Video Caption: Meet Neutron. Building on Rocket Lab’s proven experience developing the Electron launch vehicle, the advanced 8-ton payload class Neutron launch vehicle is designed to transform space access by delivering reliable and cost-effective launch services for satellite mega-constellations, deep space missions and human spaceflight.
Editor’s Note: I did a Twitter thread with highlights of the video with images and commentary. I also provide background on why Peter Beck and Rocket Lab went back on their pledge to not build another rocket beyond the Electron small satellite launcher. (Spoiler alert: SpaceX!) I also look at the issues surrounding SpaceX’s #SuperHeavy, #Starship and #Starlink programs.
WRIGHT BROTHERS FIELD, Mars (NASA PR) — NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter completed its fifth flight on the Red Planet today with its first one-way journey from Wright Brothers Field to an airfield 423 feet (129 meters) to the south. After arrival above its new airfield, Ingenuity climbed to an altitude record of 33 feet (10 meters) and captured high-resolution color images of its new neighborhood before touching down.
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.
PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s upcoming space telescope, the Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer, or SPHEREx, is one step closer to launch. The mission has officially entered Phase C, in NASA lingo. That means the agency has approved preliminary design plans for the observatory, and work can begin on creating a final, detailed design, as well as on building the hardware and software.
NASA faces “unnecessary risks that may threaten the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information” due to its failure to correct flaws in its Agency Common System (ACS), according to a new report from the agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).
“During our review of the ACS system, we found that NASA has not taken corrective action to address a longstanding deficiency regarding controls previously assessed as ineffective. We also found that a software error permitted an unauthorized data change in the Agency’s information security database affecting the accuracy of the assessment status of a control,” the report said.
BEIJING (CNSA PR) — At 23:11 on December 1, the Chang’e-5 probe successfully landed on the pre-selected landing area on the nearside of the moon at 51.8 degrees west longitude and 43.1 degrees north latitude, and returned the landing image.
At 22:57 on December 1, the combination of Chang’e-5 lander and ascender began to perform a power drop from about 15 kilometers away from the moon surface. The 7,500 N variable thrust engine was turned on, and the relative speed of the probe relative to the moon was gradually increased from about 1.7 km/sec.
During this period, the probe made rapid attitude adjustments and gradually approached the moon surface. After that, automatic obstacle detection was carried out. After the landing site was selected, the obstacle avoidance and slow vertical descent began, and the land steadily landed in the area north of the Rumker Mountain in the Ocean of Storms. During the landing, the landing camera equipped with the lander took an image of the landing area.
After the successful landing, the lander under ground control has carried out inspection and setup work, such as the deployment of the solar wing and the directional antenna, and will officially start the lunar surface work lasting about 2 days to collect lunar samples.
WASHINGTON, April 1, 2020 (House Science Committee PR) – Today, Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) along with Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Chairwoman Kendra Horn (D-OK) and Ranking Member Brian Babin (R-TX) sent a letter to Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller Gene Dodaro requesting a broad examination of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space’s (CASIS) performance, management, and governance structure. CASIS is a non-profit organization that currently manages the International Space Station National Laboratory (ISSNL).
In the letter, the Committee leaders express longstanding concerns regarding CASIS’s use of the its ISSNL resource allocation, its internal governance structures, and its transparency and accountability to NASA and Congress, including those identified in a recently released Independent Review Team report.
“The unique environment offered by the ISSNL is an invaluable resource to facilitate research and development,” said the Committee Chairs and Ranking Members in the letter. “Congress has sought to encourage commercial and cross-agency partnerships as one path to the full utilization of this resource, but CASIS’s organizational struggles appear to have undermined progress. As Congress addresses broader questions surrounding the ISS, its ongoing mission, and the future of NASA-supported research and development in low Earth orbit, it is imperative to ensure that an effective and accountable entity is in place to manage the full range of activities conducted through the ISSNL.”
Ministers approved funding lunar Gateway, space station operations until 2030, Mars Sample Return and Hera asteroid missions
SEVILLE, Spain (ESA PR) — ESA’s Council at Ministerial Level, Space19+, has concluded in Seville, Spain, with the endorsement of the most ambitious plan to date for the future of ESA and the whole European space sector. The meeting brought together ministers with responsibility for space activities in Europe, along with Canada and observers from the EU.
The Member States were asked to approve a comprehensive set of programmes to secure Europe’s independent access to and use of space in the 2020s, boost Europe’s growing space economy, and make breakthrough discoveries about Earth, our Solar System and the Universe beyond, all the while making the responsible choice to strengthen the efforts we are making to secure and protect our planet.
PARIS (ESA PR) — This Autumn is seeing a number of experiments controlling robots from afar, with ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano directing a robot in The Netherlands and engineers in Germany controlling a rover in Canada.