Tag: moon

GLXP Update: TeamIndus Announces Launch Contract

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Lunar rover (Credit: TeamIndus)

Lunar rover (Credit: TeamIndus)

TeamIndus, the only Indian team in the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP), has announced a contract with the ISRO space agency to fly its lunar rover aboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) next year.

The team is hoping to win the $20 million first prize for the first privately-built rover on the moon. The vehicle will need to travel 500 meters across the surface and beam back high-definition video to Earth. The competition also has a $5 million second prize.

TeamIndus officials said the ISRO contract has been verified by the X Prize Foundation, which runs the competition. Four other teams have announced launch contracts: Moon Express, PTScientists, SpaceIL and Synergy Moon. The foundation has verified the contracts for all of these teams except for PTScientists, which announced its agreement earlier this week.

The foundation set a deadline for the end of this year for competition’s 16 teams to have their launch contracts verified. Any teams without launch agreements will be dropped from competition.

TeamIndus said it needs to raise $65 million to pay for the launch and the mission. It is in negotiations with other teams without rides to the moon to carry their rovers to the surface.

The team’s chances of winning GLXP money will depend upon the competition extending its deadline for winning the prize beyond Dec. 31, 2017. The launch is not scheduled until Dec. 28. The spacecraft will then take 21 days to spiral out to the moon and land there.

The other issue is that launch schedules are notoriously unreliable. ISRO is no exception. It’s a pretty big bet to except the agency to launch on time. The schedule also gives TeamIndus no room for delays on hardware that isn’t even built and tested yet.

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NSS Urges Trump to Lead Lunar Base Construction

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nss_logoWASHINGTON, DC, November 30, 2016 (NSS PR) — On Saturday, October 8th, the National Space Society (NSS) organized a workshop directed at recommending a space policy to the new Administration. Eleven thought leaders from government, industry, and academia gathered in a fruitful collaboration to produce a set of five recommendations.

Steve Jurvetson, a partner at the well-known Silicon Valley Sand Hill Road venture capital firm DFJ hosted the meeting at the DFJ offices. NSS has submitted the resulting white paper to the Trump Transition Team. The paper can be viewed at The paper can be viewed at http://www.nss.org/legislative/positions/NSS-DFJ-Workshop-Recommendations-Nov-2016.pdf.

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GLXP Update: PT Scientists Announce Lunar Launch Contract

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Part-Time Scientists rover. (Credit: Audi)

Part-Time Scientists rover. (Credit: Audi)

PT Scientists has announced it has secured a launch contract through Spaceflight Industries to place two rovers on the moon next year to visit the Apollo 17 landing site. The rovers and a landing vehicle will fly as a secondary payload on an unidentified booster.

The team is trying to win the $20 million first prize in the Google Lunar X Prize. It is one of 16 teams left in the competition, which expires on Dec. 31, 2017.

PT Scientists have been working with Audi to develop two lightweight rovers to explore the site in the Taurus–Littrow valley where Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt became the last men to walk on the moon in December 1972.

The team has submitted its launch contract to the Google Lunar X Prize for verification. Teams need to have verified agreements by the end of this year in order to continue in the competition. Three teams have verified contracts: Moon Express, SpaceIL and Synergy Moon.

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Trump, Musk, Bezos, Bruno & the Future of America’s Space Program

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Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

There’s been a lot of speculation since the election on  what president-elect Donald Trump will do with the nation’s civilian and military space programs.

Two Trump advisors laid out some goals before the election: more commercial partnerships, boosting defense spending, increasing hypersonics and slashing NASA Earth science. However, most details remain unclear.

A key question is whether Trump really cares about space all that much. That’s a little hard to discern given his comments during  the campaign.

When first questioned on the subject, he expressed a preference for fixing potholes in America’s crumbling streets over sending people to Mars. Trump has promised a large infrastructure repair program.

During a visit to Florida, he attacked the Obama Administration for allegedly wrecking NASA and the space program. During another appearance in the Sunshine State about a week later, Trump praised the space agency for how well it was performing.

So, NASA is either doing great, a disaster that needs to be made great again, or an obstacle to pothole repair. Assuming Trump actually cares, and he’s willing to spend some money on making NASA great again, what might he do? What major decisions does he face?
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Astrobotic Offers NASA BOGO on Lunar Payloads in Time for Christmas

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Peregrine lunar lander (Credit: Astrobotic)

Peregrine lunar lander (Credit: Astrobotic)

PITTSBURGH, Pa., November 17, 2016 (Astrobotic PR) — Astrobotic announces today a historic, new dollar for dollar matching program that will provide free payload deliveries to the Moon. For every payload selected by NASA to fly on Astrobotic’s first mission, Astrobotic will provide an additional flight to payload providers on the company’s second mission at no charge. The second mission is currently scheduled to fly in 2021, and Astrobotic will match payload reservations up to $12 million. This new cost-sharing program is in response to the agency’s RFI call for small lunar surface payloads.

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Report Confirms Scientific Benefits of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission

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Artists concept of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission capturing an asteroid boulder before redirecting it to an astronaut-accessible orbit around Earth's moon. (Credit: NASA)

Artists concept of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission capturing an asteroid boulder before redirecting it to an astronaut-accessible orbit around Earth’s moon. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — A new report provides expert findings from a special action team on how elements of the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) can address decadal science objectives and help close Strategic Knowledge Gaps (SKGs) for future human missions in deep space.

Read the report online: ARM Connections to the Priority Small Body Science and Exploration Goals.

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Construction of Prototype Lunar Base Proposed for Hawaii

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HILO, Hawaii (PISCES PR) — During the Hawai’i Aerospace Summit in Honolulu last October, PISCES Board Chairperson and entrepreneur Henk Rogers called for the construction of a prototype lunar base on the Big Island that could catapult the State of Hawai’i into the frontlines of the global aerospace industry.

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Moon Express Offers Funding for Lunar Payloads

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Moon Express MX-1 spacecraft orbits the Moon in preparation for landing. MX-1 will deliver commercial, academic and government instruments to explore the Moon for science and resources. (Credit: Moon Express)

Moon Express MX-1 spacecraft orbits the Moon in preparation for landing. MX-1 will deliver commercial, academic and government instruments to explore the Moon for science and resources. (Credit: Moon Express)

WASHINGTON, DC, November 1st, 2016 (Moon Express PR) – Moon Express has announced a new program that will provide $1.5M in private funding for NASA-selected payloads to fly to the Moon.

The announcement was made today at the annual meeting of NASA’s Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG), in response to NASA’s call for lunar instrument concepts that would be flown to the Moon utilizing commercial mission services.

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NASA Issues RFI for Lunar Payloads

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NASA LOGOSmall Lunar Surface Payload Request for Information (RFI)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Solicitation Number: NNH17ZCQ001L

:

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) is seeking information on the availability of small payloads that could be delivered to the Moon as early as the 2017-2020 timeframe using U.S. commercial lunar cargo transportation service providers.

Multiple U.S. companies are developing robotic lunar landing capabilities and have expressed plans to provide commercial cargo delivery services to the Moon in the near future.

Information on lunar payloads that could be launched as early as 2017 would be valuable to NASA as it works to understand the potential role of the Moon in future exploration activities. Payloads of interest should address one or more of NASA’s lunar exploration Strategic Knowledge Gaps (SKGs) or other agency strategic objectives.

Responses to this Request for Information (RFI) are sought broadly from U.S. industry, universities, and non-profit organizations, NASA Centers (including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory), and other U.S. government agencies, and these will be used by NASA for planning and acquisition strategy development.

More information

NASA Awards Funding to Five Teams in Cube Quest Challenge

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WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded $30,000 to each of the five top-scoring teams in Ground Tournament-3 of the agency’s small satellite Cube Quest Challenge.

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Elon Musk, Wernher Von Braun and Gigantism: What is Old is New Again

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Interplanetary Transport System at Enceladus. (Credit: SpaceX)

Interplanetary Transport System at Enceladus. (Credit: SpaceX)

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Elon Musk’s obsession with making giant leaps forward in technology and how the approach has likely contributed to some of the company’s problems. I posited that SpaceX needs fewer leaps and more plateaus so its employees can consolidate what they have learned and get really good at it before moving on to the next level. [SpaceX: Giant Leaps, Deep Troughs But No Plateaus].

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Cornell Students Sending Water-Propelled CubeSat to Moon

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A rendering of the Cislunar Explorers CubeSat separating after deployment. (Credit: Kyle Doyle)

A rendering of the Cislunar Explorers CubeSat separating after deployment. (Credit: Kyle Doyle)

By Tom Fleischman

A satellite propelled by the Earth’s most abundant natural resource? Yes, it’s true.

Cislunar Explorers, a team of Cornell graduate and undergraduate students guided by Mason Peck, a former senior official at NASA and associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, is attempting to boldly go where no CubeSat team has gone before: around the moon.

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GLXP Update: XPRIZE Verifies Launch Agreement for Team SYNERGY MOON

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The moon rising over Half Moon Bay, California on Halloween 2009. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

The moon rising over Half Moon Bay, California on Halloween 2009. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

LOS ANGELES (XPRIZE PR) — Today, XPRIZE officially verified Team SYNERGY MOON’s launch agreement as part of the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE, a global competition for privately funded teams to land an unmanned spacecraft on the surface of the moon by December 31, 2017. The SYNERGY MOON mission will use a NEPTUNE 8 rocket, built and launched by Interorbital Systems, to carry a lunar lander and at least one rover to the surface of the moon, launching from an open-ocean location off the California coast during the second half of 2017.

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GLXP Update: TeamIndus Announces Lab2Moon Global Youth Challenge

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The moon rising over Half Moon Bay, California on Halloween 2009. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

The moon rising over Half Moon Bay, California on Halloween 2009. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

BANGALORE, India (TeamIndus PR) — TeamIndus, an Indian aerospace startup and one of the front-runners for the Google Lunar XPRIZE, today announced an international jury for Lab2Moon, a competition to challenge the brightest young minds globally to think beyond our planet and create an experiment to fly on board the TeamIndus spacecraft to the Moon in 2017.

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Soyuz Mission to the Moon Surfaces — Again

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Space Adventures vehicle for circumlunar flights. (Credit: Space Adventures)

Space Adventures vehicle for circumlunar flights. (Credit: Space Adventures)

Like the elusive Loch Ness Monster, a plan to send a cosmonaut and two tourists looping around the moon in a modified Soyuz transport has once again surfaced in the Russian media.

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