Orion Ready to Fuel Up for Artemis I Mission

Orion is revealed for one of the final times on Jan. 14, as it is readied atop its transport pallet from the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, along its path to the pad ahead of the Artemis I launch. Teams across the globe have worked tirelessly to assemble the spacecraft which will receive a protective covering prior to departing for the Multi-Payload Processing Facility to begin ground processing by the Exploration Ground Systems and Jacobs teams. (Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

by Linda Herridge
NASA’s John  F. Kennedy Space Center

The Orion spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis I mission is taking one more step closer to its flight to the Moon. On Jan. 14, the spacecraft was lifted out of the stand in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida where engineers have meticulously outfitted it with thousands of components and tested its systems and subsystems to ensure it can accomplish its mission. With assembly complete, teams are moving it to its next facility for fueling and officially transferring the spacecraft to NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) team responsible for processing Orion for its launch later this year.

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NASA Selects 14 Early Stage Innovations from US Universities for R&D

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Each year NASA selects and funds a number of university researchers to mature game-changing space technologies. The multi-year research and development projects could help develop super-cold space refrigerators and innovate ways to deal with hazardous lunar dust, among other objectives.

In late 2020, NASA selected 14 university-led research proposals to study early-stage technologies relevant to these topics. Each selection will receive up to $650,000 in grants from NASA’s Space Technology Research Grants program over up to three years, giving the university teams the time and resources to iterate multiple designs and solutions.

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CASIS Releases International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory 2020 Annual Report

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. January 14, 2021 (CASIS PR) – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) has released the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory 2020 Annual Report. The report is intended to educate the public on ISS National Lab highlights and accomplishments from the 2020 fiscal year (October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020).

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Three Launches & a Hot Fire in Three Days

Fully loading the propellant and detecting no leaks is a major milestone for the Green Run test series. A total of 114 tanker trucks delivered propellant to six propellant barges next to the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Credits: NASA)

The upcoming holiday weekend (Martin Luther King Day on Monday) will see NASA conduct the long awaited Green Run hot fire of its Space Launch System rocket core and orbital launches by Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit and SpaceX involving 71 satellites.

Saturday, January 16

Launch Vehicle: Rocket Lab Electron
Mission Name: “Another One Leaves the Crust”
Payload: OHB Group micro communications satellites
Launch Time: 2:41 EST (0741 UTC)
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com (begins 15 minutes prior to launch)

UPDATE: Launch scrubbed as engineers examine sensor data. They have a 10-day launch window.

Hot Fire: Space Launch System Core
Test Window: 5-7 p.m. EST (2200–0000 UTC)
Test Site: Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss.
Webcast: www.nasa.gov (begins at 4:20 p.m. EST/2120 UTC)
Post-test Briefing: Approximately two hours after test completion on NASA website

Sunday, January 17

Launch Vehicle: Virgin Orbit LauncherOne/Cosmic Girl
Mission Name: NASA ELaNa-20 mission
Payloads: 10 CubeSats
Launch Window: 1:00-5:00 p.m. EST (1800-2200 UMT)
Launch Sites: Mojave Air and Space Port, California (Cosmic Girl Boeing 747), Pacific Ocean (LauncherOne)

Monday, January 18

Launch Vehicle: SpaceX Falcon 9
Mission Name: Starlink V1.0-L16
Payloads: 60 Starlink broadband satellites
Launch Time: 8:45 a.m. EST (1345 UTC)
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com (begins 15 minutes before launch)

NASA InSight’s ‘Mole’ Ends Its Journey on Mars

Illustration of HP3 mole instrument on NASA’s InSight Mars lander. (Credit: DLR)

The heat probe hasn’t been able to gain the friction it needs to dig, but the mission has been granted an extension to carry on with its other science.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The heat probe developed and built by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and deployed on Mars by NASA’s InSight lander has ended its portion of the mission. Since Feb. 28, 2019, the probe, called the “mole,” has been attempting to burrow into the Martian surface to take the planet’s internal temperature, providing details about the interior heat engine that drives the Mars’ evolution and geology. But the soil’s unexpected tendency to clump deprived the spike-like mole of the friction it needs to hammer itself to a sufficient depth.

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OneWeb Secures $400 Million Investment from SoftBank, Hughes Network Systems

LONDON, 15 January, 2021 – OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications company jointly owned by the UK Government and Bharti Global, announced today that it has secured additional funding from SoftBank Group Corp. (“SoftBank”) and Hughes Network Systems LLC (“Hughes”), bringing OneWeb’s total funding to $1.4 billion. The capital raised to date positions the Company to be fully funded for its first-generation satellite fleet, totaling 648 satellites, by the end of 2022.

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2020 Tied for Warmest Year on Record, NASA Analysis Shows

Globally, 2020 was the hottest year on record, effectively tying 2016, the previous record. Overall, Earth’s average temperature has risen more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1880s. Temperatures are increasing due to human activities, specifically emissions of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and methane. (Credits: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Lori Perkins/Kathryn Mersmann)

NEW YORK (NASA PR) — Earth’s global average surface temperature in 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record, according to an analysis by NASA.

Continuing the planet’s long-term warming trend, the year’s globally averaged temperature was 1.84 degrees Fahrenheit (1.02 degrees Celsius) warmer than the baseline 1951-1980 mean, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. 2020 edged out 2016 by a very small amount, within the margin of error of the analysis, making the years effectively tied for the warmest year on record.

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SpaceX CRS-21 Safely Splashes Down Off the Coast of Florida, Returning Science From the Space Station Back to Earth

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., January 14, 2021 (CASIS PR)  – SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft splashed down safely off the coast of Florida last night, concluding a month-plus stay at the International Space Station (ISS) to bring back thousands of pounds of scientific research and cargo.

With this successful splashdown, SpaceX completed its 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission to the orbiting laboratory for NASA. This also marks the first mission of the upgraded Dragon cargo spacecraft with double the powered locker capacity of previous capsules, allowing for even more research to travel back to Earth for analysis.

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EU Eyes Satellite Broadband Network

Concerned about being left behind, the European Union (EU) is looking to develop a satellite broadband constellation to keep up with systems being built by OneWeb and SpaceX’s Starlink.

BBC News reports that EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton believes there’s not a moment to lose.

“My objective is to go fast. And therefore it would be appropriate that the Commission puts forward this year a proposal to the European Parliament and the Council so we can move concretely,” he told the 13th European Space Conference on Tuesday.

“To be ready, we launched a few weeks ago a study on a secure space-based connectivity system. The selected consortium consisting of European satellite manufacturers, operators and service providers, telco operators and launch service providers will study the possible design and development of this project.”

“This will provide insights on the technical dimension, but also the governance structure, the financing, the missions, the exact scope. I expect their first feedback in April this year.”

[….]

[EU officials] talk about a mix of low, medium and geostationary satellites that use advanced quantum encryption, are interlinked with optical connectors, and which piggyback sensors that might also be used to monitor aviation and shipping – just as examples. But, they argue, fast, secure, low-latency, space-borne connectivity will be the must-have capability to enable a raft of coming technologies, such as self-driving cars.

EU officials are hoping to have some initial capability as early as 2024.

Senior NASA Scientist Pleads Guilty To Making False Statements Related To Chinese Thousand Talents Program Participation And Professorship

NEW YORK (Department of Justice PR) — Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (“USAO”), William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Mark J. Zielinski, Special Agent in Charge of the Eastern Field Office, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Office of Inspector General (“NASA OIG”), announced that MEYYA MEYYAPPAN, a senior NASA scientist, pled guilty today to making false statements to the FBI, NASA OIG, and the USAO.  MEYYAPPAN pled guilty in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel.

Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “Meyya Meyyappan held a trusted position at NASA, with access to valuable intellectual property.  In violation of the terms of his employment and relevant laws and regulations, Meyyappan failed to disclose participation in a Chinese government recruitment program, and subsequently lied about it to NASA investigators, FBI agents, and our Office.  Now, having admitted his crime, Meyyappan awaits sentencing.”

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NASA TV to Air Hot Fire Test of Rocket Core Stage for Artemis Moon Missions

The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is completing the Green Run test for the rocket’s core stage, shown installed on the top left side of the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Credits: NASA/Stennis)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — NASA is targeting a two-hour test window that opens at 5 p.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 16, for the hot fire test of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage at the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Live coverage will begin at 4:20 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website, followed by a post-test briefing approximately two hours after the test concludes.

Media may submit questions during the post-test briefing by emailing hq-heo-pao@mail.nasa.gov.

The hot fire is the eighth and final test of the Green Run series to ensure the core stage of the SLS rocket is ready to launch Artemis missions to the Moon, beginning with Artemis I. The core stage includes the liquid hydrogen tank and liquid oxygen tank, four RS-25 engines, and the computers, electronics, and avionics that serve as the “brains” of the rocket. During the test, engineers will power up all the core stage systems, load more than 700,000 gallons of cryogenic, or supercold, propellant into the tanks, and fire all four engines at the same time to simulate the stage’s operation during launch, generating 1.6 million pounds of thrust.

The first in a series of increasingly complex missions, Artemis I will test the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft as an integrated system ahead of crewed flights to the Moon. Under the Artemis program, NASA is working to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024.

For more information about the Green Run test series, visit:
 

https://www.nasa.gov/artemisprogram/greenrun

Astrobotic Selects Navigation Doppler Lidar from Psionic for Mission to Deliver VIPER to the Lunar Surface

A visual rendering of Griffin utilizing Navigation Doppler Lidar sensor to guide landing on the lunar surface. (Credit: Psionic LLC)

Navigation Doppler Lidar chosen for high accuracy and NASA heritage for 2023 CLPS mission to search for water on the Moon

PITTSBURGH, Pa. and HAMPTON, Va. (Astrobotic PR) — Astrobotic today announced they have selected Navigation Doppler Lidar (NDL) from Psionic for their mission in late 2023 to deliver NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the South Pole of the Moon.

The NDL serves as a critical sensor element as part of the Griffin Lander’s Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GN&C) system to ensure a safe, precise landing. In June 2020, NASA awarded a $199.5 million contract to Astrobotic under its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. 

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Momentus Selects Redwire to Develop Robotics Systems for Reusable In-Space Transportation Vehicle

Artist’s conception depicting a Made In Space Europe robotic arm fixed to a Momentus Vigoride spacecraft. (Credit: Made in Space Europe)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., January 14, 2021 (Redwire PR) – Redwire, a new leader in mission critical space solutions and high reliability components for the next generation space economy, has been selected by Momentus, a commercial space company offering in-space infrastructure services, to develop robotics systems for their next generation Vigoride in-space transportation vehicle. The multi-phase contract will include a system architecture study and delivery of a flight-qualified robotics system that will operate on a flight demonstration in 2022. The agreement builds on the Memorandum of Understanding between Redwire and Momentus that was announced in September 2020.

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U.S. Air Force Selects Huntsville as New Headquarters for U.S. Space Command

WASHINGTON (AFNS), Jan. 13, 2021 — The Secretary of the Air Force, on behalf of the Office of Secretary of Defense, selected Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama, as the preferred location for the U.S. Space Command Headquarters.

The Department of the Air Force conducted both virtual and on-site visits to assess which of six candidate locations would be best suited to host the U.S. Space Command Headquarters based on factors related to mission, infrastructure capacity, community support and costs to the Department of Defense.

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