NASA Engineers Analyze Navigation Needs of Artemis Moon Missions

Illustration of NASA’s lunar-orbiting Gateway and a human landing system in orbit around the Moon. (Credit: NASA)

By Danny Baird
​NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — Space communications and navigation engineers at NASA are evaluating the navigation needs for the Artemis program, including identifying the precision navigation capabilities needed to establish the first sustained presence on the lunar surface.

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UK Space Sector Receives £1 Million Government Boost to Support International Innovation

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — Five new projects have been awarded a share of over £1 million [$1.38 million] of government funding to work with international partners on innovative space technology.

Projects to remotely probe ice on Mars to help explorers find life below the surface, a system to warn of impacts of flood risks to infrastructure based on research in India and a scheme to design UK imaging technology for a space telescope are among the new international initiatives to receive backing from the UK Space Agency’s National Space Innovation Programme (NSIP).

The funding will see UK companies and organisations working with partners such as NASA, and space agencies from Canada, Japan and Italy. NSIP is the first fund dedicated to supporting the UK space sector’s innovation through collaborations with international partners designed to contribute to UK science, security and prosperity.

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Italy Takes First Steps Towards the Moon

Lunar multi-purpose module (Credit: Italian Space Agency)

The Italian Space Agency and Thales Alenia Space Italia are at work for the American lunar exploration program Artemis.

ROME (Italian Space Agency PR) — Italy is taking its first steps towards the Moon. The country system is preparing for the great leap on the surface of our natural satellite also thanks to the international relations between Italy and the United States and between the respective space agencies ASI and NASA, which have recently intensified on the basis of the mutual interest in collaborating on the program of Artemis exploration.

Within this strategic framework, a contract was born between the Italian Space Agency and Thales Alenia Space Italia, (JV between Thales 67% and Leonardo 33%) dedicated to the feasibility study and preliminary design (phases A / B) of a multi-purpose module linked to NASA’s Artemis mission which provides a human crew on the Moon.

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NASA, International Partners Assess Mission to Map Ice on Mars, Guide Science Priorities

This artist illustration depicts four orbiters as part of the International Mars Ice Mapper (I-MIM) mission concept. Low and to the left, an orbiter passes above the Martian surface, detecting buried water ice through a radar instrument and large reflector antenna. Circling Mars at a higher altitude are three telecommunications orbiters with one shown relaying data back to Earth. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and three international partners have signed a statement of intent to advance a possible robotic Mars ice mapping mission, which could help identify abundant, accessible ice for future candidate landing sites on the Red Planet. The agencies have agreed to establish a joint concept team to assess mission potential, as well as partnership opportunities. 

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NASA Explores Upper Limits of Global Navigation Systems for Artemis

An Orion spacecraft approaches the lunar Gateway. (Credit: NASA)

By Danny Baird
​NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation program office

The Artemis generation of lunar explorers will establish a sustained human presence on the Moon, prospecting for resources, making revolutionary discoveries, and proving technologies key to future deep space exploration.

To support these ambitions, NASA navigation engineers from the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program are developing a navigation architecture that will provide accurate and robust Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) services for the Artemis missions. Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals will be one component of that architecture. GNSS use in high-Earth orbit and in lunar space will improve timing, enable precise and responsive maneuvers, reduce costs, and even allow for autonomous, onboard orbit and trajectory determination.

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4.5-bil­lion-year-old Ice on Comet ‘Fluffi­er than Cap­puc­ci­no Froth’

Af­ter sev­en hours of freefall, Philae touched the Ag­ilkia land­ing site (top left out­side the im­age) at walk­ing pace as planned. How­ev­er, Phi­lae could not an­chor it­self be­cause the an­chor har­poons pro­vid­ed for this pur­pose did not ac­ti­vate. Due to the low grav­i­ty, Phi­lae bounced off the sur­face, rose to a height of more than one kilo­me­tre, col­lid­ed with a cliff edge while falling, touched the comet’s sur­face a sec­ond time (TD2) and fi­nal­ly came to a halt af­ter two hours (TD3). The lo­ca­tion of TD2 was un­known un­til re­cent­ly and could on­ly now be re­con­struct­ed. Phi­lae was lo­cat­ed in a place with suf­fi­cient sun­light to pro­duce enough en­er­gy to run its ten ex­per­i­ments for ap­prox­i­mate­ly 60 hours. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)
  • Reconstruction of second surface contact by Rosetta’s Philae lander during unplanned ‘hopping’ in November 2014 before its final ‘touchdown’.
  • The probe, rotating like a windmill, scraped a furrow in a highly porous, dark rocky area made of ice and dust on comet 67P, exposing 4.5-billion-year-old ice.
  • The ice has very weak internal cohesion and a consistency that is fluffier than cappuccino froth.

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — After years of detective work, scientists working on the European Space Agency (ESA) Rosetta mission have now been able to locate where the Philae lander made its second and penultimate contact with the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 12 November 2014, before finally coming to a halt 30 metres away. This landing was monitored from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Philae Control Center.

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Italy Signs Artemis Accords

ROME (Italian Space Agency PR) — International cooperation on and around the Moon as part of the Artemis program is taking a step forward today with the signing of the Artemis Accords between NASA and several partner countries

International cooperation on and around the Moon as part of the Artemis program is taking a step forward today with the signing of the Artemis Accords between NASA and several partner countries. The Artemis Accords establish a practical set of principles to guide space exploration cooperation among nations participating in the agency’s 21st century lunar exploration plans.

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Vega’s Zefiro 9 Engine Passes Qualification Test

Zefiro 9 engine test (Credit; Avio)

The test was performed at the presence of the Undersecretary of Defense Hon. Giulio Calvisi who then visited the construction site of the new SPTF industrial site for space activities in Perdasdefogu, Sardinia.

CAGLIARI, Italy (Avio PR) — The qualification test of the Zefiro 9 VT3 engine, an advanced version of the third stage propulsion system already in use on the Vega launcher and specifically enhanced and customized for the new Vega C, was successfully completed this morning in view of the maiden flight scheduled for 2021.

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‘Primo Space’ has Lift-off: First Italian Fund to Invest in Space Economy

  • Primomiglio SGR launches first Italian venture capital fund – ‘Primo Space’ – focusing on space investments, with first closing at €58 million and target size of €80 million.
  • European Investment Fund (EIF) and CDP Venture Capital SGR act as cornerstone investors in the fund, which was developed with the support of the Italian Space Agency.
  • €30 million EIF commitment backed by the new InnovFin Space initiative and the Investment Plan for Europe of the European Commission.

BRUSSELS (European Commission PR) — Italian fund manager Primomiglio  announces the first closing of Primo Space, an early stage venture fund focused on space start-ups.

The first closing of Primo Space reached an initial amount of €58 million with contributions of the European Investment Fund (EIB group), CDP Venture Capital SGR through the VenturItaly Fund of Funds, Compagnia di Sanpaolo, Luigi Rossi Luciani S.a.p.a., Banca Sella, in addition to the SGR itself and its key men.

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Soyuz Booster to Launch COSMO-Skymed, Cheops, ANGELS, Eyesat and OPS-SAT

Replica of OPS-SAT (Credit: ESA–Stijn Laagland)

PARIS (CNES PR) — On Tuesday 17 December, Soyuz will lift off for the 23rd time from the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana, carrying COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation for the Italian space agency ASI and the Italian Ministry of Defence, CHEOPS for the European Space Agency (ESA), ANGELS and EyeSat for CNES, and OPS-SAT for operator Tyvak on behalf of ESA.

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Italy Boosts Contribution to ESA Budget

SEVILLE, Spain (ASI PR) — In Seville, Spain, the institutional representatives and heads of the countries that make up the European Space Agency (ESA) have set the course towards new spatial horizons in the coming years. The share of the Italian contribution rises, while Samantha Cristoforetti will return to orbit.

An increase of almost one billion euros [$1.1 billion] compared to the previous Ministerial is what the Italian delegation to the ESA Ministerial Council 2019 has destined as a contribution of our country to the budget of the ESA for the next three to four years. 

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Space Agencies Sign Agreements to Advance Artemis Lunar Program, Commercial Space Activities

Updated Nov. 4, 2019 at 12:45 PST to include agreement between U.S. Department of Commerce and CNES.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The world’s space agencies were busy signing agreements last month to advance lunar exploration and commercial space activities during the International Astronautical Conference in Washington, DC.

NASA signed agreements with the European Space Agency (ESA) and three national agencies in Europe focused on advancing America’s Artemis program, which aims to land astronauts on the moon in 2024.

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Two Weeks of Science and Beyond

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano performs a European experiment called GRIP that studies astronauts’ perception of of mass and movement and how they interface with the human body and change in microgravity. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Over two weeks have flown by since ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano was launched to the International Space Station for his second six-month stay in orbit. His arrival, alongside NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and Roscosmos Soyuz commander Alexander Skvortsov, boosted the Station’s population to six and the crew has been busy ever since – performing a wide range of science in space.

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PRISMA Promises Revolution in Earth Observation, Environmental Monitoring

PRISMA spacecraft (Credit: Leonardo)

The Italian Space Agency satellite will observe the Earth using a hyperspectral optical sensor, which can open up new scenarios for the control of the environmental processes of our planet

ROME (Leonardo PR) — We are getting closer to the launch of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) mission PRISMA (Hyperspectral Precursor and Application Mission). The satellite will lift off from the European spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana the night between 8 and 9 March, aboard a VEGA rocket.

From its orbit, at about 620 kilometers of altitude, PRISMA will observe the Earth on a global scale with different eyes, being equipped with an innovative electro-optical instrumentation. The Italian satellite will look at the planet with the most powerful operative hyperspectral instrument in the world, able to work in numerous, narrow and contiguous bands arranged from the visible to the near infrared (VNIR, Visible and Near InfraRed) and up to the infrared shortwave ( SWIR, Short Wave InfraRed).

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Austrian Research Promotion Agency Signs Joint Statement on Institutional Use of Ariane 6, Vega C

Artist’s view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters (A64) (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

PARIS, 30 January 2019 (ESA PR) — This morning, the Austrian Research Promotion Agency added its signature to the joint statement signed by other European institutions (ASI, ESA, CDTI, CNES & DLR) and the Swiss Confederation in October last year in support to the European launcher industry and to Ariane 6 and Vega-C.

Through this Statement, signatories recognise the benefit of aggregating their institutional demand for launch services to ensure an independent, cost-effective, affordable, and reliable access to space for Europe.

Klaus Pseiner, Managing Director at the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (Österreichische Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft, FFG) signed the joint statement in the presence of Jan Wörner, ESA’s Director General, and Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA Director of Space Transportation, at ESA Headquarters in Paris.

Space capacities are strategically important to civil, commercial, security and defence-related policy objectives. Space is an enabler for responding to societal challenges and for stimulating job and growth creation. Europe needs to maintain a leading position in this sector. Europe’s autonomy of action in space is conditional on autonomy in accessing space.