Lucy Asteroid Mission Moves Toward 2021 Launch

Southwest Research Institute is leading NASA’s Lucy mission, which will launch in 2021 for the first reconnaissance of the Trojans, a population of primitive asteroids orbiting in tandem with Jupiter. In this artist’s concept (not to scale), the Lucy spacecraft is flying by Eurybates, one of the six diverse and scientifically important Trojans to be studied. (Credit: SwRI)

The first mission to explore Trojan asteroids that orbit in tandem with Jupiter is moving forward toward a late 2021 launch date using heritage hardware that has already been tested in space, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessment.

“Project officials characterize the Lucy design as low risk because it does not require development of any critical technologies and has a high heritage design,” the GAO found. “For example, these officials stated that Lucy’s design has the same architecture as prior NASA projects such as Juno and the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN).

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U.S. Postal Services Releases Sally Ride Stamp

SAN DIEGO (USPS PR) — Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space, a pioneering astronaut, brilliant physicist and dedicated educator who inspired the nation, will be commemorated on a Forever stamp tomorrow.

The Sally Ride Forever stamp 5 p.m. PDT dedication ceremony, free and open to the public, will take place at the Price Center, University of California San Diego. Ride served as a professor of physics at the university, which also is home to Sally Ride Science @ U C San Diego, a non-profit organization she co-founded to inspire young people in science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) and to promote STEM literacy.

Followers of the U.S. Postal Service’s Facebook page can view the ceremony live at Facebook.com/USPS. The stamps may be pre-ordered now at this link for delivery shortly after tomorrow’s issuance.

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Construction of Canadian Launch Complex Delayed

Cyclone 4M booster

Construction of a spaceport in Nova Scotia where Ukrainian Cyclone 4M boosters would be launched has been delayed.

Stephen Matier, president of Maritime Launch Services, had hoped to break ground this month on the $200-million project on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore.

But Matier now says the rocket launch site in Canso likely won’t start being developed until later this year — although he was hesitant to impose any new timeline….​

Matier said his company will submit an environment assessment to the province within the next month. That assessment will also go to Nova Scotia’s Natural Resources Department as part of the land lease application….

Matier said the company is still aiming for the first round of satellite launches to begin in 2021.

Read the full story.

Two Student Projects Selected from Guardians of the Galaxy Space Station Challenge

Guardians of the Galaxy. (Credit: Disney)
  • A partnership between CASIS and Marvel Entertainment provided students ages 13-18 with the opportunity to propose experiments to be conducted onboard the International Space Station
  • Two concepts will now be made into flight experiments, intending to launch to the International Space Station in 2018

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (May 22, 2018) – After a robust response from students around the country, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and Marvel Entertainment today announced two winning concepts from the recent Guardians of the Galaxy Space Station Challenge.

The challenge was an opportunity for American students ages 13-18 to submit microgravity flight experiment concepts that could be conducted on the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. The contest focused on Rocket and Groot, characters from the Guardians of the Galaxy comic book franchise.

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Video: Take a 360 Tour inside Boeing’s Starliner Factory

Video Caption: One, two, three Boeing CST-100 Starliners are coming together inside this historic spacecraft factory at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The goal of the commercially developed and operating spacecraft is to return crew launch capabilities to NASA and the United States.

Video: Gwynne Shotwell Interview with CNBC

Video Caption: Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO of SpaceX, speaks exclusively to CNBC’s Morgan Brennan about the state of the space company, learning from Elon Musk’s other companies, and the outlook for launches next year.

NASA Canceled Radiation Budget Instrument Due to Budget, Technical Issues

Radiation Budget Instrument (Credit: Harris Corporation)

Excessive cost growth, technical issues and poor contractor performance were the key factors that caused NASA to cancel a scientific instrument that had been set to fly aboard NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System 2 (JPSS-2), according to an assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

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Falcon 9 Orbits Iridium-NEXT, GRACE-FO Satellites

The NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences GRACE Follow-On spacecraft launch onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 booster blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Tuesday afternoon and successfully orbited seven satellites.

There were five Iridium-NEXT communications satellites aboard. These were the 51st through 56th Iridium-NEXT spacecraft orbited by Falcon 9 boosters.

A pair of Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites were also onboard. The spacecraft will measure changes in how mass is redistributed within and among Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land and ice sheets, as well as within Earth itself.

The mission is a join collaboration of NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ).  GFZ reports receiving signals from both GRACE-FO satellites.

NASA’s Psyche Mission Aims to Launch Ahead of Original Schedule

NASA’s Psyche mission to a distant metal asteroid will carry a revolutionary Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package. This artist’s concept shows Psyche spacecraft with a five-panel array. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

The Psyche asteroid project is a rarity among the 17 major NASA projects that were recently assessed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO): it’s actually aiming to launch ahead of schedule.

“NASA selected the project’s 2023 launch proposal, but later directed the project to work to an accelerated launch readiness date of August 2022,” the GAO report stated. “The accelerated launch date will allow Psyche to arrive at the asteroid over 4 years earlier than the original timeline due to a quicker flight.”

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NASA’s ISS Transition Report — Executive Summary

The International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an STS-133 crew member on space shuttle Discovery. (Credit: NASA)

International Space Station Transition Report
NASA
March 30, 2018

Full Report (PDF)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-10) provided for an ISS Transition Report under section 303:

The Administrator, in coordination with the ISS management entity (as defined in section 2 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017), ISS partners, the scientific user community, and the commercial space sector, shall develop a plan to transition in a step-wise approach from the current regime that relies heavily on NASA sponsorship to a regime where NASA could be one of many customers of a low-Earth orbit non-governmental human space flight enterprise.

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Cruz, Nelson Criticize Plan to End Direct ISS Funding in 2025

International Space Station (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Sharply conflicting opinions about the future of the International Space Station (ISS) and America’s path forward in space were on view last week in a Senate hearing room turned boxing ring.

In one corner was NASA Associate Administrator Bill Gerstenamier, representing a Trump Administration that wants to end direct federal funding for ISS in 2025 in order to pursue an aggressive campaign of sending astronauts back to the moon. NASA would maintain a presence in Earth orbit, becoming one of multiple users aboard a privatized ISS or privately-owned stations.

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SpaceX Dragon 2 Making Progress

Elon Musk has taken a break from digging holes in the ground to tweet a bit on SpaceX and the Dragon 2 crew vehicle the company is building for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Earlier this month, Musk tweeted that the first Dragon 2 would be shipped to Cape Canaveral in about three months. If the prediction is accurate, that would be mean sometime in August. If his previous schedule predictions are anything to go by, delivery will occur later than that. Unless, of course, SpaceX ships the spacecraft earlier than Musk is predicting.

In any event, the spacecraft will likely require a lot of prep work at the Cape before it makes an automated flight test to the International Space Station. A second flight to ISS with a crew would follow before Dragon 2 would be certified to carry NASA astronauts on a commercial basis.

ARCA Space Founder Taken Into Custody by Homeland Security

Dumitru Popescu

After having fraud charges dropped against him, ARCA Space Founder Dumitru Popescu has more legal woes. Here’s an update from the company’s Facebook page about his impending deportation to Romania:

It’s not over yet. Dumitru was taken into custody by the Department of Homeland Security this morning, without warning.

When Dumitru was arrested in October of last year, The DHS cancelled his business visa, and provided him with a temporary visa, allowing him to stay until his case ended. Despite all charges against Dumitru being dismissed and Dumitru’s immediate efforts to restore his legal status in the US, he was taken into custody before he had a chance to do so.

The DHS agent in charge of Dumitru is also denying Dumitru the right to speak to his immigration attorney, telling Dumitru something to the effect of “You don’t have this right, because you don’t exist.” Dumitru was also told he will be held at a detention center for around 2 weeks before being deported.

Dumitru also suffers from a life-threatening medical condition that requires medication, and the last time he was taken into custody, he was denied medication for 5 days, leaving him in extremely poor condition.

We will provide more details as soon as we can.