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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NASA Funds Research on using Fungi to Make Soil for Space Habitats

Graphic depiction of the method for Making Soil for Space Habitats by Seeding Asteroids with Fungi. (Credits: Jane Shevtsov)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I Award
Funding: up to $125,000
Study Period: 9 months

Making Soil for Space Habitats by Seeding Asteroids with Fungi
Jane Shevtsov
Trans Astronautica Corporation
Lake View Terrace, Calif.

Synopsis

Background and Objectives: Any large, long-term human space habitat will need to grow most of its own food and recycle nutrients. For easily resupplied missions, growing crops hydroponically makes sense, but soil-based systems possess important advantages in the context of a large settlement that cannot be affordably resupplied from Earth.

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Project Mines New Frontiers in Outer-space Law

Asteroids and comets visited by spacecraft. (Credit: Planetary Society – Emily Lakdawalla)

Science is outpacing policies for responsible resource extraction in space.

By Susanna Eayrs
Western University

Two Western Law professors have launched a research project into laws governing space mining.

The growing demand for non-renewable natural resources, such as minerals used in batteries, has brought increased attention to the potential of exploiting resources in space for use on Earth – and the laws that govern such activities need to keep pace.

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7 Nations Join U.S. in Signing the Artemis Accords

WASHINGTON (NASA 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. 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.

“Artemis will be the broadest and most diverse international human space exploration program in history, and the Artemis Accords are the vehicle that will establish this singular global coalition,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “With today’s signing, we are uniting with our partners to explore the Moon and are establishing vital principles that will create a safe, peaceful, and prosperous future in space for all of humanity to enjoy.”

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Letter to Canadian Government on Space Mining

Honourable François-Philippe Champagne
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Global Affairs Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2

cc. Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources

20 April 2020

Dear Minister Champagne,

Re: US Executive Order on Recovery and Use of Space Resources

On 6 April 2020, the President of the United States signed an Executive Order on Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources (“Executive Order”).

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Vancouver Recommendations on Space Mining

Vancouver Recommendations on Space Mining
The Outer Space Institute
April 20, 2020

Background

Humanity is entering a new era of developing and utilizing Space that will likely include mining on the Moon, on near-Earth asteroids, and eventually on Mars. As part of this new era, a growing number of state and non-state actors are becoming capable of accessing and operating in Space.

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Canadian Institute Urges United Nations Agreement on Use of Outer Space Resources

Thermal mining of ices on cold solar system bodies (Credit: George Sowers)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In a challenge to the United States’ position that extraterrestrial resources can be legally extracted and utilized under existing law, The Outer Space Institute (OSI) is urging the United Nations to quickly begin work on an international agreement to govern these activities.

“It is our opinion that the speed and scale of developments relating to the exploration, exploitation and utilization of space resources require more affirmative and urgent action,” OSI said in an open letter to UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande sent earlier this month.

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From Trillionaires to Open Source Ware: Planetary Resources Falls to Earth

Atari Asteroids arcade game. (Credit: James G. Murphy Co.)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

When it came out of stealth mode in 2012, Planetary Resources promised to fuel the development of the solar system and mint the world’s first trillionaires by mining the riches of the asteroids.

Eight years later, Planetary Resources’ trillionaire-making intellectual property has been open sourced for anyone to use by ConsenSys, a block chain startup that purchased the company in October 2018.

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Report: China Could Follow South China Sea Strategy in Seeking Space Resources

Optical Mining of Asteroids, Moons, and Planets to Enable Sustainable Human Exploration and Space Industrialization (Credits: Joel Sercel)

Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine how China is seeking to shape the governance of space activities. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China’s actions in asserting sovereignty over the disputed South China Sea could serve as a model by which that nation would claim extraterrestrial resources and consolidate its control over key space assets, a new report to the U.S. Congress warned.

“Contrary to international norms governing the exploration and commercial exploitation of space, statements from senior Chinese officials signal Beijing’s belief in its right to claim use of space-based resources in the absence of a clear legal framework specifically regulating mining in space,” according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 report.

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China’s Ambitious Plans to Dominate Cislunar Space

China’s Yutu 2 rover drives off the Chang’e-4 lander. (Credit: CNSA)

Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine China’s plans to achieve a commanding position in cislunar space. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China is determined to establish a commanding position in cislunar space, seeing it as a strategic location from which to dominate the final frontier.

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Planetary Resources Pivots From Mining Asteroids to Open Source Satellite Tracking

Formed in 2010 to mine asteroids so its founders could become the world’s first trillionaires, Planetary Resources has now pivoted to developing “TruSat, an open source, open-sensor system for creating a globally-accessible, independent record of satellite orbital positions.”

The company, now known as ConsenSys Space after it was acquired last year by a blockchain software technology startup, made the announcement on Tuesday at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington, DC.

A message from ConsenSys Space’s Chris Lewicki follows.

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NASA Supports ‘Wild’ Ideas to Bring About New Space Tech

Swarm-Probe Enabling ATEG Reactor, or SPEAR, is a nuclear electric propulsion spacecraft concept that proposes a new, lightweight reactor moderator and advanced thermoelectric generators to deliver scientific payloads to anywhere in the solar system. SPEAR was selected in April 2019 as a NIAC Phase I. (Credit: Howe Industries LLC)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has a wild side. In fact, the agency has a program dedicated to nurturing visionary ideas that could transform future NASA missions with the creation of breakthroughs—radically better or entirely new aerospace concepts.

For years, NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) has supported early-stage research through multiple phases of study, competitively selecting Phase I and follow-on Phase II projects each year.

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Deep Space Industries Acquired by Bradford Space

SAN JOSE, Calif., January 2, 2019 (Bradford Space PR) — Bradford Space, a U.S.-owned space systems manufacturer with locations in the Netherlands and Sweden, announced today that it has acquired control over Deep Space Industries, Inc., often known as DSI. In becoming part of the Bradford group, DSI will become Bradford’s first substantial U.S. presence, providing an outlet and location for activities in the U.S. space market.

Founded in 2012 as an ambitious effort to mine the resources of the asteroids, DSI has more recently become known for the production of the Comet water-based electrothermal propulsion system. Four Comet systems are currently on orbit on spacecraft operated by Capella Space and HawkEye 360. Other customers of DSI include LeoStella, a joint venture of Spaceflight and Thales Alenia Space, and the Space Flight Laboratory, a satellite development group inside the University of Toronto.

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