Aerojet Rocketdyne Completes its Propulsion for NASA’s Artemis II Mission

Four RS-25 engines, like the one pictured undergoing a hot-fire test, will power the core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) — NASA’s new heavy-lift launch vehicle. (Credit: NASA)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., July 20, 2020 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne recently completed all of its propulsion hardware for the first crewed flight of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft.

The engines and motors, which Aerojet Rocketdyne produces at its major space operations sites across the country, will support NASA’s Artemis II mission. The Artemis II mission is the second flight of SLS and Orion and the first to send an astronaut crew to fly around the Moon.

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Audit Says NASA Hid $17 Billion in Orion-related Costs

Orion undergoing testing at Plum Brook Station. (Credit: NASA–Marvin Smith)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A new audit of the Orion lunar crew vehicle has found that NASA has excluded $17 billion in program‐related costs from its budget estimate, and the space agency has paid “overly generous” performance awards to prime contractor Lockheed Martin despite the program being over budget and behind schedule.

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Frontier Development Lab Continues High-stakes AI Research Despite COVID-19

LUXEMBOURG (Luxembourg Space Agency PR) —Frontier Development Lab (FDL) – an artificial intelligence research accelerator for space science – has kicked off its 2020 program on a virtual platform with researchers and faculty from across the globe.  

The Luxembourg Space Agency partners with FDL for the 4th consecutive year.

The teams, comprised of early-career PhDs in AI and interdisciplinary science domains, are supported by subject matter experts from NASA (including NASA Headquarters, NASA Ames Research Center and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center) and the SETI Institute together with FDL Partners: Google Cloud, Mayo Clinic, Lockheed Martin, MIT, USGS, IBM, Intel AI, Luxembourg Space Agency, NVIDIA, Planet and Augustus Intelligence. Along with expertise, FDL partner organisations support advanced AI research by providing funding, hardware, AI/ML algorithms, datasets, software and cloud-based super-compute resources.

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Orion Cockpit Designed with Crew in Mind for Artemis Missions to Deep Space

In a mockup of Orion’s crew capsule, astronauts and ground crew test procedures to get them out of the capsule in under two minutes in case of an emergency before launch. (Credits: NASA/Radislav Sinyak)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Orion spacecraft will carry astronauts from Earth on their journeys to the Moon. To ensure crew get there safely during Artemis missions, Orion’s design team is considering every detail about living and working inside the spacecraft.

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Orion’s ‘Twin’ Completes Structural Testing for Artemis I Mission

The Orion STA, in its “full stack” launch configuration — the crew module, service module and launch abort system, as well as the spacecraft adapter and jettisonable fairings — was lifted into a reverberant acoustic chamber at Lockheed Martin for acoustic testing. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

DENVER (NASA PR) — Before NASA astronauts fly the Orion spacecraft on Artemis missions to the Moon and back, engineers needed to thoroughly test its ability to withstand the stresses of launch, climb to orbit, the harsh conditions of deep space transit, and return to Earth. NASA designed Orion from the beginning specifically to support astronauts on missions farther from Earth than any other spacecraft built for humans.

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AAC Clyde Space Wins Contract to Develop Orbital Manoeuvring Vehicle Solar Panels

GLASGOW (AAC Clyde Space PR) — AAC Clyde Space has been selected to develop a new solar panel for Moog’s new Small Launch Orbital Manoeuvring Vehicle (SL-OMV), a space tug designed to deploy Cubesat constellations and guide small satellites to their final orbit. The order value is 340,000 GBP (approx. 4.0 MSEK) with planned delivery during the first quarter of 2021.

Moog will supply the Small Launch Orbital Manoeuvring Vehicle (SL-OMV) to Lockheed Martin as part of the UK Spaceflight Programme, supported by the UK Space Agency. The lightweight vehicle is a propulsive tug to be used on rockets dedicated to the launch of small satellites.

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U.S. Companies Advance Critical Human Lander Technologies

Compilation of artist’s renderings representing NextSTEP Appendix E work. Top row, left to right: Dynetics, Lockheed Martin, Blue Origin. Bottom row, left to right: Aerojet Rocketdyne, Northrop Grumman, Masten Space System, Boeing. (Credit: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA and 11 commercial partners recently completed a series of technical studies, demonstrations and ground prototypes for 21st Century human landing systems. The Next Space Technology Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Appendix E work helped the agency refine its Artemis program requirements for the companies competing to build the landers that will take American astronauts to the Moon throughout this decade.

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Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator Announces Class of 2020

LOS ANGELES (Techstars PR) — Today Techstars announce the 10 companies joining the second class of the Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator, typically located in Los Angeles but running virtually this summer due to COVID-19.

Over the next three months these companies will rapidly accelerate their businesses by working closely with Techstars, Starburst, our network of expert mentors, and our formal sponsors from industry and government: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, Maxar Technologies, SAIC, Israel Aerospace Industries North America, and the U.S. Air Force, with support from The Aerospace Corporation. Our Demo Day is on September 9, 2020.

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Scottish Solar Panel to Fly on UK Space Launch

Solar panel (Credit: Clyde Space)

Glasgow-based AAC Clyde Space will manufacture a new solar panel for space vehicles launched from UK vertical spaceports.

GLASGOW (UK Space Agency PR) — AAC Clyde Space played an integral role in Glasgow’s emergence as a global hub for satellite manufacturing and built the UK Space Agency’s first national satellite, which was launched in 2014. The company’s expertise in space systems will now play a vital role in supporting the UK’s plans to become Europe’s leading small satellite launch destination.

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SMC Awards $309 Million Contracts for Rapid Weather Prototyping Efforts

EWS Notional Distributed Architecture (Credit: SMC EWS Program)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (SMC PR) — The Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has awarded three Other Transaction Authority agreements, totaling $309 million, to develop prototypes for the Electro Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) Weather System (EWS) program. The awardees, each a member of the Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC), are:  

  • Raytheon Technologies
  • General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems Group (subcontractors: EO Vista/Atmospheric & Environmental Research (AER)/Braxton Technologies)
  • Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates (ASTRA) (subcontractors: Tyvak/Science & Technologies Corps (STC)/AER/Lockheed Martin)
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Report: USAF Early Warning Satellite System Faces Challenges

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

An U.S. Air Force project to launch advanced missile warning satellites faces multiple challenges as it seeks to meet a “highly aggressive and high risk” schedule for a first launch in 2025, according to a new assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared
(Next Gen OPIR) Block 0 consists of three satellites in geosynchronous orbit built by Lockheed Martin and two spacecraft in polar orbit built by Northrop Grumman.

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New UK-based Space Team Launches to Boost Sector and Economy

LONDON (Inmarsat PR) — Four UK-based companies announce today that they will team up to combine their complementary skills and expertise to enhance further the country’s space industry capabilities to deliver prosperity and security.

Athena is the UK’s new national team in space, formed by Serco, Inmarsat, CGI UK and Lockheed Martin UK. The four companies are world leaders in providing technology and services across defence, space, communications and information technology to governments, businesses and other organisations.

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Ready for Touchdown on Asteroid Bennu

During the sample collection event, Natural Feature Tracking (NFT) will guide NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to asteroid Bennu’s surface. The spacecraft takes real-time images of the asteroid’s surface features as it descends, and then compares these images with an onboard image catalog. The spacecraft then uses these geographical markers to orient itself and accurately target the touchdown site. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission is officially prepared for its long-awaited touchdown on asteroid Bennu’s surface. The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has targeted Oct. 20 for its first sample collection attempt.

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NASA, Lockheed Martin Face Budget, Schedule Challenges with Low-Boom Supersonic Demonstrator

Illustration of the completed X-59 QueSST landing on a runway. (Credits: Lockheed Martin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s X-59 Low Boom Flight Demonstrator (LBFD) Project is progressing well toward its first flight test at the end of 2021 or early 2022 even though its cost has increased and schedule has slipped, according to a new audit by the space agency’s Office of Inspector General (IG). (Full Report)

The ambitious project will test designs and techniques for reducing the sonic booms caused supersonic aircraft. If successful, the research would allow a new generation of supersonic transports to fly over land rather than being confined to over-ocean travel as the now-retired Concorde airplane was it carried passengers from 1976 to 2003.

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