NASA’s Planetary Science Division (PSD) faces a series of managerial, financial and personnel challenges as it prepares to conduct a series of ever more ambitious missions to the moon and planets, according to a new audit by the space agency’s Office of Inspector General (IG).
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Nine U.S. companies now are eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contracts, as one of the first steps toward long-term scientific study and human exploration of the Moon and eventually Mars.
LONGUEUIL, Quebec, Oct. 16, 2018 (Moon Express PR) — Moon Express, Inc. has announced the creation of Moon Express Canada to leverage Canadian space science and technology in the exploration of the Moon and its resources. The announcement follows quickly after the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Moon Express on October 3rd, enabling Canadian firms and researchers to offer their expertise and capabilities to Moon Express. Moon Express Founder and CEO Bob Richards made the announcement today at the CSA Fall 2018 Industry Days, a three-day event hosted at its headquarters in Longueuil, Quebec to promote Canadian space capabilities and expertise.
BREMEN, GERMANY, October 3, 2018 (Moon Express PR) – Moon Express has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to explore options for collaboration with the CSA and Canada’s space sector on technologies and payloads for missions to the Moon.
Under the agreement, the CSA and Moon Express will explore the possibilities of using Moon Express lunar orbiter and lander systems for potential CSA payloads and will promote possibilities for collaboration between Moon Express and the Canadian space industry and academia. The bilateral MOU was signed today at the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany, by CSA President Sylvain Laporte and Moon Express Founder and CEO Bob Richards.
CHICAGO, October 1, 2018 (Moon Express PR) – Moon Express has announced the successful closing of a $2.5M bridge round and the opening of a $20M Series B round anchored by a $10M lead investor. Proceeds of the financing will support the build out of the company’s Cape Canaveral facilities as well as spacecraft development for its commercial lunar flight program.
Moon Express Founder and CEO Bob Richards made the announcement during a closing keynote at The World Innovation Network (TWIN) Global Summit in Chicago. “We are at the dawn of an exciting new era of lunar exploration and development,” he stated to the international TWIN Global audience. “We’re excited about the new U.S. space policy to return to the Moon in a sustainable way with commercial partners and we look forward to working with NASA and other space agencies in exploring Earth’s eighth continent.”
The draft environmental assessment for SpaceX’s proposed expansion at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) also revealed that Elon Musk’s rocket company plans to most of more than 4,000 satellites of its planned Starlink constellation from Cape Canaveral.
That will guarantee a busy schedule for SpaceX’s Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at KSC and LC-40 at the adjoining Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS). LC-39A can accommodate Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters while LC-40 is configured for the Falcon 9.
In a move that left the lunar science community stunned, NASA has canceled the Resource Prospector mission, which would have sent a rover to the moon to drill holes in search of ice and other volatiles that could be used to support human settlers and miners and turned into fuel to power spacecraft.
In place of the mission, which was set to launch in 2022, the space agency issued a draft request for proposal (RFP) on Friday for the new Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. Under CLPS, NASA would pay companies to carry instruments and experiments to the lunar surface aboard privately-built landers and rovers.
This past week, the XPrize acknowledged the obvious: after 10 years and multiple deadline extensions, none of the five remaining teams was going to claim the Google Lunar X Prize by landing a privately-built vehicle on the moon that would travel 500 meters across the surface while sending back high-definition video.
The first team to accomplish that goal would have claimed $20 million; the second, $5 million. But, unlike the moon race of the 1960’s, Google’s much hyped moon shot ended not with the deafening roar of a launch but the deadening silence of a dream deferred.
Congratulations are in order for Parabolic Arc readers! Or at least the 59 percent of you who voted correctly in our latest poll.
That’s the percentage of voters who chose “None of the Above” on the question of who would win the Google X Prize. And wouldn’t you know it, last week the X Prize announced that the prize was ending without any winner.
So, kudos to you guys. Each and everyone one of you are a regular Ed Glosser.
As for the rest of you losers….21 percent voted for Moon Express, 9 percent of Team Indus, and 3 percent for Synergy Moon.
I’ve put in a new poll up on what will happen to Jim Bridenstine’s nomination to lead NASA.
Remember: vote early. Vote often. Vote as if your life depended on it. Because it does.
The clock is ticking for the remaining teams in the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize competition.
Barring another extension, they have until March 31 to land a vehicle on moon and travel 500 meters across it to claim the $20 million first prize or $5 million second prize. It’s not clear whether any of them will make the deadline.
Last month NASA officials gave a series of presentations about the space agency’s deep-space exploration plans to the NASA Advisory Council’s Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Committee. I have excerpted slides from those presentations to provide an overview of what the space agency is planning. (more…)
The Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference was held in Colorado earlier this week. I wasn’t able to attend this year, but the following folks tweeted the sessions:
Jeff Foust @jeff_foust Rand Simberg @Rand_Simberg Colorado Space News @CO_Space_News Laura Seward Forczyk @LauraForczyk
Below are summaries of a number of talks based on their tweets. The talks included Erika Wagner of Blue Origin, Dylan Taylor of Space Angels, John Quinn of Exos Aerospace, Tim Lachenmeier of Near Space Corporation, Lewis Groswald of the University of Colorado Boulder, and Alain Berinstain of Moon Express.
Moon Express is one of three companies NASA has signed agreements with for the Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (Lunar CATALYST) program.
“The purpose of the Lunar CATALYST initiative is for NASA to encourage the development of U.S. private-sector robotic lunar landers capable of successfully delivering small (30 to 100 kg) and medium (250 to 500 kg) class payloads to the lunar surface using U.S. commercial launch capabilities,” the agreement states.
“This no-funds-exchanged Space Act Agreement (SAA) with the Partner enables provision and coordination of NASA in-kind contributions at no cost to the Partner, of NASA civil servant technical expertise, access to NASA test facilities, the loaning of equipment, and software,” the agreement adds.