[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/24/19 8:01am
Artist’s conception of the Janus satellite rendezvousing with a binary asteroid. (Credit: NASA)

DENVER  (Lockheed Martin PR) — Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has been selected to design dual small deep space spacecraft to visit near-earth asteroids in a mission called Janus, led by the University of Colorado Boulder .

One of NASA’s Small Innovative Mission for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) finalists, Janus is designed to fly by two binary asteroids, or asteroids orbiting a common center of mass, to image the system using both visible and infrared cameras. These small satellites will launch in 2022 to reach the asteroid system in 2026.

“We are excited to partner with University of Colorado on this challenging mission to be among the first small sats to return science data from beyond Earth orbit,” said Chris McCaa , Janus program manager at Lockheed Martin Space. “Janus will provide the opportunity to blend our long heritage of mission success in deep space with the small sat paradigm, helping to pave the way for a new generation of deep space explorers. Combining our track record of delivering on principal investigator-led missions and the caliber of this science team will give us all a greater understanding of the working of our Solar System.”

Downselected for this next phase of NASA’s SIMPLEx program, Lockheed Martin will be working toward preliminary design review. SIMPLEx is a cost-capped program focusing science investigations on any Solar System body, except for the Earth and the Sun, using small spacecraft lighter than 180 kg. The Janus mission is designed to meet these requirements. The mission will investigate how binary asteroids form and evaluate existing theories of how these constantly changing systems evolve.

Deep space missions present challenges beyond what the typical small sat mission encounters in low-Earth orbit. For example, power systems must handle a range of Sun distances and telecommunication systems need to be able to transmit over long distances and be compatible with the Deep Space Network. Lockheed Martin brings the experience of deep space exploration system integration into the design of these ESPA-class, dual small satellites weighing in at about 40 kg each.

“All deep space missions require a balance of reliability and schedule assurance to be successful and, unlike a mission to low-Earth orbit, you must meet the planetary launch window. The asteroids won’t wait for us,” said McCaa. “To meet those challenges, we will be applying proven methods from missions such as OSIRIS-REx and Lucy as well as leveraging lessons learned while developing other small sat missions such as LunIR.”

The Janus mission is led by Principal Investigator Dan Scheeres of University of Colorado Boulder in Boulder, Colorado . If selected in the final stage, Lockheed Martin Space will design and build the spacecraft and provide mission operations after launch. Malin Space Science Systems will provide the instrument suite including visible and infrared cameras. The selected investigations will be managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama as part of the Solar System Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington.  

About Lockheed Martin

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland , Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 105,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

[Category: News, asteroids, CU Boulder, Lockheed Martin, NASA, SIMPLEx, University of Colorado Boulder]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/24/19 6:27am

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (NSR PR) – NSR’s Smallsat Launch Vehicle Markets, 2nd Edition report, released today, concludes the dedicated commercial small satellite launch market will see a rapid ramp-up period resulting in over $2.2B in revenue over the next 10 years, overcoming supply chain constraints, new technology risks, and solidifying its place in the market as a proven competitor.

While funding and enthusiasm continues to steadily increase, with twelve new dedicated smallsat launchers anticipating their first orbital launches by the end of 2020, the additional competition and market constraints will cause consolidation by no later than the mid-2020s. “NSR expects to see consolidation in the market in the form of M&As, or companies pivoting to other services or exclusive markets such as Military and Defense, or face shutdown,” writes Leena Pivovarova, NSR Analyst and report author.

Shifting mindsets also impact how the industry perceives small launch vehicle utility. Although, the larger mass category of dedicated smallsat launchers is ideal for smallsats being developed for mega-constellations, most of these satellites will not be launched on dedicated small launchers. For large scale mega-constellation deployments, heavier rockets with bigger payload capabilities will be utilized.

However, with rising popularity and success garnered by companies like Rocket Lab, emerging small launchers will continue to demand the spotlight. These small dedicated rockets will be utilized for mega-constellation replenishments in smaller increments, cubesat constellation deployments (or deployments of smaller class of satellite constellations), as well as technology developments, science, Earth Observation and other verticals.

This market’s challenge and opportunity still remains focused on schedule. As the industry trend towards rapid and more flexible launch capabilities gains momentum, all actors must respond in their own unique ways to remain competitive in the market. “With more players maturing and offering competitive value-added services and incentives to distinguish themselves from their competition, launch prices will increase,” says Pivovarova.

About the Report

NSR’s Smallsat Launch Vehicle Markets 2nd Edition (SLVM2) report is the industry’s most thorough analysis of the dedicated small launch vehicle market from a forecast and feasibility perspectives. Through market interviews, financial analysis, and careful monitoring of industry trends, SLVM2 is a crucial report for anyone seeking a deep understanding of the competitive landscape, revenue opportunities, and long-term feasibility of the small launch vehicle landscape in every region of the world. 

About NSR

NSR is the leading global market research and consulting firm focused on the satellite and space sectors. NSR’s global team, unparalleled coverage and anticipation of trends with a higher degree of confidence and precision than the competition is the cornerstone of all NSR offerings.  First to market coverage and a transparent, dependable approach sets NSR apart as the key provider of critical insight to the satellite and space industries.

Contact us at info@nsr.com to discuss how we can assist your business.

Companies and Organizations Mentioned in this Report

Planet, Spire Global, OneWeb, SpaceX, Orbex, Firefly, Vector launch, Arianespace, Avio, ISRO, NSIL, Northrop Grumman, IHI, JAXA, Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit, VOXSpace, Spinlaunch, Relativity Space, PLD Space, OneSpace, Interstellar Technologies, CASC, CASIC, Expace, Rocket Crafters, Gilmour Space Technologies, Bellatrix Aerospace, DARPA, ABL Space Systems, Astra (Stealth Rocket Company), SeaLaunch, S7 group, Stratolaunch, Skyrora, Linkspace, Space One, OneSpace, i-Space, SpaceFlight Industries, Sky and Space Global, SSTL, York Space systems, Astro Digital, Hiber Global, IceYe, Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co., Antrix, Noosphere Ventures, VALT Enterprises, Greenspring Associates, Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, DCVC, and Promus Ventures.

[Category: News]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/24/19 4:37am
Comet Interceptor concept (Credit: ESA)

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — A new mission called Comet Interceptor, which was proposed by the UK, has been targeted for launch by the European Space Agency in 2028.

Comet Interceptor would be the first mission to travel to a comet which has never previously encountered the inner Solar System.

To do this, it will need to launch and reach a holding position around 1 million miles away from Earth. There it will lie in wait until astronomers on the ground spot a suitable comet for it to intercept.

Scientists will then choose to target either a pristine comet travelling inward from the far reaches of our Solar System for the first time, or an interstellar object similar to Oumuamua – the cigar-shaped asteroid which passed through the Solar System last year – both untouched by the effects of the Sun.

This makes them scientifically important as ‘time capsules’ which offer an opportunity to study the conditions of the early Solar System and understand its formation.

The Comet Interceptor mission will involve a main spacecraft – a ‘mothership’ – that will make observations of the comet from a distance. It will deploy two smaller ‘daughter’ spacecraft which then move in closer to measure features such as the comet’s structure and surface material, as well as the cocktail of gases it is releasing.

The European Space Agency Science Programme Committee has selected the project as the first in a new class of ‘Fast’ missions, which use existing, flight-proven technology to speed up the journey from mission concept to implementation.

Science Minister Chris Skidmore said:

“Comet Interceptor sounds like something from a science fiction film but UK scientists are working to make it a reality in collaboration our partners in the European Space Agency.

“This new type of fast mission is a great example of how advances in space technology can bring benefits back to the science community. Our modern Industrial Strategy is ensuring that the UK takes these opportunities to lead the new space age.”

Comet Interceptor is a UK-led proposal with UCL and Edinburgh University leading the international payload consortium which includes the Japanese (JAXA) and American (NASA) space agencies, as well as other UK institutions.

Now that ESA has selected the proposal, the scientists and engineers will work together to develop the design and mission programme further.

The scheduled launch in 2028 would mean the mission sharing a ride on a rocket with another UK-led mission – the ARIEL (Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey) space telescope, which aims to study the atmospheres of around 1,000 planets orbiting stars other than our own, known as exoplanets.

Chris Lee, Head of Science Programmes at UK Space Agency, said:

“I’m delighted that our academic community impressed ESA with a vision of what a small, fast science mission can offer. In 1986 the UK-led mission to Halley’s Comet became the first to observe a cometary nucleus and, more recently, UK scientists took part in another iconic European comet mission, Rosetta. Now our scientists will build on that impressive legacy by attempting to visit a pristine comet for the very first time and learn more about the origins of our Solar System.”

[Category: News, ‘Oumuamua, Comet Interceptor, comets, ESA, European Space Agency, UK Space Agency, UKSA]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/24/19 2:29am

NASA has selected Final Frontier Design of Brooklyn, NY, for funding to develop an advanced boot for astronauts to walk on the moon.

The award under the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I program is worth $125,000 over six months.

The Surface Space Suit Boot (SSSB) “leverages decades of Lunar boot development and includes an advanced ankle mobility joint, a unique closure system, next generation outer garment materials, and an advanced polymer that will withstand the harsh environment of the moon,” the company said in its proposal summary.

The proposal summary follows.

Surface Space Suit Boot
Subtopic Title: Exploration Pressure Garment System (xPGS)
for deep space and surface missions

Principal Investigator
Nikolay NY

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :
Begin: 3
End: 4

Technical Abstract

The Surface Space Suit Boot (SSSB) is an advanced subsystem level project that addresses several issues in planetary boots including mobility, thermal protection, stability and comfort, and dust migration. The SSSB leverages decades of Lunar boot development and includes an advanced ankle mobility joint, a unique closure system, next generation outer garment materials, and an advanced polymer that will withstand the harsh environment of the moon.

Phase I includes 2 iterations of development of the boot, and a variety of tests to validate performance. A partnership with the industry leader in outer boot soles, Vibram, will add extensive experience in outer sole design and technology.

Potential NASA Applications

NASA’s next generation space suits are likely destined for the Lunar surface. The Deep Space Gateway (DSG) will serve not only as a scientific platform, but also as a staging point for lunar operations. A recent Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for human lunar landers further clarifies NASA’s exploration intentions. Any space suit designed for surface operations will need an advanced boot such as this to operate in the extreme conditions of the moon.

Potential Non-NASA Applications

Multiple elements of this project have potential non-NASA applications. The boot sole developed by Vibram will likely be leveraged for commercial applications and advertising. The unique closure system proposed by Final Frontier Design has applications in industrial boots, sportswear and ski boots, and compression garments.

Duration: 6 month

[Category: News, Final Frontier Design, NASA, SBIR, spacesuits, Vibram]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/23/19 4:32pm
Ajit Pai

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The battle over 5G wireless frequency allocation is heating up.

On  one side, there’s NASA, the Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who say that spectrum in the 24GHz band the government recently auctioned off to private companies will likely result in cell signals that would interfere with accurate weather forecasting.

On the other side is Federal Communications Commission  and its chairman, Ajit Pai, who ignored requests to delay the auction while more studies were done. Pai recently told the Senate Science Committee to ignore what he called faulty data presented by NASA and NOAA at the 11th hour.

In the middle is Congress, which is trying to sort through the conflicting reports as it balances the need to move forward with faster wireless service while protecting the nation for violent weather.

Last week, House Science Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine “requesting all studies and analyses conducted by NOAA and NASA regarding the impacts of the FCC’s proposed 5G transmissions in the 24 GHz band and the adjacent 23.8 GHz band; a timeline of events; and all documents and communications pertinent to the analyses and recommendations on 5G operations at these bands.

“We remain deeply concerned about the potential for degradation of our Nation’s weather forecasts by interference from spectrum recently auctioned off by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC),” said Chairwoman Johnson and Ranking Member Lucas in the letter. “We noted in our March 13 letter that we are both strong advocates for the adoption of 5G wireless communications, but that advance shouldn’t come at the expense of our ability to protect the lives and property of our citizens from severe weather.”

The letter said that Pai’s assurances that no interference will occur run counter to Congressional testimony by Bridenstine and NOAA Acting Administrator Neil Jacobs. Bridenstine said there was a “very high probability that we are going to lose a lot of data.”

Jacobs said NOAA’s ability to forecast the weather would be degraded by up to 30 percent, setting the agency back 40 years to the capability it had around 1980. “This would result in the reduction of hurricane track forecast lead time by roughly two to three days,” he told the House Environment Subcommittee on May 16.

The letter concludes with a threat of subpoenas if the requested documents are not turned in a timely manner.

“The Committee has been informally asking for these documents for some time. Given the short timelines imposed by outside events, any delays in transmitting these documents to the Committee could result in the Committee resorting to the use of compulsory processes to acquire these documents that are vital to the Committee conducting oversight on this issue,” the letter stated.

[Category: News, 5G, 5G spectrum, Ajit Pai, Commerce Department, Congress, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Federal Communications Commission, Frank Lucas, House Science Committee, Jim Bridenstine, NASA, NOAA, Senate Science Committee, Trump Administration, Wilbur Ross]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/23/19 8:22am
Ball Aerospace technicians use specialized equipment to build the GPIM satellite so that the space vehicle instruments and thrusters align perfectly with the payload interface. (Credit: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.)

BOULDER, Colo. , June 21, 2019 (Ball Aerospace PR) — A Ball Aerospace satellite used for NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) is ready for launch, scheduled for no earlier than June 24 on board a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. Ball built the small satellite, which contains NASA’s first opportunity to demonstrate a new “green” propellant and propulsion system in orbit – an alternative to conventional chemical propulsion systems.

“GPIM has the potential to inspire new ideas and new missions, which could mean smaller spacecraft, faster and easier ground processing, longer design lives and more,” said Dr. Makenzie Lystrup , vice president and general manager, Civil Space, Ball Aerospace. “Ball is also developing small satellites for two other NASA missions — the Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) and the Spectro Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) missions.”

As the prime contractor for GPIM, Ball Aerospace is responsible for system engineering; flight thruster performance verification; ground and flight data review; spacecraft bus; assembly, integration and test; and launch and flight support. The spacecraft bus is the smallest of the Ball Configurable Platform (BCP) satellites, which is about the size of a mini refrigerator, and was assembled in just 46 days. The BCP provides standard payload interfaces and streamlined procedures, allowing rapid and affordable access to space with flight-proven performance. There are currently two BCP small satellites performing on orbit: STPSat-2, which launched in November 2010 , and STPSat-3, which launched in November 2013 . The two STP satellites were built for the U.S. Air Force Space Test Program’s Standard Interface Vehicle (STP-SIV) project.

GPIM is part of NASA’s Technology Demonstration Missions program within the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), and Christopher McLean of Ball Aerospace serves as the principal investigator. The mission will demonstrate the practical capabilities of AF-M315E, a Hydroxyl Ammonium Nitrate fuel and oxidizer monopropellant developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory.

In addition to STMD and Ball Aerospace, the GPIM team includes: Aerojet Rocketdyne; U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base; the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico ; and three NASA field centers — NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio , NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida , and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland .

GPIM is one of several payloads launching as part of the Department of Defense STP-2 mission managed by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Another payload, the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate-2 (COSMIC-2) satellite, carries five Ion Velocity Meters built by Ball and designed by the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) that will measure one parameter of the space weather environment as part of a successful technology transfer program. COSMIC-2 is a joint mission including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Air Force, Taiwan’s National Space Organization and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.

Powered by endlessly curious people with an unwavering mission focus, Ball Aerospace pioneers discoveries that enable our customers to perform beyond expectation and protect what matters most. We create innovative space solutions, enable more accurate weather forecasts, drive insightful observations of our planet, deliver actionable data and intelligence, and ensure those who defend our freedom go forward bravely and return home safely. Go Beyond with Ball.® For more information, visit www.ball.com/aerospace or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

About Ball Corporation

(NYSE:BLL) Ball Corporation supplies innovative, sustainable packaging solutions for beverage, personal care and household products customers, as well as aerospace and other technologies and services primarily for the U.S. government. Ball Corporation and its subsidiaries employ 17,500 people worldwide and reported 2018 net sales of $11.6 billion . For more information, visit www.ball.com, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

[Category: News, Ball Aerospace, Falcon Heavy, GPIM, Green Propellant Infusion Mission, NASA, SpaceX]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/23/19 6:03am
Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin steps down the ladder to the surface of the moon. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON, June 21, 2019 (United Airlines PR) — Fifty years after Apollo 11 landed on the Moon in July 1969 , United Airlines stands with the nation in celebration of this milestone anniversary. Beginning today and continuing throughout July, the airline, in coordination with Houston First Corporation, Space Center Houston, NASA Johnson Space Center and OTG will provide customers with a variety of opportunities to learn about and celebrate space exploration.

“From the moment former President John F. Kennedy made a bold commitment to further U.S. space exploration efforts at Rice University in Houston , the city became part of the national dialogue about how and when we would put a man on the moon,” said Rodney Cox , vice president for United’s Houston hub. “Not only is the Apollo 11 mission rooted in Houston’s past, it also became part of United’s history when Astronaut Neil Armstrong later served on our Board of Directors. Knowing the deep connection both United and Houston have to this historic mission, we are honored to commemorate this remarkable accomplishment with our customers.”

Planned activities include:

  • Inflight entertainment: A special inflight entertainment channel with 17 dedicated space-related programs developed by NASA will be accessible on all flights with seatback entertainment and personal device entertainment as early as July 1 . The channel will feature documentaries about NASA’s push to the Moon, views of Earth from the Space Station, action cam footage of NASA astronaut spacewalks and more.
  • Dine like an astronaut: Two of the restaurants in United’s terminals at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston – Ember and Tanglewood Grille – will feature dishes throughout July inspired by the food items the astronauts ate on board Apollo 11. To ensure authenticity, restaurant operator OTG sent their award-winning culinary team to NASA’s Space Food Systems Laboratory in Houston to learn about and taste food prepared by NASA’s food scientists. Specialty beverages, such as Tang-infused cocktails, will also be available for customers travelling through Houston to enjoy.
  • Digital takeover of Terminal C-North: For the month of July, each of the terminal’s gate lounge’s will be transformed into a digital art gallery hosting vivid photography from the Apollo 11 mission, while iPads at all OTG locations will feature an educational trivia game developed by Space Center Houston.
  • Pop-up science lab experiences: From July 9-11 , Space Center Houston will provide Apollo 11-themed pop-up science labs throughout United’s Terminal C and E and IAH. These interactive, hands-on exhibits will let passengers of all ages explore science and engineering in fun and educational ways during their visit to IAH.
  • Astronaut meet and greet at IAH: Customers will have the opportunity to meet and take photos with retired Astronaut Ken Cameron. A NASA astronaut, engineer, U.S. Marine Corps officer and pilot, Cameron will meet and greet customers in the United Clubs July 9-11 .
  • Mission: Space City celebration flight: On July 17 , the same day Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin Buzz Aldrin made their first TV transmission from Earth to space, United will host a special celebration flight from its New York area hub at Newark Liberty International airport to Houston to recognize the historic occasion. Customers on board Flight 355 will enjoy space-themed entertainment, inflight gifts and mingle with special onboard guests who have first-hand experience in space.
  • Mission: Space City social media contest:  Starting today, space enthusiasts will have a chance to win two seats on board the Apollo 11 celebration flight as well as a behind the scenes tour of NASA. Click here for more information.
  • MileagePlus Exclusives: Beginning July 1 , customers will be able to bid miles on space-themed MileagePlus experiences such as VIP access to Space Center Houston’s Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Celebration featuring the band Walk the Moon. For more information, visit Exclusives.mileageplus.com/nasa.

“We couldn’t be prouder of the role that Houston has played in some of the world’s biggest accomplishments, like the Apollo 11 mission,” says Brenda Bazan , President and CEO of Houston First , Corp. “During Space City Month, we’re excited to welcome visitors from around the globe. Between Space Center Houston and many world class museums, our city is a great place to satisfy a love for discovery and exploration.”

Every customer. Every flight. Every day.

In 2019, United is focusing more than ever on its commitment to its customers, looking at every aspect of its business to ensure that the carrier keeps customers’ best interests at the heart of its service. In addition to today’s announcement, United recently announced that luxury skincare line Sunday Riley will make products exclusively for United customers to experience in amenity kits, released a re-imagined version of the most downloaded app in the airline industry, introduced ConnectionSaver, a new tool dedicated to improving the experience for customers connecting from one United flight to the next and made DIRECTV free for every passenger on 211 aircraft, offering more than 100 channels on seat back monitors on more than 30,000 seats.

About United

United’s shared purpose is “Connecting People. Uniting the World.” We are more focused than ever on our commitment to customers through a series of innovations and improvements designed to help build a great experience: Every customer. Every flight. Every day. Together, United Airlines and United Express operate approximately 4,900 flights a day to 355 airports across five continents. In 2018, United and United Express operated more than 1.7 million flights carrying more than 158 million customers. United is proud to have the world’s most comprehensive route network, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago , Denver , Houston, Los Angeles , New York / Newark , San Francisco and Washington, D.C. United operates 779 mainline aircraft and the airline’s United Express carriers operate 569 regional aircraft. United is a founding member of Star Alliance , which provides service to 193 countries via 28 member airlines. For more information, visit united.com, follow @United on Twitter and Instagram or connect on Facebook. The common stock of United’s parent, United Continental Holdings, Inc., is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol “UAL”.

About Houston First Corporation

Houston First is the official destination marketing organization for the city of Houston.  A local government corporation formed in 2011, Houston First also owns the Hilton Americas-Houston Hotel, manages the George R. Brown Convention Center as well as 10 city-owned properties and the new Avenida Houston entertainment and convention district. Learn more at HoustonFirst.com.

[Category: News, Apollo, Apollo 11, human spaceflight, Johnson Space Center, moon, NASA, NASA Johnson, United Airlines]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/23/19 3:17am

NASA has selected Bob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics for funding to develop a new battery and gas spectrometer specially designed for use on the moon. The awards under the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I program are worth up to $125,000 apiece over six months.

“The Lunar Flow Battery (LFB) is a scalable, long-duration energy storage solution featuring minimum capacity fade over many cycles that uses electrolytes derived from lunar regolith to minimize launch mass,” the Colorado-based company said in its proposal summary.

“What makes the LFB distinct from other flow batteries is its use of locally available resources to produce the electrolyte solutions, thereby reducing the launch mass,” the summary added. “Lunar-sourced iron, titanium, sulfur, oxygen, and water provide the bulk electrolyte solutions while the more sophisticated components such as membranes, pumps, and electrodes are transported from Earth.”

The Lunar Exploration Gas Spectrometer (LEGS) will be used to study the gas composition of lunar regolith.

“In the LEGS a 2.5 GHz solid state microwave transmitter positioned on a downward pointing horn is deployed by a lunar lander or rover using a long boom (e.g. 1-2 m) to set it down on the lunar surface, and then beams power into the regolith using its microwave transmitter,” the company said.

The two proposal summaries follow.

Lunar Flow Battery
Subtopic Title: Long Duration Lunar Energy Storage and Discharge

Pioneer Astronautics
Lakewood, CO

Principal Investigator

Dr. Steven Fatur

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL):
Begin: 2
End: 4

Technical Abstract

The Lunar Flow Battery (LFB) is a scalable, long-duration energy storage solution featuring minimum capacity fade over many cycles that uses electrolytes derived from lunar regolith to minimize launch mass. The LFB operates by storing two separate solutions of redox-active species which are pumped past the cathode and anode respectively to produce a current. By pumping the redox-active fluids across the electrodes, the energy and power can be scaled independently.

What makes the LFB distinct from other flow batteries is its use of locally available resources to produce the electrolyte solutions, thereby reducing the launch mass. Lunar-sourced iron, titanium, sulfur, oxygen, and water provide the bulk electrolyte solutions while the more sophisticated components such as membranes, pumps, and electrodes are transported from Earth. Compared to alternatives such as Li-ion batteries, the LFB has vastly superior cycle life and the energy storage is readily scalable, making it an ideal solution for long-term, stationary storage over the lunar day/night cycle.

By using locally available materials to produce the redox-active species and with no need for replacement cells for dozens of years, the energy storage capacity is high relative to the total launched mass. The Phase I program will investigate the selective dissolution of ilmenite (FeTiO3), an ore available in high concentrations in lunar mare basalts, using sulfuric acid to produce iron and titanium sulfate electrolyte solutions and incorporate these solutions into a functional redox flow cell.

This cell will be cycle tested to quantify its performance with regards to capacity fade and specific energy while any operational issues or degradation pathways will be addressed.

Potential NASA Applications

The principal future application of the LFB is to provide long-duration energy storage for a permanent lunar base. The LFB is ideally suited for such a remote outpost with long day/night cycles where locally available resources can provide the basic materials to produce a large-scale energy storage system with a lower launch mass than alternatives. This system could be scaled up or multiplied to provide power to any number of long-duration scientific platforms, human habitats, and ISRU processing systems.

Potential Non-NASA Applications

The LFB technology could provide an alternative solution for large-scale remote storage where access to resources is limited. Alternatively, the development of sulfuric acid processing of mixed metal oxides could provide an improved method for the production and recycling of titanium dioxide as a pigment for the coatings industry, opening up ilmenite deposits for cheaper TiO2 production.

Duration: 6 months

Lunar Exploration Gas Spectrometer
Subtopic Title: Payloads for Lunar Resources: Volatiles

Principal Investigator
Robert Zubrin

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :
Begin: 1
End: 4

Technical Abstract

The Lunar Exploration Gas Spectrometer (LEGS) is an instrument for studying the gas composition of lunar regolith. In the LEGS a 2.5 GHz solid state microwave transmitter positioned on a downward pointing horn is deployed by a lunar lander or rover using a long boom (e.g. 1-2 m) to set it down on the lunar surface, and then beams power into the regolith using its microwave transmitter.

The microwaves directed down onto and into the ground contained under the horn, heating regolith to depths of several tens of centimeters. As a result, gases will be evolved from the cold subsurface regolith into the horn, where their composition will be analyzed by a near-infrared ~1 to 2.4-micron spectrometer mounted horn, and looking through a sapphire window into the interior of the horn illuminated by a tungsten lamp, enabling transmission spectra of evolved gases to be obtained.

These instruments will provide qualitative and quantitative data on volatiles, potentially including water, hydrogen, helium, CO2, CO, ammonia hydrocarbons, and other species as they evolve from the subsurface over time. Since gases released by upper layers of regolith will reach the horn first, this procedure will also provide composition as a function of depth.

Once gas emission ceases, the horn is lifted by the rod and placed on a new location, where the process is repeated. The LEGS deployment will involve very little disturbance to lunar soils prior to analysis, thereby preventing the accidental release of lightly-bound volatiles that is thought to be significant even following gentle handling. In the proposed program, a full scale working model of the LEGS, including horn, microwave transmitter, and spectrometer, will be built and tested in Pioneer Astronautics

Potential NASA Applications

The LEGS program will provide NASA with a key technology finding volatiles on the Moon, which represent a tremendous resource for human exploration. The data produced by the LEGS would be invaluable for lunar science itself, providing essential information for understanding the origin and history of the Moon and similar bodies no doubt present in orbit around numerous planets in other solar systems. LEGS could also be used on Mars, Phobos, Deimos, asteroids, moons of the outer planets, Mercury, Pluto and even comets.

Potential Non-NASA Applications

The LEGS be used on Earth without major modification employing its IR spectrometer to determine amounts of volatiles, including trade contaminants, in the soil. It thus represents an instrument with broad potential utility for geology, resource exploration, and environmental remediation.

Duration: 6 months


[Category: News, batteries, Bob Zubrin, gas spectrometers, moon, Pioneer Astronautics]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/22/19 5:12pm
NASA’s Astrobee robot, named Bumble, demonstrates a baby step of free flight by rotating in space. Astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency watches over while flight controllers at NASA’s Ames Research Center command Bumble. NASA astronaut Nick Hague photographs the occasion. (Credits: NASA)

ABOARD THE ISS (NASA PR) — On June 14, a robot named Bumble became the first Astrobee robot to fly under its own power in space. Astrobee is a free-flying robot system that will help researchers test new technologies in zero gravity and perform routine work alongside astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Robots that can operate on their own in space, such as Astrobee, can be caretakers for NASA’s lunar gateway and will play a significant part in NASA’s future missions to explore the Moon and Mars.

Before Bumble’s first solo flight, the Astrobee team at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley verified that Bumble can find its position and was ready to navigate within the space station. Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques provided hands-on help for the pre-flight tests, manually moving Bumble around the Kibo laboratory to allow Astrobee’s navigation system to calibrate to its new surroundings. The navigation system uses a camera to observe the robot’s surroundings and compares what the camera sees to a map of the space station’s interior.

Astrobee robots can move in any direction and turn on any axis in space. Bumble’s first flights tested basic motions, such as “fly 11.8 inches forward” or “rotate 45 degrees to the right.” NASA will continue to test Bumble’s movement capability through a series of increasingly complex maneuvers to determine how well the robot performs in zero gravity. Results from these tests will be used to tune Astrobee’s propulsion system and help Bumble get ready to assume its role as the newest crewmember on the space station.

Bumble and a second Astrobee, “Honey,” launched to the space station in April. A third robot named “Queen” is scheduled to launch in July.

Learn more:
NASA’s New Flying Robots: Bee-ing in Space for the First Time

[Category: News, Astrobee, Bumble, CSA, David St-Jacques, ISS, NASA, space station]

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[l] at 6/22/19 4:00pm
Sounding rocket lifts off from Wallops Flight Facility. (Credit: NASA/Allison Stancil-Ervin)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — At 5:30 a.m. EDT Thursday, June 20, 2019, a 40-foot tall rocket carrying 28 student experiments (measuring acceleration, humidity, pressure, temperature and radiation counts) launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The launch is part of the RockOn! programs designed for students to learn and apply skills in building experiments for suborbital space flight. More than 200 university students from across the United States witnessed the launching of their experiments aboard a NASA suborbital sounding rocket.

Participants in RockOn! receive instruction on the basics required to develop a scientific payload for flight on a suborbital rocket. After learning the basics in RockOn!, students may then participate in RockSat-C, where during the school year they design and build a more complicated experiment.

[Category: News]

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[l] at 6/22/19 2:50pm
Fred Kennedy

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Well, that was fast.

Fred Kennedy has resigned his job as head of the Defense Department’s new Space Development Agency (SDA) after a mere months on the job. He returned to the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA), from which he had been detailed.

The new agency, whose purpose is to cut through the Pentagon’s red tape and quickly field new space systems, is under the authority of Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin.

Kennedy’s decision comes amid a series of high-level departures at the Department of Defense that will affect the Pentagon’s ability to modernize space acquisition and the Trump Administration’s drive to establish an independent space force as a sixth branch of the Armed Services.

Breaking Defense reports on the possible reasons for Kennedy’s departure:

Several sources say there has been turmoil in Griffin’s shop — which also oversees the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) — for some time. These sources say that Griffin’s management has been uneven, and that there are tensions with him, and his deputy Lisa Porter, that are transmitting down the chain as she tried to impose his orders.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who had made the SDA one of his top priorities, also resigned this week. His bid to become confirmed by the Senate as defense secretary was torpedoed by reports of domestic violence incidents with his former wife.

SpaceNews reports that Shanahan’s departure, disagreements with Griffin, and weak support for SDA likely played a role in Kennedy’s departure:

It is not clear exactly what prompted Kennedy to resign. According to two sources, he and Griffin were not seeing eye to eye on how the SDA should be run.

Babb, the DoD spokeswoman, told SpaceNews that Shanahan’s departure is not expected to impact the SDA. “There is no change to the mission or activities of the Space Development Agency. SDA will drive the department’s future threat-driven space architecture and will accelerate the development and fielding of the new military space capabilities necessary to ensure our technological and military advantage in space for national defense.”

Several sources told SpaceNews that the agency might not get the same level of support it got from Shanahan and that there are still factions in the Pentagon that don’t see a real purpose for the SDA and view it as duplicative of what other organizations do in the Air Force.

Kennedy’s departure came on the heels of the departure of Chris Shank, who headed up the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO). Breaking Defense reports the departure came after Griffin decided to move the office to DARPA.

“My integrity and belief in SCO’s mission is more important to me than my friendship over many years with Mike (Griffin).” That is why the head of the Pentagon’s vaunted Strategic Capabilities Office, Chris Shank, has resigned rather than see his office transferred to DARPA.

Griffin called Shank into his office on Friday and told him the office would be transferred and asked for Shank’s resignation. He agreed and immediately resigned.

Griffin has pushed hard for the transfer of the SCO but Rep. Mac Thornberry, top HASC Republican, added language calling for more study of the move in the HASC National Defense Authorization Act markup last Wednesday. The Senate Armed Services Committee added similar language. They are not alone in opposing the transfer of SCO, which has been seen as the lead Pentagon office for taking advanced technologies and getting them into the hands of troops quickly, within two to five years. DARPA is not designed to do that.

Finally, John Stopher has submitted his resignation as the U.S. Air Force’s deputy secretary for space. Stopher had worked closely with Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson in addressing the Trump Administration’s goal of establishing a space force.

Wilson was generally opposed to an independent space force. She left the Pentagon for the private sector at the end of May.

The turmoil at the Pentagon comes as Congress has pushed back against Trump’s plan for a space force. House and Senate bills for fiscal year 2020 call for a reorganization of space capabilities under the U.S. Air Force.

[Category: News]

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[l] at 6/22/19 3:13am
Polaris rover (Credit: Astrobotic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Astrobotic Technologies will develop a compact ground penetrating radar antenna to peer below the surfaces of other worlds and a low-power navigation system for use on CubeSats with the help of NASA funding.

The space agency selected the Pittsburgh-based company for two awards under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Each award is worth up to $125,000 over six months.

Astrobotic is teaming with Ohio State University to develop a low size, weight and power, performance, and cost (SWaP) ground penetrating radar antenna with the following characteristics:

  • extremely wide operating frequency range from 120 MHz to 2000 MHz (bandwidth of 16:1);
  • effect ground coupling from clearance of 10 cm to 20 cm;
  • very low profile for ease of mounting under a mobile platform;
  • low antenna ringing with good radiation efficiency;
  • ground-independent antenna impedance matching condition;
  • low sidelobe and backlobe above ground to minimize impacts from different platforms;
  • compact size (less than 50cm x 50cm); and,
  • simple light weight structure using only materials compatible with space environments.

NASA also selected Astrobotic’s low size, weight and power, performance, and cost (SWaP-PC) visual navigation system for SBIR funding. The system will be approximately 1U (10 x 10 x 10 cm) in size, 2 kg in weight, and use less than 5W of  power.

“The system’s interfacing would be designed to allow for flexibility of usage as either a part of a larger navigation solution or a standalone sensor on a small exploration spacecraft. A Xilinx Zynq 7020 System-on-Chip will be integrated into a larger system that includes a camera and IMU,” Astrobotic said in its proposal summary.

“This system will be used to test a version of Astrobotic’s Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN) algorithm modified to utilize Xilinx Zynq 7020 processing capabilities and balance performance with the computational limits of the low SWaP system,” the company added.

Summaries of the two proposals follow.

Under-Rover Ultra-Wide Band Non-Contact Ground Penetrating Radar Antenna
Subtopic Title: Technologies for Active Microwave Remote Sensing

Principal Investigator
Andrew Horchler

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :
Begin: 1
End: 2

Technical Abstract

Creating a ground penetrating radar (GPR) antenna for both Earth and planetary science applications requires high efficiency, robust operational frequency, as well as low size, weight, and power (SWaP) features. Furthermore, the value of an antenna that provides these core competencies and that is versatile enough to be integrated on numerous platforms is of high value to NASA and the commercial space industry.

The benefits of such technology could enable the characterization of lunar lava tubes, subsurface water-ice, and the location of planetary ore deposits in a manner that is both affordable and simple to integrate with larger systems.

The challenge is that this solution does not currently exist in the market. Choosing a solution that meets the aforementioned criteria often requires combining multiple antennas, thereby increasing SWaP and complexity.

The proposed antenna solution intends to resolve this challenge, and the proposing team of Astrobotic Technology, Inc. (Astrobotic) and the Ohio State University (OSU) have the expertise and technological development to do so. The performance and operational requirements of the proposed antenna are summarized as follows:

  • extremely wide operating frequency range from 120 MHz to 2000 MHz (bandwidth of 16:1)
  • effect ground coupling from clearance of 10 cm to 20 cm
  • very low profile for ease of mounting under a mobile platform
  • low antenna ringing with good radiation efficiency
  • ground-independent antenna impedance matching condition
  • low sidelobe and backlobe above ground to minimize impacts from different platforms
  • compact size (less than 50cm x 50cm)
  • simple light weight structure using only materials compatible with space environments

Potential NASA Applications

The success of Phase I research will lead to a novel under-rover ultra-wide band GPR antenna design. Manufacturability will be assessed and real performance will be validated during Phase II and will culminate with an engineering model of the antenna that can be easily infused into future missions through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program or a Phase III SBIR opportunity that leverages any of Astrobotic’s existing Phase I and Phase II related contracts.

Potential Non-NASA Applications

In addition to surveying the planetary subsurfaces, there are numerous applications on Earth that demand mobile GPR. These applications include construction, land surveying, mapping building integrity, characterizing hazardous waste leakage, and identifying archaeological artifacts. Furthermore, Astrobotic would be a user of this antenna for future rovers that require GPR capabilities.

Duration: 6 months

Ultra Low SWaP Relative Navigation
Subtopic Title: Guidance, Navigation and Control

Principal Investigator
Andrew Horchler

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :
Begin: 3
End: 4

Technical Abstract

Astrobotic proposes the development and prototyping of a low Size, Weight and Power, Performance, and Cost (SWaP-PC) visual navigation system capable of implementing industry standard visual navigation methods such as Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN) or visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM).

The system components will provide a compact form factor fitting within approximately 1U (10 x 10 x 10 cm), weight less than 2 kg, and require less than 5W to power, enabling its use in power constrained applications such as CubeSats and SmallSats.

The system’s interfacing would be designed to allow for flexibility of usage as either a part of a larger navigation solution or a standalone sensor on a small exploration spacecraft. A Xilinx Zynq 7020 System-on-Chip will be integrated into a larger system that includes a camera and IMU.

This system will be used to test a version of Astrobotic’s Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN) algorithm modified to utilize Xilinx Zynq 7020 processing capabilities and balance performance with the computational limits of the low SWaP system.

Potential NASA Applications

  • CubeSat and SmallSat applications
  • Mission infusion for low SWaP exploration missions

Potential Non-NASA Applications

  • Landing of reusable launch vehicles
  • Satellite maintenance and refueling
  • Commercial lunar landing vehicles

Duration: 6 months

[Category: News, Astrobotic Technology, ground penetrating radar, moon, NASA, SBIR]

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[l] at 6/21/19 12:44pm
Figure 1: Image taken on June 13, 2019 during the operation PPTD-TM1B. This is a composite of 28 images taken at 7 second intervals starting from 10:58 JST (upper left) to 11:01 (lower right) using the Optical Navigation Camera – Telescopic (ONC-T). The image altitude is about 52m at the start and 108m at the end. The white point in the upper-left center is the target marker. You can see that detailed images have been acquired continuously from the target marker to the edge of the artificial crater, located in the lower-right of the image. (Image credit: JAXA, Chiba Institute of Technology, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Our first touchdown took place this year on February 22. Then as a new challenge for the Hayabusa2 Project, we succeeded in creating an artificial crater using the Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI) on April 5.

The last big operation left at asteroid Ryugu is the collection of subsurface material exposed with the creation of the artificial crater. In order to collect this material, we need a second touchdown for which the project has been steadily preparing. At this point, it has not yet been decided whether or not to go ahead with a second touchdown, but here we will introduce our preparations in the “Approach to the second touchdown”.

After the operation to form the artificial crater, the spacecraft descended a total of four times above or near the crater site. These descent operations allowed us to obtain detailed data of the region near the artificial crater. In addition, we succeeded in dropping a target marker in the area close to the artificial crater on May 30. Combined, these operations mean that the situation around the artificial crater is now well understood.

Figure 1 shows an image taken during the low altitude descent observation operation (PPTD-TM1B) conducted from June 11 – 13. The target marker was captured in the image and you can get a handle on the state of the surface.

As you can see in Figure 1, asteroid Ryugu is covered with boulders. If we go for a second touchdown, we need to aim for a point close to the target marker which has no obstacles. The project is currently examining this area in detail.

[Category: News, asteroids, Hayabusa2, JAXA, Ryugu]

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[l] at 6/21/19 6:09am

Made in Space (MIS) will pursue the development of a space laser welding system with the help of NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

“MIS proposes to develop a Mobile End-effector Laser Device (MELD) capable of on-site, on-demand joining and repair of space structures. MELD is a self-sufficient end-effector that interfaces with a robotic arm and uses the arm for mobility,” the company said in its proposal summary.

“This system is programmed to be autonomous and relies on minimal human interaction, depending on the task,” the summary added. “The MELD system provides a tool that applies to many use cases and repair functions that are vital to future long duration exploration missions.”

NASA selected the Jacksonville, Florida-based company for a SBIR Phase I award.  Contracts are worth a maximum of $125,000 over six months.

The proposal summary follows.

Mobile End-Effector Laser Device (MELD)
Subtopic Title: Development of Mobile Welding Capabilities for In-Space Manufacturing

Principal Investigator
Brandon Kirkland

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :
Begin: 2
End: 4

Technical Abstract

Made In Space (MIS) is the leader in manufacturing technologies for the outer space environment and has built an Exploration Manufacturing technology portfolio that contains methods for additive, subtractive, and casting manufacturing processes. However, technology advances and system requirements continue to push the boundaries of what is needed by future space explorers and commercial products.

Beginning with the Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF), MIS has progressively pursued additional manufacturing processes using the core subsystems of AMF as a baseline. VULCAN, a metal additive and subtractive manufacturing machine, and EMMA, an electronics manufacturing machine, are two programs that are currently underway. AMF, VULCAN, and EMMA provide a basis for pursuing in-space welding and are used to guide MIS from initial systems requirements development, through creating the critical design of this capability.

MIS proposes to develop a Mobile End-effector Laser Device (MELD) capable of on-site, on-demand joining and repair of space structures. MELD is a self-sufficient end-effector that interfaces with a robotic arm and uses the arm for mobility. Key subsystems are directly contained in the end-effector such as power supply, laser system, cooling system, vision system, and avionics.

This system is programmed to be autonomous and relies on minimal human interaction, depending on the task. The MELD system provides a tool that applies to many use cases and repair functions that are vital to future long duration exploration missions.

Potential NASA Applications

The International Space Station and Lunar Gateway are two large NASA assets that require maintenance due to the environments they are in. Free orbital debris, micrometeorites, and other hazards cause unseen and unplanned damage to the outsides of these habitats and must be considered when human lives are at stake. MELD would be used to remediate any damage that would occur to the external surfaces by either welding over or adding material to the outside of the surface for additional strength and protection.

Potential Non-NASA Applications

The autonomy provided by the combination of a robotic arm appendage and MELD provide significant cost benefits to mass production and construction companies. High levels of accuracy and precision are two main principles that must be followed with welding and could potentially be disastrous if not achieved. Welding of car struts, foundation beams, and large construction benefit from using MELD.

Duration: 6 months

[Category: News, Made in Space, NASA, SBIR]

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[l] at 6/21/19 4:44am
Illustration depicting SpinLaunch orbital vehicle inside the electric kinetic launcher (Credit: SpinLaunch)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (SpinLaunch PR)–Jonathan Yaney, founder and CEO of SpinLaunch, has announced that the company has been awarded a responsive launch prototype contract from the Department of Defense (DOD), facilitated by the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).

SpinLaunch is developing a kinetic energy-based launch system that will provide the world’s lowest-cost orbital launch services for the rapidly growing small satellite industry. In 2018, the company received $40 million in a Series A financing round from Airbus Ventures, Google Ventures and Kleiner Perkins.

The recently published State of the Space Industrial Base states that the future and growth of the U.S. space economy is “critically dependent on continuing reductions in the costs and risks associated with launch. There is a bifurcation of launch providers between lower-cost, ‘bulk’ carriers…and higher-cost, ‘niche’ providers offering lower lift-mass, but launch to a specific orbit.”

“SpinLaunch fills this gap by providing dedicated orbital launch with high frequency at a magnitude lower cost than any current ‘niche’ launch system,” stated Yaney. “This will truly be a disruptive enabler for the emerging commercial space industry. There is a promising market surge in the demand for LEO constellations of inexpensive small satellites for disaster monitoring, weather, reconnaissance, communications and other services.”

In January 2019, SpinLaunch moved from Silicon Valley to its new 140,000 square foot headquarters in Long Beach, California and last month broke ground on a new $7 million test facility on 10 acres at New Mexico’s Spaceport America. First kinetic energy flight tests are expected to occur early 2020 and the company has announced its plans for first launch by 2022.

About DIU

The Defense Innovation Unit  (DIU) was established in 2015 to reinvigorate and lead DoD outreach to commercial innovation hubs across the United States, beginning with Silicon Valley to Washington, DC, Boston and Austin. Its mission is to execute transformative projects with scalable impact across the joint force; accelerate the adoption of commercial technology, from AI, autonomy, cyber, human systems and space, to strengthen the National Security Innovation base (NSIB).

About SpinLaunch

SpinLaunch is reimagining space launch by revisiting fundamental physics and leveraging proven industrial technologies to create a system that accelerates the launch vehicle to hypersonic speeds using ground-based energy. Applying the initial performance boost from a terrestrial-based launch platform will enable the company to provide a substantially lower cost launch to orbit, multiple times per day, with no negative impact on our environment. SpinLaunch was founded in 2014, by Jonathan Yaney, a 1,000+ hour pilot and serial entrepreneur with 15 years’ experience founding companies in aerospace, Fortune 500 consulting, IT, and construction industries.

[Category: News, Defense Department, Defense Innovation Unit, DIU, SpinLaunch]

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[l] at 6/21/19 2:18am

ARLINGTON, Va., June 19, 2019 (Boeing PR) — To strengthen collaboration and integration across its portfolio, Boeing [NYSE: BA] is relocating the headquarters of its Space and Launch division to Titusville , on Florida’s revitalized Space Coast.

Space and Launch, a division of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, currently has its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia .

“Looking to the future, this storied Florida space community will be the center of gravity for Boeing’s space programs as we continue to build our company’s leadership beyond gravity,” said Boeing Defense, Space & Security President and Chief Executive Officer Leanne Caret . “The time is right for us to locate our space headquarters where so much of our space history was made over the past six decades and where so much history awaits.”

In announcing the relocation of the headquarters to a region that includes Kennedy Space Center , Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base, Boeing leaders said the timing of the move makes sense for multiple reasons:

  • The Boeing-built X-37B uncrewed, reusable space vehicle continues to perform record-setting, long-duration missions for the U.S. Air Force.
  • Boeing’s satellite programs anticipate increased tempo in local payload processing and launch activity.
  • The company is enhancing its focus on mission integration and launch system operations in collaboration with Air Force partners nearby at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, and strengthening relationships with Air Force Space Command in Colorado and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California .
  • The CST-100 Starliner commercial spacecraft is preparing for two flight tests later this year ahead of operational missions to the International Space Station beginning in 2020.
  • Boeing continues to achieve milestones toward delivery of the first two core stages of the world’s most powerful rocket, NASA’s Space Launch System, for uncrewed and crewed missions to the moon’s orbit leading to the first crewed lunar surface landing in 50 years, and then to Mars.
  • The International Space Station is poised to follow NASA’s road map for commercialization of low Earth orbit, even as this national laboratory is positioned for continued scientific and technological research until at least 2030.
  • The United Launch Alliance joint venture continues to meet vital launch needs for national security, scientific and telecommunications missions through its Atlas and Delta rockets, while entering the formal qualification phase for the new Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle.
  • Boeing is studying and advancing future space capabilities in collaboration with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

“Boeing has been a dominant presence on the Space Coast for six decades, and this move represents a continuation of that legacy and future commitment,” said Jim Chilton , senior vice president of Space and Launch.  “Expanding our Boeing presence on the Space Coast brings tremendous value for our commercial and government space programs through focused leadership, strategic investment, customer proximity and additional contributions to the vitality of the region.”

The headquarters move will have no impact on Boeing’s space operations in other states, including California , Texas , Alabama , Colorado and Louisiana .

“Boeing will continue to be a dynamic space presence in its existing locations, contributing to the vitality of those aerospace hubs, collaborating with our regional partners, and inspiring future generations of space engineers, technicians and innovators,” Chilton said.

For more information on Defense, Space & Security, visit www.boeing.com. Follow us on Twitter: @BoeingDefense and @BoeingSpace .

[Category: News, Boeing]

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[l] at 6/21/19 1:01am
White Knight taxis with SpaceShipOne on June 21, 2004. (Credit: John Criswick)

There I am on the Mojave flight line with the video camera. My friends Eric Dahlstrom and his wife, Emeline, are to my left. Behind me taking the photo was John Criswick.

All waiting for Mike Melvill to make history with the first private spaceflight aboard the suborbital SpaceShipOne.

15 years ago today. That’s hard to believe. It seems like a lifetime ago.  So much has happened since then. And, paradoxically, so little.

I remember the optimism of that time. Burt Rutan had extended his reach into space. Space tourism seemed right around the corner.

But, it was a false dawn. As the saying goes, half of what you hear in NewSpace is bullshit, the other half are schedules that are not much better. SpaceShipOne’s successor would have plenty of both.

More than 14 years — equivalent to the time between Alan Shepard’s flight and the splashdown of the last Apollo spacecraft — would pass before SpaceShipTwo would reach the most charitable definition of space.

Those years were marked by two fatal accidents that landed four men in the hospital and four others in the morgue. The road to space tourism has been paved with blood. Hubris. Incompetence. Scapegoating. Evasion of responsibility. And the virtual erasure of the first fatal accident.

But, let’s not dwell on that now. We’ll save it for another time. This is a happy anniversary.

So, here we are again, 15 years after Melvill’s famous flight, on the verge of a new era of space tourism with SpaceShipTwo and Blue Origin’s New Shepard preparing the fly tourists on suborbital joy rides.

Am I optimistic?

That’s not really the right question. It’s not about optimism or pessimism. Obviously, you want these programs to succeed. And for everyone to come back from space safely.

The question is just how much should we care about these ventures.

In 2004, SpaceShipOne was the only game in town. Blue Origin and SpaceX existed as companies, but they had not achieved anything. There wasn’t much of a commercial space sector.

Space has been transformed over the past 15 years. With SpaceX and Boeing preparing to make commercial flights to the space station and NASA aiming for the moon again, the focus is once again on establishing a lasting and permanent human presence in space.

Compared to that, suborbital spaceflight seems much more pedestrian. Yes, tourists will love to float around for several minutes. And it’s useful for developing rocket technology, performing scientific experiments and testing new technologies. And it inspires people to dream.

But, in the end, they go up and come down. They can briefly visit space, but they can’t stay there. It’s like the difference between taking a harbor cruise and sailing a ship across the ocean. It’s the latter capability that really matters as we seek to expand into the cosmos.

So, as we mark the 15th anniversary of the first private spaceflight, I wish those who venture into suborbital space the best of luck. But, my gaze is focused on destinations far above the Karman line.

[Category: News]

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[l] at 6/20/19 5:31pm
Ariane 5 liftoff on June 20, 2019 (Credit: ESA)

KOUROU, French Guiana, 21 June 2019 (ESA PR) — An Ariane 5 has delivered the T-16 and Eutelsat-7C telecom satellites into their planned orbits.

Arianespace announced liftoff at 21:43 GMT (23:43 CEST, 18:43 local time) yesterday from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The mission lasted about 33 minutes.

T-16 with a launch mass of 6330 kg, was the first to be released after about 27 minutes. The 3400 kg Eutelsat-7C was released 6 minutes later.

T-16 owned by for AT&T (DirecTV) provides high-power broadcast services covering the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. T-16 has a design life of 15 years.

Eutelsat-7C, owned and operated by Eutelsat, provides high-power broadcasting for markets in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Turkey. This satellite has a design life of more than 15 years.

The performance requested for this launch was about 10 594 kg. The satellites totalled about 9730 kg, with payload adapters and carrying structures making up the rest.

Flight VA248 was the 104th Ariane 5 mission.

[Category: News, Ariane 5, Arianespace, AT&T, ESA, Eutelsat]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/20/19 5:02pm
NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Roscosmos astronaut Oleg Kononenko and Candian Space Agency astronaut David Saint Jacques in the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut Anne McClain and two crewmates on the International Space Station are scheduled to conclude their stay aboard the orbiting laboratory Monday, June 24. Live coverage of their return will begin at 3:30 p.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

McClain, a flight engineer for Expedition 59, expedition and Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Flight Engineer David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, will close the hatch to their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft Monday afternoon and undock from the station. A little more than three hours later, a parachute-assisted landing is planned southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan on the Kazakhstan steppe.

The crew is completing a 204-day mission spanning 3,264 orbits of the Earth and a journey of 86.4 million miles. When they land, Kononenko will have logged 737 days in space on his four flights, putting him in sixth place on the all-time list of space travelers for cumulative time. McClain and Saint-Jacques will be completing their first flights into space. Saint-Jacques’ mission will be the longest single spaceflight by a Canadian astronaut.

After landing, the crew will return by helicopter to the recovery staging area in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, where McClain and Saint-Jacques will board a NASA plane for their return to Houston, and Kononenko will return to his home in Star City, Russia.

Also on June 24, NASA TV will broadcast live coverage of the launch of the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The STP-2 mission will carry four NASA payloads including scientific instruments and technology demonstrations to test the performance of non-toxic spacecraft fuel and an advanced atomic clock to improve spacecraft navigation.

Full NASA TV coverage is as follows. All times are EDT:

Sunday, June 23:

  • 3:35 p.m. – Space station change of command ceremony, during which Konenenko will hand over command to Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin.

Monday, June 24:

  • 3:30 p.m. – Farewell and Soyuz hatch closure coverage (hatch closure at 4:10 p.m.)
  • 4 p.m. – U.S. Air Force/SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy STP-2 prelaunch press conference (Media Channel only)
  • 7:00 p.m. – Soyuz undocking coverage (undocking scheduled for 7:25 p.m.)
  • 9:30 p.m. – Soyuz deorbit burn and landing coverage (deorbit burn at 9:55 p.m. and landing at 10:48 p.m.)
  • 11 p.m. – Coverage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy STP-2 launch (Media Channel only)

At the time of undocking, Expedition 60 will begin aboard the station, with NASA Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch and Commander Ovchinin comprising a three-person crew until the next residents launch July 20 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Andrew Morgan of NASA, Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos, and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will launch aboard Soyuz MS-13 to join Expedition 60 after a six-hour journey to the station.

Get breaking news, images and features from the space station on social media at:






[Category: News, David St-Jacques, human spaceflight, International Space Station, ISS, NASA, Oleg Kononenko, Soyuz, space station]

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[l] at 6/20/19 3:15pm
Credit: NASA

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Boeing and SpaceX are continuing to work through a number of technical challenges on their commercial crew spacecraft as NASA struggles to process data needed to certify the vehicles, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

There is sufficient schedule uncertainty, in fact, that GAO recommended the space agency continue planning for additional delays in providing crew transport to the International Space Station (ISS).

“GAO continues to believe that NASA should develop a contingency plan to ensure uninterrupted access to the ISS if delays persist beyond September 2020. NASA generally agreed with GAO’s findings,” the report stated.

Boeing’s Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon must each conduct automated and crewed flight tests of their spacecraft to the space station. NASA must also certify the spacecraft as meeting a complex set of standards.

Boeing must also complete a pad abort test using a Starliner capsule. SpaceX, which already performed a pad abort, will perform an in-flight test with the Falcon 9 booster.

A SpaceX Crew Dragon flew a successful demonstration flight to the station without astronauts in March. Boeing has yet to fly either Starliner demonstration mission.

SpaceX’s plan to launch a crewed demonstration mission this summer where derailed in April when the Crew Dragon capsule that flew to ISS exploded while engineers were testing the vehicle’s thrusters and emergency escape system.

SpaceX has not publicly identified either the cause of the accident or any modifications planned for the Crew Dragon. The GAO report does not shed any additional light on the explosion.

SpaceX has applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for radio frequency allocation for its crew demonstration flight from Nov. 1, 2019 to May 1, 2020. The Nov. 1 is probably a no earlier than (NET) date.

Meanwhile, NASA has set a Nov. 15 planning date for SpaceX’s seven-day crewed demonstration mission to ISS. This is also a NET date, not a firm time table for the mission.

NASA’s planning date for the Boeing Starliner’s automated flight to the space station is Sept. 17. If all goes well, a crewed Starliner mission would launch on Nov. 8, eight days after the return of the Dragon spacecraft.

Boeing’s second spacecraft would remain at the space station for six months until the end of May.

Program Risks — Boeing Starliner

Technicians at the Boeing Space Environment Test Facility in El Segundo, California, position Starliner inside the acoustics test chamber. (Credits: Boeing)

The GAO report said Boeing is working through the following technical issues as it moves toward the first Starliner flight:

Parachute System Certification. Boeing is conducting five parachute system qualification tests to demonstrate that its system meets the Commercial Crew Program’s requirements, which will be validated on two spacecraft flight tests. However, in August 2018, Boeing identified a faulty release mechanism for its drogue parachute—which initially slows down the capsule—during its third parachute qualification test that successfully deployed all parachutes. Identifying and fixing the faulty mechanism delayed its fourth parachute qualification test. According to a NASA official, Boeing is conducting testing to qualify an alternative design, and Boeing must qualify this alternative design before the crewed test flight.

Launch Vehicle Engine Anomaly. Boeing is addressing a safety risk related to a launch vehicle component. Specifically, during a 2018 launch, the launch vehicle engine position during ascent deviated from commands but the launch vehicle provider stated that it achieved all mission objectives. Program officials told us that they have insight into the launch vehicle manufacturer’s ongoing investigation and have participated in a separate independent review team. Boeing will implement a set of corrective actions for the uncrewed test flight, and will continue testing the engines for the crewed test flight.

Spacecraft-Generated Debris. Boeing is addressing a risk that under normal operating procedures the initiators that trigger separation events, such as the separation of the crew and service module prior to re-entry, may generate debris and damage the spacecraft. These components function as expected, but Boeing plans to install hardware to contain debris generated when the initiators fire. Program officials told us that they believe Boeing has identified a solution that will be sufficient for the uncrewed and crewed test flights, but the program is continuing to explore a possible redesign for future operational missions.

Spacecraft Forward Heat Shield. We had previously found that Boeing was addressing a risk that during descent a portion of the spacecraft’s forward heat shield may re-contact the spacecraft after it is jettisoned and damage the parachute system. Since our last report, Boeing tested the performance of the forward heat shield in worst-case scenarios and found there was no damage to the parachute system or the spacecraft. After reviewing test data, the program determined that Boeing had completed the mitigation activities and, as of February 2019, no additional steps were needed.

The report mentions a previously undisclosed anomaly last year with Starliner’s launch vehicle, United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V. GAO did not identify which of the five Atlas V launches suffered the anomaly.

The GAO report also includes additional details on a failure Boeing experienced with  in June 2018 resulted in a 12-month delay in its launch abort propulsion system testing.

“During a test firing, four of the eight total valves in the four launch abort engines failed to close after a shutdown command was sent,” the report stated. “In response to this event, Boeing initiated an investigation to identify the root cause.

“According to Boeing officials, Boeing plans to replace components on all of its service modules except for the uncrewed test flight service module. This is because the abort system will not be active for the uncrewed test flight,” the document added.

Boeing said it successfully completed tests of Starliner’s abort and thruster systems in May.

Program Risks — SpaceX Crew Dragon

An instrumented mannequin sit in the Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Demo-1 mission. (Credit: SpaceX)

GAO said that in addition to investigating the Crew Dragon explosion, SpaceX has been working through the following technical challenges:

Parachute System Certification. Like Boeing, SpaceX is conducting several parachute tests to demonstrate that its system meets the Commercial Crew Program’s requirements. However, SpaceX experienced two anomalies with its parachute system in August 2018. As a result, a SpaceX official told us they enhanced the parachute design to improve robustness. NASA officials told us SpaceX’s enhanced parachutes performed well on its uncrewed test flight. Prior to the crewed test flight, SpaceX must demonstrate the performance of its parachute system. SpaceX plans to continue to test its parachutes, and according to a SpaceX official, will take all steps necessary to ensure that the flight design meets or exceeds minimum performance levels.

Propellant Loading Procedures. SpaceX is continuing to address a safety risk related to its plans to conduct launch vehicle propellant loading procedures after the astronauts are on board the spacecraft. SpaceX officials told us that this loading process has been used in other configurations for multiple SpaceX flights. The Commercial Crew program has approved SpaceX’s proposed loading procedures, including the agreed upon demonstration of the loading procedure five times from the launch site in the final crew configuration before the crewed test flight. The five events include the uncrewed test flight and in-flight abort test. As of March 2019, SpaceX had completed the first two events.

Redesigned Composite Overwrap Pressure Vessel. SpaceX is continuing to address a risk that its launch vehicle’s redesigned composite overwrap pressure vessel, which is intended to contain helium under high pressure, may serve as an ignition source. The program and SpaceX conducted tests on the redesigned vessel and the program determined that all possible ignition sources, with one exception, have a low likelihood of creating ignition. The program continues to assess this ignition source. According to a NASA official, there were no indications of any issues during SpaceX’s uncrewed test flight. SpaceX officials also told us that the redesigned vessel has successfully flown on multiple flights. The program will need to determine whether to accept the risk associated with this technical issue prior to SpaceX’s crewed test flight.

Engine Turbine Cracking. NASA continues to assess a SpaceX risk related to the design of its launch vehicle engines, which has previously resulted in the turbine wheel cracking. To mitigate the turbine cracking risk, SpaceX conducted additional qualification testing and developed an operational strategy that resulted in no cracks. Consequently, the program accepted this risk for SpaceX’s uncrewed test flight but levied a constraint on the crewed test flight. Specifically, SpaceX has agreed to conduct a follow-on test campaign of the engines to demonstrate that it meets NASA’s standards in order to launch its crewed test flight. Program officials said SpaceX plans to build the launch vehicle engines for its crewed test flight concurrently with this follow-on testing series.

The report does not mention a parachute failure that occurred in April 2019 that resulted in the loss of a test item. During the test, one of the four parachutes was deliberately failed to demonstrate the ability of the others to bring the capsule down safety. However, the three remaining parachutes failed to open.

Program Risks — NASA

The progress by Boeing and Starliner has created a lot of work for NASA Commercial Crew Program office that is overseeing the development of the two vehicles.

“The Commercial Crew Program’s ability to process certification data packages for its two contractors continues to create uncertainty about the timing of certification,” the report stated. “Specifically, the program is concurrently reviewing and approving both contractors’ phased safety reviews and verification closure notices.

“We previously reported that program officials, the contractors, and independent review organizations had concerns about a ‘bow wave’ of work for the program. For example, at that time, the program’s safety and mission assurance office identified the upcoming bow wave of work in a shrinking time period as a top risk to achieving certification,” the document added.

By buying additional seats aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft and extending Boeing’s crewed flight test to six months, NASA will have a presence aboard the space station until September 2020. GAO recommended that in light of possible further commercial crew delays, NASA should develop a contingency plan for extending that date.

In a written response to the report, NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier said the space agency considers the schedule margin to be adequate.

“Should that schedule margin change in the future, NASA will reassess our options to ensure we maintain a U.S. presence on the ISS,” he wrote.

The report’s summary is below.

NASA Commercial Crew Program:
Schedule Uncertainty Persists for Start of Operational Missions to the International Space Station

Government Accountability Office
Report to Congressional Committees
June 2019
Full Report

What GAO Found

Both of the Commercial Crew Program’s contractors, Boeing and SpaceX, have made progress on their crew transportation systems. However, neither is ready to begin carrying astronauts into space as both continue to experience delays to certification. Certification is a process that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will use to ensure that each contractor’s spacecraft, launch vehicle, and ground support systems meet its requirements for human spaceflight before any operational missions to the International Space Station (ISS) can occur. Factors contributing to schedule uncertainty include:

Fluctuating schedules. As the contractors continue to build and test hardware—including SpaceX’s March 2019 uncrewed test flight— their schedules for certification change frequently. As of May 2019, both contractors had delayed certification nine times, equating to more than 2 years from their original contracts (see figure). This includes several delays since GAO last reported in July 2018.

Credit GAO

Program Workload. NASA’s ability to process certification data packages for its two contractors continues to create uncertainty about the timing of certification. The program has made progress conducting these reviews but much work remains. In addition, the program allowed both contractors to delay submitting evidence that they have met some requirements. This deferral has increased the amount of work remaining for the program prior to certification.

In February 2019, NASA acknowledged that delays to certification could continue, and announced plans to extend U.S. access to the ISS through September 2020 by purchasing seats on the Russian Soyuz vehicle. However, this arrangement does not fully address GAO’s July 2018 recommendation to develop a contingency plan for ensuring access to the ISS until a Commercial Crew Program contractor is certified. NASA concurred with the recommendation but has not yet implemented it. Continued NASA attention on this issue is needed given the uncertainty associated with the final certification dates.

Why GAO Did This Study

In 2014, NASA awarded two firm-fixed-price contracts to Boeing and SpaceX, worth a combined total of up to $6.8 billion, to develop crew transportation systems and conduct initial missions to the ISS. In July 2018, GAO found that both contractors continued to delay their certification dates and that further delays were likely. NASA must certify the contractors’ crew transportation systems before the contractors can begin operational missions to the ISS. The contractors were originally required to provide NASA all the evidence it needed to certify that their systems met its requirements in 2017.

The House Committee on Appropriations included a provision in its 2017 report for GAO to continue to review NASA’s human space exploration programs. This is the latest in a series of reports addressing the mandate. This report examines the extent to which the Commercial Crew Program and its contractors have made progress towards certification.

To do this work, GAO analyzed contracts, schedules, and other documentation and spoke with officials from the Commercial Crew Program, Boeing, and SpaceX.

What GAO Recommends

GAO continues to believe that NASA should develop a contingency plan to ensure uninterrupted access to the ISS if delays persist beyond September 2020. NASA generally agreed with GAO’s findings.

[Category: News, Atlas V, Boeing, commercial crew, Crew Dragon, Dragon, Falcon 9, GAO, human spaceflight, ISS, NASA, orbital flights, Soyuz, space station, SpaceX, Starliner, ULA, United Launch Alliance]

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[l] at 6/20/19 11:58am
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy begins its first flight. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA Television coverage is scheduled for an upcoming prelaunch activity and first nighttime launch of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, which will be carrying four agency technology missions to help improve future spacecraft design and performance.

The launch window for the Falcon Heavy opens at 11:30 p.m. EDT Monday, June 24, from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch, as well as a live technology show, will air NASA Television and the agency’s website.

SpaceX and the U.S. Department of Defense will launch two dozen satellites to space, including four NASA payloads that are part of the Space Test Program-2, managed by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. The four payloads include two NASA technology demonstrations to improve how spacecraft propel and navigate, as well as two NASA science missions to help us better understand the nature of space and how it impacts technology on spacecraft and the ground.

Full NASA TV coverage is as follows:

Sunday, June 23

  • Noon – NASA prelaunch technology TV show from Kennedy. Subject matter experts will explain each NASA mission and answer questions. Media permanently badged for Kennedy are invited to attend in person. All other media may dial in to ask questions. For dial-in information, please contact Leejay Lockhart at leejay.lockhart@nasa.gov or 321-861-3739 by 4 p.m. Friday, June 21.

Participants include:

  • Todd Ely and Jill Seubert, interplanetary navigators at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who are also the principal and deputy principal investigators for the Deep Space Atomic Clock. They will explain the relationship between time and navigation as well as the new space clock that could change how we navigate on the Moon, to Mars and beyond.
  • Christopher McLean, principal investigator for NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission at Ball Aerospace, and Joe Cassady, executive director of space at Aerojet Rocketdyne. They will explain how a non-toxic fuel and new propulsion system could take the small satellite revolution beyond what it is today.
  • Nicola Fox, director of NASA’s Heliophysics Division, will discuss the Space Environment Testbeds and how its four experiments will reveal the ways local space weather affects spacecraft hardware.
  • Rick Doe, payload program manager at SRI International, will share how two CubeSats making up the Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment will work with six other satellites to study irregularities in Earth’s upper atmosphere that interfere with GPS and communications signals.

Monday, June 24

  • 9:30 p.m. –  Live NASA TV coverage begins of the return to Earth of NASA astronaut Anne McClain and two other International Space Station residents, with landing scheduled at 10:48 p.m. (Public Channel)
  • 11 p.m. – NASA TV launch commentary begins ahead of the targeted 11:30 p.m. launch. NASA TV will simulcast the SpaceX STP-2 webcast starting about 15 minutes before liftoff. (Media Channel)

Prelaunch and launch day coverage will include blog updates as milestones occur:


Learn more about the NASA technologies aboard this launch:


[Category: News, Defense Department, DOD, Falcon Heavy, Kennedy Space Center, KSC, NASA, NASA KSC, Space Test Program-2, SpaceX, STP-2]

As of 6/24/19 8:15am. Last new 6/24/19 8:15am.

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