ESA Council Backs Lunar Gateway & Exploration, Mars Sample Return

The space station formerly known as the Deep Space Gateway (Credit: NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Over the past 18 months, ESA and its Member States have gathered in a series of space exploration workshops culminating in a discussion in the ESA Council held in Paris on 13 June 2018.

The Council discussed Europe’s ambition to play a leading role in the global exploration of space based on its European Exploration Envelope Programme, (known as E3P) that was created by ESA’s ministers when they met in December 2016 in Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Chang’e-4 Relay Satellite Enters Planned Orbit

Von Karman crater, the planned landing site for Chang’e-4.

Chinese officials report the Chang’e-4 relay satellite has entered its planned orbit, where it will await the year-end launch of the program’s lunar lander and rover bound for the far side of the moon.

The satellite, named Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) and launched on May 21, entered the Halo orbit around the second Lagrangian (L2) point of the Earth-Moon system, about 65,000 km from the Moon, at 11:06 a.m. Thursday after a journey of more than 20 days.

“The satellite is the world’s first communication satellite operating in that orbit, and will lay the foundation for the Chang’e-4, which is expected to become the world’s first soft-landing, roving probe on the far side of the Moon,” said Zhang Hongtai, president of the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST)….

He said the Halo orbit was a three-dimensional irregular curve. It is extremely difficult and complex to maintain the satellite in orbit.

“If there is a tiny disturbance, such as gravitational disturbance from other planets or the Sun, the satellite will leave orbit. The orbit period is about 14 days. According to our current plan, we will conduct orbit maintenance every seven days,” Zhang said.

New NASA Position to Focus on Exploration of Moon, Mars and Worlds Beyond

Steve Clarke (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is taking a giant leap focusing the agency’s exploration of the Moon, Mars and our Solar System.

Effective immediately, Steve Clarke is SMD’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration. He will serve as the agency’s interface between the NASA mission directorates, the scientific community, and other external stakeholders in developing a strategy to enable an integrated approach for robotic and human exploration within NASA’s Exploration Campaign.

Clarke returns to NASA after serving as a senior policy analyst with the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President, where he was responsible for a number of important initiatives.

“Steve returns to a position ideally suited for him and the agency as we return to the Moon,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “He’ll help integrate near-term and long-term lunar exploration with science missions and other destinations, including Mars.”
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Watch Trailer for “First Man” — Neil Armstrong Biopic

First Man – Official Trailer
Coming Soon To Theaters and IMAX
https://www.firstman.com/

On the heels of their six-time Academy Award®-winning smash, La La Land, Oscar®-winning director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling reteam for Universal Pictures’ First Man, the riveting story of NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the years 1961-1969. A visceral, first-person account, based on the book by James R. Hansen, the movie will explore the sacrifices and the cost—on Armstrong and on the nation—of one of the most dangerous missions in history.

Written by Academy Award® winner Josh Singer (Spotlight), the drama is produced by Wyck Godfrey & Marty Bowen (The Twilight Saga, The Fault in Our Stars) through their Temple Hill Entertainment banner, alongside Chazelle and Gosling. Isaac Klausner (The Fault in Our Stars) executive produces. DreamWorks Pictures co-finances the film.

Paragon Developing Advanced Radiator for Inflatable Habitats

Paragon Space Development Corporation will develop a flexible radiator for inflatable habitats and an improved condenser for use on human space missions with the help of NASA funding.

The space agency has selected the Tuscon, Ariz.-based company for two contracts under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 program. The agreements are worth up to $125,000 apiece over 13 months.

The target market for Paragon’s Flexible Radiator (FlexRAD) is “long duration human spaceflight exploration missions and other spacecraft” that use a single loop  active thermal control system (ATCS).

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NASA Celebrates 60th Birthday

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — From 2018 through 2022, NASA is marking a series of important milestones – the 60th anniversary of the agency’s founding by Congress in 1958, and the 50th anniversary of the Apollo missions that put a dozen Americans on the Moon between July 1969 and December 1972.

Celebrations already are under way. Some are complete, some are scheduled in the coming months, and some are still being planned.

July 29 will mark 60 years since President Dwight D. Eisenhower established NASA as a U.S. government agency by signing Public Law 58-568, the National Aeronautics and Space Act. The act consolidated several federal and military research organizations, including the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, under one agency.

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Made in Space Eyes Glass Alloy Production & Modular Science Platforms in Orbit

Made in Space (MIS) will develop systems for the production of glass alloys in microgravity, the assembly and refurbishment of modular platforms in orbit, and the in-space manufacturing of large structures for infrared space interferometry missions with the help of NASA funding.

The three projects were among five Made in Space proposals that NASA selected for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I program. Each contract is worth up to $125,000 over 13 months.

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Planetary LEGO Blocks Take Shape in Hawaii

Planetary LEGOs (Credit: PISCES)

HILO, Hawaii (PISCES PR) — These LEGO blocks are not the familiar plastics bricks you may have pieced together as a kid or given to your children to play with. In fact, these blocks could one day form the foundations of habitats and infrastructure supporting astronauts on places like Mars, the Moon and other worlds.

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NASA Selects US Companies to Advance Space Resource Collection

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2018 (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 10 companies to conduct studies and advance technologies to collect, process and use space-based resources for missions to the Moon and Mars. NASA placed a special emphasis on encouraging the responders to find new applications for existing, terrestrial capabilities that could result in future space exploration capabilities at lower costs.

The practice of in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) could increase safety and affordability of future human spaceflight missions by limiting the need to launch supplies, such as oxygen and water from Earth. NASA issued Appendix D of the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP) Broad Agency Announcement on Dec. 4, 2017. With it, the agency sought three areas of work focused on producing propellant and other exploration mission consumables using water from extraterrestrial soils and carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Successfully Demonstrates Low-Cost, High Thrust Space Engine

Hot-fire test of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s ISE-100 thruster conducted at the company’s Redmond, Washington test facility. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

REDMOND, Wash. (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne successfully completed hot-fire testing of a new in-space engine, designated ISE-100. Developed for commercial in-space applications, ISE-100 has the potential to be a critical element for future lunar robotic missions.

Producing 100 pounds of thrust, the ISE engine has the capability to provide downward thrust during landing, easing spacecraft down to the lunar surface. ISE-100 is the latest in-space engine developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne, adding to our portfolio of mission-proven thrusters that have propelled spacecraft to every planet in the solar system and interstellar space, and provided landing propulsion for Mars and asteroid missions.

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Four Moon Walkers Remain From the Apollo Program

Astronaut John Young salutes the flag on the moon during the Apollo 16 mission. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The passing of Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean on Saturday leaves the United States with four of the 12 men to walk on the moon remaining as NASA’s Apollo program prepares to mark a series of 50th anniversary celebrations.

Bean, who passed away at 86, walked on the moon’s Ocean of Storms with Pete Conrad in November 1969. They were the third and fourth men to walk on the lunar surface after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11.

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NASA: Commercial Partners Key to Sustainable Moon Presence

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

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — As NASA shifts human exploration back to the Moon, U.S. commercial partnerships will be a key to expediting missions and building a sustainable presence on the lunar surface. The agency is orchestrating a robotic lunar campaign with a focus on growing commercial base of partnerships and activity that can support U.S. science, technology, and exploration objectives.

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NASA’s ISS Transition Report — Executive Summary

The International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an STS-133 crew member on space shuttle Discovery. (Credit: NASA)

International Space Station Transition Report
NASA
March 30, 2018

Full Report (PDF)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-10) provided for an ISS Transition Report under section 303:

The Administrator, in coordination with the ISS management entity (as defined in section 2 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017), ISS partners, the scientific user community, and the commercial space sector, shall develop a plan to transition in a step-wise approach from the current regime that relies heavily on NASA sponsorship to a regime where NASA could be one of many customers of a low-Earth orbit non-governmental human space flight enterprise.

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Cruz, Nelson Criticize Plan to End Direct ISS Funding in 2025

International Space Station (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Sharply conflicting opinions about the future of the International Space Station (ISS) and America’s path forward in space were on view last week in a Senate hearing room turned boxing ring.

In one corner was NASA Associate Administrator Bill Gerstenamier, representing a Trump Administration that wants to end direct federal funding for ISS in 2025 in order to pursue an aggressive campaign of sending astronauts back to the moon. NASA would maintain a presence in Earth orbit, becoming one of multiple users aboard a privatized ISS or privately-owned stations.

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China Launches Chang’e-4 Relay Satellite for Lunar Far Side Mission

Aitken crater (Credit: NASA)

China successfully launched the Chang’e-4 relay satellite to the Earth-moon L2 Lagrange point on Sunday. The spacecraft, which is named Queqiao, was lofted into space aboard a Long March 4C booster from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

The satellite will relay data for the Chang’e-4 lunar rover and lander, which is set for launch late this year from Xichang. The rover will explore the South Pole-Aitken Basin as part of the first mission to explore the far side of the moon. The flight will also feature a lunar orbiter.

Sunday’s launch included two microsats that will conduct astronomical observations from deep space.