Tag: Mars

NASA, Commercial Crew Partners Lay Out Plans for Human Spaceflight

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NASA and its commercial crew partners, Boeing and SpaceX, held a press conference in Houston this afternoon to discuss their plans for launching U.S. astronauts from Cape Canaveral in 2017. Below are my notes on the event.

Participants

  • Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator
  • Kathy Lueders, NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager
  • Mike Fincke, NASA Astronaut
  • Ellen Ochoa, Johnson Space Center Director
  • John Elbon, Vice President and General Manager of Boeing Space Exploration
  • Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX President & COO

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NASA Software Allows Scientists to Work Virtually on Mars

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New NASA software called OnSight will use holographic computing to overlay visual information and data from the agency's Mars Curiosity Rover into the user's field of view. Holographic computing blends a view of the physical world with computer-generated imagery to create a hybrid of real and virtual. (Credit:  NASA)

New NASA software called OnSight will use holographic computing to overlay visual information and data from the agency’s Mars Curiosity Rover into the user’s field of view. Holographic computing blends a view of the physical world with computer-generated imagery to create a hybrid of real and virtual. (Credit:
NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA and Microsoft have teamed up to develop software called OnSight, a new technology that will enable scientists to work virtually on Mars using wearable technology called Microsoft HoloLens.

Developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, OnSight will give scientists a means to plan and, along with the Mars Curiosity rover, conduct science operations on the Red Planet.

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U.S., India to Deepen Cooperation in Space

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india-flagPresident Barack Obama is on a state visit to India. The U.S. and Indian governments released a joint statement focusing on areas of cooperation, including enhanced cooperation in space. The following are excerpts from the statement.

The Prime Minister and the President acknowledged and expressed satisfaction at the qualitative reinvigoration of strategic ties and the intensity of substantive interactions since the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington in September 2014.  They appreciated the focused action and accomplishments by both sides on the decisions taken during the Summit in September and in this regard, they welcomed:

  • The 30 September 2014 signing of an implementing agreement between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to conduct the joint NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission.

President Obama and Prime Minister Modi agreed to further promote cooperative and commercial relations between India and the United States in the field of space.  The leaders noted the on-going interactions between their space agencies, including towards realizing a dual frequency radar imaging satellite for Earth Sciences, and exploring possibilities for cooperation in studying Mars.

The Leaders took note of ongoing U.S.-India space cooperation, including the first face-to-face meeting of the ISRO-NASA Mars Working Group from 29-31 January 2015 in Bangalore, in which the two sides will consider opportunities for enhanced cooperation in Mars exploration, including potential coordinated observations and analysis between ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission and NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission (MAVEN).  The Prime Minister and the President also welcomed continued progress toward enhanced space cooperation via the U.S.-India Civil Space Joint Working Group, which will meet later this year in India.

Beagle 2 Lander Found on Mars

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Beagle 2 lander on Martian surface. (Credit: NASA)

Beagle 2 lander on Martian surface. (Credit: NASA)

SWINDON, England (UKSA PR) — The UK-led Beagle 2 Mars Lander, thought lost on Mars since 2003, has been found partially deployed on the surface of the planet, ending the mystery of what happened to the mission more than a decade ago. This find shows that the Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) sequence for Beagle 2 worked and the lander did successfully touchdown on Mars on Christmas Day 2003. Beagle 2 hitched a ride to Mars on ESA’s Mars Express mission and was a collaboration between industry and academia. It would have delivered world-class science from the surface of the Red Planet. Many UK academic groups and industrial companies contributed to Beagle 2.

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Highlights of Elon Musk’s Reddit Ask Me Anything Session

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Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk did an interactive Ask Me Anything Q&A last night on Reddit. Here are some excerpts from that session.

Q. Previously, you’ve stated that you estimate a 50% probability of success with the attempted landing on the automated spaceport drone ship tomorrow. Can you discuss the factors that were considered to make that estimation?

In addition, can you talk more about the grid fins that will be flying tomorrow? How do they compare to maneuvering with cold-gas thrusters?

Elon Musk: I pretty much made that up. I have no idea :)

The grid fins are super important for landing with precision. The aerodynamic forces are way too strong for the nitrogen thrusters. In particular, achieving pitch trim is hopeless. Our atmosphere is like molasses at Mach 4!

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ISRO Chairman Departs on High Note

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K Radhakrishnan

ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan has retired, ending his five-year tenure as head of India’s space agency on a high note following the successes of Mars Orbiter Mission and the inaugural launch of the GSLV Mark III rocket.

Indian media are reporting that Shailesh Nayak, secretary in the ministry of the earth sciences, has been given the responsibility of running ISRO until a replacement for Radhakrishnan is named in about a month.

The resignation will allow Prime Minster Narendra Modi, who was elected in May, the opportunity to appoint a new chairman for the space agency.

Indian media report that Radhakrishnan’s term in office was supposed to expire in August, but he was given a four-month extension that allowed him to preside over the launch of the first GSLV Mark III rocket in December.

NASA’s Busy, Successful Year in Space & On Earth

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Orion splashed down safely in the Pacific after its first test flight. (Credit: NASA)

Orion splashed down safely in the Pacific after its first test flight. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2014, NASA took significant steps on the agency’s journey to Mars — testing cutting-edge technologies and making scientific discoveries while studying our changing Earth and the infinite universe as the agency made progress on the next generation of air travel.

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NASA Awards the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport III Follow-On Contract

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Antares rocket on the launch pad on Wallops Island. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Antares rocket on the launch pad on Wallops Island. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded a contract to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority of Norfolk, Virginia for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport III (MARS III) follow-on contract.  The contractor will provide launch site services supporting missions conducted from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops, Virginia.

This is a cost-no-fee, fixed-price indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract valued at $49 million. The effective ordering period for issuing tasks under the contract began December 8 for five years through December 7, 2019.

Services under the contract will be performed at Wallops and the contractor’s off-site facilities.

Orbital to Fly Cygnus Freighter on Atlas V

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Atlas V launch of WorldView-3 satellite (Credit: ULA)

Atlas V launch of WorldView-3 satellite (Credit: ULA)

DULLES, Virg., Dec. 9, 2014 (Orbital PR) – Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced new details in its plans to resume cargo flights to the International Space Station (ISS) and to accelerate the introduction of an upgraded Antares launch vehicle.  In formulating its go-forward plans, the company’s primary objective is to fulfill its commitment to NASA for ISS cargo deliveries with high levels of safety and reliability and minimum disruption to schedules.  As previously announced, these plans are expected to allow Orbital to accomplish all remaining cargo deliveries under its current Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA by the end of 2016 and with no cost increase to the space agency.

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Lori Garver Discusses Orion Flight, NASA’s Long-Range Plans

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Video Caption: NASA space agency celebrated a major successful launch on Friday. However, a former NASA official says it’s being undermined by short-sighted politicians pushing old technology to keep pork barrel spending in their districts With Lori Garver, former Deputy NASA Administrator. From ALL IN, MSNBC