News

Asteroid Redirect Mission Video: Crew Segment

17 Comments

Video Caption: NASA announced the next step in the plan to retrieve an asteroid boulder from a near-Earth asteroid and redirect it into a stable orbit around the moon to carry out human exploration missions, all in support of advancing the nation’s journey to Mars. For NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), a robotic spacecraft will capture a boulder from the surface of an asteroid for exploration by astronauts in the mid-2020s to test a number of new capabilities needed for future human expeditions to deep space, including to Mars. This animation illustrates the crewed part of ARM, showing how astronauts will travel to the asteroid using NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft, investigate the boulder and return a sample of the asteroid back to Earth.

My Appearance on John Batchelor Show Now Archived Online

Comments
The John Batchelor Show

The John Batchelor Show

My appearance on Wednesday night on The John Batchelor Show’s “Hotel Mars” segment has been archived by David Livingston on The Space Show website. You can listen to it here.

We had a very nice discussion about whether Mars One was viable or not and the future of Virgin Galactic.

Chicagoland Boy Scouts and Explorers to Send Research Projects to Space Station

Comment

casis_new_logoCHICAGO, March 26, 2015 (CASIS PR) — Chicagoland Boy Scouts and Explorers will soon design and build research projects for a chance to have their experiment flown to the International Space Station.

This incredible opportunity is the result of a newly formed partnership between the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), which manages the U.S. National Laboratory on the International Space Station (ISS); and local Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and Exploring programs.

CASIS and the BSA Pathways to Adventure Council will launch the Space Station National Design Challenge student research competition in Chicago this spring in an effort to spark interest and innovation in young men and women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Continue reading ‘Chicagoland Boy Scouts and Explorers to Send Research Projects to Space Station’

USAF to Phase Out Subsidy to ULA

66 Comments
A transporter for oversize loads delivers the port, or left, booster for the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy for Exploration Flight Test-1 into the Horizontal Integration Facility, or HIF, on May 7. The port booster joins the other two boosters of the Delta IV Heavy already in the HIF. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

A transporter for oversize loads delivers the port, or left, booster for the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy for Exploration Flight Test-1 into the Horizontal Integration Facility, or HIF, on May 7. The port booster joins the other two boosters of the Delta IV Heavy already in the HIF. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

The U.S. Air Force said on Wednesday it would phase out a major subsidy it pays United Launch Alliance (ULA)

Air Force Space Command Commander General John Hyten said acquisition officials were working on a plan to to phase out the infrastructure support contract, which he said was initially put in place to protect “a very fragile industrial base.”

He said it was not possible to have a fair competition with the contracts in place, backing an argument often made by privately-held Space Exploration Technologies, which is vying for some of the launch contracts now carried out by ULA.

In prepared testimony between the House Armed Services Committee last week, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell called for an end to the contract.

Eliminate payments—more properly called subsidies—under the EELV Launch Capability (ELC) contract line items that exclusively support the incumbent provider and properly account for such payments for any competitive solicitations in the interim to ensure a fair and level playing field, especially since these funds do not contribute to the true nature of assured access to space. The Department and this Committee have called fo r real, meaningful competition. That means eliminating the unfairness. All we seek is the right to compete in a fair competition. Just like reliance on the RD-180 engine, it is time for these subsidy payments to the incumbent to come to an end.

Through the EELV Launch Capability, initially referred to as “assured access to space” payments, the U.S. Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) pay ULA approximately $1 billion per year through distinct cost-plus-incentive-fee contract line items. These payments cover most of ULA’s fixed costs — for example, launch infrastructure, systems engineering and program management, launch operations, mission integration, base and range support costs, transportation costs, capital depreciation, and non-recurring engineering to name a few — for “up to eight launches” per year. These payments are in addition to the firm-fixed-price that ULA charges for EELV Launch Services (ELS) for each launch ordered through the block buy contract.

NASA Audit Raises Concerns About SLS/Orion Infrastructure Development

Comments
Space Launch System on pad. (Credit: NASA)

Space Launch System on pad. (Credit: NASA)

NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has found that while NASA has been making steady progress on rebuilding Kennedy Space Center’s infrastructure for the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion, the agency is facing significant challenges in completing the work in time for a planned November 2018 launch.

“For the most part, these challenges originate from interdependencies between the GSDO, SLS, and Orion Programs, the report reads, referring to the Ground Systems Development and Operations program. “In short, GSDO cannot finalize and complete its requirements without substantial input from the other two Programs, and NASA is still finalizing the requirements for those Programs.”

OIG is particularly concerned that NASA had planned to complete the critical design review for GSDO in March 2015, several months prior to the critical design reviews for SLS (May 2015) and Orion (August 2015).

Continue reading ‘NASA Audit Raises Concerns About SLS/Orion Infrastructure Development’

Netting a Derelict Satellite

Comment
One capture concept being explored through ESA's e.Deorbit system study for Active Debris Removal - capturing the satellite in a net attached to either a flexible tether (as seen here) or a rigid connection. (Credit: ESA)

One capture concept being explored through ESA’s e.Deorbit system study for Active Debris Removal – capturing the satellite in a net attached to either a flexible tether (as seen here) or a rigid connection. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — One of humanity’s oldest technologies, the humble fishing net, may yet find a new role in space: bringing down dead satellites.

The behaviour of nets in orbit was recently checked on an aircraft flying parabolic arcs to create brief periods of weightlessness.

Continue reading ‘Netting a Derelict Satellite’

Firefly Alums Break Fundraising Record on Indiegogo

Comments

Fillion_Tudyk

For all you Firefly fans out there, there’s still time to contribute to the Indiegogo crowd sourcing campaign for a new web series starring show alums Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk. The campaign still has 15 days to go and has been shattering all sorts of crowd sourcing records along the way. They’re already 554 percent over their original goal of $450,000.

It just goes to show the power of the combining a good idea with sci-fi icons like Fillion and Tudyk. Just think of what they could do for the right NewSpace fundraising campaign.

DONATE HERE

NASA to Spend Over $1 Billion to Move a Space Boulder

55 Comments
In this concept image, the robotic vehicle descends to the surface of a large asteroid to collect a boulder that it can redirect to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. (Credit: NASA)

In this concept image, the robotic vehicle descends to the surface of a large asteroid to collect a boulder that it can redirect to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Wednesday announced more details in its plan for its Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), which in the mid-2020s will test a number of new capabilities needed for future human expeditions to deep space, including to Mars. NASA also announced it has increased the detection of near-Earth asteroids by 65 percent since launching its asteroid initiative three years ago.

For ARM, a robotic spacecraft will capture a boulder from the surface of a near-Earth asteroid and move it into a stable orbit around the moon for exploration by astronauts, all in support of advancing the nation’s journey to Mars.

Continue reading ‘NASA to Spend Over $1 Billion to Move a Space Boulder’

My Appearance on The John Batchelor Show Tonight

Comments
The John Batchelor Show

The John Batchelor Show

I’ll be appearing live on The John Batchelor Show from 9:30 to 9:45 p.m. EDT to discuss a range of space issues. Topics will include MarsOne, Virgin Galactic and the privatization of access to the International Space Station.

Video of SpaceX SuperDraco Engine Test

Comments