Astrobotic Wins $1.5M to Mature Satellite Servicing and Hazard Detection Systems for Space

Example LiDAR Reconstruction of Spacecraft (Simulated); this mapping will be generated by Astrobotic’s algorithms to enable satellite servicing and hazard detection. (Credit: Astrobotic Technology)

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) — Astrobotic has won two NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II contracts worth $1.5 million to further advance novel Laser Imaging, Detection, and Ranging (LiDAR) software solutions. When space qualified, these software packages will support in-space satellite servicing as well as safe landing on celestial objects such as the Moon or asteroids through accurate hazard detection.

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Aeva 4D LiDAR Helps NASA Map the Moon

Astronaut working on the moon (Credit: NASA)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., April 21, 2022 (Aeva PR) – Aeva® (NYSE: AEVA), a leader in next-generation sensing and perception systems, today announced that NASA’s Kinematic Navigation and Cartography Knapsack (KNaCK) Instrument project, a LiDAR-based mobile terrain-mapping and navigation system designed to support the next generation of lunar and planetary exploration, is using Aeva’s 4D LiDAR™ technology. Aeva’s technology, including the new Aeries™ II sensor, is expected to enable the KNaCK Instrument to create highly accurate maps of the lunar surface and provide precise navigation capabilities to overcome the lack of global positioning and navigation systems on the Moon. These capabilities are designed to support missions that are part of NASA’s Artemis program which aims to return humans to the Moon for the first time in more than 50 years.

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New UK Space Funds to Pioneer New Approaches to Energy, Communication and Resources

British space technology will help pioneer new approaches to energy, communications and resources, thanks to new projects from the UK Space Agency

LONDON (UK Space Agency PR) — Science and Innovation Minister George Freeman announced the £2 million boost for 13 new projects during British Science Week (11-20 March), which aims to inspire interest in and celebrate science, engineering, technology and maths for people of all ages.

The projects include Rolls-Royce developing a power station for space that could power the generation of water, breathable oxygen and fuels for solar exploration.

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Astrobotic’s Hazard Detection System to Take Flight

Credit: Astrobotic

Astrobotic leading the way in Hazard Detection for space missions with latest NASA award.

PITTSBURGH, PA Tuesday, December 28, 2021 (Astrobotic PR) — Astrobotic announced today it was selected to receive funding for its LiDAR-based Hazard Detection sensor (LHD) as part of the NASA Flight Opportunities TechFlights solicitation. This LHD sensor will assist in the safe landing of Astrobotic’s Griffin lander, the largest lunar lander since Apollo’s Lunar Module. Griffin will be carrying NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, to the lunar surface.

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Digantara and OrbAstro Announce Service Agreement for Space Debris Tracking Mission on 6U Satellite

ORB-6 satellite (Credit: OrbAstro)

Agreement between international NewSpace pioneers will pilot a cutting-edge in-space debris tracking technology and service.

HARWELL, UK, 4 November 2021 (OrbAstro PR) – Digantara Research and Technologies Pvt. Ltd., (Digantara), a space situational awareness company, has signed a contract with Orbital Astronautics Ltd (OrbAstro), a satellite and in-orbit service provider, to fly its SCOT (Space–based space Climate and Object Tracker) payload onboard an ORB-6 satellite platform launching towards the end of 2022. The mission will focus on demonstration of a novel LiDAR-based technology developed by Digantara, and will serve as the pilot for their LEO constellation providing a space situational awareness service. 

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NASA Selects Astrobotic for 2 Small Business Awards to Improve Spacecraft Operations

A rendering of Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander is shown, with NASA’s three water-detecting payloads (MSolo, NSS, and NIRVSS) highlighted in blue. (Credit: Astrobotic Technology)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected Astrobotic Technology for two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards to develop technology to help spacecraft improve proximity operations in orbit and avoid hazards when landing on other worlds.

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JAXA and NTT DATA Launch Joint Research on Space-borne Laser Altimeter to Create Advanced 3D Map

Principle of space-borne laser altimetry. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) – Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Japanese national aerospace and space agency, and NTT DATA Corporation, a leading digital business and IT services provider, will jointly conduct research to enhance the precision of three-dimensional mapping using laser altimeters (LIDAR1) mounted on a satellite or other spacecraft.

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Astrobotic Selects Navigation Doppler Lidar from Psionic for Mission to Deliver VIPER to the Lunar Surface

A visual rendering of Griffin utilizing Navigation Doppler Lidar sensor to guide landing on the lunar surface. (Credit: Psionic LLC)

Navigation Doppler Lidar chosen for high accuracy and NASA heritage for 2023 CLPS mission to search for water on the Moon

PITTSBURGH, Pa. and HAMPTON, Va. (Astrobotic PR) — Astrobotic today announced they have selected Navigation Doppler Lidar (NDL) from Psionic for their mission in late 2023 to deliver NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the South Pole of the Moon.

The NDL serves as a critical sensor element as part of the Griffin Lander’s Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GN&C) system to ensure a safe, precise landing. In June 2020, NASA awarded a $199.5 million contract to Astrobotic under its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. 

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Ozmens’ Sierra Nevada Corp. Leverages Proven Sensor Tech in Space

SPARKS, Nev., December 22, 2022 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security company owned by Eren and Fatih Ozmen, is leveraging decades of expertise in navigation and guidance systems to develop enhanced vision technology for space applications, including moon and planetary landings.

“Navigation and landing systems, and collision avoidance, are really a sweet spot for SNC,” said SNC’s CEO Fatih Ozmen. “So much of what we have learned from our national security programs about sensor processing, display rendering techniques and pilot perception – how to display information effectively to safely guide a pilot – is directly applicable to crewed and uncrewed landings on the moon or Mars.”

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Government Funds UK Companies at the Forefront of Space Innovation

21 UK organisations have been awarded a share of over £7 million of funding to put the UK at the forefront of the latest advances in space innovation

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The cash injection is going to high-risk, high-reward projects that support companies and universities with radical ideas for how we tackle climate change through Earth Observation or address satellite communications challenges, from providing greater connectivity to remote places to increasing the efficiency of our homes.

Projects set for the cash boost include The Open University who will use the money to create the UK’s first Precision Forestry tool, TreeView, which will support efforts to tackle the climate emergency through detailed measurement of tree-planting initiatives aimed at increasing carbon dioxide removal.

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NASA Tipping Point Partnership with Blue Origin to Test Precision Lunar Landing Technologies

by Clare Skelly
NASA Headquarters

WASHINGTON — From the rim of Shackleton crater to permanently shadowed regions on the Moon, a NASA-developed sensor suite could allow robotic and crewed missions to land precisely on the lunar surface within an area about half the size of a football field.

Technologies to enable exact and soft landings on the Moon and other worlds will fly on Blue Origin’s next New Shepard suborbital rocket launch, currently targeted for 11:00 a.m. EDT Thursday, Sept. 24. The company’s live launch webcast will start at 10:30 a.m. and air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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NASA Technology Enables Precision Landing Without a Pilot

The New Shepard (NS) booster lands after this vehicle’s fifth flight during NS-11 May 2, 2019. (Credits: Blue Origin)

by Margo Pierce
NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate

Some of the most interesting places to study in our solar system are found in the most inhospitable environments – but landing on any planetary body is already a risky proposition. With NASA planning robotic and crewed missions to new locations on the Moon and Mars, avoiding landing on the steep slope of a crater or in a boulder field is critical to helping ensure a safe touch down for surface exploration of other worlds. In order to improve landing safety, NASA is developing and testing a suite of precise landing and hazard-avoidance technologies.

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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.

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NASA Scientists Leverage Carbon-Measuring Instrument for Mars Studies

This is a closeup of the lidar instrument, which would remotely profile, for the first time, water vapor up to nine miles above the Martian surface, along with wind speeds and minute particles suspended in the planet’s atmosphere. (Credits: NASA)

by Lori Keesey
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — Insights and technology gleaned from creating a carbon-measuring instrument for Earth climate studies is being leveraged to build another that would remotely profile, for the first time, water vapor up to nine miles above the Martian surface, along with wind speeds and minute particles suspended in the planet’s atmosphere.

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Drone Maps Icy Lava Tube in Iceland in Preparation for Lunar & Martian Cave Exploration

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (Astrobotic/SETI Institute PR) – The SETI Institute and Astrobotic Technology, Inc. are announcing the successful mapping in 3D of the interior of an ice-rich lava tube in Iceland using a LiDAR-equipped drone. The team was investigating the Lofthellir Lava Tube Ice Cave in the remote Myvatn region of Iceland, and used the drone to document the lava tube’s shape and extent, history of rock falls, and spectacular ice formations.

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