[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 8/21/19 12:29pm

ADELAIDE, South Australia, Aug. 20, 2019 (Optus Business PR) – Optus Business today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Myriota, the global leader in nanosatellite Internet of Things (IoT), with a view to providing remote and regional connectivity for IoT devices and applications.

An Australian first, the major telco-nanosatellite provider agreement will bring together Optus’ premium national networks and digital enablement capabilities with Myriota’s direct-to-orbit technology to allow for massive scale, low-cost communications for IoT devices across remote Australian geographies.

The arrangement will offer low-cost, long battery life connectivity for millions of devices across multiple industries. The devices will allow companies to track assets across Australia, even in the most remote areas.

Optus Business Managing Director, Chris Mitchell, said he was excited to see the impact that collaborating with Myriota would have for Optus customers.

“Working with innovative startups like Myriota allows Optus Business to help our customers capture the business improvements of next generation technologies,” Mr Mitchell said. “We are excited by the possibilities this agreement presents.”

Chris Mitchell, Managing Director, Optus Business

CEO and co-founder of Myriota, Dr Alex Grant, said the agreement would unlock new opportunities for IoT applications across a wide variety of industries.

“Remote connectivity has long been the missing piece of the puzzle for IoT across industries like logistics and farming, and we are thrilled to partner with Optus Business to provide a comprehensive connectivity offering,” Dr Grant said.

“Previously, satellite connectivity has not been available or affordable for businesses with remote assets, but nanosatellites are providing a more attainable and affordable solution. By combining Optus’ national networks with our nanosatellite capability, we are able to offer a truly holistic IoT solution and help solve connectivity issues being faced in regional Australia.”

Dr Alex Grant, CEO and Co-founder, Myriota

The two companies have a shared history, with 2018 seeing Myriota secure US$15 million in Series A funding from companies including Singtel Innov8; the venture capital arm of Optus’ parent company Singtel.

[Category: News, Internet of Things, IoT, Myriota, Optus Business]

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[l] at 8/21/19 12:17pm

Video Caption: Roscosmos Space Corporation launches Soyuz missile to the International Space Station piloted for the first time in history by the humanoid robot Skybot F-850. F.E.D.O.R. chooses The Rockets track “Electric Delight” for his journey – on this official video.

[Category: News, FEDOR, ISS, Roscosmos, Skybot F-850, space station]

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[l] at 8/21/19 11:58am

LOS ANGELES (USAF SMC PR) — The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) Directorate of Special Programs (DirSP) awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 2 contract to Bluestaq LLC who will develop the Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Marketplace program under the auspices of AFWERX.

AFWERX was created in 2017 by then Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to support rapid innovation within the Defense Department. SBIR is a prime example of the AFWERX goal of fostering a culture of innovation.

A revolution in how SMC provides the best possible tools available to the warfighter, the SSA Marketplace – a digital storefront – will provide the prime solution to the DoD SSA commercial data acquisition needs by supplying the DoD with a central hub for connecting SSA data providers and customers. Simply put, customers submit their data requirements to the SSA Marketplace, and commercial companies will bid in real time, allowing the customer to pick the data source that best meets their data needs, efficiently and effectively.

By taking an enterprise, agile-driven approach to SSA, SMC is able to provide timely, applicable SSA data from multiple data sources, and streamline the SSA data acquisition process. Data providers can now connect to future customers across the SSA enterprise without an excessively long acquisition process.

The SSA Marketplace’s strengths lie in its ability to facilitate the matching of data producers and consumers, standardizing product formats, reducing contract complexity, and supporting transactions of any size. This results in more viable opportunities for non-traditional suppliers, increased supply and varied content for consumers.

“Once developed, the SSA Marketplace will streamline the manner in which commercial space domain awareness (SDA) data is purchased.  The storefront should drive both cost and schedule efficiencies, enabling DoD customers to purchase and rapidly gain access to only the data they need via a competitive commercial marketplace,” said Air Force Maj. Daniel Kimmich, Special Programs Directorate’s SSA and Data Portfolio Manager. 

“Using the SBIR approach to deliver new capability is a prime example of how we do business now,” said Col. Stephen Purdy, Program Executive Officer, Special Programs Directorate.  “By implementing the agile acquisition approach the Directorate of Special Programs has championed, we have centralized, streamlined and established an innovative and practical approach to obtaining software tools and resources. The result is a giant developmental step in maintaining space superiority. Congratulations to the winning team.”

[Category: News, AFWRX, Bluestaq, Heather Wilson, SBIR, space situational awareness, U.S. Air Force]

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[l] at 8/21/19 11:47am
Participants experience microgravity aboard a Zero-G Corporation parabolic flight. (PRNewsFoto/Zero Gravity Corporation, Al Powers)

ARLINGTON, Va. (ZERO-G PR) – 2019 marks a historic year for the country’s first weightless flight company,Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G), as they celebrate 15 years of offering extraordinary experiences. As the company looks forward toward a path of exploration, they celebrate a history that is marked with incredible milestones and unforgettable airborne memories.

Since operating its first commercial flight in 2004, ZERO-G has provided more than 17,000 flyers the opportunity to feel true weightlessness over the course of 670 parabolic flights. Providing incredible flight opportunities across the country, 27 cities have hosted ZERO-G takeoffs. The company has also conducted 211 research missions – 181 of those for NASA as well as 30 ZERO-G Weightless Lab flights for non-NASA customers and their research projects, using ZERO-G’s one-of-a-kind aircraft to discover invaluable information for advancing national and international space programs.

Monumental Moments and Familiar Faces

ZERO-G has led the charge in providing unprecedented weightless experiences for consumers, research teams and brands of all kinds. Its specialized aircraft offers an exclusive opportunity to test the limits of gravity while breaking barriers and records along the way:

  • 2004 – ZERO-G takes off for the very first time, marking a new age in commercial space experiences
  • 2008 – ZERO-G wins NASA Reduced Gravity Office contract to fly NASA research from Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX
  • 2009 – Perfecting the science of falling (or floating) in love, ZERO-G performed the world’s first weightless wedding
  • 2009 – Extreme sports legend Rob Dyrdek partners with DC Shoes to film a brand-launch on board G-FORCE ONE, making Dyrdek the first person to skateboard in zero gravity
  • 2010 – ZERO-G offers the world’s first and only commercial research flight program from Titusville, Florida
  • 2012 – International alcohol brand, Stoli, partners with ZERO-G to mix the world’s first gravity-free cocktail
  • 2016 – Tequila-flavored beer brand, Desperados, took to the skies above Las Vegas to host the world’s first weightless night club with DJ Mike Cervello

Over the years, ZERO-G has hosted an impressive collection of recognizable names, including famed physicist, cosmologist and author Stephen Hawking. Other notable passengers include Buzz Aldrin, Peter Jackson, George Takei, Justin Bieber, Kate Upton, Martha Stewart, The Osbournes and Ashton Kutcher, amongst others.

Fusing pop culture and popular science, ZERO-G has been featured on hit television shows including Big Bang Theory, Good Morning America, The Biggest Loser, The Apprentice, The Bachelor and more.

Providing a unique space to produce one-of-a-kind weightless conditions, ZERO-G has worked with an exciting list of the country’s top research groups including teams at Harvard, MIT and Johns Hopkins. They’ve helped drive advances in a variety of industries, even working with Australian beer brand 4 Pines Brewing Company to develop Vostok Space Beer, the world’s first beer bottled and manufactured specially for consumption in the cosmos.

In support of current efforts to return to the moon’s surface, ZERO-G will be offering specialized research flights with a primary focus on lunar parabolas throughout 2020. ZERO-G Coaches and Flight Attendants have an advanced understanding of experimental procedures and education in several scientific sectors including materials sciences, advanced physics, chemistry, structural engineering, biology and more.

For ticket and flight information, please visit. www.gozerog.com.

About ZERO-G

Zero Gravity Corporation is a privately held space entertainment and tourism company whose mission is to make the excitement and adventure of space accessible to the public.  ZERO-G is the first and only FAA-approved provider of weightless flight in the U.S. for the general public; entertainment and film industries; corporate and incentive markets; non-profit research and education sectors; and the government. ZERO-G’s attention to detail, excellent service and quality of experience combined with its exciting history has set the foundation for the most exhilarating adventure-based tourism.  For more information about ZERO-G, please visit www.gozerog.com.

[Category: News, microgravity flights, parabolic flights, Zero Gravity Corporation, Zero-G]

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[l] at 8/21/19 11:36am

WEBSTER, Texas USA and HALIFAX, NS, Canada – A new generation radio-frequency (RF) Power Processing Unit (PPU) for the VASIMR engine, built by Aethera Technologies Ltd. of Canada, has completed a series of full power acceptance tests at Ad Astra Rocket Company’s Texas facility near Houston. The unit completed these tests on August 12 by operating in a thermal steady-state with no anomalies at its full power rating of 120 kW.

The RF PPU is now ready to be incorporated into Ad Astra’s vacuum facility so that it can be tested with the VX- 200SS VASIMR prototype. These tests are part of Ad Astra’s ongoing program under the NASA NextSTEP partnership contract.

The RF PPU is a critical component of the VASIMR engine, providing the RF energy needed to efficiently ionize and heat the argon propellant in the rocket. The resulting high temperature plasma is accelerated in the magnetic nozzle to provide thrust.

Aethera has developed an RF PPU with >97% electrical-to-RF power efficiency, using advanced semiconductors and incorporating the capability to operate in vacuum and in close proximity to the VASIMR engine’s magnetic field. In addition, at 52 kg, the new VASIMR RF PPU is about 10x lighter than the PPU’s of competing electric thrusters.

The development of the RF PPU is being supported by Ad Astra Rocket Company, and The Canadian Space Agency (CSA). CSA’s support is part of a contribution agreement under the Space Technology and Development Program (STDP) announced by the CSA on May 25, 2018.

The CSA funding contribution highlights Canada’s long-term view regarding the importance of high-power electric propulsion in humanity’s gradual evolution beyond low Earth orbit (LEO) and gives the project an added international flavor.

“We are extremely pleased with the results of these tests,” said Dr. Franklin R. Chang Díaz, CEO of Ad-Astra Rocket Company. “The Aethera and Ad Astra teams have worked very hard and very well together to achieve this important milestone, and we look forward to the road ahead with excitement and optimism,” he added.

“We are extremely pleased to be a part of the VASIMR team and to have the opportunity to develop state-of-the-art equipment for the space industry” expressed Tim Hardy, Chief Technology Officer at Aethera. “The new RF PPU full power testing is an extremely positive result on the way to achieving a flight qualified rocket” he added.

About the Technology

Short for Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, VASIMR works with plasma, an electrically charged gas that can be heated to extreme temperatures and controlled and guided by strong magnetic fields, which also provide insulation.

Plasma rockets, such as VASIMR, have an extremely low fuel consumption and much higher performance as compared with conventional chemical propulsion or other electric rockets. They will provide a major economic and operational advantage in space commerce, including satellite deployment, re-boost services, refurbishment and end-of-life disposal.

In the longer term, with an appropriate nuclear-electric power source, VASIMR would provide much faster and safer human and robotic transportation in deep-space where solar power is insufficient.

About Ad Astra

A US Delaware corporation established in 2005, Ad Astra Rocket Company is the developer of the VASIMR engine, an advanced plasma propulsion system for the emerging in-space transportation market. Ad Astra also owns and operates supporting R&D subsidiaries in the US and Costa Rica. The company also develops earthbound high-technology applications in renewable energy and hydrogen-based fuel-cell electric transportation, as well as advanced manufacturing and applied physics. Ad Astra has its main laboratory and corporate headquarters at 141 W. Bay Area Boulevard in Webster, Texas, USA, about three miles from the NASA Johnson Space Center.

About Aethera

Located in Halifax, N.S., Aethera Technologies Limited develops innovative technology and provides related services for its clients with a focus on Radio Frequency (RF) power for aerospace, communications, scientific and industrial applications including dielectric heating. Aethera is committed to transforming ideas into a competitive advantage for our clients.

About CSA’s Space Technology Development Program

The CSA’s Space Technology Development Program (STDP) supports innovation for the growth of the Canadian space industry and to reduce technological unknowns. Contracts are issued to Canadian organizations for the development of technologies to support future needs of the Canadian Space Program, while non-repayable contributions are awarded to Canadian organizations to support the development of innovative technologies with strong commercial potential.

[Category: News, Ad Astra, Ad Astra Rocket Company, Aethera Technologies, Canadian Space Agency, CSA, Franklin Chang-Diaz, NASA, NextSTEP, propulsion, rocket engines, Space Technology Development Program, VASIMR, VX-200SS]

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[l] at 8/21/19 10:53am
Credit: Matt Wade


SUBJECT:        Launch of Spacecraft Containing Space Nuclear

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct the following:

Section 1.  Purpose.  This memorandum updates the process for launches of spacecraft containing space nuclear systems.  Space nuclear systems include radioisotope power systems (RPSs), such as radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) and radioisotope heater units (RHUs), and fission reactors used for power and propulsion.

The ability to use space nuclear systems safely and sustainably is vital to maintaining and advancing United States dominance and strategic leadership in space.  For United States launches of space nuclear systems, the Federal Government must ensure a rigorous, risk informed safety analysis and launch authorization process.  This memorandum establishes processes for Federal Government launches and launches for which the Department of Transportation (DOT) has statutory authority to license as commercial space launch activities (commercial launches).  These processes include transparent safety guidelines and are forward-looking and amenable to effective use of space nuclear systems for heating, power, and propulsion.

Sec. 2.  Policy.  The United States shall develop and use space nuclear systems when such systems safely enable or enhance space exploration or operational capabilities.  The Secretary of Energy shall maintain, on a full cost recovery basis, the capability and infrastructure to develop, furnish, and conduct safety analyses for space nuclear systems for use in United States Government space systems.  Executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall seek to ensure that safe application of space nuclear systems is a viable option for Federal Government and commercial space activities.

Sec. 3.  Safety Guidelines.  (a)  All United States Government entities involved in the launch of spacecraft containing space nuclear systems (including in the licensing of non-Government launches) shall seek to ensure safe operation.  For any mission that includes a space nuclear system, mission planners and launch authorization authorities should, as appropriate, seek to ensure that:

(i)    normal operation of the space nuclear system is consistent with applicable Federal, State, and local requirements;

(ii)   an accident resulting in exposure in excess of 25 millirem but less than 5 rem total effective dose (TED), as that term is defined in section 835.2 of title 10, Code of Federal Regulations, to any member of the public is unlikely, such that the probability of such an event does not exceed 1 in 100;

(iii)  an accident resulting in exposure in the range of 5 rem to 25 rem TED to any member of the public is extremely unlikely, such that the probability of such an event does not exceed 1 in 10,000; and

(iv)   the probability of an accident resulting in exposure in excess of 25 rem TED to any member of the public does not exceed 1 in 100,000.

(b)  Additional safety guidelines may be appropriate for the non-terrestrial operation of nuclear fission systems.  Within 1 year of the date of this memorandum, the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in coordination with the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Energy, shall submit to the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA) a report identifying guidelines for safe non-terrestrial operation of nuclear fission reactors, including orbital and planetary surface activities.

Sec. 4.  Launch Authorization Processes.  Authorization for launches of spacecraft containing space nuclear systems shall follow a three-tiered process based upon the characteristics of the system, the level of potential hazard, and national security considerations.  “Federal Government missions,” as the term is used in this section and section 5 of this memorandum, are non-commercial missions either conducted or sponsored by an agency.  Consistent with chapter 509 of title 51, United States Code, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Secretary’s designee, is the licensing authority for commercial launches of spacecraft containing space nuclear systems in all three tiers.  Issuance of a launch authorization or license as described in this memorandum shall not relieve the mission sponsor or licensee of its obligations with respect to other applicable laws, regulations, policies, or agreements that may apply to its activities.
(a)  Tier I shall apply to launches of spacecraft containing radioactive sources of total quantities up to and including 100,000 times the A2 value listed in Table 2 of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Specific Safety Requirements No. SSR-6 (Rev. 1), Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material, 2018 Edition.  For Federal Government missions in Tier I, the head of the sponsoring agency shall be the launch authorization authority.

(b)  Tier II shall apply to:

(i)    launches of spacecraft containing radioactive sources in excess of 100,000 times the A2 value referenced above;

(ii)   any Tier I launches where the associated safety analyses determine that the probability of an accident during launch or subsequent operation resulting in an exposure in the range of 5 rem to 25 rem TED to any member of the public is equal to or greater than 1 in 1,000,000; and

(iii)  any launches of spacecraft containing nuclear fission systems and other devices with a potential for criticality (defined as the condition in which a nuclear fission chain reaction becomes self-sustaining), when such systems utilize low-enriched uranium (less than 20 percent uranium-235 enrichment).  For Federal Government missions in Tier II, the head of the sponsoring agency shall be the launch authorization authority.  Tier II missions require additional safety review, as detailed in section 5 of this memorandum, and the launch authorization authority shall consider the resulting analysis and review results when making a launch authorization determination.

(c)  Tier III shall apply to launches of any spacecraft containing a space nuclear system for which the associated safety analyses determine that the probability of an accident during launch or subsequent operation resulting in an exposure in excess of 25 rem TED to any member of the public is equal to or greater than 1 in 1,000,000.

Due to potential national security considerations associated with nuclear nonproliferation, Tier III shall also apply to launches of spacecraft containing nuclear fission systems and other devices with a potential for criticality when such systems utilize any nuclear fuel other than low-enriched uranium.

The President’s authorization shall be required for Federal Government launches in Tier III.  When the sponsoring agency is the Department of Defense or an element of the Intelligence Community, the head of the sponsoring agency shall request the President’s authorization for the launch through the APNSA.  In all other proposed Tier III Federal Government launches, the head of the sponsoring agency shall request the President’s authorization for the launch through the Director of OSTP.  The Director of OSTP may authorize such launches, unless the Director of OSTP considers it advisable to forward the matter to the President for a decision.

Sec. 5.  Safety Analysis and Review.  Nuclear safety analysis and review is a critical step before any launch of a space nuclear system.  Safety analysis should include an assessment of potential consequences to a maximally exposed individual member of the public in accident scenarios.  Safety analysis should address launch and any subsequent stages when accidents may result in radiological effects on the public or the environment, for instance, in an unplanned reentry from Earth orbit or during an Earth flyby.  To the extent possible, safety analyses and reviews should incorporate previous mission and review experience.

(a)  For Federal Government missions in all tiers, the head of the sponsoring agency shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.  As the licensing authority for commercial space launches, the Secretary of Transportation is responsible for ensuring compliance with NEPA for commercial launches.

(b)  For Federal Government missions in all tiers, the head of the sponsoring agency shall ensure that a mission Safety Analysis Report (SAR) be prepared.  For commercial launches of spacecraft containing space nuclear systems in all tiers, the Secretary of Transportation shall, if necessary, issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to require that a mission SAR is prepared to inform a launch determination, and to require review of the mission SAR in consultation with other agencies as appropriate.  The mission SAR shall demonstrate that safety analysis incorporates technical peer review, and shall include a concise, high-level summary of key risk information.  This summary should include:  the likelihood of an accident resulting in an exposure in excess of 5 rem TED to any member of the public; the number of individuals who might receive such exposure in an accident scenario; and comparisons of potential exposure levels to other meaningful measures such as nuclear space launch safety guidelines, background radiation, average public exposure from natural and manmade sources, and other relevant public safety standards.  When appropriate, a mission SAR may incorporate a system-specific SAR that establishes a safety basis for the space nuclear system.  The safety basis provides a set of conditions (a safety basis envelope) under which safety analysis and hazard controls provide assurance of safe operation for the given system.  In such cases, the mission SAR must either:

(i)   demonstrate that the mission is within the safety basis envelope established in the system-specific SAR, in which case it is not necessary to repeat the analysis supporting the system-specific SAR; or

(ii)  include supplemental safety analysis for any deviations that are outside of the established safety basis envelope and for which safety has therefore not yet been demonstrated.

Agencies responsible for system-specific SARs should review them annually and update them as necessary.

(c)  Within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, the NASA Administrator shall establish an Interagency Nuclear Safety Review Board (INSRB).  The INSRB shall consist of representatives from the Departments of State, Defense, Energy, and Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and, as appropriate, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  Each of these agencies shall designate technically qualified personnel to the INSRB.  For Federal Government launches in Tier II and Tier III, the head of the sponsoring agency shall request of the NASA Administrator that the INSRB review the nuclear safety analysis, ultimately including the mission SAR, and report its findings, in the form of a Safety Evaluation Report, to the head of the sponsoring agency in order to inform the decision to proceed with launch and, for Tier III missions, inform any decision to request Presidential launch authorization.  When necessary to protect national security, the head of the sponsoring agency, in consultation with the APNSA, may restrict INSRB member participation in any mission review.  The INSRB shall evaluate the quality of the safety analysis and identify any significant gaps in analysis.  The INSRB may recommend areas for additional analysis where it identifies gaps, but it is not tasked with repeating or conducting its own analysis.  The INSRB shall engage early in the safety analysis process, after the conceptual design of the mission is generated, in order to identify gaps in time for mission planners to address them without creating unnecessary delays in the launch timeline.  Before completion of the mission SAR, the INSRB shall advise the head of the sponsoring agency of any omissions or gaps that the INSRB has identified in analysis that is planned or underway, and may provide recommendations for corrective action.  In licensing non-Federal Government launches in Tier II and Tier III, the Secretary of Transportation shall consult with the heads of any other agencies that the Secretary of Transportation deems appropriate to review the SAR in a similar manner, evaluate the quality of the safety analysis, and identify any significant gaps.  At the request of the Secretary of Transportation, the INSRB shall review any nuclear safety analysis associated with a potential commercial launch of a space nuclear system under review by the Secretary of Transportation.  The terms of any INSRB review, including the costs of such review, shall be agreed upon between the NASA Administrator and the head of the agency requesting INSRB review.

(d)  Within 1 year of the date of this memorandum, the Secretary of Transportation shall issue public guidance for applicants seeking a license for a launch or reentry involving a space nuclear system.  This guidance shall describe the process used to evaluate any such license application, including relevant safety standards, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.

Sec. 6.  Reporting Requirements.  (a)  On an annual basis, the recipients of this memorandum shall provide a report to the Director of OSTP listing all launches that the agency has sponsored or licensed in the past calendar year of spacecraft using radioactive sources containing total quantities in the range of 1,000 times to 100,000 times the A2 value listed in Table 2 of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Specific Safety Requirements No. SSR-6 (Rev. 1), Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material, 2018 Edition, and listing all such launches planned for the coming calendar year.

(b)  Any agency planning Tier II or Tier III launches shall provide an annual briefing to OSTP and the National Science and Technology Council on the status of safety analysis for any such planned missions.  The Secretary of Transportation shall provide a similar briefing within 120 days of accepting an application for a license pertaining to a commercial mission that will involve the launch or reentry involving a space nuclear system.

Sec. 7.  Effect on Prior Memoranda.  This memorandum supersedes the section of the June 28, 2010, National Space Policy titled “Space Nuclear Power” and its corresponding section in Presidential Policy Directive–4.  The following paragraph replaces the ninth numbered paragraph of National Security Council Presidential Directive-25 (NSC/PD-25) of December 14, 1977 (as modified May 17, 1995, and May 8, 1996):

“9. Launching nuclear systems requires a separate procedure established in National Security Presidential Memorandum-20 of August 20, 2019 (Launch of Spacecraft Containing Space Nuclear Systems).”

Sec. 8.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.


[Category: News]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 8/20/19 3:06pm

China’s new communications satellite, ChinaSat 18, is suffering problems on orbit, according to media reports.

The satellite’s launch aboard a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Monday went as planned, the reports say. However ,the satellite began to malfunction after separation from the upper stage.

There has been no announcement on the cause of the problems.

[Category: News]

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[l] at 8/20/19 2:58pm
Delta IV on the launch pad at Vandenberg. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., August 20, 2019 (ULA PR) — The ULA Launch Readiness Review was completed today and everything is progressing toward the ULA Delta IV launch carrying the GPS III Magellan mission for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.

The mission is set to lift off on Thursday, Aug. 22 from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The 27-minute launch window opens at 9 a.m. ET.

The live broadcast coverage of launch will begin at 8:40 a.m. ET. Live launch updates and webcast are available at: www.ulalaunch.com.

Today’s forecast shows an 80 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.

The Delta IV family of launch vehicles combines design simplicity, manufacturing efficiency and streamlined mission and vehicle integration to meet customer launch requirements. GPS III SV02 will be the 29th and final flight of the Delta IV Medium rocket and the 73rd GPS launch by a ULA or heritage vehicle.

“As we prepare to launch the final Delta IV Medium, we look forward to continuing its legacy through the purpose-built Vulcan Centaur,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. “We are proud to continue our strong support of the GPS program with this launch.”

The GPS III system, built by Lockheed Martin, represents the next step in modernization of the worldwide navigation network with a new generation of advanced satellites offering improved accuracy, better anti-jam resiliency and a new signal for civil users. 

This mission will launch aboard a Delta IV Medium+ (4,2) configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter Payload Fairing and stands at 207 ft. The common booster core for Delta IV is powered by the RS-68A engine, and the Delta Cryogenic Second Stage is powered by the RL10B-2 engine, both supplied by Aerojet Rocketdyne. Northrop Grumman provided the two solid rocket motors. 

ULA has a track record of 100% mission success with 134 successful launches.

With more than a century of combined heritage, ULA is the world’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 130 satellites to orbit that provide Earth observation capabilities, enable global communications, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, and support life-saving technology.

For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at www.ulalaunch.com, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321). Join the conversation at www.facebook.com/ulalaunch, twitter.com/ulalaunch and instagram.com/ulalaunch.

[Category: News, Cape Canaveral, Delta IV, Global Positioning System, GPS III, U.;S. Air Force, U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, ULA, United Launch Alliance]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 8/20/19 2:37pm
Chandrayaan2 Vikram lander (Credit: ISRO)

BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — A Press Meet was organised today (August 20, 2019) at ISRO Headquarters, Bengaluru on the occasion of Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) of Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft. Dr K Sivan, Chairman, ISRO addressed and interacted with several regional, national and international media persons during the meet. The live telecast of this meet was made available on ISRO website and You tube Channel.

In his briefing, Dr. Sivan announced that “The LOI maneuver was performed successfully today morning using the onboard propulsion system for a firing duration of about 29 minutes. This maneuver precisely injected Chandrayaan-2 into an orbit around the Moon.” He emphasised the unique requirement of 90 degree orbital inclination of Chandrayaan-2 and said that it was achieved by the precise execution of both the Trans Lunar Injection (performed on August 14, 2019) and today’s LOI maneuver.

“The satellite is currently located in a lunar orbit with a distance of about 114 km at perilune (nearest point to the Moon) and 18,072 km at apolune (farthest point to the Moon)”, he added.

Further, Dr Sivan added that till September 01, 2019, a series of four orbit maneuvers will be performed on Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft to enable it to enter its final orbit passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100 km from the Moon’s surface.

Subsequently, on September 02, 2019 the Vikram lander will separate from the Orbiter.  Following this, orbit maneuvers will be performed on Vikram to place it in a 100 km X 30 km orbit around the Moon.  Following this, Vikram will perform a series of complex braking maneuvers to soft land in the South polar region of the Moon between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N on September 7, 2019. A few hours later, the Rover Pragyaan will roll down from Vikram and will perform in situ exploration of the surrounding lunar surface.

The briefing by Chairman, ISRO was followed by a long interactive session with the media during which questions were asked about the scientific objectives of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, challenges and complexities involved during Vikram separation from Orbiter and its soft landing on the Moon, impact of lunar dust on landing and the release of images captured by Chandrayaan-2, mission life of Pragyaan. Chairman, ISRO answered these questions in detail.

[Category: News, Chandrayaan-2, ISRO, K. Sivan, moon]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 8/20/19 2:14pm
Astronauts explore a crater at the lunar south pole. (Credit: NASA)

By Tammy Long
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

In another major step toward landing American astronauts on the lunar surface by 2024, NASA is asking industry to respond to a Request for Proposals to deliver cargo, science experiments and supplies to the Gateway to support Artemis missions to the lunar surface. Commercial supply services will support the agency’s Artemis lunar exploration program which includes sending the first woman and the next man to surface of the Moon within five years, and preparing for human exploration of Mars.

The agency is seeking capabilities from American companies to deliver a logistics spacecraft with pressurized and unpressurized cargo to the Gateway for six months of docked operations followed by automatic disposal. The logistics spacecraft must launch on a commercial rocket.

“Working with industry to deliver supplies necessary to support our lunar missions is a critical step to accelerate our return to the Moon under the Artemis program including meeting that bold goal to land the next American astronauts on the Moon by 2024,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “This solicitation builds on the capabilities NASA pioneered in low-Earth orbit with commercial cargo resupply to the International Space Station and is the next step in commercialization of deep space. We look forward to industry’s response to our latest solicitation.”

The agency previously asked industry for innovative ideas to transport supplies between Earth and the Gateway, which will be located about 250,000 miles away in a lunar orbit. NASA followed up that request with a draft solicitation earlier this summer.

“We chose to minimize spacecraft requirements on industry to allow for commercial innovation, but we are asking industry to propose their best solutions for delivering cargo and enabling our deep space supply chain,” said Mark Wiese, NASA’s Gateway logistics element manager at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “In addition to delivering cargo, science and other supplies with these services, private industry also has the opportunity to deliver other elements of our lunar architecture with this solicitation.”

This solicitation is for a multi-award, firm-fixed price, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for 15 years, with a maximum $7 billion value. The guaranteed minimum value for any award is two missions.

NASA is also asking responders to address logistics spacecraft design, cargo mass capability, pressurized volume, power availability for payloads and, transit time to Gateway.

Following initial award, there may be future contract opportunities for new service providers to ensure capabilities remain competitive. If approved in advance by NASA, a commercial provider may also use a mission to deliver, remove and/or return non-NASA cargo as long as it does not interfere with the agency mission, furthering the development of a robust deep space economy.

This solicitation is the latest in a line of work by the agency to accelerate its Moon to Mars exploration plans by working with American aerospace companies. NASA recently awarded a contract to Maxar Technologies to design, develop, launch and demonstrate the power and propulsion element by 2022. Negotiations are ongoing for development of the habitation and logistics outpost (HALO) module. The agency is also working on another draft solicitation for the integrated human landing system. A final solicitation will be released in the future.

Charged with returning to the Moon within five years, NASA’s lunar exploration plan encompasses a two-phase approach: speed – landing on the Moon by 2024 – and establishing a sustained multi-national human presence on and around the Moon by 2028. The agency will leverage what it learns on the Moon to prepare for the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.

For more information about NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration plans, visit:


[Category: News, Artemis, human spaceflight, moon, NASA]

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[l] at 8/20/19 1:14pm
Gateway with Orion over the Moon (Credit: ESA/NASA/ATG Medialab)

BRAMPTON, Ont. (MDA PR) — MDA, a Maxar company (NYSE: MAXR) (TSX: MAXR), has been awarded two contracts from the Canadian Space Agency for work on Phase A of the Gateway External Robotic Interfaces project.

The Gateway External Robotic Interfaces will act as critical touch points for the eXploration Large Arm (XLA) and the eXploration Dexterous Arm (XDA), the major robotic manipulator elements that form Canadarm3, the artificial intelligence-enabled robotic system that will service the Gateway. The Gateway External Robotic Interfaces will be the standardized connection points between the external robotics on the Gateway and its modules, visiting spacecraft, payloads and replacement units.

“MDA is proud to continue our legacy of working with the Canadian Space Agency and its international partners to design, build and deploy robotic systems in support of space exploration missions,” said Mike Greenley, group president of MDA. “This project will leverage MDA’s world-leading space robotics capabilities, gained through the Canadarm programs, and will be an important component of Canada’s contribution to the NASA-led Gateway. We are proud to deliver new jobs in Canada and engage our Canadian supply base in preparation for Canadarm3.”

On Phase A of the Gateway External Robotics Interfaces project, MDA will work with the Canadian Space Agency to develop the interface and system requirements and undertake concept and technology development activities necessary to provide the Gateway module and element developers with information to support the integration of the external robotics and its interfaces.

The Government of Canada announced its commitment to the Gateway to enable future exploration missions, including human lunar landings. Similar to the robotics provided by Canada on the International Space Station, Canadarm3 will provide Extra-Vehicular Robotics (EVR) services to the Gateway including external logistics, maintenance, inspection, assembly and reconfiguration, and support to external science payloads.

Since the first deployment of Canadarm in 1981, MDA, working with the Canadian government, has led the design and development of Canada’s primary contribution – robotics – to space exploration missions through the US Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs. Canadarm flew on over 90 shuttle missions, and Canadarm2 and Dextre have been in operation on the International Space Station for more than 18 years.

As a leader in delivering space infrastructure to explore and advance the use of space, Maxar is playing a key role in NASA’s Artemis program to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024 and enable future missions to Mars. Maxar will build and fly the first element of the NASA-led Gateway, called the Power and Propulsion Element. Maxar will also provide a robotic arm called SAMPLR, which is intended to be part of a future payload delivery to the lunar surface under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services contract. SAMPLR will be the first robotic arm on the surface of the Moon since the Surveyor missions more than 50 years ago.

About Maxar

Maxar is a trusted partner and innovator in Earth Intelligence and Space Infrastructure. We deliver disruptive value to government and commercial customers to help them monitor, understand and navigate our changing planet; deliver global broadband communications; and explore and advance the use of space. Our unique approach combines decades of deep mission understanding and a proven commercial and defense foundation to deploy solutions and deliver insights with unrivaled speed, scale and cost effectiveness. Maxar’s 5,900 team members in 30 global locations are inspired to harness the potential of space to help our customers create a better world. Maxar trades on the New York Stock Exchange and Toronto Stock Exchange as MAXR. For more information, visit www.maxar.com.

About MDA, a Maxar company

MDA is an internationally recognized leader in space robotics, space sensors, satellite payloads, antennas and subsystems, surveillance and intelligence systems, defense and maritime systems, and geospatial radar imagery. MDA’s extensive space expertise and heritage translates into mission-critical defence and commercial applications that include multi-platform command, control and surveillance systems, aeronautical information systems, land administration systems and terrestrial robotics. MDA is also a leading supplier of actionable mission-critical information and insights derived from multiple data sources. Founded in 1969, MDA is recognized as one of Canada’s most successful technology ventures with locations in Richmond, Ottawa, Brampton, Montreal, Halifax and the United Kingdom. For more information visit www.mdacorporation.com.

[Category: News, Canadarm3, Canadian Space Agency, CSA, Lunar Gateway, Maxar, MDA, moon, NASA]

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[l] at 8/20/19 11:44am
Chandrayaan 2 orbiter near the moon. (Credit: ISRO)

Bengaluru, India (ISRO PR) — Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) maneuver was completed successfully today (August 20, 2019). The duration of maneuver was 1738 seconds beginning from 0902 hrs IST. With this, Chandrayaan-2 was successfully inserted into a Lunar orbit. The orbit achieved is 114 km x 18072 km.

Following this, a series of orbit maneuvers will be performed on Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft to enable it to enter its final orbit passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100 km from the Moon’s surface.

Subsequently, the lander will separate from the Orbiter and enters into a 100 km X 30 km orbit around the Moon.  Then, it will perform a series of complex braking maneuvers to soft land in the South polar region of the Moon on September 7, 2019.

The health of the spacecraft is being continuously monitored from the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas at Bylalu, near Bengaluru. All the systems of Chandrayaan-2 are healthy.

The next Lunar bound orbit maneuver is scheduled tomorrow (August 21, 2019) between 1230-13:30 hrs IST.

[Category: News, Chandrayaan-2, ISRO, moon]

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[l] at 8/20/19 2:11am
Newt Gingrich (Credit: Gage Skidmore)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Many of you know that I am not a big fan of President Donald Trump. But, occasionally I think he is capable of doing something smart.

One of those smart acts was to appoint Callista Louise Gingrich as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See in Rome. The smart aspect has nothing to do with her qualifications for the job, but rather what her presence in Rome would spare the United States.

I’m referring, of course, to getting her husband, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, out of the country. Unless the union has become a sham, and he was hooking up with a mistress in the U.S. as he had with Callista during marriage no 2, Newt would be out of the headlines and out of everyone’s line of sight for long periods of time.

For those of us who have had enough of the bombastic legislator/pundit/serial adulterer over the past 30 plus years, it’s been one of the few saving graces of Trump’s reign.

Unfortunately, it’s August – a time when most of Europe takes a month-long vacation. And, wouldn’t you know it, Newt is back in the States opining and making headlines.

His two main topics at the moment appear to be: space exploration, a subject he actually knows something about; and American race relations, a subject on which the former history teacher has long demonstrated a tin ear and a missing heart.

First to space:

Newt Gingrich and an eclectic band of NASA skeptics are trying to sell President Donald Trump on a reality show-style plan to jump-start the return of humans to the moon — at a fraction of the space agency’s estimated price tag.

The proposal, whose other proponents range from an Air Force lieutenant general to the former publicist for pop stars Michael Jackson and Prince, includes a $2 billion sweepstakes pitting billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and other space pioneers against each other to see who can establish and run the first lunar base, according to a summary of the plan shared with POLITICO.

That’s far less taxpayer money than NASA’s anticipated lunar plan, which relies on traditional space contractors, such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and is projected to cost $50 billion or more.

Well, good luck with that. I doubt given the realities of Congressional pork barrel spending that a prize will ever fly. Just witness the uproar in Texas over NASA’s decision to give overall management of the Artemis human lunar lander to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.

Second, what has happened in the last 15 years since the $10 million Ansari X Prize was won makes me skeptical of prizes. Not all prizes, mind you, but prizes in general as a good way to develop sustainable technologies. They don’t always work.

The Ansari X Prize was very successful from an inspirational standpoint. But, it didn’t produce an industry so much as one business venture that has struggled for 15 years to commercialize the SpaceShipOne technology.

The need to produce a minimum viable vehicle before the prize expired at the end of 2004 resulted in dangerous and immature technology that its builders didn’t fully understand and proved difficult to scale up for SpaceShipTwo.

Scaled Composites was the only entry in the $10 million competition. No other company even came close to launching a crewed ship into suborbital space twice in two weeks.

A large prize might produce a race between Musk and Bezos. On the other hand, Bezos seems utterly uninterested in racing anyone into space. Slow and steady is his approach. And the guy worth nearly $112 billion certainly doesn’t need $2 billion to run a moon base.

The prize would likely end up funding another one-team race lead by Musk and SpaceX. That would undoubtedly involve indirectly funding the Super Heavy/Starship vehicle Musk is developing.

That might prove to be a wise investment; it might not. The jury is still out as to whether the system will work as advertised. Because a large prize that helps Musk accomplish his goals would undercut other programs, it’s most likely dead on arrival in Congress.

As for Gingirch’s other current subject, race relations, I was going to comment on them. But, they are just too dumb to waste time on. You can read his comments here and drawn your own conclusions.

[Category: News, Artemis, moon, NASA, NASA Marshall, Newt Gingrich]

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[l] at 8/19/19 4:10pm
Europa Clipper in orbit around Europa. (Credit; NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — An icy ocean world in our solar system that could tell us more about the potential for life on other worlds is coming into focus with confirmation of the EuropaClipper mission’s next phase. The decision allows the mission to progress to completion of final design, followed by the construction and testing of the entire spacecraft and science payload.  

“We are all excited about the decision that moves the Europa Clipper mission one key step closer to unlocking the mysteries of this ocean world,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We are building upon the scientific insights received from the flagship Galileo and Cassini spacecraft and working to advance our understanding of our cosmic origin, and even life elsewhere.”

The mission will conduct an in-depth exploration of Jupiter’s moon, Europa, and investigate whether the icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life, honing our insights into astrobiology.  To develop this mission in the most cost-effective fashion, NASA is targeting to have the Europa Clipper spacecraft complete and ready for launch as early as 2023. The agency baseline commitment, however, supports a launch readiness date by 2025. 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California leads the development of the Europa Clipper mission in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for the Science Mission Directorate. Europa Clipper is managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. 

[Category: News, Europa Clipper, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, JHUAPL, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA, NASA JPL, NASA Marshall]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 8/19/19 2:10pm
Astrobotic of Pittsburgh has proposed to fly as many as 14 payloads to a large crater on the near side of the Moon. (Credit: Astrobotic)

Pittsburgh, Penn., and Centennial, Colo., Aug. 19, 2019 (Astrobotic/ULA PR)– Astrobotic announced today that it selected United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket in a competitive commercial procurement to launch its Peregrine lunar lander to the moon in 2021.

“We are so excited to sign with ULA and fly Peregrine on Vulcan Centaur. This contract with ULA was the result of a highly competitive commercial process, and we are grateful to everyone involved in helping us make low-cost lunar transportation possible. When we launch the first lunar lander from American soil since Apollo, onboard the first Vulcan Centaur rocket, it will be a historic day for the country and commercial enterprise,” said Astrobotic CEO, John Thornton.

Astrobotic, the world leader in commercial delivery to the moon, was selected by NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program to deliver up to 14 NASA payloads to the moon on its Peregrine lunar lander in 2021. With this $79.5 million CLPS award, Astrobotic has now signed 16 customers for lunar delivery on its first mission.

“Our rockets have carried exploration missions to the moon, the sun, and every planet in the solar system so it is only fitting that Vulcan Centaur’s inaugural flight will lead the return of Americans to the lunar surface,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO. “We could not be more excited to fly this mission for Astrobotic.”

Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander will launch on a Vulcan Centaur rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch of this mission will serve as the first of two certification flights required for ULA’s U.S. Air Force certification process. 

“This partnership represents a true ‘whole-of-government’ approach to how our nation is leading the world in space: NASA contracted with a commercial company to land on the moon, who then went on to contract with a commercial company for a rocket built to serve the national security space market,” said Bruno. “This highlights the power of our American system of partnership between government and industry to solve the toughest problems and the greatest of our human aspirations.”

About Astrobotic

Astrobotic Technology, Inc. is a space robotics company that seeks to make space accessible to the world. The company’s lunar lander, Peregrine, delivers payloads to the moon for companies, governments, universities, non-profits, and individuals for $1.2 million per kilogram. Astrobotic was selected by NASA in May 2019 for a $79.5 million contract to deliver payloads to the moon in 2021. The company also has more than 30 prior and ongoing NASA and commercial technology contracts, a commercial partnership with Airbus DS, and a corporate sponsorship with DHL. The company is also an official partner with NASA through the Lunar CATALYST Program. Astrobotic was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.

About ULA

With more than a century of combined heritage, ULA is the world’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 130 satellites to orbit that provide Earth observation capabilities, enable global communications, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, and support life-saving technology. For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at www.ulalaunch.com, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321). Join the conversation at www.facebook.com/ulalaunch, twitter.com/ulalaunch and instagram.com/ulalaunch.

[Category: News, Peregrine, ULA, United Launch Alliance, Vulcan Centaur]

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[l] at 8/19/19 1:45am
Ravn air-launch system (Credit: Aevum)

Huntsville, Alabama – The U.S. Air Force (USAF) has awarded Aevum a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I contract for its fully autonomous launch and space logistics service. Aevum’s unique platform can launch small satellites with response times as low as 180-minutes, measured from mission conceptualization to orbital insertion to data downlink, to any low Earth orbit.

The USAF awarded Aevum under a special USAF SBIR topic developed, in partnership with Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) – formerly MD5, and USAF AFWERX, to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and transition rate of the SBIR program.

Under this contract, Aevum will move quickly to find an Air Force transition partner for its autonomous launch system to provide strategic responsive launch capabilities to the USAF for global persistent awareness.

Aevum has made rapid progress in bringing its autonomous launch architecture to full service. Autonomous launch is a brand-new type of access to space conceived by Aevum. It requires an advanced logistics network comprised of launch sites, launch support assets, ground stations, fully autonomous launch vehicles, cloud technologies, and software. This global network is fully controlled and commanded by Aevum’s advanced mission management technology.

“Consideration of the logistics, launch vehicles, ground operations, integration, and mission management as a single product is paramount for rapid access to space. Autonomous launch is a system of systems, interweaved with cutting edge technology and software. The market is littered with launch vehicles and subsystems. Customers want a single end to end solution to get hardware into space that is responsive and reliable. Aevum is it.” said Jay Skylus, Founder and CEO of Aevum. “We’re honored by this opportunity to support the U.S. Air Force and are fully prepared to deliver a solution that meets their needs. The sole source eligibility of Aevum is a big deal. It’s a unique opportunity that not many companies get.”

The first in Aevum’s autonomous launch vehicle lineup is Ravn X. Ravn X is a reusable, three-stage launch vehicle – the only reusable, small launch vehicle poised to service small payloads. The first stage is a fully autonomous unmanned aerial system (UAS) powered by afterburning turbojet engines. The second and third stages are liquid rocket stages powered by staged-combustion liquid engines utilizing Jet A and liquid oxygen. To date, Aevum has completed the ground qualification of all major subsystems of Ravn X. All Ravn X propulsion systems, both airbreathing and rocket-based, have been hot-fired full scale and beyond full duration of expected mission times of orbital Ravn X launches. Ravn X has the performance to deliver at least 100 kg to 500 km, sun-synchronous orbit. A larger and faster launch vehicle is in the pipeline that will enter service after Ravn X.

In addition to this contract, Aevum has been evaluated favorably by other agencies of the Department of Defense (DOD) and has been garnering interest from the intelligence community (IC). In July, Aevum was selected as one of the top five small launch companies by Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) in its Tactical Launch Effort (TACTILE) Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) – a multi-million dollar opportunity. At the time of this press release, Aevum remains eligible to formally move into Phase III of TACTILE with DIU, but is currently in a 120 day hold due to a limitation in Government resources.

“It has been a pleasure to work with DIU. The DIU team is professional, innovative, and high energy. Aevum looks forward to supporting DIU in the future.” said Skylus.

SBIR program is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization. The mission of the SBIR program is to support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of Federal research funds in critical American priorities to build a strong national economy.

Aevum, Inc. provides comprehensive space logistics services, including launch services, to enable customers to deploy small payloads in low Earth orbit reliably. The core business of Aevum is the accurate, express delivery of space payloads to any orbital destinations up to 2,000 km.

[Category: News, Aevum, launchers, SBIR, Small Business Innovation Research, U.;S. Air Force]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 8/18/19 1:37pm
Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft docking at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — An uncrewed Russian Soyuz spacecraft is set to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, Aug. 21, at 11:38 p.m. EDT (8:38 a.m. Aug. 22 Baikonur time) on a test flight to validate the spacecraft’s compatibility with a revamped Soyuz booster rocket. The booster will be used to transport crews to the International Space Station beginning in spring 2020.

Live coverage of the launch, docking and undocking of the spacecraft will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft will lift off from Site 31 at the Cosmodrome on a Soyuz 2.1a booster, which has been used recently to launch uncrewed Russian Progress cargo resupply missions to the space station.

Two days later, on Saturday, Aug. 24, at 1:30 a.m., the Soyuz will navigate to an automated docking on the station’s space-facing Poisk module.

The Soyuz 2.1a booster, equipped with a new digital flight control system and upgraded engines, is replacing the Soyuz FG booster that has been used for decades to launch crews into space. The Soyuz spacecraft will have an upgraded motion control and navigation system, as well as a revamped descent control system.

Instead of crew members, the Soyuz will carry 1,450 pounds of cargo to the Expedition 60 crew currently residing on the orbital outpost.

After a two-week stay at the station, the Soyuz will be commanded to undock from the station on Friday, Sept. 6, at 2:13 p.m.

TV coverage of the launch, docking, and undocking activities is as follows (all times EDT):

Wednesday, Aug. 21:

  • 11:15 p.m. – Soyuz MS-14 launch coverage (launch at 11:38 p.m.)

Saturday, Aug. 24:

  • 12:45 a.m. – Docking coverage (docking scheduled for 1:30 a.m.)

Friday, Sept. 6:

  • 1:45 p.m. – Undocking coverage (undocking scheduled for 2:13 p.m.)

The uncrewed Soyuz MS-14 will be deorbited for a parachute-assisted landing in south-central Kazakhstan at 5:35 p.m. on Sept. 6 (3:35 a.m. Kazakhstan time on Sept. 7), where Russian personnel will be standing by to recover the spacecraft for postflight analysis. NASA TV will not provide live coverage of landing. The mission’s completion will be reported on social media and the agency’s website.

Check out the full NASA TV schedule and video streaming information at:


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





[Category: News, Baikonur, Baikonur Cosmodrome, International Space Station, ISS, NASA, NASA TV, Rocosmos, Soyuz, Soyuz MS-14, space station]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 8/18/19 1:23pm
Electron lifts off with U.S. Air Force satellites. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

After a scrub due to high winds, Rocket Lab has rescheduled its latest Electron Look Ma, No Hands launch for no earlier than Tuesday, Aug. 20 at 12:12 am NZST (12:12 UTC/8:12 am EDT).

Rocket Lab’s eighth mission will carry four satellites, including: a Cubesat for French maritime surveillance company UNSEENLABS ; BlackSky’s Global-4 Earth-imaging satellite; and two U.S. Air Force Space Command experimental satellites designed to test new propulsion, power, communications, and drag technologies.

Rocket Lab will webcast the launch at www.rocketlabusa.com.

[Category: News, BlackSky, BlackSky Global-4, Cubesats, Electron, Global-4, Rocket Lab, U.S. Air Force Space Command, UNSEENLABS]

As of 8/21/19 7:05pm. Last new 8/21/19 12:32pm.

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