Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Advanced Scramjet Engine Powers Successful Hypersonic Vehicle Flight

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., April 06, 2022 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — An advanced Aerojet Rocketdyne scramjet engine powered the successful flight test of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC), in a joint effort with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Lockheed Martin.

The goal of the DARPA / Lockheed Martin HAWC program is to develop and demonstrate critical technologies to enable an effective and affordable air-launched hypersonic cruise missile system.

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Dark Fission Launches to Bring Nuclear Thermal Rockets to Market

Promises revolutionary gains in performance, leveraging sixty years of evolving technologies

BERKELEY, Calif., March 22, 2022 — Dark Fission Space Systems, an early-stage space start-up, aims to accelerate the expansion of the space economy beyond Low Earth Orbit through the development and deployment of the first commercially available nuclear thermal rocket (NTR) engine. Led by Dr. Fred Kennedy, the Dark Fission team will combine years of NTR design evolution with modern advances in computing, manufacturing, and materials to produce a safe and reliable in-space propulsion capability with performance characteristics exceeding anything available today.

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Phase Four Awarded Novel Thruster Prototype Development Contract by DARPA

A recent successful firing of the Phase Four RF Thruster using sublimated iodine as propellant. (Credit: Phase Four)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Feb. 16, 2022 (Phase Four PR) — Phase Four, the creator of the radio-frequency thruster (RF Thruster) for satellite propulsion, announced today that it finalized a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to adapt the RF Thruster to operate on novel, low cost propellants. The effort includes the development of a prototype engine and vacuum chamber testing. The results of the prototyping effort will demonstrate the proof of concept of a novel plasma propulsion system for various mission applications.

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Tesat-Spacecom to Establish U.S. Manufacturing Facility

BACKNANG, Germany (TESAT PR) — With more than 500,000 hours of operation and 10 Optical Communication Terminals (OCTs) in space, TESAT is the only provider worldwide for in-orbit-verified OCTs. As the market leader for space communication equipment, TESAT is setting-up manufacturing operations in the U.S. to meet the growing demand for OCTs from the U.S. Government and the commercial space industry. TESAT is currently providing OCTs for four different U.S. spacecraft primes in support of the Space Development Agency’s (SDA) Transport Layer and Tracking Layer and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Blackjack program.

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Mynaric Selected for DARPA Program to Lay out Future Optical Communications Terminal

Program aims to create constellation-agnostic optical communications terminal to interlink commercial and government satellite constellations

LOS ANGELES, December 20, 2021 (Mynaric PR) — Mynaric has been selected to work on the architectural design of a next-generation optical communications terminal as part of the phase  0 of the Space Based Adaptive Communications Node (Space-BACN) program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA’s Space-BACN program envisions an optical communications terminal that could be reconfigured to work with most of today’s optical intersatellite link standards allowing seamless communication among government and private-sector proprietary satellites. The selection for the phase 0 of the program is yet another win for Mynaric in the US government market that represents a driving force for the deployment of space-based, laser communication capabilities. 

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Biomanufacturing: Coming Soon to a Galaxy Near You?

DARPA’s B-SURE program aims to develop fundamental understanding of microbial capabilities for bioproduction in space.

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — The DoD has a role in orbital and lunar missions as defined by the US Space Force (USSF) Space Capstone Publication1. In this document, USSF notes the “inherent value of the space domain and the tremendous influence space has on U.S. prosperity and security.” There is a critical DoD need for the continued development and future expansion of orbital manufacturing to enable and ensure supply chain resiliency, sustained technological superiority, and asset security and repair for current and future operations. To meet this unique challenge, DARPA announced today that it was taking an initial step to explore and de-risk manufacturing capabilities that leverage biological processes in resource limited environments with its Biomanufacturing: Survival, Utility, and Reliability beyond Earth (B-SURE) program.

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NASA Robots Compete in DARPA’s Subterranean Challenge Final

Team CoSTAR, led by NASA’s JPL, will use autonomous robots with diverse methods of movement to compete in the complex underground environments of the SubT Challenge Final. One of the robots, NeBula-Spot, walks on four legs to explore hard-to-access locations. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Led by NASA JPL, Team CoSTAR will participate in the SubT final this week to demonstrate multi-robot autonomy in a series of tests in extreme environments.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Eight teams featuring dozens of robots from more than 30 institutions, including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, will converge in a former Kentucky limestone mine from Sept. 21 to 24 to participate in a series of complex underground scenarios. The goal: to demonstrate cutting-edge robotic autonomy capabilities and compete for the chance to win $2 million.

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Northrop Grumman’s LEO Satellite Payload for DARPA Revolutionizes Positioning, Navigation and Timing

Northrop Grumman’s advanced, software-enabled positioning, navigation and timing payload has been developed to keep forces on target in difficult environments against advanced threats – even if the availability of existing satellite navigation systems are degraded or denied. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

LINTHICUM, Md. and WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. – Sept. 16, 2021 – The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Blackjack program has awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) a contract for Phase 2 development of an advanced, software-defined positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) payload, with options to build units destined for space flight.

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Air Force Tasks Rhea Space Activity to Build Rapid-Response Lunar Communications Spacecraft

Rhea Scorpius Propulsive Burn (Credit: Rhea Space Activity)

RSA Investigates a Novel High-Thrust, High-Efficiency Propulsion System

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2021 (Rhea Space Activity PR) — As U.S. operations in space steadily move further away from Earth orbit, the rapidly growing ‘New Space’ company Rhea Space Activity (RSA) is pleased to announce that it has been selected by the United States Air Force (USAF) for a Phase I, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) 2021 Space Force Pitch Day award to investigate a bi-modal, solar-thermal propulsion system that would provide rapid repositioning capabilities for a future United State Space Force (USSF) deep space communications spacecraft.

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Blackjack Program Successfully Deploys Two Mandrake 2 Satellites

Mandrake 2 satellites (Credit: DARPA)

Achievement is key step toward realization of global high-speed space network

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — DARPA successfully deployed two satellites on June 30 as part of the SpaceX Transporter 2 launch. Both Mandrake 2 spacecraft, Able and Baker, are functioning well and progressing through checkout and commissioning. Conceived as an early risk-reduction flight for DARPA’s Blackjack  program, the Mandrake 2 mission will prove out advanced laser communications technologies for a broad government stakeholder team that includes DARPA, Space Development Agency (SDA), Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV), and Office of the Secretary of Defense’s (OSD) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) office.

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Space Development Agency Successfully Launches First Missions

WASHINGTON (SDA PR) — The Space Development Agency today announced the successful launch of its first two satellite missions, Mandrake II and Laser Interconnect Networking Communications System (LINCS) and the Prototype On-orbit Experimental Testbed (POET) payload, on June 30 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla.

The launch, supported by SpaceX’s Transporter 2, an all-rideshare Falcon 9 mission, carried aboard SDA’s first two sets of experimental satellites, designed and built with government and industry partners, to gather data on optical communication terminal (OCT) performance in low-Earth orbit (LEO), along with the POET payload to demonstrate on-orbit data fusion, proving out core capabilities required for SDA’s future development efforts.

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Sierra Space Provides Integration Services for New Nuclear Propulsion System as Part of DARPA’s DRACO Program

DRACO in orbit (Credit: Sierra Space)

LOUISVILLE, Colo., June 24, 2021 (Sierra Space PR) – Sierra Space, the new commercial space subsidiary of global aerospace and national security leader Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), will supply the propulsion components and integration services for a Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) system under a recent contract with General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS). GA-EMS and Sierra Space will develop and demonstrate an on-orbit NTP system for a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program called Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO).

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LeoStella Delivers First Satellite in Manufacture Agreement with Loft Orbital

TUKWILA, Wash., June 24, 20211 (LeoStella PR) – LeoStella, a specialized satellite constellation design and manufacturing company, delivered its first satellite to Loft Orbital Solutions Inc. (Loft Orbital). LeoStella delivered the “Yet Another Mission-3” (YAM-3) satellite to Cape Canaveral for an upcoming SpaceX launch. The YAM-3 satellite will host a variety of payloads, including a demonstration for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Blackjack program and an Internet of Things payload for Eutelsat. The satellite is part of a broader contract to build and integrate satellite buses for several upcoming Loft Orbital missions.

The delivery of this satellite demonstrates LeoStella’s ability to leverage its continuous manufacturing line of commercial satellites to respond to short-term mission needs.

“We have built a great partnership with Loft Orbital,” said Brian Rider, chief technology officer at LeoStella. “By pulling satellites off our production line, we are able to tailor them for Loft’s Payload Hub and get them delivered in less than half the time normally required for a satellite build cycle. Loft has a unique approach to ‘Make Space Simple’ for their customers. We are proud to be part of their ecosystem of enabling technologies and processes.” 

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Northrop Grumman and Intelsat Make History with Satellite Docking of Second Mission Extension Vehicle

An image of Intelsat 10-02 taken by MEV-2’s infrared wide field of view camera at 15m away. (Credit: SpaceLogistics)

DULLES, Va., April 12, 2021 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, SpaceLogistics LLC, have successfully completed the docking of the Mission Extension Vehicle-2 (MEV-2) to the Intelsat 10-02 (IS-10-02) commercial communications satellite to deliver life-extension services. The docking was completed at 1:34 p.m. EST.

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DARPA Selects Performers for Phase 1 of Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) Program

Credit: DARPA

Industry teams to develop propulsion design, spacecraft concepts for demonstrating on-orbit Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) system

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — DARPA has awarded contracts for the first phase of the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program. The goal of the DRACO program is to demonstrate a nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) system above low Earth orbit in 2025. The three prime contractors are General Atomics, Blue Origin, and Lockheed Martin.

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