NASA Awards Caltech $30 Billion Contract to Run JPL

NASA’s InSight to Mars undergoes final preparations at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., ahead of its May 5 launch date. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded a contract to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California, to continue operations of the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), also in Pasadena.

This cost plus fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract has a maximum value of $30 billion. The contract begins Oct. 1 with a five-year base period of performance, followed by five one-year options that could extend the contract to Sept. 30, 2028.

Under this contract, Caltech will continue to develop and sustain core competencies in support of NASA-sponsored work in the areas of Earth and planetary sciences, heliophysics, astrophysics, and aeronautics and space activities, to include the development of spacecraft and instruments.

Caltech also will manage NASA-sponsored programs that carry out competed and peer-reviewed research, NASA partnerships with other government agencies, academia and the private sector, and the operation, research, and management of NASA’s Deep Space Network.

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov

Amazing Video: Private Japanese Sounding Rocket Crashes After Liftoff

Video Caption: Interstellar Technologies, founded by popular internet service provider Livedoor’s creator Takafumi Horie, launched the unmanned rocket, MOMO-2, from a test site in Taiki.

The outlandish, Ferrari-driving Horie — who helped drive Japan’s shift to an information-based economy in the late 1990s and the early 2000s but later spent nearly two years in jail for accounting fraud — founded Interstellar in 2013. However, privately backed efforts to explore space from Japan have so far failed to compete with the government-run Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Dragon Delivers Some ICE to Space Station

ICE Cubes experiment unit (Credit: ICE Cubes/ISU)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The newly installed International Commercial Experiments service – ICE Cubes for short – facility providing commercial access to microgravity will soon receive the first experiment cubes after today’s successful SpaceX Dragon resupply launch.

The 15th resupply mission lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 5:42 ET (11:42 CEST) with standard cargo for the International Space Station as well as the first 10 x 10 x 10 cm experiment cubes.

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NASA Selects Tethers Unlimited’s HYDROS-C Thruster for First PTD CubeSat Mission

BOTHELL, Wash. (Tethers Unlimited PR) — NASA has selected TUI’s HYDROS-C thruster for demonstration on the first Pathfinder Technology Demonstration (PTD) CubeSat mission, planned for launch in early 2019.

The HYDROS-C thruster, developed under a NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract and matured to flight-readiness under a NASA Tipping Point Technologies Public-Private Partnership, is a revolutionary space propulsion technology that uses water as propellant.

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FAA Grants Launch License to Virgin Orbit

LauncherOne ignites after being released from Cosmic Girl 747. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

After a 14-year gap, it looks like the Mojave Air and Space Port will actually host a space launch again.

The FAA has issued a launch license to Virgin Orbit for LauncherOne. The booster will be carried aloft from Mojave aboard a modified Boeing 747 and fired over the Pacific Ocean.

The payload for the program’s first flight test, which is scheduled to take place later this summer, is described in the license as a “mass simulator with CubeSat.”

In a series of Tweets, Virgin Orbit said that prior to the launch it would conduct a captive carry flight campaign with LauncherOne flying under the wing of the 747. The testing will culminate with a dropping of a test booster.

Generation Orbit Completes Hot Fire Test of GO1 Hypersonic Testbed Prototype at Cecil Spaceport


ATLANTA (GO PR)  — Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO) has completed an initial integrated engine firing of a full-scale, functional prototype of the GOLauncher1 (GO1) hypersonic flight test booster. Under contract to the Air Force Research Laboratory, Aerospace Systems Directorate, High Speed Systems Division (AFRL/RQH), GO is developing GO1 to be an affordable and flexible hypersonic testbed to flight test a wide range of hypersonic vehicle technologies.

The test was the first of its kind to be conducted at Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville, FL. This is also GO’s first test campaign to include Ursa Major Technologies’ “Hadley” liquid rocket engine. The 5,000 lbf-class oxygen-rich staged combustion engine performed as expected through the tests.

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Watch Asteroid Day Live From Luxembourg


LUXEMBOURG (ESA PR) — The world’s first 48-hour webcast about asteroids and their place in space will begin at 12:00 CEST [6 a.m. EDT], on Friday, 29 June 2018. Kicking off this exciting event, physicist, science advocate and former rock star Brian Cox will host the first 6-hour segment live from Luxembourg.

Brian will be joined by asteroid scientists, astronauts, rock stars and experts from around the world all in the name of Asteroid Day – the annual UN-endorsed global campaign to raise awareness about asteroids, and the risks and opportunities that they bring.

Asteroid Day takes place each year on 30 June, commemorating the 1908 Tunguska airburst over Siberia, the biggest impact event in recorded history. Since its inception, ESA has long supported the Asteroid Day initiative and plays a leading role in the global hunt for risky near-Earth objects that might one day cross our path.

On Friday, ESA’s Director General Jan Wörner will join the live kick-off webcast from Luxembourg, along with Ian Carnelli, mission manager for the proposed Hera mission to the Didymos double-asteroid system.

Astronauts on the Rocks

ESA astronaut and materials scientist Matthias Maurer, the newest member of the Agency’s astronaut corps, will also take part, together with several other astronauts.

During the full 48-hour broadcast, a range of topics will be covered including ‘How to survive an asteroid strike’, ‘Scientists Rock’, and — perhaps most exciting — the global broadcast will include the joint ESA/European Southern Observatory 2-hour live segment from the ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre in Garching, Munich.

Watch Live

The entire Asteroid Day webcast can be viewed live via asteroidday.org/live, or via the Asteroid Day Youtube and Twitter channels. The ESA/ESO segment will run starting at 13:00 CEST on Saturday, 30 June; this will also be available at esa.int/asteroidday.

For more information, including the full list of experts and celebrity guests, visit the Asteroid Day website.

CASIS Announces Joseph Vockley as President and Executive Director

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — June 29, 2018 (CASIS PR The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) has named Joseph Vockley, Ph.D., as president and executive director for the organization. CASIS is the nonprofit tasked by NASA to manage, promote, and broker research on the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. Within the role of president and executive director, Dr. Vockley will be responsible for driving the CASIS mission, enabling science and technology opportunities onboard the ISS National Lab that benefit life on Earth while maximizing U.S. taxpayers’ investment in the orbiting laboratory. Dr. Vockley is set to assume duties on July 1, 2018.

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Falcon 9 Launches Dragon Resupply Ship to Space Station

SpaceX launches its Dragon cargo craft on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 5:42 a.m. EDT June 29, 2018. The early-morning launch is the company’s 15th resupply mission to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. (Credit: NASA TV)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — Experiments investigating cellular biology, Earth science and artificial intelligence are among the research heading to the International Space Station following Friday’s launch of a NASA-contracted SpaceX Dragon spacecraft at 5:42 a.m. EDT.

Dragon lifted off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with more than 5,900 pounds of research, equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of investigations aboard the space station.

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House Science Committee Approves the American Space SAFE Management Act

Lamar Smith

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee today approved H.R.6226, the American Space Situational Awareness and Facilitation of Entity Management Act (American Space SAFE Management Act), introduced by Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas). This bill will establish the Department of Commerce as the civilian agency to provide civil space situational awareness and traffic coordination.

Chairman Smith: “This bill is an important step to secure the United States as the leader in space traffic management and improves the safety of all space operations. The number of commercial satellites in space are predicted to grow from 1,300 active satellites today to more than 10,000 in the next few years. Now is the time to solidify the role of the Department of Commerce in the development of space traffic standards and guidelines. The creation of an open basic data system that combines information from American commercial and government actors, as well as international entities, will provide for the overall safe operation and management of space. This bill also better enables the Department of Defense to focus its resources on national security.”

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Interstellar Visitor is Really a Comet Not an Asteroid

Artist impression of ‘Oumuamua (Credit: ESA/Hubble, NASA, ESO, M. Kornmesser)

PARIS (ESA PR) — An object from another star system that made a brief appearance in our skies guised as an asteroid turns out to be a tiny interstellar comet.

‘Oumuamua, a name that reflects the Hawaiian meaning for ‘a messenger from afar, arriving first’, was discovered by astronomers working with the Pan-STARRS survey in Hawaii in October last year as the object came close to Earth’s orbit. Follow-up observations by ESA’s Optical Ground Station telescope in Tenerife, Canary Islands, and other telescopes around the world helped determine its trajectory.

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Tethers Unlimited Delivers SWIFT K-Band CubeSat Transmitter

SWIFT K-Band CubeSat transmitter (Credit; Tethers Unlimited)

BOTHELL, Wash. (Tethers Unlimited PR) — Tethers Unlimited, Inc. (TUI) announced that it has successfully delivered the first flight unit of its new K-Band transmitter for small satellites to a confidential customer.

Developed under a Small Business Innovation Research contract from the US Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command, the SWIFT®-KTX transmitter builds upon TUI’s high-maturity SWIFT software defined radio platform to enable satellites as small as a loaf of bread to transmit data at rates exceeding 100 megabits per second (Mbps).

Capabilities

SWIFT-KTX provides small satellites with a high-throughput downlink in K-band. When paired with the next generation SWIFT baseband processor and sufficient link margin, real data rates of 500 Mbps or more are achievable using high order modulation (>3 bits/Hz) and Turbo/LDPC encoding.

Two transmitter front-end modules are currently in development. Each module includes a two 2W PAs that directly drive two switchable WR-42 waveguide interfaces for left/right antenna polarization agility. A third ≈10 dBm waveguide output is available before the PAs for driving TWTAs and integrated K-band ESAs.

  • >500 MHz real modulation bandwidth
  • Two discrete designs covering approximately:
    • 18-23 GHz
    • 23-28 GHz
  • ≈ 3 dBm saturated output power w/ ≈20 dB adjustable range
  • Three switchable WR-42 waveguide outputs (two w/ HPAs)

Target Specifications

  • >3 year LEO mission design life
  • 1/3U or smaller: 86×86 x < 40mm
  • < 500 grams
  • 6-36V unregulated DC
    • Integrated latch-up/fault detection and protection
  • Flexible mounting options
    • Flanges for deck mounting
    • Ears for CubeSat rail mounting
  • Power consumption:
    • Current generation 50 MHz baseband processor: ≈3W
    • Next generation 500 MHz baseband processor: ≈15W
    • K/Ka-band module power consumption for 33 dBm output: ≈16W
  • High-speed interface options:
    • 1Gbit Ethernet
    • 200 Mbps SpaceWire (LVDS)
    • 200 Mbps sync. HDLC over LVDS
    • 10+Gbps SERDES (next generation baseband processor only)

Mojave Moments: What Really Keeps the Spaceport in Operation

What is it that keeps the Mojave Air and Space Port operating?

Is it Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo? Paul Allen’s monster rocket launching airplane they call Birdzilla? Mojave’s amazing amenities and it warm, welcoming atmosphere that lead people to call it the Mayberry of the West?

Uhhh….no. Not even close.

It’s the last thing one would expect in conservative, oil-rich, get government off our back and let us do our own thing Kern County, the Texas of California.

Two Pieces of a Cosmic Puzzle: Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx

Originally published by OSIRIS-REx Mission/University of Arizona
Republished with permission

It began with dust. Before there were asteroids, or planets, or people – about 4.6 billion years ago – a cloud of dust and gas swirled in the cosmos. At the center, a star began to form.

With heat and shock waves, clumps of this ancient dust coalesced into droplets of molten rock called chondrules. These chondrules and dust became the building blocks of the Solar System. Eventually, chunks of material as large as asteroids, and even planets, formed from this cloud and organized according to the laws of physics around a newly born star: our Sun.

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