Reprogrammable Satellite Takes Shape

The communications module of Quantum is slowly lowered onto the service module.(Credit: Airbus)

Toulouse, France, 15 May 2019 (ESA PR) — The payload and platform of the first European satellite that can be completely reprogrammed after launch have been successfully joined together.

The assembly of Eutelsat Quantum took place in the Airbus facility in Toulouse, France, on 10 May.

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Here’s Looking at You! Astrobee’s First Robot Completes Initial Hardware Checks in Space

Credit: NASA

NASA astronaut Anne McClain performs the first series of tests of an Astrobee robot, Bumble, during a hardware checkout. To her right is the docking station that was installed in the Kibo module on the International Space Station on Feb. 15. Bumble, and another robot named Honey, launched to the space station on Apr. 17, aboard Northrop Grumman’s eleventh commercial resupply services mission from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. When needed the robots will be able to return to their docking station on their own and recharge their battery power.

Astrobee is a free-flying robot system that will provide a research platform for the orbiting laboratory. The system includes three robots as well as a docking station for recharging. Robots will play a significant part in the agency’s mission to return to the Moon as well as other deep space missions. Astrobee will be used to test how robots can assist crew and perform caretaking duties on spacecraft. This will increase astronaut productivity and help maintain spacecraft when astronauts are not present near the Moon, Mars or other deep-space outposts.

Bumble, the first Astrobee robot to power up in space, blinks while connected to its docking station in the Kibo module of the International Space Station. On April 30, NASA astronaut Anne McClain unpacked Bumble and worked with Astrobee’s team at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley to do an initial series of tests to verify that all of the robot’s subsystems — avionics, cameras, propulsion and docking for power and data transfer — were working properly before Bumble really takes flight later this spring.
Credits: NASA

 

 

Tethers Unlimited Developing Software Payload for Astrobee Free-flier

Astrobee (Credit: NASA)

Tethers Unlimited will continue to develop a software payload for the Astrobee free flying robot under a NASA contract.

The space agency selected the Bothell, Wash company for a Small Business Innovation Research Phase II award to continue development of its AstroPorter software. The award is worth up to $750,000 over two years.

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NASA’s New Horizons Team Publishes First Kuiper Belt Flyby Science Results

This composite image of the primordial contact binary Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69 (nicknamed Ultima Thule) – featured on the cover of the May 17 issue of the journal Science – was compiled from data obtained by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft as it flew by the object on Jan. 1, 2019. The image combines enhanced color data (close to what the human eye would see) with detailed high-resolution panchromatic pictures. (Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Roman Tkachenko)

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-s-new-horizons-team-publishes-first-kuiper-belt-flyby-science-results

NASA’s New Horizons mission team has published the first profile of the farthest world ever explored, a planetary building block and Kuiper Belt object called 2014 MU69.

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Made in Space Selected for Two NASA SBIR Phase II Awards

Made in Space will continue to pursue the development of advanced glass alloys and 3-D manufactured structures for space interferometry missions under a pair of contract awards from NASA.

The space agency selected the additive-manufacturing company for awards under phase II of its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The contracts are worth a maximum of $750,000 apiece for up to two years.

“The next step in the industrialization of LEO is the formulation of base materials, such as specialty glasses, that can be refined into higher value products in microgravity,” the company said in a summary of its proposal. “The Glass Alloy Manufacturing Machine (GAMMA) is an experimental system designed to investigate how these materials form without the effects of gravity-induced flows and inform process improvements for commercial product development.”

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NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Spots Beresheet Impact Site

Beresheet impact site as seen by LROC 11 days after the attempted landing. Date in lower left indicates when the image was taken. (Credits: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — The photo above shows the landing site of the Israeli Beresheet spacecraft on a region of the Moon called Sea of Serenity, or Mare Serenitatis in Latin. On April 11, 2019, SpaceIL, a non-profit organization, attempted to land its spacecraft in this ancient volcanic field on the nearside of the Moon. After a smooth initial descent, Beresheet made a hard landing on the surface.

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NASA Taps 11 American Companies to Advance Human Lunar Landers

Artist’s conception of lunar lander (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 11 companies to conduct studies and produce prototypes of human landers for its Artemis lunar exploration program. This effort will help put American astronauts — the first woman and next man — on the Moon’s south pole by 2024 and establish sustainable missions by 2028.

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House Appropriations Committee Boosts Budgets for NASA, NOAA


WASHINGTON (House Appropriations Committee PR) — The House Appropriations Committee today released the draft fiscal year 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies funding bill, which will be considered in subcommittee on Friday, May 17. The bill funds the Departments of Commerce and Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and other related agencies.

The text of the bill is here. The subcommittee markup will be webcast live and linked from https://appropriations.house.gov/events/markups.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – NASA is funded at $22.32 billion, $815 million above the 2019 enacted level. This funding includes:

  • $7.16 billion for NASA Science programs – $255.6 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level.
  • $123 million for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Engagement, $13 million above fiscal year 2019 and rejecting the Administration’s request to eliminate funding for these programs, which help inspire and train the country’s future STEM workforce.
  • $5.1 billion for Exploration – $79.1 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level. This includes funding to continue the development of the Orion crew vehicle, Space Launch System, and related ground systems.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – The legislation contains $5.48 billion for NOAA, which is $54.28 million above the fiscal year 2019 level and more than $1 million above the Administration’s request. Funding will help address important priorities such as climate research, improvements in weather forecasting, the reduction of harmful algal blooms, and fisheries management.

Editor’s Note: The measure does not seem to take into account the supplemental request made earlier this week for NASA.

Working on a freelance project right now, so I don’t have time to go through the bill. For anyone who has time to take a look at the text of the House markup (link above), here are some resources for comparison purposes:

Starlink Launch Rescheduled for Thursday as Elon Musk Describes Global Broadband System

60 Starlink satellites inside the Falcon 9 payload fairing. (Credit: Elon Musk)

Update: SpaceX scrubbed for Thursday to update satellite software and make additional checks. Next launch attempt will be in about one week.

SpaceX was forced to cancel a Falcon 9 launch with 60 Starlink satellites on board on Wednesday night due to high upper-level winds. Tonight’s launch window opens at 10:30 p.m. EDT, or 2:30 UTC on May 17, and closes at 12:00 a.m. on May 17, or 4:00 UTC. The launch webcast will go live about 15 minutes before liftoff at spacex.com/webcast. The ground weather forecast is 90 percent go for launch.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gave a media teleconference during which he describes elements of the Starlink satellite constellation, which is designed to provide high-speed broadband and other communications on a global basis. Here are the highlights:

  • although the constellation could eventually number nearly 12,000 satellites, it would be economically viable with about 1,000 spacecraft;
  • Musk said “it looks like we have sufficient capital to get to an operational level”;
  • Starlink would be able to provide coverage to limited areas of the globe with 400 satellites, which would require a total of seven launches;
  • the constellation would be able to provide coverage for the United States with 12 launches, most of the world’s population with 24, and the entire planet with 30 launches;
  • the 60 satellites being launched are equipped with phased array antennas and ion propulsion units that use krypton instead of more expensive xenon gas;
  • the spacecraft do not have inter-satellite communications links, which will be added to future iterations of the spacecraft;
  • Starlink satellites should last four to five years in orbit before they burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere;
  • spacecraft will be able to detect and avoid orbital debris;
  • ground terminals are about the size of a small or medium pizza and use phased array, electronically steered antennas that can switch between satellites in under a thousandth of a second with a latency of under 20 milliseconds;
  • SpaceX has not signed up any customers yet, but is targeting telecommunications companies, governments, maritime industries, aviation and under served areas of the globe;
  • Musk sees Starlink as providing a revenue stream to fund SpaceX’s Starship launch system and his dream of establishing settlements on Mars;
  • annual revenues could approach more than $30 billion per year, 10 times the approximately $3 billion that the launch side of SpaceX’s business brings in; and,
  • 60 satellites weigh about 18.5 tons, which is the heaviest payload ever launched by Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy.

University Association Opposes Use of Pell Grant Surplus for NASA, Other Programs

Credit: NASA

Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

May 14, 2019

The Honorable Roy Blunt
Chairman
Senate LHHS-ED Appropriations Subcommittee

The Honorable Patty Murray
Ranking Member
Senate LHHS-ED Appropriations Subcommittee

The Honorable Rosa DeLauro
Chairwoman
House LHHS-ED Appropriations Subcommittee

The Honorable Tom Cole
Ranking Member
House LHHS-ED Appropriations Subcommittee

Dear Chairman Blunt, Ranking Member Murray, Chairwoman DeLauro, and Ranking Member Cole:

I write to express the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ strong opposition to the administration’s revised budget request,which would rescind $3.9 billion from the Pell Grant reserve to, in part, fund the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

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APSI and ICEYE to Provide South Korean New Space Market with SAR Imaging Solutions

The collaboration is set to establish a higher radar imaging data availability for both governmental and commercial organisations in South Korea.

Helsinki, FINLAND – May 15 – APSI, Asia Pacific Satellite Inc., and ICEYE, the global leader in small satellite synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) technology, announced today that the organizations have signed a memorandum of understanding about working together to support the South Korean New Space market. As a part of the agreement, APSI will supply ICEYE’s SAR imagery in South Korea and also provides mutual support from both APSI and ICEYE to deliver radar imaging related satellite solutions for the South Korean market.

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Kleos Space Appoints Ground Station Service Provider

Kleos Scouting mission. (Credit: Kleos Space)
  • Kleos appoints Kongsberg Satellite Service (KSAT) as ground station service provider
  • KSAT is a world leading provider of communication services for spacecraft
  • Appointment marks the next step towards revenue

LUXEMBOURG, 15 May 201 (Kleos Space PR) —  Kleos Space S.A (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data provider, is proud to announce the signing of a ground station service agreement with Norwegian Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT). KSAT is a world leading provider of communication services for spacecraft and launch vehicles with an extensive and uniquely located global ground network, providing advanced monitoring services.

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House Committee Chairs Question Trump’s Proposed Moon Funding

Eddie Bernice Johnson

WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) – In late March, Vice President Mike Pence announced a new presidential directive to NASA to return humans to the surface of the moon by 2024, accelerating the mission timeline by 4 years. In order to fund the acceleration of this mission, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released an amendment to the President’s FY 2020 NASA budget proposal requesting that Congress appropriate an additional $1.6 billion for the first year of this program, now named Artemis.

Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Chair Kendra Horn (D-OK) of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics issued the following statements.

“While I am a supporter of challenging human space exploration endeavors that can take us to the Moon and eventually to Mars, based on the limited information provided to Congress it is impossible to judge the merits of the President’s budget amendment,” said Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson.

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NASA Awards $106 Million to US Small Businesses for Technology Development

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Managing pilotless aircraft and solar panels that could help humans live on the Moon and Mars are among the technologies NASA is looking to develop with small business awards totaling $106 million. In all, NASA has selected 142 proposals from 129 U.S. small businesses from 28 states and the District of Columbia to receive Phase II contracts as part the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

“Small businesses play an important role in our science and exploration endeavors,” said Jim Reuter, acting associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “NASA’s diverse community of partners, including small businesses across the country, helps us achieve our mission and cultivate the U.S. economy. Their innovations will help America land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024, establish a sustainable presence on the lunar surface a few years later, and pursue exciting opportunities for going to Mars and beyond.”

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