Angelic Halo Orbit Chosen for Lunar Gateway

PARIS (ESA PR) — Mission planners at NASA and ESA’s Operations Centre (ESOC) have spent months debating the pros and cons of different orbits, and have now decided on the path of the lunar Gateway.

Like the International Space Station, the Gateway will be a permanent and changeable human outpost. Instead of circling our planet however, it will orbit the Moon, acting as a base for astronauts and robots exploring the lunar surface.

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Paragon Selected for 3 NASA Small Business Awards

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA selected three projects from Paragon Space Development Corporation of Tucson, Arizona for funding in its recent round of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I awards. Each contract is worth a maximum of $125,000 over six months.

Paragon’s Separation Technology of On-Orbit Liquid and Excrement (STOOLE) project is pretty much what it sounds like: an improved system for recycling human waste in space.

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NASA Gives a Financial Boost to In-Space Welding Projects

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA selected two projects for funding focused on developing in-space welding technologies as part of its recent round of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards.

The space agency selected Busek Company of Natick, Mass., and Made in Space of Jacksonville, Fla., for phase 1 awards worth up to $125,000 apiece for six months.

“Busek proposes to initiate the development of a semi-autonomous, teleoperated welding robot for joining of external (or internal metallic uninhabited volume at zero pressure) surfaces in space,”according to the proposal summary. “This welding robot will be an adaptation of a versatile Busek developed system called SOUL (Satellite On Umbilical Line) with a suitable weld head attached to it.

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Tethers Unlimited Aims to Put SPIDERs on Mars

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the 1970’s, David Bowie sang about Ziggy Stardust and the spiders from Mars. If Tethers Unlimited has its way, the Red Planet will be crawling with them.

Earlier this month, NASA selected the Bothell, Washington-based company for a small business award to work on its Sensing and Positioning in Deep Environments with Retrieval (SPIDER) surface exploration system.

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NASA Releases Draft Solicitation on Supplying Lunar Gateway

The power and propulsion element of NASA’s Gateway is a high-power, 50-kilowatt solar electric propulsion spacecraft – three times more powerful than current capabilities. (Credits: NASA)

By Laura Aguiar
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

In the latest step in sending astronauts to the lunar surface within five years, NASA issued a draft solicitation June 14 to industry seeking comments for a future opportunity for American companies to deliver cargo and other supplies to the Gateway in lunar orbit.

The first logistics service to the orbital outpost is expected to deliver science, cargo and other supplies in support of the agency’s new Artemis lunar exploration program, which includes sending the first woman and the next man to the surface of the Moon by 2024.

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Orion Launch Abort System Designed to Pull its Weight for Moon Missions

Orion’s Ascent Abort-2 flight test vehicle. (Credit: NASA/Tony Gray)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Astronauts inside NASA’s Orion spacecraft will soar toward the Moon atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket as part of the agency’s Artemis program to establish a permanent presence at the Moon and learn the skills needed to send humans to Mars. Crew members will journey aboard Orion with the confidence knowing the spacecraft is specifically designed with a number of features to support humans traveling to deep space, including a highly capable Launch Abort System (LAS). The LAS is a structure on top of the crew module that can fire within milliseconds and, with the crew module attached, outrun the powerful rocket if an emergency arises during launch.

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NASA Reaches New Milestone on Complex, Large Rocket

Paul Diaz, a Boeing technician, installs one of 360 bolts to connect the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s massive liquid hydrogen tank to the core stage’s intertank at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Next, the engine section and the four engines will be attached to complete assembly of the stage for the Artemis 1 mission to the Moon. (Credits: NASA/Eric Bordelon)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA achieved a significant milestone in manufacturing the first large, complex core stage that will help power the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on upcoming missions to the Moon. NASA and lead contractor Boeing have assembled four-fifths of the massive core stage needed to launch SLS and the Orion spacecraft on their first mission to the Moon: Artemis 1.

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NASA Updates Work on Lunar Gateway Habitat

Credit: NASA

Even as NASA’s plans for the Lunar Gateway evolve, the space agency is continuing work on developing a habitat for the crew that will use the facility as an orbiting base for the study of the Moon.

Credit: NASA

Marshall Smith, the space agency’s director of Human Lunar Exploration Programs, gave a press report on habitat development to the NASA Advisory Council Human Exploration & Operations Committee last week.

Credit: NASA

Five companies were commission to produce prototypes for evaluation and testing: Bigelow Aerospace, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Sierra Nevada Corporation.

Credit: NASA

Smith’s presentation did not include a slide on Bigelow Aerospace’s prototype module.

Credit: NASA











Mark Sirangelo Departs NASA After 44 Days

Mark Sirangelo (Credit: SNC)

Well, that was fast.

On April 9, NASA announced the appointment of Mark Sirangelo as a special assistant to Administrator Jim Bridenstine for the purpose of overseeing the space agency’s plan to land astronauts on the moon by 2024.

On Thursday, Bridenstine announced that his new assistant is departing the agency. Sirangelo’s tenure lasted 44 days.

In announcing the appointment last month, Bridenstine said Sirangelo would

lead the planning for the proposed agency restructuring to create the Moon to Mars Mission Directorate that will manage the programs to develop the Gateway, human rated lander and surface systems to return to the Moon and establish a permanent presence. The new proposed Directorate will also manage the Exploration Research and Technology programs to enable capabilities for exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Yesterday, the NASA administrator blamed House and Senate members for refusing to approve the creation of the Moon to Mars Mission Directorate.

The proposal was not accepted at this time, so we will move forward under our current organizational structure within the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEO). We are exploring what organizational changes within HEO are necessary to ensure we maximize efficiencies and achieve the end state of landing the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.

As you also may know, Mark Sirangelo has been serving as an advisor on our lunar exploration plan and the reorganizational proposal that went forward to Congress. Given NASA is no longer pursuing the new mission directorate, Mark has opted to pursue other opportunities. I want to personally thank Mark for his service and his valuable contributions to the agency.

Sirangelo previously served as head of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems and CEO of SpaceDev, its predecessor company. He resigned from the company in July 2018 and became a scholar in residence at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The announcement came on the same day NASA announced the awarding of a $375 million contract to Maxar Technologies for the power and propulsion element of the human-tended Lunar Gateway. The facility will serve as a base for human missions to and from the lunar surface.











NASA Selects Paragon for SBIR Phase II Award

Paragon Space Development Corporation will continue to developed an improved system to remove liquid condensation from the air for use on the International Space Station and future crewed vehicles beyond low Earth orbit under a NASA grant.

NASA has selected the Tuscon, Ariz.-based company for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II award to continue work on the COndensate Separator for Microgravity Conditions (COSMIC) device. The contract is worth up to $750,000 over two years.

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Untangling the Numbers in NASA’s Supplemental Budget Request

Credit: NASA

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In seeking a $1.6 billion increase in NASA’s budget for fiscal year 2020 to land astronauts on the moon in 2024, the Trump Administration has claimed that “no NASA programs were cut” to accommodate the new spending.  However, to quote Obi-wan Kenobi, this is only true from a certain point of view.

The Administration’s original FY 2020 request would cut NASA’s current $21.5 billion budget by $488 million while shifting funds from other space agency programs to the Artemis lunar program. Thus, the claim of no cuts can likely be interpreted as no reductions beyond what the Trump Administration has already proposed.

Further, the overall increase is not as large as it sounds. The supplemental request would increase NASA’s budget by $1.1 billion from its current $21.5 billion to $22.6 billion.

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Bridenstine: NASA Needs Funding Surge to Land on Moon by 2024

Astronauts on a future lunar walk. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceNews reports that NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine didn’t do much on Wednesday to clear up what the Trump Administration’s plan to land astronauts on the moon by 2024 is going to cost in testimony before the commerce, justice and science subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Bridenstine declined to offer a dollar figure, saying that the agency submitted a “pretty good” proposal to the Office of Management and Budget, which is performing its own review along with the staff of the National Space Council. The goal, he said, is to “come up with a unified administration position” on how much additional funding NASA will request.
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NASA Begins Testing Habitation Prototypes

Habitation concept interior. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Over the next several months, NASA will conduct a series of ground tests inside five uniquely designed, full-size, deep space habitat prototypes. The mockups, constructed by five American companies, offer different perspectives on how astronauts will live and work aboard the Gateway – the first spaceship designed to stay in orbit around the Moon, providing the critical infrastructure needed for exploration, science and technology demonstrations on the lunar surface.

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Trump, Pence Demand Space Spectacular During Election Year as SLS Schedule Slides Further

SLS liquid hydrogen tank (Credit: NASA/Tyler Martin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

If you’ve been puzzling over exactly why NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine suddenly floated the idea of flying the first Orion space capsule to the moon next year without the Space Launch System (SLS), The Washington Post has a couple of answers today:

  • SLS is much further behind schedule than anyone knew; and,
  • 2020 is a presidential election year.

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Returning Astronauts to the Moon: Lockheed Martin Finalizes Full-Scale Cislunar Habitat Prototype

Personnel test the deep space habitat prototype. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Lockheed Martin PR) — For long-duration, deep space missions, astronauts will need a highly efficient and reconfigurable space, and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) is researching and designing ways to support those missions.

Under a public-private partnership as a part of NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Phase II study contract, Lockheed Martin has completed the initial ground prototype for a cislunar habitat that would be compatible with NASA’s Gateway architecture. This habitat will help NASA study and assess the critical capabilities needed to build a sustainable presence around the Moon and support pioneering human exploration in deep space.

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