NASA’s Perseverance Rover Attached to Atlas V Rocket

The nose cone containing the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover sits atop a motorized payload transporter at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on July 7, 2020. (Credits: NASA/KSC)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has been attached to the top of the rocket that will send it toward the Red Planet this summer. Encased in the nose cone that will protect it during launch, the rover and the rest of the Mars 2020 spacecraft – the aeroshell, cruise stage, and descent stage – were affixed to a United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster on Tuesday, July 7, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Central Florida.

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Chinese Launch Vehicle Fails on Maiden Flight

Kuaizhou 11 lifts off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

China’s Kauizhou 11 booster failed on its maiden flight on Friday, destroying two satellites and dealing a setback to the nation’s commercial launch industry.

The three-stage, solid-fuel rocket apparently failed during the latter stages of flight after lift off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. Chinese media said an investigation is under way.

Destroyed in the launch failure were the Jilin-1 video satellite and the CentiSpace-1-S2 navigation spacecraft.

Operated by Expace, the booster is a larger version of the Kauizhou 1A launcher. Kauizhou 11 is designed to launch payloads weighing 1,000 kg into sun synchronous orbit.

Expace is a commercial spin-off from the stage-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation.

China has launched 19 times this year, with 16 successes and three failures. In March, the Long March 7A booster was destroyed during its maiden flight. A Long March 3B failed in flight the following month.

Coming Soon(ish) to a Spaceport Near Me: Boom!

XB-1 technology demonstrator (Credit: Boom Supersonic)

Boom Supersonic to Roll Out Historic XB-1 Demonstrator Oct. 7

Virtual Global Event Will Mark Key Milestone en Route to Company’s 2021 First Flight [at the Mojave Air and Space Port]

DENVER, July 8, 2020 (Boom Supersonic PR) – Boom Supersonic, the aerospace company building the world’s fastest airliner today announced that its supersonic demonstrator, XB-1, will roll out on October 7, 2020. In keeping with CDC-recommended social distancing measures, the entire event will be available online and allow attendees an opportunity to submit questions to company leadership.

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Paragon Eyes Flying a Balloon Over Venus

Venus hides a wealth of information that could help us better understand Earth and exoplanets. NASA’s JPL is designing mission concepts to survive the planet’s extreme temperatures and atmospheric pressure. This image is a composite of data from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft and Pioneer Venus Orbiter. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

With surface temperatures exceeding 470 degrees C (880 F), Venus has always been a difficult place to explore. The Soviet Union’s most successful lander, Venera 13, survived for only 127 minutes before succumbing to the heat.

Conditions in Venus’ atmosphere are more temperate. Venus’ atmospheric pressure and temperature at an altitude of 65 km (40.4 miles) are similar to those on Earth.

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Russian Cargo Ship Leaves, Crew Tests Dragon’s Comfort Factors

The Expedition 63 crew has expanded to five members with the arrival of the SpaceX Crew Dragon. (From left) Anatoly Ivanishin, Ivan Vagner, Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Russia’s Progress 74 (74P) cargo craft departed the International Space Station today leaving four spaceships from the U.S., Russia and Japan parked at the orbital lab. It will be replaced in two weeks when the Progress 76 arrives to replenish the crew.

The 74P undocked today at 2:23 p.m. EDT after seven months attached to the Pirs docking compartment. The trash-packed resupply ship will descend into Earth’s atmosphere above the South Pacific for a fiery but safe demise. The 76P will take its place when it launches on July 23 at 10:26 a.m. and docks just three-and-a-half hours later to Pirs.

Four out of the five Expedition 63 crew members assessed comfort factors inside the docked SpaceX Crew Dragon today. This is a demonstration of the Crew Dragon’s habitability ahead of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission planned for later this year.

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who piloted the Crew Dragon, will be joined by station Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin for the one-hour habitability test. The crew will arrange the cabin to suit the four space residents and report their comfort levels to engineers on the ground.

While they were setting up Crew Dragon for the test, the three NASA astronauts also had time for ultrasound eye scans, microfluid studies and orbital plumbing work. The two cosmonauts, including Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner, juggled a variety of Russian space research and tested Soyuz crew ship communications gear.

NASA Updates Planetary Protection Policies for Robotic and Human Missions to Earth’s Moon and Future Human Missions to Mars

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 has released two NASA Interim Directives (NIDs) updating the agency’s requirements for robotic and human missions traveling to the Earth’s Moon, and human missions traveling to Mars.

The first, NID 8715.128, addresses the control of forward terrestrial biological contamination associated with all NASA and NASA-affiliated missions intended to land, orbit, or otherwise encounter the Moon.

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CSA Awards Additional Space Technology Development Contracts

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has awarded an additional 10 contracts worth nearly CAD $4.49 million (US $3.3 million) to eight companies under its Space Technology Development Program (STDP).

The awards were in addition to 14 STDP contracts worth just over CAD $9 million (US $6.6 million) the space agency awarded to eight companies last month.

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China Launches Communications Satellite

A Long March 3B booster orbited the APSTAR 6D commercial communications satellite on Thursday.

The launch was conducted from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province.

APT Mobile Satcom will use APSTAR 6D to provide mobile communications for aviation, ships and vehicles.

China Academy of Space Technology, a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, built APSTAR 6D.

New European Experiment Rack Installed on Space Station

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley (imaged above) maneuver the fridge-sized European Drawer Rack Mark 2 (EDR2) to its new position. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — After a successful launch aboard the Japanese HTV9 cargo vehicle, a new experiment facility was recently installed in the European laboratory Columbus as part of a comprehensive upgrade of Europe’s International Space Station module.

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Comet NEOWISE Sizzles as It Slides by the Sun, Providing a Treat for Observers

Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE appears as a string of fuzzy red dots in this composite of several heat-sensitive infrared images taken by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission on March 27, 2020. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A comet visiting from the most distant parts of our solar system is putting on a spectacular nighttime display. Named Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE, the comet made its once-in-our-lifetimes close approach to the Sun on July 3, 2020, and will cross outside Earth’s orbit on its way back to the outer parts of the solar system by mid-August.

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Heat Shield Milestone Complete for First Orion Mission with Crew

Orion heat shield for the Artemis II mission. (Credit: NASA/Isaac Watson)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Technicians at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently finished meticulously applying more than 180 blocks of ablative material to the heat shield for the Orion  spacecraft set to carry astronauts around the Moon on Artemis II.

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NASA Selects 10 Small Business Proposals for Lunar ISRU

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the moon in the Artemis program, the space agency is increasingly eyeing the use of lunar resources to reduce the expense of launching everything from Earth.

NASA recently selected 10 proposals to develop technologies for in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

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7 Things to Know About the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Mission

As seen in this artist’s concept, the SHERLOC instrument is located on the end of the robotic arm of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s next rover to the Red Planet is slated to launch no earlier than July 30. These highlights will get you up to speed on the ambitious mission.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — In less than a month, NASA expects to launch the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Loaded with scientific instruments, advanced computational capabilities for landing, and other new systems, the Perseverance rover is the largest, heaviest, most sophisticated vehicle NASA has ever sent to the Red Planet.

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NASA Selects 4 Small Businesses to Mature Technology for Artemis Program

Artist’s conception of astronaut in an advanced spacesuit working on the moon. (Credit; NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected four U.S. small businesses to mature a range of technologies for sustainable exploration of the Moon under the Artemis program. Through Artemis, the first woman and next man will land on the Moon in 2024. Later in the decade, NASA and its partners will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon.

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House Subcommittee Sticks a Fork in Trump’s 2024 Moon Landing Plan

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

A House subcommittee has rejected the 12 percent increase in NASA’s budget that the Trump Administration says is necessary to send astronauts back to the surface of the moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis program.

The House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee approved a bill today that would keep the space agency’s budget flat at $22.6 billion. The Trump Administration has requested a 12 percent increase to $25.2 billion.

The subcommittee approved only $628.2 million of the $3.37 billion requested for the crucial Human Landing System needed to take astronauts to the surface.

In a statement, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tried to look on the bright side and said he would take the fight for Artemis to the Senate.

“I want to thank the House Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee for the bipartisan support they have show NASA’s Artemis program. The $628.2 million in funding for the human landing system (HLS) is an important first step in this year’s appropriations process. We still have more to do and I look forward to working with the Senate to ensure America has the resources to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024.”

The Republican-led Senate has been more supportive of Trump’s 2024 landing date. Democrats who control the House favor a return to the moon in 2028.

If the recent past is any guide, NASA will enter the 2021 fiscal year on Oct. 1 without new budget. Instead, the agency and the rest of the government will operate for months on a continuous resolution that keeps spending at FY 2020 levels.