NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Logs Second Successful Flight

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter hovers over Jezero Crater during its second experimental flight test on April 22, 2021. The imagery was captured by the Perseverance rover’s Mastcam-Z imager. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

The small rotorcraft’s horizons were expanded on its second flight.

WRIGHT BROTHERS FIELD, Mars (NASA PR) — NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter successfully completed its second Mars flight on April 22 – the 18th sol, or Martian day, of its experimental flight test window. Lasting 51.9 seconds, the flight added several new challenges to the first, which took place on April 19, including a higher maximum altitude, longer duration, and sideways movement.

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Audit Concludes Use of European Union Space Services Needs an Extra Boost

Galileo constellation (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)

LUXEMBOURG (European Court of Auditors PR) — The European Union has not done enough to harness the full potential of its space programmes, according to a special report published today by the European Court of Auditors (ECA). While the satellite-based programmes Galileo and Copernicus in particular provide valuable services and data, more efforts are needed to capitalise on the significant investment made (around €18 billion so far) and to optimise the benefits they bring to citizens and the economy. The auditors call for a comprehensive strategy, more targeted actions and better use of the regulatory framework for efficiently supporting the uptake of services.

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DLR to Land Radiation Instrument on Moon with Astrobotic Peregrine Mission One

A rendering of Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander is shown, with NASA’s three water-detecting payloads (MSolo, NSS, and NIRVSS) highlighted in blue. (Credit: Astrobotic Technology)

PITTSBURGH, Pa., April 22, 2021 (Astrobotic PR) — The German Aerospace Center (DLR) joins a mission with Astrobotic to land a special German-built instrument on the Moon onboard Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander in 2021.  DLR will send this radiation detector to measure key radiation data on the flight to the Moon and on the lunar surface ahead of the upcoming NASA Artemis missions that will send the first woman and the next man to the Moon.

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Northrop Grumman Designs Protected Tactical SATCOM Payload Prototype for U.S. Space Force

REDONDO BEACH, Calif., April 22, 2021 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has been selected by the U.S. Space Force’s (USSF) Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) to proceed with its ongoing Protected Tactical SATCOM (PTS) Rapid Prototype program, with a flight demonstration of the company’s PTS payload set to occur in 2024.

Selected for the initial award through the Space Enterprise Consortium, this continuation enables Northrop Grumman to proceed with the completion of the detailed design, manufacturing and testing of the payload. The company will also integrate its payload onto a host space vehicle and conduct its on-orbit demonstration.

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SpaceX to Launch Crew-2 to Space Station on Friday Morning

Crew-2 members Megan McArthur, Thomas Pesquet, Akihiko Hoshide and Shane Kimbrough. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX and NASA are targeting Friday, April 23 for Falcon 9’s launch of Dragon’s second six-month operational crew mission (Crew-2) to the International Space Station (ISS) from historic Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The instantaneous launch window opens at 5:49 a.m. EDT, 9:49 UTC, with a backup opportunity available on Monday, April 26 at 4:38 a.m. EDT, 8:38 UTC.

The Crew-2 mission webcast will go live about 4 hours before liftoff. Tune in here to watch live.

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ISRO to Support Eight Joint Research Projects Proposed by Space Technology Cell at IIT Delhi

NEW DELHI, India (IIT Delhi PR) — The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Government of India, will support eight joint research projects mooted by the Space Technology Cell (STC), IIT Delhi.  ISRO will support the projects under its RESPOND program with varying duration of 1-3 years.

The Space Technology Cell was set up at IIT Delhi under an MoU signed between ISRO and IIT Delhi in November 2019 with an aim to strengthen the research collaboration between the two organisations and to carry out focused research projects in the space technology domain with specific deliverables.

The eight collaborative research projects on which the scientists from different ISRO centres and IIT Delhi will work jointly include:

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We’re Getting Ready for Ingenuity’s Second Flight

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter captured this shot as it hovered over the Martian surface on April 19, 2021, during the first instance of powered, controlled flight on another planet. It used its navigation camera, which autonomously tracks the ground during flight. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Written by MiMi Aung, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Project Manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

With the first flight of Ingenuity a success, we’re looking toward our second taking place on April 22, which is the 18th of the 30 sols (Martian days) of our flight test window.

For this second flight test at “Wright Brothers Field,” we are targeting a takeoff time for 5:30 a.m. EDT (2:30 a.m. PDT), or 12:30 p.m. Local Mean Solar Time. But we’re looking to go a little bigger this time. On the first flight, Ingenuity hovered 10 feet (3 meters) above the surface. This time around, we plan to trying climbing to 16 feet (5 meters) in this flight test. Then, after the helicopter hovers briefly, it will go into a slight tilt and move sideways for 7 feet (2 meters). Then Ingenuity will come to a stop, hover in place, and make turns to point its color camera in different directions before heading back to the center of the airfield to land. Of course, all of this is done autonomously, based on commands we sent to Perseverance to relay to Ingenuity the night before.

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Ozmen’s SNC Launches Sierra Space, an Independent Commercial Space Company

Sierra Space Starts Journey with $3B+ in Active Contracts — New Subsidiary Offers “Space-as-a-Service” to Fuel Fast-Growing Space Economy

SPARKS, Nev., April 21, 2021 (Sierra Nevada PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security leader, announced the creation of Sierra Space, a new commercial space company. The new company’s “space-as-a-service” business model will leverage cutting-edge technologies, such as Dream Chaser® spaceplanes and expandable LIFE™ habitats, within the fast-growing new space economy, which is projected to grow to $1.4T by 2030.

With assets transitioned from the SNC’s Space Systems business area, Sierra Space will deliver the future of space transportation, destinations and infrastructure, including plans to offer the first free-flying commercial space station.

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How Scientists Are Using the International Space Station to Study Earth’s Climate

Taken by NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, this picture shows Earth’s limb, or horizon, from the International Space Station as it orbits above the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — On Earth, we often look toward the sky longing to know what resides in the rest of the universe. Meanwhile, 250 miles above our planet, the  International Space Station is looking back.

Above us, multiple Earth-observing instruments are mounted on the exterior of several of the station’s modules, including a limb full of cameras, boxes, and tools that hangs off the edge of the station’s Japanese Experiment Module (JEM). Earth-observing CubeSats regularly deploy from the station’s airlock. Astronauts take photos of the planet from the orbiting lab’s windows. This outpost even conducts Earth science experiments. All of this work provides insight into the climate of our home and how we might prepare for coming changes.

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NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover Extracts First Oxygen from Red Planet

Technicians at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory lower the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) instrument into the belly of the Perseverance rover. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The growing list of “firsts” for Perseverance, NASA’s newest six-wheeled robot on the Martian surface, includes converting some of the Red Planet’s thin, carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere into oxygen. A toaster-size, experimental instrument aboard Perseverance called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) accomplished the task. The test took place April 20, the 60th Martian day, or sol, since the mission landed Feb. 18.

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Eight Companies Join Catalyst Accelerator’s On-orbit Servicing, Assembly and Manufacturing Cohort

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 19, 2021 (Catalyst Accelerator PR) — Eight small businesses will come together virtually from across the country for the Catalyst Accelerator’s cohort focused on On-Orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing.

The Catalyst Accelerator, powered by the Air Force Research Lab Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV), was developed to promote technology advancement for the warfighter and guide technology transfer for the government to industry and vice versa. The implications for in-space manufacturing are seemingly limitless. Therefore, the US Space Force, in conjunction with AFRL/RV, is seeking bold and disruptive technologies enabling on-orbit servicing and manufacturing.

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Rogozin: Russia to Gradually Withdraw from International Space Station Starting in 2025

The International Space Station, photographed by ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli following the undocking of his Soyuz-TMA on 23 May 2011. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

Roscomos General Director Dmitry Rogozin said Russia’s withdrawal from the International Space Station (ISS) will be a gradual one. TASS reports:

“Work is already underway on the first basic module for the new Russian orbital service station. The Energia Space Rocket Corporation has been set the task of ensuring its readiness for the launch into the designated orbit in 2025,” Rogozin wrote in his Telegram channel.

The Roscosmos chief also posted a video of the first module under construction: this will be a research and power unit that was previously intended for its launch to the International Space Station in 2024….

“There is no talk about dumping the ISS in 2025. We are talking about our gradual exit from this project and creating a new national orbital service station,” the Roscosmos chief wrote on his Facebook, responding to a user’s comment.

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QinetiQ to Lead Development of Hypersat’s Next Generation Hyperspectral Satellites for Launch by Virgin Orbit in 2023

FARNBOROUGH, UK (QinetiQ PR) — Hypersat has awarded a design-phase contract to QinetiQ Inc. (QinetiQ) for their next generation hyperspectral satellite. This study will be an enabling activity for a potential constellation of six low earth orbit (LEO) satellites that Hypersat plans to launch, and which will be capable of producing greater information about the material properties on Earth than any current capability in orbit.

QinetiQ will lead a team of specialist engineering and technology organisations across the US that includes Redwire, Millennium Engineering and Integration, LLC, and Brandywine Photonics. The team selected Virgin Orbit as the launch provider in part because of the unparalleled agility, mobility, and responsiveness afforded by air-launch, which allows for shorter call-up times and more flexible scheduling for customers, as well as direct injection into precise target orbits. In addition to the value for commercial customers, this capability enables a major strategic advantage to government organisations seeking to maintain unencumbered overhead intelligence.

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Big Goals, Small Package: Enabling Compact Deliveries from Space

Near Space Corporation launch team completing pre-flight rigging and checks at the Madras Municipal Airport in Madras, Oregon. (Credits: Near Space Corporation)

LEXINGTON, Ken. (NASA PR) — Researchers from the University of Kentucky in Lexington have developed a delivery system designed to carry research samples and other small payloads from astronauts on the International Space Station back to Earth. Such delivery systems could aid NASA’s efforts to gather data and test instruments in support of the agency’s goal of returning to the Moon.

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Crew-2 Launch Rescheduled for Friday

Crew-2 members Megan McArthur, Thomas Pesquet, Akihiko Hoshide and Shane Kimbrough. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 5:49 a.m. EDT Friday, April 23, for the launch of the agency’s Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station due to unfavorable weather conditions along the flight path on Thursday.

Although conditions around the launch site were expected to be favorable for liftoff, mission teams also must consider conditions along the flight path and recovery area in the unlikely event of a launch escape.

For a launch April 23, the U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron predicts a 90% chance of favorable weather conditions at the launch pad for liftoff of the Crew-2 mission based on Falcon 9 Crew Dragon launch weather criteria. Conditions also are expected to improve along the flight path and recovery area for the mission. The primary weather concerns for the launch area will be liftoff winds.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):

Friday, April 23

1:30 a.m. – NASA Television launch coverage begins. NASA Television will have continuous coverage, including docking, hatch opening, and welcome ceremony.

7:30 a.m. (approximately) – Postlaunch news conference with the following participants:

  • Steve Jurczyk, acting NASA administrator
  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Hiroshi Sasaki, vice president and director general, JAXA’s Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate
  • Frank de Winne, manager, International Space Station Program, ESA
  • SpaceX representative

Following a launch Friday, the Crew Dragon carrying NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet is scheduled to dock to the space station at about 5:10 a.m. Saturday, April 24.

With arrival of Crew-2 Saturday, NASA and SpaceX will continue to target the undocking and return to Earth of Crew-1 for Wednesday, April 28, after an approximate four-day shift change. Crew-1 NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, will undock Crew Dragon Resilience at 5 a.m. and splashdown off the coast of Florida 7.5 hours later at about 12:35 p.m., after 164 days in space. Their return date and time are dependent on having a healthy spacecraft and favorable weather in the selected splashdown zone.

Follow along with launch activities and get more information about the mission at: http://www.nasa.gov/crew-2.

Learn more about commercial crew and space station activities by following @Commercial_Crew, @space_station, and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the Commercial Crew Facebook, ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.