey spacecraft bus with integrated autonomous navigation capability, we are opening the door for both the government and commercial industries to deploy CubeSat and SmallSat technologies for cislunar and interplanetary missions,” said George Stafford, founder and CEO of Blue Canyon Technologies. “This contract allows us to develop a technology and associated price point that would not be available otherwise.”

The primary ground infrastructure for communicating with deep space missions is NASA’s Deep Space Network, a network of large radio antennas. These antennas, which provide a critical connection between Earth and conventional spacecraft, are comprised of three facilities worldwide. BCT’s autonomous navigation capability could supplement the antennas in order to conduct critical mission operations.

BCT’s small spacecraft, which are quicker to build and launch and far less expensive than conventional satellites, could increase the number, scale and types of space missions, including in-situ operations which require autonomous navigation capability onboard a spacecraft.

BCT is currently building more than 60 spacecraft for government, commercial and academic missions. The company has doubled in size over the past 12 months and plans to open its new 80,000-square-foot headquarters and production facility in 2020.

About BCT

Blue Canyon Technologies, Inc., (BCT) a Colorado-based private company founded in 2008 to bring innovative, reliable and affordable solutions to space missions, is an experienced integrator of aerospace systems and developer of advanced aerospace products and technologies. BCT is a vertically integrated spacecraft manufacturer supporting nearly 40 unique missions with over 70 spacecraft. The company currently has more than 60 satellites in production and is developing a new 80,000-square-foot facility for high rate production.

BCT has supported missions for The U.S. Air Force, NASA, The Defense Advanced Research Project (DARPA) and many others and provided the Attitude Control Systems for the first interplanetary CubeSats which successfully traveled to Mars.

[Category: News, Blue Canyon Technologies, NASA, Tipping Point Technologies]

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[l] at 10/19/19 8:41am
DLR Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP³) on the surface of Mars. (Credit: NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s InSight spacecraft has used its robotic arm to help its heat probe, known as “the mole,” dig nearly 2 centimeters (3/4 of an inch) over the past week. While modest, the movement is significant: Designed to dig as much as 16 feet (5 meters) underground to gauge the heat escaping from the planet’s interior, the mole has only managed to partially bury itself since it started hammering in February 2019.

The recent movement is the result of a new strategy, arrived at after extensive testing on Earth, which found that unexpectedly strong soil is holding up the mole’s progress. The mole needs friction from surrounding soil in order to move: Without it, recoil from its self-hammering action will cause it to simply bounce in place. Pressing the scoop on InSight’s robotic arm against the mole, a new technique called “pinning,” appears to provide the probe with the friction it needs to continue digging.

Since Oct. 8, 2019, the mole has hammered 220 times over three separate occasions. Images sent down from the spacecraft’s cameras have shown the mole gradually progressing into the ground. It will take more time — and hammering — for the team to see how far the mole can go.

The mole is part of an instrument called the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, or HP3, which was provided by the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

“Seeing the mole’s progress seems to indicate that there’s no rock blocking our path,” said HP3 Principal Investigator Tilman Spohn of DLR. “That’s great news! We’re rooting for our mole to keep going.”

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, leads the InSight mission. JPL has tested the robotic arm’s movement using full-scale replicas of InSight and the mole. Engineers continue to test what would happen if the mole were to sink beneath the reach of the robotic arm. If it stops making progress, they might scrape soil on top of the mole, adding mass to resist the mole’s recoil.

If no other options exist, they would consider pressing the scoop down directly on the top of the mole while trying to avoid the sensitive tether there; the tether provides power to and relays data from the instrument.

“The mole still has a way to go, but we’re all thrilled to see it digging again,” said Troy Hudson of JPL, an engineer and scientist who has led the mole recovery effort. “When we first encountered this problem, it was crushing. But I thought, ‘Maybe there’s a chance; let’s keep pressing on.’ And right now, I’m feeling giddy.”

About InSight

JPL manages InSight for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the InSight spacecraft, including its cruise stage and lander, and supports spacecraft operations for the mission.

A number of European partners, including France’s Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting the InSight mission. CNES provided the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument to NASA, with the principal investigator at IPGP (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris). Significant contributions for SEIS came from IPGP; the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) in Switzerland; Imperial College London and Oxford University in the United Kingdom; and JPL. DLR provided the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research Center (CBK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland. Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) supplied the temperature and wind sensors.

More about InSight:


[Category: News, DLR, Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, HP3, InSIGHT, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, JPL, Mars, NASA]

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[l] at 10/19/19 5:33am
NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity used its panoramic camera to record this eastward horizon view on the 2,407th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (Oct. 31, 2010). (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA released a report Friday with recommendations from the Planetary Protection Independent Review Board (PPIRB) the agency established in response to a recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report and a recommendation from the NASA Advisory Council.

With NASA, international, and commercial entities planning bold missions to explore our solar system and return samples to Earth, the context for planetary protection is rapidly changing. NASA established the PPIRB to conduct a thorough review of the agency’s policies. 

Planetary protection establishes guidelines for missions to other solar system bodies so they are not harmfully contaminated for scientific purposes by Earth biology and Earth, in turn, is protected from harmful contamination from space. 

The board’s report assesses a rapidly changing environment where more samples from other solar system bodies will be returned to Earth, commercial and international entities are discussing new kinds of solar system missions, and NASA’s Artemis program is planning human missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

The report discusses 34 findings, and 43 recommendations from the PPIRB, which was chaired by planetary scientist Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute to address future NASA missions and proposed missions by other nations and the private sector that include Mars sample return, robotic missions to other bodies, eventual human missions to Mars, and the exploration of ocean worlds in the outer solar system. 

“The landscape for planetary protection is moving very fast. It’s exciting now that for the first time, many different players are able to contemplate missions of both commercial and scientific interest to bodies in our solar system,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “We want to be prepared in this new environment with thoughtful and practical policies that enable scientific discoveries and preserve the integrity of our planet and the places we’re visiting.”

The PPIRB, comprised of a high-level team of 12 experts and stakeholders from science, engineering and industry, examined how to update planetary protection policies and procedures in light of current capabilities. Such guidelines have periodically been updated and inform exploration by spacefaring nations that have signed the Outer Space Treaty since the 1960s.

“Planetary science and planetary protection techniques have both changed rapidly in recent years, and both will likely continue to evolve rapidly,” Stern said. “Planetary protection guidelines and practices need to be updated to reflect our new knowledge and new technologies, and the emergence of new entities planning missions across the solar system. There is global interest in this topic, and we also need to address how new players, for example in the commercial sector, can be integrated into planetary protection.”

NASA plans to begin a dialogue about the PPIRB report’s recommendations with stakeholders, and international and commercial partners to help build a new chapter for conducting planetary missions, and planetary protection policies and procedures. 

For more information about Planetary Protection, visit:


To read the full report of the Planetary Protection Independent Review Board, visit:


[Category: News, Alan Stern, Artemis, Earth, Mars, NASA, planetary protection, Planetary Protection Independent Review Board, PPIRB, Thomas Zurbuchen]

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[l] at 10/19/19 3:17am

Vienna, Austria – (October 18, 2019) – The Moon Village Association (MVA) and Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation (CSEO) are pleased to announce that they have formed a strategic partnership and signed an MoU. With this MoU, the two entities aspire to strengthen their bond and their cooperation in the space sector.

This agreement between the MVA and CSEO will lead to the enhancement and progress of their common goals regarding the development of the Moon Village and promote the field of space exploration as well as developing numerous space initiatives.

This partnership is very exciting for both organizations, as this agreement involves a cooperation in technological research and development, science, education, innovation and entrepreneurship, by collaborating in organising international outreach activities and competitions, as well as joining forces to facilitate various projects, missions and research.

It should be noted that by this agreement CSEO, that already is an Institutional Member of MVA, becomes a regional coordinator of MVA in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Cyprus and Greece as well as chair the MVA Analogue Project, with the aim to bring cooperation between the various stakeholders in the region and internationally.

Furthermore, CSEO has allocated resources, partially as contribution in kind, for supporting the management of the MVA from Cyprus, with the provision of an Administrative Support Officer, supporting the achievement of the goals of the MVA. The Moon Village Association (MVA) and Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation (CSEO) are pleased to announce that they
have formed a strategic partnership and signed an MoU. With this MoU, the two entities aspire to strengthen their bond and their cooperation in the space sector.

About the Moon Village Association

The Moon Village Association (MVA) is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Vienna, founded in 2017.Its goal is the creation of a permanent global informal forum for stakeholders like governments, industry, academia and the general public interested in the development of the Moon Village. The MVA is the assembling of all efforts from private
industry, governments and others aimed to explore and use the Moon in a sustainable manner. Therefore, it is not a literal village on the Moon, it is not an ‘International Space Station on the Moon’, and it is not a single science facility. The MVA fosters cooperation for existing or planned Moon exploration programs, be they public or private initiatives. It comprises
approximately 220 individual and 26 institutional members from more than 40 countries, representing a diverse array of technical, scientific, cultural and interdisciplinary fields. The MVA partners with non-space organizations to promote international discussions and formulation of plans to foster the development of the Moon Village, and is creating
international, national and regional networks to engage civil society around the world. The Moon Village Association’s mission is unique, bridging together both spacefaring and nonspacefaring nations offering them the opportunity to play a role in its realization. There is no
other organization on the international scene having such a mission.

About Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation

Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation (CSEO) is a non-profit, non-governmental, Organisation , founded in 2012, with the goal of “Launching Cyprus into the Space Era” and building the next generation of scientists, that would see Cyprus as niche player in global space exploration initiatives. CSEO operates on four basic pillars: “Education and Outreach”, “R&D”, “Industry”, and “International Relations and Collaboration”, in the field of space exploration, astronautics and astrophysics. The Organisation promotes Research and Innovation in these fields, and actively develops the domestic space industry and building international collaboration, creating diverse multinational partnerships on space exploration and research projects, in science, space and planetary missions. Today, CSEO has multiple international awards in space innovation, and a thriving ecosystem of over 75 corporate members, a global network of space ambassadors via “CSEO International”, and over 500 registered researchers, scientists, educators and volunteers. CSEO’s researchers are involved in Astrophysics, Earth Observation, Planetary Sciences, Climate Sciences, ICT, Robotics, Computer Vision, Aerospace Materials etc.

[Category: News, CSEO, Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation, moon, Moon Village Association, MVA]

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[l] at 10/19/19 1:01am

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 18, 2019 (Aerojet Rocketdyne/Firefly Aerospace PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne and Firefly Aerospace, Inc. (Firefly) are pleased to announce a cooperative agreement that combines the capabilities of both companies to provide flexible, sustainable and highly competitive space access solutions.

Aerojet Rocketdyne and Firefly will serve the growing government and commercial market by providing dedicated small and medium launch capabilities to low Earth orbit (LEO), geosynchronous orbit (GEO) and the Moon. This collaboration will leverage Firefly’s new family of launch vehicles and in-space services with Aerojet Rocketdyne’s experience in propulsion development, additive manufacturing and mission assurance for commercial, national security and exploration missions.

“Our strategic alignment with Firefly will offer very competitive solutions to address emerging launch market demands. We will take advantage of Firefly’s mature launch vehicle designs, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s advanced propulsion systems and the world-class technological capabilities of both companies,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake. “In particular, Firefly and Aerojet Rocketdyne will provide services to meet emerging national security space requirements.”

The first flight of Firefly’s small-satellite rocket, Alpha, is scheduled for launch in the first quarter of 2020 from Vandenberg AFB. At a dedicated mission price of $15 million, Alpha is currently capable of delivering one metric ton to LEO and 630 kg to sun-synchronous orbit (SSO).

Aerojet Rocketdyne is contributing to the first flight of Alpha by providing additive manufacturing expertise for key Reaver first stage engine components. They will have increased influence on Alpha block two upgrades, on both the first and second stage engines, which will work toward an increased Alpha SSO payload performance to greater than 800 kg. These contributions will include expanded implementation of additively manufactured elements to reduce cost and increase reliability, as well as technical input to increase engine performance.

“We’re excited to work with Aerojet Rocketdyne under this new collaborative agreement because of their extensive experience and the unique mission solutions they offer. Combined with our already mature Alpha design, our cooperation with Aerojet Rocketdyne is a significant differentiator in the small to medium launch vehicle market and will enable rapid performance increases of the Alpha vehicle,” said Firefly CEO Tom Markusic.

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s unique additive manufacturing, chemical and electric in-space propulsion technologies also have direct applicability to Firefly’s Orbital Transfer Vehicle (OTV), which transfers small payloads between orbits. The OTV provides mission flexibility by deploying payloads into unique orbits and reaching altitudes and inclinations that are out of reach for many small launch vehicles.

Dr. Markusic added, “Firefly is committed to flying Beta, our medium class launch vehicle. Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AR1 engine, which incorporates the latest advances in propulsion technology, materials science and manufacturing techniques, is incredibly well suited to power Beta given its cost-effective, high performance capabilities. By cooperating on this development, we are accelerating our time to market and providing our customers with high confidence in Beta’s schedule, performance and reliability.”

Citing threats to U.S. space capabilities, senior defense officials have emphasized the need to shift toward space architectures that use smaller spacecraft that can be developed and launched quickly. Offerings from Firefly supported by Aerojet Rocketdyne are ideal to meet these evolving national security requirements.

About Aerojet Rocketdyne: Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader that provides propulsion systems and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, and tactical systems areas, in support of domestic and international customers. For more information, visit www.Rocket.com and www.AerojetRocketdyne.com. Follow Aerojet Rocketdyne and CEO Eileen Drake on Twitter at  @AerojetRdyne  and  @DrakeEileen.

About Firefly Aerospace: Firefly is developing a family of launch and in-space vehicles and services that provide industry-leading affordability, convenience and reliability. Firefly’s launch vehicles utilize common technologies, manufacturing infrastructure and launch capabilities, providing LEO launch solutions for up to four metric tons of payload at the lowest cost/kg in the small-lift class. Combined with Firefly’s in-space vehicles, such as the Orbital Transfer Vehicle and Genesis Lander, Firefly provides the space industry with a one-stop shop for missions to the surface of the Moon or beyond. Headquartered in Cedar Park TX, Firefly has additional presence in Washington, D.C., Dnipro, Ukraine and Tokyo, Japan. Firefly is financed by Noosphere Ventures of Menlo Park, CA.

[Category: News, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Alpha, Firefly Aerospace, Reaver]

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[l] at 10/18/19 1:27pm
President Donald Trump and other administration officials talk to NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir during the first all-woman spacewalk. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — President Donald Trump, second from left, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, left, Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, right, speaks with NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir during the first all-woman spacewalk on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019, from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington.

The first all-woman spacewalk in history began at 7:38 a.m. EDT with Koch and Meir venturing outside the International Space Station to replace a failed battery charge-discharge unit. This is the fourth spacewalk for Koch and Meir’s first.

[Category: News, Christina Koch, Donald Trump, International Space Station, ISS, Ivanka Trump, Jessica Meir, Jim Bridenstine, Mike Pence, space station, spacewalks]

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[l] at 10/18/19 1:19pm
NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (left) and Christina Koch are inside the Quest airlock preparing the U.S. spacesuits and tools they will use on their first spacewalk together. (Credit: NASA)

Update: The astronauts have completed their 7h 17m spacewalk and have reentered the space station.

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Friday’s all-woman spacewalk is generating public interest we normally don’t get for a spacewalk. Here are the basics on the spacewalk itself, how to watch and how to participate in the conversation.

Why is this spacewalk significant?

Although it’s the 221st spacewalk performed in support of space station assembly, it’s the first to be conducted entirely by women, NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (at left above) and Christina Koch (at right above). It’s the first spacewalk for Meir; she’ll become the 15th woman overall and 14th U.S. woman to spacewalk.

What’s the importance of an all-woman spacewalk?

The first all-woman spacewalk is a milestone worth noting and celebrating as the agency looks forward to putting the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 with NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program. Our achievements provide inspiration to students around the world, proving that hard work can lead you to great heights, and all students should be able to see themselves in those achievements.

When asked in an interview about the importance of conducting her mission and this spacewalk, Koch said, “In the end, I do think it’s important, and I think it’s important because of the historical nature of what we’re doing. In the past women haven’t always been at the table. It’s wonderful to be contributing to the space program at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everyone has a role. That can lead in turn to increased chance for success. There are a lot of people who derive motivation from inspiring stories of people who look like them, and I think it’s an important story to tell.”

The all-woman spacewalk wasn’t something we purposefully planned, though. It was bound to happen eventually because of the increasing number of female astronauts. Koch’s and Meir’s 2013 class of astronaut candidates was 50 percent women.

Spacewalk assignments are always made on the basis of which astronauts are best prepared to accomplish the tasks at hand under the conditions at the time. Spacewalks are not easy; astronauts typically describe them as the most physically challenging thing they do.

Was the previously planned all-woman spacewalk in March with Christina Koch and Anne McClain scrubbed because of a spacesuit size issue, and could something similar prevent it again?  

The spacewalk planned for March 29 did happen, but we made a change in the astronauts to protect the safety of the crew and the timing of the mission. Anne McClain made the decision to swap places with Nick Hague on the spacewalks planned for March 29 and April 8 so everyone could wear spacesuits that fit them best. The spacesuits had been configured for the spacewalks as originally planned and also as replanned in 2018 before they were delayed to 2019. In anticipation of 10 planned spacewalks this fall in which all four spacewalkers prefer a medium hard upper torso, the astronauts reconfigured a second spacesuit with a medium hard upper torso.

What will Koch and Meir do on the spacewalk?

The astronauts will replace a battery charge/discharge unit that failed to activate after new lithium-ion batteries were installed on the space station’s exterior structure on Oct. 11. The unit is one of several that regulate the charge put into the batteries collecting energy from the station’s solar arrays. Though the unit’s failure has not affected station operations or crew safety, it does prevent the new batteries from providing increased station power.

When will the spacewalk start?

The astronauts will venture outside the International Space Station about 7:50 a.m. EDT Friday. The spacewalk is expected to take five to six hours.

How can I watch the spacewalk?

Live coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m. on NASA Television, the agency’s website and on NASA’s YouTube channel. Updates will be posted to the International Space Station blog.

How can I tell which astronaut is which?

Koch will be wearing the spacesuit with the red stripes, and views from her helmet camera will have the number 18, while Meir’s spacesuit does not have stripes, and her helmet camera view will be number 11. The spacewalk will be the 221st in support of station assembly, maintenance and upgrades and the eighth outside the station this year. This will be Koch’s fourth spacewalk and Meir’s first. Meir will be the 15th woman to spacewalk, and the 14th U.S. woman. NASA astronaut Kathryn Sullivan became the first American woman to walk in space in October 1984. Both Koch and Meir, selected as astronaut candidates in 2013, are on their first spaceflight. Koch will remain in space for an extended duration mission of 11 months to provide researchers the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman to prepare for human missions to the Moon and Mars.

Image GallerySpacewalks through the Years

What else will be happening during the spacewalk?

Commander Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan will assist the spacewalkers. Parmitano will control the Canadarm2 robotics arm and Morgan will provide airlock and spacesuit support.

How can I follow the spacewalk on social media?

Follow @NASA on Twitter, and use the hashtag #AskNASA to submit questions, or watch it on NASA’s Facebook page or on Twitch. NASA’s digital services team will be working with experts to respond to as many questions as they can throughout the day. 

What other roles have women played at NASA?

Women like Koch and Meir continue to play increasingly important roles at NASA, carrying on a tradition that goes back to our earliest days. Three who were essential to building the human spaceflight program — Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson of the Langley Research Center — were the subject of the movie “Hidden Figures”. Nancy Grace Roman was NASA’s first chief of astronomy, and Margaret Hamilton led the team that wrote the software for the Apollo moon landings. In 2019, more and more women are leading the way at NASA.

[Category: News] [Link to media]

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[l] at 10/18/19 12:47pm
Swarm satellite (Credit: Swarm Technologies)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a license to Swarm Technologies to operate a non-voice communications satellite constellation composed of 150 satellites smaller than an 1U CubeSat.

“Over 20 entities filed letters in support of granting Swarm’s application. These entities plan to utilize Swarm’s network to provide a variety of communications services in support of agribusiness, transportation, and academic and scientific research,” the FCC said in its memorandum approving the application.

A Swarm spacecraft measures only 11 x 11 x .2.8 cm (4.3 x 4.3 x 1.1 in) excluding its deployed antenna and weighs a mere 0.31 to 0.45 kg (0.68 to 0.99 lb) . That is about one quarter of the size of an 1U CubeSat that measures 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm (3.94 x 3.94 x 3.94 in) and weighs about 1.3 kg (2.87 lb).

Swarm’s constellation will use very high frequency (VHF) bands to provide these services from operational altitudes of 300-550 km (186-311 miles) and orbital inclinations ranging from equatorial equatorial to polar.

“The total number of satellites deployed during the license term, including technically identical replacement satellites deployed pursuant to 47 CFR § 25.113(i), must not exceed 600,” the memo stated.

“Swarm must launch 50 percent of the maximum number of proposed space stations, place them in the assigned orbits, and operate them in accordance with this authorization no later than October 17, 2025, and must launch the remaining space stations necessary to complete its authorized service constellation, place them in their assigned orbits, and operate them in accordance with the authorization no later than October 17, 2028,” the document added.

In approving the application, the FCC rejected a protest from Orbcomm that Swarm’s spacecraft would interfere with the operation of its own satellite constellation. SpaceX also expressed concerns over how Swarm would mitigate orbital debris for its very small satellites.

ORBCOMM alleged that Swarm’s proposal does not conform to the FCC’s rules for non-voice, non-geostationary mobile satellite services.

“In addition, ORBCOMM claims that Swarm has made no effort to coordinate its system and will interfere with ORBCOMM’s system,” the memorandum stated. “ORBCOMM also asserts that it has primary interference protection rights throughout the entire 148-150.05 MHz band, and therefore Swarm’s claim that it will not be sharing any frequencies with ORBCOMM is erroneous….

“In its response, Swarm reiterates that it has applied to use only those sub-bands where ORBCOMM has secondary rights, not those portions of the 148-150.05 MHz band where ORBCOMM is assigned on a primary basis,” the document added. “Consequently, ORBCOMM has no basis to claim interference protection rights across the entire band, or require that Swarm use a particular interference avoidance technology that was developed for systems in the second processing round, over 25 years ago.”

SpaceX, which is launching the Starlink constellation to provide satellite broadband services, requested that Swarm provide more detailed risk analysis on orbital debris.

SpaceX claimed Swarm’s system poses a risk to the International Space Station and failed to take into account the size of the satellite’s antenna.
Elon Musk’s company also requested that Swarm’s authorization should be conditioned to conform with future FCC rules on orbital debris mitigation.

“In response, Swarm submitted supplemental materials to address these concerns, including an analysis accounting for deployed antennas,” the memo stated. “Swarm also committed to comply with future rulemakings, and to coordinate operations with the ISS and other approved operators.

“We find that Swarm has taken the appropriate steps to address
SpaceX’s concerns, and condition Swarm’s application on compliance with the outcome of the Commission’ Orbital Debris proceeding,” the commission added.

In December 2018, the FCC leveled a $900,000 fine against Swarm for the unauthorized launch of four prototype SpaceBee satellites aboard an Indian PSLV rocket. The FCC had rejected Swarm’s application due to concern about being able to track the small satellites and possible collisions with other spacecraft.

Despite the rejection, Swarm launched the satellites on the Indian booster in January 2018 as a secondary payload.

[Category: News, FCC, Federal Communications Commission, ORBCOMM, SpaceX, Swarm]

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[l] at 10/18/19 11:30am
Dream Chaser lands (Credit: NASA)

SPARKS, Nev., October 17, 2019 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security leader owned by Chairwoman and President Eren Ozmen and CEO Fatih Ozmen, in cooperation with partners OHB System AG (OHB) and 4Space, delivered a feasibility report to the European Space Agency (ESA) on utilizing SNC’s Dream Chaser® spacecraft as a platform for European microgravity missions in lieu of the International Space Station (ISS).

“We are proud to be working with ESA and our international business partners on the many ways Dream Chaser can fulfill future European mission requirements, “ said SNC’s owner and CEO Fatih Ozmen. “Our relationships with ESA and leading European aerospace companies date back many years and with the first flight of the Dream Chaser ahead, we are pleased to offer critical infrastructure to enable and sustain a vibrant lower-Earth orbit (LEO) space economy.”

The study looked at scenarios for European microgravity missions in LEO on the premise the ISS will eventually be either decommissioned or turned over primarily to commercial operators. The study reviewed technical, programmatic, financial and market aspects of an architecture based on the Dream Chaser.

Known as America’s Spaceplane™, the Dream Chaser can be customized for both domestic and international customers through vehicle configuration, selection of launch vehicle, orbital destination, landing site and a host of other variables.  It can also be used as either a free-flyer or a logistics element to serve orbital destinations in LEO. The vehicle’s low-g runway landing is also critical to safely and gently delivering sensitive science and experiments back to Earth.

SNC is currently working with multiple international space agencies and developing technologies, applications and missions for Dream Chaser-based space systems to make space affordable and accessible around the globe. For more information, visit www.SNCorp.com.

About Dream Chaser Spacecraft

Owned and operated by SNC, the Dream Chaser spacecraft is a reusable, multi-mission space utility vehicle. It is capable of transportation services to and from low-Earth orbit and is the only commercial, lifting-body vehicle capable of a runway landing. The Dream Chaser Cargo System was selected by NASA to provide cargo delivery and disposal services to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract. All Dream Chaser CRS-2 cargo missions are planned to land at Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility.

About Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC)

Owned by Chairwoman and President Eren Ozmen and CEO Fatih Ozmen, SNC is a trusted leader in solving the world’s toughest challenges through best-of-breed, open architecture engineering in Space Systems, Commercial Solutions, and National Security and Defense. SNC is recognized among the three most innovative U.S. companies in space, as a Tier One Superior Supplier for the U.S. Air Force, and as one of America’s fastest growing companies. SNC’s 55-year legacy of state-of-the art civil, military and commercial solutions includes delivering more than 4,000 space systems, subsystems and components to customers worldwide, and participation in more than 450 missions to space, including Mars.                   

[Category: News, 4Space, Dream Chaser, Eren Ozemn, ESA, European Space Agency, Faith Ozemn, International Space Station, ISS, micrgoravity experiments, microgravity research, OHB Systems]

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[l] at 10/18/19 4:12am
Orion launch abort system test. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — A motor built by Aerojet Rocketdyne for the Launch Abort System (LAS) on NASA’s Orion spacecraft was successfully tested by engineers at the Redstone Test Center on Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, October 16.

During the third and final hot fire test, the jettison motor was fired for under two seconds in ambient temperatures to produce more than 40,000 pounds of thrust. With the series of static tests completed, Orion’s LAS jettison motor is qualified and ready for flight on the Artemis II mission with astronauts.

The LAS will safely lift the Orion crew module away from the launch vehicle in the event of emergency on the launch pad or during ascent. It consists of three solid rocket motors: the abort motor pulls the crew module away from the launch vehicle; the attitude control motor steers and orients the capsule; then the jettison motor ignites to separate the launch abort system from Orion for parachute deployment and a safe crew landing. The jettison motor also is the only part of the LAS that operates during normal mission scenarios, and detaches from Orion once it is no longer needed.

The jettison motor is built by Aerojet Rocketdyne through a contract by NASA’s prime contractor for Orion, Lockheed Martin. The launch abort system was stress tested earlier this year during the successful Ascent Abort-2 test.

NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program includes sending a suite of new science instruments and technology demonstrations to study the Moon, landing the first woman and next man on the lunar surface by 2024, and establishing a sustained presence by 2028.  Orion will sustain astronauts in deep space, provide emergency abort capability, and support a safe re-entry from lunar return velocities. The agency will leverage its Artemis experience and technologies to prepare for the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.

For more information about the Orion spacecraft and its launch abort system, visit:


[Category: News, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Artemis, human spaceflight, Lockheed Martin, moon, NASA, Redstone Arsenal, Redstone Test Center]

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[l] at 10/18/19 2:25am
  • Kleos appoints new Finance and Operations Manager
  • Additional appointment to enhance technology efficiency and security
  • Kleos’ Scouting Mission ready for Q4 launch

LUXEMBOURG, 17 October 2019 (Kleos Space PR) — Kleos Space S.A. (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company, announces that it has appointed Dara Nikolova and Maris Jukss to broaden its head office financial and research operations in Luxembourg.

Dara Nikolova has been appointed as Finance and Operations Manager. Dara brings extensive finance and operational insights to profitably grow the Kleos Space business.

Dara is a seasoned corporate finance and strategy professional, angel investor and mentor to technology and social impact start-ups. She has helped companies define and implement growth strategies and access new business opportunities in various roles at Morgan Stanley, Hamilton Lane Advisors, Microsoft, Google and, until recently, world’s leading satellite operator SES.

Maris Jukss has been appointed as Backend Developer and Programmer with the mission to increase the efficiency and security of the Kleos technology delivering near-real-time global observation data.
Maris has a PhD in Computer science and joins Kleos Space from the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust of University of Luxembourg where he was a research associate and worked in the Software Verification and Validation group, SVV Lab.

Maris has over six years industry experience prior to his graduate studies at McGill University. Prior to joining Kleos Space, his research interests were in efficient and usable model transformations as well as in the applications of Model-Driven Engineering (MDE) in the context of complex software-intensive systems.

Andy Bowyer, CEO of Kleos Space stated, “As we approach the launch of the Kleos’ Scouting Mission1 in Q4 2019, Kleos Space has strengthened its teams in order to streamline operations and further increase technology efficiency and security. Kleos Space continues its commitment to provide first-class service and opportunities to service our clients and local and international investors.”

1 The multi-satellite Scouting Mission system will form the foundation of a constellation that delivers a global picture of hidden maritime activity, enhancing the intelligence capability of government and commercial entities when AIS (Automatic Identification System) is defeated, imagery is unclear, or targets are out of patrol range. The first scouting mission is made up of 4x nano-satellites built by GomSpace in Denmark.

[Category: News, Kleos Space]

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[l] at 10/17/19 12:48pm
This scene from the panoramic camera on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity looks back toward part of the west rim of Endeavour Crater that the rover drove along, heading southward, during the summer of 2014. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will host a media teleconference at 3:30 p.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 18, to discuss recommendations presented by the Planetary Protection Independent Review Board (PPIRB), established in June 2019 by Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live on NASA’s website.

The PPIRB, comprised of a high-level team of 12 experts and stakeholders from science, engineering, and industry, examined the planetary protection guidelines the agency has used for decades in order to suggest changes needed to address the changing reality of space exploration.

Planetary Protection is the practice of protecting solar system bodies from contamination by Earth life and protecting Earth from possible life forms that may be returned from other solar system bodies.

The teleconference will provide an overview of the board’s 34 findings, and 43 recommendations.

The briefing participants are:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate
  • Alan Stern, planetary scientist and associate vice president of the Space Science and Engineering Division, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado
  • Tommy Sanford, executive director, Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Washington.
  • Amanda Hendrix, senior scientist, Planetary Science Institute, Lakewood, Colorado

A report with the board’s findings will be posted by 11 a.m. on Oct. 18, on the agency’s website.

[Category: News, Alan Stern, Commercial Spaceflight Federation, CSF, NASA, planetary protection, Planetary Protection Independent Review Board, Planetary Science Institute, PPIRB, Southwest Research Institute, SwRI, Thomas Zurbuchen, Tommy Stanford]

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[l] at 10/17/19 12:04pm

The successful mission brings the total count of satellites deployed by Rocket Lab to 40 and continues the company’s record of 100% mission success for customers

AUKLAND, New Zealand.  17 October 2019 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has successfully launched its ninth Electron mission, deploying a single spacecraft to orbit for satellite manufacturer Astro Digital.

The mission, named ‘As The Crow Flies,’ lifted off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula at 01:22 UTC, 17 October 2019 (14:22 NZDT). Approximately 71 minutes after lift-off, Electron’s Kick Stage deployed the payload to a circular orbit of more than 1,000 km – more than twice the altitude of any Electron mission to date. The mission successfully demonstrated recent upgrades to the Kick Stage’s 3D-printed Curie engine, including the move to a bi-propellant design for improved performance. Curie also serves as the propulsion system on Rocket Lab’s Photon satellite bus, and the flight-proven engine upgrades support enduring missions in LEO, as well as higher orbits.   

This mission takes the total number of satellites deployed by Rocket Lab to 40 and continues the company’s track record of 100% mission success for customers.  

The spacecraft on board was a Palisade technology demonstration satellite – a 16U CubeSat with on-board propulsion and next generation communications systems developed by Astro Digital, and software developed by Advanced Solutions Inc. including an advanced version of ASI’s MAX Flight Software.

The mission earned its moniker, ‘As The Crow Flies,’ as a nod to Astro Digital’s Corvus Spacecraft Platform which provides flexible and cost-effective solutions across a wide range of applications and mission profiles on bus variants ranging from 6U and 16U CubeSats to ESPA Class. Corvus is also a widely distributed genus of birds that includes crows.

‘As The Crow Flies’ was pulled forward in Rocket Lab’s 2019 manifest after a customer originally slated for this window requested a later launch date.

“Congratulations to the Astro Digital team for readying the spacecraft and taking advantage of an earlier launch opportunity. Our teams worked closely to deliver a flawless mission in a demonstration of the truly responsive space launch that small satellites need,” said Rocket Lab Founder and Chief Executive, Peter Beck. “No longer do small satellite operators have to accept the limitations of flying as a secondary payload, nor do they have to wait endlessly on the manifest of unproven launch vehicles. Frequent, responsive, and reliable launch is the new norm for small satellites thanks to Electron.”

Rocket Lab’s next mission is scheduled for lift-off from Launch Complex 1 from late November. 

[Category: News]

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[l] at 10/17/19 11:12am
NASA finished assembling the main structural components for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage on Sept. 19. Engineers at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans fully integrated the last piece of the 212-foot-tall core stage by adding the engine section to the rest of the previously assembled structure. Boeing technicians bolted the engine section to the stage’s liquid hydrogen propellant tank. (Credit: NASA/Steven Seipel)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has taken the next steps toward building Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stages to support as many as 10 Artemis missions, including the mission that will carry the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024.

NASA finished assembling the main structural components for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage on Sept. 19. Engineers at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans fully integrated the last piece of the 212-foot-tall core stage by adding the engine section to the rest of the previously assembled structure.Credits: NASA/Steven SeipelView Image Feature

The agency intends to work with Boeing, the current lead contractor for the core stages of the rockets that will fly on the first two Artemis missions, for the production of SLS rockets through the next decade. The core stage is the center part of the rocket that contains the two giant liquid fuel tanks. Towering 212 feet with a diameter of 27.6 feet, it will store cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen and all the systems that will feed the stage’s four RS-25 engines. It also houses the flight computers and much of the avionics needed to control the rocket’s flight.

NASA has provided initial funding and authorization to Boeing to begin work toward the production of the third core stage and to order targeted long-lead materials and cost-efficient bulk purchases to support future builds of core stages. This action allows Boeing to manufacture the third core stage in time for the 2024 mission, Artemis III, while NASA and Boeing work on negotiations to finalize the details of the full contract within the next year. The full contract is expected to support up to 10 core stages and up to eight Exploration Upper Stages (EUS).

“It is urgent that we meet the President’s goal to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024, and SLS is the only rocket that can help us meet that challenge,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “These initial steps allow NASA to start building the core stage that will launch the next astronauts to set foot on the lunar surface and build the powerful exploration upper stage that will expand the possibilities for Artemis missions by sending hardware and cargo along with humans or even heavier cargo needed to explore the Moon or Mars.”

An illustration of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) in the Block 1 configuration, which will carry an Orion spacecraft beyond the Moon, on the mobile launcher. SLS is the only rocket that can send the Orion spacecraft, astronauts and supplies to the Moon on a single mission.

Boeing’s current contract includes the SLS core stages for the Artemis I and Artemis II missions and the first EUS, as well as structural test articles and the core stage pathfinder. The new contract is expected to realize substantial savings compared to the production costs of core stages built during the design, development, test and evaluation phase by applying lessons learned during first-time builds and gaining efficiencies through bulk purchases.

“NASA is committed to establishing a sustainable presence at the Moon, and this action enables NASA to continue Space Launch System core stage production in support of that effort to help bring back new knowledge and prepare for sending astronauts to Mars,” said John Honeycutt, SLS Program Manager at Marshall. “SLS is the only rocket powerful enough to send Orion, astronauts and supplies to the Moon on a single mission, and no other rocket in production today can send as much cargo to deep space as the Space Launch System rocket.

For the first three Artemis missions, the SLS rocket uses an interim cryogenic propulsion stage to send the Orion spacecraft to the Moon. The SLS rocket is designed to meet a variety of mission needs by evolving to carry greater mass and volume with a more powerful EUS. The EUS is an important part of Artemis infrastructure needed to send astronauts and large cargo together, or larger cargo-only shipments, to the Moon, Mars and deep space. NASA aims to use the first EUS on the Artemis IV mission, and additional core stages and upper stages will support either crewed Artemis missions, science missions or cargo missions.

“The exploration upper stage will truly open up the universe by providing even more lift capability to deep space,” said Julie Bassler, the SLS Stages manager at Marshall. “The exploration upper stage will provide the power to send more than 45 metric tons, or 99 thousand pounds, to lunar orbit.”

The Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, Gateway and Human Landing System are part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration. Work is well underway on both the Artemis I and II rockets, with core stage assembly nearly complete at Michoud. Soon, the stage will be shipped to NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where it will undergo Green Run testing, an integrated test of the entire new stage that culminates with the firing of all four RS-25 engines. Upon completion of the test, NASA’s Pegasus barge will take the core stage to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida where it will be integrated with other parts of the rocket and Orion for Artemis I. Boeing also has completed manufacturing most of the main core stage structures for Artemis II.

The Artemis program is the next step in human space exploration. It’s part of NASA’s broader Moon to Mars exploration approach, in which we will quickly and sustainably explore the Moon and use what we learn there to enable humanity’s next giant leap, sending astronauts to Mars.

For more information about SLS visit: https://www.nasa.gov/sls

[Category: News, Artemis, Artemis 1, Boeing, Jim Bridenstine, Kennedy Space Center, Marshall Space Flight Center, moon, NASA, NASA KSC, NASA Marshall, NASA Stennis, RS-25, Stennis Space Center]

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[l] at 10/17/19 6:13am

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Roscosmos State Corporation Director General Dmitry Rogozin took part in the state delegation headed by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin during a state visit to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

During the trip to Abu-Dhabi the Head of Roscosmos met with Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre management and the first UAE astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori, who has recently returned to Earth after his flight to the ISS as part of the international crew. Hazzaa Al Mansoori stayed at the ISS from September 25 to October 3, 2019.

The meeting participants noted that the first UAE astronaut flight is a historical event not only for his homeland, but also for the whole region.

Moreover, during the visit of Vladimir Putin to Riyadh, Roscosmos and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement of cooperation in crewed spaceflights and global satellite navigation system GLONASS. Among other things, the agreement allows for launching a Saudi Arabian cosmonaut to the International Space Station.

[Category: News, Abu Dhabi, Dmitry Rogozin, GLONASS, Hazza Al Mansouri, human spaceflight, International Space Station, Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, Roscosmos, space station, UAE, United Arab Emirates, Vladimir Putin]

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[l] at 10/17/19 4:07am
Exoplanet imaginarium (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA congratulates 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics laureates Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, who have been awarded the prestigious prize for the first discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star, and James Peebles, honoured for the theoretical framework of cosmology used to investigate the Universe on its largest scales.

The two halves of this year’s award recognise groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of how the Universe formed and evolved, as well as the role of Earth – and of us, as humans – in the overall cosmic picture. Cosmology and exoplanets are among the key themes investigated by ESA’s space science missions.

“We are delighted with the Nobel committee’s recognition of these two major milestones in astronomy,” says Günther Hasinger, ESA Director of Science.

“From the seeds of cosmic structure, generated almost fourteen billion years ago, to the building blocks of planets and even life, the work of Peebles, Mayor and Queloz tackles some of the most profound questions that humanity has ever pondered: where do we come from? Where are we going? Is there life elsewhere in the Universe?

“These fascinating questions inspire and underpin our daily scientific work at ESA, from cosmology missions like Planck and Euclid to our future fleet of exoplanet satellites, including the upcoming Cheops mission that will soon characterise many alien worlds.”

Exoplanet pioneers

Michel Mayor is an emeritus professor at the University of Geneva, and Didier Queloz is a professor at the University of Geneva and the University of Cambridge. 

In the early 1990s, when Queloz was Mayor’s PhD student, they were using the Haute-Provence Observatory in southern France to search for subtle changes in the light coming from nearby stars in a quest for signatures of planets beyond the Solar System. These pioneering observations eventually revealed 51 Pegasi b, the first exoplanet found around a star like our Sun.

Announced just 24 years ago this month during an astronomy conference in Florence, the discovery of Mayor and Queloz has forever changed our perspective on the cosmos. Revealing a planet that was unlike anything seen in our Solar System, the finding shook our theoretical understanding of planetary formation and inaugurated a flurry of investigations in the burgeoning field of exoplanets. 

CHEOPS space telescope (Credit: ESA/ATG Medialab)

In the past quarter of a century, astronomers have been exploiting observatories on ground and in space and discovered more than 4000 exoplanets. The next endeavour in this exciting subject is ESA’s Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, Cheops, which is currently undergoing final preparations ahead of its launch scheduled for mid December.

Once in space, Cheops will perform detailed observations of bright stars known to host planets, particularly in the Earth-to-Neptune size range, enabling a first step towards characterising the nature of these distant, exotic worlds. Didier Queloz is the Chair of the Cheops Science Team, which comprises experts from eleven ESA member states. 

In the next decade, ESA is planning two more missions dedicated to the study of exoplanets – Plato, the PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars mission, and Ariel, the Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey mission – keeping European science at the forefront of exoplanet research.

From planets to the cosmos

James Peebles, Albert Einstein Professor of Science Emeritus at Princeton University, started developing theoretical models that lay the foundation of our understanding of the Universe’s formation and evolution in the 1960s, greatly contributing to the impressive growth of modern cosmology. 

This map shows the oldest light in our universe, as detected by the Planck mission. The ancient light, called the cosmic microwave background, was imprinted on the sky when the universe was 370,000 years old. It shows tiny temperature fluctuations that correspond to regions of slightly different densities, representing the seeds of all future structure: the stars and galaxies of today. (Credits: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The theoretical framework put forward by Peebles describes the evolution of the large-scale structure we see in today’s Universe based on the seeds that are observed in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the most ancient light in cosmic history, released when the Universe was only 380 000 years old. ESA’s Planck mission, operating between 2009 and 2013, has obtained the most precise picture of the CMB, enabling investigations that have confirmed this view of the Universe to unprecedented accuracy.

But not all mysteries are solved. In the 1980s, Peebles’ intuitions were also key to recognise two major missing ingredients in the leading cosmological model – dark matter and dark energy. Another ESA mission, Euclid, currently in preparation and due to launch in 2022, will observe billions of galaxies to probe the past ten billion years of the Universe’s expansion and shed light on these two mysterious cosmic components.

[Category: News, Ariel, Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey, Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, CHEOPS, Didier Queloz, ESA, Euclid, European Space Agency, exoplanets, Haute-Provence Observatory, James Peebles, Michel Mayor, Nobel Laureats, Nobel Prize, Planck, PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars, Plato, Princeton University, University of Cambridge, University of Geneva]

As of 10/20/19 11:29pm. Last new 10/20/19 1:27pm.

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