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NIAC Focus: Cryogenic Selective Surfaces

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Visible light scattered by the Solar White Coating. (Credit: R. Youngquist)

Visible light scattered by the Solar White Coating. (Credit: R. Youngquist)

Cryogenic Selective Surfaces
NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Phase II Award

Robert Youngquist
NASA Kennedy Space Center

During our Phase 1 NIAC study we discovered a novel coating we call “Solar White” that, when used in deep space, is predicted to reflect more than 99.9% of the sun’s energy. We have shown analytically that a sphere covered with a 10 mm thick coating of Solar White and located far from the Earth and at 1 Astronomical Unit from the Sun can achieve a steady state temperature below 50 K, the freezing point of oxygen.

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SPHERES: From Class Project to Droids in Space

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The three on-orbit SPHERES satellites fly in formation through the International Space Station, appearing like a squadron star fighters from the Star Wars universe. (Credit: NASA/ISS)

The three on-orbit SPHERES satellites fly in formation through the International Space Station, appearing like a squadron star fighters from the Star Wars universe. (Credit: NASA/ISS)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Imagine you’re sitting in class watching a scene from “Star Wars” and your professor assigns a project meant to fly in space.

In 1999, that is exactly what happened for engineering students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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NASA TV to Provide Live Coverage of BEAM Expansion

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The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, is attached to the International Space Station early on April 16, 2016. (Credit: NASA)

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, is attached to the International Space Station early on April 16, 2016. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) will be deployed to its full size Thursday, May 26, and begin its two-year technology demonstration attached to the International Space Station. NASA Television will provide coverage of the expansion beginning at 5:30 a.m. EDT.

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UAE Space Agency Signs MoC with Japanese Government

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UAE_Space_Agency_LogoABU DHABI — The UAE Space Agency has signed a significant memorandum of cooperation with the Government of Japan, representing a major step forward in safe space exploration and strategic cooperation in the short and long terms.

The MoC was signed by H.E. Dr. Khalifa Al Romaithi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, H.E. Dr. Tsutomu Tomioka, State Minister of Education, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), H.E. Yosuke Takagi, State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and H.E. Yasuyuki Sakai, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of the Cabinet Office of Japan, with the presence of H.E. Dr. Eng. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, and representatives from the Cabinet Office of Japan, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan.

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NIAC Focus: Precise Extremely Large Reflective Telescope

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General APERTURE concept, before and after deployment (write head moves along the curved arm, while the curved arm rotates about the center axis). (Credit: M. Ulmer)

General APERTURE concept, before and after deployment (write head moves along the curved arm, while the curved arm rotates about the center axis). (Credit: M. Ulmer)

Further Development of Aperture: A Precise Extremely Large Reflective Telescope Using Re-configurable Elements
NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Phase II Award

Melville Ulmer
Northwestern University

One of the pressing needs for space ultraviolet-visible astronomy is a design to allow larger mirrors than the James Webb Space Telescope primary. The diameter of the rocket fairing limits the mirror diameter such that all future missions calling for mirrors up to 16 m in diameter or larger will require a mirror that is deployed post-launch.

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Airbus Starts Orion Service Module Assembly

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A test version of ESA’s service module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft. (Credit: Airbus)

A test version of ESA’s service module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft. (Credit: Airbus)

TOULOUSE, France (Airbus PR) — Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, has started assembling the European Service Module (ESM), a key element of NASA’s next-generation Orion spacecraft that will transport astronauts into deep space for the first time since the end of the Apollo program.

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NanoRacks Deploys More than 100 CubeSats from ISS

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In February 2014, Planet Labs Inc. launched its first flock of Dove nanosatellites into space. Shown are two shoebox-sized Doves being ejected into low-Earth orbit from the International Space Station. The company’s goal is for the flock to take a high-resolution snapshot of nearly the entire globe every 24 hours. (Credit: NASA)

In February 2014, Planet Labs Inc. launched its first flock of Dove nanosatellites into space. Shown are two shoebox-sized Doves being ejected into low-Earth orbit from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON, May 20, 2016 (NanoRacks PR) —On May 18, 2016 the 111th customer CubeSat was deployed from the Company’s NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD) via the JAXA KIBO airlock on the International Space Station (ISS).

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Clyde Space ‘Catapults’ to More Success

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clyde_spaceGLASGOW, Scotland (Clyde Space PR) — Clyde Space, Scotland’s leading-edge space technology company, is to provide the satellites for a new pilot programme offering quick, regular and more affordable access to space.

The Glasgow-based company announced today it has been commissioned by the Satellite Applications Catapult and Innovate UK to build four CubeSats for the £1.5 million project.

The satellites will eventually be launched from the International Space Station (ISS) in an ‘in-orbit demonstration’ (IOD) of technical and business propositions that have a high projected return on investment. The Launch opportunities from the ISS are provided by NanoRacks, via its Space Act Agreement with NASA’s U.S. National Lab.

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A Tale of Two Prizes

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SpaceShipOne on the floor beside the Spirit of St. Louis of the National Air & Space Museum. (Credit: National Air & Space Museum)

SpaceShipOne on the floor beside the Spirit of St. Louis of the National Air & Space Museum. (Credit: National Air & Space Museum)

Two major flight-related anniversaries are being celebrated this week. Today marks the 89th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s historic solo flight across the Atlantic aboard the Spirit of St. Louis. Lucky Lindy took off from New York on this date and arrived in Paris some 33.5 hours later, claiming the $25,000 Orteig Prize.

Wednesday was the 20th anniversary of the launch of X Prize (later Ansari X Prize). Inspired by the Orteig Prize, it offered $10 million for the first privately build vehicle to fly to suborbital space twice within two weeks. The Ansari X Prize was won in October 2004 by a team led by Burt Rutan and Paul Allen with SpaceShipOne.

After Lindbergh’s flight, a public that had previously shunned commercial aviation embraced it with a passion. Following the Ansari X Prize, Richard Branson vowed to begin flying tourists to space aboard a successor vehicle, SpaceShipTwo, within three years. Nearly a dozen years and four deaths later, Branson has yet to fulfill this promise.

The SpaceShipTwo program has now taken longer than it took for NASA to go from President John F. Kennedy proposal to land a man on the moon to the completion of the program with the splashdown of Apollo 17. NASA launched the space shuttle Columbia exactly 20 years after the first spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin.

So, why have things taken so long? And why did one prize succeed beyond the dreams of its sponsor, while the space prize it inspired has promised so few practical results? The answer is a complex one that I addressed back in March in a story titled, “Prizes, Technology and Safety.” I’ve republished the story below with links to other posts in a series about flight safety.

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NIAC Focus: Directed Energy for Interstellar Flight

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Artist rendering of the Directed Energy Interstellar Study. (Credit: P. Lubin)

Artist rendering of the Directed Energy Interstellar Study. (Credit: P. Lubin)

Directed Energy Interstellar Study
NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Phase II Award

Philip Lubin
University of California, Santa Barbara

We propose to expand our investigations started in our NIAC Phase I of using directed energy to allow the achievement of relativistic flight to pave the way to the first interstellar missions. All of the current conventional propulsion systems are incapable of reaching the high speeds necessary to enable interstellar flight. Directed energy offers a path forward that, while difficult, is feasible. It is not an easy path and it does have many milestones to cross in order to get to the point of achieving the speeds needed.

Along the roadmap we propose are important and useful “waypoints” that both allow testing and feed back to the larger design but are also useful for many applications. The consequences of this program are truly transformative not only for achieving relativistic flight for small probes but also for larger spacecraft at lower speeds suitable for rapid interplanetary travel.

The Phase II work will consist of refining our roadmap and building and testing a small phased array prototype to test many of the concepts developed in the Phase I. We will also further our work on the wafer scale spacecraft design including work on the critical integrated laser communications system. We will also explore and test the inverse mode of using the array for reception which is critical to receiving the laser communications from the spacecraft.

JAXA Outlines Plans for H3 Launch Vehicle

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Artist's conception of H3 rocket. (Credit: JAXA)

Artist’s conception of H3 rocket. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The H3 Launch Vehicle is a liquid propellant launch vehicle currently under development. This is the first full-scale development of the 21st century. The aim of this development is to respond to launch demands from global customers. Based on our operation experience and the reliability of launch vehicles, we will further improve the payload launch capability and reduce the launch price to triumph among international competition in the commercial launch market. We are developing the H3 with the goal of a maiden launch in Japan Fiscal Year 2020 as a mainstay launch vehicle.
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Vector Space Systems Tests Second Stage Engine

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Credit: Vector Space Systems

Credit: Vector Space Systems

TUCSON, Ariz., May 19, 2016 (Vector Space Systems PR) — Vector Space Systems, a Micro Satellite space platform enterprise comprised of new-space industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas and Sea Launch, today announced the successful test of its second stage engine, a major milestone in advance of the company’s first sub-orbital test flight as Vector Space Systems this summer.

The test, which took place in Mojave, California on May 14, featured the company’s second stage high-performance engine for its launch vehicle. Employing 3D printed components, the engine produces 500 pounds of thrust with a high specific impulse for maximum fuel efficiency. This development test was one in a series of second-stage engine tests leading to flight qualification in 2017.

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Orbital ATK Advocates Lunar Orbiting Base

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Cislunar station (Credit: Orbital ATK)

Cislunar station (Credit: Orbital ATK)

Former NASA Astronaut Frank Culbertson Proposes Four-Person Crew-Tended Lunar-Orbit Habitat to Be in Place by 2020

Company’s Flight-Proven Cygnus Spacecraft Could be Used as a Building-Block Habitat Leading to Lunar Research and Mars Exploration

Dulles, Va., 18 March 2016 (Orbital ATK PR) – Orbital ATK, Inc. (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today advocated for a manned lunar-orbit outpost as America’s next step in human space exploration.

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NASA’s Game Changing Entry, Descent and Landing

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Video Caption: NASA EDGE gives an in depth look at the latest Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) technologies being developed at NASA. Chris Giersch is joined in studio by Steve Gaddis (Game Changing Development Program Manager) and Michelle Munk (EDL Principal Technologist) to discuss the game changing nature of EDL, while Blair and Franklin interview Mike Barnhardt (Systems Modeling), Mark Shoenenberger (MEDLI-2) and Joseph Del Corso (HIAD-2) in this first part of two episodes on EDL.

Space Coast EDC Looks to Ensure U.S. Leadership in Space

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Brevard County, Fla., May 16, 2016 (Florida Space Coast EDC)
– The Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast (EDC) has joined leading space industry associations such as the Space Foundation, Space Florida and the Satellite Industry Association in the drive to educate congressional leaders on the critical role of the U.S. space program. Long-term support of our space program benefits the nation’s economy, security, leadership and high-quality American jobs.

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