NASA, Partners to Host CAPSTONE Prelaunch Media Teleconference

CAPSTONE (Credit: Terran Orbital)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA will host a media teleconference with partners Advanced Space and Rocket Lab at 3 p.m. EDT Wednesday, May 25, in advance of the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) launch, scheduled for no earlier than Tuesday, May 31. The teleconference audio will be livestreamed on NASA’s website.

Participants will discuss and answer questions about CAPSTONE launch preparations, its technology demonstrations, and how CAPSTONE will serve as a pathfinder for Gateway and future Artemis missions.  

The teleconference participants include:

  • Christopher Baker, Small Spacecraft Technology program executive, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate
  • Bradley Cheetham, Advanced Space CEO/principal investigator, CAPSTONE
  • Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and CEO
  • Nujoud Merancy, chief, Exploration Mission Planning Office, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston

The microwave oven-size CubeSat will serve as the first spacecraft to test a unique lunar orbit that has never been flown before. The orbit, formally known as a near rectilinear halo orbit, is an elongated orbit located at a precise balance point between the gravities of Earth and the Moon. CAPSTONE will help reduce risk of future long-term deep space missions – like the Moon-orbiting outpost Gateway – by validating innovative navigation technologies and verifying the dynamics of this orbit. 

For more information about CAPSTONE, visit:

https://go.nasa.gov/3PteW7P

Suborbital Testing Puts Moon-Bound Computing System Through its Paces

With a float duration of about four hours, a 2019 high-altitude balloon flight with World View Enterprises enabled the MSU team to evaluate RadPC’s tolerance to radiation over a longer period of time. (Credits: World View Enterprises)

By Nicole Quenelle
NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center

EDWARDS, Calif. — As you read this article, you don’t need to worry that cosmic radiation might destroy the computer displaying it. That’s because the Earth’s atmosphere provides protection against such radiation. However, for astronauts relying on computing systems in space, cosmic radiation is a real concern. This is why NASA is supporting tests of radiation-tolerant computing systems on suborbital vehicles – and eventually on the Moon.

(more…)

NASA Selects Three Winners in Inaugural TechLeap Prize Challenge

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA seeks to improve a variety of Earth and space-based capabilities, including detecting and tracking wildfires, identifying plumes of gas venting into Earth’s atmosphere, and precision tracking of small spacecraft positions in orbit. The NASA TechLeap Prize is helping to advance these types of technologies for space exploration and Earth observation.

The agency has named three winners in the first TechLeap Prize competition, Autonomous Observation Challenge No. 1. The proposed solutions will help rapidly advance small spacecraft technologies for autonomous observation of events on Earth and beyond, as well as improve communications and computing power in small spacecraft applications. The winning teams will each receive an initial $200,000 prize they can use to begin building their payloads for a later suborbital flight test.

(more…)

NASA Technologies Slated for Testing on Blue Origin’s New Shepard

New Shepard launch (Credit: Blue Origin webcast)

By Elizabeth DiVito
NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program

VAN HORN, Texas — While there won’t be humans on Blue Origin’s 17th New Shepard mission, the fully reusable launch vehicle will carry technologies from NASA, industry, and academia aboard. The agency’s Flight Opportunities program supports six payload flight tests, which are slated for lift off no earlier than Aug. 26 from the company’s Launch Site One in West Texas.

For some innovations, this is just one of several tests supported by NASA on different flight vehicles. Iterative flight testing helps quickly ready technologies that could eventually support deep space exploration.

(more…)

New NASA Challenge to Fund and Test Small Spacecraft Technologies

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA is inviting commercial businesses, academic institutions, entrepreneurs, and other innovators to compete in a new challenge that will provide payload development funding and access to suborbital flight testing for innovative space technologies. The NASA TechLeap Prize aims to rapidly advance technologies for space exploration and Earth observation.

The current phase of NASA TechLeap Prize, Autonomous Observation Challenge No. 1, is looking for SmallSat observation technologies that can autonomously detect, locate, track, and collect data on transient events – both on Earth and beyond. These technologies could advance optical communications networks, aiding lunar exploration in detecting, tracking, and establishing line-of-sight communications with any lander, rover, or object on the Moon.

(more…)

NASA Selects 31 Promising Space Technologies for Commercial Flight Tests

by Nicole Quenelle
NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program

NASA has selected 31 promising space technologies for testing aboard parabolic aircraft, high-altitude balloons, and suborbital rocket-powered systems. By exposing the innovations to many of the rigors and characteristics of spaceflight – without the expense of an orbital flight – NASA can help ensure these technologies work correctly when they are deployed on future missions.

“By supporting suborbital flight testing, our Flight Opportunities  program aims to help ensure that these innovations are well-positioned to address challenges and enable NASA to achieve its lunar ambitions, while also contributing to a growing and vibrant commercial space industry,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). The Flight Opportunities program is part of STMD.

(more…)

How do we get There from Here? With Suborbital Flight Testing

Image shows Trona Pinnacles near California’s NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center during Jan. 31 Super Blue Blood Moon. Trona Pinnacles is an unusual geological feature of the state’s Desert National Conservation. (Credits: NASA / Lauren Hughes)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — Standing here on Earth, on a clear night we can look to the sky and see the destination for NASA’s Artemis program: the Moon. Seemingly close, but still quite far. Yet the space between us and that source of fascination is ripe with possibilities for helping mature the technologies we will need to get there, stay there, and venture beyond to Mars.

(more…)