Orbital ATK Completes PDR for Part of Mission Extension Vehicle System


DULLES, Va., June 20, 2017 (Orbital ATK PR) – Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced the completion of its Rendezvous, Proximity Operations and Docking (RPOD) system preliminary design review.

The RPOD system comprises the sensors, actuators and control algorithms which allow for the detection, tracking, and safe approach to a client spacecraft. The company’s first Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-1) will provide satellite life extension services to Intelsat S.A. beginning in 2019.

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Astrobotic & ATLAS Announce Lunar Laser Communications Payload


PARIS (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic, which is making the Moon accessible to the world, and ATLAS Space Operations Inc., the US leader in cloud-based satellite management and control services proudly announce today at the Paris Air Show that they have signed a payload reservation and partnership to deliver and operate the first-ever laser communications terminal on Astrobotic’s upcoming mission to the Moon. This brings the total number of deals in place for Astrobotic’s mission to eleven.

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High-Tech Gründerfonds Invests in Orbex

LONDON (Orbex PR) — Germany’s High-Tech Gründerfonds has made its first investment in the space sector with UK-based Orbex. Founded in 2015, Orbex is building an orbital micro-launch vehicle to insert small satellites into low Earth orbit from Europe.

The Orbex launcher exploits a novel, sustainable fuel strategy to create one of the lowest inert mass fractions of any space launch vehicle ever built. All vehicle subsystems are being developed in-house, including rocket engines, avionics, guidance, software and patent-pending structures technologies.

“Our goal is not just to build a space launch vehicle. It’s to build a complete service offering to help businesses, governments and academic projects get their small satellites to orbit – on time, at a reasonable fixed price, from within Europe,” said Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex.

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Plants to Feed This — and Other — Worlds

NASA astronaut Steve Swanson harvests red romaine lettuce on the space station, the first fresh produce grown and eaten in space. The Veggie project, which is ongoing, uses Florikan’s controlled-release fertilizer to nourish the growing plants. (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Astronaut ice cream may be an exotic treat for kids, but for real space explorers, a fresh, crunchy salad could sometimes really hit the spot. And the ability to grow food in space will prove crucial for longer-duration voyages envisioned over the next decades.

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Thirteen Years Ago Today in Mojave…

Me on the right with the video camera filming White Knight with SpaceShipOne on the taxiway prior to the first commercial spaceflight. (Credit: John Criswick)

Thirteen years ago I was on the Mojave flight line to watch Mike Melvill make the first private spaceflight aboard SpaceShipOne.

I remember well the excitement of that day, the feeling that a new era of human spaceflight lay right around the corner. Today, there’s really only one thing to say:

All the hype we’ve been listening to for the last 13 years about how great SpaceShipOne and the Ansari X Prize were and what great things they did. Meanwhile, SpaceShipTwo has dragged on longer than the entire Apollo moon program without flying to space. And there have been no other commercial human spaceflights, either.

In terms of inspiration, these things were great. A bit of a disaster from a technological standpoint.

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Potential Snag for Team Indus Bid to Win Google Lunar X Prize

Lunar rover (Credit: TeamIndus)

There are some potential snags for Team Indus and Team HAKUTO in their efforts to win the Google Lunar X Prize.

Team Indus and a Japanese team, Hakuto, are contracted to fly on ISRO’s PSLV XL rocket on December 28, 2017, three days before the closure of the deadline for the Google X Prize contest. The two teams will share the nearly $30 million commercial cost for the launch.

“The necessary approvals for launch of the Team Indus moon mission has not yet concluded. An MoU was signed last year by Antrix Corporation and Team Indus. The launch service has to be authorised by the government and the approval process is going on,” Antrix chairman and managing director Rakesh Sasibhushan said. Sources in ISRO said the MoU is under scrutiny and various questions are being asked about the nature of the launch, the Google Lunar X Prize competition and intellectual property issues involved.

“We have not heard of any questions being raised by the government. We have a launch contract that was signed last year,’’ Team Indus leader Rahul Narayan said when contacted. A private company, Axiom Research Labs Ltd, is the start-up that created Team Indus.

The mission is expected to cost Team Indus in the range of $70 million to build its moon rover and spacecraft from scratch and to launch it to the moon. The venture has received the backing of the likes of Ratan Tata, Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, Flipkart founders Sachin and Binny Bansal, TVS Group’s Venu Srinivasan, stock market investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and many tech sector start-up investors.

There are still a lot of questions about Team Indus. Is the hardware ready? Do the full amount to pay for the mission? Can they really rely on ISRO to launch on time given the many delays in the agency’s schedule?

And here’s one for the Google Lunar X Prize: how does a MoU counts as a verified launch contract? Were you guys accepting anything to keep the prize alive?

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Buzz Aldrin Cancels ISU Visit on Medical Advice

Buzz Aldrin salutes during the singing of the National Anthem at the Spaceport America runway dedication.

Buzz Aldrin has withdrawn from the opening ceremony of the International Space University’s 30th Summer Session Program in Ireland on medical advice, according to a media report.

Aldrin, who serves as ISU chancellor, was to have addressed student and faculty in Cork on June 26. He was also scheduled to give the Gerald A. Soffen Memorial Lecture the following day.

Good wishes to Buzz as he makes his recovery.

Canadian Astronauts Wanted Video – Part 3

Video Caption: For the fourth time in its history, Canada is looking for exceptional people ready to push the boundaries of science, innovation and space exploration.

3772 Canadians responded to the call. Following preliminary tests and evaluations, 17 candidates have been selected to go to the next stage.

In this video, part three of a three-part episode, five of the seventeen candidates share what kind of mission they would like to go on if they become an astronaut. Parts one and two feature the other twelve candidates.

Visit our website to find out who is still in the running! (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)

Useful Links
Canadian Astronauts: http://asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/astronauts/d…

Find out more about this video: http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/search/v…

Florida Space Coast EDC, NASA Accepting Strategic Tech Partnership Applications

Technology Docking program assists companies in solving technology challenges

SPACE COAST, Fla., June 16, 2017 (Space Coast EDC PR) – Facing a product development technical challenge? NASA may be able to help. The Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast (EDC), in partnership with NASA, is accepting applications from companies for the Technology Docking Subject Matter Expert (SME) Assistance program.

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Senate Commercial Space Hearing Postponed


The Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness has decided to postpone a commercial space hearing until after the July 4 break.

“Reopening the American Frontier: Promoting Partnerships Between Commercial Space and the U.S. Government to Advance Exploration and Settlement” had been scheduled for Wednesday.
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Bad News Everyone! Chicken Sandwich Launch Scrubbed Due to Weather

KFC Zinger Stratollite (Credit: KFC)

Got thw following note from Jane Poynter in my email box this afternoon about the World View Kentucky Fried Chicken…umm…thing they’re doing. (I have a feeling I’m going to miss the launch of this thing on Thursday due to extreme drowsiness.)

Hi everyone,

Just a quick update for those interested in tuning in to the live broadcast of our upcoming Stratollite launch. Weather conditions are now looking good for launch the morning of this Thursday, 6/22.

As you know, KFC (yes, Kentucky Fried Chicken… which is still funny to say) is sponsoring this mission, so they’ll be running the live broadcast feed and narration. Enjoy it and take the commentary with a fun grain of salt. But, visually speaking, this will be a fantastic opportunity for you to witness our launch operation in real time.

The final timing for launch is TBD, but the live feed will start somewhere between 3:45 am – 4:45 am PT (for all you early birds). Keep an eye on our facebook and twitter pages for real-time updates on launch timing. And save this URL, as this is where KFC will be hosting the live broadcast feed: https://yesweareactuallysendingachickensandwichto.space/.

How fun!

– Jane Poynter
CEO, World View

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Luxembourg, ESA Enhance Cooperation on Asteroid Missions

PARIS (Luxembourg Government PR) — At the occasion of the 2017 Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Etienne Schneider visited the ESA pavilion and, together with ESA Director General, Jan Wörner, signed a joint statement on future activities concerning missions to the asteroids, related technologies and space resources exploration and utilisation.

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India’s Mars Orbiter Hits 1,000 Days at Mars

Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft attached to the 4th stage of PSLV-C25 and ready for heat shield closure. (Credit: ISRO)

BANGALORE, India (ISRO PR) — Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), the maiden interplanetary mission of ISRO, launched on November 5, 2013 by PSLV-C25 got inserted into Martian orbit on September 24, 2014 in its first attempt.  MOM completes 1000 Earth days in its orbit, today (June 19, 2017) well beyond its designed mission life of six months. 1000 Earth days corresponds to 973.24 Mars Sols (Martian Solar day) and MOM completed 388 orbits.

MOM is credited with many laurels like cost-effectiveness, short period of realisation, economical mass-budget, miniaturisation of five heterogeneous science payloads etc. Satellite is in good health and continues to work as expected. Scientific analysis of the data received from the Mars Orbiter spacecraft is in progress.

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CASIS, NIH Sponsor Human Physiology & Disease Experiments on ISS

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., June 20, 2017 (CASIS PR The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced five grants have been awarded in response to a funding opportunity focused on human physiology and disease onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. Data from this research — which will feature “tissue chips” (or “organs-on-chips”) — will help scientists develop and advance novel technologies to improve human health here on Earth.

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