NASA Cooperating With JAXA on Hayabusa2 Science

Hayabusa-2 (Credit: JAXA)
Hayabusa-2 (Credit: JAXA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and space agencies across the globe are opening up new possibilities for space exploration with missions to comets, asteroids, and other celestial bodies.

Following NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) spacecraft observations of the close flyby of Mars by comet Siding Spring in October, and the successful November landing of ESA’s Philae lander on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched its Hayabusa2 mission on Dec. 3 to rendezvous with an asteroid, land a small probe plus three mini rovers on its surface, and then return samples to Earth.

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NASA Plans Citizen Forums on Asteroids

asteroid_initiative_citizen_forumWASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is finding asteroids, including those that might threaten our home planet, and sending humans to explore one. The agency is engaging the public in the Asteroid Grand Challenge to find all asteroid threats to human population and know what to do about them, accelerating NASA’s existing planetary defense work. NASA is also developing a first-ever mission to identify, capture and redirect a near-Earth asteroid to a stable orbit around the moon, where astronauts will explore it in the 2020s, returning with samples. This Asteroid Redirect Mission is part of NASA’s plan to advance the new technologies and spaceflight experience needed for humans to pioneer Mars in the 2030s.

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Key Constituencies Still Not Sold on NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission

In this concept image, the robotic vehicle deploys an inflatable bag to envelop a free-flying small asteroid before redirecting it to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. (Credit: NASA)
In this concept image, the robotic vehicle deploys an inflatable bag to envelop a free-flying small asteroid before redirecting it to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. (Credit: NASA)

It’s been four years since President Barack Obama announced that NASA would send astronauts to an asteroid sometime in the mid-2020’s. And more than a year has passed since the space agency unveiled a plan to retrieve said asteroid and return it to the vicinity of Earth so the astronauts wouldn’t have to travel so far.

And yet, NASA still faces an uphill battle to sell the mission to skeptics in Congress and the scientific community. Opposition to the plan surfaced again last week from multiple quarters, raising questions about whether the mission will survive after Obama leaves office in January 2017.

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A Closer Look at Altius Space Machines Projects — Part II

Altius_logo_newBy Jonathan Goff
CEO and President
Altius Space Machines

Part 2 of 2

In the last post, I introduced the two SBIR Select Phase 1 contracts that Altius has commenced work on. This blog post will focus on the other two Asteroid Redirect Mission contracts which mentioned there. These have been selected for contract negotiation, but aren’t active contracts yet, so I will try to be a little more high-level in this blog post.

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An In-depth Look at Recent Altius Space Machines Contract Awards

Altius_logo_newBy Jonathan Goff
President and CEO
Altius Space Machines

Part 1 of 2

It has been a while since our last blog post, and those of you have been following the news over the last month may have noticed that Altius has recently been awarded or selected for negotiation on a few significant NASA technology development contracts. These four contracts are:

  • ISS Launched Cubesat Demonstration of Variable-Drag Magnetoshell Aerocapture – an SBIR Select Phase I that MSNW LLC of Redmond, WA is priming with Altius as subcontractor
  • Multi-purpose Interplanetary Deployable Aerocapture System (MIDAS) – an SBIR Select Phase I that Altius is priming with MSNW LLC as subcontractor
  • Kraken Asteroid Boulder Retrieval System – an Asteroid Redirect Mission BAA Phase I that Altius is priming with support from Boston-based Empire Robotics, Dr. Brad Blair of NewSpace Analytics, and the Materials Technology Lab at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, CO
  • Multipurpose SEP Module for ARM and Beyond – an Asteroid Redirect Mission BAA Phase I study where Altius will be supporting an industry team led by ExoTerra Resources of Littleton, CO.

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NASA Expands Commercial Partnerships Beyond LEO

Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Building on the progress of NASA’s partnerships with the U.S. commercial space industry, NASA has recently announced several new initiatives for partnerships, including: the Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (Lunar CATALYST), Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) Broad Agency Announcement (BAA), Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities (CCSC), and a Request for Information (RFI) for interest in evolving ISS functions and capabilities for supply and demand in support of the development of a low-Earth orbit (LEO) commercial market. These efforts are complementary to each other and support NASA’s overall exploration implementation strategy.

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NASA Selects 18 Proposals for Asteroid Redirect Mission Studies

In this concept image, the robotic vehicle deploys an inflatable bag to envelop a free-flying small asteroid before redirecting it to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. (Credit: NASA)
In this concept image, the robotic vehicle deploys an inflatable bag to envelop a free-flying small asteroid before redirecting it to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 18 proposals for studies under the Asteroid Redirect Mission Broad Agency Announcement (BAA).  These six-month studies will mature system concepts and key technologies and assess the feasibility of potential commercial partnerships to support the agency’s Asteroid Redirect Mission, a key part of the agency’s stepping stone path to send humans to Mars.

The agency is working on two concepts for the mission. The first concept would fully capture a very small asteroid in free space and the other would retrieve a boulder off of a much larger asteroid. Both concepts would redirect an asteroid mass less than 10 meters in size to orbit the moon. Astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft launched on the Space Launch System (SLS) would rendezvous with the captured asteroid mass in lunar orbit and collect samples for return to Earth.

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A Closer Look at NASA’s FY 2015 Budget Prospects

Capitol BuildingAfter years of flat and declining budgets, it looks like NASA will get a funding boost this year from an unexpected source — Congress.

The FY 2015 budget measures coming out of the Senate and House actually boost the President’s proposed $17.46 billion spending plan by about $400 million. The Senate would spend an even $17.9 billion, while the House spending plan is just slight under that level at $17.896 billion.

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Asteroid Initiative Forum Report

In this concept image, the robotic vehicle deploys an inflatable bag to envelop a free-flying small asteroid before redirecting it to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. (Credit: NASA)
In this concept image, the robotic vehicle deploys an inflatable bag to envelop a free-flying small asteroid before redirecting it to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA officials discussed latest progress and new opportunities in the agency’s Asteroid Initiative in a March 26 forum with members of the aerospace industry, academia and space enthusiasts. The forum followed a March 21  Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) calling for additional mission concept studies led outside of NASA, with $6 million in potential awards.

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NASA to Release Asteroid Redirect Mission Broad Agency Announcement

This conceptual image shows NASA’s Orion spacecraft approaching the robotic asteroid capture vehicle. The trip from Earth to the captured asteroid will take Orion and its two-person crew an estimated nine days. (Credit: NASA)
This conceptual image shows NASA’s Orion spacecraft approaching the robotic asteroid capture vehicle. The trip from Earth to the captured asteroid will take Orion and its two-person crew an estimated nine days. (Credit: NASA)

Asteroid Redirect Mission Broad Agency Announcement
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NASA intends to issue an Asteroid Redirect Mission Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) on March 21, 2014. NASA is developing concepts for the Asteroid Redirect Mission, which would use a robotic spacecraft to capture a small near-Earth asteroid, or remove a boulder from the surface of a larger asteroid, and redirect the asteroid mass into a stable orbit around the moon. Astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft launched on the Space Launch System would rendezvous with the asteroid mass in lunar orbit, and collect samples for return to Earth.To support mission formulation and reduce risk and cost, this BAA solicits proposals for studies and related technology development activities in the following areas:

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Asteroid Initiative Synthesis Workshop Report Published

asteroid_synthesis_report_coverWASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2013, NASA kicked off the Asteroid Redirect Mission and the Asteroid Grand Challenge, collectively known as the Asteroid Initiative. On June 18, we issued a Request for Information to seek innovative ideas that could help NASA refine the objectives of the Asteroid Initiative and initial ARM concepts, to explore alternative mission concepts, and to broaden participation in the mission and planetary defense. Those ides were discussed at a fall 2013 workshop. Today, NASA posted the final report summarizing the workshop discussion and recommendations.

An unprecedented response followed the release of the RFI: the agency received 402 responses, 40 percent of which were from individuals and members of the general public.

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NASA 2013 Highlights: Commercial Progress and Human Exploration Plans

Photo taken by the Expedition 34 crew aboard the International Space Station during the March 3, 2013 approach, capture and docking of the SpaceX Dragon. (Credit: NASA)
Photo taken by the Expedition 34 crew aboard the International Space Station during the March 3, 2013 approach, capture and docking of the SpaceX Dragon. (Credit: NASA)

NASA Looks Back at 2013

Commercial Space Progress

A little more than two years after the end of the Space Shuttle Program, NASA has returned the International Space Station resupply missions to the United States in a powerful partnership with U.S. companies SpaceX and Orbital Sciences, who are investing here and creating good-paying jobs for American workers.

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NASA Tests Modified “Pumpkin” Spacesuit for Future Asteroid Mission

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA is taking steps to make spacewalking on an asteroid a reality. In the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) near the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, engineers are testing a modified version of the pumpkin-orange Advanced Crew Escape System (ACES) worn by space shuttle astronauts during launch and reentry for use by future crew in the Orion spacecraft.

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NASA Reschedules Asteroid Initiative Workshop for Late November

This conceptual image shows NASA’s Orion spacecraft approaching the robotic asteroid capture vehicle. The trip from Earth to the captured asteroid will take Orion and its two-person crew an estimated nine days. (Credit: NASA)
This conceptual image shows NASA’s Orion spacecraft approaching the robotic asteroid capture vehicle. The trip from Earth to the captured asteroid will take Orion and its two-person crew an estimated nine days. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected new dates to resume the Asteroid Initiative Idea Synthesis Workshop, which was postponed due to the recent government shutdown. The new workshop dates are November 20-22, 2013.

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NASA Posts Abstracts for Asteroid Synthesis Workshop

This conceptual image shows NASA’s Orion spacecraft approaching the robotic asteroid capture vehicle. The trip from Earth to the captured asteroid will take Orion and its two-person crew an estimated nine days. (Credit: NASA)
This conceptual image shows NASA’s Orion spacecraft approaching the robotic asteroid capture vehicle. The trip from Earth to the captured asteroid will take Orion and its two-person crew an estimated nine days. (Credit: NASA)

After receiving more than 400 responses to the Asteroid Initiative RFI, a team of NASA scientists, engineers, and mission planners evaluated the proposed ideas. Nearly 100 respondents have been invited to present their ideas and concepts during the Asteroid Initiative Idea Synthesis Workshop alongside NASA personnel and members of the larger community, including virtual participants. The abstracts are posted here.

Due to capacity constraints, onsite attendance will be limited to invited, registered presenters at this time.  Virtual participation is strongly encouraged. We will provide virtual participation options on this page as the workshop nears.

Program Outline
Sept. 30 – Oct. 2, 2013

Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston

TIME
(ALL TIMES CDT)

TOPIC(S)

DAY 1 – Monday, September 30

12:00 p.m.Plenary Session – Welcome and Objectives

Synthesis Sessions 1:30 – 5:30 p.m.Asteroid Observation
Asteroid Redirection Systems
DAY 2 – Tuesday, October 1
Synthesis Sessions 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.Asteroid Deflection Demonstrations
Crowd Sourcing & Citizen Science

Synthesis Sessions 1:30 – 5:30 p.m.Partnerships & Public Engagement
Asteroid Capture Systems
Crew Systems for Asteroid Exploration

DAY 3 – Wednesday, October 2

8:30 a.m.Plenary Session – Summary of Synthesis

Synthesis Session 1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.Next Generation Engagement