Tag: moon

Google Lunar X Prize Extends Deadline Again

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GoogleLunarXPRIZE_Logo
The Google Lunar X Prize has once again extended its deadline, this time to Dec. 31, 2017. The announcement comes six months after the $30 million competition extended its deadline from Dec. 31, 2015 to the end of 2016.

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Moon Express Announces Multi-Mission Payload Agreement

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me-word-logo2“MoonLIGHT” Lunar Laser Ranging Array Will Bring New Insights into General Relativity

Frascati, Italy, May 15th, 2015 (Moon Express PR) – Moon Express, Inc. (MoonEx) has announced a multi-mission payload agreement with The National Laboratories of Frascati (INFN-LNF) and the University of Maryland to deliver a new generation of lunar laser ranging arrays to the Moon. Under the agreement, “MoonLIGHT” instruments will be carried on the first four Moon Express missions and used in conjunction with Apollo Cube Corner (CCR) Retroreflector arrays to test principles of Einstein’s General Relativity theory, add to international scientific knowledge of the Moon, and increase lunar mapping precision that will support the company’s future lander missions.

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Honeybee Robotics Developing Prospector Spacecraft That Can Refuel Itself

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honeybee_roboticsNASA has selected Honeybee Robotics for four Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and one Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR) Phase I contracts, including one that would help develop a resource prospecting spacecraft capable of refueling itself using in-situ resources.

The five proposals include:

  • The World is Not Enough (WINE): Harvesting Local Resources for Eternal Exploration of Space (STTR)
  • Planetary Volatiles Extractor for In Situ Resource Utilization (SBIR)
  • Development of a Hermetically Sealed Canister for Sample Return Missions (SBIR)
  • Lunar Heat Flow Probe (SBIR)
  • Miniaturized System-in-Package Motor Controller for Spacecraft and Orbital Instruments (SBIR)

WINE, which is being done with the University of Central Florida in Orlando, involves a 3D-printed CubeSat that would be able to refuel itself by extracting in-situ resources. The spacecraft would be able to land on an asteroid or moon, examine the location, and fly to another location using the water it extracted in its thruster system.

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Posey Introduces Measure Calling for Return to Moon by 2023

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moon_rise_half
Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) has introduced a measure directing NASA to plan a return to the moon within eight years and the establishment of a permanent presences there.

“The National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall plan to return to the Moon by 2023 and develop a sustained human presence on the Moon, in order to promote exploration, commerce, science, and United States preeminence in space as a stepping stone for the future exploration of Mars and other destinations,” the measure reads. “The budget requests and expenditures of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall be consistent with achieving this goal.”

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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.