DARPA Selects Performers for Phase 1 of Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) Program

Credit: DARPA

Industry teams to develop propulsion design, spacecraft concepts for demonstrating on-orbit Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) system

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — DARPA has awarded contracts for the first phase of the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program. The goal of the DRACO program is to demonstrate a nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) system above low Earth orbit in 2025. The three prime contractors are General Atomics, Blue Origin, and Lockheed Martin.

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OneWeb, The AST Group Partner to Broaden Access to Fast, Seamless Connectivity at Sea

LONDON (AST Group PR) — As part of its mission to deliver low latency, ‘fibre-like’ connectivity to the maritime and offshore industries, Low Earth Orbit (LEO) broadband satellite communications company OneWeb, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The AST Group (AST), a global leader in satellite communications systems.

By working together, AST and OneWeb will offer fixed-land and maritime customers access to OneWeb’s fast, flexible and affordable connectivity solutions seamlessly in even the most remote locations on land and at sea. Customer beta trials will be undertaken with AST before the end of the year and will be focused on delivering fixed services to support remote connectivity in Northern Europe.

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This Week on The Space Show

This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston:

Tuesday, April 13 — 7 PM PDT (9 PM CDT; 10 PM EDT): We welcome back DR. MARTIN ELVIS to the program.

Wednesday, April 14 — Hotel Mars is pre-recorded. See upcoming show menu on the home page for program details.

Friday, April 16 — 9:30-11 AM PDT; 11:30 AM- 1 PM CDT; 12:30-2 PM EDT: We welcome back DAVIDE SIVOLLA from Spain re his new book, “Space Mining and Manufacturing: Off-World Resources and Revolutionary Engineering Techniques.”

Sunday, April 18 — 12-1:30 PM PDT, (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): We welcome back MICHAEL GLEASON OF THE Aerospace Corp to discuss his new and very influential space policy paper.

mu Space Granted BOI Investment Incentives to Compete in Global Space Industry

  • mu Space is granted A1 level of investment promotion incentives and privileges, the highest rank of any eligible incentives, with the manufacturing of its small satellite components in a category of high technology industry; Manufacture or repair of Aircraft, or Aerospace Devices and Equipment section. 
  • Board of Investment incentives and privileges will benefit mu Space’s business operations as well as the development of the country’s economy.
  • The company aims to enhance Thailand’s competence as a strong player to equally compete in the global space industry.

BANGKOK (mu Space PR) — Satellite and space technology company, mu Space and Advanced Technology Co., Ltd., has secured a Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) investment promotion to take on the international space technology market.

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NASA Funds Research into Breakthrough Space Telescope for Prospecting Asteroids

Credit: Peter Gural

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts 2021 Phase II Award
Amount: $500,000

Peter Gural
Trans Astronautica Corporation
Lakeview Terrace, Calif.

There are 3 key reasons why it is vital for NASA to develop better ways to locate and characterize Near Earth Objects (NEOs).

1: NEOs are an impact hazard to the Earth.

2: Measuring NEO population distributions will unlock the answers to critical questions dealing with the formation and evolution of the solar system.

3: Most importantly, low ∆V NEOs can be targets for human exploration and resource mining.

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Jacobs Mango One Satellite on Orbit, Laying Pathway for Next Generation, Affordable Space Solutions

Mango One satellite (Credit: Jacobs)

Successful on-orbit performance marks another major milestone for Jacobs in advanced, affordable space radar payloads for military, civil and commercial customers

DALLAS (Jacobs PR) — Jacobs (NYSE:J) began a new era of advanced, affordable space radar payloads with its Mango One satellite achieving a successful on-orbit performance. On Jan. 24, 2021, Jacobs’ Mango One satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 Transporter One rideshare mission to a sun synchronous orbit.

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Space Impulse Industry Platform Welcomes Advanced Rockets Corporation

LOMITA, Calif. — Advanced Rockets Corporation (ARC) is an engineering pioneer developing a new class of rocket designed for 400+ flights per rocket and $100 per kg into low earth orbit. The design achieves more than 700% gains in efficiency over current technology by taking advantage of ARC’s patents in  advanced aerodynamics and air-breathing propulsion solutions. 

ARC’s innovative propulsion system combines rocket and hypersonic air-breathing technology into a single engine, massively reducing deadweight. The gains in efficiency this system affords translate into improved rates of utilization, an expanded envelope for safe intact abort, and mission-specific modifications among many other features essential to the goal of reliable and affordable commercial space flight. 

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Pure Capital Solutions Announces Acquisition, New Funding, And Focus On Space Economy

Nova Space Inc., a Space Economy Professional Development Provider, to Become Publicly Traded Through Merger with Pure Capital Solutions

SALT LAKE CITY, April 9, 2021 (Pure Capital Solutions PR) — Pure Capital Solutions (OTC Ticker symbol: PCST) a Utah corporation, announced the acquisition of Nova Corps, LLC, a Minnesota limited liability company through a merger with PCST in exchange for the issuance of 87,779,000 shares of restricted common stock. The shares issued will represent 80% of the issued and outstanding shares of PCST, with Nova Corps becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of PCST under the new name Nova Space – a Wyoming Incorporation (Nova Space).

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ESA’s Agenda 2025 Focuses on Improved EU Cooperation, Commercial Markets, Green Tech and Space Security

ESA has published Agenda 2025, a strategy that focuses on making the space agency more agile by assisting commercial ventures, developing green technologies, ensuring space security and working more closely with the European Union in devising new flagship programs to benefit the continent’s 500 million citizens.

The plan also includes negotiating with NASA to place the first European astronaut on the moon by the end of the decade as part of the U.S. space agency’s Artemis program.

Agenda 2025 Full Report | Agenda 2025 Executive Summary

A summary of ESA Agenda 20215 follows.

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Blue Origin Plans Suborbital Flight Later This Week

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has posted a temporary flight restriction (TFR) for a New Shepard suborbital flight from its test facility in west Texas for later this week. The TFR is in place starting Wednesday, April 14 at 1200 UTC (8 a.m. EDT/7a.m. CDT) until Saturday April 17 at 2000 UTC (4 p.m. EDT/3 p.m. CDT).

It would be the 15th flight of a New Shepard spacecraft and the second flight of New Shepard No. 4, which is designed to carry passengers. The most recent flight without people on board occurred on Jan. 14.

Blue Origin has not yet formally announced the flight. It is likely to be another uncrewed launch carrying scientific experiments.

NASA Funds Research into Using Fungi to Grow Off-planet Structures

Credit: Lynn Rothschild

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts 2021 Phase II Award
Amount: $500,000

Lynn Rothschild
NASA Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, Calif.

A turtle carries its own habitat. While reliable, it costs energy in transporting mass. NASA makes the same trade-off when it transports habitats and other structures needed for human and other applications on lunar and planetary surfaces “on the back” of its missions. During Phase 1, we identified a novel biology-based solution to in situ production of usable components for space exploration: using fungal mycelial composites to grow structures off-planet, from habitats to furniture.

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NASA Announces 12th Round of Candidates for CubeSat Space Missions

ELaNa 31 CubeSats, SPOC and Bobcat-1, deploy from the International Space Station on Nov. 5, 2020. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 14 small research satellites from nine states – including a first-time selected state, Nebraska – to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard rockets launching between 2022 and 2025. The selected CubeSats were proposed by educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and NASA centers in response to NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) call for proposals issued in October 2020.

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Ingenuity Mars Helicopter First Flight Delayed 3 Days

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter can be seen on Mars as viewed by the Perseverance rover’s rear Hazard Camera on April 4, 2021, the 44th Martian day, or sol of the mission. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Based on data from the Ingenuity Mars helicopter that arrived late Friday night, NASA has chosen to reschedule the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s first experimental flight to no earlier than April 14.

During a high-speed spin test of the rotors on Friday, the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a “watchdog” timer expiration. This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from ‘Pre-Flight’ to ‘Flight’ mode. The helicopter is safe and healthy and communicated its full telemetry set to Earth.

The watchdog timer oversees the command sequence and alerts the system to any potential issues. It helps the system stay safe by not proceeding if an issue is observed and worked as planned.

The helicopter team is reviewing telemetry to diagnose and understand the issue. Following that, they will reschedule the full-speed test.

China to Spend Billions on New Commercial Spaceports

Long March 5 launches the Chang’e-5 mission to the moon. (Credit: CNSA)

SpaceNews reports that the cities of Ningbo and Wenchang are committing billions of dollars to build commercial coastal spaceports for China’s burgeoning space industry.

The eastern port city of Ningbo in eastern Zhejiang province has committed a total investment of 20 billion yuan ($3 billion) to establish a spaceport at Xiangshan, according to reports Wednesday. It is to be capable of launching up to 100 missions per year.

The spaceport will cover 67 square kilometers, consisting 35 square kilometers for launch sites and 32 square kilometers for support facilities. The site will be situated on the eastern coast and at a similar latitude to China’s Xichang Satellite Launch Center and Cape Canaveral in Florida….

Wenchang, on the island province of Hainan and site of China’s coastal launch center developed for large, new-generation Long March 5 and Long March 7 rockets, is also backing the construction of an “integrated and open” launch center to meet commercial launch demand.

China News Service (Chinese) reported April 8 that Hainan Province will, with the support and guidance of the National Development and Reform Commission and relevant ministries, increase its support for development of the Wenchang International Space City concept and promote the development of a commercial space center to meets the needs of the commercial space industry.

China Launches Test Satellite

A Chinese Long March 4B rocket launched the Shiyan-6 03 experimental satellite from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on Friday, April 9.

Shiyan-6 was developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Microsatellite Innovation. The spacecraft was described in official press reports as being used for space environment detection and related technology experiments.

It was the 365th launch of the Long March series of carrier rockets.