Blue Canyon Technologies Receives $4.9 Million Satellite Contract from NASA

BOULDER, Colo., October 17, 2019 (BCT PR) — Small satellite manufacturer and mission services provider Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) today announced it has been selected for a $4.9 million contract award from NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate to develop a groundbreaking technology that allows BCT’s spacecraft buses to perform autonomous navigation on-board, without any additional hardware.

The news came as part of NASA’s recent announcement of more than $40 million in contracts to 14 companies as part of its “Tipping Point” solicitation, an effort to develop technologies that support the agency’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.

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Mars InSight’s ‘Mole’ Is Moving Again

DLR Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP³) on the surface of Mars. (Credit: NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s InSight spacecraft has used its robotic arm to help its heat probe, known as “the mole,” dig nearly 2 centimeters (3/4 of an inch) over the past week. While modest, the movement is significant: Designed to dig as much as 16 feet (5 meters) underground to gauge the heat escaping from the planet’s interior, the mole has only managed to partially bury itself since it started hammering in February 2019.

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NASA’s Planetary Protection Review Addresses Changing Reality of Space Exploration

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity used its panoramic camera to record this eastward horizon view on the 2,407th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (Oct. 31, 2010). (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA released a report Friday with recommendations from the Planetary Protection Independent Review Board (PPIRB) the agency established in response to a recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report and a recommendation from the NASA Advisory Council.

With NASA, international, and commercial entities planning bold missions to explore our solar system and return samples to Earth, the context for planetary protection is rapidly changing. NASA established the PPIRB to conduct a thorough review of the agency’s policies. 

Planetary protection establishes guidelines for missions to other solar system bodies so they are not harmfully contaminated for scientific purposes by Earth biology and Earth, in turn, is protected from harmful contamination from space. 

The board’s report assesses a rapidly changing environment where more samples from other solar system bodies will be returned to Earth, commercial and international entities are discussing new kinds of solar system missions, and NASA’s Artemis program is planning human missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

The report discusses 34 findings, and 43 recommendations from the PPIRB, which was chaired by planetary scientist Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute to address future NASA missions and proposed missions by other nations and the private sector that include Mars sample return, robotic missions to other bodies, eventual human missions to Mars, and the exploration of ocean worlds in the outer solar system. 

“The landscape for planetary protection is moving very fast. It’s exciting now that for the first time, many different players are able to contemplate missions of both commercial and scientific interest to bodies in our solar system,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “We want to be prepared in this new environment with thoughtful and practical policies that enable scientific discoveries and preserve the integrity of our planet and the places we’re visiting.”

The PPIRB, comprised of a high-level team of 12 experts and stakeholders from science, engineering and industry, examined how to update planetary protection policies and procedures in light of current capabilities. Such guidelines have periodically been updated and inform exploration by spacefaring nations that have signed the Outer Space Treaty since the 1960s.

“Planetary science and planetary protection techniques have both changed rapidly in recent years, and both will likely continue to evolve rapidly,” Stern said. “Planetary protection guidelines and practices need to be updated to reflect our new knowledge and new technologies, and the emergence of new entities planning missions across the solar system. There is global interest in this topic, and we also need to address how new players, for example in the commercial sector, can be integrated into planetary protection.”

NASA plans to begin a dialogue about the PPIRB report’s recommendations with stakeholders, and international and commercial partners to help build a new chapter for conducting planetary missions, and planetary protection policies and procedures. 

For more information about Planetary Protection, visit:

https://sma.nasa.gov/sma-disciplines/planetary-protection

To read the full report of the Planetary Protection Independent Review Board, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/reports

Moon Village Association, Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation Announce Partnership

Vienna, Austria – (October 18, 2019) – The Moon Village Association (MVA) and Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation (CSEO) are pleased to announce that they have formed a strategic partnership and signed an MoU. With this MoU, the two entities aspire to strengthen their bond and their cooperation in the space sector.

This agreement between the MVA and CSEO will lead to the enhancement and progress of their common goals regarding the development of the Moon Village and promote the field of space exploration as well as developing numerous space initiatives.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne and Firefly Aerospace to Provide Flexible Access to Space

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 18, 2019 (Aerojet Rocketdyne/Firefly Aerospace PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne and Firefly Aerospace, Inc. (Firefly) are pleased to announce a cooperative agreement that combines the capabilities of both companies to provide flexible, sustainable and highly competitive space access solutions.

Aerojet Rocketdyne and Firefly will serve the growing government and commercial market by providing dedicated small and medium launch capabilities to low Earth orbit (LEO), geosynchronous orbit (GEO) and the Moon. This collaboration will leverage Firefly’s new family of launch vehicles and in-space services with Aerojet Rocketdyne’s experience in propulsion development, additive manufacturing and mission assurance for commercial, national security and exploration missions.

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Trump Calls Astronauts During First All-Female Spacewalk

President Donald Trump and other administration officials talk to NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir during the first all-woman spacewalk. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — President Donald Trump, second from left, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, left, Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, right, speaks with NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir during the first all-woman spacewalk on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019, from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington.

The first all-woman spacewalk in history began at 7:38 a.m. EDT with Koch and Meir venturing outside the International Space Station to replace a failed battery charge-discharge unit. This is the fourth spacewalk for Koch and Meir’s first.

Friday’s All-Woman Spacewalk: The Basics

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (left) and Christina Koch are inside the Quest airlock preparing the U.S. spacesuits and tools they will use on their first spacewalk together. (Credit: NASA)

Update: The astronauts have completed their 7h 17m spacewalk and have reentered the space station.

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Friday’s all-woman spacewalk is generating public interest we normally don’t get for a spacewalk. Here are the basics on the spacewalk itself, how to watch and how to participate in the conversation.

Why is this spacewalk significant?

Although it’s the 221st spacewalk performed in support of space station assembly, it’s the first to be conducted entirely by women, NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (at left above) and Christina Koch (at right above). It’s the first spacewalk for Meir; she’ll become the 15th woman overall and 14th U.S. woman to spacewalk.

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FCC Approves Swarm Constellation of 150 Satellites

Swarm satellite (Credit: Swarm Technologies)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a license to Swarm Technologies to operate a non-voice communications satellite constellation composed of 150 satellites smaller than an 1U CubeSat.

“Over 20 entities filed letters in support of granting Swarm’s application. These entities plan to utilize Swarm’s network to provide a variety of communications services in support of agribusiness, transportation, and academic and scientific research,” the FCC said in its memorandum approving the application.

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SNC, Partners Deliver Report to ESA on Dream Chaser as Post-ISS Microgravity Platform

Dream Chaser lands (Credit: NASA)

SPARKS, Nev., October 17, 2019 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security leader owned by Chairwoman and President Eren Ozmen and CEO Fatih Ozmen, in cooperation with partners OHB System AG (OHB) and 4Space, delivered a feasibility report to the European Space Agency (ESA) on utilizing SNC’s Dream Chaser® spacecraft as a platform for European microgravity missions in lieu of the International Space Station (ISS).

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Kleos Space Appoints Highly Skilled Financial & Research Experts

  • Kleos appoints new Finance and Operations Manager
  • Additional appointment to enhance technology efficiency and security
  • Kleos’ Scouting Mission ready for Q4 launch

LUXEMBOURG, 17 October 2019 (Kleos Space PR) — Kleos Space S.A. (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company, announces that it has appointed Dara Nikolova and Maris Jukss to broaden its head office financial and research operations in Luxembourg.

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NASA to Discuss Planetary Protection Review’s Findings and Recommendations

This scene from the panoramic camera on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity looks back toward part of the west rim of Endeavour Crater that the rover drove along, heading southward, during the summer of 2014. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will host a media teleconference at 3:30 p.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 18, to discuss recommendations presented by the Planetary Protection Independent Review Board (PPIRB), established in June 2019 by Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live on NASA’s website.

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Rocket Lab Launches 9th Electron Mission, Deploys Payload to Highest Orbit Yet

Credit: Rocket Lab

The successful mission brings the total count of satellites deployed by Rocket Lab to 40 and continues the company’s record of 100% mission success for customers

AUKLAND, New Zealand.  17 October 2019 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has successfully launched its ninth Electron mission, deploying a single spacecraft to orbit for satellite manufacturer Astro Digital.

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NASA Commits to Future Artemis Missions With More SLS Rocket Stages

NASA finished assembling the main structural components for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage on Sept. 19. Engineers at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans fully integrated the last piece of the 212-foot-tall core stage by adding the engine section to the rest of the previously assembled structure. Boeing technicians bolted the engine section to the stage’s liquid hydrogen propellant tank. (Credit: NASA/Steven Seipel)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has taken the next steps toward building Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stages to support as many as 10 Artemis missions, including the mission that will carry the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024.

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Russia Signs Agreement to Fly Saudi Astronaut to ISS

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Roscosmos State Corporation Director General Dmitry Rogozin took part in the state delegation headed by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin during a state visit to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

During the trip to Abu-Dhabi the Head of Roscosmos met with Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre management and the first UAE astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori, who has recently returned to Earth after his flight to the ISS as part of the international crew. Hazzaa Al Mansoori stayed at the ISS from September 25 to October 3, 2019.

The meeting participants noted that the first UAE astronaut flight is a historical event not only for his homeland, but also for the whole region.

Moreover, during the visit of Vladimir Putin to Riyadh, Roscosmos and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement of cooperation in crewed spaceflights and global satellite navigation system GLONASS. Among other things, the agreement allows for launching a Saudi Arabian cosmonaut to the International Space Station.