NASA Inflatable Heat Shield Technology Performs Under Pressure

LOFTID pack and deployment testing started with a load test to verify that the heat shield will perform as expected in flight under real-life conditions. (Credits: NASA)

SANTA ANA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Testing is well underway as NASA’s LOFTID – short for Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator – prepares to catch a ride on an Atlas V rocket launch in 2022.

LOFTID is a cross-cutting technology designed to help deliver heavy cargos to any planet with an atmosphere.

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Vector Names Blue Origin Veteran as CFO

Stephanie Koster

TUCSON (Vector PR) — Vector, the space access company, today announced Stephanie Koster will join the team as Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Koster brings more than 20 years of extensive experience in domestic and international strategy, finance, and operations across several Fortune 50 and high growth aerospace companies. As CFO, Koster will lead finance and business operations to enable Vector’s dynamic growth.

“As we look to our future and transition from a period of development into full operations, we needed someone to guide us through this exciting time,” said Jim Cantrell, CEO and co-founder of Vector. “Stephanie’s proven experience in finance, growth, and strategy for some of the world’s largest aerospace companies makes her well-suited to help us achieve our aggressive business goals.”

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Spaceflight’s First Rideshare Mission Aboard a Rocket Lab Electron Readies for Launch

Electron lifts off with U.S. Air Force satellites. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

SEATTLE (Spaceflight PR) — Spaceflight, the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, today announced it will launch seven spacecraft from five organizations later this month on Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from Launch Complex 1 at the southern tip of Mahia Peninsula, on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island. This mission, also called “Make It Rain” by Rocket Lab as a nod to the weather in both Seattle and New Zealand, represents Spaceflight’s first of five launches scheduled with Rocket Lab this year.

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India Eyes Space Station in Earth Orbit

Dr. K Sivan (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said this week the Indian space agency plans to develop a small space station that would give the nation’s Gaganyaan crewed spacecraft a facility to dock with in low Earth orbit.

Elucidating on the space station project, Mr Sivan said the mission will also be an extension of the Gaganyaan project. “We are planning to have a separate space station. We will not be a part of the ISS. Our space station is going to be very small. We will be launching a small module and that will be used for carrying out microgravity experiments,” he told the media.

“We have to sustain the Gaganyaan programme. So, subsequently, as a long-term plan, we are planning to have the space station in India. We are going to join the international community in manned missions to the moon, asteroids. We have a clear plan for the space programme,” the senior scientist said.

By planning a space station, Isro is “not thinking of space tourism”, he said. The Isro chairman said the proposal will be sent to the government for approval after the first Gaganyaan mission by 2022, and it is looking at a timeframe of five to seven years for the programme’s execution. He did not elaborate on the cost of the proposed Indian space station.

The timetable would have the 20 metric ton Indian space station in orbit between 2027 and 2029.

NASA Releases Draft Solicitation on Supplying Lunar Gateway

The power and propulsion element of NASA’s Gateway is a high-power, 50-kilowatt solar electric propulsion spacecraft – three times more powerful than current capabilities. (Credits: NASA)

By Laura Aguiar
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

In the latest step in sending astronauts to the lunar surface within five years, NASA issued a draft solicitation June 14 to industry seeking comments for a future opportunity for American companies to deliver cargo and other supplies to the Gateway in lunar orbit.

The first logistics service to the orbital outpost is expected to deliver science, cargo and other supplies in support of the agency’s new Artemis lunar exploration program, which includes sending the first woman and the next man to the surface of the Moon by 2024.

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Legislation Aims to Protect Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Site

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin steps down the ladder to the surface of the moon. (Credit: NASA)

Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have introduced legislation aimed at protecting the historic Apollo 11 landing site as the 50th anniversary of the mission approaches next month.

The One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act seeks to protect the Sea of Tranquility site where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked for its historical and archeological value.

“The Apollo 11 landing site and other similar historic landing sites in outer space merit legal protection from inadvertent or intentional interference with such sites or the environment surrounding such sites in order to prevent irremediable loss of archaeological, anthropological, historical, scientific, and engineering significance and value,” the bill states.

“As commercial enterprises and more countries acquire the ability to land on the Moon, it is necessary to ensure the recognition and protection of the Apollo 11 landing site and other historic landing sites together with all the human effort and innovation the sites represent,” the act added.

Organizations conducting operations in space would be required to comply with a set of recommendations issued by NASA in 2011 in order to received an U.S. government license for their missions. Fines are authorized for violations.

The bill contains an exception for activities “determined to have legitimate and significant historical, archeological, anthropological, scientific, or engineering value. The agency granting the license would be required to consult with NASA before granting an exemption.

The measure is being promoted by For All Moonkind, a non-profit group dedicated to the preservation of space sites.

“Thank you and for the One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act! Everyone – contact your Senators and tell them to vote to protect our history in space,” the group Tweeted.

Orion Launch Abort System Designed to Pull its Weight for Moon Missions

Orion’s Ascent Abort-2 flight test vehicle. (Credit: NASA/Tony Gray)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Astronauts inside NASA’s Orion spacecraft will soar toward the Moon atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket as part of the agency’s Artemis program to establish a permanent presence at the Moon and learn the skills needed to send humans to Mars. Crew members will journey aboard Orion with the confidence knowing the spacecraft is specifically designed with a number of features to support humans traveling to deep space, including a highly capable Launch Abort System (LAS). The LAS is a structure on top of the crew module that can fire within milliseconds and, with the crew module attached, outrun the powerful rocket if an emergency arises during launch.

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For Sale: The World’s Largest Airplane*

Stratolaunch takes off. (Credit: Stratolaunch)

As we previously reported, Stratolaunch is up for sale. Paul Allen’s sister Jody Allen, the executor of her brother’s estate, has no interest in continuing the development of the giant airplane, which is designed to air launch rockets.

CNBC reports on the eye popping price tag:

Holding company Vulcan is seeking to sell Stratolaunch for $400 million, people familiar with the matter told CNBC. Vulcan is the investment conglomerate of late billionaire Paul Allen, a Microsoft co-founder. Allen died last October following complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The hefty price tag includes ownership of the airplane as well as the intellectual property and facilities.

Stratolaunch is the world’s largest airplane by wingspan, which stretches 385 feet — longer than an American football field. The plane is powered by six jet engines salvaged from Boeing 747 aircraft.

Allen’s vision of a massive plane that can launch rockets from the air was at least partially fulfilled in April, when Stratolaunch flew for the first time after about eight years in development. Based at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, the giant airplane flew for more than two hours before landing after what was deemed a successful first flight.

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Luxembourg Space Agency Approves EUR 1 Million Grant to Kleos Space

  • Further project grant funding request approved by Luxembourg Space Agency
  • Additional commitment of €1,000,000 [$1.1 million]
  • Funding toward further development of future, higher value Kleos data products
  • Total Luxembourg Space Agency funding commitment to date – €2,958,000 [$3.3 million]

LUXEMBOURG, 14 June 2019 (Kloes Space PR) — Kleos Space S.A. (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data provider, announces that the Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA) has approved an additional EUR €1,000,000 [$1.1 million]] financial grant (non-equity) support for data product development.

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Cost of Moon Landing Estimated at $20 to $30 Billion

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

CNN talked to the NASA administrator about the cost of landing astronauts on the moon by 2024.

>The space agency will need an estimated $20 billion to $30 billion over the next five years for its moon project, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told CNN Business on Thursday. That would mean adding another $4 billion to $6 billion per year, on average, to the agency’s budget, which is already expected to be about $20 billion annually.

Bridenstine’s remarks are the first time that NASA has shared a total cost estimate for its moon program, which is called Artemis (after the Greek goddess of the moon) and could send people to the lunar surface for the first time in half a century. NASA wants that mission to include two astronauts: A man and the first-ever woman to walk on the moon.

The $20 to $30 billion cost estimate is less expensive than some had predicted — though they’re not necessarily the final figures. Bridenstine acknowledged that spaceflight can be dangerous and unpredictable, so it’s practically impossible to settle on an accurate price tag.

“We’re negotiating within the administration,” he said. “We’re talking to [the federal Office of Management and Budget]; we’re talking to the National Space Council.” (The National Space Council is a recently revived policy development group headed by Vice President Mike Pence.)

Assuming the amount is indeed all new funds and doesn’t include what’s already being spent on Orion, SLS and other programs, the only way to meet the deadline would be through a combination of increases to NASA’s budget and cuts to other parts of the space agency’s budget.

It should be noted that members of the House, which is controlled by Democrats, have thus far rejected significant cuts in other NASA programs as they have worked through the space agency’s fiscal year 2020 budget. The Republican Senate has not weighed in yet.

The other thing the story suggests is that the $1.6 billion in supplemental spending the Administration has requested for NASA’s budget is likely too low. Especially if the Senate follows the House’s lead in rejecting cuts from other agency programs.

ICEYE, South Korea’s APSI Sign Strategic Alliance

During his state visit to Finland, the President of the Republic of Korea, Mr. Moon Jae-in met with ICEYE

HELSINKI, June 13 (ICEYE PR) – ICEYE, the leader in small synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite technology, and Asia Pacific Satellite Inc. (APSI), announced today the signing of their strategic alliance agreement and further SAR data purchases in South Korea.

This strategic alliance and SAR reseller agreement, signed on May 27, follows the recent announcement of the two organizations signing a memorandum of understanding to support the South Korean New Space Market.

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Video: Atlas V Starliner Emergency Detection System

Video Caption: Go Atlas! Go Starliner! Watch the latest episode when we learn about the Emergency Detection System – unique technology developed for the Atlas V Starliner designed to protect the crew and monitor the health of the rocket.

Mission Control Secures $250k from Canadian Space Agency to Develop Commercial Lunar Mission Software

OTTAWA, Ont. (Mission Control PR) — Mission Control is excited to announce the support of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) for their ongoing development of Mission Control Software for the next generation of commercial space exploration missions. Through the Space Technology Development Program, the CSA will contribute $250k [USD $187,441] to the development of this technology which will help position Mission Control to participate in near term robotic missions to the Moon.

“With ongoing programs such as NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Service, a new wave of commercial space exploration is about to break,” said Dr. Michele Faragalli, Chief Technology Officer of Mission Control. “Rovers and other robotic systems will play an essential role in commercial exploration of the Moon.” Current rover technology is expensive and requires continuous management by operators back on Earth. Rover based exploration will be more cost-effective if more tasks can be performed autonomously onboard, and with more flexible options available for the mission operators on earth.

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Scotland’s Western Isles Seeks Spaceport

Artist’s impression of Spaceport 1 north view. (Credit: Western Isles Council)

SCOLPAIG, Scotland (Western Isles Council PR) — North Uist is set to enter the space age as a project to create the UK’s first ever vertical launch commercial space port is unveiled today.

The consortium behind the Spaceport 1 project, which includes major players in the UK and international space sector and is led by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council), is proposing to build a new Spaceport at Scolpaig on the north-west coast of North Uist.

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RUAG Space’s Unique Tilting Satellite Dispenser System Takes Flight with RADARSAT Mission

Credit: RUAG Space

BERN, Switzerland (RUAG Space PR) — Using its rich heritage of designing and building satellite dispensers, RUAG Space developed a unique satellite Dispenser that enables three large radar Earth observation satellites to simultaneously launch on a single launcher.

The Dispenser system connected the spacecraft to the launcher and ensured safe separation in orbit using a first-of-its-kind tilting mechanism. RUAG Space delivered the tilting Dispenser System to MDA, a Maxar company, to support the Canadian Space Agency’s RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM), which launched Wednesday, June 12 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, USA.

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