NASA Targets Crew-1 Launch for Nov. 14

SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 7:49 p.m. EST Saturday, Nov. 14, for the launch of the first crew rotation mission to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Managers of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission will hold a media teleconference at 4 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Oct. 28, to discuss the upcoming launch, including results from recent testing of the Falcon 9 Merlin engines following unexpected data SpaceX noted during a recent non-NASA launch. Audio of the teleconference will stream live on the agency’s website.

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Japan Begins Astronaut Recruitment

Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi. (Credit: NASA)

For the sixth tine in its history, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will be recruiting astronauts as it gears up to support America’s plan to return people to the moon in 2024.

“We are preparing to recruit new astronauts around the fall of next year. We hope that many of you will apply to become astronauts who can also play an active role in lunar exploration,” said JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata in an announcement posted on the space agency’s website.

JAXA has hired 11 astronauts in five recruitment cycles dating back to 1985. The most recent round was in 2009 when three astronaut candidates were hired.

A total of 12 Japanese citizens have flown in space. Television journalist Toyohiro Akiyama became the first from his nation to reach orbit when he flew to the Soviet space station Mir aboard a Soyuz spacecraft in 1990. Akiyama, who spent nearly 8 days in space, was not part of the Japan’s official astronaut corps.

Crew-1 Launch Targeted for Mid-November, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Remains on Schedule

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 crew members are seen seated in the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft during crew equipment interface training. From left to right are NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, mission specialist; Victor Glover, pilot; and Mike Hopkins, Crew Dragon commander; and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, mission specialist. (Credit: SpaceX)

NASA Associate Administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations Kathy Lueders gave a Twitter update on the progress SpaceX is making in dealing with an anomaly during a recent launch. Her tweets are below.

We are making a lot of good progress with @SpaceX on engine testing to better understand the unexpected behavior observed during a recent non-NASA launch.

It’s too early to report findings at this point, as @SpaceX continues testing to validate what’s believed to be the most credible cause.

Based on our current analysis, @SpaceX is replacing one Merlin engine on the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich launch vehicle and one engine for Crew-1 rocket that displayed similar early-start behavior during testing.

We are still targeting the Sentinel-6 launch for Nov. 10 from Vandenberg Air Force Base as we expect to complete forward work in time.

We are also still working towards a mid-November launch for Crew-1. We will want a few days between Sentinel-6 and Crew-1 to complete data reviews and check performance. Most importantly, we will fly all our missions when we are ready.

Crew-1 mission will be the first commercial flight of the Crew Dragon vehicle to the International Space Station.

NASA Johnson Builds Labs to Study New Asteroid Samples, Cosmic Mysteries

A rendering of the new asteroid lab being built at Johnson Space Center. When the samples are returned to Earth in 2023 they will be brought to this lab for curation and initial examination. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — When the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft touches asteroid Bennu, it will capture NASA’s first sample from an asteroid and provide rare specimens for research that scientists hope will help them shed light on the many mysteries of our solar system’s formation.

The sample is scheduled for return to Earth in 2023 to be examined and stored in state-of-the-art curation facilities now under construction at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The labs will be managed by NASA’s Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science division, also known as ARES. The division is home to the world’s greatest astromaterials collections — including lunar rocks, solar wind particles, meteorites, and comet samples — and some of the experts who research them.

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Supersonic & Hypersonic Civilian Transport Projects in Development

Overture supersonic passenger jet (Credit: Boom Supersonic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Boom Supersonic’s recent rollout of its XB-1 supersonic demonstrator aircraft marked a milestone in an accelerating race to revive an era of civilian supersonic travel that ended when the Concorde jetliner was retired in 2003.

XB-1, aka Baby Boom, is set to begin flight tests next year from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The Mach 2.2 (2,717 km/h, 1,688 mph) vehicle is the precursor to Boom’s 55-seat Overture airliner, which is scheduled to begin carrying passengers in 2029.

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ESA Selects Thales Alenia Space to Build Two Modules for Lunar Gateway

(Credit: Thales Alenia Space/Briot)

Turin, October, 14 2020 – Thales Alenia Space, the joint company between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), will develop two key modules for the upcoming Lunar Orbital Platform–Gateway (LOP-G): I-HAB (International Habitat) and the ESPRIT communications and refueling module.

These two modules are the European contribution for this Gateway. The first tranche of I-HAB contract, (worth 36 million euros, the global amount being 327 million euros), has been signed with the European Space Agency (ESA), while ESPRIT development has already started under Authorization To Proceed (ATP) with a contract signature expected by the end of the year.

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Canadian Space Agency Signs Artemis Accords

Canadian Space Agency President Lisa Campbell signed the Artemis Accords on behalf of Canada. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

LONGUEIUL, Quebec (CSA PR) — The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is working with national and international partners to write the next chapter of space exploration—sending humans to more distant destinations like the Moon and Mars.

Today, the CSA proudly joined other space agencies – NASA, the Australian Space Agency, the Italian Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the Luxembourg Space Agency, the United Arab Emirates Space Agency, and the UK Space Agency – in signing the Artemis Accords. This commitment is an important first step towards ensuring safe and sustainable exploration beyond Earth’s orbit.

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Crew-1 Launch Postponed Due to Falcon 9 Launch Anomaly

SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station is now targeted for no sooner than early-to-mid November, providing additional time for SpaceX to complete hardware testing and data reviews as the company evaluates off-nominal behavior of Falcon 9 first stage engine gas generators observed during a recent non-NASA mission launch attempt. Through the agency’s Commercial Crew and Launch Services Programs partnership with SpaceX, NASA has full insight into the company’s launch and testing data.

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First Tests for Land­ing the Mar­tian Moons eX­plo­ration Rover

Preparations for a drop test. (Credit: DLR)
  • Intensity of the landing impact on Mars’ moon Phobos is being tested with a rover model.
  • The housing of the rover consists of a lightweight construction made of carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers (CFRP).
  • The landing on Phobos is planned for late 2026 or early 2027 as part of the MMX mission

BREMEN, Germany (DLR PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission will have a German-French rover on board when it is launched in 2024. The rover will land on the Martian moon Phobos and explore its surface for approximately three months.

Initial landing tests are currently underway at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Landing and Mobility Test Facility (Lande- und Mobilitätstest Anlage; LAMA) in Bremen. Using a first preliminary development model, the engineers are determining how robust the design of the approximately 25-kilogram rover must be to withstand an impact on the moon’s surface after a free fall of about 40 to 100 metres.

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NASA, SpaceX to Launch First Commercial Crew Rotation Mission to International Space Station

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 crew members are seen seated in the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft during crew equipment interface training. From left to right are NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, mission specialist; Victor Glover, pilot; and Mike Hopkins, Crew Dragon commander; and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, mission specialist. (Credit: SpaceX)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX are beginning a regular cadence of missions with astronauts launching on an American rocket from American soil to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 is the first crew rotation mission with four astronauts flying on a commercial spacecraft, and the first including an international partner.

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As Bridenstine Begs for Bucks at Home, Italy & Japan Move Forward on Artemis Cooperation

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the same week he pleaded with Senators to fully fund the Artemis lunar program, Jim Bridenstine signed a cooperation agreement with Italy and a key partner, Japan, moved forward with its part of the effort.

On Friday, Bridenstine “signed a joint statement of intent with Italian Undersecretary to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers Riccardo Fraccaro, representing the Italian government, articulating strong mutual interest between the two countries in pursuing Italian contributions to lunar exploration activities as part of NASA’s Artemis Program,” the agency announced in a press release.

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GITAI, JAXA Start Business Concept Co-creation Activities for World’s First Space Work Robot Business

Translated from Japanese with Google Translate

TOKYO (JAXA/GITAI PR) — GITAI Japan Co., Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will identify tasks that require robotics in outer space, and robots that perform these tasks. Aiming to acquire technology and provide services by robots, we will start business concept co-creation activities under the JAXA Space Innovation Partnership and and Co-creation (J-SPARC) initiative.

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JAXA to Send 8K Camera on Martian Moons Exploration Mission

Martian Moons mission approaches Deimos. (Credit: JAXA/NHK)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) have decided to jointly develop a “Super Hi-Vision Camera” that is capable of filming 4K and 8K images in space for JAXA’s Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission.

This would be the first time in history that 8K ultra high definition images of Mars and its moons are taken in proximity. By combining the actual flight data of the MMX spacecraft and the images taken by the Super Hi-Vision Camera, the exploration of the MMX spacecraft around Mars and its moons (the Martian system), 300 million kilometers from the Earth, will be recreated.

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JAXA Delays H3 Rocket’s Maiden Flight

H-III launch vehicle variants (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has been pressing forward with the development of the H3 Launch Vehicle. In the process, a technical problem was identified regarding the LE-9 first-stage engine, which is a new engine now under development.

In order to address the problem in an appropriate manner, JAXA has decided to postpone the launch of the first test flight from the Japanese fiscal year (JFY) 2020 to JFY 2021 and that of the second test flight from JFY 2021 to JFY 2022. [Editor’s Note: The 2020 fiscal year ends on March 31.]

JAXA will deal with the LE-9 engine-related problem in an appropriate manner and make an all-out effort for the successful launch of the H3 as a new Japan’s mainstay rocket.

JAXA and Toyota Announce LUNAR CRUISER As Nickname for Manned Pressurized Rover

Conceptual pressurized crewed lunar rover. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA/Toyota PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) announced today that they have named the manned pressurized rover which is currently under joint research by JAXA and Toyota the “LUNAR CRUISER” as nickname. JAXA and Toyota previously announced and have been conducting joint research on a manned, pressurized lunar rover that uses fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) technologies.

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