NASA and Freelancer.com Release 3 Worldwide Crowdsourcing Challenges

SYDNEY (Freelance.com PR) — Freelancer.com and NASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI), through the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL), have released the latest in a series of challenges to crowdsource solutions for new capabilities for space exploration.

NASA has called on professionals from anywhere in the world to submit entries to three challenges including:

  • A contest to create an animation storyboard that conveys NASA’s experiments to more accurately track items in space habitats
  • A challenge to use origami folding concepts to pack and deploy radiation shielding for a Mars transfer vehicle;
  • And a mission patch design contest for NASA’s In Space Manufacturing Refabricator project.

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Rocket Crafters Gets DARPA Research Contract for Large-Scale Hybrid Engine

TITUSVILLE, Fla. (Rocket Crafters PR) — Rocket Crafters, Inc. (RCI) announced today it has been awarded a $542,600 research contract by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Under the terms of the agreement, RCI is tasked to build and test a large-scale hybrid rocket engine using RCI’s patented Direct-Digital Advanced Rocket Technology (D-DART™). During the eight-month period of performance, RCI aims to design, build, and test a 5,000 lbf peak thrust, throttle-capable hybrid rocket engine based on the company’s potentially industry-disruptive rocket engine technology.

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MDA to Provide Communications Subsystem for Dream Chaser

Dream Chaser berthed at space station. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

VANCOUVER, BC (MDA PR) — MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (“MDA” or the “Company”) (TSX:MDA), a global communications and information company, today announced that it has received an Authorization to Proceed on a multi-million dollar contract from Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC).

MDA will provide a communications subsystem for on-board communication signal processing capabilities for the Dream Chaser® Cargo System, a cargo transportation spacecraft being developed by SNC under the NASA Commercial Resupply Services (CRS2) program. The spacecraft is scheduled for at least six cargo delivery missions to and from the International Space Station between 2020 and 2024.

Joanna Boshouwers, MDA’s vice president and general manager responsible for this business said, “We are pleased to continue our partnership with SNC and to contribute to the success of the CRS2 program. MDA is a long-term supporter of SNC’s innovative Dream Chaser® space vehicle, and we look forward to working closely with SNC to bring it into service for NASA.”

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New ISS Crew Set for Launch Friday

Expedition 52 flight engineers Paolo Nespoli of ESA, left, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos, and Randy Bresnik of NASA pose for a photograph outside the Soyuz simulator. (Credits: NASA/ Bill Ingalls)

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (NASA PR) — Three new crew members for the International Space Station are scheduled to launch on Friday, July 28. Live launch coverage will begin at 10:45 a.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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Astrobotic, ULA Plan 2019 Moon Landing


Pittsburgh (Astobotic PR) — Astrobotic and United Launch Alliance (ULA) proudly announce today that Astrobotic’s Peregrine Lunar Lander will be onboard a ULA launch vehicle in 2019, during the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.

“Astrobotic is thrilled to select a ULA launch vehicle as the means to get Peregrine to the Moon,” said John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic. “By launching with ULA, Astrobotic can rest assured our payload customers will ride on a proven launch vehicle with a solid track record of success. Together, our two organizations will honor the past and trail blaze the lunar future.”

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Updated Boeing Commercial Crew Schedule

Boeing CST-100 docking at ISS. (Credit: Boeing)
Boeing CST-100 docking at ISS. (Credit: Boeing)

Boeing would conduct the first orbital test of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft in June 2018 in the latest Commercial Crew Program schedule unveiled by NASA this week.

The automated flight test to the International Space Station (ISS) would be followed by a crewed flight test to ISS in August 2018. If all goes well, CST-100 Starliner would be certified by NASA to carry crews to the orbiting outpost in October 2018.

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NEPTUNE 1 Guidance Test Vehicle Nearing Completion

NEPTUNE 1 GTV  (Credit: Interorbital Systems)

MOJAVE, Calif., July 25, 2017 (Interorbital PR)—The Interorbital team is nearing the completion of its N1 GTV launch vehicle which incorporates IOS’ new high-efficiency CPM 2.0 filament-wound tank assembly, its new rocket engine gimballing system, its new CPM controller, and its new in-house developed guidance system. This finless, single CPM launch vehicle will be used in an upcoming low-altitude test flight. Eleven commercial and educational CubeSat and TubeSat payloads are manifested on this flight.

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DiCaprio Plans TV Reboot of The Right Stuff

Mercury astronauts

Leonardo DiCaprio is teaming with National Geographic for a reboot of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff.

The cabler is teaming with the actor’s Appian Way Productions banner and Warner Horizon Scripted Television to develop a scripted adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s best-seller The Right Stuff, with the goal of having a multiple-season drama series.

Will Staples will pen the script and executive produce the project that is set in 1958 and explores astronauts and their families as they move from the Mojave Desert to the edges of space, tracking their instant celebrity and, at some point in subsequent seasons, the moon landing.

DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson of Appian Way will exec produce alongside Staples and Michael Hampton, who shepherded the drama. The potential series will use Wolfe’s book as a starting point.

Read the full story.

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Senate Subcommittee Approves Cut in NASA’s Budget


The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies today approved a $53.4 billion spending bill that includes a decrease in NASA’s budget.

The $19.5 billion budget for the space agency is $124 million below the FY2017 enacted level and $437 million above the amount requested by the Trump Administration. Earlier this month, the House Appropriations Committee approved $19.88 billion for NASA.

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Updated SpaceX Commercial Crew Schedule

Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)
Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX plans to conduct an automated flight test of its Dragon 2 crew spacecraft to the International Space Station in February 2018 , followed by a similar test with a crew four months later in June

That is the latest schedule presented to the NASA Advisory Council this week by agency officials. If the schedule holds and the tests go well, the Dragon 2 will be certified to carry astronauts to the station in September of next year.

In addition to the two flight tests, SpaceX will need to validate Dragon 2’s propulsion module, certify the parachute system, and conduct an in-flight abort test before it receives certification for the vehicle.

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Luxembourg Signs MOU With Magna Parva Subsidiary

LUXEMBOURG, July 24, 2017 (Luxembourg Government PR) – The Luxembourg Government and Luxembourg-based Kleos Space S.à r.l. signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) providing the framework for their cooperation within the SpaceResources.lu initiative with focus on space technology development. The newly created Kleos Space company is 100% owned by UK-based Magna Parva Limited.

Kleos Space is active in geolocation services and develops a space infrastructure for geo-intelligence and signal intelligence applications with in-space manufacturing. Within the framework of this MoU, the developments and research to take place in Luxembourg are related to the project for in-space manufacturing of composite beams equipped with antennas. Kleos Space will collaborate with EmTroniX, a Luxembourg-based company specialized in electronics development, as well as with the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) on this subject. The Government will support the development of the in-space manufacturing technology by providing funding through the Luxembourg space program (LuxIMPULSE).

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Last of XCOR’s Founders Leaves Company

Doug Jones

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (DSI PR) — Deep Space Industries is pleased to announce that Doug Jones, formerly chief test engineer at XCOR, is joining the company’s growing team as director of propulsion systems.

“We see Doug as one of the top rocket engineers in the country, and a great addition to our first-class team of small-spacecraft engineers,” said Bill Miller, the chief executive officer of Deep Space Industries.  “He will be helping us develop the high performance, inexpensive propulsion that is critical to radically lowering the cost of deep space exploration.”

Mr. Jones has designed, built and tested over a dozen different rocket designs for a wide range of customers, including two manned vehicles. Doug has decades of aerospace engineering experience ranging from liquid rocket engine design to vehicle system optimization, and has flown aboard a rocket aircraft multiple times while serving as flight test engineer during the development of the XCOR X-Racer.

“Doug Jones is joining DSI at the perfect moment to lead our in-house development of the high-performance propulsion system for our Prospector series of deep space missions,” said Grant Bonin, DSI’s chief technology officer. “We couldn’t be more excited.”

Editor’s Note: And then there were none. Jeff Greason, Dan DeLong and Aleta Jackson preceded Jones out the door. There are no more founders at XCOR.

NASA Promised a Public Report on CRS-7 Failure Multiple Times

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

My recent report on NASA decision not to release a public summary of its investigation into the Falcon 9 failure that destroyed a Dragon cargo ship has attracted some attention on various other websites. I’ve gotten some criticism there and also here for not understanding that the results of NASA’s investigations on commercial crew are confidential.

Fair enough. However, I was never told this by NASA in my multiple communications with the agency when I inquired about the summary last fall. In fact, they represented exactly the opposite.

Just so there is no confusion on this point, I’m reproducing the email responses I received from NASA when I inquired about this issue last fall as well as the one I received earlier in July.

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This Week on The Space Show


This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston:

1. Monday, July 24, 2017: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome back KEN DAVIDIAN on entrepreneurism, NewSpace, commercial space.

2. Tuesday, July 25 , 2017: 7-8:30 PM PDT, 10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT: We welcome back DR. PAT PATTERSON on SmallSat 2017.

3. Wednesday, July 26, 2016:: Hotel Mars. See Upcoming Show Menu and the website newsletter for details.

4.SPECIAL TIME: Friday, July 28, 2017; 7-8:30 PM PDT, 10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT: For those of you wanting to be on The Space Show, this is your chance. Give us a call. In addition, if you would like to co-host a program, call us and show us what you would do as a co-host! Special for a special show.

5. Sunday, July 30, 2017: 12-1:30 PM DST (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): We welcome back DR. MIKE McCULLOCH to discuss Mike’s latest work on EM Drive, advanced propulsion, dark matter and more.

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