How to Safely Stare at the Sun: SOHO, SDO and GOES-R Instruments

The sun over the years. (Credit: SOHO/NASA/ESA)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — As an agency, NOAA’s science isn’t just limited to Earth and its atmosphere. NOAA’s reach goes from the surface of the Sun to the depths of the ocean floor as we work to keep the public informed of the changing environment around them. So, what sort of instruments help scientists detect what’s going on in the Sun in the first place?

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Janus Small Satellite Mission To Rendezvous With Binary Asteroids

NASA rendering of a Janus satellite rendezvousing with a binary asteroid. (Credit: NASA)

The twin-spacecraft Janus project will study the formation and evolutionary implications for small “rubble pile” binary asteroids.

DENVER, Sept. 10, 2020 (Lockheed Martin PR) — The University of Colorado Boulder and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) will soon lead a new space mission to capture the first-ever closeup look at a mysterious class of solar system objects: binary asteroids.

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Meet 8 Teams Sending Payloads to the Moon on Masten’s Lander

Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander will deliver science and technology payloads to the Moon’s South Pole in 2022. (Credits: Masten Space Systems)

MOJAVE, Calif. (Masten Space Systems PR) — Imagine having the opportunity to send your payload to the lunar surface. Not next decade, but in 2022!

Well, that’s the incredible opportunity that the NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) project — and Masten Space Systems — has presented for 8 visionary teams and their instruments. Each and every one is cool in their own way and we couldn’t be prouder to be the lunar lander company that will set them down safely on the surface of the Moon. 

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Solving the Space Junk Problem

Distribution of space debris around Earth (Credit: ESA)

Internationally agreed upon fees to put satellites in orbit could boost value of the space industry.

BOULDER, Colo. (CIRES PR) — Space is getting crowded. Aging satellites and space debris crowd low-Earth orbit, and launching new satellites adds to the collision risk. The most effective way to solve the space junk problem, according to a new study, is not to capture debris or deorbit old satellites: it’s an international agreement to charge operators “orbital-use fees” for every satellite put into orbit. 

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Asteroid Mission Selected for Next Phase of NASA Small Spacecraft Competition

Artist’s conception of the Janus satellite rendezvousing with a binary asteroid. (Credit: NASA)

DENVER  (Lockheed Martin PR) — Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has been selected to design dual small deep space spacecraft to visit near-earth asteroids in a mission called Janus, led by the University of Colorado Boulder.

One of NASA’s Small Innovative Mission for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) finalists, Janus is designed to fly by two binary asteroids, or asteroids orbiting a common center of mass, to image the system using both visible and infrared cameras. These small satellites will launch in 2022 to reach the asteroid system in 2026.

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Mark Sirangelo Departs NASA After 44 Days

Mark Sirangelo (Credit: SNC)

Well, that was fast.

On April 9, NASA announced the appointment of Mark Sirangelo as a special assistant to Administrator Jim Bridenstine for the purpose of overseeing the space agency’s plan to land astronauts on the moon by 2024.

On Thursday, Bridenstine announced that his new assistant is departing the agency. Sirangelo’s tenure lasted 44 days.

In announcing the appointment last month, Bridenstine said Sirangelo would

lead the planning for the proposed agency restructuring to create the Moon to Mars Mission Directorate that will manage the programs to develop the Gateway, human rated lander and surface systems to return to the Moon and establish a permanent presence. The new proposed Directorate will also manage the Exploration Research and Technology programs to enable capabilities for exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Yesterday, the NASA administrator blamed House and Senate members for refusing to approve the creation of the Moon to Mars Mission Directorate.

The proposal was not accepted at this time, so we will move forward under our current organizational structure within the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEO). We are exploring what organizational changes within HEO are necessary to ensure we maximize efficiencies and achieve the end state of landing the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.

As you also may know, Mark Sirangelo has been serving as an advisor on our lunar exploration plan and the reorganizational proposal that went forward to Congress. Given NASA is no longer pursuing the new mission directorate, Mark has opted to pursue other opportunities. I want to personally thank Mark for his service and his valuable contributions to the agency.

Sirangelo previously served as head of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems and CEO of SpaceDev, its predecessor company. He resigned from the company in July 2018 and became a scholar in residence at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The announcement came on the same day NASA announced the awarding of a $375 million contract to Maxar Technologies for the power and propulsion element of the human-tended Lunar Gateway. The facility will serve as a base for human missions to and from the lunar surface.











Suborbital Flights Stopped Being So Humdrum in 2018

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo’s first flight above 50 miles on Dec. 13, 2018. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Part 1 of 2

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Throughout the Space Age, suborbital flight has been the least exciting segment of the launch market. Operating in the shadow of their much larger orbital cousins, sounding rockets carrying scientific instruments, microgravity experiments and technology demonstrations have flown to the fringes of space with little fanfare or media attention.

The suborbital sector has become much more dynamic in recent years now that billionaires have started spending money in it. Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic both made significant progress last year in testing New Shepard and SpaceShipTwo, respectively. Their achievements have raised the real possibility of suborbital space tourism flights in 2019. (I know. Promises, promises…. But, this year they might finally really do it. I think.)

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NASA Sends Final Commands to Kepler Space Telescope

This artist’s concept depicts select planetary discoveries made to date by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. (Credit: NASA/W. Stenzel)

BOULDER, Colo. (NASA PR) — On Thursday evening, NASA’s Kepler space telescope received its final set of commands to disconnect communications with Earth. The “goodnight” commands finalize the spacecraft’s transition into retirement, which began on Oct. 30 with NASA’s announcement that Kepler had run out of fuel and could no longer conduct science.

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Sirangelo Joins CU Boulder Engineering as Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Mark Sirangelo (Credit: Alyson McClaran)

BOULDER, Colo. (CU Boulder PR) — Mark Sirangelo, who just concluded his career as the head of aerospace giant Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems, is joining the University of Colorado Boulder as an entrepreneur-in-residence beginning this month. Bobby Braun, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science, announced today that Sirangelo will join CU Boulder after nearly 10 years at SNC.

“Mark is an aerospace visionary who recognizes that CU Boulder is a premier research and innovation engine for the United States and the hub of Colorado’s aerospace ecosystem,” Braun said. “A leader in entrepreneurial space, a contributor to national security, a pilot and veteran, Mark’s expertise and creativity are a perfect mix for this groundbreaking institution.”

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The Federation Elects New Officers, Welcomes New Members

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CSF PR) – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) has elected new Officers for the 2017-2018 year, and approved two new Associate member companies at its bi-annual Executive Board of Directors, held last month in Tucson, Arizona.

Dr. Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute was elected for a second term as the Chairman of the Board of Directors. Stern is the Associate Vice President of the Southwest Research Institute’s (SwRI) Space Science and Engineering Division in Boulder, Colorado and the Chief Science Officer of World View, based in Tucson, Arizona.

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Cube Quest Challenge Team Spotlight: CU-E3

Structures team member Raj Bansal assembling the CU-E3 prototype structure. (Credit: Team CU-E3)

BOULDER, Colo. (NASA PR) — The shoebox-size CU Earth Escape Explorer (CU-E3) is being assembled by the University of Colorado, Boulder, Aerospace Engineering Science Graduate Projects Class.

CU-E3 is designed for a communications technology demonstration mission, slated to travel more than 2.5 million miles into space. As a Deep Space Derby entry, the diminutive spacecraft will reach an orbit of about 10 times the distance between Earth and the moon.
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NIAC Awards Take Aim at Asteroid Mining, ISRU

Asteroid Itokawa (Credit: JAXA)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded five grants for the development of new technologies for analyzing asteroids, extracting resources from them, and using the materials for new space products.

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NIAC Phase I Award: Dismantling Rubble Asteroids with Soft-bots

Dismantling Rubble Pile Asteroid with Area-of-Effect Soft-bots (Credit: Jay McMahon)

Dismantling Rubble Pile Asteroids with Area-of-Effect Soft-bots

Jay McMahon
University of Colorado, Boulder
Boulder, Colo.

Value: Approximately $125,000
Length of Study: 9 months

Description

This proposal seeks to develop a new type of soft robotic spacecraft which is specifically designed to move efficiently on the surface of, and in proximity to, rubble pile asteroids. These new spacecraft are termed Area-of-Effect Soft-bots (AoES) as they have large surface areas which enable mobility that is especially effective at small asteroids.

The surface mobility is enabled by using adhesion between the soft robot and the asteroid surface. The adhesive forces also allow the AoES to anchor themselves in order to liberate material from the asteroid and launch it off the surface for collection by an orbiting resource processing spacecraft – forming the fundamental pieces of a resource utilization mission to a near-Earth asteroid (NEA). Furthermore, the large area necessary for the adhesion based mobility and anchoring also gives the AoES a relatively high area-to-mass ratio, enabling fuel-free orbit control using solar radiation pressure (SRP) forces.

In total, this concept elegantly overcomes many of the difficulties typically encountered when trying to design a mission to retrieve a significant amount of material from an asteroid surface – in many cases using these perceived difficulties (e.g. microgravity, fast spin rates) to the advantage of the architecture.

Development of AoES in order to make this mission architecture feasible therefore has the potential to drastically improve the capabilities of harvesting water and other resources from the variety of small, plentiful, easily accessible NEAs – enabling further exploration and economic profit in the solar system.

Full List of 2017 NIAC Awards

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White House, SpaceX Veteran Phil Larson Joining CU Boulder

Phil Larson

BOULDER, Colo. (CU Boulder PR) — The University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Bobby Braun is announcing the appointment of Phil Larson as assistant dean for communications, strategy, and planning, where he will lead strategic relations for the college.

Larson – who was senior advisor for space and innovation at the White House, where he served from 2009 to 2014 – will join CU Boulder in February. Most recently, Larson was part of Elon Musk’s SpaceX team, supporting communications efforts as well as managing corporate projects.

Larson’s appointment concludes a national search carried out by a College of Engineering and Applied Science search committee.

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ULA Offers Free CubeSat Flights, Expand Payload Slots

ULA_logoCENTENNIAL, Colo., Nov. 19, 2015 (ULA PR) – As the most experienced launch company in the nation, United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced today it is taking CubeSat rideshares to the next level by launching a new, innovative program offering universities the chance to compete for free CubeSat rides on future launches.

“ULA will offer universities the chance to compete for at least six CubeSat launch slots on two Atlas V missions, with a goal to eventually add university CubeSat slots to nearly every Atlas and Vulcan launch,” said Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO. “There is a growing need for universities to have access and availability to launch their CubeSats and this program will transform the way these universities get to space by making space more affordable and accessible.”

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