Tag: moon

Space Symposium Briefs: Stratolaunch, Falcon 9, CST-100, UAE to Mars & Lunar Bases

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Gwynne Shotwell

Gwynne Shotwell

I’ve been monitoring the Twittersphere for news out of the 31st Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo. There have been a few interesting items of note:

  • Stratolaunch President Chuck Beames says the company is considering other air-launch rockets in addition to the one being built by Orbital ATK for use with its massive six engine carrier aircraft. The Orbital ATK rocket is for medium payloads but won’t be ready for several years. Stratolaunch is looking at smaller rockets that could be developed more rapidly and help with more near-term revenue.
  • SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell says the company’s next attempt to recover a Falcon 9 first stage may occur over land rather than on a barge at sea. SpaceX is building landing facilities at Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base.
  • Boeing plans to reveal the crew of its first CST-100 flight test this summer. The crew for the planned 2017 test will include one Boeing test pilot and one NASA astronaut.
  • The new United Arab Emirates Space Agency decided to launch a spacecraft to Mars in 2020 because sending an orbiter to the moon is too easy. The space agency, which was formed only last July, has yet to define the mission to the Red Planet or select international partners.
  • Current DLR Chairman Johann-Dietrich Wörner would really like to see the establishment of a base on the far side of the moon to enable radio astronomy. Wörner is set to take over had head of ESA in several months.

Masten’s Xombie Tests Sensors for Future Lunar Mission

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Launch sequence collage of Masten Space Systems' XA-0.1B Xombie suborbital technology demonstration rocket during a NASA-sponsored flight and landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California. (Credit: NASA Photo/Tom Tschida)

Launch sequence collage of Masten Space Systems’ XA-0.1B Xombie suborbital technology demonstration rocket during a NASA-sponsored flight and landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California. (Credit: NASA Photo/Tom Tschida)

MOJAVE, Calif. (NASA PR) — Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) students developed a sensor package to analyze large pits in the surface of the moon or Mars that could lead to openings of caves. The package was launched recently on Masten Space Systems’ XA-0.1B Xombie suborbital technology demonstration rocket during a NASA-sponsored launch and landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California.

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NASA to Provide Live Coverage of Lunar Eclipse

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Lunar eclipse

Lunar eclipse

On Saturday morning, April 4, 2015 not long before sunrise, the bright full moon over North America should turn a lovely shade of celestial red during a total lunar eclipse. Beginning at 6 a.m. EDT through the end of the eclipse, NASA Marshall will offer live Ustream video and NASA astronomer Mitzi Adams will take Twitter questions via @NASA_Marshall. Use the hashtag #eclipse2015 to send your questions.

A live Ustream view of the lunar eclipse will be available here on April 4 starting at 6:00 a.m. EDT: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc

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ESA, China Open Moon & Mars Exploration to Private Sector

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moon_rise_half
ESA and the Chinese space agency have made separate announcements opening their deep space exploration programs to private sector participation.

ESA issued a Call for Ideas for exploring the moon and Mars on its website.

Private-sector partners are welcome to join ESA in its space exploration strategy. Join us to explore beyond Earth’s horizon by sharing knowledge, capabilities, risks and benefits.

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Rover Searches California Desert for Water to Lunar Simulation

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Video Caption: Water is critical for human existence, whether on our planet or distant destinations. In support of future space exploration, researchers from NASA’s Ames Research Center are searching for water closer to home — in the desert near the Mojave National Preserve in Southern California.

The Mojave Volatiles Prospector, or MVP project, is a test bed for scientists from Ames to develop the technologies and procedures that will be needed to search for water ice and other volatiles that might be hidden under the surface of the Moon, Mars or another planetary body.

For more information about NASA Ames, please visit http://www.nasa.gov/ames

China to Launch Second Space Station Next Year; Moon Plans Remain Uncertain

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Model of the Tiangong-2 space station

Model of the Tiangong-2 space station

China plans to launch a larger space station next year that will have the capability of being resupplied by robotic cargo ships.

The Tianzhou-1, which literally means “heavenly vessel”, will carry propellants, living necessities for astronauts, research facilities and repair equipment to China’s second orbiting space lab Tiangong-2, said Zhou Jianping, chief engineer of China’s manned space program.

Cargo transportation system is a key technology China must master and make breakthroughs to build its own space station, said Zhou who is also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the country’s top political advisory body….

According to Zhou, Tianzhou-1 will be blasted off on top of a next-generation Long March-7 rocket, possibly from a new launch site in the southern Hainan Province.

Research on the Long March-5 carrier rocket – to be used to lift the Tiangong-2 lab into space – Tiangong-2’s payload, and selection of astronauts for the mission are currently “progressing in an orderly manner,” Zhou said.

Tiangong-2 will be larger than its predecessor and will resemble the Salyut space station first flown by the Soviet Union in the 1970’s. It will have docking ports on both ends.

Meanwhile, Zhou says that while China has no plans to send astronauts to the moon for the time being.

“With China’s current technologies of manned space flight and moon probe, we have the technology basis to realize the manned lunar mission,” said Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China’s manned space program.

Zhou…said that challenges and a lot of preparation precede the realization of the manned lunar mission.

For example, it requires the research and development of a bigger carrier rocket and the bigger and more sophisticated manned spacecraft, he added.

 

Hawaiian High School Students to Design Experiments for Moon Flight

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`Iolani School’s Moon RIDERS team. (Credit: PISCES)

`Iolani School’s Moon RIDERS team. (Credit: PISCES)

HILO, Hawaii (PISCES PR) – The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) is pleased to announce the two Hawaii high schools chosen for the Moon RIDERS student lunar flight experiment!

Kealakehe High School in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii Island, and `Iolani School in Honolulu on Oahu, have been selected to participate in the unprecedented student project to develop, build, test, and fly a real-life lunar experiment to the surface of the Moon!

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GLXP Update: Astrobotic, HAKUTO Announce Rideshare Plans to the Moon

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Moonraker and Tetris exploring a cliff together (Credit: HAKUTO)

Moonraker and Tetris exploring a cliff together (Credit: HAKUTO)

TOKYO, Japan (February 23, 2015) – HAKUTO, the only Japanese team competing for the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, has announced a contract with fellow competitor, Astrobotic, based in Pittsburgh, Pa., to carry a pair of rovers to the moon. Astrobotic plans to launch its Google Lunar XPRIZE mission on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., during the second half of 2016. HAKUTO’s twin rovers, Moonraker and Tetris, will piggyback on Astrobotic’s Griffin lander to reach the lunar surface. Upon touchdown, the rovers will be released simultaneously with Astrobotic’s Andy rover, developed by Carnegie Mellon University, travel 500 meters on the moon’s surface and send high-definition images and video back to Earth, all in pursuit of the $20M Google Lunar XPRIZE Grand Prize.

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FAA Moves to Establish Framework for Commercial Lunar Operations

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Artist's conception of a Bigelow lunar habitat. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)

Artist’s conception of a Bigelow lunar habitat. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)

A recent government review of Bigelow Aerospace’s ambitious plans for settlements on the moon did not result in an endorsement of private property rights and ownership on the Moon.

“I want to make clear that the FAA today has responsibility to license launches and reentry and nothing in between,” said George Nield, who is associate administrator for Commercial Space Transportation at the FAA (FAA AST).

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Astrobotic Video Promotes Fast Delivery to the Moon

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