NASA’s First Mission to Study the Interior of Mars Awaits May 5 Launch

Mars InSight lander (Credit: NASA)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — All systems are go for NASA’s next launch to the Red Planet.

The early-morning liftoff on Saturday of the Mars InSight lander will mark the first time in history an interplanetary launch will originate from the West Coast. InSight will launch from the U.S. Air Force Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex 3E. The two-hour launch window will open on May 5 at 4:05 a.m. PDT (7:05 a.m. EDT).

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Schedule of Mars InSight Pre-Launch & Launch Activities

NASA’s InSight to Mars undergoes final preparations at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., ahead of its May 5 launch date. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s next mission to Mars, Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight), is scheduled to launch Saturday, May 5, on a first-ever mission to study the heart of Mars. Coverage of prelaunch and launch activities begins Thursday, May 3, on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

InSight, the first planetary mission to take off from the West Coast, is targeted to launch at 7:05 a.m. EDT (4:05 a.m. PDT) from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.

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Gigabit Connectivity for the International Space Station

BERLIN (Tesat-Spacecom PR) — At today’s press conference Airbus Defence and Space, the Institute for Communication and Navigation of the German Aerospace Center (DLR-IKN) and Tesat-Spacecom published their cooperation with the aim to equip the ISS with a high capacity direct-to-earth Laser Communication Terminal.

T-OSIRIS, how the new terminal is called, was developed in cooperation between DLR-IKN and the German spacecraft supplier Tesat-Spacecom. It complements Bartolomeo, Columbus and thus the ISS with the ability to transmit data directly to earth via optical communication.

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World’s Smallest Satellite Laser Communication Terminal Passes CDR

CubeL (Credit: Tesat)

BACKNANG, Germany 12.04.2018 Tesat PR) — Tesat’s Laser Communication Terminal for CubeSats, CubeL, is on track after recently the Critical Design Review (CDR) was successfully held at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen. This was an important milestone for the development program on the way to its demonstration mission, which is planned to launch later this year.

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Space-to-Ground Laser Communications System for European ISS Platform

Bartolomeo with laser (Credit: Airbus)

BREMEN, German (Airbus PR) — The first high capacity space-to-ground laser communication system is to be installed on the Bartolomeo platform of the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a collaboration between Airbus Defence and Space, the Institute of Communications and Navigation of DLR (German Aerospace Center) and Tesat-Spacecom GmbH & Co. KG. The system called OSIRIS will provide direct to earth (DTE) technology with a data rate of 10 Gbps over range of about 1.500 km.

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NASA Ready to Study Heart of Mars

Mars InSight lander (Credit: NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA is about to go on a journey to study the interior of Mars. The space agency held a news conference Thursday at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, detailing the next mission to the Red Planet.

Scheduled to launch as early as May 5, NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight), a stationary lander, will be the first-ever mission dedicated to exploring Mars’ deep interior. It also will be the first NASA mission since the Apollo moon landings to place a seismometer, a device that measures quakes, on the soil of another planet.

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Airbus is Developing CIMON Artificial Intelligence Astronaut Assistance System

CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile CompanioN) is a mobile and autonomous assistance system designed to aid astronauts with their everyday tasks on the ISS. This will be the first form of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on an ISS mission. (Credit: Airbus)

Friedrichshafen/Bremen, Germany (Airbus PR) – Airbus, in cooperation with IBM, is developing CIMON (Crew Interactive MObile CompanioN), an AI-based assistant for astronauts for the DLR Space Administration. The technology demonstrator, which is the size of a medicine ball and weighs around 5 kg, will be tested on the ISS by Alexander Gerst during the European Space Agency’s Horizons mission between June and October 2018.

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Europe’s Columbus Module Turns 10

External view of Columbus module. (Credit: NASA)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The Columbus space laboratory began its journey into space on 7 February 2008 and has now been the scientific heart of European research on the International Space Station (ISS) for ten years. In microgravity, researchers gain unique insights from a wide range of disciplines from astrophysics, through materials research, to psychology and medical treatment options. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) supervised the development and construction of the ISS module on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA), is involved with experiments at a research level and runs the operation from its Columbus Control Center in Oberpfaffenhofen.

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Successful First Test of the Ariane 6 Vulcain Engine

  • The Vulcain® 2.1 engine, which will power the main stage of Ariane 6, has completed a successful first test firing
  • The test was carried out on behalf of ArianeGroup by the DLR (German Aerospace Center) at its Lampoldshausen site
  • This is a version of the Ariane 5 Vulcain® 2 engine optimized for Ariane 6

Lampoldshausen, Germany, 23 January 2018 (ArianeGroup PR) — The Vulcain® 2.1 engine, developed by ArianeGroup to power the main stage of the Ariane 6 launcher, for which the maiden flight is scheduled for 2020, has just been successfully tested by the DLR (German Aerospace Center) on the P5 test facility at its site in Lampoldshausen, Germany on behalf of ArianeGroup.

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France & Germany Pursue Reusable Rocket Technology

In addition to the Prometheus reusable rocket engine program, European officials are pursuing a program named Callisto that aims to developing a reusable booster. SpaceNews reports:

The French and German space agencies (CNES and DLR, respectively) have for the past two years collaborated on a scaled-down rocket that would allow Europe to practice different aspects of recovery and reuse. Callisto’s first flight is planned for 2020.

Callisto officials said the goal of the program is not to create a new vehicle in 2020 — the Ariane 6 is scheduled to debut that same year — but to establish a base of knowledge for future launch vehicles that could, maybe, be reusable.

“Prometheus and Callisto are two key elements of our future launcher preparatory roadmap,” Jean-Marc Astorg, head of CNES’s Launch Vehicles Directorate, told SpaceNews. “Prometheus is a new engine to equip Ariane 6 evolutions or brand-new launchers, and Callisto is developed to learn about reusability in Europe, which we have not done before. We are lacking an experience by operation of recovering a vehicle and reflying it. This is exactly what we would like to do with Callisto.”

Around 1 to 2 percent of Ariane 6’s 3.6-billion-euro ($4.3 billion) development budget is spent on Callisto, Astorg said, describing it as a “modest approach.” Callisto is still in a preliminary design phase, he said, with a full decision on the realization of the demonstrator anticipated this June.

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Sierra Nevada Expands DLR Partnership

Dream Chaser berthed at space station. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev. (September 28, 2017) —  Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today, expanding its relationship with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) for further collaboration on space initiatives.

The MOU provides a framework for the two organizations to cooperate in space-related technologies and transportation utilizing the Dream Chaser® spacecraft and space habitats.

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DLR to Launch Cosmic Greenhouses into Orbit

Eu:CROPIS satellite (Credit: DLR)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — Space missions are a bit like a marathon with checkpoints – only once the first model of a satellite has been successfully tested will construction commence on the actual flight model.

The Eu:CROPIS satellite developed by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), which will operate two greenhouses under Martian and lunar conditions, has now reached this milestone – construction of the flight model can now begin. The finish line is already in sight: launched by Space-X, the satellite and its scientific payload will take off for outer space on board the Falcon 9 in the second half of 2017.
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BIROS Demonstrates Autonomous Rendezvous in Space Using Only Image Data

An image of the picosat taken from 67 meters. (Credit: DLR)
An image of the picosat taken from 67 meters. (Credit: DLR)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — For the first time in the history of space exploration, scientists at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have demonstrated in a real space experiment how a satellite can approach a counterpart by fully autonomously, making use of only optical or vision-based navigation.

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Germany Provides Approximately 2 Billion Euros to ESA Space Projects

Dlr_logo1LUCERNE, Switzerland (DLR PR) — The highest decision-making body of the European Space Agency (ESA) met this year on 1 and 2 December at the Culture and Convention Centre (KKL) in Lucerne, Switzerland, to set the financial and programme-based course for European space travel for the coming years. Ministers in charge of space in Europe last came together exactly two years ago on 2 December 2014 in Luxembourg.

The German Federal Government was represented by Brigitte Zypries, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). Brigitte Zypries, who is also aerospace coordinator, was supported by Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Executive Board and Gerd Gruppe, Member of the DLR Executive Board responsible for the Space Administration, which, in close collaboration with the BMWi, prepared the German position for the ESA Council meeting at ministerial level.
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South Pole Greenhouse Grow Vegetables for Space

EDEN ISS greenhouse at the South Pole. (Credit: DLR)
EDEN ISS greenhouse at the South Pole. (Credit: DLR)

The menu for polar explorers in the Antarctic is not usually very exciting. Often, there are only durable goods, especially in the polar winter, when the researchers are cut off from the outside world for months. But by the end of next year, the EDEN ISS greenhouse will supply the German Neumayer III polar station with fresh fruit and vegetables. It will also test how fresh plant-based food could be cultivated on the International Space Station ISS and during future missions to the Moon and Mars. The not quite so everyday Antarctic container has arrived at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) site in Bremen and its conversion into a self-sufficient biotope for salad, herbs, cucumbers and maybe even strawberries. DLR researcher Paul Zabel is already preparing for his extraordinary mission to the End of the World.
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