Millennium Space Systems’ ALTAIR Pathfinder Spacecraft Completes Demo Mission Goals

ALTAIR(TM) Pathfinder successfully deploying its solar arrays just after deploying from the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer on the International Space Station. (Credit: NanoRacks, NASA)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Dec. 6, 2017 (Millennium Space Systems PR) — Millennium Space Systems announces the successful completion of its ALTAIR™ Pathfinder mission objectives last week as the spacecraft reached its six-month milestone and 4,500 hours of successful operations in low earth orbit. ALTAIR™ Pathfinder was released via NanoRacks commercial launch service.

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SSC and Millennium Space Systems Team on Upcoming ALTAIR Launch

Swedish Space CorporationSOLNA, Sweden, Aug. 08, 2016 (SSC PR) – Officials with SSC, the Swedish Space Corporation, and Millennium Space Systems of El Segundo, Calif., today announced they are teaming together on the first-ever ALTAIR launch to provide customization and rapid constellation production for Millennium’s customers.

The ALTAIR spacecraft, a high performance space system for LEO, GEO and deep space missions, will launch on a SpaceX Dragon as part of an International Space Station (ISS) Commercial Resupply mission in the next 90 days. Once onboard the ISS, the 6U-ALTAIR spacecraft will be launched via the NanoRacks deployment system.

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Europe Studies Automated Smallsat Air Launch System

A possible vehicle architecture for the future ALTAIR air‐launch system. (Credit: ONERA)
A possible vehicle architecture for the future ALTAIR air‐launch system. (Credit: ONERA)

CHATILLON, France (ONERA PR) — The ALTAIR project (Air Launch space Transportation using an Automated aircraft and an Innovative Rocket) is a European Horizon 2020 project coordinated by ONERA and involving partners from six countries. The goal is to demonstrate the industrial feasibility of a low‐cost launching system for small satellites. This research program will last 36 months.

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New NASA Spacesuit Endangered by Budget?

lunarsuit2During a Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership round table on Saturday, Oceaneering vice president Mark Gittleman said he is concerned about whether the Obama Administration is providing enough funding to allow his company to build NASA’s new spacesuit. Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin shared the concern:

Griffin said Gittleman’s concerns are well placed in light of the proposed $3 billion-plus cut in the budget for the manned space program.

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Lockheed Martin Establishes Altair Office in Houston

PRESS RELEASE

Lockheed Martin announced it has located its Altair program office in Houston, Texas, in its bid to provide support for the next-generation human lunar lander system for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The company submitted its proposal to NASA last month for the Altair Conceptual Design Contract and the agency is expected to award several contracts for the first phase of the program later this spring.

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Rocketdyne Successfully Tests Altair Lunar Engine

PRESS RELEASE

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne’s Common Extensible Cryogenic Engine (CECE) has successfully demonstrated critical capabilities required for NASA’s Altair lunar lander. The engine performed with stable operation at the widest throttle range of any known high performance cryogenic engine in December during its third series of ground tests at the company’s West Palm Beach, Fla., test facility. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) company.

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NASA Awards Contract for Altair Lunar Lander Engine Development

NASA PRESS RELEASE

CLEVELAND — NASA has awarded a nearly $7 million contract to Aerojet-General Corporation of Sacramento, Calif., to design, develop, fabricate, test and evaluate a new rocket engine as part of the space agency’s efforts to land humans on the moon.

The objective of this work is to sufficiently increase the maturity of this technology to establish the feasibility of using a liquid oxygen and liquid methane main engine for the ascent stage of the Altair lunar lander. After visiting the lunar outpost, the crew will lift off from the surface of the moon in Altair’s ascent stage and rendezvous with the Orion crew vehicle in lunar orbit for the return trip to Earth.

Aerojet will work for 21 months to complete an evaluation of the rocket engine assembly, a 5,500 pound constant-thrust, pressure-fed rocket engine. The contract’s period of performance began on April 8.

This cost-plus-fixed-fee contract is valued at approximately $6.9 million. The Exploration Technology Development Program at NASA’s Headquarters in Washington is providing the funding.

Update on NASA’s Altair Lunar Lander

Over at his Hyperbola blog, Rob Coppinger has expanded notes from a March 20 interview with Clint Dorris, deputy manager of NASA’s Altair lunar lander project. These is a relatively detailed discussion of design and engineering issues, so this piece is not for everyone. But, for those with a technical background, it might be worth a look.

Five Companies Chosen to Evaluate NASA Lunar Lander Design

NASA has awarded small contracts to five companies to conduct a 210-day study of the agency’s in-house design for a human lunar lander. The five companies are:

    Andrews Space, Seattle
    The Boeing Co., Houston
    Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Denver
    Northrop Grumman Corporation, El Segundo, Calif.
    Odyssey Space Research, Houston.

The contracts total $1.5 million; the largest is for $350,000. These awards are part of NASA’s effort to send astronauts back to the moon by 2020.

“These studies will provide valuable input for developing a sound set of requirements for the Altair lunar lander,” said Jeff Hanley, the Constellation Program manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “Industry collaboration will provide insight for our planning and early design efforts for the spacecraft.”