NASA Selects Astrobotic, Honeybee and Lockheed Martin to Advance Solar Power on Moon

Vertical solar arrays, pictured in this illustration, will help power exploration of the Moon under Artemis. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected three companies to further advance work on deployable solar array systems that will help power the agency’s human and robotic exploration of the Moon under Artemis.

Through Artemis missions, NASA will return humans to the Moon and establish a long-term presence near the lunar South Pole. A reliable, sustainable power source is required to support lunar habitats, rovers, and even construction systems for future robotic and crewed missions. To help provide this power, NASA is supporting development of vertical solar arrays that can autonomously deploy up to 32 feet high and retract for relocation if necessary.

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NASA Awards Accelerate Small Business Tech for Earth and Space

Awards under NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program will support technologies for lunar science and exploration. (Credits: NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded six U.S. small businesses funding to continue work on technologies poised to make a significant impact in key areas, from wildfire readiness to sustained lunar exploration. Collaborating with small businesses is a crucial part of developing the novel ideas needed for NASA’s ambitious goals.

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NASA’s Deep Space Network Ground Testing with Astrobotic’s Peregrine Lunar Lander a Success

A rendering of Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander is shown, with NASA’s three water-detecting payloads (MSolo, NSS, and NIRVSS) highlighted in blue. (Credit: Astrobotic Technology)

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic Technology PR) — Last month, the Deep Space Network (DSN) from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) successfully completed end-to-end test communications with Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander. These tests demonstrated compatibility with space-to-ground communications that will occur during Peregrine’s mission to the Moon.

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Masten Gets $4.5 Million Bid for Assets from Astrobotic Technology

A rendering of Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander is shown, with NASA’s three water-detecting payloads (MSolo, NSS, and NIRVSS) highlighted in blue. (Credit: Astrobotic Technology)

Updated 8/12/2022 at 12:02 p.m. EDT with information about launch credit with SpaceX.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

MOJAVE, Calif. — Astrobotic Technology has made an initial bid of $4.5 million to acquire the assets of Masten Space Systems, which sought protection from creditors last month by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The bid will serve as a minimum during the subsequent auction of Masten’s assets.

Astrobotic has also agreed to provide Masten with a $1.4 million debtor in possession (DIP) loan to allow the company to function as it works through bankruptcy.

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New Bankruptcy Document Chronicles Masten Space Systems’ Failed Efforts to Sell Company, Inability to Raise Money

A spacecraft creates its own landing pad using the in-Flight Alumina Spray Technique system. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)

Updated on 8/12/2022 at 1:40 p.m. with information about Astrobotic Technology’s loan to Masten and initial bid for the bankrupt company’s assets.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

MOJAVE, Calif. — A new court document reveals that an unidentified company nearly purchased now-bankrupt Masten Space Systems earlier this year, but it ultimately backed away due to financial concerns about Masten Mission 1 (MM1), the company’s program to deliver a small rover and a suite of instruments to the south pole of the moon under a NASA contract.

“On April 29, Company A informed Masten that it did not plan to proceed with a deal because of the substantial liabilities recognized to date and additional future projected losses associated with MM1,” an Aug. 10 filing in Delaware Bankruptcy Court said.

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Masten Space Systems Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander was designed science and technology payloads to the Moon’s South Pole. (Credits: Masten Space Systems)

Updated 7/29/2022, 1:24 p.m. PDT: Added statements from NASA and Masten Space Systems. Clarified contract award included paying for launch.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

MOJAVE, Calif. — Masten Space Systems filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Thursday, signaling serious financial distress at the pioneering NewSpace company and putting at risk a NASA-funded mission to send a Masten-built lander to the surface of the moon.

The company said it owed 50 to 99 creditors between $10 to $50 million. Top creditors included SpaceX ($4.6 million), Psionic LLC ($2.8 million), Astrobotic Technology ($2.7 million), NuSpace ($1.7 million), and Frontier Aerospace ($1.2 million).

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Cash-strapped Masten Space Furloughs Employees, Moon Landing Mission at Risk

Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander will deliver science and technology payloads to the Moon’s South Pole. (Credits: Masten Space Systems)

Updated on July 15 to clarify layoffs and furloughs.
Updated on July 15 with a statement from NASA.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

MOJAVE, Calif. — Cash-strapped Masten Space Systems has furloughed all of its staff, putting at risk both the company and a $75.9 million NASA-funded mission to deliver the MoonRanger rover and eight scientific payloads to the lunar surface aboard Masten’s XL-1 lander late next year.

“XL-1 is basically dead. To my knowledge, everyone who was working exclusively on XL1 has been laid off,” a source familiar with the situation told Parabolic Arc in a written response to questions. The source requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the matter.

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Astrobotic Wins $1.5M to Mature Satellite Servicing and Hazard Detection Systems for Space

Example LiDAR Reconstruction of Spacecraft (Simulated); this mapping will be generated by Astrobotic’s algorithms to enable satellite servicing and hazard detection. (Credit: Astrobotic Technology)

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) — Astrobotic has won two NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II contracts worth $1.5 million to further advance novel Laser Imaging, Detection, and Ranging (LiDAR) software solutions. When space qualified, these software packages will support in-space satellite servicing as well as safe landing on celestial objects such as the Moon or asteroids through accurate hazard detection.

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Astrobotic to Unveil Peregrine Lander Today

A rendering of Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander is shown, with NASA’s three water-detecting payloads (MSolo, NSS, and NIRVSS) highlighted in blue. (Credit: Astrobotic Technology)

WATCH LIVE TODAY: APRIL 20
3:00 pm EST

WHAT: Tune in to see flight hardware from the never-before-seen Peregrine lunar lander.

WHO: Speakers include:

CEO, Astrobotic, John Thornton
Founding Board Chair, Keystone Space Collaborative, Justine Kasznica
PA-8th, Congressman Matt Cartwright
NASA Administrator, Senator Bill Nelson
NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen
NASA Associate Administrator for Space Technology Mission Directorate, Mr. James L. Reuter

WHEN: Wednesday, April 20; 3:00-3:30 p.m. EST

TUNE IN

Astrobotic’s Peregrine will deliver a diverse suite of 24 payloads (cargo) to the Moon’s surface later this year.

Peregrine is set to be the first US lunar lander to touch down on the Moon since the Apollo missions nearly 50 years ago. You will also hear from local and national leaders in commercial space, who are gathering for the tri-state region’s first-ever space conference.

NASA’s VIPER Lunar Rover on Schedule for Late 2023 Launch

NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, is a mobile robot that will roam around the Moon’s south pole looking for water ice. The VIPER mission will give us surface-level detail of where the water is and how much is available for us to use. This will bring us a significant step closer towards NASA’s ultimate goal of a sustainable, long-term presence on the Moon – making it possible to eventually explore Mars and beyond. (Credit: NASA Ames/Daniel Rutter)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) that will search for valuable water ice at the lunar south pole is running on schedule for a launch late next year, according to a review from the space agency’s Office of Inspector General (IG).

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Astrobotic Completes Griffin Lunar Test Model

Griffin structural test model (Credit: Astrobotic Technology)

With this major milestone complete, the Structural Test Model for the largest lunar lander since the Apollo Lunar Module is now headed for environmental testing.

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) — Astrobotic’s second lunar lander mission, Griffin Mission One (GM1), has completed a major milestone toward flight by completing its Griffin Structural Test Model (STM). This full-scale model will undergo a series of rigorous tests to inform the final flight build of the Griffin lunar lander, scheduled to begin this year.

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ULA Vulcan Centaur Rocket to Send Ashes of Gene & Majel Barrett Rodenberry, James Doohan Beyond the Moon

Star Trek First Family Embarks on Final, Infinite Journey on a Rocket Named Vulcan

HOUSTON, January 26, 2022 (Celestis PR) — Celestis, Inc. announced today that it has entered into a launch services agreement with United Launch Alliance (ULA) of Centennial, CO. ULA will host a Celestis Memorial Spaceflight payload aboard the initial flight of ULA’s Vulcan Centaur, planned for later this year. Known as the Enterprise Flight (celestis.com/launch-schedule/enterprise-flight), the Celestis mission will launch more than 150 flight capsules containing cremated remains (ashes), DNA samples, and messages of greetings from clients worldwide on an endless journey in interplanetary space.

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NASA Selects New Members for Artemis Rover Science Team

VIPER rover on the moon. (Credit: NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — When NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, explores and samples the soils at the Moon’s South Pole, scientists anticipate it will reveal answers to some of the Moon’s enduring mysteries. Where is the water and how much is there? Where did the Moon’s water come from? What other resources are there?

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Advanced Cooling Technologies to Develop Technologies to Allow Systems to Survive Lunar Night Using NASA Funding

Figure 1. Conceptual illustration of combined Thermal Switch and Variable Conductance Thermal Control System for Lunar Landers and Rovers. (a) During the day the electronics are generating heat and the thermal switch and VCHP is ON. Heat is rejected to the radiator and stored in the liquid Phase Change Material (PCM). (b) At night, the thermal switch is OFF, and the VCHP is shut down, with Non-Condensable Gas (NCG) blocking the condenser and adiabatic section. Thermal resistance between electronics and sink is maximum. The PCM cools down and freezes, supplying heat to maintain the temperature of the electronics. (Credit: Advanced Cooling Technologies)

LANCASTER, Pa. (ACT PR) — Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc. (ACT) is excited to announce a $5 Million NASA Sequential Phase II SBIR Program Award, “Development of Lunar Vehicle and Payload Thermal Control Systems for Extreme Lunar Environments”.  As part of this project, ACT is subcontracting Astrobotic to provide their industry experience with lunar landers and rovers, including system-level architecture and critical design requirements. Astrobotic will validate the technology using their Peregrine lander, Griffin lander, and CubeRover thermal system architectures as a baseline.

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Astrobotic’s Hazard Detection System to Take Flight

Credit: Astrobotic

Astrobotic leading the way in Hazard Detection for space missions with latest NASA award.

PITTSBURGH, PA Tuesday, December 28, 2021 (Astrobotic PR) — Astrobotic announced today it was selected to receive funding for its LiDAR-based Hazard Detection sensor (LHD) as part of the NASA Flight Opportunities TechFlights solicitation. This LHD sensor will assist in the safe landing of Astrobotic’s Griffin lander, the largest lunar lander since Apollo’s Lunar Module. Griffin will be carrying NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, to the lunar surface.

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